the act of pleading for, supporting, or recommending; active espousal.
The definition of Mountain Bike Advocacy
could then be “The act of pleading for, supporting or recommending legal and sustainable access to trail(s) for responsible user groups in a given region” no?
Ok, I made the last part up, but in all honesty, and in my own opinion, this is what Mountain Bike Advocacy means to me. There very are few legitimate Mountain Bike Parks, or places where Mountain Bikers can legally ride their bicycles on trails in our region. There is of course Hartland Mt Work
multi-use park enjoyed by thousands of Mountain Bikers, hikers and Equestrians alike. Then there is… well that’s actually it I suppose?
Hartland came to be not long after I moved back from Vancouver back in 1998. It was a place where people built trails, rode their bikes and enjoyed our sport, but it was not a recognized and organized “Park” until after the South Island Mountain Bike Society (SIMBS)
came into being. They struck up a management deal (agreement) with the CRD
, got some insurance and the rest is as they say history. Ever since then, Mountain Bikers in our region have had a world class trail system that is maintained, managed, INSURED
and built solely by volunteers. SIMBS has done an excellent job of working with the CRD to maintain this park, and to continue to provide access to sustainable trails for all user groups.
That is local advocacy at its best!
Not so local Mountain Bike advocacy has many faces, the biggest and most recognizable of these is of course the International Mountain Biking Association or IMBA. IMBA has been around since 1988, and has been advocating all over the world since then for sustainable, reasonable and legal trail access for Mountain Bikers. They have an impressive membership, and a huge number of Corporate supporters who all are after the same thing, trail access.
There are also literally thousands of small grass-roots groups in Canada, the US and worldwide all working towards the same goals in their regions. Sustainable and legal trail access has become a reality in many places, and more are coming online every year. Local and regional governments are buying into the fact that mountain biking DOES have financial benefits for their local and regional economies when it is done right. Ask places like Whistler, North Vancouver and “the Shore”, Squamish, any and all of the world class Mountain Bike Parks in Canada, the US and worldwide. It pays to provide access to trails, and multi use trails are a reality, so the benefits are not only there for Mountain Bikers, but hikers, strollers, families etc.
What can you do?
Good question? What can you do to promote and advocate for Mountain Biking here on Vancouver Island or in your neck of the woods? In the words of IMBA (and others)…
Ride Responsibly = Help to maintain the trails you ride by not destroying what others have worked to build. Remember, ride don’t slide.
Volunteer for Trailwork = Volunteer with your local clubs and or groups on Trail Maintenance days. Get out there, learn the right ways to build and maintain sustainable trails!
Join IMBA = Join the IMBA in your region or Country. In Canada we can join IMBA Canada, and all your money will stay in Canada to help advocate here at home!
Join a local club = Join a local Mountain Bike Association or Club that supports sustainable trail building and advocates for access. Here on the south island consider joining SIMBS.
Donate to IMBA = Donate to IMBA Canada, or in your country if possible or to IMBA in the US.
Donate to your local club = As it states, donate some time or money to your local club. Oh and please feel free to donate to VIMB to help keep us online.
Know What’s Going On = Stay tuned to the web, the news and at the LBS to see what is going on with trail access issues in your area.
Fight Trail Closures = Just like it says, get active and fight the closure of trails in your area
Bottom line, you can make a difference as every little bit helps.