Advocates of the Year WinnersMost of our awards recognize the brilliance of a particular widget or the achievements of athletes. This award is a bit of a departure. The Advocacy award is given out, instead, to the people and organizations who are actively investing in our sport and our trails.
We also depart from the usual PB awards story line by giving the prize to several parties--this time around, there is no cage match in which one nominee emerges victorious. Why not? Because it's nigh impossible to measure the value of one good deed or do-gooder against another. It's the reason you probably haven't witnessed a whole lot of brawls over whether Mahatma Gandhi was better than Mother Theresa or vice versa. Along those lines, we think all three of the award winners listed below deserve our recognition and thanks. So without further ado, here they are: Trek Bicycles, Patagonia and Santa Cruz Bicycles.
Why they get the nod:
Trek Bicycles recently opened their stash of private trails to a small army of middle school and high-school aged mountain bikers. The special occasion? A round of racing in Wisconsin's National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA) race calendar. It was a massively successful affair with more than 500 groms toeing the line, but it was far from the first time that Trek has invested in youth racing in America.
Trek has committed a million dollars to NICA, in the form of $1 from every Bontrager tire sale. The money goes to support NICA and Trek/Bontrager’s mission of getting more kids on bikes. Trek has already given nearly a million dollars to NICA. to date. The bike company has been a N.I.C.A booster from the beginning--back before a national organization took root and high-school racing consisted of just two leagues (there are now 21 leagues in play). Trek's support goes back a good decade and includes a six-figure donation directly to the state leagues (with an emphasis on establishing the Wisconsin league on Trek's home dirt), bike and gear donations to NICA national fundraisers, sending top pros to NICA races, and donating bikes and gear directly to local Wisconsin high-school teams.
Why does any of this matter? It's not simply the sheer number of kids getting into racing (14,000 nationwide in 2017), it's that NICA represents the demystification of mountain biking to the masses. Mountain biking is far from being an "underground" sport, but unless you actually ride
, it's something you'll never truly understand or come to love. NICA is consistently growing the number of people who ride--not just the kids, but, in many cases, also their parents. From the story:
Why they get the nod:
Patagonia has been an on again/off again player in the mountain bike apparel world (they are, for the record, back at it again), but we’d recognize them even if they didn’t make a stitch of mountain bike gear. The company is one of the foremost leaders in putting their money where their mouth is. The brand’s mission is “Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.”
While skeptics may scoff at the shiny-happy-warm-and-fuzziness of that statement (anyone, after all, can craft a heart-tugging mission statement), Patagonia has consistently delivered on its promise.
Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard also co-founded 1% for the Planet and his company has invested $89 million in funds and in-kind services since 1985, when they began rolling one percent of Patagonia’s total sales or 10 percent of its profit (whichever is more) into environmental stewardship. It’s a staggering investment and proof that you can make a buck (or crap ton of them) without also making the planet a shittier place to call home.
Is Patagonia product expensive? Yes. It’s earned the nickname “Patagucci” for a reason. Their gear has also proven consistently well made. But we’re not telling readers to rush out and buy anything. We’re simply giving a nod of recognition to a brand that puts money back into the lands we all care about and which has also been remarkably transparent about their own ecological footprint—going as far as calling out their own environmental impacts
Why they get the nod:
Santa Cruz, California, has always had a strong mountain bike community and a reputation for great trails. What it hasn’t always had is a ton of sanctioned, bike-legal trails. If you’re not from California that previous sentence may have thrown you. For those of us who grew up there, however, it makes all too much sense—it’s the old Don’t ask, don’t tell
approach to riding trails. California boasts a long and not-so-stellar history of banning bikes from much of the singletrack on public lands. Consequently, mountain biking in that state has often taken on an unsanctioned, illicit character.
But times, thankfully, are starting to change and Santa Cruz Bicycles is one of the companies in the bike industry that deserves credit for helping invest in that reversal of fortune. By now, you’re probably familiar with the many "Donate $5” or "Five Bucks a Foot" contests that Santa Cruz has sponsored on Pinkbike (and elsewhere) to raise money for trailbuilding and advocacy in the Golden State. Riders pony up a few bucks, enter to possibly win a shiny, new Santa Cruz mountain bike and all the proceeds go to expanding trails.
It’s hard to quantify just how much good Santa Cruz Bicycles has done over the years, but if we merely look to the very recent past, Santa Cruz Bicycles’ support includes a recent contribution of $500,000 to the forthcoming San Vicente Redwoods open space near Davenport, California, $75,000 to the Stafford Lake Bike Park in Novato, California, $20,000 annually to the Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship in Downieville, California, and numerous other smaller cash and product contributions to trail projects around the globe. From the story: