December Skills Clinic photos posted December 5

December 5th, 2016

There were only a few participants for the last chance for the year to take part in the Basic Skills Clinic at Malibu Creek State Park. This month neither Steve nor the primary backup photographer Graham were available, so Ezra did double duty as both Mark’s assistant and photographer. The clinic is always held the first Saturday of the month. You can see the photos in our December photo gallery.

Are you ready to #OptOutside on Black Friday?

November 10th, 2016
#OptOutside

#OptOutside

Last year, CORBA supporter REI chose to break the Black Friday shopping frenzy trend, and remained closed the day after Thanksgiving. Instead, they encouraged people to #OptOutside for some quality recreation.

We applaud their efforts and want to encourage everyone to spend Friday, November 25th riding a bike, hiking a trail, playing in the snow, or just communing with nature.

Black Friday has become synonymous with crowds, checkout lines, and camping outside retail stores on the sidewalk. That’s not the kind of camping we like to do. It’s also become synonymous with deals and sales over the last two decades, but these days so-called “black Friday sales” often last a week or more.

While there are certainly some deals to be had, is it really worth the hassle? Studies have shown that many black friday “sale” items can be purchased at similar prices at other times of the year. Black Friday itself isn’t even the busiest shopping day of the year.

So won’t you join us, and #OptOutside for Black Friday?

November Skills Clinic photos posted November 5

November 5th, 2016

It was a perfect day in Malibu Creek State Park for the Basic Skills Clinic. This month there were 10 participants. The clinic is always held the first Saturday of the month. You can see the photos in our November photo gallery.

CORBA Welcomes Two New Board Members

November 2nd, 2016

Scott Mabbutt

With Mark Langton leaving CORBA’s Board of Directors, we put out a call for Board nominees. We’re happy to announce that we have welcomed two new board members, Scott Mabbutt and Joyce Deprest.

Scott is a respected filmmaker, storyteller and self-declared cat whisperer.  When asked how he came into mountain biking, his is an unusual story: “My first bike was a portable folding bicycle that I bought because I heard that Talking Heads artist David Byrne rode one around New York City.”  That quickly led to a full-blown love of bicycles, and especially mountain bikes.

Scott is a member of the Mountain Bike Unit (MBU), a group of mountain bike volunteer patrollers that work closely with the National Park Service, California State Parks and the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority (MRCA) patrolling the Santa Monica Mountains to assist and educate visitors on the trail.  Scott can be found somewhere in the Santa Monica mountains every weekend.

He has attended several CORBA board meetings over the past few years, just to keep abreast of what’s happening in the area. Now he’ll be attending as a CORBA board member, helping keep CORBA on mission. We’re delighted to have him aboard.

Also joining the CORBA board is Joyce Deprest. Joyce is an MBU member and patroller, with her favorite place to ride or patrol being Point Mugu State Park. Joyce has been instrumental in re-introducing MBU members to do trailwork.

Joyce Deprest is a native San Fernando “Valley Girl.” Her professional life began working in Non-Profit Organizations, including event planning, office management and as the Director of a Synagogue in the San Fernando Valley. During the past 6 years Joyce has rediscovered her love of the mountains, canyons and oceans.

Joyce Deprest

The re-experience started with an impromptu hike up a narrow trail in Serranio Park, meeting up at Dirt Mulholland and then up what appeared to be an impossibly steep hill to climb.  The adventure was so exciting the next day she did it again.  She was hooked.  Joyce soon discovered that not only did she enjoy the hiking and being in mountains, and embracing the awesome canyons and ocean views, she loved meeting people on the trails.  She found that without an effort, people talked with her and asked her for directions.  Joyce started talking to Mountain Bikers and learned that by mountain bike riding she could go further, see more and grow her experience with the Santa Monica Mountains.  After her first ride on her 10 year old hybrid bike, in Sycamore Canyon/Point Mugu, she realized that a mountain bike with suspension was necessary.  The knowledge grew and with that knowledge and a few crashes she realized she needed some MTB riding lessons.  One day online she discovered Mark Langton.  For the next 4  months she and Mark met in Los Robles for weekly training sessions.  In addition to hiking and riding, Joyce was also interested in learning about the trails and trails maintenance.  By the end of that year Joyce had completed a one week Trails Maintenance class with COSCA and had participated in many hours of trail maintenance with CORBA.

Joyce continued to hike, ride and work on trails.  She joined Girlz Gone Riding and in January 2015 Joyce joined the Mountain Bike Unit with the goal of supporting the parks, advising and assisting visitors. Shortly after graduating from the MBU Joyce took on the role of Fundraising Coordinator with the Mountain Bike Unit. Her commitment and sense of stewardship of our public lands is inspiring.

We’re excited to have two new board members who also serve with the MBU. The MBU was a CORBA program, arguably the first organized volunteer patrol in the country. The MBU program grew beyond what CORBA could manage, and is now an independant program of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, administered by the National Park Service. IMBA’s National Mountain Bike Patrol is largely based on CORBA’s early work in establishing the MBU.

While our Board of Directors now stands at five members, we are still interested in expanding the Board, and will continue to accept nominations.

We invite everyone to meet the CORBA board of directors at one of our Board meetings, or the upcoming Ride and Mingle event on November 27.

Thank You Mark Langton!

November 2nd, 2016
Mark Langton

Thanks Mark!

Mark Langton was one of CORBA’s founders in 1987 and one of IMBA’s founders in 1988. He served 13 years on CORBA’s steering committee, and subsequently joined the CORBA Board of Directors.  He has served as CORBA’s president, as one of the first volunteer patrollers for the Mountain Bike Unit and he’s taught the CORBA Introduction to Mountain Bike Skills Class every month since 1992. Now after 29 years, he’s stepping down from the CORBA Board as of December 2016.

Thanks Mark, we couldn’t have done it without you.

Mark was a BMX and mountain bike racer when trails started to be closed to us in the mid 1980’s. In August 1987, when the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy held a meeting to discuss a prohibitive mountain bike policy, Mark was one of about 30 riders who showed up to argue for shared use trails. We lost that night, but Mark and several others met weekly to form CORBA, organize local mountain bicyclists and interact with the agencies and other trail users.

It became clear that trail closures to bicyclists were emerging as a national problem. Preliminary talks between California clubs began about forming an umbrella organization of local clubs. CORBA sent Mark and Kurt Loheit to the meeting which marked the formation of IMBA.

CORBA’s approach has always been to show up, to participate, to take the high road and to be persistent. Mark has done all that and more. He’s been deeply connected to the sport as a racer and for several years as the editor of Mountain Biking magazine. He was the co-author of Riding Santa Monica Mountains Best Trails with Jim Hasenauer and of Where to Bike Los Angeles Mountain Biking with Jim Hasenauer and Steve Messer. He also wrote the Outdoor Action Guide Mountain Biking, and a skills manual, Mountain Bike Master: Essential Skills and Advanced Techniques Made Easy. He worked as Director of Communication for Giant Bicycles and for the National Off-Road Bicycle Association, before it was absorbed by USA Cycling. His knowledge, his ability to communicate and his industry connections brought national attention and resources to CORBA.

When the Conejo Opens Space Conservation Authority began dealing with the same trail access issues as the nearby Santa Monica Mountains agencies, they took a more open, community-minded approach. They told the complainers “These trails will be shared by the community. Work it out.” Mark was one of the founding members of the new Conejo Open Space Trails Advisory Committee and his efforts built strong alliances with equestrians and hikers. For years, COSTAC has been a model of user cooperation and the power of education in not only reducing user conflict but building a strong, united, and inclusive trail community.

Mark teaches the basics at CORBA's free skills clinic

Mark demonstrates the basics at CORBA’s free skills clinic

Mark’s longest service commitment has been the CORBA Mountain Bike Skills classes that he has taught every first Saturday of the month since 1992. No matter how much you know or think you know about mountain bikes, Mark’s class will improve your riding. He has the uncanny ability to see the deficiencies in riders’ positions or techniques and clearly, incrementally help those riders improve. Literally thousands of riders have taken Mark’s course. He also does fee-based coaching.

While Mark will be stepping down from the CORBA Board, he won’t be going away. Mark will continue to lead our free monthly Mountain Bike Skills Clinics. Remaining board members, Jennifer Jacobson, Wendy Engelberg and Steve Messer, will carry the CORBA torch forward, with the addition of two new board members. 

CORBA and mountain bikers locally and across the country owe Mark a huge debt of gratitude for his years of dedication to the growth and advancement of mountain biking.

All we can say is Thank You Mark.

 

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San Gabriel Mountains National Monument Comments

November 1st, 2016
San Gabriel Mountains National Monument Community Collaborative

The Community Collaborative hands comments to the Forest Service

Last Thursday, October 27, 2016, the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument Community Collaborative group (Collaborative) finalized their consensus comments on the SGMNM Management Plan. The process was helped immensely by the extension of the public comment period through to today, November 1st.

The Collaborative took a long, hard look at the draft Management Plan, and felt that it fell short of accomplishing everything desired by the community, and mandated by the Presidential Proclamation.  I served on the Monument and Transportation Plan Coordinating Committee, tasked with developing comments for the entire Collaborative to review and approve. We broke down the management plan, and assigned sections to those with expertise and interest in the section topics.  I helped write the Sustainable Recreation section with the Sierra Club representative, while the Heritage Resources section was initially drafted by an archaeologist. Over the course of two months, numerous conference calls, and four Collaborative meetings, the comments were developed and modified into a document that all members could support.

The Collaborative’s strength comes from the diversity of its membership. When the Collaborative was convened, effort was made to bring in diverse and sometimes opposing viewpoints, including some who did not initially support the Monument. Over the course of nearly two years, Collaborative members have become much more aware of and sensitive to the issues and viewpoints of other members. It’s been a slow process of building trust, and coming up with compromises that support the greater vision for the Monument.  The member list is available on the National Forest Foundation’s SGM Community Collaborative page, along with all our meeting records and documents.

The Collaborative code of conduct prohibits any Collaborative member from submitting individual or organization comments that are contradictory to those of the Collaborative.  CORBA’s comments supplement the Collaborative comments, addressing a few issues not addressed by the Collaborative. Both are posted here for review.

Nothing in the Management plan directly affects mountain bike access to existing trails. Much of the draft plan and the Collaborative comments concern social and environmental justice, transportation, and heavily impacted areas of the Monument.

The Forest Service expects to release a Final Management Plan next spring, as they read through and respond to all the public comments received. That will be followed by an objection period, then a final Record of Decision.  The Presidential Proclamation mandates the completion of the plan by October 10, 2017, the third anniversary of the establishment of the Monument.

The Collaborative’s Comments

CORBA and MWBA Comments

 

Vote for the Backbone Trail

October 31st, 2016

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Our friends at the Santa Monica Mountains Trails Council are in the running for a considerable donation towards maintenance of the Backbone Trail. Anheuser-Busch is giving away up to $200,000 for trail maintenance around the country through the Michelob Ultra Go The Extra Mile Fund.

Here’s the catch: the public decides how much of that pie each nominated trail will receive. Twelve trails have been nominated, including the recently completed Backbone Trail in the Santa Monica Mountains. The funds will be divided between the twelve nominated trails, based on the percentage of votes each trail receives.

Votes must be cast by November 30th, and you must be at least 21 years of age to visit the site and vote.  Every vote makes a difference!

Vote now for the Backbone Trail!

 

 

Castaic Trails and Puente Hills Park Plans Approved

October 25th, 2016
Park and Rec Staff give their report

Park and Rec Staff give their report

October 25, 2016 was a great day for trails, open space and bike parks in Los Angeles County.  Some time ago, we learned that the Puente Hills Landfill Park Master Plan would be on today’s County Board of Supervisors agenda.  Last week, we were notified that the Castaic Multiuse Trail Master Plan would be on the same agenda.

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Kevin from SCV Trail Users speaks to support the Castaic plan.

Both these plans include Bike Skills Parks, as proposed by CORBA to the County in 2011.  It’s been a long process with much input from local residents, trail users, mountain bikers and environmental and social justice organizations. With these bike skills parks appearing on their respective master plans, which will be incorporated into the County General Plan, we have confirmed a future Los Angeles that will include bike skills parks.

The Puente Hills plan includes two bike skills area, one in Phase One, and a second in Phase two. The Castaic plan identifies three potential bike skills park sites. The plans do not include specific bike park designs. These designs will take some time, and much community involvement. The onus will be on us, the mountain biking community, to follow through and remain engaged in the design process, and ultimately, to help raise funds and build these facilities.

These planning documents are intended to guide long-term development over multiple decades, as funding and other opportunities become available. Fully realized, they will provide many miles of multi-use trails, trailhead staging areas, and other amenities. The Puente Hills plan includes multiple recreational amenities, including public performance spaces, a zip line, bike skills park, dog park, and balances that with habitat restoration and native landscaping. There is something for everyone.

Four of us spoke in favor of the Castaic plan, including CORBA, the SoCal High School Cycling League and SCV Trail Users, while one local resident expressed concerns that a proposed trail in the plan traverses her property. Supvervisor Antonovich asked the park planning staff how the plan addresses and protects private property rights and received assurances that easements or property acquisitions will only take place from willing sellers.

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Over 30 people came to speak on the Puente Hills plan, rallied by our friends at Bike SGV, the San Gabriel Mountains Forever coalition, Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition and CORBA.  It was obvious to the County that there is tremendous community support for the plan, so it wasn’t necessary for all 30 to speak. Wes Reutman from Bike SGV, spoke on behalf of the group.  Support also came from the Wilderness Society and the Trust for Public Land.

We want to express our sincere thanks to both the County Department of Parks and Recreation, and the County Supervisors for supporting the development of these plans.  We also extend our appreciation to Alta Planning for their great work on engaging the Santa Clarita Valley community in the development of the Castaic Plan, and Withers & Sandgren Landscape Architecture firm who were enlisted as the prime consultant on the Puente Hills plan. Both the Castaic and Puente Hills planning processes typified the type of extensive community outreach and engagement that are necessary to develop viable community-driven plans that reflect the desires and address the concerns of the community and trail and park users.

Of special note is the long-standing support for trails and open spaces exhibited by Supervisor Antonovich, who will term out at the end of this year. His legacy includes the Santa Susana Trails Master Plan, and the Castaic Multiuse Trail Master Plan. As an equestrian and a champion of multi-use trails, Supervisor Antonovich has arguable had a greater impact on trails in Los Angeles County than any other single elected official in the area. In fact, 30 years ago, I served as assistant race director of the Olive View Challenge, a running, cycling, mountain biking and BMX event raising funds for Olive View hospital. Supervisor Antonovich was an ardent supporter of our nacent mountain biking race then (the first ever sanctioned mountain bike race on County and National Forest lands). He’s been a champion of trails since, and throughout his career in County government.

While a great step forward, there is still a lot of work to be done before we’ll be shaping dirt into pump tracks, jumps, and skills features at either Castaic or Puente Hills. We hope to begin the design phase for Castaic as early as next year. Puente Hills needs a few more years for the landfill to settle, and phase one will likely begin in late 2017 through 2019.

Save The Date! November 27th is CORBA’s Annual RAM Ride & Pancake Brunch!

October 20th, 2016

2d3461e4-d102-4085-a64a-74db40c622c9Come join CORBA for our annual RAM (Ride & Mingle) event and pancake breakfast at Michael’s Bicycles in Newbury Park!

November 27th! Ride time 9am sharp: Meet at Wendy/Potrero Drive in Newbury Park.

ALL LEVELS WELCOMED! GUIDED RIDES: BEGINNERS, INTERMEDIATE & ADVANCED ROUTES.

Come ride with us in Point Mugu State Park (Sycamore Canyon). Meet at Wendy/Potrero in Newbury Park. We will all ride over to the ranger station for a big group photo then split up into our groups. Meet back at Michael’s Bicycles for a pancake brunch!

Pancake breakfast at Michael’s Bicycles after the ride at 12:30pm. $10 suggested donation.

You can renew or purchase a CORBA/IMBA Membership as well!
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Michael’s Bicycles: 2257 Michael Drive, Newbury Park, CA 91320

Hastain Trail Closed to Public on Appeal

October 18th, 2016

hastain-trail

In March 2011, we reported on the Hastain Trail in Franklin Canyon. A mega-mansion developer, Mohamed Hadid, had purchased a parcel of land traversed by the Hastain Trail in 2002. In 2011, he began development of the site, putting up a fence to block the trail without any public notice.

hastain trail closedImmediately, local hiker Ellen Scott formed the Friends of Hastain Trail. They fought the developer in court, with the backing of the Mountains Recreation Conservation Authority. The previous owner had never prohibited public entry to the land via the Hastain Trail for at least five years prior to 1972. Witnesses testified hiking the trail as far back as 1965. Hadid did not close the trail for nearly ten years that he owned it.

In October 2012, we reported that Friends of Hastain Trail won the lawsuit, and the trail was reopened to the public. The decision was based on state laws regarding prescriptive easements.

Hadid, who has since been charged with criminal misdemeanor offences relating to another property   he is developing, and was named one of L.A.s “ten worst neighbors of 2015,” appealed the decision. The appeals court recently overturned the ruling, once again closing the trail to the public.

The battle for the trail is not over. Though Hadid has offered to provide an alternative route through his property, the route he proposes doesn’t have the views afforded by the existing trail, and is not an equitable replacement.

Efforts are now underway to appeal the decision to a higher court, which the MRCA and CORBA are supporting. Stay tuned for updates.

Update, October 21, 2016:  We just learned that the Supreme Court has declined to take on the case. This means a loss for trail users and a win for the mega-mansion developer, who will now get to close the historic trail to build five mega-mansions.