Thursday, December 31, 2009

Suspension Rebuild Benefit for MBOSC

Our good friends at Epicenter Cycling at the foot of Nisene Marks is the newest bike shop in the Santa Cruz area. They have generously offered a suspension rebuild program which will benefit MBOSC for the month of January 2010.

Here is a summary of the program:
* $70 for fork rebuild, $40 for the rear shock
* $10 of each rebuild will be donated to MBOSC
* Oil is included in the rebuilt but parts are extra (seals, etc...).
* Card carrying members of MBOSC get a 10% discount on parts

Epicenter Cycling
8035 Soquel Dr, Aptos, CA 95003
(831) 662-8100

Suspension is an important part of the modern mountain biking experience. Improperly tuned and maintained suspension system could lead to high expenses later on. At the very least it could make your riding sub-optimal and at it's worse it could be dangerous.

Make it your New Years' resolution to let Epicenter Cycling maintain your fork and help benefit local mountain bike advocacy. Please call 831-662-8100 to book your suspension rebuild appointment.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Word on Soquel Demo Forest Issues

This summary about the state of SDF was written by Patty Ciesla which was sent on the Passion Trail Bikes mailing list.

The Passion mailing list is an excellent source of information about mountain bike advocacy in the San Francisco Bay Area and Northern California. Definitely not spam.

A number of email lists and web forums have posted stories on one or more variations of the theme "Soquel Forest is Threatened!" Well, here's the word on Soquel Forest. Soquel Demonstration State Forest is owned by the State of California, and managed by CDF, aka CalFire, as a working, timber producing forest. It is not a park and not subject to the use and management restrictions found in California State Parks. Unfortunately, as CDF is a state agency, its operations are heavily impacted by the awful state of the CA Budget process.

Soquel Forest has experienced some of the worst reductions in funding in its history in recent months, and after several years of budget cuts, this is a real blow. Longtime Forest Manager Thom Sutfin retired, and his position is being left unfilled. Their seasonal forestry aids are being let go for the winter and perhaps indefinitely. This leaves CDF with one full time Assistant Forest Manager (Ed Orre), and a half-time Office Assistant. So they basically are having to deal with something like an 80% staff reduction from their 2006 levels.

Ed Orre cuts an angled edge into a future technical trail feature, Feb 21, 2009

Recently, the parking lot has been the scene of raves, drunken slob fests, vehicular breakings and other unsavory behavior. The porta potty was recently knocked over and damaged, right before a senior CDF forester came to inspect a timber harvest area planned for the Redwood Empire land next door to the forest. The porta potty, incidentally, has been 100% paid for by Specialized in Morgan Hill for something like 10 years now. At any rate, it got knocked over by the gate, and its tank contents spilled right next to a small tributary to Soquel Creek. The parking lot doesn't belong to CDF, it belongs to Redwood Empire. CDF has a deeded road easement through it for access to the forest, but use as a parking lot has been negotiated. And Redwood Empire wants to do a small harvest in the area uphill of the parking lot, and use the lot for its trucks during timber harvest operations. Hence, the inspectors.

So now they are talking about closing the lot and chaining off the road at the bridge, which would require visitors to park on the side of Highland Way. Not in itself such a huge deal, but with all the break-ins, the road is a lot less secure. And the inspectors also have concerns about the sediment runoff from the parking lot, which has become of increased concern since Coho Salmon fry have been found for the first time in Soquel Creek this spring, in addition to the established Steelhead Trout populations, making the creek health super important for these threatened and endangered species. One possible way to address this is to build in some bio-swales to collect runoff and allow silt to settle out before the water drains into the creek.

Ed and Stewards of Soquel Forest volunteer crew leader Scott Robinson inspect the approach to the finished log ride

CDF has also been planning a timber harvest for the north side of Soquel Creek, in an area called Fern Gulch, and after almost 10 years of planning it is nearly ready to be approved. It is likely they will start harvesting operations in the Spring. In addition, they are doing the preliminary work for a harvest on the south side of Hihn's Mill Road, probably involving trees on either side of Tractor Trail. Tractor Trail is actually an old road, and the road bed is in moderate to good condition, with the singletrack snaking down the center of it. While the plan is not complete, it may involve re-establishing the road, which would destroy the singletrack characteristics of this trail. Ed believes that they can incorporate a new parallel trail with true singletrack qualities (like the upper parts of Corral and Sawpit) into the post-harvest site remediation plan, but it seems likely that we would lose access to Tractor Trail during the harvest, and kiss its long-known narrow feeling curves and dips goodbye. Since many of us are just really unhappy with these kinds of changes, this news is fairly disturbing. And we don't know what this new trail would really be like.

One other thing related to the timber harvests is that CDF will be conducting tours of the harvest operations. Our trail use and trail impacts will be more closely observed than usual, and by people with strong environmental interests. Keeping the trails in really good shape will be imperative so that our use of the forest will not create any concerns that could impact our access.

The Stewards of Soquel Forest is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that was formed in 2000 during the effort to prevent the closure of the illegally-built Braille Trail. This organization is responsible for maintaining the trails in Soquel Forest, and has been working closely with CDF over the years to put in many of the improvements you've seen on the trails of this amazing riding destination. Well, like many other non-profits, it's seen varying levels of commitment and enthusiasm, and right now could really use an infusion of new blood and leadership to help it fulfill its role in keeping Soquel Forest and awesome place to ride. We are looking for people who could help lead trail maintenance crews, help with patrolling the forest through the NMBP program, and help with other functions, such as updating and managing its website, renewing memberships, and planning the annual year-end volunteer appreciation party and shuttle fest.

Patty and Charles, along with Daryl, Scott, Shane, Nigel, and others, are very active in the Stewards. If you would like to get involved, please shoot an email to Patty at, and ask to be put on the Stewards list for future notifications. Also, stay tuned for trailwork dates that are being set now for this fall and winter.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

MBOSC donates $3,500 to Wilder Ranch State Park

I am really pleased to announce that MBOSC has donated $3,500 to Wilder Ranch State Park. Due to the success of our recent fund raising efforts we decided to increase our donation from $2,000 to $3,500. We really appreciate the generosity of the mountain biking community in supporting our efforts to help our local State Parks during these
difficult budgetary times.

The funds will be earmarked for a new sign at the entrance to the Wilder Ranch back country near the Cowboy Coral. There are a lot of out of town visitors to Wilder Ranch so we feel that good signage is valuable to help orient our guests in the park. A high quality sign is also a visible demonstration that the facilities are well kept. The old sign was dated, faded, falling apart - and a bit of an embarrassment (see image).

The new sign will be built by
Wildways Illustrated. You have probably seen their work all over the Monterey Bay area. We will be starting the design process soon and a representative from MBOSC will be on the committee to help oversee the design. We hope to have the sign completed by next spring.

We are also interested in funding two more park signs at Wilder: one at 4 Corners (where Enchanted Loop meets Eucalyptus Loop) and another near Empire Grade.

Mountain bikers have been volunteering our labor to help maintain the local trails for decades. This financial contribution represents another avenue for which the mountain biking community contributes to the maintenance of our parks resources.

Thank you all very much for helping us make a generous contribution to our local parks!

Monday, October 26, 2009

November 18th is MBOSC night at the Surfrider Cafe

View Larger Map

The Surfrider Cafe is a relatively new restaurant in downtown Santa Cruz. They have a weekly community night on Wednesdays and they have graciously offered to devote Wednesday November 18th as a community night for MBOSC.

Mark your calendars: MBOSC Community night at the Surfrider Cafe Wednesday November 18th. 429 Front St. at Cathcart

15% of the gross sales from the day of business will benefit MBOSC. Having lunch or dinner at the Surfrider Cafe on November 18th will benefit MBOSC.

There is a patio/courtyard in plain sight, so bikes can be easily locked and watched.

The Surfrider Cafe also has a daily happy hour from 4-6pm. All microbrew pints are $2

Going to a restaurant to have a meal and some drinks with your fellow mountain bikers is a great way to support MBOSC and your local small business.

I'm looking forward to seeing you there!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Mick's Automotive fundraiser for MBOSC Saturday Oct 10

Tracy Cotten - the owner of Mick's Automotive - has offered to donate the profits from his business on Saturday October 10 to MBOSC. Mick's Automotive is an auto repair shop specializing in Japanese cars.

Tracy and his lead technician Brian are avid mountain bikers and have been active supporters of MBOSC. If you have ever spoken with Tracy you will soon learn that he is an expert on the subject of cars and he is very pragmatic on car maintenance. He and his staff are serious about learning new skills an they do a lot of research on new cars and maintenance. You can be assured that you will be getting top notch service at Mick's.

If you have a Japanese car and need service then please give Mick's a call and schedule your work for Saturday Oct 10.

Micks Automotive
1257 Thompson Ave. #D
Santa Cruz CA 95062

We can raise a significant amount of money for MBOSC if we can get some big jobs scheduled rather than simple oil changes. If you need service on your Japanese vehicle then you can help MBOSC by having Mick's do your job on Oct 10.

MBOSC uses membership dues and other funds we raise to pay for basic overhead like web hosting, printing and insurance (our biggest expense). We also make donations to other non-profits and land conservation trusts which support mountain biking. We also use our funds to pay for event day use fees and permits like Carrotfest and Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day. We also buy food, drinks and beer (usually discounted) for events and provide it free to attendees. Some of these funds go back into the membership since we pay for the Sea Otter and Tahoe camp sites and offer free camping and beer to members who attend.

Thank you and please support MBOSC by scheduling your car maintenance at Mick's Automotive.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Freedom Riders Showing Raised Money for State Parks District

MBOSC presented the Santa Cruz premier of "Freedom Riders" at the Rio Theatre on Sept 17. This presentation was a fund raiser for the local state parks and I'm happy to announce that it was a success. We had 196 paid attendees and sold about $1400 in raffle tickets for a total of about $2000 raised for state parks.

An event like this takes a lot of work and many people donated their time and goods to make this event a success.

Thanks to Megan Zemny, Steve Gemelos, Sebastien Praly, Eve Davidson and Mark Woodhead for the planning, logistics and doing the legwork for this event. Thanks to Jesse Nickel for soliciting, acquiring and donating raffle items.

A big thanks to the event volunteers Tim and Shannon Park, James B, Chris, Tracy Cotten, Johauna Rathbun, Melissa Cline, Buel Proffit and Amiel Sagpao.

Thanks to Michael Horn for providing the short films before the main feature and spending time in the projection booth to ensure that the films ran smoothly.

Thanks to Charlie and Jason at Seabright Brewery for the after party (film attendees were treated to Happy Hour pricing). Thanks to Austin Sprague for working with Seabright on the after party.

We would like to thank some of the people and businesses who donated to make our raffle a success.
These vendors have demonstrated their support for mountain bike advocacy and they deserve our support as well.

This event raised money to replace the trail head sign at the entrance of the Wilder Ranch back country.

Thanks again for your support!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Freedom Riders Showing Thursday Sept 17th

MBOSC presents the Santa Cruz showing of Freedom Riders 7 pm Thursday September 17th at the Rio Theatre.

This film is a benefit to raise money for our local State Parks district to replace the sign at the entrance of the Wilder Ranch back country.

Tickets are $10 available at the following locations (cash only):

Tickets are also available at the door and will include a raffle ticket. We will also sell additional raffle tickets in the theater.

Freedom Riders is the story of a core group of riders who evolved from covertly building rough and unsustainable trails, to creating a precedent setting relationship with the Forest Service and creating some of the best Freeride trails in the country.

This is a great way to raise money for our local state parks

Hope to see you there!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Why we are supporting State Parks for "Freedom Riders" showing

Our showing of "Freedom Riders" this Thursday is a fund raiser for our local State Parks District. I'm a mountain biker and parks supporter. Not only do the parks provide great trails for riding but they also provide other recreational/educational opportunities for local residents and visitors.

The main reason why MBOSC as a mountain bike club is raising money for our State Parks district is we appreciate that they are serious in finding more legal mountain biking opportunities. We have made a lot of progress with State Parks this summer.

Here is a summary of the story so far.
  • History: back in Nov 2006, we submitted a trail conversion proposal which asked to convert 24 mi of single track and 12 miles of fireroad to multi-use from limited use in Castle Rock, Big Basin and Fall Creek State Parks. We focused on trails which are currently open to hikers and equestrians only. This proposal has been met with stale mate. We met with the parks staff many times and have been stonewalled.... until this year.
  • More history: There has been a change in leadership in the district. Senior management - mostly conservation oriented - have retired and been replaced by newer leaders who are sympathetic to active recreation. They have also filled a role of a District Trails and Road Superintendent - a key position required to address our proposal and other change in use for existing/future trails.
  • Back in February, there was a change in strategy to deal with unauthorized riding at Henry Cowell Park. The Rangers would be issuing warnings then citations to enforce the bike ban on the west part of the park adjoining UC - incorrectly referred to as "UCSC" (ie. Campers, Carpet, Sick & Twisted, etc...). This was seen as those handouts on car windshields in the lot.
  • MBOSC successfully negotiated a change in tactics from enforcement to education. In response, we ask that mountain bikers try to limit their activity in that area.
  • Sensing growing negative sentiment towards the local parks by mountain bikers, the State Parks District Superintendent made creating more legitimate mountain biking opportunities the highest priority for the new Mountain Sector Superintendent (to be hired). He suggested that addressing our submitted proposal is where the new Sector Super will start.
  • Karl Tallman was hired as the Sector Superintendent earlier this summer. In June, MBOSC members and Tom Ward from IMBA CA met with him and the District Trails and Roads Supervisor to restart the trail proposal process. Karl demonstrated the commitment of the District to find more legitimate mountain biking opportunities. We spent most of the meeting looking at maps and discussing the trails in the proposal. There was a definite "can do" attitude within the State Parks Staff. We made more progress in a 2 hour meeting than we made in the past 2.5 years. I want to emphasize that last point: We made more progress in a 2 hour meeting than we made in the past 2.5 years.
  • The senior trails specialist from Sacramento has been visiting Santa Cruz this summer (at least twice) to move this process forward. The sector super has been giving me progress updates all summer. This demonstrates the commitment from the District AND Sacramento to provide more legal mountain bike trails.
  • The Sacramento trails specialist will be in town on Sept 15th to meet with the District Trails and Roads supervisor to do a construction estimate on the first trail (3 segments) in our proposal to get addressed: The Skyline trail in Castle Rock - which is part of the Bay Area Ridge trail.

The biggest impact has been the change in attitude towards mountain biking in top management in the District. Our local State Parks are willing and honest partners for mountain biking. This means that we have a bright future for legal mountain bike access in Santa Cruz.

We want to demonstrate our appreciation for the district by raising money to help pay for some hard costs of maintaing the district. We hope you agree and support more legitimate mountain biking in Santa Cruz County by attending our showing of "Freedom Riders" this Thursday at the Rio.

Monday, August 24, 2009

MBOSC Presents Freedom Riders at the Rio Sept 17

MBOSC presents the Santa Cruz showing of Freedom Riders 7 pm Thursday September 17th at the Rio Theatre on This film is a benefit to raise money for our local State Parks district to replace the sign at the entrance of the Wilder Ranch back country.

Tickets will be $10 at the door and will include a raffle ticket. We will also sell additional raffle tickets in the theater.

Freedom Riders is the story of a core group of riders who evolved from covertly building rough and unsustainable trails, to creating a precedent setting relationship with the Forest Service and creating some of the best Freeride trails in the country.

MBOSC is presenting this film because we feel it’s a story that could resonate in this community and it could lead to some wonderful future possibilities in our local scene. The current state fiscal crisis and the change in leadership in the local district is creating more dialog between land managers and the local mountain bike advocates. They are looking for allies and partners. Since February, we have been actively working with our local State Parks district to create more legitimate mountain biking opportunities. We are inviting local land managers to the showing of this film and hope that they can see how co-operation between downhill/freeride mountain bikers and land managers has worked in another part of the country.

Hope to see you there!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Tahoe Trip 2009 was a success!

We had about 70-80 riders from 5 northern California clubs: MBOSC, ROMP, BTCEB, BONC and FATRAC. We had a movie night, a raffle and lots of beer. The location was great except for the late night construction on the first 2 nights.

There were about 26 riders/campers/trail workers from MBOSC and we had a lot of fun. Lots of beer was consumed, many rides were done and the trail building day was successful. There were many ride options this year for different abilities. The highlight for me was riding up to Armstrong Pass and down Mr Toads. An awesome and epic-y ride! Another highlight was sharing the Tahoe Rim Trail from Tahoe Meadows to Tunnel creek with my daughter. I was so happy to be able to show her those majestic views.

We had about 70-80 trail volunteers construct 860 ft of full bench cut trail for the Donner Lake rim trail. Many rocks were moved to build retaining walls, stumps removed, manzinita hacked, dozens of wheel barrows full of dirt were moved and about 6 large fallen trees were
moved off the path of the trail. Be proud of yourselves, folks. The finished trail was really impressive!

I would like to thank Linda George for being the lead organizer of this event. Dave George for baking 2 apple pies and cookies for Eve's birthday party. Sebastien Praly for brewing 2 kegs of great beer over the course of this summer for this trip. New Belgium Brewing company for donating many cases of beer (the cold brew after trail work was the best!) Tracey Cotten for volunteering the use of his truck for shuttling mountain bikers, tools and beer - and for sharing a bottle of high quality Tequila! Many others deserve thanks including all of you participants. I'm glad to have got to know so many cool people a lot better.

I would especially like to thank Steve Gemelos for organizing the MBOSC participants. Steve's organization and communications made the event run really smoothly for MBOSC.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Trip Report: Park Advocacy Day in Sacramento

People at work think I'm a really sick puppy since I spend my well deserved vacation time to wear a suit so that I can attend meetings with politicians. Somewhere along the way I got lost. Where is that guy who would go snowboarding in Whistler or Tahoe? The guy who would go to Utah or Colorado to go mountain biking? What happened to that guy and when did this political junkie replace him?

I attended Park Advocacy Day (PAD) in Sacramento on Monday. This is a way to engage State Assembly members and Senators to support California State Parks. It was a really intense but fulfilling experience. I think we made a lot of progress and got our message of supporting Parks across. There were about 20 of us from Santa Cruz so I joined a group of advocates who focused on districts in Southern California. I was pretty fresh from my Washington, DC week of bike advocacy so I was definitely a seasoned pro speaking with politicians. I also look pretty suave in an Italian suit ;-)

Our basic themes were:

1. Development threats to State Parks. I'm not sure how applicable they are to this district but Parks in Southern California are regarded as fair game when infrastructure or utilities need land to be built. The basic message is that Parks resources are not "the path of least resistance" when it comes to finding land for infrastructure. There were a couple of Senate bills which increase park protection.

2. Mitigating the impacts from the bond freeze. While restarting the freeze would be good there were a couple of bills that we were asked support to mitigate the negative impacts from the freeze. Chet gave me an anecdote that bond freeze may require dropping a couple of scheduled maintenance projects that I used to relate this issue to my local district.

3. Role of State Parks in the Federal economic stimulus. We asked for a portion of the discretionary portion of the stimulus funding to be directed towards the $1.2B maintenance backlog of "shovel ready" maintenance projects within State Parks. If you have a list of projects in the local district then I would be happy to follow up on this ask.

The most interesting anecdote that happened was that I was talking with Assembly member Mary Salas and she picked up that I was from Santa Cruz. She insisted that I speak with former Assembly member John Laird and thank him for the work he did on waste issue in her district. I mentioned that I will mentioned it the next time I spoke with him feeling that this will be an unfulfilled promise. About 15 minutes later I saw John Laird and thanked him on Mary's behalf. I had a great conversation with him and I he is still very much engaged in solving problems. Great man.

The second most interesting anecdote is that I finally met Mike Vandeman. The Santa Cruz park advocates knew I was a also a mountain bike advocate so when this extremist was spewing hatred about mountain bikes they directed him to talk with me. I didn't know it was Mike but after about 5 minutes he started to call me a liar and I realized that I read this script before. He also didn't accept the fact that hiking boots or horses cause any impact to the trails so I knew it was Mike. I was having a very civil discourse with him but I also realized that I was getting nowhere (and neither was he) so our conversation was futile. I thanked him for his support of California State Parks and left him.

I attended Park Advocacy Day as a favor to our District Superintendent who encouraged me to go. I was waffling since I had recently returned from DC. However, I was really interested to learn more about State government. I learned more than I wanted to know about the California
budget crisis and I have to try hard to stop myself from wanting to be an advocate for fiscal responsibility and budget reform. Perhaps I'll take on this cause once we get wicked, sweet (and legal) mountain bike trails in Santa Cruz County.

Trip Report: Washington, DC National Bike Summit

A couple of weeks ago, I went to Washington, DC as part of the National Bike Summit. I was a California mountain bike delegate and advocated on behalf of issues which help mountain biking and bicycle transportation.

My experience in Washington was intense and positive. This was the 9th year of the bike summit and attendance was a record breaking 550 delegates from 47 states (including 60+ mtb advocates) - which is great in this recessionary economy. I think the high attendance was attributed to the general optimism of the Obama administration and that we would have a government who are sympathetic to cycling issues. It was a pretty wired conference and summit. We twittered a lot.

I met with Anna Eschoo (CA-14) and Sam Farr's (C-17) legislative assistant and central coast representatives are friendly towards cycling issues. They are also supporters of Wilderness bills so we have some work to ensure that we achieve the goals of land protection without removing recreational opportunities for mountain bikes. The other mtb related issue we had was to ask to renew the Recreational Trails Program (RTP) to $550M over 5 years (this is part of the transportation bill). The RTP is an important program which will fund trail projects at Coast Dairies - which will be an important place for the future of mountain biking in Santa Cruz County.

This is the second time I have attended the national bike summit and I felt better prepared this time. I had a couple of local asks (support for the rail trail and a BLM trail head project at Fort Ord). I have been following up on these issues since I got back home.

Socially, I managed to hang our with the communications director of the Evergreen Mountain bike alliance based in Seattle. These are the folks that developed and built the Colannade
urban bike park (under the I-5) to Seattle. I also had dinner and drinks with the Hawaiian delegation one evening. It was very cool to hang out with politically minded bike geeks. It great to learn what works and lessons learned in getting more mountain bike trails/resources in other parts of the country. Good stuff. I am doing my best to put this knowledge to work in raising the profile and resources for mountain biking in Santa Cruz County.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Mountain Bike Trails in Santa Cruz State Parks are a Priority

I had a great conversation with Karl Tallman - the interim Sector Superintendent which covers Big Basin, Fall Creek and Henry Cowell. Most of the discussion focused on a letter that I would later receive that acted as a response to our open dialog request.

I just want to say that our conversation was really positive. If you read no further I would just like to mention the major outcome: the number one priority of the permanent sector superintendent is to create more trail opportunities for mountain bikes. Let me repeat that: THE NUMBER ONE PRIORITY OF THE MOUNTAIN SECTOR IS TO CREATE MORE MOUNTAIN BIKE TRAILS. We have started this process and there will be meetings and follow up.

This is a huge concession to the mountain biking community and the recognition that mountain biking has been increasing throughout the parks. This is not going to be a quick or easy process and be prepared for setbacks and push back from other community members. However, there is definitely a new level of reaching out to the mountain biking community from our State Parks District so future access looks positive.

Our District State Parks has been filling their vacant positions recently and they have a new trail and roads co-ordinator, an environmental scientist and a couple of part time resource ecologists. You also know that they have filled all their vacant Ranger positions and are actively seeking a maintenance chief. Most importantly, they are actively looking for a permanent Sector Superintendent and they anticipate that the position will be filled sometime in April. These are the people we will be working with in order to create more legitimate riding opportunities.

What they don’t have is funding and the mountain biking community can help make up for that shortfall with donations, labor and trail design and building expertise. The local riders and bike industry should partner with our land managers to create a legitimate network of trails throughout the county.

We are looking at a very bright future for mountain biking in Santa Cruz County. The BLM Coast Dairies properties and our local state parks have land managers who are friendly to mountain biking. There has been some great work by Jesse Nickel with the jump/skills community. The local bike industry is world renowned. The Amgen Tour of California has shown the City, Visitors Center and Chamber of Commerce that cycling and events is a huge economic opportunity and are looking for ways to capitalize on it. It’s a good time to be a cyclist in Santa Cruz County.

And now for a plea...

A large part of the reason we got such generous concessions from our District State Parks is because you have supported the efforts of MBOSC. I’m just the tip of the arrow who can poke the beast but you are the wood behind the arrow to help me fully penetrate the belly of the beast. I speak for all of you and when we have more representation then we become a much higher priority for our local land managers.

If you are not current member of MBOSC then I ask that you join. We would like to make a donation to IMBA California - who has been instrumental in gaining these concessions - and we would like to fund future bike related projects in the Santa Cruz area.

In the past month or so since the UC/9 enforcement program started I have received many messages of support and we have many new memberships. I would like to thank all of you for keeping me motivated and fighting for your right to ride. Mountain bike advocacy is a frustrating and lonely job but I am proud to represent all of you and you have inspired me to work for the rights of mountain bikers in Santa Cruz County.

Thanks again for your support.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Our Open Dialog Request with our District State Parks

I had a conversation with the District Superintendent Chet Bardo for the Santa Cruz area State Parks to follow up on the open dialog request that we submitted to him and his two superiors. We made a request for an open dialog between Chet and the mountain biking community so that he can hear our concerns for additional access. The objective of the open dialog was to see movement on our existing proposals. This letter was really effective in getting his attention and he gladly took my call. We had an amiable conversation for about an hour.

The bottom line was that Chet said NO to an open dialog. However, I’m pleased to announce that we have achieved our objective without having to rent a space and rally a critical mass of 100-200 mountain bikers. Chet has agreed to move forward with some of our existing proposals to open new trails to mountain bikers. The letter accomplished two things:

1. He finally read and is currently responding to our trail conversion request. He has asked the Mountain Sector Superintendent to contact me (more later).

2. He actually pulled and read the Gray Whale file. The issues are complicated but he has a broad understanding of the issues associated with opening the trails on Gray Whale.

There were a lot of constructive discussion points and most of them sounded favorable to mountain biking (given his audience) but there are three specific points that he wanted to make to the mountain biking community:

1. Chet is one of our better recreation advocates within this State Parks District in many, many years. I agree and so other bike advocates who have worked with Chet while he was at previous position. He seemed slighted from the letter and he took it personally that the tone of the letter implies that this district is unsympathetic to mountain biking - which was true under previous District Superintendents.

2. His number one priority is to keep the park operations functioning. Very challenging in this economic climate so don’t expect quick progress.

3. There are a lot of new people in the district and there has been some promotions. There is a great opportunity to create positive working relationships with the staff. The new staff is going to try different ways to manage the properties. Enforcement is one such action (as we are all aware).

Some other points which were made:

The Big Basin general plan is starting up again. Mountain bikers should be engaged in this process to ensure that we are not excluded from the property and we may be able to make inroads on future trails and re-designations of existing trails.

Chet belongs to a group of local park professionals (Mid-Pen, POST, etc...) who regularly hold “what have you got” meetings and try to pool resources and strategies. They all agree that multi-use trails should be used to connect adjoining properties.

He thinks that mountain bikers are going to be important allies and recognizes the importance of the mountain biking community.

I will be working with the Sector Super to find common ground, look at the role of mountain biking and see what projects he is willing to staff which will be beneficial to mountain bikers. I will be discussing the existing enforcement program, converting limited use trails to multi-use (as per our proposal) and get an understanding of the status of trail reclamation.

This is good news. A little bit of progress.

Status of Coast Dairies

Recently, I had a conversation with the Field Manager for the BLM office in Holister. This office is responsible for the management of the Fort Ord properties (Sea Otter back country) and Coast Dairies. The Coast Dairies property is going to play an important role in the future of Santa Cruz mountain biking. The BLM is open minded to events and are willing to create the challenging, sustainable trails that mountain bikers enjoy. The BLM has a great partnership with mountain bikers across the nation.

The objective of my call was to get the status of the Coast Dairies conveyance and see how I can help him out when I visit our congressional representatives in Washington, DC this week (more in a separate message). Here is what I found out:

  • Many of the “hard” issues have been resolved like the CEMEX land swap and lot line adjustment. The only thing pending is to do the title process and other minutiae of doing a large real estate transation. He mentioned that he has a full time title lawyer working on this.
  • Conveyance is as far along as it ever has. All previous obstacles to land transfer has been addressed.
  • The “ball is in the court of the Trust for Public Land (TPL)” - who are the current land holders. Just a question of focus and resources. Due diligence needs to be done like title exception and the easement language is in place.
  • BLM has some funds for managing the property after conveyance. They are already drafting trail and recreation plans.
  • There are some concerns from local conversationalists about the BLM’s intentions with this land. The BLM has a national reputation of resource exploitation on the lands they manage and articles such as this one contribute to the suspicion. The local BLM has the same conservation values as other local land agencies and the Field Manager is sincere in honoring the existing deed restrictions.
  • When conveyance takes place the BLM can tap into the Recreational Trails Program (RTP) to get funding for trails and trail head improvements. We are well situated to utilize these programs since the BLM Trail and Recreation Planner has had RTP grants training and MBOSC is a 501(c)(3) non-profit who can partner with the BLM and provide volunteers for the work. This is the type of partnership in which the RTP grantors are looking for.
  • The BLM will not commit to a date when conveyance will occur. They have been burned way too many times in coming up with a date. I’m hoping/guessing that it will be within the year and we may be able to accelerate the process.
Now that we have a little more clarity, how can we move this process forward?

  • We should contact the TPL and ask them to move forward with the conveyance. It is in their best interests to absolve themselves of the ownership and management of this land. The TPL still has issues with moving the Ag lands to a trust but this doesn’t preclude the conveyance to BLM.
  • We should ask Congress to give Coast Dairies have an Outstanding Natural Area designation.  This designation ensures that the land is valued for a set of attributes like scenic, educational and recreational. This designation becomes the primary use and is the framework for any underlying plan. Arguably this restricts the flexibility of the land manager (and successive land managers) but it will mitigate the concerns of those who don’t trust the BLM to adhere to the deed restrictions.
  • In light of the CEMEX plant closure (starting Monday for 6 months... and beyond?), we should get the town of Davenport to buy into the idea of diversifying their economy by promoting the recreational and economic value of Coast Dairies.
  • We should follow up the BLM Trail and Recreation planner about the interim access plan and the draft of the trail plan. We should volunteer our input, resources and expertise.
The Coast Dairies property will be an amazing mountain bike destination with high marine terraces, a 700 acre second growth redwood forests and incredible ocean views. It will only become this reality though a lot of help and support from the community. Please contact me if you want to help out with this initiative.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Announcing the joint MBOSC/Mere Mortals 4th Saturday ride at Wilder Ranch


Many local and remote riders have enjoyed our regular Saturday ride at Wilder Ranch for years. One recurring theme that comes up is that the pace is too fast. For years we have also tried to figure out how to make beginner or leisurely riders welcome on the ride. I am pleased to announce that we are going to address the issue with a regular slow ride.

Starting tomorrow and continuing on every 4th Saturday of the month, MBOSC in partnership with Mere Mortals will have a “slow” ride option. This ride will be at a more leisurely pace. We may not cover as many miles but it will be a ride which is friendly for beginners. There will probably be an intermediate/advanced group for the regulars and fast people as well.

Meet at 10 am on the 4th Saturday of the month at the park sign that leads into the back country at Wilder Ranch State Park.

We would like to welcome beginner or slower mountain bikers to the sport we would like them to feel welcome on our group rides.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Please attend the Santa Cruz City Council Meeting to Support the Jump Park


Earlier this month the Santa Cruz Parks and Recreation Commission voted unanimously to move forward with the relocation of the Fun Spot bike park. We would like to thank the SC Parks and Rec Commission for your support for recreational cycling.

The next phase of this project is to attend the City Council meeting at the Santa Cruz City Council on Tuesday Feb 24th at 3 pm to support the relocation of the bike park. Note the time has changed from Jesse’s earlier messages.

The current plan is to relocate the park around the corner to a permanent location at Depot Park. Your comments should be in support of the relocation plan and you should also express your support for a public jump park in general.

Please attend and show your support for our kids and gravity brothers. If you cannot attend the meeting in person then please email, phone or write the council members in support of relocating the bike park:

Mayor, Cynthia Mathews 
420-5020 City Hall
Email -
Vice Mayor, Mike Rotkin 
420-5020 City Hall
Katherine Beiers 
420-5020 City Hall 
Email -
Ryan Coonerty
420-5027 City Hall 
Email -
Don Lane 
420-5020 City Hall 
Email - 
Tony Madrigal
420-5020 City Hall
Email -
Lynn Robinson
420-5020 City Hall 
Email –

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

IBIS has officially moved to Santa Cruz

Another iconic bike company has relocated to Santa Cruz. I got an email newsletter from Ibis Cycles in which they mention their move to Santa Cruz (from nearby Scotts Valley). Ibis is located in the old Wrigley building on Delaware Avenue. They are close to the trails.

Here is the tidbit that I saw on their newsletter.

We've Moved!
Eagle eyed readers who noticed we mentioned Santa Cruz as our home city in the first paragraph. That wasn't a typo, part of the reason that there isn't a ton of news to report right now is that we've been moving and that has been taking a lot of our energy. Our new top secret location (top secret unless you look at our contact page) is only a block from the beach and a few feet away from an amazing network of mountain bike trails. We couldn't be happier with our new location. Other bonuses include many good restaurants nearby, a couple of wineries and a brewery (the last two for after work only of course).
We would like to welcome our friends at Ibis to the city of Santa Cruz!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

MBOSC meeting with Ranger Gary Brennan

On Monday, February 9th, Concerned mountain bikers in the Santa Cruz area met with Ranger Gary Brennan to discuss the new Henry Cowell UC9 enforcement program.


  • Ranger Gary Brennan, Henry Cowell State Park
  • Tom Ward, IMBA CA
  • A few dozen concerned mountain bikers
Henry Cowell State Park enforcement program

Ranger Gary Brennan presents the background and justification for the new enforcement program.

  • Citations for riding in Henry Cowell State Park between UC and Hwy 9 will start Sunday February 15th. Not February 18th in an older flyer.
  • Rangers staffing levels have been filled, issues of biker rescues, complaints from neighbors about noise and garbage.
  • Gary received a lot of messages and phone calls against the implication that mountain bikers were responsible for the garbage. Call us poachers but not litterers.
  • Resource ecologists and archeologists will be evaluating the area this spring to do an inventory and an environmental assessment.
  • The enforcement program in Pogonip by the City had the effect of moving homeless and drug dealing into the Rincon parking lot. This is a real issue.
Many questions and much discussion from the audience. Recanting of history of riding in Santa Cruz goes back to 1983 when there were no bike policies. Established order of politically savvy hikers, conservationists and equestrians changed the rules to exclude bikes. Worked with the system and the process over the years to change the policies and were invited to the table when new lands are acquired. Progress was made.

Frustration with the slow process, lack of State resources, staff turnover and lack of partners within the State Parks system. Frustration with the ease at which opposition groups has shut down these initiatives has created a sense of disillusionment within the responsible mountain biking community. Lack of enforcement in open space created a culture of riders who create their own reality and know how to mange sustainable trails. Responsible mountain bikers willing to accept the fact that mountain biking is an underground activity in Santa Cruz.

Secret stash becomes too popular with interlopers who do not have the same respect for the community and open space. Trails proliferate. No guidance or management. Trails are ad hoc and everywhere. Anything goes. Concussions, impaling, helicopters, neighbor complaints. Rangers.

Tom Ward leads a discussion on the future

  • This is a golden opportunity since the attention of the mountain biking community is energized. What should we do about it?
  • Despite the horrible economic climate that the State is in District Superintendents are faced with making decisions on where to focus scarce resources.
  • A decision was made to staff ranger positions over a trail co-ordinator or resource ecologist. So enforcement became a higher priority over opening new trails. The challenge is to make the recreational needs of mountain biking a high priority to warrant State Parks resources.
  • Legalizing the Cowell/UC9 trails is a hard battle. Perhaps a trail or two (or three). Long term goal.
  • Short term: There is an existing proposal on submitted to District back in November 2006. The trail conversion proposal is the most expedient way to get legitimate trails in the local State Parks. 24 miles of single track and 12 miles of fire road in Big Basin, Castle Rock and Fall Creek.
  • Medium term, opening the Wilder/Gray Whale trails will take a little more effort and funding.
  • Medium term, the inland of Coast Dairies represents the best opportunity for the future of Santa Cruz mountain biking.
Action Items

We request that District Superintendent Chet Bardo have an open dialog with mountain bikers. As a public servant and accountable to state taxpayers and local constituents we ask that you listen to the concerns of the mountain biking community.

We are willing to become partners and offer our trail building expertise and labour. We can create sustainable trails which are ecologically feasible, enjoyable and safe. We are willing to negotiate for shared access to trails to mitigate other trail user concerns.

You may choose the time and place for the dialog but we request that you address this in a timely manner and where the community can reasonably attend. A Sunday afternoon in the park would work.


Thanks to Ranger Gary Brennan for attending and subjecting himself to the barbs and arrows and handling the situation with grace.

Thanks to Tom Ward for making the trek from Sacramento to attend the meeting.

Thanks for Daryl B for providing the amp and wireless mics.

Thanks to Charlie Meehan and the staff of Seabright Brewery for the venue, the beer and the great hospitality.

Thanks to all of you in the community that showed up to support of mountain biking in Santa Cruz!

Thanks to Sebasien’s IPA for getting me though these minutes.

New Enforcement Program at Henry Cowell


Starting Sunday, February 15, 2009 Rangers at Henry Cowell park will be handing out citations for riders caught in Henry Cowell State Parks the area bounded by UCSC at the top and Hwy 9 at the bottom. The patrol area will cover Hwy 9 from the Rincon parking lot to the “Poop chute”.

The education portion of the program started February 1st and the Rangers were patrolling the area informing the riders of the new enforcement program. They were handing out flyers and placing them on windshields.

This area of Santa Cruz has been a favorite place for riding in the local community. The trail have always been off limits to bikes but that has not stopped locals, riders from the Bay Area, Northern California and all over the world including pros and industry folks have been enjoying these trails for decades with very little threat of citation.

There are several reasons for the crack down:

  • Ranger staffing levels have increased since October. These aren’t new positions. Cowell has been understaffed for many years.
  • There were a few mountain biker rescues by State Parks Rangers in recent months including a concussion and an impaling on a tree.
  • Neighbors from Felton have been complaining about the large number of shuttles.
I’m not going to get into detail about this. There is a thread on the forums at which discuss this topic at length. There is another thread which discusses the recent meeting we had with Ranger Gary Brennan.

This new enforcement program has engaged the mountain bike community. MBOSC will be working with State Parks and IMBA to create more legitimate riding opportunities in the Santa Cruz area.

MBOSC and IMBA are working hard to create new legitimate trails for mountain biking in the Santa Cruz area. Please support these two organizations and stay informed about the campaigns we will be launching in the coming months.