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O Riding, Where Art Thou?

Infinite wants in an finite world.

by Martin Hackworth
Steven V - Lolo Motorway

      User conflicts are inevitable in a crowded world of finite resources and conflicts regarding access involving motorcycle enthusiasts are no exception. From denizens of dirt tearing up the trails, to tribes of stunters prowling public thoroughfares, motorcyclists are a part of the very public tug of war that exists over access to limited resources.

    A common thread that unites motorcyclists of all stripes is the desire to seek new ground - be it discovering a few extra horsepower hidden in an engine, finding a second somewhere in a lap, conjuring up the next new trick, or finding out what's around the next corner - we are born explorers. The problem with exploration is that it is, by nature, often conducted in a frontier environment that sometimes has fuzzy borders when it comes to limits, rules and ethics - and sorting through the boundaries often becomes an exercise in passion more than reason.

    As with may controversial issues the battles between groups competing for the terrain on which we motorcyclists ply our trade tend to be dominated by extremists. For every group of Earth First! style extremists who would completely deny wilderness access to any non-Luddite there exists a mirror image in the form of the die hards who refuse to acknowledge the impact that all OHV's have on fragile wilderness. For every crazed sportbike gang prowling the streets there are groups who'd legislate every motorcycle into oblivion. As a community of enthusiasts we are ill-served by both extremes.

A tenet of extremism is that the world is divided cleanly into two opposing camps: friends and enemies. Anyone who agrees with or espouses the view of a particular camp is a friend and everyone else is an enemy. I would maintain that,
vis-à-vis extremism, the world is actually divided in to three camps: those agreeing with a particular point of view, those opposing the same view, and the vast majority who (for the time being, anyway) care little either way. When it comes to access to public resources that last group is the most important - and the key descriptive term is for the time being.

     Most of us drive the same roads on which we ride motorcycles. Many of us run, ski and hike many of the same trails on which we ride dirt bikes. From my perspective I see the conflicts between various groups of users largely as matters of awareness and courtesy. It may seem like a limitless world out there but it's a lot smaller than one might think. Your right to ownership of public lands pretty much ends at the tip of your nose. Get in line. 
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