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Ride with care, please.

Colleen Hannegan

A letter to the Stewards of the Orange County Parks

Yesterday, on Sunday January 4th, during one of my frequent hikes into Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness park, my daughter and I along with an elder couple hiking near us were accosted by a group of 100-200 aggressive mountain bikers as we were heading down a rather narrow section of the Wood Canyon trail. They were racing up the hill across the entire path and running everyone off the trail. We were very close to being hit. Other riders not in this group and runners and hikers were all forced into nearby bushes.

For the ten years I have enjoyed the beauty and restorative experience of hiking and riding my own mountain bike into ”Aliso”, there have been an occasional errant biker. But the majority of the experience has always been considerate and careful riders sharing the trails. 

But yesterday, Rock and Road cyclery hosted an A1 event in the park that included motosport riders, professional racing mountain bike riders and 200 of their customers to race and basically tear up the trail and everyone in their way. No courtesy shown, no patience with hikers, rude remarks from riders when we asked them to stay on one side. It was a free-for-all that left us all feeling sick that OC Parks had allowed a mob-mentality to unleash itself on our beloved park.

 The OC Parks Vision Statement is to “Preserve Orange County’s Parks in perpetuity for the recreation, education, and inspiration of ALL visitors.”

“As a steward of significant natural and cultural resources, Orange County Parks manages and operates a system of regional parks, beaches, harbors, trails and historic sites that are places of recreation and enduring value.”

The sacred space that is our community park system is a gift to our community I value a great deal. It is not a racetrack! I so love my wilderness park at Aliso and the positive healing and joy I’ve discovered biking and hiking in the park, that I wrote a book to share with the world about the healing power and joy there is for all if they will step off the sidewalk and onto a wilderness trail.  

As a professional speaker on the subject of healing in the outdoors, and how being in nature provides better health and happiness,  I teach others to seek peace and healing in the outdoors; in the wilderness. I am a member of the North American Chapter of the International Society of Nature and Forest Medicine and a teacher of Shin-rin Yoku, the Japanese term for healing in the outdoors.

Well, yesterday we were mowed down on that wilderness trail by a mob, who should have never been allowed to have that large a number of aggressive racers on the trail on a very busy Sunday morning. There  were no signs posted that we would be walking right into the eye of a storm of riders. It created a very hazardous situation.

This is no place for that kind of event. This is a preserved space for respectful and careful guests who will do their part to preserve our wild, not rip it up and upset this precious and delicate eco-system.

Who will care for all we’ve saved in the wild if OC Parks, the steward who represents the people, does not?

No more racing! No more large crowds of bikers! Set a limit to the size of riding groups on weekends! No more Sunday events that crowd out everyone else on the most active day of the week!

SAVE OUR PARKS FOR ALL!!

A wilderness loving guest.