The Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance has taken it upon themselves to make Washington state one of the best places in the country to ride a mountain bike. And if last weekend’s Kitsbow-sponsored Swamp Tromp event was any indication, Evergreen is going above and beyond the call by rallying its highly motivated volunteer base and putting shovels in the hands of passionate mountain bikers at a time of year that most of us would otherwise prefer to spend curled up in front of the fireplace.
Our sport is unique in that without people like those who came out en masse on Saturday, we wouldn’t be able to ride. It’s that simple. And it’s certainly no secret that old, general-purpose trails often deteriorate faster than they can be maintained, and are by no means capable of sustaining the growth that mountain biking continues to enjoy. But Evergreen has found the means to equip its volunteers with an arsenal of tools that unleash youthful backwoods creativity and solidify an indomitable sense of pride and community on the mountain — all in the name of creating a sustainable future for the sport. Not only that, but trails built by mountain bikers for mountain biking are an absolute blast to ride — evidenced by the light atmosphere of the work party (despite cold temperatures and intermittent rains). Everyone knew they were investing their time towards making Tiger Mountain an epic playground in their own backyard, as well as a world-class mountain biking destination. It was truly inspiring to witness, and something we at Kitsbow would love to see become more of a part of our own local trail network in Marin County.
The work party was a varied mix of grizzled trail veterans and younger, passionate mountain bikers. Some had beards. Most had trailbuilder packs. All had their own libations.
…except for this underage trailbuilder (who happened to be holding a small frog when the photo was taken), of course. He was brought along by a father who readily understands the importance and intrinsic value of passing along the traditions of our sport. Besides, what 10 year-old wouldn’t want to spend a Saturday playing in the dirt with his dad? Father of the year? Quite possibly.
Even the Department of Natural Resources had a three-man contingent on hand to help out — another testament to the phenominal job that that Evergreen has done to create meaningful and lasting relationships with the local government who not only facilitates trailbuilding permissions, but also help out with some of the heavy lifting. Quite literally.
The work day day ended with a Kitsbow-sponsored cookout, and the raffling of a new SASTAN Jersey and A/M Short. We couldn’t think of a better representative for everything we believe in than the trailbuilder who emerges from the trees soaked in mid-December mud and still grinning from ear to ear.
We can’t all be Washington state, but we can certainly follow — Evergreen is setting a hell of an example. Starting with the right planning, community networking, and meaningful negotiation with local governing bodies, places like Seattle’s Tiger Mountain could start finding their way a lot closer to home.
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