Malicious vandalism or a practical joke - either way, no one connected to last weekend's Rat Race is laughing.
Planning for the seventh annual Rat Race mountain bike event had been going on for months. Trails were groomed, signs marking the course were put up - everything seemed to be in order for the start of the race, bright and early Saturday morning.
On Friday night, race volunteers went to the course in Roberts Creek to double check on a few things. What they found was disturbing. An idiot or a group of idiots had removed many of the trail markers, turned signs around pointing riders in the wrong direction and posted malicious signs stating riders were destroying trails.
This sporting event brought hundreds of visitors to our Coast for the weekend. They stayed in motels, camped, bought provisions and food in our restaurants - generating thousands of dollars in revenue for Coast businesses. Thanks to organizers Larry and Teresa Nightingale and the hundreds of other volunteers from the cycling community, this event was resurrected when it seemed it would not be staged this year. Previous race organizers Rod and Tanya Camposano did a great job running the event in the past, but needed a well-deserved break. In stepped the Nightingales - and this is the thanks they get? Vandalizing signs and creating potential dangers for the competitors? Most of the riders came from out of town, many unfamiliar with the course. What would have happened it someone went off course and got seriously injured? Who would pay for the consequences then? The cycling community of the Coast is one of the most environmentally friendly groups out there. They treat our trails and our forests with respect. They're certainly not destroying the trails as suggested by these ignorant vandals. In fact, they're doing more to keep them upgraded and in great condition for all to enjoy them.
Vandalism seems to be the cool thing these days. First it was the batting cage in Brothers Park, then the skatebowl. Then a house got trashed during a wild, drunken party. Now someone tried to sabotage a world-class cycling event.
Some in this community need to set their priorities, get their heads on straight and start treating people with some respect. What good is it to have these events and facilities if people take them for granted and destroy the fun for others? It's just so senseless and destructive. We hope the creeps get ratted out.