Buffalo Creek, Colorado. photo: Jeff Barber

The South Platte Ranger District, a branch of the US Forest Service (USFS) that manages the Buffalo Creek mountain bike trail network near Pine, Colorado has denied Revolution Enduro a permit to hold the second annual race in May 2019, citing potential resource damage.

Revolution Enduro was granted a trial permit in 2018 by the USFS. Afterward, the enduro raised over $900 for trail funding and remediated any trail damage that was associated with the race with a crew of trail workers. However, after review, the USFS sent a letter to David Scully, the race director for the series, denying the 2019 permit.

In the written statement they cited safety concerns for trail users because of high racing speeds, and the popularity of the Buffalo Creek trail network to the public and the inability to actually close the trails during a race.

Lastly, the USFS cites potential trail and resource damage from skidding, alternate line creation, and erosion.

What isn’t highlighted in the USFS letter is that a YouTube video may have played a part in their decision.

A preview for the 2018 race filmed by Yeti Cycles rider Nate Hills, where he and another rider are skidding, drifting, and riding alternate or off-trail lines in the video, is also said to have influenced the USFS decision. The video was published on Hills’ YouTube channel and has been viewed over 20,000 times. Hills promoted the new race series over the summer on his YouTube channel and social media, and filmed previews of the race series, the rest of which took place mostly in bike parks.

The USFS decision calls for speculation though, because the Bailey Hundo, a 50- and 100-mile cross country race, is held on the same trail network every year. The enduro’s athlete field was capped at 200, whereas the Bailey Hundo has 500 total athletes.

“Reading between the lines, there’s a bigger problem that they don’t like certain bike riding styles,” said Scully in an interview with Singletracks. He notes that the riding in the race preview video isn’t representative of the riding that happens at Buffalo Creek, even during the race.

A letter from the USFS to Revolution Enduro.

“Those guys are having fun and being playful with features they find on the trail. In a race, you’re a little bit more hyper-focused on trying to get from A to B as quickly as possible.”

The difference between the enduro and the Bailey Hundo however, is that the Hundo has always been a non-profit fundraising event as much as it has been a race. In fact, the registration for the Bailey Hundo costs $50, but requires a commitment of raising another $200 that is ultimately donated to charities. On the front page of the Bailey Hundo website, it boasts that over $75,000 was donated to the race’s partner charities.

The USFS is said to have spoken with Gary Moore, the director of Colorado Mountain Bike Alliance (COMBA) about the YouTube video. The two organizations work closely together as COMBA maintains and builds trail in the Buffalo Creek network.

Screen grab from the video in question.

“In the video, you see a lot of things that land managers aren’t going to like,” says Moore. “It’s pretty aggressive riding, it’s the kind of fantastic promotional videos, that, to be honest, I think really hurt our whole effort. Everybody wants to make mountain biking frenetic and exciting and fast and that’s why they’re promoting the sport, but unfortunately that doesn’t work for us with land managers.”

He also noted that riding off trail around corners is sometimes a signal that the corner needs to be re-routed.

“Creating a bigger radius on a corner doesn’t hurt the land and makes a lot less maintenance,” said Moore in an interview.

Moore thought the video was pretty run-of-the-mill as far as promotional race videos go, although the difference is that it was a first year race on public trails. Moore says the USFS has had a tough time keeping pace with the usage in Buffalo Creek.

“Some of this is just a need for them to reduce the overall activity on their trail systems. They want less events across the board and are struggling with the popularity of the system and their declining budgets and ability to keep the trails and facilities in good shape,” he says.

Singletracks had been waiting to speak with someone from the Forest Service to confirm if the video did play a part in their decision, but with a three-week government shutdown and no end in sight, no one at the agency has been available.

Revolution Enduro shared the news with their social media followers on Jan 10.

“The USFS staff did review the 2018 Followcamfriday, pre-race promotional video and chose the enduro race as the event to eliminate in 2019 to mitigate perceived racer vs. public risk, trail damage, and lessen the event load in Buffalo Creek,” said Revolution Enduro in a Facebook post.

The post also stated that they will continue conversations with COMBA about coordinating trail work and fundraising similarly to the Bailey Hundo, to see if that may make a difference in future Forest Service decisions.

Hills was saddened to hear the news and possible relation between the video and the permit denial.

“I certainly hope that I don’t have anything to do with that decision, the notion saddens me greatly,” he told Singletracks in an email. “My videos are all about having fun and I certainly am not trying to stress any trail politics or anger anyone, in any way. The goal of Follow Cam Friday is to get people motivated to ride.”

# Comments

  • crevasse

    If the video was the reason then I agree with the decision. Buffalo Creek is still “buff” singletrack. It will still eventually be destroyed in places by bad riders who ride too fast and skid through corners and rip up the trail. Skidding is poor form. All of the formerly good trails on the front range and even beyond are victims of crap riders. Rutted messes of trails. I assume the same is true all over the country.

  • dtimms

    There is a lot to discuss here and it is a bummer this race can’t continue.

    1. Nate Hills video – I don’t think there was excessive skidding in this video. To be honest, he is a pro racer and he only really skidded sideways from lack of traction in that kitty litter. There are a couple small brake skids which are nearly impossible to avoid at Buff Creek. Yes, there are some interesting/badass alternative lines, and he should be mindful of that now that we find out the FS is watching Youtube to critique how we use the lands. Overall, citing this video is pretty bad. He rode that area well and totally within control. This is bad on the FS.

    2. Enduro racing and Buff Creek – This is tricky, those soils are super loose so downhill focused racing is going to have a fair bit of skidding and blowing off the trail. That happens in normal soils but the decomposed granite in Buff Creek is really susceptible to brake jack and erosion. I love that they gave back to trail maintenance and I would love to see an example of before and after the race to see if the trail was fixed/maintained after the last event. Otherwise, it is just the FS speculating that it was tore up. On one last note, this is a really cool race and a great place to try out Enduro cause it isn’t a gnarly course. I am bummed as this would be a great entry point to people trying out this type of race.

    3. Baily Hondo can continue but not the RE – Well, to be totally honest, XC endurance racing is not going to damage the trails like an Enduro. I am sure people can show me random examples where this might be wrong but overall, I feel like that is a safe statement. The FS isn’t trying to block all events, they are just trying to limit the trail damage, I get it. Comparing the Baily Hondo to RE is not a fair comparison. I am still bummed RE isn’t happening but saying the Baily Hondo is happening and not the RE isn’t really solid in my eyes.

  • PowderBud

    I’m really on the fence regarding the event, and any events at Buff Ck. I have been riding there for more than 20 years and have seen a definite change in rider demographics, not always for the best. I rode there the week after last years Rev Enduro, I intentionally avoided the weekend of the event. Most of what I rode was not part of the event course but the parts I did ride, didn’t seem to have any abnormal wear or damage to me. I know I’ll be outnumbered with this position, but I’d prefer there were no organized events at Buffalo Creek. With the amount of bike shops, bike clubs and other large groups inundating the BC trails, it’s become a test of patience and temper. The groups I encounter on the trails there are often so large that they impede and even prohibit others from getting by them on the trail at times. The larger the group, the more self centered and discourteous they seem to be. It’s almost as bad as driving on I-70 at times, and not just on weekends anymore. And the amount of litter has increased exponentially. Adding even more pressure by hosting these large events, I feel, just adds to the problem overall. I’m worried the amount of riders and events continuing to grow will lead to a fee based access to the area. That would definitely be the end of it for me, but then, maybe that’s inevitable now.

  • Ledbetter

    Man. If your President cared about climate change as much as these governments focused on trail preservation the world would be a different place. I’m all for respect of the trails but seems like bikers are constantly battling the government in the USA.

    • mtnryder

      A) The President has nothing to do with this decision

      B) The President doesn’t care about climate change as much as you because he’s not a sheep. I guess he realizes none of us can control when the Earth decides it’s going to heat up or cool down, processes which have been occurring for hundreds of millions of years presumably. You ya think the cavemen were whining so much during the Ice Age?

  • Chris Shrimper Khare

    Several years back the USFS hired me to do a trail evaluation prior to an enduro race in NC.The race was capped at 200 riders,the course is shared with a 500 racer and a 200 racer event that occurs a few weeks later.The larger event routes all racers over one mile or so long segment of the trail.That section sees 1200 passes on race day.Both race directors are friends and I’m sure I’m friends with a large number of racers in each event.I was absolutely sure that the 200 rider enduro would do much less damage to the trails just because of reduced passes.The larger event also has enduro stages. The damage after the leger event was minimal,after the much smaller enduro the damage exponentially larger.Whether it’s the pre race practice runs or the racers who race blind and over cook every corner the damage that occurs from enduros is undeniable.Enduros need to happen at private facilities that have staff to mitigate damage,or at OHV parks in the national forest because those spots are trashed already.I think the Whistler trail crew had a similar experience after their enduro.I don’t think race directors can actually charge enough to repair the damage that occurs on enduro race days,and i don’t think they can afford insurance they know they will have to file a claim with.Full disclosure my son races pro level DH and Ihave been to races all over the world as a trail building spectator.Enduros need to be held on private courses. Shrimper

    • cromagno

      finally some common sense!

  • davenuss

    Thank you USFS for considering the impact on trails open to many over the desires of a few. Buf Creek gravel is not the place for a race.

  • CaroCo

    Ummm. Fast & skilled riders exist here. And they’re not going to suddenly ride differently just because it’s not a race day. If anything, they’ll take less chances during a race because there are results on the line. Alt lines are built into these trails. Blackjack was built to attract this level of rider. The pea gravel there is very drifty. These are functions of the trails built, supported by, and designed for riders, and neither the riding style nor the riders are to blame here. Many features were closed off for the race per USFS request, and those requests were respected.

    Ride here on any given weekend and there’s a huge diversity of skill levels, and zero trail conflict. It’s almost exclusively used by mountain bikers. Hell the locals even make cookies for us!

    Having ridden these trails for years, there was a noticeable improvement in the quality of the trail surface post race. They not only went back and fixed any problems, but improved many that were being left unaddressed for years. The race didn’t destroy it. The race made it better. And I bet a lot of that was volunteer hours. Something that is totally neglected in other competitive sports along the front range. You know who destroys trail? New riders who drag brake everywhere, foot races, dogs, and horses. Just stop it with this vilification of mountain bikers who like to get sendy.

    Stop blaming the people and organizers who are utilizing the features that are built into trails, actually doing trail work, and trying to attract more people to the sport in an open, supportive atmosphere that brings a lot of money into these areas.

    And since I bet every single naysayer above enjoys Follow Cam Friday, sit down with your hypocrisy if you’re giving Nate shit for this.

  • DanK_NoCo

    The video didn’t look to bad to me. Seems like they built Blackjack to attract riders like the ones shown in the video.

  • James Rolls

    Sorry, but I see some irony here. The case against eMTBs from MTB riders is the same as the case made against MTB riders from the USFS. Too fast, trail erosion, hindering other trail users. And yet here you are, trying to justify yourselves, and even blaming “inferior” riders for the trail erosion. Experts like you would never cause such a problem. The biggest case against eMTBs is fear that access will be denied or revoked because of eMTBs, and yet it is analog MTB riders who are causing revocation.

  • CycleKrieg

    I’m with the USFS. Shred-bros are doing all mountain bikers a disservice. As an advocate for urban trails and as a trail boss at my local trail system I see the downstream effects of this type of riding being promoted by “pros” and by mountain biking YouTubers.

    First, for those proposing of trails, these types of videos and news stories are used by anti-mountain bikers as “proof” we as mountain bikers and as a community are duplicitous. If a mountain biking club is making the case to a local park service that they are going to care about the trails, environment and fellow users, it becomes that much harder to do when someone is posting their “sick edit” of a local trail with this type of riding. And yes, there have been trail proposals denied because of YouTube videos shown to the decision makers.

    Second, as Trail Boss, I’ve seen an increase in riders watching videos and emulating poor riding techniques. This has resulted in sections that worn faster with skidding or additional lines. That means volunteer hours spent fixing things versus building new things.

  • baillie2

    The USFS are certainly capable of some autocratic, unreasonable, rule-making, but with this issue they have some valid points.
    As a trail builder and recreational tech rider, I hate to see races, and racers, tearing up the trail. Brake bumps, blown-out corners with undercut berms and dislodged rockwork severely disrupt the general fun factor. And……..from these comments, it’s obvious such impact can be quantified.
    And video makers just HAVE to include rooster tails of dirt and duff flying into the air! Granted it looks cool in slomo, but us trailbuilders cringe every time we see that kind of damage. Do videographers go back and restore those cambers afterwards?
    Some instructors try to do a good job of teaching people to feather their brakes but you still see lots of nasty grooves from skid marks.
    So yes………maybe it’s come to restricting racing to special courses. These could still be on public land……there’s a lot of that, but it would need to be self-funded. If you want to race you have to pay your way.
    What happens if recreational riders behave in a destructive and unsafe fashion? Well — if we can’t self-regulate ourselves you can bet we will soon have a smoky dishing out tickets. Our choice……….

    • Sum Guy

      As a guy who has tried to repair the trails he rides, trail bosses make a fuss if we do. I like my trail to run smooth, but trying to keep the trail smooth is a crime. When a trail boss sees guys smoothing out ruts,and braking bumps they are all over it like they were doing damage.

  • Sum Guy

    Trail erosion is a fact of human presence no matter whether you are xc, enduro, downhill or just a hiker.

    Without us having interest going to these parks, the funding we pay to access said parks would disappear with us. Funding is what keeps these parks open so they are eventually shooting themselves in the foot.

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