Editor’s Note: The Angry Singlespeeder is a collection of mercurial musings from contributing editor Kurt Gensheimer. In no way do his maniacal diatribes about all things bike oriented represent the opinions of Mtbr, RoadBikeReview, or any of their employees, contractors, janitorial staff, family members, household pets, or any other creature, living or dead. You can submit questions or comments to Kurt at [email protected]. And make sure to check out Kurt’s previous columns.
Meet Dr. Jackson Tyler Dempsey. He’s a middle-aged, college-educated psychiatrist who likes to take long walks in the woods with his dog behind his Ashland, Oregon home. For Dempsey, walking in the woods alone was his own kind of therapy. But when a barrage of mountain bikers started ripping downhill on his favorite hiking route, in his clinical opinion, Dempsey felt the best way to handle the situation was to set a series of crude and potentially deadly booby traps that would teach those blasted mountain bikers a painful lesson.
Dempsey strung nylon cord across the trail in high-speed areas while putting down nails and small trees in spots that were nearly impossible to avoid. Three mountain bikers were injured due to Dempsey’s traps, and after being spotted last July near the traps, Dempsey was arrested. On May 1, Dempsey pleaded guilty for setting the traps. He will spend 30 days in jail and has been banned from entering the National Forest surrounding Ashland for two years.
How would you like to get clocked in the head with this medieval contraption?
How would you like to be riding through some pristine Utah singletrack when your bike hits a tripwire and sends a 20-pound spiked boulder into your skull? Not painful enough? What about falling into a bed of sharpened wooden stakes that looks like something out of an Indiana Jones movie? Benjamin Steven Rutkowski and Kai Matthew Christensen were convicted in 2009 of setting both these traps on Big Springs Trail in Provo Canyon, Utah.
These two clowns were found guilty of rigging a Provo, Utah trail with deadly traps.
The 19 and 21-year-old claimed the traps were for wildlife, but it was clear the traps were set to catch unsuspecting trail users. Thankfully a U.S. Forest Service ranger with military training discovered the traps while on patrol, and disabled them before they could harm anyone.
Four years ago in Marin County, where hikers and mountain bikers mix like oil and water, a group was riding an illegal section of trail called Split Rock in the Cascade Canyon area when they came across a series of rusty, jagged surprises. First was a network of barbed wire fences, then giant boulders rolled into the middle of the trail. But what was most troubling was the makeshift spike strip of tall steel fence posts that the saboteurs planted in the ground. Not only were the posts camouflaged with dark green paint, they were pointed up-trail at a 45-degree angle, ready to impale anyone who came across it.
Steel fence posts were set by the MCOSD at a 45-degree angle facing up-trail at mountain bikers. Photo by John Blanchard.
To make the story even more twisted, the saboteurs were not pissed-off hikers; they were pissed-off employees of the Marin County Open Space District. The MCOSD later apologized for the incident, stating the spikes were not intended to harm, only to deter mountain bikers from riding the illegal trail.
It would be way too easy to just go off on another ASS rant about how these people are mentally sick, deranged lunatics who should be locked up in a basement and flogged endlessly. But instead, I’m more curious about why someone would not only intentionally harm other people for recreating in nature, but also why they’d deface the very same trails that they’re so adamant to protect?
Further, what is it that we are doing – or aren’t doing – as a mountain bike community that would drive these people to act in such a deranged and desperate manner? Sure, we can blame them for their actions because they set the traps, but what incident did they experience that produced enough rage and malice for them to set traps in the first place?