But would people write that stuff if they knew it could come back to haunt them later? Say, be used as evidence in a case against them?
That’s what happened to Berkeley, California’s Mike Vandeman, a self-proclaimed academic and environmentalist, and scourge of the mountain biking community worldwide, but especially in Berkeley.
Last November, Vandeman was found “guilty of two counts of brandishing a deadly weapon and one count of battery” stemming from confrontations with mountain bikers on the trails just above the U.C. Berkeley campus, according to Bike magazine.
The charges came after Vandeman allegedly assaulted numerous mountain bikers with at least a screwdriver and possibly a handsaw.
The bikers were riding on sections of trail that are technically hiker-only, although the authorities apparently haven’t enforced the rule in years and common practice allows mountain bikes these days, according to Bike magazine anyway. (It’s murky.)
Vandeman has made it his personal mission to rid the bikers from those trails, with force if necessary.
During Vandeman’s trial, many of his vitriolic anti-mountain biker blog posts and forum comments served as evidence against him, illustrating a psychology of hatred against mountain bikers.
Such as the post titled Why Are All Mountain Biker Such Idiots?
Or these comments on a biking forum, to a mountain biker regarding the honestly of mountain bikers—
Vandeman: “I’m not angry. I’m HONEST. You wouldn’t know the difference, since you’ve obviously never spent much time around honest people. You spend so much time lying to each other [mountain biker to mountain biker], you forgot what the truth looks like.”
The mountain biker’s response, for reference: “We don’t need to discuss whether or not you are honest to notice how angry you are. That you don’t see yourself as angry is unsurprising, but your actions are those of someone profoundly angry. You don’t know who I’ve spent much time around, nor do you know anything about their level of honesty.”
“Why is the supply of IDIOT mountain bikers ENDLESS?”
“Why can’t mountain bikers EVER tell the truth?”
At first, Vandeman seems part environmentalist and part kook. After you read some of his writings (they’re on his website), you can see he has some points. (Vandeman claims to hold a Ph.D. in psychology from UCLA, as well as a master’s in math from Harvard and a bachelor’s from U.C. Berkeley, according to Bike.)
Mountain bikes accelerate the erosion of trails and increase human encroachment into wildlife areas. True. Trail construction destroys wildlife habitat. True. Noise from mountain bikes affects wildlife. True. Some mountain bikers either “poach” restricted trails or make their own trails. True. Some mountain bikers don’t respect hikers or the environment like they should. True.
And then you keep reading and start to see all the holes in Vandeman’s arguments, and the whole thing begins to look more like a hate-driven obsession than anything else.
This is, after all, a guy who took a screwdriver along with him on hikes in case he ran into mountain bikers on restricted but commonly ridden trails. (To physically remove them from trails, if necessary.)
And a guy who has his own page on the Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance website: The Mike Vandeman Frequently Asked Questions page, that starts with—
Q: Who Is Mike Vandeman?
A: Some guy who really hates mountain biking, thinks all mountain bikers are habitual liars and wants them banned from everywhere except paved roads.
And a guy who seems to enjoy sharing about when mountain bikers hurt themselves. Stories on his website—
• Mountain Biker Crashes Into Rocks, Dies—(WCCO) Bloomington, Minn.; October 15, 2007.
• NBC11News.com; July 20, 2010—Delta girl dies at summer camp.
• The Republic, Columbus, Ohio; May 21, 2012 (posted after Vandeman’s November 2011 conviction, by the way); NASHVILLE, Ind. — A Kentucky man was critically injured in a mountain biking accident at Brown County State Park.
Just getting started. Keep reading with part two of this three-part post: Mountain Bikers Are Sociopaths?…