We all want to have amazing mountain bike rides. Your idea of amazing is much different from mine and my neighbor’s too. This is what makes mountain biking so incredible. The diversity of bikes, trails, riders, and ways to enjoy the sport is what keeps us all passionately riding. But, in order to keep the sport moving forward and evolving we need to be involved as advocates for the sport if we want better mountain bike trails.
Volunteer – a person who freely offers to take part in an enterprise or undertake a task.
Advocate – a person who supports a cause.
All you need to do is DO something for the sport of mountain biking. That’s it! It doesn’t have to be your life’s work.
“I don’t have time, I’m too busy!”
We hear it all the time, in fact, we say it. But realizing being busy is just another way of saying we have other priorities. Ever wondered how the most important things in your life always seem to get done on time and often without even thinking about them. It’s because you have made them a priority. They are IMPORTANT to you.
Want Better Mountain Bike Trails: Start Here
The time has come to think about what is important to you as a mountain biker. Do you want more trails in your town, a pump track to take the kids to, some bigger backcountry loops, and better access to the forest from town?
What about your kids? Do you want them to grow up in a healthy, bike-friendly community? How about your dog? Do you want a safe place for them to run, scrubbing jumps in order to keep up?
YES! We all want these things!!! Or at least most of them. What an amazing MTB utopia. Well, the sky is the limit, if we were all to get involved in some way.
Where are all the MTB Volunteers?
There are now hundreds of thousands of mountain bikers in the USA alone. Due to COVID-19 and increased attention on health, fitness and outdoor recreation that is most likely a low estimate. It has been said that about 20% of people do 80% of the work. What if every mountain biker did just1%? It stands to reason that every small contribution would go a long way to making a BIG difference in the trails and communities we all love to ride.
Put Your Money Where Your Mouth/Bike Is
We all know that money makes the world go round! Did you know that the mountain bike industry and related tourism dollars that it generates for local communities are a massive and growing force? Money talks and those with it usually get to decide what happens. You have a voice with your own money too. The brands you support, the businesses you buy from, the recommendations you make and the way you spend your TIME is your voice in action! Time is money, so make yours matter!
Time to Take Care of Your Own Backyard
It’s time to trade excuses for solutions because if each and every one of us amazing mountain bikers spent a little bit of time volunteering and being an advocate for the sport we love our towns would be one step closer to MTB UTOPIA!! A place we all want to live.
Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to ride my own trails all of the time. The part I love the most about riding is being able to explore and adventure in new places, meet new people and ride with friends. But, consider this for just a moment. If we all took care of our own and then WELCOMED all riders, friends or not to ride our local trails, how amazing would that be? We all would have endless miles of uncrowded trail to enjoy.
Often times we think it’s us versus them. LOCALS versus TOURISTS, long-timers versus newcomers, this shop versus that one, flats versus clips, baggies versus tights; I could go on and on and on. In the end, we are all amazing Mountain Bikers so share your trails, town, ideas and passion. Let’s hold each other up and band together! We can agree that diversity and inclusivity make us more awesome.
I challenge you to make your community better by volunteering in any way that you can so that we can all enjoy the fruits (in this case – amazing places to ride) of all our labor.
It’s Not All About Digging
It’s true that the majority of a Mountain Bike Club’s focus will be boots on the ground building and maintaining trails. But, there is so much more to be done. Here is where your creativity as an amazing mountain biker comes in! Remember you just need to support the mountain bike cause, preferably in your own community. You get to decide how.
How to Get Involved
Find out how things work where you live. Who is involved in building, maintaining and managing the trails where you love to ride. Are they on public or private lands, what groups or clubs are in your area? Chances are you might know an individual who is already involved, so talk to them. If not do a little research (internet search- mountain bike clubs, advocacy, etc) or visit your local shop and ask.
Make it your priority to get involved. Your time and money matter. Spend a little of each sustaining what sustains you and your love of mountain biking.
Resolve to DO something! Be an advocate for your sport. This is going to make you a good volunteer. Ask others to DO something too! This is how you become a great advocate.
Get creative. No time this week? No money to donate? Can’t lift a Maddox? Try to figure out what other efforts you could make to give back in some way. We all have many resources that we don’t traditionally think of giving when it comes to mountain bike volunteerism.
- Take pictures, make cookies or help out with sign-up sheets and organization for the next trail work day or club event.
- Call friends or coworkers to talk about what you can do as a group to get involved. Possibilities are endless here! How about hosting a bike swap with proceeds going to the local kid’s teams? You could also host an event at your business with proceeds going to the club. Put on a weekly race series or wheelie clinic with your local Brewery that is free for MTB Club Members.
- Use resources from your work life. Check to see if your company allows for paid time to volunteer, or donate money to your cause depending on how much volunteer time you rack up. Own landscaping, bakery, or lumber company? How about an in-kind donation to the club for a tax write-off.
- Introduce and help connect people in your community to each other who share a passion for mountain bikes and advocacy. Building relationships among and between groups gets things done.
- Realize what you bring to the table as a personal strength and offer it up. Are you good at accounting, organizing, planning, educating, recruiting, writing policy, setting strategic goals, taking pictures, posting on Social sites, editing videos, writing blog posts, working on a website?
- Show up. You’ve made up your mind, so stay committed. You don’t have to be at every event, meeting, or workday. Keep showing up. No more guilt. This type of work will never be DONE, but getting things going will create a ripple effect in your community and will help build a mountain biking utopia in your backyard!