By Mark Langton
Seems like every time there is maintenance on our local trails, we hear from some very passionate people within the mountain bike community: “Leave the trails the way they are!” Along with this we also get the usual “How can CORBA do this?” A recent comment even alleged that CORBA is trying to take away our freedoms by doing trail work; “CORBA is conspiring with the State to ruin a beautiful single track trail—The Guadalasca.” As I and several others said in recent blog responses, trails are dynamic, they need maintenance every so often. CORBA doesn’t decide what work needs to be done, but agrees that it does and feels that we should participate as advocates of shared open space trails.
Many times people making these comments start off by saying “I have been riding these trails for several years…” If that were true, then they’d know that trails return to a more natural, “challenging” appearance after any kind of trail work. The Sulphur Springs Trail in Cheeseboro Canyon and Solstice Canyon Trail section of the Backbone Trail are two such trails that come to mind. Both were widened and smoothed over, and many people said they’d be “ruined.” Look at them now; they are as challenging and natural—and fun—as ever.
I’ll admit, I am not always in favor of trails becoming less challenging, but at the same time, I have to balance it with the fact that I can ride the trail in the first place. Guadalasca (and other sections of the Backbone Trail) is open to bicycles thanks to the advocacy efforts of CORBA. Some people might say that even if it were closed, they’d ride it. That’s your personal choice, but I’d like to think that as someone who enjoys the open space, you’d like to do it without the cloud of breaking the rules hanging over your head. Just because you can break the rules, it doesn’t mean you should.
Here’s an analogy I came up with while out riding (always good therapy): Let’s say the agency that maintains the street you live on proclaimed that, due to budgetary constraints, they would only be able to do limited maintenance on the street. The street and sewer system falls into disrepair, so you and your neighbors put together a volunteer group to help the agency; you get trained in road and sewer repair, and enlist other neighbors to help. Still, the street becomes riddled with potholes and cracks because the agency just can’t afford the materials and equipment to do the repairs. Soon, off-road vehicle owners start using your street to challenge their vehicles’ capabilities because there’s nowhere else nearby they can do it, which make the street conditions worse. Not to mention these vehicles can go much faster than the passenger cars most of you and your neighbors are driving, making it unsafe for you and your neighbors to even drive down the street. You caution the off-roaders that they shouldn’t drive their vehicles on your street, especially at high speeds, because it is creating an unsafe situation, but they still do because “it’s public and they have a right to drive there. And besides, we’re not going that fast.” Finally, after several years, you and the agency start making repairs, but the off-roaders keep coming and start complaining that you are ruining their fun zone. They come to your volunteer maintenance days and complain you are making the street too smooth and it’s no fun to drive there. They write letters to you saying you are trying to take away their freedoms. All because you are trying to do the right thing for your community.
Here’s an idea: The next time you think someone is trying to take something away from you in your local riding area, ask yourself, “what can I do to help improve the situation?” That could mean getting more involved with your local community. Or it could mean going someplace where the trails are more challenging, where riding them at higher speeds does not impact the rest of the trail user community. Such places exist, whether it be a race or a bike park like Mammoth Mountain. Our local trails are for shared use by many different types of users, so you’re just going to have to adjust your riding style accordingly. Kind of like on the street when driving your car or motorcycle; you may have a high-performance vehicle, but to drive it to its capabilities on public streets just wouldn’t smart or safe. Just because you can break the rules, it doesn’t mean you should.
Packed House asks for a bike park at the Lang Ranch Community Park
On February 8, 2012, a packed house was far more than the Conejo Recreation and Parks District in Thousand Oaks was expecting. This meeting was to gain public input on what could be done with the Lang Ranch Community Park without major construction, without digging, without the need for water. After hearing the park history, attendees were divided up into nine groups, each to discuss what they’d like to see in the park. A facilitator from the parks department took notes on easel boards, listing the table’s priorities. A common theme among all the groups was the call for a pump track/bike park/dirt jumps and trails. This was probably helped by the lefforts of local bike park advocates putting out the word to mountain bikers. It was referred to as a Bike Skills Park, a Pump Track, a Dirt Jump Park, a Mountain Bike park, but the common thread was there: a facility for off-road bicycles. See our blog article for more details...
For many years, most trailwork has been done by volunteers because of budget cutbacks at our parks systems. So come out and help CORBA and other volunteers keep our trails in top riding shape! You can learn more about what to expect and what you'll need to bring with you on our Trailwork web page. Keep in mind that CORBA now provides prizes and lunch after the event for volunteers who register in advance! And by registering in advance, you'll help us prepare by knowing how many volunteers to expect. If you come out to two or more trailwork days in a year, we'll give you a cool long-sleeved CORBA trail crew shirt - be sure to ask for yours!
Guadalasca Trailwork Report
On Saturday, February 25, 22 mountain bikers, eight or so members of the trail crew from the Santa Monica Mountains Trails Council (SMMTC) and two California State Parks (CSP) staffers gathered at the bottom of Guadalasca Trail in Point Mugu State Park for a few hours of trailwork. The work for the day was to clear the brush from the downslope side (outside) of the trail along as much of the old ranch road section of the trail as we could. The CSP standard for multiuse trails is that the trail corridor should be clear of brush for 8' of width and 10' of height. Even though the trail will evenutally end up being only 1 – 3' wide, the extra width at the side provides better sight distances so trail users can see others approaching from further away. Also, it takes several years for the brush to clog the trail again, so we don’t have to clear it out every year. For this trail, there are other reasons to widen its corridor. See our blog article for the full report...
Saturday March 17, 2012: Guadalasca Trail in Pt. Mugu State Park
For a full description of the work to be done on Guadalasca over the next year or so, please see our earlier blog article. California State Parks has asked CORBA to recruit volunteers to help with this work. During today's event, we will finish clearing the brush on the lower old ranch road section of the trail, then continue on the newer singletrack section.
Please complete our on-line registration form in advance to qualify for prizes and so we'll know how many tools to bring.
Saturday March 24, 2012: COSCA Spring Trailwork Day.
Come out and join the Conejo Open Space Conservation Agency (COSCA), CORBA, the Santa Monica Trails Council and other volunteers for the Annual COSCA Spring Trailwork Day. We will be working on trails in the Conejo Canyons Open Space that are now accessible because of the new bridge.
At noon, following the morning of trail-building, workers will be treated to hamburgers/vegi-burgers, chips, fruit and drinks while enjoying the camaraderie of fellow trail enthusiasts!
Please complete our on-line registration form in advance to qualify for prizes and so we'll know how many tools to bring. You can find details of the meeting location and time in the on-line registration form.
Saturday April 14, 2012: Guadalasca Trail in Pt. Mugu State Park
Details are forthcoming.
Fri-Sun April 27-29: Santa Monica Mountains Trail Days in Point Mugu State Park.
Once a year we have an opportunity to work on the trails and then BBQ and camp at Danielson Ranch in Sycamore Canyon. It is opened annually for the Santa Monica Trail Days! This is a unique opportunity to work on the trails that we enjoy so much in Sycamore Canyon followed by a BBQ, prizes, and camping on Friday and/or Saturday night. This is hands down the best day to get in your trail maintenance work! Camping is optional, you may leave with the escort after the BBQ.
More details will be available as we get closer to the event.
Please complete our on-line registration form in advance by April 24th.
To see all trailwork dates, including those of other groups, visit the CORBA trailwork calendar.
Join our mailing list to get updates on trailwork
High School League Season Opener Goes Huge
Sunday February 26, 2012, was the season opener of the So Cal High School Mountain Bike League. A league race is an incredible spectacle. The racing is extremely well run, very professional, and highly organized. There were well over 300 racers at the event, and probably double that in families, friends and coaches. CORBA was present as a show of support and to provide information about advocacy, responsible trail use and trail maintenance. We also took the opportunity to present the 2011 CORBA Award to Banner Moffat (friends of El Prieto) and Matt Gunnell (the League Director) as an acknowledgement for their contributions to open space trails and the mountain biking community in Southern California.
While all the heats are exciting to watch, the Varsity boys race is looking like it will be especially competitive this year. For the full recap and many photos, see our blog article...
State Parks Upgrading Tapia Spur Trail
On February 14, 2012, CORBA board member Steve Messer met with State Parks officials and representatives from hiking, conservation and equestrian groups. Together they walked the Tapia Spur Trail which was slated for upgrades meet multiple use standards last year. The trail remains open to the public, though the work is well underway.
Since being opened to multi-use in the mid '90s, there have been reports of user conflicts, mostly due to excessive speed of bicycles. This was exacerbated by poor sight lines with blind corners. One of the significant trail upgrades is a reroute that will eliminate four switchbacks.
The entire trail is being re-cut to a 5' width with a Sweco. Visibility is being improved on many sections by cutting back brush. The entire trail is being outsloped for improved drainage, thereby reducing long term maintenance needs. The most significant change is the inclusion of approximately 17 "pinch points." These consist of 500 pound-plus rocks at least 18" high, strategically placed on the uphill side of blind corners. See our blog article for the rest of the story...
New on the CORBA Website
For a list of upcoming recreational rides, please visit the CORBA Calendar.
CORBA’s Recreational Rides calendar provides a full monthly schedule of mountain bike rides for all skill levels. Mountain bike rides are organized by CORBA member clubs and led by experienced and knowledgeable guides. Recreational rides are a fun and social way to experience a variety of trails in Los Angeles and Ventura counties, and beyond.
Saturday March 3rd is the next skills clinic.
The CORBA free skills clinic is held on the first Saturday of every month at Malibu Creek State Park.
Mountain biking is a lot like tennis or skiing. Just a few minor adjustments in technique can make a huge difference in your control and proficiency. If you want to get better faster, you need to know the fundamentals of mountain biking technique. Whether you're just getting into mountain biking or have been riding for years, you'll learn some valuable tips from our Introduction to Mountain Biking skills class that is offered each month. Check out our Skills Clinic web page for all the information. After the clinic, see photos of your new skills on the CORBA web site that you can share with your family and friends!
We have set up accounts with Twitter and Facebook to help keep people informed of the latest developments in our trail advocacy, recreational rides and trailwork days. Follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/CORBAmtb and Facebook at facebook.com/CORBAMTB.
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