By Mark Langton
When I learned that CORBA would be inducted into the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame, my first reaction was, “where do we begin to start thanking people?” If you go back to the inception of CORBA, it all started with a 1987 Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy (SMMC) meeting where one of the agenda items was to consider adopting California State Parks’ policy of single track trails being closed to bicycles. So I guess you could say that CORBA owes a debt of gratitude to the SMMC for considering closing trails to bikes.
There were quite a few mountain bikers at that SMMC meeting, myself included. We sat patiently while the committee members discussed the pros and cons of allowing this “new” recreation on their public trails. They decided to adopt the State Parks policy, but they would continue dialogue with “the bike group” to see if bicycles could be integrated into the trail system. The cyclists in the audience looked around and silently acknowledged that “I guess we’re the bike group.” A legal pad was passed around and the list of people collected at that meeting became the impetus for CORBA. (Since then SMMC has adopted an inclusive policy toward mountain bikes.)
Twenty-six years later, we are still having to address issues of whether or not bicycles can coexist on public open space trails, mostly on State Parks’ trails. It’s like when snowboarding became popular at ski resorts. There was a lot of animosity leveled at snowboarders by skiers. A partial solution was to create separate areas where snowboarders could do their thing and skiers knew to stay away from those areas. But with public open space trails, we don’t necessarily have that luxury. If we want to share the trails, we have to behave accordingly and expect that there may be hikers, equestrians, and other (less experienced) cyclists on those trails.
The sport of mountain biking is evolving much like the sport of skiing has evolved to include snowboard riders. Separate areas are being developed to accommodate “gravity” mountain biking, and CORBA is working with land managers in our region to develop mountain bike parks that allow for more aggressive riding, including jumps, drops, and technical features. We will be announcing some very exciting news within the next few months regarding these new areas!
If you want something to last, you have to be willing to commit to the long haul. I’m not sure if that’s what the founders of CORBA set out to do, but thanks to them and everyone who got involved from then until now, we have a lasting legacy and solid foundation that will serve the next generation of mountain bikers in the greater Los Angeles and Eastern Ventura Counties.
And when we accept the award on behalf of CORBA for being inducted into the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame, you can be sure that everyone on that stage will be feeling the pride of all of those who have supported CORBA over the last 26 years.