|Route of the Hiawatha trail in Idaho|
However, I am having trouble convincing other websites that there should be a third category of biking besides mountain biking and road biking.
My most recent foray into this topic was with Russell of Alltrails.com. First, I want to thank Russell for replying to my request. I appreciate that he took the time to consider the issue and give me a detailed reply. As with all people in the internet trail business, he is most gracious and helpful.
Here is what Russell had to say about my request:
- Rail trails should definitely not be classified as road biking!! The obvious reason for this is because it does not involve a road, but a trail. In fact, most people who ride on rail trails are doing so to avoid riding on roads.
- It would not confuse people to add a third category. Much more confusing is to classify rail-trails as road biking. By definition, a trail is basically the opposite of a road when it comes to biking and hiking.
- Although many rail-trails are paved/concrete, many (possibly most) are not. Some are gravel, some cinder, some ballast, some dirt... Each one is different. But they all have one thing in common. They are all family-friendly and they all cater to the needs of all demographic groups, unlike mountain biking and road biking.
- Both road biking and mountain biking, at least in the minds of many people, offer some element of danger and risk. Trail biking, once again, is quite the opposite. It is relaxing and extremely safe. It attracts a completely different type of user.
- It is estimated that only 1% of Americans ride bikes on a regular basis. Despite the fact that bike riding is fun, healthy, environmentally-friendly, inexpensive, and (potentially) relaxing, something is keeping people from riding bikes on a regular basis. It is my firm belief that our stringent policy of categorizing all biking into the two narrow categories of mountain biking and road biking is a major factor in the limited biking habits of most Americans.
- I first became interested in trail biking (I was already an avid mountain biker.) when I took my one-year-old daughter on the Hiawatha Trail in Idaho. Of course she was in a bike trailer and I was pulling her behind my bicycle. It was a revelation to me. I loved the idea that I could enjoy trails with my daughter while avoiding the risks of road biking and mountain biking. Our father/daughter biking trips continued on trails such as the Withlacoochee Trail in Florida and others throughout the country. We were biking together, but we were not mountain biking or road biking. My daughter has never been interested in the rigors of mountain biking, and I don't like the odds of serious/fatal accidents involved with her biking alongside large, fast-moving, often distracted drivers and their automobiles. (side note - Believe me, I am the polar opposite of an over-protective parent, and I would gladly allow my daughter to road-bike if she had such an inclination.)
- As I travel the country and ride the various family-friendly trails, I can't help but notice that they attract a completely different type of recreationalist. In general, these people are incredibly friendly, laid back, nature-loving, slow-paced individuals and families. That's what they have in common. What they don't have in common is age, income, background, or lifestyle. They seem to come from all walks of life and have varied ages, backgrounds, and socio-economic status. Most of them have no desire to risk life and limb on a road or mountain bike trail. They just love getting out and enjoying the laid-back offerings of a safe and simple trail.