Marines vs. mountain bikers – lengthy saga finally appears over

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One of five mountain bikers who retrieved his confiscated bike on Monday speaks to a TV reporter. Photo: Courtesy of Richard Duquette

Mountain bikers caught trespassing on a San Diego military base in mid-January appear to have reached a deal with the U.S. Marines that allows them to retrieve their bikes and avoid criminal charges.

Under a settlement announced Monday by attorney Richard Duquette, his five clients could retrieve their bikes immediately if they paid a $250 civil fee and promised not to sue the government.

“I have my bike back and that’s all that matters,” San Carlos, California, resident Bobby Davila told NBC 7 on Monday afternoon. “Nobody got hurt. Everything is cool. A settlement is a settlement, and I just want to move forward and go riding.”

Forty-five mountain bikers were stopped by armed military police on Jan. 16 and 17 on a trail that runs partially through Marine Corps Air Station Miramar. The bikes — some worth as much as $10,000 — were confiscated and the riders were forced to walk two miles back to their vehicles.

The settlement, Duquette said in a news release, “will pave the way for the immediate return of the other 40 bikes, and the resolution of the other mountain bikers’ criminal cases as well.”

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Marines confiscate bikes on Jan. 16. Photo: Courtesy of Damian Hiley

Damian Hiley, one of the other 40 riders, told GrindTV on Tuesday that he was still waiting for permission to pick up his bike and pay his fine.

The mountain bikers claimed there were no visible warning signs and that they did not know they were trespassing. The Marines argued that the trail was properly marked and that trespassing had become a dangerous problem, considering that weapons training occurs nearby.

Because of publicity generated over this issue, warning signs near base property have become more visible.

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Mountain bikers are cited for trespassing on a trail that runs through Marine Corps Air Station Miramar. Photo: Courtesy of Gilberto Ra

Duquette, a longtime advocate for mountain bikers’ rights, stated that “signage issues along the historic Stowe trail [bordering] private and federal land has been substantially improved with the addition of many new signs, so bicyclists and hikers will likely receive better notice before accidentally crossing over onto military land.”

The bikes were kept in a warehouse; some were caked in mud from the sodden day on which they were confiscated.

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Warning signs have become more prominent near the military base. Photo: Courtesy of the San Diego Mountain Biking Association

Duquette told GrindTV that one of the bikes released to his clients had a flat front tire, but added that, besides the mud, there “was nothing major to complain about.”

In a jab seemingly aimed at the Marines, the attorney added, “It was the badge-heavy military that is worrisome.”

It remains unclear exactly when the other 40 bikes will be released.

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