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Bikes, Beer, BBQ, and Banjos

We talk to local bike clubs about the three corners on the “triangle of advocacy”: physical advocacy, social advocacy, and political advocacy.  A balance among the three is needed to keep clubs and a local mountain biking community sustainable and moving forward.

At the Brown County Breakdown in Indiana, we got to see firsthand how the Hoosier Mountain Bike Association has got the triangle of advocacy DIALED.

Physical advocacy – Check!

  • Miles and miles of sustainable trail designed and cut in by club volunteers, across multiple parks
  • Recognized by the Indiana DNR as knowledgeable trail consultants and responsible stewards and ambassadors
  • Educating others about responsible recreation and sustainable trail building
  • Appointing representatives from the club to act as trail stewards for specific sites
  • Utilizing professional trail building resource, Spectrum Trail Design, to extend reach and facilitate progress

Social advocacy – Check!

  • Variety of fun events held throughout the year, with the help of Sub-9 Productions (also run by HMBA members).
  • Events draw attendees from around the country and grow with each passing year, some drawing more than 500 people.
  • Funds raised at some of these events put money back into HMBA for advocacy and trail work.
  • The increasingly renowned Brown County Breakdown is the HMBA’s largest annual fundraising event, raising as much as $20k in one weekend of festivities.
  • HMBA knows how to have a good time, welcome new people into the fold, and go BIG!

Political advocacy – Check!

  • HMBA has a great partnership with the Indiana DNR, working with them for years on gaining access for mountain bike trails in Indiana state parks.
  • Following the great success of the singletrack trail system at Brown County State Park, the DNR is anxious for HMBA to build trail in other state parks across Indiana – a great example of the shift from resources outweighing opportunity, to opportunity outweighing resources to build trail.
  • In addition to appointing a trail steward for each park, HMBA has an appointed Trail Advocacy representative to stay on top of access issues, DNR relationships, and other advocacy matters.
  • HMBA has secured several grants to fund trail projects. Effective fundraising has enabled them and the DNR to contract with Spectrum Trail Design for professionally machine-built trails.
  • HMBA has received awards from the DNR for their excellent work on Indiana’s trails.

We were very impressed with the HMBA – their savvy, hard work, perseverance, expertise, hospitality, and commitment.  The Brown County Breakdown was a blast, filled with fantastic riding, rockin’ live bluegrass, free beer, great grub (including a post-ride pig roast), bike demos, and great people.  Extra special thanks to Tania and Jonathan Juillerat for inviting us and setting us up with camping gear!

If you’re ever in the vicinity of Brown County, Indiana, check out the local trails.  They’re beautiful.  They’re fun.  They’re worth a trip.  Put the Brown County Breakdown on your calendar for next year.  And if you want to learn more about how to build a mountain biking community and sustainable club, take a page out of HMBA’s book.  DIALED.


+ Comment On This Post


Mountain biking is what I like a lot!

You guys so much inspired me to check out Brown County, Indiana's local trails. I've never been there before. Although just recently I've moved to USA from Austria, and no doubt I've to explore a lot of mountain biking trails in USA.

Brown County Breakdown

Great pics and great blog about a great event. If your into mountain biking and enjoy a great story read up on the HMBA @ 10 years ago Indiana wasn't even a blip on the mountain biking radar. Now, for a state without any mountains, Brown County State Park has some of the best purpose built mountain bike trails in the country. And that is not where it ends, Versailles State Park, French Lick Resort, and O'bannon Woods State Park all have similar quality trails in existance with many more miles planned. But don't take my word for it I, just like Indiana mountain biking, am just a beginner. Come out and see what there is to ride!

We have had the opportunity

We have had the opportunity to ride Brown County, French Lick, Harmonie State Park, and Scales Lake, and we agree that Indiana has some really awesome riding and a great mountain biking community. Before we leave the greater area, we'll be checking out Ben Hawes, which we're sure won't disappoint.


A bit disappointed

A great entry to your blog...everything you have written was spot-on about this FANTASTIC Event. The SUB-9 Productions events are among the very best our sport has to offer anywhere, but certainly in the Midwest.

However, you left out any mention of the IMBA NATIONAL MOUNTAIN BIKE PATROL that was on site all weekend.

Jake, did you appreciate the help we provided when Jenny had a flat tire?! I guess not.

How about all the first aid we provided all weekend for injured riders? and the many mechanical assists for riders with bike issues?

We ask nothing for what we do, as we simply enjoy being on the trails and supporting the sport we love... but really, a bit disappointed that a fellow IMBA program like the NMBP has no mention at all in your blog regardless of the fact that we crossed paths at the same event.

...And we wonder why it is hard to get people to recognize and join the patrol.

Hey Wyoming Cruiser, I'm

Hey Wyoming Cruiser,

I'm sorry you were so offended by the lack of mention of the NMBP presence at the event. Please understand that there is usually SO much going on at a given event or weekend visit, that it's very difficult to fit it all in our write-ups. It was awesome that the patrol was out in force, and I did really appreciate the hand fixing my flat. It's also wonderful to see the neighborly partnership between HBMA and the NMBP out of Cincinnati. A great example of clubs from nearby regions joining forces and working together to make things happen.

We believe the National Mountain Bike Patrol is a great way to give back to the riding community and to show positive outreach and ambassadorship for our sport. It's also a great way to reach out to other trail users and promote responsible recreation, as well as provided assistance when people get into a bind out on the trail. We do appreciate what you do, what you did, and what you contribute.

- Jenny

Thanks and Sorry

I appreciate the reply...sorry I was so abrupt...I was a bit grumpy when i wrote it and I probably went overboard...a perfect example of why one should take a deep breath, pause and reflect before hitting "submit"....Sorry again, It was nice to meet you at the event and you are correct HMBA, Sub-9 Productions, and the CORA NMBP enjoy a great relationship working towards common goals.