Archive for the ‘CORBA Youth Adventures’ Category

A Tribute to Danusia Bennett-Taber

Monday, June 10th, 2013
Danusia Bennett-Taber Memorial Service

Danusia Bennett-Taber Memorial Service

Sunday, June 9, 2013, a memorial service was held for former CORBA Treasurer and Board Member Danusia Bennett-Taber. Around 80 friends, family, fellow volunteers, agency representatives, and one friendly horse, hiked or rode in to a secluded corner of Malibu Creek State Park. Under the majestic oaks with the sounds of rustling leaves and bird songs–one of Danusia’s favorite places in the park–people recalled some of their fond memories of her.

It was especially clear that there was much more to this wonderful woman than any of us really knew, except perhaps her husband Don, whose recollections brought both smiles and tears to the gathered crowd. We, as CORBA Board members knew her as a diligent and passionate volunteer who loved the mountains and the trails, with a penchant for making sure everything was done correctly.

Her family knew she volunteered, but according to them, she had never made any big deal of it. It was just something she did. CORBA’s Steve Messer talked about her legacy and dedication to mountain biking (copied below), the depth of which was unknown to her family. In fact, this was a common theme among those who spoke. Everyone seemed to know a different side of this remarkable woman. But the common thread was that she touched many people, in many meaningful ways.

Many thanks to the numerous past and present CORBA board members and volunteers who came out to celebrate her life, and our sincerest condolences to her non-mountain biking family and friends.

Special thanks go to Wendy Engelberg, who organized the service. Wendy collaborated with Danusia on a final project, a bell program that will serve multiple purposes: It will remind everyone of Danusia’s great work for the trail community, help ease tensions on the trails from user conflict, and raise money for the Sarcoma Alliance that helped Danusia through the most difficult times of her life. Look for the official announcement in the coming weeks.


Danusia Bennett-Taber and her husband Don, CORBA Fundraiser 2011.

Danusia Bennett-Taber and her husband Don, CORBA Fundraiser 2011.

Danusia’s Legacy with CORBA

Danusia joined CORBA’s board in 2007. I’d met her and worked as a volunteer with CORBA in the years prior to that, before I was asked to join the Board. But it wasn’t really until I learned the inner workings of CORBA that I came to appreciate how integral she was to the organization.

Danusia helped set-up CORBA up for a solid future in so many ways. Everything we’ve done since and all we’ve yet to accomplish are in many ways possible because of her efforts. She was the backbone of CORBA. Much like the Backbone trail that connects the various Parks that make the Santa Monica Mountains, Danusia’s work within CORBA connected all our various programs and made sure they had a solid core foundation from which to grow. For a few years there were just three of us running CORBA, and she was always there to make sure that Mark and I didn’t overlook some detail that could have caused problems, or miss a paperwork filing deadline. She had our backs.

It’s thanks to her expertise with computers and accounting that our books are in order, our finances are handled and up to date.  She left us in a much better state than when she joined CORBA’s Board and became Treasurer. Though she retired from the Board just over a year ago, she never really stopped volunteering.

Just a two weeks ago, she was making sure that CORBA’s 2012 tax filings were all in order. Despite her personal challenges, CORBA’s work was all-important to her. She set us up with the tools to move forward and continue our work uninterrupted.

But for her it wasn’t just about the management and the paperwork. It was about her passion for trails and the open spaces and public lands we all get to enjoy. She made sure that she gave back to the trails and, even after being presented with the biggest challenge of her life, learning of her rare cancer, she continued to come out to build new trails in the Conejo Open Space, attended public meetings about trails, and participated in trail maintenance in the Santa Monica Mountains, where she absolutely loved to ride and hike and felt truly at home.

She also wanted to make sure that other people had the same opportunities to enjoy the outdoors as she did. Her involvement with CORBA’s Youth Adventures program helped introduce many kids to the wonders of our great outdoors, and the joy and freedom of experiencing them by bicycle. Her ever-present smile and laughs with the kids were infectious. She also volunteered for the Mountain Bike Unit, patrolling the mountains to help make sure others were safe on the trails while at the same time protecting public lands and trails for everyone, regardless of how they enjoyed the trails. Her efforts to ensure the success of our various fundraisers made sure we had the resources to continue our work.

Mark Langton reminded me of how feisty and upset she became when a very few but vocal mountain bikers disagreed with CORBA’s philosophy of taking the high road and doing our best to work with Land Managers instead of against them. They’d complain or say bad things about CORBA’s cooperation with agencies, or our work to preserve and maintain trails. She took it personally, and felt we were misunderstood. Mark would have to reassure her that it isn’t personal. Those naysayers were concerned only about themselves, while we and Danusia were concerned about and protective of the trails and our greater community.

In our dealings with State and National Parks, and in our own internal development, she’d always make sure that the women’s point of view was always considered. She’d never let us forget that in this oftentimes male-dominated sport, that if more women were mountain biking we’d probably have a better overall image in the trail user community. Her work with Wendy Engleburg and Girlz Gone Riding helped introduce many women to mountain biking, and support and encourage them along the way.

One of the biggest transitions CORBA has undergone in its 26 year history was when we became an IMBA chapter a few years ago. It was a long and tedious process, with a lot of paperwork, filing of documents, and reconciling CORBA’s mission and operations with IMBA’s. Danusia took the lead on that process, and now, as an IMBA chapter, we’ve been able to grow and speak with a louder voice to land managers, with much more two-way coordination and collaboration between CORBA and IMBA. It’s been a wonderful change for us and for our growing membership. It’s just one of many aspects of Danusia’s legacy within CORBA that is helping guide us into a better future for mountain biking in Southern California.

Mark and my last communication with Danusia was a short, but very telling email about a week before she passed on. It was just a few sentences that essentially said, “Guys, it’s hospice time, and I’m really OK with it.” In those few sentences she was both comforting us by letting us know she’d come to terms with her situation and was ready to move on, and that she felt her work with CORBA was complete. She never wanted to have people fuss over her accomplishments and contributions, nor her final challenges.

CORBA is continuing to make progress on many fronts, albeit slow. The saddest thing about this great loss to our community is that she was not able to ride the Backbone trail end-to-end by bicycle, or see new trails opened to bikes in the Santa Monicas, or see a bike park completed, or witness the continued exponential growth in women’s and kids mountain biking. But we look forward to a day when many of us will see those sea-changes, and in many ways it will be thanks to her legacy.

Danusia, we miss you, we love you, and most of all we thank you for giving so much of yourself to our trails, our mountains, and our community. You’ll be truly missed, but your smile and spirit will live on and continue to touch as all, every time we’re on the trails.

Steve Messer

June 9, 2013


Boy Scouts Take on Mountain Biking

Friday, June 15th, 2012

Over the past three years, CORBA’s trail crew has assisted in several eagle scout projects. Most were from eagle scout candidates who were also involved in the High School Mountain Bike League.   After discussions with local Boy Scout Troops and Councils, we put together a suggested set of requirements for a Mountain Biking Merit Badge in 2010. Apparently demand for a mountain biking badge was more widespread than what we saw locally, and the BSA leaders have listened.

During the 1990’s, IMBA and CORBA had approached the BSA about this very issue. At the time mountain biking wasn’t a mainstream sport, and wasn’t nearly as popular as it is now, especially with the younger generations, and the requests and suggestions fell on deaf ears.

How times have changed. Mountain biking has gone mainstream, and been legitimized as an Olympic sport. NICA is making great strives towards establishing the sports as a legitimate high school sport. The time is ripe for things to change.

According to a June 5 post by Scouting Magazine blogger Bryan Wendell, “The trail to Cycling merit badge just got a bit rougher.”  He explained: “The BSA has approved a mountain biking option for Cycling, a merit badge mainstay since 1911. So for the first time, Scouts who prefer fat tires instead of thin can earn the badge.”

We’re excited about this news, and commend the BSA for listening to their membership’s needs. Because the Boy Scouts like to keep a relatively steady number of available badges, it was much easier to have a mountain biking option added to the existing cycling merit badge instead of adding a new badge. This makes complete sense, as there is a lot of overlap in the skills, fitness, basic mechanical knowledge and safety aspects in both cycling disciplines.

We also feel that mountain biking has a definite place in the Scouting movement, as many of the scouting principles can be directly applied to the sport. Mountain bikers must be prepared, they need to be kind and exercise good trail etiquette to share trails with other users, the sport encourages health and fitness, and stewardship of our public lands.

CORBA invites any and all boy scouts (and the general public) to our free Skills Clinics, offered on the first Saturday of each month at Malibu Creek State Park. These free clinics will help get new riders the basic skills to get started in mountain biking.  IMBA also offers a youth-oriented publication, aimed at teen mountain bikers.


2012: CORBA Turns 25

Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

By Mark Langton

As we look forward to our 25th anniversary in August, we of course have to look back at 2011. It was both a year of growth and important transition.

  • CORBA became a chapter of the International Mountain Bicycle Association (IMBA). As a founding member of IMBA, CORBA saw the value of partnering with IMBA’s strength and reach to gain even more members and raise awareness of the ongoing goals of shared use trails in greater Los Angeles and Eastern Ventura Counties. Already we have seen an influx of new members.
  • California State Parks “change in use” process finally began after several years of non-compliance. CORBA’s efforts to make sure this process was fulfilled was and will be unwavering. Currently the Yearling/Lookout Trail conversion/realignment in Malibu Creek State Park is undergoing review and work could begin as soon as this summer. Our blog article discusses this process further.
  • CORBA established regular quarterly meetings with both State Park and National Park Service officials. These meetings have garnered a new and improved level of communication and cooperation.
  • CORBA went from a single-day fundraising event (Fat Tire Festival) to several smaller events which involved some of our local bike shop supporters, as well as the Fat Tire Fun(d)raiser, a scaled down version of the festival that focused more on riding than “festivaling”. If you know of a local bike shop that would like to host a fundraising event in their store, please send me an email at
  • Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area (SMMNRA) Superintendent Woody Smeck accepted the position of Deputy Superintendent of Yosemite National Park. (Read our blog article on Woody.) While this transition is yet to be complete, we can assure you of one thing; the new superintendent will need to be educated as to the significance and importance of mountain biking in the SMMNRA, and how intertwined mountain bikers are within the trail community. While it is likely the new superintendent will be responsive to the mountain bike community, we’ve seen over the years that different individuals come with their own sensibilities and it is sometimes the case that those sensibilities do not always align with the previous administrator’s positions.
  • State Parks implemented a more comprehensive volunteer trail work training program, requiring a greater level of commitment. CORBA members Steve Messer and Steve Clark stepped up and completed the training, enabling us to move forward with much needed trail improvement projects. In 2011 CORBA contributed significantly to trail work and maintenance in the SMMNRA, Conejo Open Space Conservation Agency (COSCA), City of Glendale, and the Angeles National Forest (enhanced greatly through a grant from REI).
  • In addition to our Youth Adventures Program, which ran 19 outings at Malibu Creek State Park and Paramount Ranch and served dozens of at-risk youth, CORBA introduced the Kids Club, and thanks to a dedicated and passionate group of mountain biking parents, regularly scheduled monthly rides took place and introduced mountain biking to a whole new generation of mountain bikers.
  • This year also marks the 20th anniversary of the free Introduction to Mountain Bike Skills class. Last year saw the best turnout ever with a total of 300 participants, which included two special classes provided to the Mountain Bike Unit (MBU). In fact, the MBU has made the class mandatory for all new members.

Even with a quarter century of advocacy under our collective belts, there is still much to be done. Consider this: There are many miles of singletrack trails closed to bicycles in the SMMNRA, trails that are exactly the same as ones that are open to bicycles. As State Parks moves forward with their trail conversion process (a painfully slow one at that), we must be diligent and ensure that they stay the course.

And of course I sill implore everyone to simply slow down for other users. The primary complaint about mountain bikes on trails is that “they go too fast and scare us.” If you slow to other users’ speed on the trail, you remove the one justifiable complaint about mountain bikers. It’s easy to slow down, and it makes the situation more pleasant for everyone involved—a true win/win situation!

Take a Kid Mountain biking event registration is now open.

Monday, August 30th, 2010
Childhood obesity in the United States has reached an all-time high. Experts say that the current generation of U.S. children could actually have a shorter life expectancy than their parents. IMBA and CORBA believe mountain biking can help reverse this trend. We need your help to get kids back on bikes.

On October 2nd, in conjunction with the IMBA Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day, Concerned Off-Road Bicyclists Association will be having a fun ride at Malibu Creek State Park at 9:00 am. This will be a ride and rock climbing followed by a barbecue. All ages are welcome! 

This event is FREE so bring your own kids, nieces, nephews, friends kids, neighbor kids! Kids must have their own bikesand helmets.

This year, Take a Kid Mountain Biking is sponsored by REI and we thank them for their contribution to our kids well-being!

Not sure what to expect? Take a look at the 2008 or 2009 photo gallery of the event!

Inaugural Youth Adventures ride at Paramount Ranch

Wednesday, August 11th, 2010
Park entrance on Cornell Road, Agoura Hills CA

The Santa Monica Mountain National Recreation Area’s Paramount Ranch became a new location for CORBA’s Youth Adventures program rides. The first ever ride at this location took place on Saturday, August 7th, 2010.  If you have ever had a chance to visit Paramount Ranch then you already know the beautiful landscape that surrounds this area. The Youth Adventures program was created to share this beauty with  inner city children. And what is a better way than taking them bike riding through the rolling hills and share the rich history of this place with them?

Youth Adventures began in the summer of 1993 and operates twice per month year-round, serving over 350 kids annually. It was implemented as a way of reaching out to groups of children that have had limited exposure to public parklands. Mountain bike rides are scheduled with organizations that serve disadvantaged, inner-city or at-risk youth from ages 8-17 and are held in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. CORBA supplies the bikes, helmets, gloves, water, snacks and transportation. Rides are operated by Mountain Bike Unit volunteers. For more information visit Youth Adventures web page

Taking to the trails

Taking a break watching a radio controlled airplane


Special thanks to Youth Adventures program supporter – Simi Cycling Center

Tuesday, June 29th, 2010

CORBA would like to give special thanks to Simi Cycling Center for their generous donations of bike equipment and discounts on bike parts used by our Youth Adventures program.

Because of thoughtful donations such as these, many inner-city and at-risk youth will be able to enjoy the experience of the natural beauty of the Santa Monica Mountains.

Youth Adventures was implemented in 1993 as a way of reaching out to groups of children that have limited exposure to public parklands. Mountain bike rides are scheduled with organizations that serve disadvantaged, inner-city or at-risk youth from ages 8-17 and are held in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. Youth Adventures supplies the bikes, helmets, gloves, water and snacks.

Youth Adventures – and all CORBA programs – is an all-volunteer program and relies on donations of not only funds, but mountain bikes and accessories as well. Please help us keep this wonderful program going by giving what you can. Monetary donations can be given online or checks can be sent to: CORBA, PO Box 57576, Sherman Oaks, CA 91413. CORBA is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization and donations are tax deductible. If you would like to donate some equipment you’re no longer using, please contact us at

Youth Adventures ride at Cheeseboro Canyon – April 2010

Thursday, April 8th, 2010

On April 3, 2010 CORBA with help of Mountain Bike Unit volunteers hosted Youth Adventures program ride at Cheeseboro National Recreation area.

A group of teenage boys from El Monte California had a chance to ride famous “Cheeseboro challenge” hill. People say that a picture is worth a thousand words. How true! Just look how much fun they had!

CORBA's Youth Adventures Trailer at the Cheeseboro parking lot.

One of the boys is climbing The Challenge. Mountain Bike Unit volunteers (in yellow jerseys) provide the guidance “go,go, pedal! turn!…”

Youth Adventures began in the summer of 1993 and operates twice per month year-round serving over 350 kids annually.Youth Adventures was implemented as a way of reaching out to groups of children that have had limited exposure to public parklands. Mountain bike rides are scheduled with organizations that serve disadvantaged, inner-city or at-risk youth from ages 8-17 and are held in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. CORBA supplies the bikes, helmets, gloves, water, snacks and transportation. Rides are operated by Mountain Bike unit volunteers. For more information visit Youth Adventures web page.

posted by Danusia Bennett-Taber

CORBA Youth Adventures ride report – March 2010

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

Ready to roll


The children from the STAR (“Students Training as Role Models”) group arrived at Malibu Creek State Park on Saturday morning, March 20th, not really knowing what to expect.  Some were excited, some were nervous and some were probably just happy to be in such a gorgeous park – an environment quite different than the urban neighborhoods they are so accustomed to.  Officer Sue Shine of the City of Glendale Police Department leads this group of fantastic children who are trained and mentored to lead by example and to be role models for the other children (and quite possibly for some adults) in their communities.  As this was the first Youth Adventure Ride with this group, the veteran MBU’ers were also a bit nervous (but always excited to ride with the children) – as it turns out, any nervousness was unwarranted as the youth ride was a huge success for both teams!  The children, many of whom have never ridden a mountain bicycle on the trails, absolutely loved being out in the park and enjoying the trails on their CORBA provided mountain bikes.  In addition, the youths seemed to hang on every word of the MBUer (her nickname is Kat) who provides the instructional mid-morning nature talks on the various animals and wildlife that abounds in the parks of the Santa Monica Mountain Range.  

Kat provides the instructional mid-morning nature talks on the various animals and wildlife that abounds in the parks of the Santa Monica Mountain Range

Our MBU ride leaders commented on how much they enjoyed riding with these children – they were all up for the new challenge and did very well with big smiles and lots of focused energy.  These children were so well behaved and actively listened to instruction – it is obvious that Office Shine, her Team and the STAR Program are having a tremendously positive impact on the lives of these children and no doubt their community too.  We are already looking forward to having the STAR group back on the trails with us!