Editor’s Note: Human Powered

Uniting the adventure tribes

Campfire memories from Sea Otter, 2017. ASJ editor, Matt Niswonger on the plastic horn.

ASJ has a very unique readership. For nearly sixteen years we have sought to appeal to the type of person who participates in a variety of human powered adventure sports in California and Nevada. Among our readers are those who surf, mountain bike, climb and backpack. Over the years our readership has grown quite a bit, and we like to think we are the go-to resource for the multi-sport outdoor enthusiast who enjoys a little bit of everything.

Maybe it was inevitable, but as our readership has grown, a conflict between readers began brewing. This simmering conflict finally boiled over when we published an article called The Battle for Bikes in Wilderness Continues by longtime ASJ contributor Kurt Gensheimer in our last issue.

As a result of this article, a group of ASJ readers gave us an ultimatum: stop publishing articles that promote mountain bike access to Wilderness or we will start a nationwide campaign to put you out of business by pressuring your advertisers to stop supporting you. We first learned of this when some of our advertisers informed us they had already received emails from this group.

In order to comply with the ultimatum ASJ must take two actions: first we must permanently remove the article from our website. Second we must commit to never advocating for mountain bike access to designated Wilderness areas in our pages again.

We have not responded officially to the ultimatum yet, but think it is in the best interest of everyone to comply with their demands. When I informed Kurt that we will most likely be removing his article from our website, he was disappointed but he said he understood.

Dealing with this situation has been humbling and educational. Given that we have worked hard over the years to build a diverse and inclusive forum for outdoor enthusiasts how do we keep our readership intact in the face of strident philosophical differences?

For us, agreeing to the ultimatum is just the first step. More importantly, we want our readers to know that we acknowledge and respect different perspectives. If you are the type of person who feels that designated Wilderness should be defended and protected without compromise, then we respect you. On the other hand, if you believe that mountain bikers have been unfairly excluded from areas that embrace the rest of the human powered adventure sports community, then we respect you too.

It’s important to keep in mind that there is a lot more that unites us than divides us. We follow in the footsteps of John Muir. Like Muir, we believe that time spent communing with nature is restorative, and adventure itself is transformational. Whether you are a backpacker or a mountain biker or a surfer or all of the above, we want to be a source of inspiration and unity, not division. For this reason you won’t be seeing any articles promoting bike access to designated Wilderness. Not because we are choosing sides, but because we choose to hold our community together.

Welcome to issue #97. We are excited about summer and look forward to hearing from you. Did we make the right choice to heal this rift in our readership? What would you have done? Drop me a line: matt@adventuresportsjournal.com.

—Matt Niswonger


Facebook Comments


  1. Carlyle seccombe

    Hi Matt and Kathy,I notice there are these controlling wilderness types in our culture.Please publish closed
    Roads in wilderness areas so I can obey them .ha ha

  2. Paul Hanson South Lake Tahoe

    Man I hate this. I am compelled to comment. I am not a mountain biker, I am a runner, but this is crazy. To be afraid of having articles which might offend some at the expense of others is just plain wrong. These are everyone’s trails, not hikers or runners or bikers or horse riders trails. I understand there are some limited areas which are restrictive but are we now at a place where the narrative is that only I am right and anyone which disagrees or has other preferences is wrong? It is extremely sad if a group threatens to boycott and is rewarded. Have a nice day.

  3. Ken

    It seem thuggish for this group to force their viewpoint by threatening you.

  4. Samantha

    I feel for the position ASJ must have been in to feel you had no recourse but to give in to threats, ultimatums and bullying. But it made me sick to think that people who claim to love the outdoors and the trails think they are theirs alone. The world is changing and everyone needs to adapt – to make space for innovation and creation and a growing population in thoughtful ways. The trails are for all and threatening behavior does nothing to advance promoting healthy collaboration and trail use so that all types of people can enjoy them.

    I also question who these particular ASJ “readers” are that would rather put ASJ out of business by cutting off your revenue stream than have to flip past an article on mountain bike trail access and get on with their day. Who are you people? Be an adult and don’t read what you don’t want but let the rest of the world make their own decision. Free speech, remember?

    I’m sorry you felt you had to give in to these threats. I almost wish you would’ve folded the magazine and started anew – maybe ASJ for Everyone! ASJE. Threats and bullying should not be rewarded. Ever. EVER.

  5. Adam Koch

    This editor’s note was incredibly disheartening. This was the first time I’ve read your magazine, and while I liked the rest of the print, this article set me on fire. How is it acceptable for them to bully you because of their opinions? How is it acceptable for you to give in? What kind of precedent does this set? Is this how mountain bikers would have to behave to get what they want? I understand the position the magazine was put in by these guerilla tactics, but I think this would have been a better opportunity to show how small-minded the opposition is in this quest for shared use of our public lands. This article is a very sad statement of how easy it is for groups to take away the rights of other groups.

  6. David Wilson

    Wilderness should not be shared with our developing legion of machines. AI-supported mechanical design systems will bring new kinds in future years with unintended consequences.

    Without some boundaries, some self-restraint the rich person will be flying their Icon seaplane in to your favorite pristine lake and whipping out their electric hydrofoil surfboard to tool around or run up and down the PCT with biomechanical augmentation at night for a run and gun competition etc etc.

    Note: in the NW part of the state we horse pack in to wilderness to hunt by tradition. Angry people in the back country with long weapons not good for anyone.


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