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Local Advocate Builds Trail, People Ride It

Jeff Dean’s first visit to the Lower Shore Branch YMCA in Pocomoke, Maryland sparked an idea: Wouldn’t it be great to have some fun trails to ride on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. So, like any model mountain bike advocate, he contacted the land manager to share his new idea.

Serendipitously, the YMCA director he spoke with had just come out of a meeting with his regional team where he had discussed building trails on the Pocomoke property. Like most land managers, though, he wasn’t sure where he would find the resources to build the trails. Jeff’s idea, coupled with the YMCA director’s blessing, was a match made in heaven.

With a green light from the land manager and empowered by IMBA’s Trail Solutions book, Jeff got to work as a single solider advocate, blazing new sustainable singletrack on the Eastern Shore. Steadily, Jeff made progress and on each trip out to Pocomoke, he dreamed of seeing fresh tracks on the trails he had built. He was sure that if he built it, they would come, but that wasn’t happening.

Time for a new tactic, Jeff thought. So, he called up the local paper and asked them if they’d write a story. Sure enough, the paper talked up the trails and another serendipitous thing happened: Marty Denk, the mother of a local mountain biker, cut out the article and gave it to her son, Tres Denk. Tantalized by the idea of close-to-home trails on the Eastern Shore, Tres contacted Jeff and set in motion the foundation for what would become Eastern Shore IMBA, one of the newest chapters in IMBA’s growing network.

Becoming an IMBA chapter helped Tres and Jeff transition from single solider advocates to a sophisticated, organized and unified mountain bike advocacy organization. They found new members, gained legitimacy by becoming a 501C3 non-profit, obtained insurance and got access to new technology tools for managing and communicating with their constituency. They also hosted the IMBA Trail Care Crew (us) for a very productive visit.

Having already organized several successful group rides and Take a Kid Mountain Biking events, the recent Trail Care Crew visit marked their first group trail building project. So, we trained them on how to design and build trails, and how to run a successful workday.

Our Better Living Through Trails presentation gave them ideas on how to translate all the physical advocacy they’ve invested into political capital that they can use to get support for their trail projects. Finally, through Club Care, we shared best practices on how to run a sustainable mountain bike advocacy organization.

Eastern Shore IMBA exemplifies everything we like to see in a new organization: have a plan, start small and grow, build capacity by getting educated and most importantly, have fun. Expect to see more great things on the Eastern Shore.

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