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Meet Martin Glinsky and the Red Rocks NMBP Unit - Doing Things Right from the Start
When the weather is nice, there are a few places where you might find Martin Glinksy on a Saturday morning. Most likely, he will have staked out an area where some of Sedona’s most popular biking, hiking and Jeep tour trails intersect. For an hour or two, he might do nothing more than smile at people or help them decipher local trail maps.
“Mountain bikers need to let people see us and know we are around. We can do that just by being present, smiling and answering questions,” said Martin. “We have to actually show people that we, as mountain bikers, are good stewards of the land.”
Martin is the president of one of IMBA’s newest National Mountain Bike Patrol (NMBP) groups – the Red Rock Mountain Bike Patrol in Sedona, Ariz. Red Rock Patrol is less than one year old with a small roster, but the patrollers’ regular presence across nearly 200 miles of local mountain bike trails has quickly elevated the group's profile.
Red Rock Patrol is Martin’s creation, but it took some time to develop the right relationships. He started out with the Friends of the Forest, Inc. Sedona in 2007 as a hiker doing volunteer trail maintenance and patrolling in Coconino National Forest. Eventually, he requested permission to do his patrol work by bike.
“There was some concern among the friends group members that mountain biking was not a good way to display allegiance to the Forest Service,” he said with a chuckle.
But Martin’s hiking background and positive relationship with the Red Rock Ranger District led him to be considered a valuable liaison between hikers and mountain bikers. Soon he saw a need for a greater presence and looked to IMBA and the NMBP for guidance on creating a separate group.
Martin put a story in the local newspaper advertising the new mountain bike patrol and drew about 20 to the initial meeting. Eventually, eight hung on for the trainings – which they undertook as a group – and committed to monthly meetings with each other and rangers from the Cococino National Forest.
Red Rock Patrol is now up to 12 active volunteers. Despite their modest numbers, they exert a big presence. Martin said Sedona’s mountain biking is divided into roughly three regions, and the group’s membership is evenly divided among the three, so people patrol near where they live. He hopes to double the roster within the next six months.
“We take our non-enforcement role very seriously,” said Martin. “It is so positive for the mountain biking community to have emissaries. I just want more exposure. And often all I do is make eye contact and say hello to everyone.”
Sedona is popular with active retired people, and hikers still outnumber the mountain bikers. On a single, beautiful spring or fall day, Martin and other patrollers will each have encounters with up to 50 hikers and 25 mountain bikers, almost all of which are positive.
“Having an organized bike patrol on our trails provides a level of safety that we could not achieve on our own … We believe that this interaction is invaluable. These patrollers become our eyes and ears on the trail system,” said Angela Abel, the volunteer coordinator at the Red Rocks Ranger District. “It provides our visitors on the trails with a point of contact for trails and area information, whether it is education about the wilderness areas or system vs. non system trails.”
Martin continues to work on the volunteer trail building and maintenance crew. His presence and willingness to follow the lead of the Coconino National Forest has changed the conversation for him and the whole mountain biking community.
“I used to hear the phrase ‘those damn mountain bikers,’” said Martin. “Now, the conversation is more like, ‘Do you see what we’re trying to do here, Marty?’ I can then say yes and we can discuss compromises. There is no longer any talk about taking trails away from mountain bikers.”
“For me, it’s a labor of love,” said Martin. “But from a selfish standpoint, if we want mountain biking to move in the direction we want to go … we have to work very closely with the people in charge of managing our trails. Here, the Forest Service is in control. If we don’t work with them, we don’t get anywhere.”