2016: A Busy, Productive Year

2016 is behind us, and what a year it was for CORBA and mountain bikers! We were extremely busy last year, cutting trails, cutting trees, and working on behalf of the mountain bike community to ensure continued and improved access to mountain biking in the greater Los Angeles and Eastern Ventura County areas.

Jim Burton cuts the ceremonial ribbon, as Steve Messer, Matt Lay and Jenny Johnson of MWBA, and Ken's daughters Heather and Tania look on.

Opening of Ken Burton Trail

In 2016, the Gabrielino Trail Restoration project, with REI, Bellfree Contractors, and Los Angeles Conservation Corps, was completed.  Ken Burton Trail restoration with MWBA was completed, opening the Ken Burton trail and a popular loop after seven years of closure, thousands of volunteer hours, and nearly three years of planning.

 

Forest Service volunteer sawyers from CORBA and MWBA put in hundreds of hours of chainsaw work clearing downed trees in the Station Fire Burn zone. Volunteers Mike McGuire and Steve Messer appeared in Mountain Bike Action doing chainsaw work on the Strawberry Peak trail.

Additional trailwork days were completed with Los Angeles County, the Conejo Rec and Parks District, Point Mugu State Park, the Mountains Recreation Conservation Authority, the City of Rancho Palos Verdes and elsewhere. High School student-athletes, boy scouts, college students, Amgen and Giant Bicycle employees and many of our dedicated volunteers and members participated.

With the LA Bike Park Collective we made progress towards bringing the first bike park to Los Angeles.  LA County approved two plans that include bike parks. Thousand Oaks approved a bike park. BikeSGV began construction on the first public bike park in LA County. Two Neigborhood Councils and the Los Angeles Rec And Parks department are supporting our bike park proposal for the City of Los Angeles, which we continue to work on. Other proposals are also in the works.

CORBA’s Steve Messer spoke at the California Trails and Greenways Conference with the Backcountry Horsemen and Santa Monica Mountains Trails Council on trail etiquette, and at the IMBA World Summit with NICA and IMBA on the Teen Trail Corps. He represented CORBA at the County Multi-Use Trails Day and several other events.

The Collaborative hands comments to the Forest Service

The Forest Service completed a draft management plan for the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument. CORBA collaborated with 43 other organisations on the Community Collaborative group to produce a detailed comment letter and analysis of the plan, in addition to our own comments. We participated in more than twenty public meetings on various trail, park and open space related issues, plans and opportunities. We submitted multiple comment letters on a wide range of issues, always supporting the protection of mountain bike access and creation of new opportunities.

As part of the CORBA Youth Adventures program, MBU volunteers took at-risk youth on interpretive mountain bike rides about twice per month in the Santa Monica Mountains. We’re getting #morekidsonbikes.

When wilderness issues began to divide us, we called for a balanced approach that includes all options. Legislation for the Rim of the Valley NRA, for Human-Powered Wilderness Travel, and legislation creating a bike-friendly NRA Designation as an alternative to wilderness was introduced. CORBA continues to work with wilderness advocates and local leaders to ensure we do not lose any more trail miles to possible future wilderness proposals.

Legislation supporting volunteerism and partnerships in the National Forest, supporting our National Parks, and elevating the recreation economy’s national importance were all signed into law by President Obama. LA County passed Measures funding parks (including trails), and transportation (including bicycle infrastructure).

GGR Rocktober

With Girlz Gone Riding we now have more women than ever on the trails. GGR’s event was rained out, but the support and camaradarie among so many women was incredible, and everyone still had a great time. Our membership grew slightly over 2015, thanks in part to GGR’s CORBA membership drive.

Sadly, The devastating Sand Fire closed a large portion of the Forest, right as we began work on the last remaining Station Fire closed trail, the Gabrielino. The Hastain trail lawsuit was overturned on appeal. IMBA lost a major sponsor creating new challenges (and opportunities). Confusion remains as to where the increasing numbers of e-bikes can legally ride, as AB1096 came into effect.

An important milestone, CORBA founder Mark Langton retired from the board. But after more than 20 years, he’s still volunteering every month to lead our free skills clinic (and again this Saturday). We gained two new board members, and IMBA gained a new Board Chair.

In short, it was a very busy year. But where do we go from here?

Among our goals for 2017 are:

  • The completion and opening of the Gabrielino trail
  • Completion of the Sapwi Trails bike park in Thousand Oaks
  • Final approval for a bike park in LA
  • Continue to expand our bell program
  • Updating our online presence, communications and merchandise
  • Celebrate our 30th anniversary
  • Stay on top of the Santa Monica Mountains trails plan process
  • Completion of the SGMNM Monument plan
  • Beginning trail planning in the National Forest
  • Expanding our educational outreach
  • Double our membership (Tell a friend to join!)
  • Have fun riding our bikes!

What else could we be doing? What could you help us do, or do better?  Let us know in the comments.

CORBA is an all-volunteer organisation, led by a small but dedicated board of directors and key volunteers. If you’re not a current member, please join CORBA. If you are, convince a non-member friend to join. You can help us double our numbers in 2017. If you’re riding around Los Angeles, CORBA has been involved in making sure you and your friends have that opportunity.

Just as importantly, remember why you love mountain biking. The feeling of freedom, of accomplishment, of challenge, of connection to nature, of camaraderie or solitude, and always of sheer fun. Those are among the reasons we all ride.

Others are using the trails for the same or other reasons. Trails are getting more crowded as social media introduces more and more of the LA population to trails and our amazing open space destinations. We need to always be respectful of others just as we’d like others to treat us. Slow down, be friendly on the trails. Lead by example. That’s the most important thing you can do to support continued mountain biking access.

And ride is something we all hope to do even more of in 2017. Happy new year!

 

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