The American Marine base that confiscated 45 mountain bikes last weekend has met with the local riding community to explain its actions.
NBC San Diego reports that riders were following trails on the eastern edge of the Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, a part of the Sycamore Canyon Preserve, when they were escorted off the property and issued with a $500 citation. The riders will have to appear in court to pay the fine and get their bikes back.
Last night a meeting took place between the base and the San Diego Mountain Bike Association at the Mission Trails Visitor Centre to allow the affected cyclists to air their grievances.
The riders who were caught complained that there was not a fence the whole way round the 23,000 acre base but Col. Jason Woodworth, the commanding officer of MCAS Miramar explained that this was too expensive.
He also explained that an increase in riders had forced him to take action. He said: ““Every time we stop firing out there costs me, as the base CO, approximately $10,000. So you ride through there, we see you, we’ve got to stop firing, now we have to clear that range for two to three hours.”
The San Diego Mountain Bike Association issued a warning on Saturday evening that authorities were starting to enforce trespassing. In the warning it said that 15 mountain bikers had already been affected but a further 30 were caught over the weekend.
The warning said: “We feel horrible about what is happening but the marines have told us this would happen. Our military is at a heightened security alert (for obvious reasons) and must ensure their base is secure. SDMBA is working closely with agencies and land owners for alternate legal options. For now, please let everyone know what is happening.”
The border of the base is not physically marked the whole way round which may have been a cause of confusion for some riders.
MCAS Miramar released a statement on Monday night that said: “It is imperative that anyone who bikes on the eastern border of the base understand that this is part of an active military training area. Military Police Officers patrol the area regularly.
“We have and will continue to work with community organizations, such as the San Diego Mountain Biking Association, to help educate and deter people from coming onto the base illegally.”