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CORBA eTerraTimes for May 2012

eTerraTimes Archive


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In this issue...

Clearing brush from the side of Guadalasca Trail in Pt Mugu State Park during Santa Monica Mountains Trail Days on April 28-29.
See story...

Rules of the Trail - Click for details
Proper Trail Etiquette

A Message from CORBA’s President

By Mark Langton

Tales from the Trail: I regularly make a plea to mountain bikers to slow down, as it is the one true way to solve the only valid complaint hikers and equestrians have about mountain bikers on the trails: that bicyclists scare people because they go too fast. Well, I’d like to recount a very personal experience of just how true that complaint is.

A couple of weeks ago I was riding on one of my regular routes. Just as I began rounding a slight downhill bend on a smooth wide doubletrack trail, I saw a family of hikers about 40 yards ahead. I was not traveling excessively fast, but my quick appearance surprised the group. I braked smoothly to a stop at least 10 yards before the first hiker, but the damage had been done: Mother, protectively reaching for her young 3-year old son who was walking beside her, loses her footing and falls to the ground, catching herself with her hands as she lands on her hip; Father, carrying an infant in a baby carrier backpack, jumping to the side of the trail; 3-year old son cowering behind his father’s legs, and in his frightened 3-year old voice saying “that bicycle scare me!”

All I could do was apologize profusely and make sure the woman was okay. She was, but she could have very easily twisted her ankle, sprained a wrist, or worse. If the man carrying the baby had fallen, he would have had no way to protect the infant in the baby carrier. Both the man and woman were accepting of my apology, the man even saying “hey, it’s a trail.” But I couldn’t help thinking that perhaps the rest of their hike was now ruined. I know the rest of my ride was not all that pleasant.

I didn’t think I was going that fast, and in fact I was able to stop in plenty of time and was never a threat to their safety. However, as illustrated above, I actually was a threat, because I startled them into a reaction that could have caused problems.

I often hear people trying to justify banning bicyclists from the trails by saying things like “what if a family with little kids were hiking and a bike came around a corner too fast, and they ran over the kids?” My response is usually something like “Of course we don’t want that to happen, but statistically it is not happening, so you can’t use a hypothetical situation to justify a restrictive policy.” And I still feel this way. But you can bet I’m going to go even slower around corners, especially on trails that I know are used more frequently by families. And I’m going to continue to promote the message of slowing down for corners, and always slowing to other users’ speed.

Please take a moment to think about why you ride on trails. Hopefully it’s to enjoy and commune with nature. There’s nothing wrong with pushing your aerobic and bike handling levels, but remember that there are others out there for the same reasons you are. Treat others as you would want to be treated. Ride as if there’s always someone around the next corner. Possibly a family with kids.

Urgent Rancho Palos Verdes City Council Mtg May 15

On May 15th at 7:00 pm, the Rancho Palos Verdes City Council will review and approve the final trails plan for the Palos Verdes Nature Preserve. This is mountain bikers’ last chance to ask for changes.

CORBA Palos Verdes has proposed allowing bike access on more trails. For information go to: or email

We need your support. Attend the meeting even if you don’t want to speak. Write the Rancho Palos Verdes City Council, Please make the letters positive.

      May 15th 7:00 PM

      Fred Hesse Community Center
      29301 Hawthorne Boulevard
      Rancho Palos Verdes, CA 90275

Help Us Celebrate CORBA's Silver Anniversary!

In 2012, CORBA will celebrate its 25th anniversary…quite an accomplishment. Current and past CORBA leaders are planning a celebration befitting of this milestone and would like to invite input from our members, supporters, land managers and others as to what that event should be.

One idea is to produce a documentary chronicling the history of CORBA from the inception back in August of 1987 until present day telling the story of CORBA’s programs, education, advocacy and volunteerism. If there are any film makers or documentarians that would like to help with this project, please contact us as soon as possible. Anyone else who has ideas or would like to help in any way please contact CORBA at

2012 Trails and Greenways Conference

CORBA was very much involved in last week’s California Trails and Greenways Conference. This annual event brings together land managers at the Federal, State, County and City levels, along with resource planners, volunteers, non-profit organizations and professional landscape architects and trail builders.

The theme for this year’s conference was “Navigating Radical Change.”  The most radical of all changes that land managers are facing is the shrinking of budgets for trail and open space projects. Another is the changing demographic of trail users.

Navigating radical change - mutli-use friendly pinch points on Tapia Spur Trail in Malibu Creek State Park

Many sessions at the conference talked about the importance of engaging volunteers, of reaching out to foster public-private partnerships between land managers and non profit advocacy groups. CORBA has already been putting into practice many of these principles, partnering with the Forest Service and State Parks to help maintain trails; partnering with the So Cal High School League to empower the next generation of off-road cyclists as advocates and stewards.

CORBA President Mark Langton participated in a rousing panel presentation on the Conejo Open Space Conservation Agency, a multi-use trail system that has worked successfully with minimal conflict for more than two decades.

On Saturday, after the conference, Orange County’s Trails4All brought 6 equestrians, 4 hikers, and about a dozen mountain bikers from CORBA, SHARE, SDMBA, CCCMB together for a ride/hike/run/hoof event. We travelled together on the trails of Malibu Creek State Park, showing again that where there is respect and cooperation it is very possible for all user groups to co-exist peacefully on the trails.

These meetings underscore the importance of working together, and create at an atmosphere conducive to constructive and informative exchanges of information and viewpoints.

Upcoming and Recent Trailwork

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!

Report on Brown Mountain trailwork, April 7

Upper Brown Mountain before the 2009 Station Fire was a wide fire road in generally in good shape. The rains of two winters and eighteen months without public use because of the forest closure have allowed nature to re-claim much of the old fire road. Many large drainages were completely washed out, the hillsides had slid into the road bed, trees were down, and brush was growing back with a vengeance. The trailwork was led by the Friends of El Prieto, and all the SoCal High School League teams and their coaches were invited to participate. 52 people came to the event, a few ready to hike in, but the vast majority ready to ride up to the work site. A few stronger students and a couple of coaches towed BOB trailers full of tools. Downed trees were removed, killer snags taken down, and some drainages were rock-armored and reinforced. See our blog for the whole story...

Report on Guadalasca Trail on April 14

This work day was cancelled because rain the previous day left us with wet and muddy conditions.

Report on Santa Monica Mountains Trail Days in Point Mugu State Park on April 28-29

Fixing a turn on the Sin Nombre Trail

Over the weekend of April 28-29, about 200 volunteers had a great time chatting, chowing on a fabulous barbecue meal, taking in the scenery, winning wonderful prizes, and if they liked, camping overnight in the Danielson Multiuse Area in Pt Mugu State Park. The reason for the revelry was the 31st annual Santa Monica Mountains Trail Days where outdoor enthusiasts of all varieties got together to repair trails for everyone to enjoy.

On Saturday, 34 volunteers joined the CORBA crew and we cleared out overgrowning brush on Guadalasca. On Sunday, a much smaller crew went out to Sin Nombre to fix up some problems near the bottom of that trail.

There were some great prizes at the giveaway after dinner on Saturday and after lunch on Sunday. Two North Ranch riders came away with $350 RST 29" front forks. Grand prizes were a down sleeping bag, two 2-person tents (from North Face) and a $100 gift certificate for Westlake Cyclery. Everyone won something, and there were lots of prizes to choose from.

If you missed it this year, you should plan to get out next year, help the trails, have a great dinner and win some great prizes! See our blog entry for the whole story...


To see all trailwork dates, including those of other groups, visit the CORBA trailwork calendar.

Join our mailing list to get updates on trailwork opportunities!
Send an email to

General News

Fixing a hazardous turn in Pt Mugu State Park

On Sunday April 15, as part of National Volunteer Week, about 40 Amgen volunteers gathered in Pt Mugu State Park to work on the Sin Nombre Trail. Most of them worked on fixing ruts and cutting back overgrowing brush, but 8 of us, all but one mountain bikers, split off to fix up the dangerous corner near the top of the trail at Ranch Center Road.

We widened the trail and fortified the outside edge with large rocks. Gaps were filled with smaller rocks, then everything was covered with dirt.

The problem is at a dip to cross a very small stream, combined with a tight left turn. After slowing to negotiate the turn at the stream crossing, the rider encounters a short but unexpectedly steep climb out of the stream. Because the trail has been downhill until this point, often people are in too high a gear and stall trying to climb the hill. When they put their foot down, they discover that the trail is also narrower than expected and there is little room for their foot, and they can fall about 6' down the steep bank to the rocks of the stream. Many riders have fallen at this turn; some were taken out by helicopter with serious injuries.

The solution was to build up the outside edge of the trail with large rocks to make it a little wider. After a lot of digging and relocating really big rocks, the trail is almost a foot wider. The rocks also armour the outside edge of the trail so it’s less susceptible to errosion.

As we were working, a large number of mountain bikers rode through; some told us of stories of having fallen at the corner and injuring themselves. One fellow fell in and hit his neck. He couldn’t move, being paralyzed in all his limbs and with no feeling in them. That lasted for what must have been for him the longest 10 minutes in his life, before feeling started to come back and he could move again. It turns out he’d sprained his neck. Talk about a close call!

Another rider said he tore his shoulder and broke his collarbone when he fell there.

We believe the trail is safer after our work, but it is still risky to people who are taken by surprise by the steepness of the climb. The trail is wider so it’s easier to put your foot down on the trail, but if you’re riding too close to the edge, you can still go down the bank. Always be careful on this corner, and advise less experienced riders to get off their bikes and walk!

(This is a slightly abbreviated version of an article that appears on our blog.)

New on the CORBA Website

Recreational Rides

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.

Free Mountain Biking Skills Clinic

Saturday May 5th 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!

Follow CORBA on Twitter and Facebook

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 and Facebook at

Get Our Blog Articles Delivered to Your Desktop

Have you ever wished you could get our blog articles without having to check the CORBA website every day to see if there’s anything new? Well, you can! Even though our blog software won’t send articles by email, you can still get them delivered to the inbox of most email readers like Microsoft Outlook. You use the “RSS feed” functionality for this. In fact, you can read our articles in any software that receives RSS feeds, such as Internet Explorer and other web browsers. This blog article on RSS feeds shows you how.

Support CORBA

Join or Renew your membership today on our membership web page.

Join Our Team! Do you have any ideas about mountain biking recreation in the L.A. region? Would you like to apply your skills and manage projects that contribute to the sport and lifestyle that you love? Is there an advocate in you? We are recruiting motivated individuals who work well with others. Send an email to or come to a monthly Members Meeting to find out more about what we do and how you can help. Check the calendar for the next meeting.

Other simple ways to support CORBA

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