There are an estimated 500,000 abandoned mines in the United States, shafts that wind sometimes hundreds of feet underground as well as squirreling above ground around the sides of mountains. There are tens of thousands more in Europe, South American and the rest of the world.
Most American mines tend to be concentrated in the western United States, but there are plenty of abandoned coal mines and trails throughout Pennsylvania, West Virginia and other eastern states. They range widely in size, from very small crawlspaces to stand-up tunnels that can be on average about 8-feet across. They can wind twisting and turning for miles beneath some of the country’s leading mountain ranges.
That’s a big reason why mountain bikers are rapidly becoming “mining bikers.” A biker named Kilian Bron has brought new attention to this emerging sport with a recent short film he posted on Facebook. He shot this at an abandoned mine in France, but he refuses to give any other details to prevent dangerous copy-catting.
It’s important to note, if it still hasn’t occurred to you, that this is EXTREMELY DANGEROUS. If you haven’t mapped out the route, you could easily plunge down a shaft or hit a wall at high speed. That’s in addition to triggering a cave-in.
“If your flashlight dies as you’re pedaling deep into the earth, you’re probably screwed,” Gizmodo also points out.
“Abandoned” is the key word here. Many of these mines are not policed. Many also have served as illegal dumps for years, if not decades. There’s no guarantee of what’s down there – toxic waste, furniture, washing machines, cars, trucks, maybe even bodies.
Bron and his team even warn against trying this. They would not disclose the exact location of their mine.
“We remind our readers that, although old, these mines remain unstable,” Bron writes. “That is why we will not disclose their exact location. According to the premises, these former mine galleries may collapse at any time. We strongly advise against going there.”