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Windham international mountain bike race: Not for the faint of heart

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    Richard Moody/Columbia-Greene Media Athletes gather in preparation for the race.
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    Richard Moody/Columbia-Greene Media The Windham’s PRO GRT/XCT EVENT at the Windham Bike Park on Saturday.
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    Richard Moody/Columbia-Greene Media A competitor races down the route.
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    Richard Moody/Columbia-Greene Media Mountain bikers compete in the Windham PRO GRT/XCT EVENT on Saturday.
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    Richard Moody/Columbia-Greene Media Competitors make their way to the event.
August 13, 2017 12:15 am

WINDHAM — Liam Mulcahy, of Ontario, just finished racing, and was covered in sweat, dirt, blood and saliva after riding his bike over a rigorous dirt course at the bike park for an hour and 20 minutes. He was already thinking about what he could have done to be faster.

This is the type of person who races in Windham’s PRO GRT/XCT EVENT that attracts serious mountain biking enthusiasts internationally.

“I would have liked to have been faster on the descents,” Mulcahy said. “The downhills were a little rough, but the course held up well.”

Mulcahy raced at Windham last year, but he faced mechanical problems.

“This was sort of a come-back and an opportunity to get one last rigorous race in before the end of the season,” he said.

The races are a three-day event, Friday through Sunday, with amateur, junior and professional races.

Frederique Larose-Gingras’ two younger daughters were racing at Windham this year, but he and his eldest daughter and his son also compete.

Larose-Gingras and his family came from Quebec so Juliette, 14, and Mireille, 17, could race.

Juliette won first place in the CAT 1 race on Saturday morning, and Mireille was getting ready to compete in the Junior Elite race.

“This course is old school — up and down — I like a race like that,” said Larose-Gingras, who coaches his kids. “We have come here four or five times.”

He said his daughters raced in a championship race in Alberta two weeks ago and it did not go well.

“One fell off her bike and got a concussion, and the other had mechanical issues with her bike,” Larose-Gingras said. “This is a come-back. It is going much better this time.”

Nathan Reed and Josh Miller, of Harrisville, NY, came to Windham to ride in the downhill race Sunday, their first time racing on the mountain.

“We have known each other forever and we have been racing mountain bikes for more than a decade,” Reed said. “This course looks pretty challenging and fun because of the steep incline.”

Miller said the race will take about three minutes.

“I don’t know for sure, we’ll see when I am on the clock,” Miller said.

The friends said they could not remember why they still bike, but just that they enjoy it.

“It is hard to say after all these years,” Reed said. “It is just fun and exciting.”

Rafael Richard, of Manhattan, was hoping to do better at Windham this year.

“We love the trail because it’s downhill and steep, and you can go fast,” Richard said. “I have been riding for a long time, more than 15 years.”

Last year, Richard and his partner placed third and fifth in their event.

“Last year we did pretty well,” Richard said. “Hopefully, we do better this year.”

Bicycles should not be allowed in any natural area. They are inanimate objects and have no rights. There is also no right to mountain bike. That was settled in federal court in 1996: . It's dishonest of mountain bikers to say that they don't have access to trails closed to bikes. They have EXACTLY the same access as everyone else -- ON FOOT! Why isn't that good enough for mountain bikers? They are all capable of walking....

A favorite myth of mountain bikers is that mountain biking is no more harmful to wildlife, people, and the environment than hiking, and that science supports that view. Of course, it's not true. To settle the matter once and for all, I read all of the research they cited, and wrote a review of the research on mountain biking impacts (see ). I found that of the seven studies they cited, (1) all were written by mountain bikers, and (2) in every case, the authors misinterpreted their own data, in order to come to the conclusion that they favored. They also studiously avoided mentioning another scientific study (Wisdom et al) which did not favor mountain biking, and came to the opposite conclusions.

Those were all experimental studies. Two other studies (by White et al and by Jeff Marion) used a survey design, which is inherently incapable of answering that question (comparing hiking with mountain biking). I only mention them because mountain bikers often cite them, but scientifically, they are worthless.

Mountain biking accelerates erosion, creates V-shaped ruts, kills small animals and plants on and next to the trail, drives wildlife and other trail users out of the area, and, worst of all, teaches kids that the rough treatment of nature is okay (it's NOT!). What's good about THAT?

To see exactly what harm mountain biking does to the land, watch this 5-minute video:

In addition to all of this, it is extremely dangerous: .

For more information: .

The common thread among those who want more recreation in our parks is total ignorance about and disinterest in the wildlife whose homes these parks are. Yes, if humans are the only beings that matter, it is simply a conflict among humans (but even then, allowing bikes on trails harms the MAJORITY of park users -- hikers and equestrians -- who can no longer safely and peacefully enjoy their parks).

The parks aren't gymnasiums or racetracks or even human playgrounds. They are WILDLIFE HABITAT, which is precisely why they are attractive to humans. Activities such as mountain biking, that destroy habitat, violate the charter of the parks.

Even kayaking and rafting, which give humans access to the entirety of a water body, prevent the wildlife that live there from making full use of their habitat, and should not be allowed. Of course those who think that only humans matter won't understand what I am talking about -- an indication of the sad state of our culture and educational system.

Now watch the mountain bikers lie and attack me for telling the truth about their selfish, destructive sport!