WADE CHECKS OUT IMBA TRAIL NEWS.
Articles, tips and resour ces for:
• Introducing kids to mountain biking • Organizing youth events • Connecting with IMBA’s chapters/clubs Sponsored by
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FOR MORE ABOUT CARSON AND PROJECT LOOP.
Hey Kids, Let’s Ride! IMBA’s Take a Kid MTBing Celebration is Oct. 6 Every fall, on the first Saturday of October, IMBA organizes hundreds of mountain bike events designed to get young people outside on their bikes. Known as “Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day,” the celebration is recognized across the globe. In 2011, the eighth edition saw more than 230 events — including rides in Australia, Canada, Italy, Malaysia, Mexico and South Africa. In 2012, we will ride in support of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative. IMBA has pledged to get 30,000 children participating in 300 cycling events on Oct. 6. We could use your help in reaching this goal. It’s not too early to start planning a ride in your hometown.
10 tips to help Yo u plan a great ev ent:
1. Save the date
• Clear your calendar for a few hours on Saturday, Oct. 6, 2012 • Other dates are fine too, but you may not be eligible for IMBA-sponsored rewards • Register your ride at imba.com/kids
2. Find some kids
• Coordinate with your local IMBA chapter or club: imba.com/near-you • Invite neighbors, co-workers, relatives, friends • Contact your local YMCA or other youth groups
3. Plan for bikes and helmets
• Bring your own bike/helmet is the most common plan • If you’d like to invite kids that might not have their own gear, try contacting local bike shops about rental options —give them plenty of lead time
4. Select a route
• Be sure to choose a ride that is fun, safe and not too long or difficult • The ideal route will have options where the group can head home or continue for more adventure
5. Be prepared
• Bring extra water and food, including a tasty treat for every kid • Don’t forget other essentials such as extra tubes, pump, tire levers and a multi-tool • Recruit plenty of adult ride guides, and make sure someone is assigned to stay behind the last young rider
7. Ride together
• Emphasize riding as a group, and make sure everyone is smiling • Ask the lead adult guide to stop at every trail intersection to minimize the chance of lost riders
8. Have fun
• Try incorporating skill games, like “slow-motion riding” and “how to bunny hop” • Point out interesting trail features, wildlife or take a few minutes to discuss trail safety and etiquette
9. Take photos and video
• Share stories and photos about your day with parents, community leaders, local press and IMBA • Post your photos on IMBA’s Facebook page: facebook.com/IMBAonFB
10. Make it a tradition
• Make every day a Take-a-Kid day and plan for the first Saturday in October next year to celebrate how Kids+Bikes=FUN!
! IMBA Trail News | Youth Edition Spring/Summer 2012, Volume 1, Number 1
IMBA creates, preserves and enhances great mountain biking experiences Board of Directors (email@example.com) Elayna Caldwell, San Clemente, CA Chris Conroy, Golden, CO Howard Fischer, Armonk, NY James Grover, Matthews, NC Alden Philbrick, Alexandria, VA David Treinis, Alta, WY Robert Winston, Carlsbad, CA David Zimberoff, Chicago, IL Staff and Departments (firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com) President and USA director: Mike Van Abel Communications director: Mark Eller Development director: Rich Cook Finance department: Tim Peck Government affairs director: Jenn Dice Trail Solutions design/build services: Chris Bernhardt Published by the International Mountain Bicycling Association Designed by Sugar Design, Inc. Images and stories available for re-use by permission only.
PO Box 711 Boulder, CO 80306 USA ph 303-545-9011 fax 303-545-9026 firstname.lastname@example.org
Editor’s Note: All Ages Show Who is the audience for IMBA Trail News: Youth Edition? As the editor, you’d think that I would know the answer to that query but the truth is that I’m still feeling my way through it. Most of IMBA’s members are adults, primarily in their 30s, 40s and 50s. We’re a youthful group, of course, because we like to play on bikes and get plenty of exercise, but no longer in the youth category ourselves.
Thanks to Our Sponsor
As the parent of two young boys (that’s my 4-year-old son, Sam, in the photo on this page), I know that getting out for a bike ride can provide a grownup with a welcome bit of personal time. One of the most common things I hear from adult riders is that they relish the feeling of freedom and independence that mountain biking provides. “It makes me feel like a kid again,” is a common refrain. Passing that feeling of freedom on to another generation is a wonderful thing — even better than riding for yourself.
Long-time IMBA corporate member Shimano American Corporation provided a grant to make this special issue of IMBA Trail News possible. Shimano is an Elite Level IMBA partner (along with Specialized Bicycles, SRAM, Subaru of America and Trek Bicycles).
If you enjoy mountain biking with young people, you will find ideas and resources on how to do that successfully in this and future issues. IMBA’s greatest strength is its extensive network of chapters and clubs, so a lot of the adult-facing content will focus on how to create local-level chapter/club programs that benefit youth.
Shimano is particularly interested in helping IMBA publish educational materials on topics like rider safety, resource conservation and respect for the natural world. Check out the web pages at imba.com/resources/conservation for more educational resources brought to you by Shimano.
Not all IMBA members are fully grown — we have expanded the numbers of middle-school and high-school aged members with successful programs like Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day. As the audience for these youth-facing editions grows, I look forward to including more content written specifically for young readers. For now, it’s an all ages show. I hope you enjoy it, and thanks for reading. Sincerely,
Mark Eller, IMBA Communications Director
ILLINOIS PATROL GROUP TAKES A KID MOUNTAIN BIKING ON MORE THAN JUST ONE DAY Four years ago, the IMBA-affiliated Peoria Area Mountain Bike Association started a kid’s riding program, with strong support from its bike patrol group. Once a month, from June to September, kids of all ages and skill levels are led through the woods on dirt trails by PAMBA patrollers, taught how to ride, spotted on obstacles and even given “crash rewards” when they hit the dirt. “Many of us in the club are parents. When you’re a parent and a mountain biker, you have to be careful about how much time you’re taking for yourself,” says PAMBA’s Carrie Kerr. “Our club had scheduled so many group rides that it only seemed fair to host one specifically for the kids. Naturally, kids want to emulate their parents and, truly, what kid wouldn’t want to be out on a bike in the woods?” The evening begins with the kids having their photo taken and being briefed by patrollers, who carry radios and first aid kits. One pair of ride guides stay
with the absolute beginners while another pair rides with the intermediate/ advanced riders. The kids are led on a variety of trails and earn ribbons for their participation. Level I is for any kid who gets on a bike (tagalongs count); level II is for any singletrack; level III is for technical attempts with spotting; and level IV is for riding a technical trail without help. “These kids encounter nature, gain fitness and learn from both success and failure on their bikes,” Kerr says. “I am sure these experiences and relationships will be a part of their childhood highlights.” YOUTH VOLUNTEERS GET THE JOB DONE Youth corps are playing an increasingly important role in trail construction projects across the country. Typically staffed by young people aged 16-22 and led by trained leaders, these groups provide muscle for hand-built trails. Trail Solutions, IMBA’s fee-based trail design/construction service, frequently partners with groups such as scouting organizations and a variety of youth corps.
One example of the successful and cost-saving utilization of youth corps volunteers is the Sandy Ridge Trail System, located near Mount Hood, Oregon. This nationally recognized mountain bike trail network was developed by the BLM, working in collaboration with IMBA Trail Solutions. It’s also an inspiring model for engaging young people through volunteer trail building — young volunteers accounted for a stunning 25,000 hours of labor on the Sandy Ridge project. The muscle power provided by the local youth corps volunteers helped to minimize the BLM’s costs for completing the trail system. It wasn’t easy — working with students required coordination with social workers and regular supervision to keep the project moving in the right direction. But when it was all said and done, more than 60 youth from a half-dozen local and regional groups had gained job skills, been exposed to the outdoors and were more integrated into the community. Better still, they were proud to help build 11 miles of beautiful singletrack.
Across the country in West Virginia’s New River Gorge National River, Trail Solutions worked with National Park Service staff to plan 13 miles of multi-use, natural surface trail. During the hand-built construction phase, Summit Corps Boy Scouts teamed with the Order of the Arrow Scouts to volunteer 80,000 hours of labor, saving taxpayers an estimated $1.6 million in the process. YOUNG RIDER PLAYING BIG ROLE IN IMBA CHAPTER The big tent of mountain biking is being well represented north of Phoenix in Cave Creek, AZ, home to one of IMBA’s newest chapter affiliates, the Cave Creek Bicycling Association (CCBA). A broad coalition of families, all-mountain riders, crosscountry racers, bike shop workers, grandparents and youth came together over the common goal of creating an inclusive, awesome riding community for both locals and visitors. One of the CCBA’s founding members hasn’t even reached her teenage years. Olivia Nicholls, age 12, is the 2011 under-12
girls Arizona state mountain bike champion and a proud cycling advocate. According her mom, Kara, Olivia is deeply involved in its activities, from riding to volunteering on trail projects. “Olivia wants more trails that younger kids can ride. I think she’d like to have a few more girls involved for friendship and competition,” says Kara. “Most of the trails in this area are quite challenging. Kids who aren’t experienced wouldn’t do well. The other problem is that parents who don’t really ride aren’t going to
be able to take their kids on those trails.” Olivia followed her father into mountain biking at the age of 9. She took to the competitive side of the sport unexpectedly after entering a race just for fun during a family camping trip in southern Arizona. “With IMBA assisting the CCBA, I’m looking forward to building trails for all ability levels,” says Olivia. “I can’t wait to start riding them. Once we have more kid-friendly trails, I am sure more juniors will start to ride.”
CREATING A PROGRESSIVE, ALLINCLUSIVE SUMMER RIDING PROGRAM The Subaru/IMBA Trail Care Crews travel the world to teach trail building and address other mountain bike topics. When the Santa Fe Fat Tire Society (SFFTS) of New Mexico received a visit in 2010, challenge areas for the group were identified, including a lack of youth programming. Shortly thereafter, SFFTS member Pat Brown decided to use his experience as a ski coach and get involved. “I just like working with kids,” he says. “If I can do something I enjoy and share it with kids, it’s a lot of fun. It’s all about watching kids get it and seeing the big smiles on their faces.” With the help of a few adult volunteers, Brown established an eightweek, progressive summer mountain biking program for his junior ski team and any other kid who wanted to join. The kids had to have their own bikes and sign up as members of the SFFTS (an IMBA chapter). Beyond that, the program was free and designed not to leave anyone behind if they missed a week for a family vacation. Twentynine kids registered that first summer, ranging in age from 8 to 15. For the first two weeks, the group met at a
local park to practice basic riding and bicycle maintenance skills in a grassy field and on a nearby pump track. Two local bicycle policemen also got involved, setting up a skills course and volunteering one day as guest instructors. By the time the group hit the trails on the third weekend, they had been divided into four, adult-led groups. The terrain was smooth doubletrack for the kids who had never been on a mountain bike before and singletrack for the rippers. “We never wanted to put the kids on something that would scare them off,” says Brown. “The kids were totally ignited by the rides. For us, it was about teaching them proper and responsible riding and having fun.” By the end of the summer, the most talented riders were personally invited to ride one of Santa Fe’s most beloved trails: the Windsor. The challenging ride was a huge success and two of its participants have become dedicated racers. “The program was built outside the club, and now the club is embracing it big time,” says Brown. “These kids are the people who will be riding with us in the future. If we can teach them responsible riding early, it will go a long way.”
Project Loop A youth-based organization enriches kids’ lives
It was in a very roundabout way that I got involved with Project LOOP. I’d heard through a friend that a guy in Taylor, Texas, (near Austin) was looking to build some trails, so I reached out to see if I could contribute. Little did I know this simple and innocuous quest would have life-changing impacts for both me and for the kids that interact with this not-profit organization. Project LOOP — the name derives from “Learning On and Off Pavement” — provides benefits for young people through lessons in creativity, exercise, hard work and accountability. The intent is to build confidence, motivate and give kids hands-on experiences to teach and prepare them for the future, all the while enriching and giving back to the communities in which they live. Project LOOP activities go a few steps beyond the run-of-the-mill car wash fundraising efforts that many kids encounter. Founder Brent Humphreys is a world-renowned professional photographer and a cycling enthusiast. A few years ago, he decided to bring some local high school students out to build a pumptrack on his land. He wanted them to learn how to plan and execute a project that would also provide them with an exciting riding destination, something Taylor seriously lacked. Recent outings have included a guided tour of offices and homes by professional architects and the dean of the University of Texas School of Architecture. Students have worked alongside a professional film production company to storyboard, shoot and edit a Public Service Announcement commercial for a real client. Others learned how to roast coffee locally, then worked with a design firm to craft a branding strategy for that blend of coffee, which the students then marketed to raise funds for LOOP. The impact on me has been profound. How would your life today be different if you had been given exposure to some of the amazing opportunities Project LOOP is providing for these kids? It’s not just the kids that benefit either. Giving back is infectious and has its own rewards for those that contribute. Every town needs a Brent Humphreys and a Project LOOP. So what are you waiting for? — Jake Carson, Subaru/IMBA Trail Care Crew Leader
Meet Project LOOP’s Carson Wade Brent Humphreys: How did you learn about Project LOOP and what made you think it was a good group to get involved with? Carson Wade: I learned about Project LOOP through my art teacher, who runs the skate club I’m in at Taylor High School. He mentioned Project LOOP and it sounded great to me. There are not a lot of things to do in Taylor for kids who prefer action sports over baseball, football or 4H stuff, and the program provides guys like me a way to get involved in the community while at the same time figure out what I want to become in life. He told me we were going to learn how to design and build a pumptrack and then try to get the city to build trails at our parks. BH: What activities and projects have you worked on through Project LOOP? CW: I have been present for almost all LOOP activities and I can’t get enough of it. We designed and built a pump track at the Zidell House, we created our own brand of coffee, we toured The University of Texas School of Architecture with the dean, we collaborated with artists to screen print posters for our town events and we built a 48-foot half pipe for the Fun Fun Fun music festival in Austin. We’re always doing something great! LOOP has given me so much to do and think about. I hope LOOP never ends because I want to be a part of it even when I’m grown up. BH: Which activities were most fun? CW: The project I enjoyed the most was when we got to visit Progress Coffee in Austin to learn about the business of coffee. Owners Joshua Bingamon and Troy Authement brought out a world map and started by explaining where the beans come from, how they are harvested, how they are transported and the costs involved in making it a business. It was cool to understand how all the stuff happens to make a little cup of coffee. It’s important for kids to understand these things, I think. Project LOOP teaches us that knowledge is power. After the business lesson, we broke into two teams and learned to roast our own coffee. We got to mix our beans and taste it until we thought it was right. Then Project LOOP brought in two amazing graphic designers to do a branding exercise and create identity and labels for our new coffee. My team got to work with Chris Bilheimer. Chris is an awesome
One of the students benefiting from Project LOOP is Carson Wade, age 13. The group’s founder, Brent Humphreys, recently interviewed him about his involvement with the program.
graphic designer who has worked for Green Day, REM, and other really cool bands. I want to design music CDs and posters when I grow up so this was so awesome! We decided to name our blend “Mocha Death” and our tag line is “Coffee That Brings Zombies Back to Life.” Once we determined our name, we rolled out paper on the ground and all started sketching for our artwork for the label. We drew a gnarly skeleton hand coming out of a grave. Chris helped us refine our design and make labels for our coffee. We now use the coffee as a fundraising tool to raise money toward bike trails and a skate park for our town. A $13 donation gets a bag of our awesome coffee! BH: What are the other kids in the program like? CW: They’re cool! Some play football, some are in band and we even have two girl members that are cheerleaders, so we have a good mix of kids. One of the LOOP lessons is diversity and tolerance, so it’s important to have a mix. We know we are only as strong as our weakest link, so we all get along greatly! BH: Do you enjoy working with the other young people on projects? CW: I really do. I’m one of the youngest, so I learn a lot from the older kids. BH: How did your work with Project LOOP lead to a new bike for you? CW: I earned the SUNDAY bike by coming to each LOOP activity and showing accountability, responsibility and working hard on our pump track. I love my bike and I feel it was a good lesson for everyone. BH: Can you describe the feeling of working on a bike trail and then getting to ride it? CW: I have learned so much about pumptracks, from soils and tools to drainage issues. The feeing of riding something I helped create was so awesome and rewarding and I am proud. Now I am more confident that we can get our city to help us build more trails.
IMBA Resources for Trail Projects IMBA’s online resources offer free, easy-to-access information for the benefit of mountain bikers in the U.S. and around the globe. Topics include: • 18 Steps to Building a Dirt Jump or Freeride Park • Build Twists and Turns to Add Challenge to Trails • Getting Started With Bike Parks and Pump Tracks • Building Partnerships to Get Things Done • Overcoming Objections to Freeriding IMBA’s books offer our most comprehensive treatments for many important topics. Consider picking up copies of Trail Solutions: IMBA’s Guide to Building Sweet Singletrack and Managing Mountain Biking: IMBA’s Guide to Providing Sweet Riding at IMBA’s online store (imba.com/catalog). Still can’t find the resource you’re looking for? Send a message to email@example.com and we will try to help locate additional information.
Shimano Guide to Protecting Natural Habitat
Quietly pedaling along a narrow trail, a mountain biker is treated to an amazing perspective on the natural world. On smooth sections of trail, her eyes might wander to the horizon, or the forest canopy flashing overhead. Her focus tightens when the trail turns rocky and challenging, then expands outwards again. Mountain biking engages the senses and creates a connection with the landscape — a nature-based experience that IMBA and its affiliated clubs and chapters are committed to protecting by encouraging environmentally sound trail building practices. All trail users — hikers, bikers and equestrians — impact the trail surface and the surrounding environment. Current research suggests that the impacts of mountain biking are quite similar to those of hiking. If a trail is properly located and constructed, it can handle a variety of users with minimal impact to the natural world. For that reason, IMBA has developed extensive materials that promote sustainable trail construction and design.
Learn more by visiting IMBA’s website and searching for “Shimano Guide to Protecting Natural Habitat.”
Trail School The right way to play in the dirt Most kids, and adult mountain bikers, love to get dirty. In addition to hopping puddles, kids who ride bikes soon discover that a secluded spot, a few shovels and some digging can be combined to create a do-it-yourself playground with jumps, banked turns and other fun bike-riding features. Hold on, though! Before you start carving up the earth you should consider a few important questions. Who owns the land? Will they bring in a bulldozer and erase your dirt sculptures once they get discovered? And wouldn’t it be good to know that your work is built to last, with minimal impact to the natural world? For more than two decades, IMBA has helped mountain bikers of all ages get together and plan bike projects that follow a few basic, but very important, principles. They can be summed up as follows: 1) Get permission before you build. 2) Trails should be durable and fun to ride. 3) It’s important to show respect for natural places. “Oh come on,” you might be saying. “How can digging a short trail hidden in the woods be that big of a deal?” The truth is that many “user-built trails” (whether constructed by kids or adult
Build It Right, Ride It Right
Okay, building a trail the right way can get complicated in a hurry. At least riding is simple, right? Yes, but there are some guidelines for sharing trails that IMBA has been sharing for many years to help people get along. We hope you find the “IMBA Rules of the Trail” useful! 1) Ride Open Trails: Respect trail and road closures — ask a land manager for clarification if you are uncertain about the status of a trail. Do not trespass on private land. Obtain permits or other authorization as required. Be aware that bicycles are not permitted in areas protected as state or federal Wilderness. riders) go unnoticed for weeks, months or even years. Sometimes they gain acceptance over time and nothing bad happens. But when problems develop, things can get pretty serious. For example, the land manager that discovers your secret trail might decide to close all of the mountain biking trails in the area. Or it might turn out that the plants your crew dug up to build a few dirt jumps were a protected species — not a good situation. All you want is a fun new place to ride your bike in the woods, right? Take heart! Chances are good that there are other people in your town that feel the same way. Get in touch with an IMBA-affiliated chapter or club (find one at imba.com/near-you) and tell them what you have in mind: what kind of riding, where it could be built, how many of your friends could pitch in to help. Of course, it doesn’t have to be an IMBA group. You could also team up with a scouting organization, a school-based outdoors club or anyone else who will listen. The bottom line is that the more people you have on your side the better your chances for success will be. With support from your community you’ll have a real shot at planning, building and riding a mountain bike trail that you will be proud of for years to come.
2) Leave No Trace: Be sensitive to the dirt beneath you. Wet and muddy trails are more vulnerable to damage than dry ones. When the trail is soft, consider other riding options. This also means staying on existing trails and not creating new ones. Don’t cut switchbacks. Be sure to pack out at least as much as you pack in. 3) Control Your Bicycle: Inattention for even a moment could put yourself and others at risk. Obey all bicycle speed regulations and recommendations, and ride within your limits. 4) Yield Appropriately: Do your utmost to let your fellow trail users know you’re coming — a friendly greeting or bell ring are good methods. Try to anticipate other trail users as you ride around corners. Bicyclists should yield to other non-motorized trail users, unless the trail is clearly signed for bike-only travel. Bicyclists traveling downhill should yield to ones headed uphill, unless the trail is clearly signed for oneway or downhill-only traffic. In general, strive to make each pass a safe and courteous one. 5) Never Scare Animals: Animals are easily startled by an unannounced approach, a sudden movement or a loud noise, so give them enough room and time to adjust to you. When passing horses, use special care and follow directions from the horseback riders (ask if uncertain). Running cattle and disturbing wildlife are serious offenses. 6) Plan Ahead: Know your equipment, your ability and the area in which you are riding and prepare accordingly. Strive to be self-sufficient: keep your equipment in good repair and carry necessary supplies for changes in weather or other conditions. Always wear a helmet and appropriate safety gear.
Youth Programs and Resources IMBA and its partners support projects for kids To encourage an increasingly sedentary generation to interact with the outdoors, IMBA helps lead national initiatives and partners with other youth-oriented organizations. If you’re having trouble getting your kids off the couch and away from the Playstation, check out these resources.
IMBA Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day ➟ imba.com/kids We believe that kids should be on bikes every day, but everyone has to start somewhere. Anyone can participate in a TAKMBD event, which occurs annually the first weekend in October. From neighborhood rides with a few kids to festival-style events with hundreds of participants, there are many ways to get involved.
IMBA Teaming for Trails ➟ imba.com/teaming Planning a trail volunteer-based event? Consider connecting with an IMBA club or chapter through Teaming for Trails. It offers a convenient way to post information about your project online and lets you reward volunteers with free products and discounts.
IMBA Grants ➟ imba.com/resources/grants Check out IMBA’s web resources on grants and fundraising — you’ll find several ways to generate funds for your project. Most of the grants require your group to work with an IMBA-affiliated chapter or club.
National Interscholastic Cycling Association ➟ nationalmtb.org Founded in 2009, the National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA) develops high school mountain biking programs for student athletes across the United States. NICA provides leadership, services and governance for local leagues to produce quality mountain bike events, and supports every student-athlete in the development of strong body, strong mind and strong character through their efforts on the bike. NICA’s goal is to put high school programs in place from coast to coast by 2020.
The North Face Explore Fund ➟ explorefund.org The Explore Fund supports organizations that encourage youth outdoor participation, focusing primarily on creating more connections of children to nature, increasing access to both front and backcountry recreation, as well as providing education for both personal and environmental health.
Outdoors Alliance for Kids ➟ outdoorsallianceforkids.org The Outdoors Alliance for Kids (OAK) is a national strategic partnership of organizations from diverse sectors with the common interest in expanding the number and quality of opportunities for children, youth and families to connect with the outdoors.
Outdoor Nation ➟ outdoornation.org
A collective for young people with a passion for the outdoors, Outdoor Nation hosts annual summits around the country, awards cash for group projects, leads outdoor adventures, hosts contests to inspire and gives youth an opportunity to interact with like-minded peers.
This longstanding program teaches riding skills, bike maintenance skills and much more. Through the sport of cycling, 9-12 year olds develop a strong sense of self-esteem by discovering and building on the potential within themselves.
Trips for Kids ➟ tripsforkids.org Operating in the United States, Canada and Israel, Trips For Kids has opened the world of cycling to more than 90,000 at-risk youth since 1988 through mountain bike rides and Earn-A-Bike programs. The more than 70 Trips For Kids chapters combine lessons in confidence building, achievement and environmental awareness through the development of practical skills and the simple act of having fun.
Discovering Gretchen A lucky encounter with a young rider
’ve found a number of oddities on the trail during my years of riding. Sometimes it’s a spare tool that, in a karmic turn of events, I will both use and lose before the ride is over. I’ve caught the glimpse of a necklace peeking out from under a layer of fall leaves, only to catch another glimpse of a woman frantically searching her neck at the trailhead. It seems like things found on a trail are always found for a reason, like when I discovered a 9-year-old girl on the side of a trail in Houston. As I passed her, I smiled at the sparkly streamers sprouting from her small fists and was slightly jealous. Streamers have a way of making you feel faster than a number on a cycle computer ever could. Lost in thought and distracted by shyness, I almost didn’t see the other girls. In a potpourri of flowered helmets and streamers, they stood next to their tiny steeds and let me pass. I asked, “What’s this, some kind of Girl Scout Troop?” “Troop 17061!” they announced. “Do you mind if I ride with you?” “Sure!” I asked for their names and was met with flood of high-pitched voices, “Simone, Natalie, Gretchen, Caitlin, Mollie, Maggi!” When we arrived at a rocky dip in the trail, the sound of squealing coaster brakes announced Troop 17061’s apprehension. Gretchen pulled her small shoulders back, furrowed her girlish brow and firmly declared that she was going to ride it. Excited cries of “You can do it!” and similar sentiments filled the air. Gretchen’s focused intensity turned to bouncing excitement as she dropped into the dip at speed and experienced the stomach-sucking excitement of a G-out. Her success was quickly followed by a crescendo of girls shouting, “I’ll try it, too!” I asked their adventure leader, a silver-haired Mr. Denk, what inspired him to organize these trips. As he watched the girls conquer their fears, one by one, the expression on his face was the only explanation I needed. It was nearing dusk when we rolled into their campsite. As campfires began to flicker in the night, we kept playing on our bikes. We raced around the grass, experimented with who could ride the slowest without tipping over and invented our own tricks. I shared the secrets of popping a wheelie, a trick most of them thought boys had a monopoly on, until their front wheels began shooting into the air. The next morning, Gretchen rolled by my campsite, standing on the top tube of her bike. As a special treat, their leader said they could join the Subaru/IMBA Trail Care Crew for a trail project, once they had broken down their camp. The scene turned into a flurry of flying sleeping bags and tent poles, and minutes later they were helping us build a berm. Using trail-building tools as pogo sticks, they channeled their unmatchable energy into tamping, managing to pack the soil better than the full-grown, muscular volunteers in our group. When it was time to ride the fruits of our labor, the girls’ impossibly wide smiles stretched even further and infected every volunteer and rider in their presence. “You all are so amazing,” I told the young Scouts while being tackle-hugged by the pack. As Maggi rolled away, she turned and yelled back, “I feel amazing!” As a female mountain biker, I’m often asked how to get more women into the sport. The answer isn’t in flowered jerseys or gender-specific frames. The answer is to start with the girls, because they have a habit of growing up to be women. Trails provide endless surprises. Sure, most of the time, those surprises come in the form of endo-inducing rocks that materialize under your front wheel. But, there’s also a helping hand that appears just when it’s needed, or a crew of volunteers working on a new sliver of trail. Maybe your surprise appears in the form of a rusty chain tool. I’ve found them all out there, usually just beyond the bend and hidden under a bit of dirt. Author Kristin Butcher is a veteran of the Subaru/IMBA Trail Care Crew program. She’s also a freelance journalist and a mom.
Ride With IMBA!
If you like to ride on dirt, joining IMBA makes sense:
• Youth membership (under 23) for just $20 • Family membership for $50 • Membership kits include DVD with videos, stickers and other benefits
Visit IMBA.com/join to learn more This special edition of IMBA Trail News was made possible by generous support from Shimano.
WADE CHECKS OUT IMBA TRAIL NEWS.
Articles, tips and resour ces for: • Introducing kids to mountain biking • Organizing youth events • Connecting with IMBA’s chapters/clubs Sponsored by
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TO PAGE 6
FOR MORE ABOUT CARSON AND PROJECT LOOP.