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  1. #1
    Senior Member robo's Avatar
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    Booby trapped trails - urban (off-road?) legend?

    I just remembered something from a long time ago, when i was into mountain biking in Vancouver, B.C. (early 1990s), and wondered if it was actually true.

    At that time (and still now i guess), there was conflict between mountain bikers and hikers. Mountain biking was new, and many hikers hated mountain bikers, claiming that they destroyed trails and were dangerous and inconsiderate to other trail users. Bikes were not allowed on many trails, but bikers used them anyway.

    The conflict sometimes got ugly, and there were stories of booby trapped trails. The most horrific were of thin piano wire being stretched at face level between trees on downhill sections.. a biker would be decapitated or have their face torn off if they rode into the wire at speed.

    At the time, my friends and I took this to be true, and somebody knew somebody who knew somebody who was horribly disfigured by evil militant hikers.. It occurs to me now that if this was really true, a much bigger deal would have been made out of it.


    Has anyone else heard of this, or was it just a regional urban legend?


    thanks,

    robin

  2. #2
    Big Member cookiepuss's Avatar
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    Well. . .I am not sure of the whole hiker vs. biker part of your story. But I do know from seeing with my own eyes that in places like Jamaica they set booby traps for people poking around areas where they grow Hemp outdoors. I was given a guided tour by a local friend who showed us how they hang small fish hooks at eye level to ward off visitors.

    I have heard of similar things from people who lived in Kentucky. Although people in BC I hear grow it indoors so maybe you're safer there.

    If you Google for it you can get info on how people set traps that grow. As for the piano wire for trails I have never heard of that one. . .

    Just stick to the trails and all is well I would say.

  3. #3
    I couldn't car less. jeff williams's Avatar
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  4. #4
    Chairman of the Bored catatonic's Avatar
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    If I was to witness this behavior....the "trail nazi" had better hope he can outride me, as I will "sabotage" his face with my bike if I ever catch one.

    Unless he owns the land, he has ZERO right to do this, and (IMO) should be beat within an inch of his life and left there to fend for himself, much as how one of his "victims" could have been. I'm all for eye for an eye when the perpetrator is knowingly and willfully doing crap like this.

  5. #5
    Senior Member robo's Avatar
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    I didn't read the whole thread, but saw a mention of the piano wire thing again.. but no specifics..

  6. #6
    Embrace the weirdness. primaryreality's Avatar
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    Something like that happened here, once, on the American River Parkway trail. Here's an article where it's mentioned:

    Trail of Fears

  7. #7
    I drink your MILKSHAKE Raiyn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by robo
    I just remembered something from a long time ago, when i was into mountain biking in Vancouver, B.C. (early 1990s), and wondered if it was actually true.

    At that time (and still now i guess), there was conflict between mountain bikers and hikers. Mountain biking was new, and many hikers hated mountain bikers, claiming that they destroyed trails and were dangerous and inconsiderate to other trail users. Bikes were not allowed on many trails, but bikers used them anyway.

    The conflict sometimes got ugly, and there were stories of booby trapped trails. The most horrific were of thin piano wire being stretched at face level between trees on downhill sections.. a biker would be decapitated or have their face torn off if they rode into the wire at speed.

    At the time, my friends and I took this to be true, and somebody knew somebody who knew somebody who was horribly disfigured by evil militant hikers.. It occurs to me now that if this was really true, a much bigger deal would have been made out of it.


    Has anyone else heard of this, or was it just a regional urban legend?


    thanks,

    robin
    Konarider24 was recently a victim in a booby trap incident. It's no joke

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    I heard something about booby trapped trails around here, makes me glad I'm a roadie type. As long as the militant hikers don't develop a thing against ppl with binocs birdwatching from tame places like those "Nature Centers" I'm OK.

  9. #9
    DEADBEEF khuon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lilHinault
    I heard something about booby trapped trails around here, makes me glad I'm a roadie type.
    The eco-terrorist types who booby trap trails are akin to the danger you'd receive on the road from the idiot motorists who deliberately run you into a ditch, come along side and throw stuff at you or try and push you off your bike. While it does happen, it's not very commonplace. And in both types of situations, when the perpetrators are caught, they should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. BTW, road rides get booby trapped too. The big ride around here this upcoming weekend is the Seattle-to-Portland Ride and while I'm not doing it this year, every year in the past has seen people throwing construction tacks and staples onto the route. It's almost a tradition now to be on the lookout for tacks near Yelm.
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  10. #10
    There was a message here
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    Quote Originally Posted by catatonic
    If I was to witness this behavior....the "trail nazi" had better hope he can outride me, as I will "sabotage" his face with my bike if I ever catch one.

    Unless he owns the land, he has ZERO right to do this, and (IMO) should be beat within an inch of his life and left there to fend for himself, much as how one of his "victims" could have been. I'm all for eye for an eye when the perpetrator is knowingly and willfully doing crap like this.
    I agree with you totally dude. I'd screw him up and leave him there for the buzzards to pick.

  11. #11
    Calamari to go cc_rider's Avatar
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    A few years ago there were several incidents in Prince William County, VA of someone putting caltrops on local trail. Don't think it has happened recently.

    Nails and broken glass happen.

    I've heard about the wire trick, but never heard it confirmed.

    A couple of years ago on a local dirt trail I was returning on a section that had been clear an hour earlier and someone had pulled a section of cut log across the trail at a blind corner. Might have been the kids I had seen earlier on a side trail near there.

  12. #12
    Senior Member Keith99's Avatar
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    Doubt it is true as you reported it. Konarider said it happened to someone he knew. But as someone else posted there are many parts of Hawaii where Pot growers boobytrap trails and other stuff. I both hike and road bike. As a hiker if I found something like this I would either destroy it or mark and report (in the likely vain hope authorities would investigate and find something out). I think most hikers would do the same. Such a trap is a danger for hikers as well as bikers.

    BTW on a legal level if someone sets a booby trap they are criminally liable, sometimes even in cases where if they had observed and shot the person they would not have been. It is NOT legal to set such traps even on your own land.

    On a different level I have seen what may bave been booby traped trails. One in Venice goes by the projects and rumor was that the bad element there would deliberatly break beer bottles on the baik path and mug people when they stoped with a flat. Did I ever see a muging? No, but I did see that there was more glass on that section of trail than any other I have ever ridden and I also noticed that there were gates that could be used to close the trail and for a while it seemed to always be closed at dusk.

  13. #13
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    man-trap Pronunciation: (man'trap")
    an outdoor trap set for humans, as to snare poachers or trespassers.



    When off road motorcycles were popular here, the powerline right-of-way access road was the only place one could ride for any distance. My brother in law was out riding that road and ducked just in time to avoid a single strand of barb wire strung across the road at chest height. He figured that it was done by a nearby house trailer resident living in the woods just off the right-of-way who was fed up with the noise. I can't blame the resident for being irratated, but it didn't justify setting a man-trap which is usually treated as one step below attempted murder by the law even if nobody has been hurt (yet). Setting a trap on their own property doesn't give them immunity, either.

    So I guess it may very well not be an urban legend, although I would be slow to blame hikers for it since they are generally a peaceful lot. Then again, there are twisted souls out there who believe the ends justify the means.
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    Quote Originally Posted by cc_rider
    A few years ago there were several incidents in Prince William County, VA of someone putting caltrops on local trail. Don't think it has happened recently.
    In my part of Pr. Wm. Co., in the late '80s, a sicko occasionally set pipe bombs along the footpath of a local creek that a lot of kids used. They were ignited by a trip wire. The only reason nobody was hurt is because the ignition system was (purposely?) too slow. The unaware victim would keep walking far enough to be out of range when it went off. This went on for 6 months or so. Then the police announced that they had a suspect that they were investigating. Nary a bomb was set after that. Turns out the police were lying. They didn't have a clue who it was. They were trying to spook the guy into stopping. (Don't repeat the deception part, OK? The general public still doesn't know about that. I work at the local paper and got it from the reporter covering the story. )
    Last edited by Hal Hardy; 07-09-05 at 08:14 AM.

  14. #14
    Dog is my co-pilot 2manybikes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Raiyn
    Konarider24 was recently a victim in a booby trap incident. It's no joke
    I could not find it when I searched for it. What happened ?

    Where I live the kids will put glass, huge branches, rocks, and even a boulder the size of a person on the paved bike path in a place where it's very dark. They have hurt a couple of cyclists, I know one of them. The path is patrolled by the Parks Dept. and the Police (not often).

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by cookiepuss
    Well. . .I am not sure of the whole hiker vs. biker part of your story. But I do know from seeing with my own eyes that in places like Jamaica they set booby traps for people poking around areas where they grow Hemp outdoors. I was given a guided tour by a local friend who showed us how they hang small fish hooks at eye level to ward off visitors.

    I have heard of similar things from people who lived in Kentucky. Although people in BC I hear grow it indoors so maybe you're safer there.

    If you Google for it you can get info on how people set traps that grow. As for the piano wire for trails I have never heard of that one. . .

    Just stick to the trails and all is well I would say.
    I'm from Kentucky, and the weed farmers have been known to set traps near their plots. It is pretty rare though, and most of those folks wouldn't grow too near a trail or heavily travelled area. It doesn't make sense for them to set traps that would alert law enforcement to the location of their lucrative crop. I have seen treble hooks hanging from monofilament though, but only a couple of times, and we were hiking way off the beaten path in Daniel Boone National Forest. It is a good idea to turn around and leave immediately any area that marijuana is being cultivated. Before the war on drugs this was not a problem in Kentucky. Legal crackdown=price increase on street=more money to be made=more defense of crop. Law enforcement likes to think the traps are set for them, but I think they are for plant poachers that operate under cover of darkness.

    I have heard a lot of other stories too, but I think if a biker were decapitated by a wire across the trail it would have made national "bike news" if not the mainstream national media.
    Paul the Alloy Addict

  16. #16
    Bike H4><0R TheCahill's Avatar
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    be it true or not, eventualy its likly to happen and the best bet is where your helmet and eye protection and always ride w/ a friend.

    and if you catch a guy doing this whip the tar outa him.
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  17. #17
    Calamari to go cc_rider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hal Hardy
    [B]In my part of Pr. Wm. Co., in the late '80s, a sicko occasionally set pipe bombs along the footpath of a local creek that a lot of kids used. They were ignited by a trip wire.....
    I had forgotten about the pipe bombs. I used to hike in Prince William Forest but stopped about the time the pipe bombs started appearing.

  18. #18
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    In a town 10km from where I live, about once a year I'll see an article in the local paper about how someone tied a fishing line or clear packing tape across a road. Out here in the boonies though, we don't have any cyclists, so a car usually hits it.

  19. #19
    Can't ride enough! Da Tinker's Avatar
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    Two years running, someone has loaded the park road covered by the BP MS 150. Last year was carpet tacks & this year was fence staples.
    Don't know about this year's perp, but last year's offender is in jail with some new roommates. It seems he was found guilty of multiple counts of reckless endangerment.
    Happiness begins with facing life with a smile & a wink.

  20. #20
    accident-prone gboy's Avatar
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    In the regional forest across the street from my house there's a bigger problem with a lot of restricted dirt bikers and atv riders versus equestrians and hikers. I, myself, put fallen branches across heavily eroded open paths, but fell victim to someone else's down a narrow hill path. Currently, I clear the path as best I can to make it safe for all users.

  21. #21
    Senior Member smurfy's Avatar
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    I've heard of the piano wire thing back in the '80s when I was an AMA member and it was done to dirt bike riders, so it's nothing new.
    "You handle it like you handle a bicycle" - Jacques Rosay, Airbus A380 test pilot

  22. #22
    No Rocket Surgeon eubi's Avatar
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    I do a lot of backpacking and I've never seen anything like this on the local SoCal trails. If I did I would dismantle it, even if I hadn't figured out what it was.

    If you allow me to be an engineer for a minute, let's talk about the breaking strength of wire...

    Let's presume steel music wire, AWG 20. This is easy to obtain and relatively cheap. At about .032 dia, this should be barely visible to a cyclist, so this is a conservative case.

    The breaking strength of this diameter is about 225#. If the wire were stretched tightly across a trail, it could be broken with about 20# of normal force. This impulse force would be a short duration, and I doubt if this could dismount an adult cyclist.

    If the wire were slack, however, it would have a better chance of dismounting the cyclist. Naturally, thicker (but more visible) wire would also do more damage.

    Please don't pick me to death on these calculations, they're just approximate numbers for comparison.

    The point of my pedantic exercise is that I wouldn't worry too much about barely visible wire stretched across the trails to decapitate you. This is Hollywood stuff. Even if you didn't see it, you would probably break it before you realized what happened.

  23. #23
    Bent_Rider
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    A friend of mine was caught by a cable strung up by some kids on a MUP. Went OTB and broke his jaw.

  24. #24
    My Duty to Ride dwightonabike's Avatar
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    My grandfather told me that in Italy in WWII, they would weld a piece of pipe vertically from the front bumper of their jeeps when they would travel in areas recently recovered from the Italians. They would regularly hear the "twang!" of broken wire as they drove around in their windshieldless jeeps.

  25. #25
    DEADBEEF khuon's Avatar
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    Maybe we need to start installing some WSPS for bikes.



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