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by FVMBA on Dec 15, 2017
2017 was a year of organizational learning for the Fraser Valley Mountain Biker’s Association. Learning about the membership (and the size of it relative to our peers and number riders in the region), learning about itself (what would FVMBA be like if it were a person), learning about our stakeholders (First Nations, land managers and government agencies) and re-learning how to ride a bike and have some fun (kids programs and festivals).
This year in review is a brief summary of the highlights (and lowlights) of the year that was 2017 for the trails and the sport of mountain biking in the Fraser Valley (FV). Each section represents dozens, if not hundreds of hours of volunteering and sweat-equity by people from all walks of life and recreation. Based on 2017, the future is bright for mountain biking and trails in the Fraser Valley.
This year we were reminded about the importance of the club, from working on legalizing our trail networks, to campaigning to save one of our riding areas, we faced some of our toughest challenges yet.
We came out on the other side, stronger, and more enlightened, but we realized we needed help. As a result we are working hard to prepare a future strategic plan to ensure that we continue to build on our past successes.
Despite these challenges, we found strengthen in the community to step up and fight the battles. We owe our respect and gratitude to these community champions.
Although we acknowledge we are not perfect, and we might not always get it right, I am very proud of what we have accomplished, and as you read on in this newsletter I hope you are just as proud of our community as I am. Our volunteers, builders, and riders are what makes mountain biking so awesome out here in the Fraser Valley, not to mention we have some of the best trails around.
Cheers, Happy Holidays and happy trails!
The winter of 2017 will be remembered for being a tough one if you love to ride bikes. Snow covered the entire FV, so the hills were neck deep in powder, keeping many riding areas off-limits until the spring. This natural rest for the trails was a blessing in disguise. Winter can be harsh for trail care as wet trails and restless riders can do damage that persists all year. The blanket of snowy protection meant that the trails had a several-month long hiatus from wheels. But in the meantime, we made the best of it with some alternative trail usage (snowshoeing).
Late in 2016, there was a start of email traffic indicating that the main land manager for all trails on crown land in the Chilliwack Forest District (Rec. Sites and Trails BC) was looking for user groups to improve the legal standing of their various trails and infrastructure throughout the region. FVMBA has been the steward for MTB trails in the FV since its founding in 2004, but only had legal standing for a limited group of trails on Sumas Mountain and that has only been since 2015. The remainder of trails operated in a grey area of legality for a mix of reasons depending on the trail and the region. This start of email traffic in 2016 evolved into a large undertaking to legitimize the trail networks throughout. This included the Woodlot in Maple Ridge, Bear and Red Mtn in Mission, and Vedder Mtn in Chilliwack on top of the existing agreement at Sumas in Abbotsford. Until the legal standing of the trails was resolved, all trail work was ordered to stop. If this persisted for an entire year or more, the trails and riding in the region would pay the price.
The core volunteers at FVMBA undertook training on a new set of guidelines for performing an environmental assessment and then mobilized as many volunteers as would help to complete the paperwork on time and meet the May 15th deadline for submission of applications. The application for FVMBA was indeed submitted on-time, but due to the large scope/scale, processing it was deferred by RSTBC until the fall. In the interim, Letters of Understanding (LOU) were signed between RSTBC and FVMBA to allow trail maintenance on existing trails to continue legally, and with the proper permission and insurance coverage.
This process and project opened the eyes of the current executive at the FVMBA to the magnitude of paperwork and process that was now required before shovels or chainsaws ever go to work again. We started saying that it used to be “no dig, no ride” and the reality of 2017 and the future is “no paperwork, no dig, no ride”. This intimidating realization was the catalyst for the undertaking of a strategic planning process in 2017 (more on this below) to address the new order of things for mountain biking to continue.
The FVMBA is proud to be one of the races included in this series, it is a real testament to how awesome our trails are and how amazing our volunteers are.
This year we attracted a lot of awesome mountain bikers. Whether you’re doing it competitively, challenging yourself, or working towards a goal, it’s great to see amatures, weekend warriors, and buddies in the starting line up with some of the top athletes in the sport. Some of the attendees this year included Bronze Medal Olympian-Catharnie Pendrel, Two-time US Olympic Long Team Member-Spencer Paxson, 4 time National Champion-Evan Guthrie, Team Canada World Championship Member- Sandra Walter, Former Olympian and National Champion –Andreas Hestler,as well as local boy and 4 time National Champion-Ricky Federau.
Despite 60 mm of rain leading into race day, and a mucky course, everyone came across that finish line with a smile on their face and a sense of accomplishment.
Evan Gurthie and Spencer Paxson raced both days, here’s what they had to say about the race:
“Coming to Vedder Mountain for the first time was nothing short of spectacular. After racing in SoCal and Arizona for the last five weeks it was incredible to come back and spend a weekend with friends doing what I love; sharing stories and experiences on the bike. A weekend of racing like that is what defines mountain biking for me and I look forward to being back next year! Thanks to everyone from the FVMBA and BC Enduro Series who made it such a special weekend!” – Evan Guthrie
“During the post-race interview on Saturday, I was asked what is special about racing in this part of the world. My on-the-spot answer spoke plainly to the sense of fun, community and great trails that are so abundant in BC. After the interview I had a further thought. I’ve only been racing mountain bikes since 1998, around the time when the Vedder Classic went on a 16-year hiatus. That said, I’ve raced all around the world since then, and have grown up with this sport and lived and breathed its evolution as a core participant. What’s special about racing in this part of British Columbia is that there is no nostalgia around it. The heritage and the heroes are still here, some are still fast as hell, all are still stoked, and some even share podiums with their children. There’s no pretense to riding or racing here, no matter your skill level, and no need to waste time on reflecting on how it used to be, because in BC, mountain biking and racing just is. It’s a f*@#% good time!”-Spencer Paxson.
This we also hosted the first “KIDS Classic”. We had incredible support from the community with 30 kids who rode in 3 different categories: Run Bike, 16-18″ wheels and 20-24″ wheels. It was great to see the next generation out there getting stoked on mountain biking.
Read more about the race here:
Above: Vedder Mountain Classic Organizers
The Enduro at Vedder this year was all time. The sun came out Saturday morning during the Vedder Classic and created the ideal hero dirt conditions for the Enduro on Sunday.
This year the Enduro was a converging point in several series being a Enduro World Series Qualifier, a North American Enduro Tour stop, a Canadian Nation Enduro stop, and a BC Enduro Series stop.
We saw lots of local racers, and racers from across BC, Canada, the States, and Europe. Local rider Max Leyen beat out the competition to take the top stop in Pro Men, while FVMBA Race Director Bob Jones took the top spot in his category. We have some seriously talented riders here in the Fraser Valley.
More on the Enduro here:
After a long winter’s nap, the melt of all the snow put the drains on the trails to the test this spring. Riding resumed, but so did trail work with the signing of the LOU’s between RSTBC and FVMBA. The shovels and rakes were out in a moderated force to attend to the various maintenance needs on the trails. New trail construction is not permitted while working under the LOU’s, so the focus has been on fixing our existing trails, and ensuring that they are in prime condition.
As the intimidating task of legalizing the trails and upholding the agreements with the land manager set in, the executive realized very quickly that the status quo was not going to work anymore. Volunteers cannot bear the load of the paperwork and administration to keep existing trails, let alone build a new one. This realization spurred a conversation about why we do, what we do and what does the club stand for? Are we a trail organization? Or a mountain biking one? Are we volunteer-fueled? Or do we need staff to do the work needed? When making these decisions, what are the impacts on our existing volunteers – builders and beyond?
In order to seek answers to these questions, the executive decided to expend some of the financial reserves it had available, and a few weekends of extra work, and hire professionals to guide the club through a SWOT and strategic planning process. The goal of this process was to define the vision and mission of the club, answer some (if not all) of the existential questions currently being faced, and create a plan to work towards those goals and deliver to the membership the vision and mission that came through.
The executive is extremely excited to present and review the outcome of this process at the upcoming AGM in Feb 2018.
FVMBA attended the MissionFest street party in downtown Mission on August 12th. This event closes down 1st Ave. in Mission for a kid-friendly street party. And, for the first time this year a fleet of bikes and stunts for kids to try their bike skillz at. The event was a great success with Georgina and Rocky hosting over 70 kids trying their hand at riding the skinnies, teeters, and moving the plungers without a dab, all while having a great day in the sun.
In late September, it was brought to the club’s attention that an application was being reviewed for another gravel quarry on Sumas Mountain. While this was not a new threat to the trails, this application was specifically problematic as it would wipe out several legal trails as well as the upper parking lot on Sumas, and add dozens of fully-laden gravel trucks to the traffic on the access road. It would shut down recreation as we know it on Sumas.
The FVMBA put out a call for help in order to solicit support. There was currently a vacancy in the Abbotsford Area Rep role, and so there wasn’t a person to lead the charge. From the first letter calling for support to the close of the campaign roughly one month later, the outpouring of support and volunteers was incredible. Fellow trail lovers from the Run For Water and the Abbotsford Trail Running Club reached out and showed their support en mass. There was a petition with over 6,000 signatures, hundreds of letters, several events, two articles in local papers and one unified position – we do not support the application and our supporters will do whatever is necessary to ensure the trails are protected. You can read more about the effort in the summary at www.fvmba.com.
The fight continues into 2018 and the FVMBA along with our partners will be hosting the decision makers for a tour of the mountain to highlight the impacts that this proposal will have.
This trail threat event reminded the club (and the members) one of the three main reasons the club exists – Advocacy. Without a unified voice for the trails, the constant threats to their existence will prevail and the trails will go away over time. Instead, today we can confidently say that due to the incredible efforts of some key volunteers (you know who you are) the trails on Sumas have the best chance possible to live on. It also reminded the FVMBA that while we don’t support this application, we do support sustainable industrial use of the land the trails occupy. The Woodlot manager on Sumas did some harvesting shortly after the SaveSumas campaign concluded and worked with the FVMBA to restore the trails and make a donation to see that it is well funded within the organization. This is what Advocacy means.
FVMBA was again invited to attend the MTB Tourism Symposium in Revelstoke in September. This event brings together the three key pillars of trail development in BC. The land managers are all there (from RSTBC, to municipal and regional managers), the trail associations are there (over 40 trail associations from around the province were in attendance) and the bike industry is there (tourism operators, the media, bike companies). These groups get together every two years to assess the state of Mountain Biking in the province and work to address some of the challenges being faced.
FVMBA presented at this event in a couple sessions. Ernie Kliever was part of a panel on MTB Advocacy and the role of local clubs, and Rocky Blondin hosted a presentation called “Shifting the Weight – The transition of your local mountain bike association from defender of the trails to product manager for tourism assets.” These discussions helped inform others of the FVMBA’s strengths and challenges and the event afforded the delegation from the FVMBA and its regional stakeholders – including the FVRD and the District of Mission who were both in attendance as well – to learn from other areas and other clubs how to solve some of the issues faced today. It was also refreshing to know that others have some of the same challenges and don’t have an answer either. This has created new ongoing conversations on how to work together to solve extra-regional and provincial issues for all clubs.
FVMBA was also advocating to host the next event in 2019. Revelstoke did an incredible job and have raised the bar for what is possible with an event like this. Stay tuned for more on this in the future.
FVMBA partnered with Fraser House and the District of Mission as well as Cycling BC to deliver the first ever iRide/Sprockids program in the Fraser Valley. Three volunteer leaders (Georgina, Mike and Rocky) as well as some Jr. Volunteer leaders (Chris, Owen and Kieran) led a sold-out group of 20, 7-12 year old rippers through a 7-week version of the program. The program consists of some skill building games and drills and then a trail ride to put those new skills to use. The feedback was unanimous – the kids loved it and can’t wait for the next session. FVMBA has coordinated with CyclingBC to host a Sprockids Leader Training session in Mission in Feb. 2018. For more information, email [email protected] and the current leaders can answer any questions, or sign you up to lead a new program in Langley, Abbotsford or Chilliwack.
FVMBA was invited to attend (and be the co-beneficiary with Hope Mountain Centre) of the Banff Mountain Film Festival in Mission in November. The event was its usual success, and was a chance for the club to get some more exposure for the challenges being faced, and the efforts underway in 2017 to address them. Huge thanks to Roger Friesen and the team that puts the event together for their generous support and offer of a chance to share our message.
The FVMBA was hard at work this Fall cataloging all the structures, and trail features up on Sumas Mountain. This is part of our inventory, and annual trail inspection reporting the Rec Sites and Trails BC.
We are currently compiling the data trying to get it end before the deadline. As you can imagine it is a lot of work.
Eventually, once we have secured a Partnership Agreement with Rec Sites and Trails for our other riding areas, we will be undergoing this process again. If this is something you would be interested in helping us with, please let us know.
An increased level of building activity has been seen on the local trails in the fall of 2017. This is truly due to the amazing volunteer builders. Reason #2 the club exists – Builder Support. The FVMBA has been working hard to get more resources into the hands that get the job done and have purchased many new tools throughout the region. New hand tools were distributed to all builders in the Fraser Valley and the crew on the #Northside got some dearly needed power equipment in the forms of leaf blowing, trimming gear and a new Christmas present for Eugene (we don’t want to ruin the surprise!). The prickle bushes, vine maples and leaves aren’t gonna know what hit them!!
The fall and winter storms were a little harsh with trees down but due in part to the use of Trailforks for trail status reporting, the trees and issues that normally can block trails for months are getting attended to by the volunteers in days. Please keep using Trailforks as it is good for the club and the trails on many more levels.
Some action shots from trail work this year:
Above: Sorting out a twisted situation on Red.
Above: Restoring a corner to its former glory with Ed of rEDneck in charge.
Above: The trail fairies at the Woodlot prefer to work at night. #northside #nightbuild.
The extended dry summer took a toll on the trails, when the rain returned in the Fall, the Chilliwack trail crew was out in full force fixing many of these issues.
Local builder Kerry is leading the charge with close to 400 hours of volunteer labour on the hill since March, this guy has earned his beers.
Kerry has been busy re-working Kerry’d Away, fixing holes and blown out corners on femur, and patching up many of the bridges up there on the hill. Give him a hi-five if you see him up there, or better yet a beer.
Work has recently started on New Mexico, looking to fix up some of the pinch points, add some flow, and start building a few jumps.
There is a brand new Kid’s Loop in the Chilliwack Community Forest called ‘Three Bears”, recently the trail crew has added a series of bermed corners, and plans to add some jumps over the Winter. The trail network up there continues to expand, with big plans coming in 2018/ 2019.
You may have noticed that you received a reminder recently indicating that your membership expires on Dec. 31st. FVMBA is moving to a ‘calendar year’ membership renewal period (valid January 1-December 31) and when you purchase your membership you will receive your annual membership card, stickers and other goodies in the mail! This change is to make it easier for our members to know if they are in good standing, as well as reduce the amount of administration that goes with tracking everyone’s renewal independently throughout the year.
Membership with FVMBA allows you to participate in all of our activities, rides, and events! We are working hard to create a better understanding of what your membership means to the club as well as provide better value for your investment in our mountain biking community.
Top 10 Reasons to become a FVMBA Member
– shout out to UROCumberland for inspiring us to create the top 10!
For more information, contact [email protected].
The AGM provides members the opportunity to voice their opinions and have a say in what happens to the trails in the Fraser Valley. We will vote on some VERY important issues this year, and share some EXCITING NEWS! You must purchase your 2018 membership in order to attend. Purchase your 2018 membership now here.
Location: Phoenix Ballroom
33780 King Rd, Abbotsford, BC V2S 7P2
Time: 3-5:30 pm for the AGM and an informal social afterwards at Finnegan’s Pub
Please RSVP to [email protected] and indicate if you will attend the AGM, the social, or both.
The FVMBA is primarily volunteer-run. Without the passion and dedication of our volunteer trail builders, volunteer directors, event volunteers, and administrative volunteers, this club simply could not exist and you would not be able to enjoy the world class trails that we have today. We cannot THANK these volunteers enough!
We need more volunteers! We can always use a hand – no matter how big or small the effort, it all helps. Also, with our upcoming AGM we are looking for new Directors at Large and through our strategic planning process, we’ve identified we can use help in the following areas:
As noted, we are also looking for volunteer Board of Directors. Some of the ideas we have for specific director roles that we seek to fill include:
The details of each of these roles will come with the release of our 2018-2021 Strategic Plan at the AGM.
If you have enjoyed the trails on Vedder, Sumas, Bear, Red, or Woodlot please consider making a donation through TrailForks.
If everyone who uses the trails makes a $5 donation by December 31, 2017, can you imagine the difference we can make to our trails?!
To donate, go to: http://www.trailforks.com/region/fraser-valley/karma/