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:

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.

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:

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.