2018 Trailforks Awards: Advocate of the Year Winners

Dec 21, 2018
by Trailforks  

Advocates of the Year Winners

Most 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 four of the award winners listed below deserve our recognition and thanks. So without further ado, here they are: Bitterroot Backcountry Cyclists. Stillwater Area Scholastic Cycling Advocates, Michigan Mountain Biking Association and the North Shore Mountain Bike Association.

Why they get the nod:

Centered around Hamilton, Montana this group has been heavily affected by trail loss due to Wilderness Study Areas and Proposed Wilderness. After losing more than 130 miles of trail, they, along with some local motorized recreation groups, filed a lawsuit against the Forest Service. Late this summer it was temporarily successful and allowed mountain bikes back onto the trails while a new travel plan was created. Unfortunately, these trails have since been closed to bikes and the Bitterroot Backcountry Cyclists continue to push back.

Why they get the nod:

This group started with a local NICA Team needing a closer place to ride. From that need, the Stillwater Area Scholastic Cycling Advocates was born and they've been developing and maintaining trails in often overlooked and forgotten plots of land. In addition to providing students with trails to train and race on, they’re also building a culture of stewardship in the riders of tomorrow.

Why they get the nod:

Grassroots advocacy is the backbone of mountain biking. But there’s only so much that a small local trail association can do, especially when it comes to lobbying state legislatures or big picture capacity. The state of Michigan has banded together under the MMBA and its 14 and growing chapters and clubs are getting additional support and resources. Following in the footsteps of Vermont, New Jersey and Washington State, they are showing the value of clubs and chapters working together. Other states and provinces should be paying attention.

Why they get the nod:

The NSMBA has always pushed the envelope of mountain biking. And now they’re making the sport of mountain biking more accessible to more people. Under construction right now is a new accessible trail on Mount Seymour that, when completed, will offer a fully aMTB friendly loop. In addition, the NSMBA released their Trails for All Statement and although it has received criticism from online commenters, it’s meant new and exciting partnerships for the Trail Association that will have a lasting effect on mountain biking for the future.

MENTIONS: @trailforks

Author Info:
trailforks avatar

Member since Mar 25, 2014
18 articles

  • 67 0
 How about a huge cheers and a huge thumbs up to ALL the advocacy groups working hard to make awesome trails. And to all the folks that donate their time and muscle, cheers! And the folks that donate monetarily, cheers!
  • 7 1
 Agreed! Three cheers for everyone fighting the good fight, everyone digging holes, and everyone with a couple bucks to spare. Your trail org needs all of those!
  • 2 0
 Also of a worthy note should be the not just the "boots on the ground" or "hands on the mcleod"

But also the volunteer grant writers securing funding for our trails, the board members willing to sift through documents and sit through countless hours of municipal meetings to get out foot in the door to build the trails in the first place, the accountants that keep our organizations fiscally sound and qualified as non-profits, the attorneys willing to write out agreements and negotiate with municipalities and land owners, the fundraisers tap local businesses, nonprofits, etc to get the badly needed money to build and maintain our trails, and all the other administrative positions that go overlooked.

While none of these will ever be as exciting or sexy as throwing and shaping dirt, they still just as vitally important.

So thank you all!
  • 1 0
 @BadgerBacker: !00%. There's a MASSIVE amount of time, effort, energy, and administration behind the scenes of any trail org.

Those people deserve a pat on the back or a pint as much as the front-line builders!
  • 55 0
 I know some tyres can be a fight to get off, but the tyre levers in the picture are just excessive!
  • 2 1
 Heavy tooling!
  • 8 1
 New OneUp EDC levers for DD enduro casing
  • 1 2
 @Bergsmannen: Mother Nature just loves chainsaws
  • 1 0
 Pedros should make a novelty 5ft yellow tire lever for shops and restaurant chains to hang from their ceilings.
  • 1 0
 @Ron-C: shot-skis out of giant tire levers!
  • 30 1
 Cheers to all these folks and thanks to Evergreen MTB for all their work in the PNW.
  • 10 1
 Evergreen’s accomplished more than almost anyone I can think of in the US. By far one of the most effective trail groups. They deserved a mention here for sure!
  • 5 0
 Three cheers for Yvonne, Mike, Bryan, Jay, Nick and everyone else! And three cheers for everyone who is supporting (paying) member! Join Evergreen MTBA WA people, don't just ride and let others pay and build the trails you ride on!
  • 15 0
 Thanks Pinkbike for recognizing our fight here in the Bitterroot to maintain access to our backcountry trails and at the same time incredibly saddened that fighting for mountain bike access in our National Forests requires lawyers and lawsuits. We wish were being recognized for working with other other lovers of wild places and together blazing a new path forward that merges conservation, wilderness, and mountain bike access. Well maybe next year.
  • 4 1
 Hell yeah! Keep up the fight - I sent my letter(s) in for ya.
  • 8 0
 Anybody who's out there giving up there riding time to build Trails gets a pat on the back in my book. It never fails at our local Trails the same group of guys continue to show up and build. The same group of complainers never show up to do any Trail work. We now have a new slogan at our local Trail systems that if you do not volunteer you cannot complain about the trails. Go out and volunteer use a shovel in the woods it will make you a better Rider at the end of the day guaranteed.
  • 2 0
 For me, there are questions with respect to injuries, back pain, and affluence (all related to age). I'll be 60 this summer, so I give money to my local groups and leave the building to younger people. Also, the trails here in Salida are so good (even in the winter), that I never complain.
  • 1 0
 @jacobyw: we have lots of local people who donate money to our trails. Our Core group of Trail Builders is always older or classic folks. Seems the future generation only wants to build dirt jumps or nothing. Our Core group of builders in our area is probably in the 50s to 60s age-group believe it or not. I guess that's what you get in a retirement state. Fast flat Florida! A flat shovel, a mountain bike in the woods and I'm all good.
  • 2 0
 You could be talking about my local trails or just about anywhere in the country I suspect. Monetary donations always help the cause, but nothing beats labor. With most professional trail builds pricing at $100k and up, nobody's building significant trail systems with piecemeal individual donations. Trails are built with grant money, public money, and volunteer labor for the vast majority. And, FWIW, I've never met anyone that was healthy enough to ride a bike that can't volunteer. Even if it's just raking in new dirt, or clearing clogged drains, trail volunteering is not all hard labor (but a lot is)
  • 1 0
 @Timzjatl: can't argue with any of that good rant right there
  • 5 0
 Nice work Bitterroot Backcountry Cyclists! As a rider here in western MT, I've been inspired to stand up for access and legitimize human powered quiet use on bicycles in the backcountry.
  • 6 3
 "the NSMBA released their Trails for All Statement and although it has received criticism from online commenters"

Of course it did. God forbid organizations do something has horrendous as trying to be inclusive and speak to people as they like to be spoken to. Truly the worst thing happening in the world right now.

I think it's worth mentioning that online shitlords are by far the minority. They make a lot of noise online because it's the only place where they can spout their garbage opinions in an anonymous setting and not get direct backlash.
  • 8 6
 When you choose to recognize a few, you fail to honour all of those associations who are killing it AND keeping mountain biking challenging...like WMBC, Evergreen, STA, RCA, UROC, WORCA, SORCA, PORCA, TORCA, FVMBA etc. etc. Besides, this is biased considering a TF employee is one of the 'winning' association's Directors, so of course they're on this list (there are 3 other associations in BC who have already built actual new aMTB trails this year). Not every association has the same resources or local dynamics. If TF wants to do this right, put this to public vote or better yet, understand that advocacy is not a competition like a 'best fork of the year' sort of thing...if you want to honour advocates, it should be unbiased and not about recognizing one groups' efforts over another but about recognizing the efforts of all who are fighting in the trenches.
  • 8 2
 Mate this is like the all lives matter vs black lives matter argument. Recognizing a few doesn't mean they disregard the others. They are highlighting a few who have done a good job. Just be stoked you learned about other groups who are killing it.
  • 1 0
 But if you give everyone a prize... who actually feels like they won?
  • 1 1
 @JacksonTM: Very strange comparison. I think he's saying that if you're going to recognize some groups over others, it shouldn't be a biased process which it sounds like it is.
  • 1 0
 @TheoGDawg: I guess I'm not sure why he feels like small groups were left out. Bitterroot backcountry cyclists have less than 20 members I think. That's pretty small.
  • 3 1
 While we at the NSMBA are certainly stoked to be recognized here, EVERY advocate and builder deserves a shoutout, a pat on the back from fellow trail users, and maybe a six-pack of their favorite beverage for the holidays. Become a member of your local org. Donate some dollars, or some time. Even if its just a little - we know you're busy, and biking is expensive AF. Its all good. No matter your skillset, they need your help!
  • 2 0
 How about Big Red Ted aka Ted, Aka the hardest working volunteer on earth.. come on @pinkbike show your locals some love.

Huge thanks to all the people who advocate and work on trails, you generally are some of the best humans on earth!
  • 2 0
 always kind of bummed that there is never environmental advocacy for reducing carbon footprints and doing our part to help make a positive impact on climate change. This is something that directly effects our livelihood as mountain bikers, and obviously everything else.
  • 4 1
 MTB trails advocacy and environmental advocacy are tied together, in several ways:

1) we're certainly committed to reducing the environmental impact of mountain biking, in many ways - obvious ones like minimizing trail impacts on surrounding habitat, as well as less obvious ones like figuring out soft-surface trail connections through the town trying to enable people to 'ride to the ride', instead of drive, and having trails near their place of residence,
2) recreational cyclists are also comfortable on bikes: which can mean they're easier to convince to commute via bike than people who aren't. So getting more people on bikes works towards reduced GHG goals - everything from pumptracks to get kids on bikes early, to the aforementioned soft surface connectors work towards reducing the carbon footprint.

At the NSMBA, we're beginning to work with HUB Cycling (a great group focused on urban and commuter cycling route advocacy), as we have a huge amount of potential overlap, goals, and resources we can share.

Certainly recreational cycling isn't carbon neutral, and is nothing but a luxury. But its all tied together.
  • 1 0
 @cooperquinn-wy: Great point, and I agree. I suppose my point was more about the lack of acknowledgement and generation of awareness. You see this a lot more in the snow sports industry. I should clarify that this is not a criticism, but simply an observation of an unfulfilled opportunity. Trail advocacy is essential and I have a lot of gratitude for these organizations. Fortunately, there are great brands getting involved in mountain biking that embrace this mission. Clif comes to mind. Appreciate your work at the NSMBA, thanks!
  • 1 1
 @crustpizza: I guess it's... Mandate and capacity. And organization like POW is amazing, but they have the same appetite and ability to maintain trails as we do to lobby the Senate on climate change. Not telling you anything you dont already know, though.
And we're seeing the effects of global warming on the trails, and have had management discussions about how to best approach it; but at a very local level.
Outside the NSMBA, i also sit on the Outdoor Rec Council of BC where we to talk and think about this a bit more.
  • 2 0
 It's important to note that outdoor recreation if the beating heart of environmental advocacy, as well. Without outdoor recreation, the public support for environmental preservation would be almost nothing.
  • 5 3
 Someone wanna explain WTF sexual orientation("Trails For All") has to do with riding your f*cking bike?
Maybe I'm weird, but I've never felt the need to walk around with a "I'm hetero' sign stuck to my bike, especially while riding my f*cking bike.
Does this group advocate everyone notifying everyone else of their sexual orientation, or whether they 'identify' as either male, female, or a Duck-Billed Platypus when they enter their trail system?
All of the above is not the LAST thing on my mind when I ride, it isn't even in the same stratosphere as my mind when I ride.
I'm of the opinion when riding my bike that if you're also on the trails riding YOUR bike-I don't care whether you're male, female, or a fricken circus bear- you have the same right to be there as I do. NOTHING else matters, or should be BROUGHT INTO THE FuGGiN EQUATION.
Is that too much to ask?
  • 1 0
 More on a national level, however worth noting is also the rather young Mountainbike Tourismusforum Deutschand. The MTD’s approach to enhance the image of Mountainbiking and to drive it’s development by communicating based on a very open and fact-based discussion is second to none, at least in my opinion
  • 3 2
 I'm not going to shit on anyone's parade here but Pinkbike and Trailers does have a significant reach beyond North America so it might be worth recognising and highlighting the geographically constrained nature of this particular award...
  • 1 0
 So, who gets your nomination?
  • 4 0
 Send me you nominations for next year! brent@pinkbike.com
  • 2 0

Having done a bit of mtb in Italy and Austria, I would be really interested to see articles about what the rest of the world is achieving in terms of advocacy and trail access.

In Italy, tourist shuttle companies were shuttling the shit out of fall line trails that looked like no one worked on.

In Austria, we either rode Park or down hiking trails (once) to the chagrin of locals and had a farmer shake his fist and take photos.

What’s the rest of the world doing???!
  • 1 0
 @kjjohnson: Sadly, I have no idea. The nearest trail networks are a couple of hours away and I know very little about the mobs behind them.
I used to be on the committee of a local MTB club until the start of this year but resigned after I left the district...and TBH we were flat out looking after trail and managing a race series and had no time for advocacy of any sort...
  • 4 0
 Per usual, I'd like to take this opportunity to give my annual shout out to HoodRATS.
  • 4 0
 There are so many hard working people and groups out there. They all deserve respect as well as our help.
  • 1 0
  • 1 0
 They all win! We all win! Help out your local group, dig, join or cash.
  • 3 0
 major props to North Shore Mountain Bike Association for expanding access in a different way.
  • 1 0
 Thanks Hayduke. We weren't the first trail org to push for aMTB access, nor were we the only ones this year! But we're stoked to be recognized for it, and hopefully it'll get a bit of a worm in people's minds about it, for their local area.
  • 2 3
 Probably not the point you were trying to make, but... The reason we haven't witnessed any brawls over whether Gandhi was better than Mother Theresa is because they are not comparable figures. The answer to the question is also obvious to all but those ignorant to the facts or blinded by religious faith.
  • 7 0
 So, DHR or DHF?
  • 2 1
 Gandhi wins hands down even if in old age his actions would have been frowned upon by the #metoo movement. Mother Theresa was a c*nt she didn't give a sh*t about the poor only their souls, let people who with medical attention who would have lived die, was friends with dictators and was a propaganda tool for the Catholic Church under the equally disgusting Pope John Paul II (protector of pedophile priests).
The late great Christopher Hitchens wrote an eye opening slap in the face truth filled book a while back:
  • 1 0
 @SintraFreeride: you're thinking of Teresa May
  • 3 1
 BIG shout out to all those advocates AROUND the world and not just in North America.
  • 4 1
 Wait, not mention of IMBA?

[runs for door]
  • 5 0
 *grabs pitchfork and chases*
  • 1 0
 Sierra Buttes Trail stewardship would've gotten my vote. The scope of their vision goes beyond just building and maintaining trails.
  • 1 2
 My thanks(award) goes to anyone who moves a rock off a trail, fills a hole anything that is even a simple task that invokes getting off your bike and maintaining a trail.
You personally may not agree with that persons building style or agenda. If someone puts a shovel to the trail there intentions are genuine. They want to give back to the sport.
What I will never condone is the dismantling of some ones labor because an individual or group deems it un safe or does not fit there personal values.
  • 1 1
 Well said. I concur.
  • 1 0
 The Golden Giddyup and comba have been killing it near Denver and just got our first directional downhill trails!
  • 2 0
 Cheers to all the bikers out there working for the sport Smile
  • 2 0
 Big ups to the WMBC here in Bellingham WA!
  • 1 0
 They must have two pool noodles in each tyre:}
  • 2 3
 Congrats to the MMBA! They are really doing some great things here in MI and really putting the state on the map for mountain bikers.
  • 1 2
 Michigan has been on the map since the 90s when they had the Olympic trials in Traverse City FYI
  • 1 0
 Biggest Little Trail Stewardship is the winner in my book!
  • 1 0
 The trail builder in me would kill for an E-MTB ! Wink
  • 1 1
 A MTB sounds remarkably similar to E MTB
Coincidence? Is this a sanctioned E bike trail?
Please correct me if I'm wrong!
  • 3 0
 AMTB refers to Adaptive Mountain Bikes/Biking for those riders with less physical ability as a typical able bodied rider. They can be 3 or 4 wheeled or recumbent style bikes and are used by those with certain disabilities to access MTB trails. Some do have an e-assist throttle on some models, but are very different from a typical EMTB. There is tons of AMTB trail development happening in the Kootenay area as well as more happening in the Lower Mainland with the NSMBA and other developing and modifying trails for AMTB use. Never tried an E-MTB, but have tried an AMTB and they can shred, so they are awesome for those that want to ride who may not have had the ability, access or idea that they could.
  • 1 0
 @trulove: yes it's a great concept for letting disabled people enjoy trails
. It's a touchy subject E bikes. As E bikes are also considered a vehicle to help disabled enjoy the sport.
I guess one needs a politically correct way to group disabled people that wish to enjoy mountain biking.
Mind you the disabled folk don't want to be labeled at all.
Would be awesome to see some people ripping down this trail on a quad MTB.
  • 2 0

aMTB =/= eMTB.

The NSMBA has an 'Ebike Policy', which addresses some of this?

Long and the short of it, we fully support aMTB access. Currently, RST BC, an arm of FLNRO-RD, recognizes that aMTBs may utilize an electric motor (and as the person who helped pull the aMTB and rider pictured up Mountain Highway with a tie-down, I support this!), and define aMTB's as having three or four wheels. We'd generally align with this policy.

The pictured aMTB rider will be the first to tell you he doesn't want "adaptive trails" to be thought of as green - he wants double black aMTB trails! Which really just means making sure some trails are wide enough to fit the bike, have appropriate corner radii, and being careful with grades. He rips - he's already broken that bike several times and had to have it re-welded with big gussets.

Remember the early days of the Shore when nothing was built to take punishment yet people were pushing it? That's where we're at with aMTBs, and its rad!
  • 1 0
Read the NSMBA stance on E bikes.
Thank you ! It's tuff to step up and make a decision where you stand on E bikes as bike shops would enjoy the new monies generated.
E bikes are great for commuting on pavement.
Thanks Cooper for the clarification.
  • 1 2
 Word has it, trail builders in Michigan get paid $52/H due to labor laws there
  • 1 0
 Uhhh... Evergreen?
  • 1 2

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