Words by Ambassador Sandra Beaubien.
Before the long days of summer solstice come, every mountain bike organization has been busy putting in their longest days since the first scent of spring air. Ironically, the evening we received this topic I was representing the Ottawa Mountain Bike Association at a Public Advisory Committee meeting with our largest landowner. I thought to myself, yes, this was certainly a long day, adding on a 2-hour meeting onto a regular workday!
Many mountain bikers are out enjoying their local trails, many not really understanding just how many long days and how many people it takes to keep everything running seamlessly in the background. There has been a solid shift in mountain bike access in many areas (Ottawa included!) and that has come from years of long days and a group of committed people.
It’s important to thank the Board of Directors and the other dedicated volunteers of your local mountain bike club. It certainly doesn’t happen enough and what you see them doing, is only a scratch at the surface of what is getting done. They liaise with landowners and land managers, organize group rides, organize trail days, create documents to help everything run smoothly, write reports for land managers, visit local shops, run demo days, set up training for ride leaders, ensure proper insurance is in place, review and sign contracts, notify land managers of any environmentally sensitive species, inspect trails, install trail signs, design t-shirts, run the website, file legal documents, fundraising, keep software running smoothly, track finances, and do media appearances. Some of those sound pretty boring, eh? That’s why it takes a unique team to step into the volunteer roles, so make sure you thank all them!
The other people quietly putting in the longest days are the land managers, and without them, we wouldn’t have nearly as much diversity in mountain bike access in Ottawa as we do. The same can probably be said for any other local riding area – it is the land managers who are truly invested in developing the sport of mountain biking that produce the best trail networks. Before the season kicks off and the sun is shinning, they have transitioned the trails from winter use to summer use. This takes a lot of trail inspections, planning, preparation, meetings, documenting and most of it is done when the trails are too wet to even ride. Having volunteer trail crews helping the land manager with all of these jobs helps it all run more smoothly and can get the trails open sooner!
This season, as you are out enjoying your longest days on your mountain bike, if you see a land manager, board member or volunteer out on the trails, make sure you say THANK YOU for their longest days.