WHAT WE DID IN 2002

By Mark Langton

No, that’s not a typo. What we did in 2012 is what we did in 2002, and 1992. Of course, it is usually at this time of year where we talk about “things we did” in the past year. I can point to the thousands of hours of volunteer work that has included trail building, maintenance, and repair on many miles of trails; free mountain bike skills classes for hundreds of local mountain bikers; Youth Adventures and Kids Club rides which exposed kids to the wonders of our mountains from the saddle of a mountain bike; and thousands of hours of advocacy efforts working with land managers, attending public meetings, and analyzing and commenting on environmental and administrative documents to help keep trails open and increase shared use opportunities. But numbers are only part of the story.

So much of what we did and continue to do is behind the scenes. For example, our quarterly meetings with National Park Service and California State Parks land managers maintain a vital and vibrant link between the agencies and the mountain bike community. So when I hear someone say something to the effect of “what has CORBA done lately?” or “CORBA really hasn’t done anything”, I simply smile and say, what we did “lately” was create CORBA 25 years ago. And what what we have accomplished is to have literally kept trails open to mountain biking and opened up many more that probably would not have been designated for bicycles.

Back in 1987 there were powerful opponents to bicycles being on trails, and the land managers were not prepared for this “new” activity on their open space trails. Land managers were hesitant to create wholesale change, and in fact at the meeting that served as the flashpoint for CORBA’s founding, land managers voted to adopt a closed-to-bikes policy while vowing to work with the mountain bike group to see if bicycles could be integrated into the trail system. Seeing how there really wasn’t an organized group, those in attendance passed around a note pad, gathered names and numbers, and CORBA was born. Had CORBA not been formed immediately after that meeting, it is very likely that most of the narrower trails in the Santa Monica Mountains and surrounding areas would be off-limits to bicycles, because there would not have been anyone to stand up to the opponents. Through the consistent efforts of so many through the years, we are now seen as partners in the backcountry community rather than outsiders. This did not happen overnight. And now 25 years later we are still having to argue the legitimacy of bicycles on trails. Not because they cause damage, but because there are still people who think that it’s okay to speed by other users without slowing down. It’s the biggest problem the mountain bike community faces, and it is totally fixable. Just slow down to the speed of others when passing, and before blind corners. Try it. You’ll like it!

Sorry if it sounds like I’m being preachy here. I just love the activity of riding bicycles on trails too much to not at least try to spread the word of responsible riding. I know that a lot  of mountain bikers are not prone to joining groups or even thinking they should obey the rules. But sometimes we need to think about the consequences of our actions and remember that what we do often reflects on others. Whether it’s family, church, work, friends, or a combination, our actions often  say more about us than anything else. When it comes to our open space trails, we’re all out there for the same reason; to enjoy nature. When cyclists go too fast or act disrespectfully of others, that’s what people remember. All I’m asking is that you try slowing down around others and tell me how it affected your overall experience. We are continually telling the land managers that if we work together, we can coexist. They are listening, now it’s up to us to come through on the promise.

One Response to “WHAT WE DID IN 2002”

  1. Ed Dee says:

    Very well written, Mark! Bravo.
    You have actually inspired me to go slow around blind corners. (…or that might just be the old age kickin in…)

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