Should young children participate in extreme sports?

Yes: 54%
It’s essential that parents take the time to help kids mentally and physically prepare for the sport. My kids go biking with me. My daughter, 8, enjoys going fast downhill. My son, 7, enjoys a more technical trail. I have taught them to control their bikes for what ever might happen.
—Marshall Brown, Myrtle Beach, S.C.

Illustration by Wade Mickley

Let children get out there and challenge themselves. Children should build up to it gradually, as in any other sport. The extremeness of a children’s course should be based on age level, just like all the rest of the sports they do. Get them away from the video games and out there doing something outside.
— WJW, Maryville, Tenn.

No: 46%
Children participating in extreme sports will lead to their being exploited. We’ll end up with kids who were being pushed into severe physical injuries by victory-obsessed parents, just like the severe emotional injuries caused in children’s beauty pageants.
— Cory Greer, Roanoke, Va.

Under the age of 13, I say no. Young kids do not have the developed brains to understand the inherent dangers. A child should develop the motor skills and abilities in a controlled environment. Later in life, these skills can be used for any half-brained extremes they wish to pursue.
—David, Rockville, Md.

 

 

Should mountain bikes be allowed in wilderness areas?

Yes: 61%
There is a lot to be said for the serenity of hiking a trail, but gliding down a trail on a bike invokes a different harmony that can’t be fulfilled on foot alone.
—Mike, Charlottesville, Va.

Mountain bikes are human powered and have little impact if ridden with proper judgment on well-constructed trails. Anything that gets folks outdoors to enjoy the resources tends to encourage folks to protect these resources via votes and volunteerism.
—Derek Turno, Swannanoa, N.C.

Hikers cover less ground than bikers and therefore camp in more spots along a trail. More primitive trail campsites cause greater impact to nature areas.
—Eric, Charlotte, N.C.

There will always be areas that, due to topography, will be unusable for bikes, but I have many times longed to take my bike on some of the beautiful trails that are reserved for hiking alone. Proper trail design prevents accelerated wear by both bikers and hikers.
—Zack Douglas, Charlottesville, Va.

Illustration by Wade Mickley

No: 39%
Mountain bikes cause damage to trails and reduce the quality of outdoor experiences for others in wilderness areas. Plus, some mountain bikers do not follow safe practices of shared trail usage; unfortunately, this adversely impacts access for all mountain bikers.
— Greg Scharer, Waynesboro, Va.

Wilderness areas are about retaining a natural environment for the wildlife living there. It simply cannot be honestly argued that mountain biking is as low impact as hiking.
—Ken K., Blacksburg, Va.

We should keep mountain bikes out of wilderness. I love mountain biking and building singletrack. But I also love going into a place like Linville Gorge knowing that the deeper I hike into the backcountry, the more committing it is and therefore a richer experience.
—Lynn Willis, Boone, N.C.