Do You Have a Magic Wand?
This is what Phil Kincheloe, member of the Sedona Mountain Bike Club (SMBC) and the Verde Valley Cycling Coalition (VVCC), asked us as we butted heads over how to align our reroute. Much to our woe, IMBA does not issue one to us when they send us out on the road. There are probably a lot of folks in Sedona wishing for that magic wand right about now as they face a turning point and a number of challenges. Who wouldn’t?
The SMBC and VVCC would love to wave a magic wand and sort out a turbulent recent past and put hurt feelings and pride and stepped-on toes behind them. Then they could just focus on moving forward for the benefit of the Sedona cycling community as a whole. That, of course, is easier said than done. We’re all human after all, and it will take some work from everyone involved to bury the hatchet and toe the line together, whatever that ends up looking like.
The US Forest Service serving the Coconino National Forest in which the famed Red Rocks sit could use a wand or magic pixie dust to make their battle against unlawful rogue trail building go away and to make all of their trails sustainable and in line with the needs of all of their users. They have a lot on their plates, and while they are supportive of mountain biking in Sedona, they also have a priority and responsibility to protect delicate natural and cultural resources that are often unwittingly damaged by overzealous trail builders who do not have the patience for due process. They hate to be the heavy, but they also have to do what they have to do. There’s no simple, pat answer. Alakazam?
And we’re sure IMBA’s new Southwest Regional Director, Patrick Kell, could use a handsome magic top hat to help him help these folks sort it all out. How can he, as the new guy in town, help everyone focus on a positive, productive future instead of dwelling on a frustrating and sometimes painful past? If anyone knows any spells he can cast, pass them along.
All of that said, based on this weekend’s events, we do think things are moving in the right direction. We had a full weekend, presenting Club Care to discuss strategies and tactics for being a successful advocacy organization, Land Manager Training to educate area land managers on successful trail system planning and sustainable building, and our all-day Trail Building School to educate local volunteers on the same. Each session went beyond the Power Point presentation and led to a lot of open discussion to address a lot of questions and concerns specific to what’s going on in Sedona, both with the trails and in the trails community.
So we don’t have magic wands. Phooey. But the good news here is that a lot of passionate, engaged, intelligent, and well-meaning people from all sides came to the table this weekend. Things were given voice, some laundry was aired, good questions were asked, knowledge was transferred, bread was broken, and people were heard. And a piece of trail got some love.
We rerouted a fall line section of trail that was seeing a good amount of erosion after only a few short years. It was cupped and ragged and beat up in sections and just needed to be realigned where it could be more sustainable. A new trail was built that would allow water to drain off the trail instead of running down the trail and eating it up. And we worked in a number of interesting rocky features for that bit of chunk and chunder the locals like. Maybe this can be a metaphor for the Sedona mountain bike clubs. Put aside the things that are eating you up and build something sustainable together.
Many thanks are in order for this weekend’s events. Thanks to the VVCC, USFS, and SMBC for applying for and coordinating the visit. Thanks to Phil Kincheloe for being our point of contact and getting us where we needed to go on the trails, Absolute Bikes for providing lunch and refreshments, and Zack Greenfield for putting us up in his lovely guest house. Thanks also to Jennifer Burns and the rest of the USFS staff for their participation and contributions as well as use of the Red Rock Ranger Station facility. And, of course, thanks to all participants for spending your time with us and for your great work!
Check out our slideshow below, as well as more pictures taken by attendee Sharon Tewksbury-Bloom here. Thanks, Sharon!