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Good Times published a gushing story about Mountain Bikers of Santa Cruz (MBOSC) last week, well worth a read. Towards the end, Matt De Young, MSOSC’s new Executive Director, says their biggest challenge is leaving their “outlaw” history behind and making mountain biking respectable to “land managers and other users.”

Those words rang true to us. As the lead among the San Vicente Redwoods partners trying to build mountain biking trails, we deal weekly with the fears of the impact of the outlaw culture on the natural resources they ride through – and over.

To get a firsthand perspective I recently met with Mauro Garcia, the head of City of Santa Cruz Parks. Land Trust Board Member Val Cole and I met with him after Val heard how pleased the city was with MBOSC’s work on the Emma McCrary trail.  Mauro was as enthusiastic as all the folks quoted in the Good Times article. He said MSBOSC brought money, labor, and enthusiasm to the table, or trails. “We couldn’t have done Emma McCrary without them.” City Parks is so happy the city’s new Parks Strategic Plan envisions more mountain bike trails – with the help of MBOSC.

Not everybody likes the idea. There are lots of people who aren’t buying, at least not yet, the mountain bikers transformation from outlaws to respectable citizens. You can let them know what you think by participating in the city’s planning process. On May 1st the City’s Parks and Recreation Commission will consider building new mountain bike trails and finalizing the priorities of the city’s new Parks Master Plan. Details here,

You’ll get a chance to let us know what you think about the trails at San Vicente Redwoods when we and our partners finish our long planning process – hopefully at the end of this year.


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Stephen Slade is the Executive Director at Land Trust of Santa Cruz County. He has more than 40 years non-profit experience in fundraising, communications, and management – and a deep passion for the lands that make Santa Cruz special.

Find out more about Stephen Slade…

This Post Has 2 Comments
  1. Stephen, I’m really frustrated by this piece. Let me tell you why.
    I think your title is needlessly inflammatory, and tries to boil the issue down to a false binary choice – that either mountain bikers are outlaws or good citizens. That’s simplistic and no more helpful than thinking that all members of any other group think alike or all share the same values. There are a lot of moving pieces and nuances to the issue of bikes and land management.

    By way of background, I’m an outdoor enthusiast, and a career environmental professional. I ride a mountain bike at times, but also like road cycling, hiking, swimming, and walking my dog. I studied planning at UC Davis. I’m one of the early members of MBOSC. As an organization, we’ve tried to play by the rules and work with land managers right from the start. But until recently, those efforts were a lot like Charlie Brown’s attempts to kick the football – largely futile. Whether local government or state parks, there was just this decades long series of delays, stalls, and disappointments. Yet if you look around the state, look around the country, there is this growing body of good examples of incorporating bicycle access into land management.

    I don’t have the time to write a big essay on this, but would be happy to discuss it with you., not on behalf of the club, but as an individual. You have my email.

    1. Dave — Will be glad to talk with you offline. Yes, this simplifies things, maybe over-simplifies. It’s hard to do complex in 300 words!

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