RIDERS: Stanthorpe Mountain Bike Club members Emma Melton and Stephen Lambert at the Mount Marlay trail.
RIDERS: Stanthorpe Mountain Bike Club members Emma Melton and Stephen Lambert at the Mount Marlay trail. Liana Walker

'Pirate' trails compromise mountain bikers' safety

THE Southern Downs Mountain Biking Club are concerned for rider safety after vandals have created an illegal trail on the Mountain Marlay network.

A "pirate” trail was discovered last Monday on the most difficult trail, The Hammerhead, in a spot that bypasses a more technical spot.

Trail coordinator Nick Nelson said placement of the alternate route put riders at risk.

"The trails are built and audited by trail works - any deviation from their designs compromises the tracks,” he said.

"If you've got two riders, one ascending and one descending the descending rider could not see the other rider and cause an accident.”

Erosion was another major concern for Mr Nelson.

"What people do is they build a direct route down, it funnels the flow of any water down that way and it causes extreme washouts and erosion.”

Mr Nelson said the illegal trail was disappointing but no unexpected.

"When it was the first time, and its quite a large deviation, it came as a bit of a shock.

"We are aware that these deviations are going about and have been happening and we are keeping an eye on them.”

The vandalism has been reported to police, however as a public facilty Mr Nelson said it would be difficult to find the culprits.

"We've just put the word out that we're not very impressed about the vandalism.

"We've been up there already and put a few hefty rocks in those deviations.”

His biggest concern was riders unfamiliar with the trails thinking the illegal trails were an alternative route.

He said if someone did find themselves stuck on the more difficult trail to simply turn their bike around.

"Stick the blue and green trails, improve your ability of riding.

"Once you think your abilities are to a certain standard then you can attempt the more difficult levels.”

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