Archive for the ‘Verdugo Mountains’ Category

What CORBA Does

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013

By Mark Langton

Bikes, horses, hikers and runners

Bikes, horses, hikers and runners. We all love trails.

Recently a bicycle club-team representative  contacted CORBA wanting to see what more they could do to get more of the trails that are currently closed to bicycles opened up to shared use. A couple of comments from the correspondence were that they thought that showing up in larger numbers to public meetings would help, and that they thought the main reason that trails were closed were because of an influential public anti-bicycle lobby.

I wrote back to the person who contacted me, and in doing so came up with what I think is a good overview of what CORBA has been doing for the past 26 years, and continues to do on behalf of all public backcountry trail users (see below). Yes, CORBA is a mountain bike organization, but we are more than that, and here’s why: We believe that shared use works better because it disperses use, rather than concentrating it. When you disperse use, you reduce congestion, and when you reduce congestion, you reduce confrontation. Moreover, it has been shown that where shared use trails exist, it works. Maybe not perfectly, but certainly better than where there are restrictions to bicycles, because shared use also fosters cooperation. Bicycles do mix when operated considerately and with the safety and serenity of other trail users in mind. And that’s the crux of the issue: If bicyclists would simply slow down around others, including other bicyclists, they would be solving the problem of both dangerous speed, and the “startle factor,” or the disruption of another’s peaceful enjoyment of the backcountry.

Here’s what I wrote to that bicycle club team member:

This year CORBA celebrated its 26th anniversary. In that time we have made many strides to opening trails to shared use (hiking, equestrian, bicycle) in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, Angeles National Forest, Los Angeles County, and Eastern Ventura County. We have participated in hundreds of public meetings with land managers over the years. Land managers recognize and continue to adapt to the growing bicycle population and changing demographic profile of the trail user community. They are certainly aware of the needs and desires of the mountain biking community through CORBA’s efforts, which include quarterly meetings with principal agency managers (National Park Service, State Parks, Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority). We are also in constant communication with these agencies and/or when the need arises to address a specific issue. CORBA also works closely with the Mountain Bike Unit which aids the rangers and community with safety and education. CORBA also schedules and organizes regular trail maintenance work days s in conjunction with the Santa Monica Mountains Trails Council and Conejo Open Space Conservation Agency. CORBA is also heavily involved with the Angeles National Forest with trail maintenance and volunteer patrol participation. Due to CORBA’s efforts, most of the singletrack trails built in the last 25 years are shared use (not to mention a lot of the singletrack that already existed not getting shut down).

 As you can see, there is more to getting involved than just showing up at meetings in large numbers. The issue of bikes not being allowed on trails is more than just politically active opponents to bicycles; it is mired in an outdated management policy of restriction that is predicated to a large degree on ignorance and a status quo mentality. Within the last few years there has been a systemic change for adopting shared use as the overriding management strategy. It is a slow moving process but we do see a very strong indication that within the next few years we will see many more trails opening to shared use on a statewide basis than currently exists. This change comes from consistent efforts not only by CORBA, but mountain bike advocates all over the state, with assistance from the International Mountain Bicycle Association (of which CORBA was a founding club in 1988).

 The one concern that is always at the forefront of managers’ minds is safety. It is agreed by everyone that bicycles are an acceptable form of public open space trail recreation. However, it is when riders go too fast around other users as to make it an unsafe or even just an unpleasant experience that gets mountain bikers a bad reputation, and gets the managers to thinking about restricting bicycles. If everyone would just slow down when passing others, and slow down into corners so they don’t scare others on the other side, we would pretty much solve the problem. I am not saying you shouldn’t go fast, I’m just saying do it when conditions are safe. 

Show Us Your Smile

Tuesday, August 27th, 2013

smileSometimes a picture is worth a thousand words. We have created this message tag with the help of BikeTags (biketag.wordpress.com) so that we can spread the message of goodwill, peace, and harmony throughout the world. Or maybe just the message “don’t worry, be happy.” The idea is to show other trail users that we belong, we care, and we can coexist. Similar to the SoCal High School Cycling League’s “spirit of howdy”, it’s a way to remember to slow down and smell the sage brush.

We’ll be making the CORBA Smile Tags available to anyone who wants one, just send an email request to info@corbamtb.com. We’ll be giving away prizes for the best photos of the tags on your bikes while on the trail. Photos will be judged on originality, creativity, and overall quality. (Details to follow in the coming weeks). The grand prize will be a Niner full suspension frameset, donated by Niner.

OK, so maybe putting the Smile Tag on your bike* won’t save the world. But a lot of times a little smile can go a long way.

*The Smile Tag is a high quality plastic laminated product and comes with all hardware necessary to mount on a handlebar or under the seat. If mounting to the handlebar, a hole may need to be punched at the bottom of the tag to help secure the tag to a brake or derailleur cable (see photo).

 

 

I’d Like to Thank…

Tuesday, July 30th, 2013

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.

 

Glendale’s Newest Trail’s are Complete

Monday, May 6th, 2013
Glendale's new Catalina Verdugo Trail

Glendale’s new Catalina Verdugo Trail

When the City of Glendale updated its Trail Master Plan for the City’s open spaces in 2007 and 2008, CORBA volunteers worked closely with City staff to map out existing trails and to identify where new trails would make the most sense. The first two of those new trails have  just been completed.

The Catalina Verdugo Trail loops around the Glendale Sports Complex at the end of  The northern trailhead is next to the Maintenance yard facility. The Southern end of the trail is behind the soccer fields, and comprises a series of switchbacks. Glendale has many difficult and steep trails like those at Brand and Deukmejian Parks, so City officials wanted this to be an easy trail for all levels of trail users to enjoy. The trail is open to hikers and mountain bikes only. The trail joins an existing fire road, from which there is access to Ridge Motorway, a lightly used fire road in the San Rafael hills.  From there it is possible to ride or hike all the way to the trail system at Cherry Canyon.

As with all newly constructed or recently re-built trails, it currently looks quite wide and raw. Over the coming months as the trail beds in it will naturally narrow down and brush will grow in along the trail.  It will be a beautiful, meandering trail through the Chaparral.  There is some steep slopeside exposure in a few sections, but overall it is a non-technical trail suitable for fit beginners and more experienced riders alike. Watch for poison oak along the trail, mostly on the north-facing slopes.

Mountain Do Trail exercise station photo by Robin McGuire

Mountain Do Trail exercise station

The second trail, and also a part of the Sports Complex trails,  is called the Mountain Do Trail. This is a wheelchair accessible, natural surface path, complete with a range of outdoor exercise stations, benches and tables. The Mountain Do Trail wraps around the soccer fields at the Southern end of the Sports Complex. Within the next month, signs and  interpetive panels with information on Flora, Fauna and local history will be added to both trails, making them a great educational resource as well. The Sports Complex is open from 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 pm and the gates are locked, so access to the trail is restricted outside those times.

The City is planning a formal opening ceremony on June 1st, National Trails Day, but the trails are now ready for use. These trails were expertly designed and constructed by Bellfree Contractors, in accordance with the City of Glendale Trails Master plan. For more information, a map and more photos visit BellFree Contractors’ web site.

Why? Good Question!

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013

20120421111-Malibu-Creek-State-Park-Hike-Bike-Run-Hoof-300x199

By Mark Langton

It was recently brought to our attention that newly elected president of Equestrian Trails, Inc. (ETI) Robert Foster, a retired law enforcement officer, donates his time as an emergency medical technician at So Cal High School Mountain Bike Racing League races. Mr. Foster is a staunch supporter of the league, and in his president’s message in ETI’s most recent newsletter he stated that it’s a new era in our public open space trail systems, and mountain bikers are part of the trail user community so we all should try to figure out ways to get along.

Now I’ve been doing this advocacy thing for over 25 years, and I’ve experienced a lot of encouraging progress in the areas of shared use, especially when it comes to opening more trails to bicycle use. To hear the president of an organization that has historically had some of its members rally against mountain bikes say that we need to get along is truly groundbreaking. But things like this come fewer and more far between than I’d like, and during these 25 years I have often asked myself “why am I doing this?” The answer is always “because it’s the right thing to do.” This might sound insane (insanity once being defined by Albert Einstein as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results), and in many ways this might be true. But then something like Robert Foster’s reasonable position comes along and I think to myself, maybe we have been doing the right thing after all.

Over the years we have heard many reasons people feel mountain bikes don’t mix on shared use trails, but only one is valid; people riding their bikes too fast at the wrong time and place (around other trail users) is just not a pleasant experience for the people being passed at an inappropriate speed. As I’ve said many times before, we all have within our power the ability to solve this issue: slow down. In other words, use caution when around others. Let me put it another way; your actions represent the entire mountain bike community. The smile you create through a pleasant trail encounter goes a long way.

Randy Rogers Had it Right

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

By Mark Langton

IMG_23141When I first met North Ranch Mountain Bike Club (nrmbc.org) founder Randy Rogers, he told me of his simple concept when encountering others on the trail. “You should slow down enough to have a brief conversation with them. Like, ‘How are you? Have a nice day.’” I told him I thought that this was overly courteous, and if you simply slowed down and said “hi” as you passed, it would be sufficient.

Now, 20 or so years later, I have to admit that Randy was right. Because in having that brief conversation, you not only slow down, you also show care and concern for the other trail user. And if we want to promote a backcountry that is harmonious and safe, then we all must act as if we are a family. Sure, like most families we may have our differences, but in the end our goal should be to care for, and be kind to, each other. After all, we’re out on the trails for the same reasons; to enjoy nature and to renew our spirit.

I challenge you to try this simple, easy experiment: When safely passing someone, including other cyclists, slow down to the point you’re almost going their speed (or stop if necessary), and ask “how are you doing?” (or the abbreviation “howdy!”). Pause just long enough to let them reply. If they don’t, at least you initiated the pleasantry. If they do reply, recognize the feeling you get from the exchange. They feel comforted and cared for, and you have done something nice. If that’s not a win/win, I don’t know what is. And at the risk of sounding cliché, you are paying good karma forward, which in most cases is contagious. And please drop me an email at mark@corbamtb.com or post a reply and let me know how it goes when you try this experiment. I’d really like to hear your experiences. Thanks!

(By the way, if you’re already using this method of trail courtesy, Thank You!)

Be The Solution

Monday, December 10th, 2012

By Mark Langton

I agree with hikers. I agree that when a mountain biker goes by me too close and too fast, it’s scary and unsettling. And they don’t have to be going fast, just too fast for the conditions. If a mountain biker goes by me at 15 mph on a fire road, no problem. If a mountain biker goes by me at 15 mph on a singletrack trail less than six inches from me, then I have a bit of a problem.

I agree with hikers right up to the point when they say all mountain bikers should be banned from trails because some of them go too fast around other users. You can’t tell me I’m banned from the trails because of someone else’s irresponsible behavior.

I believe there’s nothing wrong with going fast, as long as it’s being done safely (and within reason). If mountain bikers go so fast as to create a danger to themselves–such as crashing and having to utilize tax payer money to get medical treatment and evacuation from the backcountry–then people could point at the mountain bike community as creating an undue burden on the resource management agency. But as we’ve seen, crashes of this nature are relatively few. But the agency still takes notice when there’s an increase.

I know there are those out there, myself included, who are angry at the people who disregard common sense and speed past others with no regard for common courtesy. They’ve replied many times to our blog posts. They are angry because they know that the people who are acting irresponsibly know they are doing it, but continue to do it anyway in spite of the fact they are giving the mountain biking community a bad name; when all they have to do is very simple. Be The Solution. Just slow down around others.

As an experiment today I stopped in the middle of a singletrack trail as a rider approached me coming downhill. Although he had plenty of room to see me, he ran into me, and nearly flew over the handlebar. He was apologetic, and the conversation we had was enlightening; because he was used to others getting out of his way, he just assumed I would, too.  I recounted an instance when I was riding along a trail and I came upon a hiker with her head down, and as I slowed to a stop she looked up, startled, and nearly fell over backward. Had I assumed she heard me and was going to get out of my way, I probably would have run into her.

It’s never going to be completely safe on the trails. There are always going to be accidents, but by slowing down around others (and maybe even slowing down for blind corners), we might be able to avoid a lot of very avoidable ones.

 

 

 

 

Resolve to Solve in 2013

Monday, December 10th, 2012

How many of you have New Year’s Resolutions that you are hoping to keep? There is one you can make and keep, guaranteed. It will help you, the mountain bike community, and the trail community at large. Ready? Slow down when passing others!

How many things in life can you do that actually solve a problem? On our trails, the one justifiable complaint about mountain bikers is that they sometimes go too fast when passing others, which can be scary and upsetting,even to other cyclists. So all you have to do is slow down when passing, and you SOLVE THE PROBLEM!

Slowing down while passing others on our shared-use trails is a pure win-win proposition. The people who you pass feel good about mountain bikers. WIN! You feel good because you didn’t scare anyone, and everyone has a pleasant exchange. WIN!

Here’s a suggestion: Treat others you are passing on the trail as if you are holding the door open for them. That brief pause is a show of consideration, courtesy, and humanity that will come back to you and the mountain bike community in many positive ways.

It’s up to you. Would you rather finish your ride knowing you did something positive for mountain bikers and trails users, or that you made it worse for yourself and the mountain bike community? You CAN make a difference. And all it takes is slowing down when passing other users!

 

Study Considering Shared Use of the PCT Begins in Spring 2013

Monday, November 19th, 2012

By Jim Hasenauer

You may have heard that there are a number of people working to re-open non-Wilderness sections of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) to bicycles.  When the PCT was closed to bikes in 1988, that regulation was supposed to have been reviewed annually.  It has never been reviewed.  We brought this to the attention of the National Forest Service (who are the lead agency for managing the PCT) , and they have agreed to review the regulation.  That process has not started yet.  We expect it to happen in the Spring.  At that time we will need high levels of participation from the mountain bike community.

Meanwhile, we’ve created a website www.sharingthepct.org and a facebook page “sharing the pct”.  Both are chock full of information about the initiative.  Unfortunately, some folks who oppose this idea have become quite strident and aggressive on the pct-l listserv and other venues.  We are trying to keep this initiative high-road with an emphasis on civility and fact-based decision making.  Don’t get into word wars with opponents.  Their insults (and threats of booby traps) and violence hurt them more than help them in the public process.

We think re-opening the PCT is good public policy.  It will help the trail and all of its trail users.

Right now, we are looking for organizations to sign on to our initiative and for specific information on different sections of the PCT itself and its suitability for multiple use.  Check out the website.  Your input is welcome.

City of Glendale Mountain Bike Patrol Program to Launch

Thursday, November 8th, 2012

The City of Glendale has announced that their Hiking and Mountain Biking Patrol program is ready to launch. They are seeking volunteers interested in spending a few hours per month riding or hiking the trails of the Verdugo Mountains. Applications are available from the City’s Community Services and Parks Department. Mountain bikers will be required to attend the CORBA Free Skills Clinic. Following is the announcement from the City:

 

 

At long last we are pleased to announce that applications are now available for the City of Glendale’s volunteer Trail Safety Patrol (TSP) program.

We ask that, at your earliest convenience, you stop by the Community Services & Parks Department at Glendale City Hall to pick up your application packet.  The Department is open every day from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday; and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday.

At that time, we would like to take a few minutes to get acquainted (this is not a formal interview), then have you pick up your application packet and proceed to our Human Resources office where you will receive information on the mandatory fingerprint and background check that is required of all City volunteers. 

Glendale City Hall is located at 613 East Broadway, Glendale, CA 91206.  The Community Services & Parks Department is located on the first floor in Room 120.  Please ask to speak to Iris Hidalgo.

The Human Services Department is also on the first floor of City Hall, across the lobby, in Room 100.  Please ask to speak to Ando Vardanyan.

Free Visitor Parking is available in the City’s parking structure on Wilson Avenue, north of Broadway and west of Glendale Avenue.

Your application packet will include the following:

  • TSP Application Form
  • TSP Physician Approval Form
  • TSP Insurance Information Form
  • TSP Bike Liability Waiver 
  • TSP Hike Liability Waiver 
  • City Volunteer Registration Form/Conviction History 
  • City Volunteer Agreement Form

Please note that the mandatory fingerprint/background check and the mandatory liability/bike insurance will be obtained at no cost to you. 

You need to sign either the Bike Waiver or the Hike Waiver, not both, depending on which unit you are applying for.  If you are applying for the Hike Unit, you only need to fill out the top portion of the Insurance Information Form.  All other forms must be completely filled out, signed, and dated.

As soon as you have completed all the forms, please return them to the Community Services & Parks Department, 613 East Broadway, Room 120, Glendale, CA  91206.  If we were unable to meet when you picked up the documents, please return them in person so that we have a chance to meet face to face.

The application packet must be returned to us no later than November 30, 2012.

Please note the following important dates:

  • Saturday, December 1, 2012 – members of the Mountain Bike Unit must take the CORBA Mountain Bike Skills class at MalibuCreek State Park from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.  All members of the Mountain Bike Unit must pass this course in order to be part of the Trail Safety Patrol.   

      Please go to:  http://corbamtb.com/programs/skills.shtml for more information.

  • Sunday, December 2, 2012 – members of the Hike Unit must meet in Brand Park at 9 a.m. for the hike test up the Brand Motorway.  All members of the Hike Unit must hike the 6.2 mile route of the Verdugo Mountains 10K in under 2.5 hours.

·        Saturday, December 8, 2012 – all volunteers must undergo the mandatory 8-hour training program to be held in the Glendale Police Department’s Community Room from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.  The Police Department is located at 131 North Isabel Street, Glendale, CA  91206.  A free visitor parking lot is across the street from the station.      

We know this is a lot to digest, so if you have any questions, or if there are any problems, please feel free to call me at the number below or simply reply to this email.  If you have any friends or colleagues with mountain biking or hiking skills who you think might be interested in participating, please have them contact me.  We can always use more excellent volunteers.

We look forward to working with you to make this an outstanding program that benefits all those who use Glendale’s trails and open space.