So Ill locals have long known that the best trails down here are off limits to cyclists. Part of the reason is the political domination of horseback riders, but that’s not really all there is to it. Horses are not allowed from October 31 to May 1, which is the prime period when people would want to ride mountain bikes down here in So. Ill. The real reason is that the IDNR officials don’t want to generate tourism and park use, because it would mean maybe just a bit more work for them. Of course, that’s largely bogus since mountain bikes don’t hurt the trails (horses do….), and mountain bikers are famous for HELPING the trails.
I got busted enflagrante by the IDNR supervisor at Giant City last week. He told me that we can’t ride, and that he’s opposed to changing the policy. And, since some governor who is now in prison appointed him, I guess he can do that—even though he also could change that policy and help to stimulate tourism to our economically devastated region. But the IDNR good old boys are only interested in tourism related to hunting and fishing. They plant fields, build trails, and turn on the lights for the few weekends a year that a dwindling handful of heavy guys drink beer in the woods and shoot at each other. Then, they close the park. That’s a dying strategy. My analyses of General social Survey data show that the proportion of American households with a hunter in them has declined from 30% in 1977 to 17% in 2010….Hunting is a losing game. Our principle tourist draw down here is the Wine Trail, and Southern Illinois Vinters are getting more numerous, better at production, and more successful. When I mentioned this to IDNR-boy, he said “I don’t care what a bunch of business people want.” Across the border in Missouri it’s easy to see the symbiosis of wine and bikes, and I know several of the owners of So Ill wineries quite well, and they’ve even allowed us to have cross races on their property. They get it. The good old boys don’t give a fuck.
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