Single track (mountain biking)
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Single track or singletrack is a narrow mountain biking trail that is approximately the width of the bike. It contrasts with double track or fire road which is wide enough for four-wheeled off-road vehicles. In addition it is frequently smooth and flowing, but it may also exhibit technical rocky sections and may be criss-crossed with tree roots. Some trails are winding and flowing, while others are bumpy and challenging. Many trails offer features such as roots, logs and rocks. Single track paths can be ridden using a mountain bike, BMX bike or race bike. Single track riding can be quite challenging from a technical standpoint. Singletracks cover vast areas of both state and national park lands.
Trail building in the US
There are volunteers, both organized and rogue, that maintain and create single track trails throughout the country. The organized volunteers coordinate with park districts to modify the natural woods to accommodate single track bikers. Some paths are created from scratch, while others are modified hiking paths.
In Deborah Chavez's brief on building and maintaining trails as it pertains to forestry managers, the USDA highlights several potential problems when it comes to trail building: effects on natural resources, use of designated wilderness, conflict with other users, and notable safety issues. These regulations are devised to make mountain biking sustainable; the IMBA strives to promote mountain biking in a way that trails made are done so according to previously ordained regulations and the idea that if built properly, trail maintenance and environmental impact will be minimal. Mike Campbell, a writer for The Anchorage Daily News, highlights an example of successful trail building. Singletrack Advocates or STA is a nonprofit organization that strives to build and maintain singletrack around Anchorage. Since its beginnings in 2007, STA has prevailed in legislation and construction of over 20 miles of new trails within the immediate Anchorage area. While many are supportive of trail expansion and development, there are many objections to the increased demand for new trails and trail systems. Both those that support and those that oppose trail expansion must be active in legislation and construction of trails in order to promote singletrack as a progressive option.
Trail maintenance in the US
In 2000, Clemson University Department of Crop, Soil and Environmental Sciences conducted a study on mountain biking and the sustainability of the sport as it relates to the natural environment and social confines. Matthew Symmonds and research associates outlines four capacities that must be met in order to sustain a trail or trail system: Physical Capacity, the amount of space a given activity demands, Ecological Capacity, how much damage the environment can withstand before detrimental effect, Facility Capacity, what a given population needs in order to enjoy such recreational areas; and Social Capacity, the point at which one decides how many users the trail can accommodate comfortably at any one time. Mountain biking is a sustainable sport in that once a trail or trail system is made, it can be used for many years, but like accommodating for specific carrying capacities, there are many concerns in maintenance and use. Resource managers, typically employed by private or federal agencies, are in position to make judgment on how and when trail maintenance needs to be done. Resource managers take care of outstanding trail conditions such as the following: erosion control, trail widening and or rutting, shortcuts, soil decomposition, damage to drainage structures, damage to flora, fauna and water structures. In order to preserve the sustainability and progress the mountain biking community has seen in the most recent of years, trail maintenance must be continual, from being proactive in legislation, to environmental awareness in physical maintenance.
- Chavez, Deborah (1996). Mountain Biking; Issues and Actions for Forest Service Managers. Pacific Southwest Research Station. pp. 1–33.
- Campbell, Mike (27 May 2011). "9 miles of singletrack bike trail going into Kincaid Park". Anchorage Daily News. Retrieved 12 April 2012.
- Symmonds, Mathew C.; William E. Hammitt; Virgil L. Quisenberry (2000). "Managing Recreational Trail Environments". Environmental Magagement 25 (5): 549–564. PMID 10742481.