We've received numerous letters and calls from trail users in the Crothers' Flats about Kyla Dixon-Muir's piece in our April 26-May 2 issue. We understand concerns raised by some readers that the article tarnished with a broad brush bikers in the Crothers' Flats who keep to the managed trails.
But clearly, others who ride the Flats love their stunts. And judging by the elaborate obstacles built, are quite handy with a chainsaw.
The Don is a resource for all to enjoy, although it's the feeling of some nature lovers that ecologically sensitive areas like Crothers (and yes, the Flats, which is a flood plain) be off limits to mountain bikers. Clearly, this is not the city's intent, despite the concerns raised by naturalists about the environmental downsides (ie: erosion) of allowing mountain bikes on the Don's dirt trails – and dog walkers, for that matter, which the fear is will track in harmful invasive species. Anyone whose visited the Flats after a hard rain knows what kind of damage thick-wheeled bikes can do.
Are some of the more enthusiastic riders hacking down trees for their stunts? They say no. That trees being used are strictly deadfall from flooding and other natural occurrences that take place in the volatile Flats. Some stunt users are careful to draw a distinction. They say any trees that may have been cut down to build obstacles aredead anyway. Still others blame CN, Hydro and City crews that from time to time have their own business to attend to in the Flats. All three scenarios may be true. The debate rages on.
But let's have a debate and not the name-calling, threats and vitriol of the kind we've been reading on the dropmachine.com forum. Journalists expect criticism. It's part of the territory. But posting a writer's pic, telephone number and address online – especially when that writer is a woman – is crossing the line. Internet bravado? It only makes riders look as out of control as critics say they are in Crothers' Woods.