Sunday, November 04, 2007

ROMP Christmas Party with guest Joe Breeze


The ROMP Christmas party will be Friday November 30th in Mountain View, California. The special guest this year will be Joe Breeze. Details for the party:

This year's party will be at Michael's at Shoreline Park in Mountain View. Dinner will be served banquet style around 7:30, starting with drinks and appetizers at 6 PM. This year Joe Breeze will be our guest of honor.

Joe Breeze was one of the central figures in the development of mountain biking. He's probably best known as the designer-builder of the first successful modern mountain bikes. Joe became a leading designer and proponent of a sport that has gotten more people on bikes in the western world than at any time since the 1890s. Joe attributes his successes with mountain biking to his passion for bicycling, evident in his oft-quoted line, "We were just havin' fun." Joe has made bicycles his life's work--as rider, racer, designer, builder, and advocate.
More details can be found at http://www.romp.org.

My wife and I have been attending the past few ROMP Xmas parties and have always had a great time. Great attendees, good food and the guests are always interesting. It's a good time in the for Bay Area mountain bikers and an opportunity to dress up, look sharp and party with the legends of mountain biking.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Summary: IMBA Trail Care Crew Visits Santa Cruz

Ryan and Kristin from the IMBA Trail Care Crew visited Santa Cruz last Thursday through Sunday and it was quite an amazing experience. We hosted the crew at our house and it was a real pleasure to get to know them better.

Some of the highlights include:
It was an intense 4 days of BBQs, bike porn and non-stop beer. The BBQ, firepit, chairs and ice chests full of beer were utilized by the myriad of wandering bikers just dropping in throughout the weekend. There were 4 waves of attendees showing up at the "after party" following the Seabright party. Some pictures of the festivities are here: http://picasaweb.google.com/mark.davidson.sc/IMBAClubCareVisit.

Having Ryan and Kristin stay allowed us to immerse ourselves in the introspective process of determining the direction of the club. Eve is the treasurer and Daryl (the interim VP) stayed at our house for a night. Having many of the club officers present for the many of the breakfast, lunch and dinner sessions created valuable opportunities for discussion.

Slow speed Sunday morning came and the weather was nice and sunny but a huge mental fog wafted over my brain from all the alcohol the day before. Ryan and Kristin were planning to hang out on some beach for a few hours before heading up the coast to San Francisco for their next visit. A few days later Kristin sent me the following email:
Howdy Mark,

I just wanted to thank you for organizing such a great weekend and for your work over the past several years. We had a fantastic time meeting so many different types of folks from the Santa Cruz community, everyone from industry folks, a huge female turnout at the group ride, to the smoking rider. Oh, we even got to see Umbrella Man on our way out of town. We officially heart Santa Cruz.

And a big thanks to Eve for the best home cooking we've had in the past two years and to Jade for fully appreciating the undeniable awesomeness of the Pegacorn.

-Kristin
It was fun hosting Ryan and Kristin of the IMBA Trail Care Crew. They are a fun couple and great ambassadors of mountain biking. Ryan and Kristin turned their passion for advocacy and riding into a career. They spread the goodness of mountain biking to communities all over North America like Johnny Appleseed. Mountain biking is awesome not just for the cool bikes and the great places to ride but also for the great people you meet. I'm hoping to see them again soon.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Mountain Bikers of Santa Cruz donates $3000 to support IMBA California

Tom Ward from IMBA California attended the MBOSC 10th Anniversary party last Saturday.

Tom retired as the manager of recreation at California State Parks in Sacramento a few years ago. His position as California policy analyst for IMBA was originally underwritten by Specialized in early 2006.

He is working on policy issues which impact mountain bikers in all of California including Wilderness designation boundaries which will maintain existing and future mtb trail networks, lowering the red tape for trail projects, lobbying State Parks for more trail access and building coalitions with equestrian groups. He has a lot of connections in Sacramento and he's a guy who can get the meetings with decision makers and push the mountain biking agenda. He is great at articulating the mountain bikers point of view and he has an Teflon coated bull s**t detector. He is the best thing to happen to mountain biking in California since the Marin County Repack races in the 70's.

During the announcements, MBOSC issued a donation of $3,000 to support Tom's efforts in Sacramento. The future of MBOSC and other clubs will leverage the great work done by IMBA California. We recognize the importance of Tom Ward and IMBA to create more riding opportunities for mountain biking which will benefit all riders in California. We support IMBA California and so should you.

MBOSC's 10th Anniversary Party at Seabright Brewery

MBOSC celebrated it's 10th anniversary at Seabright Brewery last Saturday. It was an excellent celebration on the patio with great weather, great friends, the old Santa Cruz advocates, the IMBA Trail Care Crew and some equestrians, special guests from the trail building community and Tom Ward from IMBA California.

Everyone had a good time. Charlie Meehan - the owner of Seabright - was on the BBQ grill and offering free BBQ appetizers. He also gave party attendees $5 pitchers of fine beer which was brewed on the premises. The Oatmeal Stout was fresh this week and was a huge hit. The Double Wide Ale was tasty and packed a punch of 8.5% alcohol. I stayed away from the Double Wide. I wanted my speech to be coherent.

It was great to see so many people passionate about advocacy and beer. Charlie made the comment later that this group provided a lot of interesting conversation and were very appreciative and polite to him and his staff.

I gave a speech which recognized the early founders of MBOSC which included Keith Kelsen, Geoff Smith, David Baskin, Doug Landaur, Don Carol, Mark Woodhead, Dawn Weathersbee and Caroline Murphy. Local trail building legends Bud and Emma McCreary graced us with their presence. Bud and Emma are responsible for most of the best legal single track trails in many of the area parks including Wilder Ranch and the U-con trail. We publicly thanked them for their work over the past few decades in building the trails that we all enjoy.

I discussed the future of the club and asked for communityy support to achieve big projects like Coast Dairies. The importance of the work of Tom Ward and IMBA California was emphasized and we gave him a $3,000 check from MBOSC to support his efforts. Finally, I thanked the existing pool of volunteers who help with current events and initiatives in MBOSC.

The party lasted for a while. Lots of beer was drank and many good conversations were had. We went back to our house for the after party where waves of mountain bikers arrived to hang out around the fire pit, drink more beer and talk about the direction and organization of the club.

More pictures from the party here.

We would like to thank Charlie Meehan and his staff at Seabright Brewery for hosting our party. Charlie is an awesome supporter of mountain biking in Santa Cruz and we support him too. Thank you for an awesome venue to hang out, the appetizers and the great beer. Beer is the fuel of mountain bike advocacy.

The future of mbosc is looking pretty good. Stay tuned for the 20th anniversary party...





Saturday, October 20, 2007

Saturday Group Ride with the IMBA Club Care Crew

Kristin from the IMBA Trail/Club Care Crew joined us on the MBOSC Saturday Club Ride at Wilder Ranch. There were about 20-25 attendees including a great representation of first time attendees and many women cyclists.

It was a great day for a ride. Conditions were perfect. There were a few guys on the ride who have never ridden at Wilder before. I rode with my daughter on the trail-a-bike.

The whole group rode together to the vista at the top of Zane Gray cutoff and then we split into a few groups. A bunch headed up to upper campus, most of the women riders did a few loops within Wilder and Jade and I cut out early to play at the Ranch. I heard that others joined the group but met up from different entrances to the park.

Many of the attendees also came out to party with us at Seabright later. Another fine day in mountain biker paradise.



Friday, October 19, 2007

IMBA Club Care Session

On Oct 18th the IMBA Trail Care Crew hosted a club care session at Giro/Bell Sports in Santa Cruz. The focus of the meeting was to revitalize the local club (mbosc) but most of the attendees wanted to hear about the new opportunities in Santa Cruz County. The meeting was well attended by high profile people in the local mountain bike community. Some of the attendees included Mike Ferentino from Santa Cruz Bikes, Jesse Nickell from Barry Swenson Builder, a few employees of Fox Racing Shox, some local bike shop owners and the core MBOSC Lieutenants. MBOSC provided beer and snacks.

There was a short presentation on the potential of mountain biking and events at Coast Dairies and then the Ryan and Kristin from the Trail Care Crew did a presentation on building sustainable clubs. The presentation was valuable and we definitely learned a lot about how to build and run a sustainable club. One of the most interesting parts was the identification of the 3 distinct roles of the club: Political, Physical and Social. The political includes advocacy and outreach work. Physical is represented as trail work which builds political capital in the form of sweat equity. Finally, the social component include events and is the means at which new people join the club and feel the connectedness of the community.

Ryan and Kristin also presented a model for sustainable volunteer organizations. At the top, you must have a board of directors who set the direction of the club, help raise funds and has outside contacts in the community. Followed next is an executive level overseen by the board and includes President, Secretary, Treasurer and other roles. Finally, there are committees which represents small working groups of people with common interests within the club. The committees are where the real work for the club is done. They do all the planning, brainstorming and create task (or "wish") lists. The wish lists seems to be a key component for maintaining the sustainability of the club which are published on the web site and mailing lists. The idea is that members can look at the wish lists and accomplish a task that is within their interest, energy and commitment level. The idea is that this will broaden participation beyond the "core group". Wish lists provide the means for which the membership can contribute to the success of the club without having to take on a permanent role or a large open ended commitment. This type of organizational structure is not new but it does seem like an effective way to organize a volunteer non-profit group.

After the presentation, the Ryan and Kristin handed out index cards in which each participant listed his top 3 priorities. The cool thing is that most of the people in the room were united in the fact that there is a desire for more legal single track. The idea of a jump park/freeride/pump track type experiences in Santa Cruz scored really high. Surprisingly, the desire for more family and kid friendly places for kids to ride scored high but event venues were not so prominent. This survey was not scientific and just reflected the goals of the people in the room.

Many of the people who came to the meeting wanted to hear about South Park rather than hear how to rebuild mbosc. Unfortunately, there wasn't a lot of news on that front. I seriously doubt that South Park is going to happen. Perhaps I'll blog about the reasons in a separate post.

In any case, the Club Care Session at Bell Sports was very informative and inspiring. We will be applying most of these core principles to mbosc to transform us into a more sustainable organization. We're starting from the top and will be remaking our board of directors.

More on this later as we make progress...

Friday, October 12, 2007

South Park: More fun than a 5 assed monkey

Do you like dirt jumps, pump tracks, downhill, built stunts and gravity riding? Are you fed up with land managers plowing your favorite jumps and destroying your ladder bridges? Do you want to have a place you can hold races and events in Santa Cruz County?

We have an opportunity for creating a mountain bike park in south Santa Cruz county on 2,500 acres of private land south of the city of Watsonville. It would be great to have this place developed as an IMBA ride center. California needs a ride center and it would be great if it were located in Santa Cruz County near the bike industry and within a short driving distance of 10's of thousands of mountain bike enthusiasts.

This piece of land has the potential for XC, cyclo-cross, dirt jump, DH and DS type riding experiences. We could also have product demos, video and photo shoots, events and races. There could be partnerships between local riders, bike shops, event promoters, the economic development agency of Watsonville and local bike companies. It could be our little mountain bike playground where we can dictate the terms of use we won't have to share our trails with motos, hikers or equestrians.

Will there be events at South Park? How about construction? Rentals? Will there be permits or pay by day entry? Who knows? It's really up to us to built it and figure out how it could work.

Next Thursday we will have stakeholders including IMBA reps, local bike industry, local bike shops, racers, race supporters and active members of the community together in the same room . If the community feels that this is a worthwhile project to pursue then we should do this. It will be a lot of work to develop South Park but it would be a valuable asset to the mountain bike community.

I want to emphasize that it is really up to us to make it happen. No one is going to build a mountain bike park in Santa Cruz County except for the mountain bike community. We have all the resources in this community to get it done: money, expertise and volunteer labor - but we need the initiative. I'll definitely volunteer my money, time and expertise to help make this happen.

Come out to the IMBA Presentation and workshop at Bell Sports/Giro next Thursday Oct 18th from 7 pm - 9:30 pm to learn more about "South Park".

Lets make this happen!

Monday, October 08, 2007

3rd Annual Santa Cruz "Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day" was a big success!


The third annual Santa Cruz Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day was held at DeLaveaga Park this year and it was a great success. The kids had a lot of fun.

After registration and bike and helmet check, the kids went on the skills course to learn braking, bike control and balance. We would observe the kids on the challenging terrain and adjust their bikes to fit them better for off road riding. After a safety talk and a group picture, the kids split into two groups and rode the trails at DeLaveaga.

The kids got a real redwood forest single track mountain biking adventure. The little kids rode the fireroad uphill to the quarry, played and then did a gentle fireroad downhill back to the picnic area. The bigger kids did the more challenging lower loop trail. After getting familiar with the trail on the first lap, they did another loop with more confidence and control. After the ride, the kids and parents came back to the picnic area for snacks, drinks and schwag.

MBOSC would like to thank the Elayna at Fox Racing Shox and Mike and Juli at Santa Cruz Bikes for donating hats, T-shirts and stickers. Saskia at BikeSmart for letting us use the cones/pylons. Piet and Bonnie at Bike2Work for donating orange juice, bagels and strawberries. Also, we would like to thank IMBA for promoting this event nationally and ClifBar for the energy bars.

We would also like to thank our volunteers for helping to build the skills course, leading the rides and encouraging the kids: Rich, Dan,Daryl, Sebastien, Becky and Matt. I would really like to give a special thanks to my wife Eve who picked up so many pieces and details and ensured that all the mundane stuff like waivers, insurance, first aid and other logistical minutiae were properly dealt with.

Finally, I would like to thank the parents and the kids for showing up at our little event. I'm very pleased that you brought your kids to experience real mountain biking. Mountain biking brings kids into nature and challenges them physically and mentally - which builds self confidence in their abilities. It offers them a really fun outdoor adventure while giving them an effective workout. We believe that mountain biking is good for the mind, body and soul and it was nice to share with your kids this very positive activity that we all love to do.

Pictures of the event can be seen here: http://picasaweb.google.com/mark.davidson.sc/TakeAKidMtbDay2007

Friday, October 05, 2007

IMBA Club (Trail) Care Crew will be coming to Santa Cruz Oct 18-21

The IMBA Trail Care Crew will be coming to Santa Cruz on the weekend of Oct 18-21st, 2007.

The IMBA Trail Care Crews are sponsored by Subaru and travel year-round throughout North America and beyond.

Kristin Butcher and Ryan Schutz will be the crew who will be visiting us and they will be working with MBOSC and the community to help build the club and improve mountain biking opportunities.

We have a few events that week:

IMBA TCC Presentation and workshop
Thursday Oct 18th 7:00 - 9:30 pm
Bell Sports/ Giro 380 Encinal Street, Santa Cruz

The IMBA Trail Care Crew will give a presentation and workshop and share techniques that will grow the mountain bike community. Refreshments will be served.

Group Ride for all skill levels
Saturday Oct 20th 10 am
Wilder Ranch State Park

Come out and ride some some of the trails in the local parks.

MBOSC 10th Anniversary Party
Saturday Oct 20th 4:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Seabright Brewery, Santa Cruz

Come and celebrate the 10th anniversary of MBOSC with a BBQ and some great Seabright Beers.

IMBA CCC Visit Flier

It should be a great week to hang out with the mountain biking community and create some common goals. How about a venue for 24 hour racing, high school racing and cyclocross within a 20 minute ride from westside Santa Cruz? We can make it happen.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Seabright Beer in Dirt Rag

I got the latest issue (#131) of Dirt Rag in the mail today. I was really happy to see that they covered the Blur IPA and the Oatmeal Stout in the "Beer Me" column.

Maurice is an IPA fan and he waxes poetically about the Blur: "Blur starts with a burst of malty sweetness, followed by a dry, hoppy twang, and finishes with an aftertaste that lingers as long as you carry on. Nothing like a nice burp ten minutes later to see how the hops are sticking with you. It's a party in your mouth!".

He describes the Oatmeal Stout as: "Toasty, with much of the caramel-y quality of the Blur; I think they are doing something special with the malt in the process. Another word that came to mind was clean."

I guess the Kenny wasn't his bag: "All I remember was, whoa, that's a lotta hops. Anyway, I hear it's a local favorite". It is indeed my favorite.

It's really interesting to see him write about beers that I'm very familiar with. They also give a plug for MBOSC. Thanks Dirt Rag!

When in Santa Cruz come down and experience these great beers yourself. There is nothing better than a killer ride in the redwood forests of Wilder/Gray Whale and upper campus. Finish the ride with a spin back back into town on the bike path. Down Shafer and through Natural Bridges to ride along the ocean's edge along Westclif Drive. Take in the ocean views and watch the surfers, the sea birds and maybe an otter or two. Ride across the Beach Boardwalk to check out the babes in bikinis playing beach volley ball. Over the railway trestle, down a couple blocks to the patio of Seabright Brewery where you can hang out and get a pint of Kenny brewed on premises and a salmon fish and chips. Ah California! Life is good.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Elevated Trails for Kids

I spent some time on Sunday helping out the Monterey Off Road Cycling Association (MORCA) folks. I saw a bunch of pictures of the skills course that they built for their spring kids day and I was really impressed with the quality of the stunts. It would great to provide a similar experience for our local kids so I decided to drive down the coast to help with the construction and learn how to build these platforms.

Ken is a master builder of elevated trails. He built a little elevated riding area in his backyard which formed the basic design of the MORCA platforms. He gathered scrap wood in the area- which included palettes - and we tore them apart to salvage the good pieces. He used new 2x4s for the framing and cut lengths of 12" and 16" for ladders and spaced them apart. It helps that he has a pneumatic stapler and nail gun to put them together quite quickly.

These kids are going to have a blast riding this stuff. MORCA's "Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day" Monterey will be at Toro Park this year. Check out this page for details: http://www.morcamtb.org/content.php?id=34

The Santa Cruz skills course will not be as ambitious as MORCA's. The focus of our skills course is to prepare the kids to ride the single track trails of DeLaveaga. We just want them to practice their braking, challenge their ability to ride over rough terrain including bumps, rocks and roots and to navigate through narrow single track. We also want to include aspects of trail etiquette so that the kids know to "go slow, say hello" when encountering other trail users.

Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day will be on Saturday October 6th. The events in the Monterey Bay area will be held:
Come out and bring a kid. Better yet, come out and volunteer and show a kid how fun and cool mountain biking can be!

David Vincent, California State Parks

David Vincent has been the District Superintendent of Santa Cruz area State Parks for the entire time that I have been living in Santa Cruz and involved in bike advocacy. Dave is retiring at the end of this month and it represents the end of his 32 year career at State Parks. I remember meeting David Vincent at a Coast Dairies public meeting back in 2003 and he seemed like a great listener. More recently, I have been meeting with him and talking to him on the phone about mountain bike access issues and he is always fair and reasonable in his dealings with user groups.

The old timers in MBOSC gave me a couple of nice anecdotes about Dave Vincent:
Dave was introduced to MBOSC on the first week of the job. Grey Whale was about to be opened and there was a problem with the fire road known as "Woodcutters". It needed repair otherwise it would not be approved as an "open trail" by the California Coastal Commission. Dave authorized Bob Culberson and MBOSC crew that Saturday to go in and fix all of the problems on Woodcutters before the approval the following week by the Coastal Commission. Thanks to Dave we got it opened!

Dave has always been a proponent of one trail-multi use. This concept has driven his support of continuing mulit-use trails in Wilder. He used to say: "There just is not enough land to support two trail systems". He has always appreciated the support that the mountain biking community has done over the years to develop and maintain the local trails.
This State Parks district has the most public land out of any land management agency in Santa Cruz county. There are a lot of people in Santa Cruz who are passionate about the environment. Dave had a pretty tough job as the District Superintendent and he was always in the cross hairs of mountain bikers, environmentalists and dog walkers. Everyone wanted something from State Parks and Dave was the one they went to. Dave had a tough job balancing the needs for recreational access and resource protection. He has to weigh all of these competing influences and do it with budgets which have been sliced to pieces in the past decade.

MBOSC would like to thank Dave for his many years of service to Santa Cruz County and managing our amazing public parks. We wish Dave Vincent the best of luck in his future endeavors. Thanks Dave for all your great work!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Take a Kid to DeLaveaga Oct 6th

My family and I went to Delaveaga Park today to do a test run for the young kids ride as part of Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day. We wanted to put kids under 7, trail-a-bikes, trailers and child seat riders on an out-and-back along the fireroad. We were concerned that it may be too much climbing for kids on training wheels and recent 2 wheeler riders.

Jade, our five year old, just learned to ride on 2 wheels earlier this summer so she's a great test pilot. We helped her with some of the climbing but the ride back was a fairly gentle grade and she could ride it herself. In fact she had a blast riding back down! I shot some video of her ride and it turned out so well that I decided to cut it into a promotional video.



Jade is no ordinary 5 year old. She kicks ass! She got riding tips from Chris Duncan and her parents - who are excellent mountain bikers - have been riding with her and taking her to bike events all her life. I'm really proud of the fact that she picked up mountain biking so quickly. She understands how to pedal, shift gears, pick lines and how to go over rough terrain. She has been mountain biking since she was a year old so she has probably absorbed a lot over the years. Yes, I'm a proud parent.

Jade really enjoyed the ride so we decided that this would be the right ride for the young kids. The route will be along the fireroad from the Lone Tree picnic area to the dirt jump quarry and back. The bigger kids will do the lower loop single track trails. Perhaps in the afternoon, we'll take the more advanced kids and mountain biking parents to "Top of the World". DeLaveaga is a small park but there are a lot of fun trails in there. All of the trails are redwood forested technical single track. All of them are open to bikes.

Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day is Saturday Oct 6 this year. TAKMTBD is a national event and there will be events all over the world. MBOSC will be hosting Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day at Delaveaga Park, Santa Cruz. There are numerous ride options at DeLaveaga and we'll have a skills course. We will have snacks and drinks and a free raffle for the kids. Santa Cruz Bikes have been very generous and donated some soft goods for the kids (Thanks Mike and Juli!).

Monday, September 17, 2007

Bear Mountain Cycling Adventure at Roaring Camp

The Bear Mountain Cycling Adventure program is a new program which will be offered by Roaring Camp in 2008. It's a shining example of a great eco-tourism experience which combines learning about the local history of Roaring Camp and the biological species which inhabit the old growth forest. On top of that it's an enjoyable ride thought the woods.

My wife, child and I were on the inaugural intermediate program run to give feedback on the experience. I have been interested in this program since it combines a docent led outdoor educational experience with mountain biking - a challenging physical activity.

Paul Nakamoto - the Director of Business Development at Roaring Camp and a mountain biker - helped to develop the program. Our guide and docent was a Cabrillo College student Eric Lynberg. I was really impressed with Eric's knowledge of the forest. He grew up in the San Lorenzo Valley and learned about the forest and plants from his parents - who were passionate about nature and the outdoors. This job represents an amazing opportunity for him to combine his passion and knowledge of the forest with his love of mountain biking.

The adventure starts with a fire road climb to the top of Bear Mountain with stops along the way so that Eric could discuss some interesting historical and biological points of interest. This breaks up the climb so that you can savor and learn about the forest - and take a breather if you aren't physically up for the climb.

The Roaring Camp property was spared the logging that took place in the Felton/Henry Cowell properties. Many of the old growth redwoods and douglas fir are still standing. Eric identified and pointed out interesting examples of redwood (with spurs which are characteristic of old growth), manzinita, madrone, ponderosa pine, coffee berry, douglas fir, tanoak and bay trees. He knows how the indigenous Ohlone Indians used the local plants for food, customs and medicine. He also discussed the local history of Roaring Camp railroad and Felton.

At the top, we would rendezvous with the tour train at Bear Mountain to hear the conductor discuss the cathedral grove fairy ring. After the train left, we headed for a thrilling and swoopy downhill single track run back to the Roaring Camp grounds. My daughter was laughing and enjoying the ride down from the back of a trail-a-bike. Weeeee!!

It was a great adventure and it was the first time that my wife and daughter had ridden in this part of the forest. Eric was impressed that I managed to clear all the logs and A-frames pulling a trail-a-bike. I've had a lot of practice.

The Roaring Camp folks really figured out how to do eco-tourism safely. Eric has first aid training and carried a kit and a radio. He was in steady communication with operations and understood the train schedule so that the ride doesn't interfere with the running of the trains. He carried a GPS device that contained a map with way points that showed his exact location. The way points were co-ordinated with emergency services so that response time would be very quick if an accident were to occur.

I have been looking for a program like this to promote as a great activity for middle and high schools. Not only could it satisfy criteria for outdoor education (they are working on expanding the program to satisfy educational curriculum) and it could instill a love of nature in students (Eric's enthusiasm is infectious) but it could also help to mitigate the effects of a sedentary lifestyle by providing a physically challenging mountain bike ride.

Roaring Camp offers several outdoor adventure programs including the Bear Mountain Cycling Adventure. Pricing is reasonable at $25 (if you have your own bike) for a great interpretive ride through the amazing biodiversity of the old growth forest. The downhill run is pretty cool as well. A great value for sure.

Consider checking out the Roaring Camp Outdoor Adventure program if you come to the Santa Cruz area and are looking for an interpretive experience combined with a guided ride though awesome forested single track. You'll love it!

Nat and Rachael Lopes of Hilride

Nat and Rachael Lopes were part of the IMBA Trail Care Crew for 3 years and in that time had traveled across 46 states and 9 Canadian provinces. Soon after "retiring" from the TCC, they came home to California to form Hilride Progression Development Group. Hilride is dedicated to realizing the potential of the global mountain biking movement by helping with community planning and assisting with the creation of the facilities and trails to realize the full economic potential of mountain biking. Hilride has also assisted in running events like the IMBA California Ales and Trails in Marin County earlier this summer. Currently, Hilride is helping to develop mountain bike tourism in Croatia.

MBOSC hired Hilride to attend a meeting with our District State Parks office and help us do a trail assessment in Castle Rock. This assessment helped the District determine the multi-use suitability of the Castle Rock portion of the Bay Area Ridge trail. They also attended the MBOSC meeting that evening and entertained us with movies and stories of mountain biking in far away places.

I really admired their professionalism and experience. On the trail in Castle Rock they would immediately recognize issues and prescribe solutions. They educated the State Parks staff about trail issues which related to mountain biking which included safety, mitigating trail use conflict, maintenance, environmental sustainability and providing a great user experience. Nat and Rachael work really well as a team. Their experience and backgrounds perfectly complement each other. They produced a high quality trail assessment very soon after the walk.

I really enjoyed working with Hilride and I would highly recommend their services. If your community needs experienced mountain bike advocate/trail/tourism consultants then consider hiring them. MBOSC would gladly hire them again and we hope to work with them again in the near future.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day will be Oct 6th @ DeLaveaga

Come join Mountain Bikers of Santa Cruz for a fun day at DeLaveaga park on Saturday Oct 6th. Take this opportunity to introduce a kid to the great sport of mountain biking and the forested trails in DeLaveaga park. Participants will also learn about bike safety, trail etiquette and bike handling skills.

There will be snacks and drinks after the ride and many items given away after the ride. There will also be a skills course where kids can work on their balance and bike handling skills. So come out and make a day of it!

See this page for more details.

This will be the third year that MBOSC has hosted this event. These events are a great way to get kids excited about mountain biking. The first time we did this event it exceeded my expectations. The kids really loved it. You can read about the 2005 event and the 2006 event.

The previous Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day events were held at Wilder Ranch. We wanted to move the venue to DeLaveaga park in central Santa Cruz because it's a family friendly venue and we wanted the kids to experience the joy of riding in redwood forested single track. Wilder Ranch is a great place to ride but it is too far for little legs to pedal to get to the forests.

I'm looking for volunteers to help out. Please contact me if you're interested.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Laird Knight of Granny Gear Productions

One of the best things about being involved in bike advocacy has been the great people that I have met. I'll be writing a bit more about the people I have met over the past couple of years as a result of my advocacy efforts.

Laird Knight is the pioneer of the 24 hour racing format and the man behind the Granny Gear Productions. He is a gentleman and has been honored by his peers by being inducted into the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame.

I met Laird in Washington, DC during the Bike Summit earlier this year. I was really interested in his talk about the economic impact of his 24 hour event on a local community and how these races provide memorable lifetime experiences for the participants. During an evening walk to a DC restaurant for Tapas and beer, I talked to him about bringing a 24 hour race to Santa Cruz and discussed the possibility of using the Coast Dairies property as a future venue. Laird was interested in this proposition and we have kept up correspondence.

He flew out in August and stayed with us for a few days for a BLM meeting and a peek at the Coast Dairies property. He was a great asset in the BLM meeting since he has a long term relationship with the BLM near Moab. He is a articulate advocate of mountain biking on public lands and he made a great impression with the Field Manager.

He has the curious mind of an engineer/scientist despite the fact that he has no formal education as an engineer. He is interested in science and keeps tabs on technology and knows how to leverage technology to improve the race experience. Laird is the inventor of the 24 hour race format - which has been copied by many race promoters. However, he doesn't seem resentful about the fact that others have stolen his ideas. He seems amused and flattered. Having more promoters do the 24 hour race format increases the market (and racers) for 24 hour racing and that can only benefit all the promoters. The competition doesn't stop him from innovating. He continues to dream up new ways to improve the experience of Granny Gear races.

Laird is an amazing guy to know. I am really happy to have him as an ally partner and friend in advocacy.

Public Service Announcement

Saw this on a ride the other day...

Shame on you, hippie for f**cking up UCSC's sign!

Anyway, as a mountain biker, I'm not ashamed. I practice sustainable recreation and I know that the forest is a resilient ecosystem. Besides, the upper campus is hardly a wilderness area. The winter runoff from the roads and the parking lots are funneled into the creeks and cause more erosion in a good storm than thousands of bikes over several decades.

Debating about the impact on the forest becomes moot when UCSC implements their Long-Range Development Plan. The supreme irony is that the forest surrounding this gate will be completely developed with student housing and academic buildings by 2020 according to the UCSC plan (see Figure 20 p. 66). Most of this forest (and the trails) will be gone. Pipedream, Ridge Trail, Rock and Roll, Garden of Weeden, Geoff's trail, Swamp trail, Mr. Twisty, RV Park will be a memory.

Heed the words of Jim Morrison: "I wanna have my kicks before the whole sh**house goes up in flames". Get it while you can but be nice out there. Ride slow, say hello and smile like you love the forest. Because you do. You're a mountain biker.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Mountain Bike Friendly Restaurants and Hotels

What attributes does a hotel and a restaurant have before you would consider it to be a mountain biker friendly establishment? The following is a partial list of properties that I look for when looking for hotels/motels and restaurants when I do a mountain bike road trip.

Accommodations

Secure places to lock/store bikes

A lot of mountain bike tourists will travel with their bikes - which may be worth up to $5K. Leaving these bikes locked outside or on a car is not an option. Some of the better hotels I have stayed in will have a secure bike storage locker in the hotel near the entrance with the concierge escorting the cyclist to the locker. For motels, I have always brought my bike into the room. This tends to be tricky when you have 4 riders in a room. It's not unusual for mountain bike tourist to bring more than one bike. I'll usually take 2 bikes on a solo road trip but 1 bike if I fly. On one road trip to Vancouver/Whistler a few years ago, 2 of my friends packed a mini-van with 5 bikes - 2 bikes each and a spare.

Convenient place to wash/work on bikes

More often than not, we may work on our bikes before or after a ride. This could be as simple as lubricating a chain or more complex maintenance which involves tools and a bike stand. When we do a road trip we prefer to stay in motels rather than hotels. We usually prefer a ground floor unit. The room is close to the car (where we store tools and bike stand) and it's easier to put the bike in the room.

Close proximity to trails and nice restaurants

I'm a cyclist so when I get to a destination I don't really want to drive everywhere. Riding to the trail head is ideal. Walking/riding to restaurants is also favorable. Added bonus is to be close to local bike shops for trail knowledge and local maps and wares.

Camping

Camping is always a favorite activity of mountain bikers. Bikers travel with a lot of gear so car camping is preferable. I really don't know of any great places for car camping which is close to riding areas in Santa Cruz. I know that there are campsites at Henry Cowell but I haven't seen them nor have I heard of any mountain bikers who use them.

Restaurants

Secure place to lock the bike

Finding a safe place to lock the bike outside of the restaurant is essential. Santa Cruz is notorious for the bike theft. I hear about a sweet ride being pinched from downtown Santa Cruz on weekly basis. Sometimes they will cut the cable lock while the bike is still on the car. I like 99 Bottles and Seabright Brewery since they have bike racks in front of the patios. It's not unusual to see pricey rigs in these racks.

Good beer and hearty food

Mountain bikers are (mostly) athletic and they do pay attention to the type of fuel they put in their bodies. Beer and hearty road house food - burgers, pasta and Mexican food - are great to refuel after a long ride. There seems to be a cultural aspect of good beer and mountain biking. Brew pubs are a huge hit with mountain bikers.

Social atmosphere

Many of the big group rides I have attended during the week usually end at some pub/restaurant where there is a recounting of the ride around beer and finger foods. A pub type atmosphere is good here since people will be moving around.

Willingness to put up with dirty, stinky and potentially bloody people

Very often, mountain bikers will ride to a restaurant after the ride since they are pretty hungry. They may be covered in grime and trail dirt but at least they don't smoke (unless they're European). Again, the patio is a good thing.

Some examples of Bike Friendly Places

Whister, BC, Canada - the ultimate mountain biker destination - have hotels which specifically cater to the mountain bike tourist. Not only do all these hotels and lodges have secure storage for bikes but they also have cameras and motion detectors. They also bring up another good feature: laundry facilities.

This Forest Freeride Bunkhouse in Wales sounds like a great place to stay. Not only is this place near trails but there is a BBQ area outside. Wales is a place that really "gets" mountain bike tourism. Scotland is another great mountain biking destination that has made the effort to make mountain bike tourists feel welcome. This impressive listing of accommodations breaks it down into categories like hotels, B&Bs, camping and bunk houses.

In Santa Cruz, my favorite bike friendly restaurants are the above mentioned 99 Bottles and Seabright Brewery. For faster food, I like Taqueria Santa Cruz (although I hear that Taqueria La Cabana - across from ABS - is definitely worth checking out) and the Summit Store for a post ride snack after riding at Soquel Demo Forest.

Do you have any other features that you like to see in accommodations and restaurants when you travel with your bike? Can you recommend places to stay and eat in Santa Cruz which you deem to be mountain bike friendly? Please post some comments and share them.

Cloud Nine Design

I had a great visit and conversation with John Caletti and Cloud Nine Design custom bikes at his very clean shop. Cloud Nine is Santa Cruz's newest independent frame builder and they make steel frames which include cyclocross, road, mountain and 29er frames. Cloud Nine bikes have been featured in the 24 hour race at Laguna Seca in June and at the Hand Made Bike show in Santa Jose earlier this spring. John and his wife Cory are active in the local cycling community and they recently became supporters of mbosc.

A couple of weeks ago I rode my friends 29" single speed at De Laveaga and I really enjoyed the experience. I've been very interested to try a 29 er for an extended time and the Calettis had offered to loan me Cory's 29 er for a couple of weeks. I paid a visit to Cloud Nine to pick up the bike. Buckethead (one of my favorite artists) was playing on the speakers and provided a great soundtrack to his small but very clean and organized shop. He is passionate about cycling and advocacy and he is meticulous in the detail at which he constructs the bikes. We had a great conversation about all things bike, Buckethead and the riding potential of the Coast Dairies properties. I'll be taking this bike for a spin this afternoon:


Santa Cruz is lucky to have a lot of great custom frame builders which include Rock Lobster, Hunter Cycles and Calfee Design (which has a bamboo and hemp mountain bike). If you are interested in a new hand build steel hardtail frame then consider supporting some of the crafts people who build frames in Santa Cruz county. These frames are race proven and tested in the wild and wooly local trails of Santa Cruz.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

2008 IMBA World Summit will be in Park City

Park City, Utah will be the location of the next world summit. This sounds like a great place to ride and host a summit.

When I was at the National Bike Summit in Washington, DC I saw a great presentation by the Park City Mountain Trails Foundation about the economic benefits of a trail system. The presentation was inspiring and showed how a community could come together around a common goal of building and promoting trails to bring in tourists during the off-ski season. The organization seemed to have built a broad coalition of stake holders - not just mountain bikers and shops - to help realize the goal. Since then I have been very intrigued and want to visit Park City to experience these trails and talk to these folks. I would love to see that type of a trails culture in Santa Cruz county.

Getting back to the IMBA summit, it sounds like the agenda will be awesome:
The 2008 IMBA Summit will be open to the public, and will feature advocacy seminars, trailbuilding workshops, networking, great food, parties, celebrity guest speakers and some big surprises. Topics will include the economic power of trails, sustainable trailbuilding, liability and risk management, urban trail networks, building club capacity and much more.
Trips for Kids will have a chapter meeting at the summit with the goal of inspiring IMBA clubs to create youth mountain bike programs. There will also be an epic ride at the end of the summit.

The 2008 IMBA World Summit sounds like it will be a great event. I'm already looking forward to it.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Old Skool Off Roadies

I was looking for information on the Last Chance properties near Big Basin and I came across this gem of a website from Ray Hosler. There are quite a few pages which document these legendary "Jobst" rides from the early 1980's. A bunch of riders including Tom Richey would do epic all day fire and dirt road explorations in the Santa Cruz mountains with their road bikes.

Check out the slide show which documents 26 years of riding in the Santa Cruz mountains. It's neat to see some of the vistas and places that these guys took their road bikes. There are all sorts of neat nuggets of history if you poke around the site including the train tunnels in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

No helmets, CamelBaks or suspension. Definitely old school. These guys were the pioneers of the sport.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Looking for Volunteers/Racers for 24 hour race

The 24 hours of Adrenalin world solo and team championships will be held in Monterey/Fort Ord on Sept 1-2. The race organizers have offered a complementary 10 person corporate team to mbosc in exchange for volunteering at the event. So far I have 4-6 people who are willing to commit and I'm looking for a few more. Here are the details of the event and commitments from the race organizers:
Mountain Bikers of Santa Cruz to provide:

♣ Two volunteers at the checkpoint at all times. One volunteer must accurately record bib number and the other one must hand out water and Gatorade, properly handle canceled laps, and assist with emergency situations
♣ Must have three volunteers for the start and finish of race. For example, you need three volunteers on Saturday from 11:30am to 3:00pm and on Sunday from 9:00am to 1:00pm.
♣ Minimum age of 18 for all volunteers
♣ Personal belongings that would attribute to a more enjoyable time at the checkpoint – blankets, small heater, flashlights, lamp, lots of warm clothes etc.
♣ Must ensure ALL team riders sign a waiver – VERY IMPORTANT
♣ Clean up of checkpoint during and after race – please ensure there is no garbage left behind.
♣ Provide own transport to checkpoint for shift changes
♣ Meet with twenty4sports on Wednesday to discuss weekend plan of attack
♣ Be responsible for the well being of the two-way radio

TWENTY4 SPORTS to provide:

♣ Complimentary Corporate team (10 people) – will provide web registration coupon
♣ Complimentary Premium Campsite near the Expo area
♣ Complimentary 10 x 10 booth space in the Expo to promote MBOSC
♣ T-Shirts for all volunteers
♣ Free Entry Pass for all the volunteers for the weekend
♣ 2 Sweatshirts to the “Best Volys” of the weekend.
♣ 1- 10 x 10 tent
♣ 4 Foldable Chairs
♣ 2 – 8 foot tables
♣ Gatorade and Water
♣ Responsible for transporting the Gatorade and water to the checkpoint as needed
♣ 1-Two Way radio for communication to base and the trail crew.
♣ Garbage bags for Clean up of GU Wrappers and other miscellaneous items.
The mbosc corporate team will not be a competitive team. We aim to have fun, camp, volunteer and party.

If you have thought about or are interested in a 24 hour team then this corporate team should be a great introduction to the venue and format. A 10 person corporate team means that you would probably "race" 2 laps in 24 hours so it would be a gentle introduction with very little obligation other than to volunteer at a check point and hand out GU and Gatorade to the racers.

Please contact me if you are interested in joining our team.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Mountain Biking and Outdoor Education

I was notified of an interesting program offered by Roaring Camp which combines family mountain biking with outdoor education:
It is with much excitement that "we" share with you the beginnings of our NEW family cycling program through the California Redwoods at Roaring Camp Railroads in Felton, California (Santa Cruz Mountains/San Lorenzo Valley) . We have launched the exploratory inquiry and informational page on the Roaring Camp Dot Com Website, inviting our guests to submit their suggestions and sign up if they would like to become part of the focus group that assists in the launch of the new program and we would like to invite you to join us and share your interests as well. If you go to www.roaringcamp.com and scroll down to the photo of the cyclist it will take you to the new cycle page.

We have selected local cyclist - Eric Lynberg to serve as in the position of "Outdoor Specialist." Eric's enthusiasm and ideas of creating a fun and educational guided cycle program has been very refreshing as he shares the place he calls "home" the scenic and beautiful San Lorenzo Valley. Eric is discovering unique things about the forest including many "natural" and odd shape trees (trees growing out of trees) and did you know many things that grow in the forest naturally glow in the dark?

In the first day of our website launch we received over 20 inquires from media and tour operators from around the world so we are extremely pleased.

If you would like to join us on a test run of the program this fall, please complete the inquiry form on the website and we will add your name to our list. More details to follow soon.

Paul Nakamoto
Roaring Camp Railroads
More information and a web form can be found at:

http://www.roaringcamp.com/outdooradventure.html

I have already contacted them and have offered to help with this program in any way possible. Please fill in the web form if you have any feedback or want to participate in the focus and test groups.

This looks like the start of a great program.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Lance loves Santa Cruz Trails!

When I went to Washington a few months ago, the American Airways in-flight magazine had a one page fitness article on Lance Armstrong. The sidebar had a bit on "Top Cycling Spots" and I was overjoyed to see that he mentions Santa Cruz as an "absolutely great place for mountain biking" and "frankly, for my money, you can't go wrong."

I had heard rumors of Lance's visit to our town so I contacted a friend at Giro to get the story. A couple of years ago, Lance visited San Francisco to meet with some corporate partners. He paid a visit to Santa Cruz and brought along his mountain bike. He was doing a for an autograph and meet and greet session with Giro employees - who were a major sponsor of Lance. Then he snuck off for a ride with the Senior VP of Marketing at Giro and a couple of other people. According to my source, the pace was brisk on the climbs and Lance was flying on the descents as well.

Lance Armstrong is one of the only nationally recognized cyclists in mainstream America. Having him mention Santa Cruz as a "Top Cycling Spot" for mountain biking is a huge PR win. This little statement from a world renowned cycling champion in a throw away magazine is pure gold.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Update on Coast Dairies: BLM conveyance soon(ish)

The Coast Dairies property is a 7000 acre parcel of land north of Santa Cruz which was purchased by the Trust for Public Land to be protected as public open space. The details of the deal and the natural features of the land was well documented in an article in the San Francisco Chronicle.

A year ago, the 400 acres of the coastal side of the Coast Dairies property had been conveyed to State Parks. The remaining 5,700 acres of inland property was supposed to be transfered to Bureau of Land Management (BLM) but there have been some setbacks. Over the past couple of weeks I have had conversations with officials at the BLM about the status of the Coast Dairies Property.

One of the major problems which held up conveyance was a minor contamination issue from the CEMEX mining operations above the property. A canyon in the Coast Dairies property was used for waste rock and it was covering some pipes. There were concerns about leakage and BLM didn't want to take this area due to the potential long term liability of cleaning it up. We should note that there is no known contamination issue on the land. One proposal would be to sell the waste rock area back to CEMEX. However, the TPL and the County didn't really like this idea so it languished for a while. More recently TPL, the County, BLM and CEMEX finally came to an agreement to sell this portion of the land to CEMEX so the last major hurdle has been resolved.

All that needs to be done before conveyance to BLM is to do a new survey to draw up the lot lines and take care of other bureaucratic minutiae. The Field Manager felt that BLM will take possession of the property in October at the earliest or January at the latest. An interim public access plan will be in place soon after conveyance.

BLM has a mandate to protect and restore the natural habitat but the agency has traditionally been very recreation friendly. A trails plan will be drafted according to Chapter 7 in the Coast Dairies Long-Term Resource and Access Plan:
The Trails Plan will provide for a more extensive trail network on the Property than is described for the Interim Access Stage. It is likely that most of the trails specified in the Trails Plan will use the alignments of existing farm, ranch, and mining roads. However, not all of the existing roads on the Property are appropriate or desirable as recreational trails, and some trail alignments may use new routes or the alignments of old, abandoned roads.

The Trails Plan will include trail alignments, allowable uses for each trail, and targeted use levels. The Trails Plan will seek to balance the goal of allowing recreational access to the interior of the property with the goal of resource protection by specifying appropriate trail densities, uses, and design standards.
MBOSC is looking forward to a partnership with the BLM and will be participating in the trails planning process. We will be active participants in the stewardship of the Coast Dairies lands so that we can protect and enjoy this treasure of public land for many generations.

Yuppies are the target market

A few weeks ago the New York Times travel section had a great article on mountain biking in Fruita, Colorado. This article is practically a brochure for mountain bike tourism in Fruita and sounds like it could have been written by the chamber of commerce. It's also notable that this article appears in the New York Times - which is not your typical mountain bike rag. Fruita is targeting yuppies who are looking for an adventure vacation. These types of tourists would go on active eco-vacations like skiing, white water rafting, hiking and mountain biking. These are the same people we would love to bring to enjoy the trails of Santa Cruz County.

The inspiration for Fruita embracing mountain bike tourism is mentioned in the article:
Just over 10 years ago, Fruita was a depressed agricultural town with an oil refinery being shut down by the Environmental Protection Agency. Then, Troy Rarick, a 44-year-old cyclist from nearby Grand Junction, conceived a plan to transform Fruita by giving it a new identity: ecotourism hub.
Fruita has several hundred miles of single-track and is widely recognized as one of the premiere mountain bike destinations in the world. That town does a great job of attracting mountain bike tourists. They have an amazing Fat Tire Festival that continues to bring in a lot of revenue. I know of a lot of mountain bikers who have made the trek to Fruita in the past few years and they have all enjoyed their stay. Mountain biking is a source of civic pride for Fruita and they have bike murals and sculptures on the main street.

The town of Fruita inspires me that Santa Cruz can similarly embrace this brand of eco-tourism and we can all grow the global market for mountain bike tourism. Perhaps some day the New York Times will be writing about Santa Cruz and the swoopy single track dancing in and out of the redwood trees with blades of sun piercing though the morning fog.

That would be sweet!

Friday, July 06, 2007

Kenny!

It's beer o'clock and I want to do a shout out to one of our supporters.

Seabright brewery is an awesome supporter of mountain biking. The brewery is practically across the street from Santa Cruz Bicycles. The owner Charlie Meehan is an avid mountain biker and a supporter of MBOSC. We have our monthly meetings on the patio at Seabright and Charlie comps us the beer! This makes the meetings fun, lively and increases participation.

One of the best benefits of the holding the MBOSC meetings at Seabright Brewery is that we get to drink the fine beer that they brew on the premises. That would be fine in any establishment but Seabright is a brew pub and it also makes my favorite beer: Kenny!


The "Resolution Red Ale" a.k.a. "Kenny" or "Ken-nay!" is my favorite beer in the world. It's so good that it's always in short supply at the brewery. The story behind the nickname of the Red is really interesting. Charlie sez:
The face on the label is one of our security guys named Kenny Kahn. One of the staff took that picture of him at last years Xmas party and posted it at the Pub. Our graphics guy made a label as a joke and we went with it. (My idea dammit). At the pub the Resolution has become known as simply Kenny! I'll have a pitcher of Kenny!!! BTW, Kenny digs being on the label.


The "Blur" is a delicious Indian Pale Ale named after the Santa Cruz bike. It doesn't need to be very cold to taste great so it's perfect for camping. This was the official beer for the MBOSC road trip to Utica Reservoir.

The Blur, Kenny and Oatmeal Stout are available in 22 oz bottles in selected stores in Santa Cruz County and the Bay Area of California. I know for a fact that Seabright Beers are available at Mission Liquors in Santa Cruz and at the Summit Store up on Skyline Road - convenient location to find a tasty snack and beverage after riding at Demo.

A warning: all these beers have over 7% alcohol so it's not for kids.

MBOSC has it's monthly meeting at Seabright on the second Wednesday of the month. Come out and learn about our advocacy efforts and taste these delectable beers.

Thanks for the support, Charlie!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

10th Anniversary of MBOSC

This year marks the 10th anniversary of MBOSC. In honor of the 10th anniversary, I would like to share this article by Keith Kelsen (the founder of MBOSC and the first President) on the beginning of MBOSC.

Enjoy!

MBOSC - ITS TIME HAS COME

KEITH KELSEN

The headline in the newspaper I was reading was bold and unexpected - "Gray Whale Ranch Bought by Save-the-Redwoods League". Right away I thought, "Wow,this is great!"

Gray Whale Ranch is adjacent to Wilder Ranch State Park. A riding haven on the west coast near Santa Cruz, it had been a favorite of mine to ride for years before it was purchased and trespassing laws enforced five years earlier. But now Save-the-Redwoods League had just purchased the 2,500 acre property with coastal vistas, redwoods, long meadows and chaparral for some 12 million dollars. Save-the-Redwoods League, a nonprofit, has been purchasing land for state parks since it's inception in 1920's. In exchange, they were asking the community to repay $600,000 of the purchase price.


The article also stated that the open space alliance was involved in putting on an auction to help raise some funds. Well, I called some of my riding compadres and told them I would put in $100 if they would put up the same. In no time we had a $1,000, so I raised the anti to $200. So we had $2,000. Not bad, but hey, we could do better than that.

I called the local paper and told them that local mountain bikers... uh... Mountain Bikers of Santa Cruz... were pitching in to raise money for the purchase of Gray Whale. They printed the article and a couple of weeks later we had raised close to $7,000.00 and Mountain Bikers of Santa Cruz was born.


To raise a portion of the $600K we decided to hold a raffle - the "WIN A BIKE and a Place To Ride Raffle". Our goal was to have our name on a grove ($20K) and more if possible.

We went to manufactures and local bike shops. They were very supportive and gave us over $23,000.00 (retail) worth of donations, including 9 bikes (3 full suspension). And I would like thank them all for the incredible response.

We received media support through co-sponsors for print, TV and radio. We produced commercials for both TV and radio and created ads for print. Along with the commercials we produced a 9 minute documentary on Gray Whale which aired on the local cable channel.

We selected two dates to hold the raffle and distributed tickets to bike shops, who agreed to sell the raffle tickets. The idea was to advertise and bring people into their shops to buy tickets. I was told it was an impossible task. But we kept up on the media and articles in the paper and Gray Whale became a visible movement in the community.

We were also very fortunate to link up with ROMP in the Bay Area to get their help with ticket sales. Also, ROMP donated $1,350 on behalf of its members. IMBA was a great help as well. They published an article in DIRT and IMBA members mailed in their money for the raffle tickets and support. One IMBA member, Tom Shepard, won 5 out of 20 times including a front suspension VOODOO.

For each raffle we opened up Gray Whale just for the day for biking, hiking, and horseback riding. Over 400 mountain bikers showed up for the first raffle and 200 for the second. We finished with $20,000 from the raffle. The total we raised with donations from riders and a Giro donation of $5,000 was $31,000. Not bad for a challenge between friends.

The side benefits to all this were incredible. We have a full-fledged club, we do trail work, a news letter (qtrly), group rides, brochures and actively present a positive image for mountain bikers in the community. We actively seek trail use in other parks. This organization is an idea who's time has come. The work is actually just beginning!

The Big Picture


I've been spending a lot of time in Google Earth these days. For years I have wanted to catalog every mountain bike trail and large land parcels in GE so I can plan for new trails systems and look at the entire inventory of large public and private land holdings to seek opportunities for more access. I seem to have a lot of time these days so I've been listening to a lot of internet radio and clicking, clicking, clicking...

The image above captures the state of legitimate mountain bike trails in Santa Cruz county that I'm aware of. If you know if any other legal mountain bike trails in Santa Cruz County then please contact me. The orange and yellow lines represent dirt roads and single track respectively. The white lines represent paved roads which act as connectors within and between parks. Technically, Butano State Park is in San Mateo county but I count it as part of the Big Basin trail system.

There is a lot of opportunity for more mountain bike access in the land holdings which do not have any trails open to bikes. We are currently working on initiatives and projects to expand legitimate access for mountain bikes. If you want to help out then please contact me at http://www.mbosc.org/about.html

Old MBOSC newsletters are online

This year is the 10th anniversary of the founding of Mountain Bikers of Santa Cruz so I have been going through the archives to get a sense of history.

I got a new scanner a couple of weeks ago and I have been scanning and cleaning up the old newsletters. I've put the online as pdf files here:

http://www.mbosc.org/about.html

We no longer produce a Quarterly newsletter (does anyone want to do this?) but it has been really enjoyable to look back at the archives and see some familiar names.

It's amazing how many of the issues that we were discussing back in '97 are like Gray Whale are still unresolved. 10 years later, there are probably many more mountain bikers in Santa Cruz but local mountain bike advocacy doesn't seem to reflect it.

The Gray Whale and Nisene Marks issues seemed to have soured the riding community from getting involved with advocacy. Many riders feel that we have a great collection of unauthorized trails and can't see why they should invest time and energy into expanding the legitimate trail network. The answer is that it could be much better. There is a lot of public and private land in Santa Cruz county that could be potential riding areas. Open up Google Earth and look at the area bounded by Big Basin, Empire Grade, the Coast and the Santa Cruz city limits. There are existing trails, road and other off road goodness that is utilized by locals only. This is our playground. With effort and persistence we can open this up to the global mountain biking community and create new economic opportunities for our residents.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Sea to Sky Mountain Biking Economic Impact Study

About 6 months ago, I blogged about the Yukon Study about the economic potential of mountain bike tourism. That study analyzed the potential and demographics of the global mountain bike tourism market. It was a great document which used market research to identify the mountain bike tourist and contained case studies of communities which embraced mountain bike tourism. It was a great document to introduce a community to the potential of mountain bike tourism and want to know more about the market.

Earlier this year the Western Canada Mountain Bike Tourism Association (MBTA) released a study which illustrates the economic benefits of a mature mountain bike tourism industry. This study complements the Yukon study in that it shows the economic results for Whistler, BC - a community which embraced mountain bike tourism.

The economic impact study gives credible data on the economic benefits of mountain bike tourism. The executive summary states (all numbers in Canadian dollars (1 US$ = 0.93 CD$) ):

"Total visitor spending in Whistler attributable to mountain biking exceeded $34.3 million over the period June 4 to September 17, 2006 supporting an estimated $39.1 million in new economic activity (GDP)."

Not a bad summer season! Whistler continues to be a positive draw of the global mountain bike tourism market. This study discusses the survey methodology, breaks down visitor origin, size of the party, number of nights stayed and spending per visitor. The benefits of out of town visitors to a community can not be overstated:

"The study found that mountain biking draws visitors to Sea to Sky communities and generates significant overnight stays. Overall, 20% of non-resident riders stayed overnight in Sea to Sky communities, staying an average of 4.8 nights and having an average party size of 2.8 people."

It emphasizes the need for authorized trails in order for the tourism economy to succeed:

"The authorized trail system in the Whistler Valley generates considerably more economic activity than the trail systems in Squamish and the North Shore where few authorized trails exist. Whistler has been able to capture higher visitor expenditure in part by having the ability to promote its municipal trails and associated services (bike rentals, guides, camps, etc) directly to visitors both within the Resort and externally."

The bottom line of the study is something that should please local business and government:

"In total, mountain biking has a sizable impact on the summer economy of Whistler and British Columbia, with total expenditures totaling more than $34.3 million between the valley trails, the Bike Park, and Crankworx. This spending generated more than $39.1 million in economic activity, and supported more than $26.5 million in wages and salaries and 798 jobs throughout the Province. Mountain biking in Whistler also supported considerable tax revenues, with over $8.5 million and $7.3 million in government taxes paid at the federal and provincial levels, respectively; while municipal revenues throughout the province exceeded $2.1 million."

These numbers only shows the direct economic impact of tourism. However, I'm sure there are further benefits to the BC bike industry due to the world class mystique of the free ride style of riding. Rocky Mountain, Norco, Cove Bikes and Brody have probably benefited from being part of the BC bike culture which exploding onto the public consciousness around 1998. Many visitors were introduced to the local bikes and may consider taking a bit of BC's finest back with them.

10-15 years ago I lived in Vancouver and rode the Whistler and North Shore trail systems when they were unauthorized. Back then only the locals rode the trails and there were very few tourists (friends of friends). In 10 years, revenue from mountain bike tourism in the Sea to Sky area has gone from immeasurable to CD$39 million.

These are impressive numbers and I really believe that Santa Cruz County has the potential to realize a similar level of mountain bike tourism economic activity.