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Even I’m sick of hearing myself say it, but here goes: advocacy means more than digging in the dirt.

Too often mountain biking advocates preach dirt and dirt alone: you need to design trails, build trails, maintain trails, and for crying out loud…why don’t we have more volunteers?!?!

Well for starters, why would any volunteer want to join what’s essentially an atrophied army with its own built-in dictator on their precious Saturday afternoon? That sounds somewhat akin to walking into six lanes of traffic.

But I digress. Again: it’s more than digging in the dirt. Trailbuilding and mountain biking advocacy wouldn’t amount to much if it weren’t for the people. You need to find people, make them feel welcome, learn to like them and them you, feed them, help them remember each other’s names, give them things to do that don’t involve a Pulaski or rake (ideally where the required uniform goes beyond spandex or Carhartts), invite them into your community and help them find a way to give back.

The point being, you can’t accomplish your goals without a diverse group of people behind them. And by people, I mean “community.” These people should all have separate roles, not all of which involve dirt. Communities build great trails, great trails build communities.

So next time you have a particular challenge with your trails, put down the tools. Focus on building the best possible connections with your community and your people, and the problems with solve themselves (at least that’s our story and we’re sticking to it!).

We’re talking about this because we had a great Trail Care Crew visit with SORBA Atlanta at Allatoona Creek Park (back to the dirt for a second - ride here, you will love it!) that exemplified the people part of trails. From everything to name tags for volunteers (there’s nothing more inviting than seeing someone’s name on their shirt), to goodie bags for kids after their group ride, to social events outside of trails, to acting as trail mom and bringing banana bread to feed the masses, their main goal is to build community. This stuff matters, and your trails will be better because of the strong community behind them.

Thanks to SORBA Atlanta, Free Flite Bicycles for the demo bikes and overall graciousness, Dickey’s Barbeque for the lunch sponsorship, Subaru Kennesaw for the support, and the wonderful community that made our visit a success.

 

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