Since we are celebrating our 25th anniversary we thought it would be fun to dig through our archives and share some of the articles and news we published on MORE’s first printed newsletter, “Trailhead.” Over the next few weeks we’ll “Throw back Thursday” and share some of these with you.
Here’s a “year in review” article from the Nov/Dec 1996 issue of Trailhead. 1996 was a banner year for MORE, and a busy one! take a look….
MORE is on Track in 1996
When negotiating a new track, every rider must find that elusive, almost mythical path that we call “the line.” Within the trail itself, of course, the line is that particular route for our wheels that offers the least resistance, demands the least exertion, promises the least impact, entails the least peril, and delivers the most fun in traveling from point A to point B — usually about ten feet. Where the line lies is sometimes a matter of consensus, sometimes not. Finding it is often a subjective, Zen-like matter. At even five m.p.h. down a rock-strewn singletrack, conventional deliberative decision-making is, in practice, far too taxing. Instead we de-stress and feel, focus and find our way through the line almost intuitively. And a sweaty grin is our reward.
In 1996, organizationally speaking, MORE found “the line.’ We picked our way through a maze of public hearings, advisory group meetings, volunteer work days, trails conferences, fund-raising efforts and sundry educational workshops, and we ended up with… well, a big sweaty grin.
What does that mean? It means that because of MORE, mid-Atlantic mountain bikers were welcomed onto singletrack in two park systems where, before, bikers were banned. Montgomery County opened two parks in metro Maryland, and the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority (NVRPA) authorized the construction of new, bike-legal singletrack in Fairfax County. And the Schaeffer Farms trail complex, built mostly by MORE, is open and nearly complete.
It means that more generated over 1,500 hours of volunteer labor maintaining and building trails. (Add 200 hours for public meetings and hearings.) Your work commitment through MORE underlies the changing reputation of mountain bikers in our area. The result: Fifteen miles of brand new singletrack, and some ten-miles of newly legal trails, all attributable to MORE/you.
It means that MORE has been honored by major bicycling organizations, like the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) which bestowed upon IviORE its 1996 Model Program Award, and the Potomac Pedalers Touring Club (PPTC) which this year awarded MORE not one but two grants under its Community Services Grant Program.
It means MORE members benefit when bike businesses contribute money to trails, and product and discounts to trail users, through MORE. Fat City Cycles (national), Performance Bicycle Shops (VA, MD), City Bikes (DC), Blackwater Bikes (WV) and Whitetail Ski & Mountain Bike Resort (PA) have all decided, with good commercial reason, that MORE members arc worth an investment.
It means that MORE has raised 54,000 for parks — most for Fountainhead Regional Park. We’re well on our way to reaching that $6,000 goal, thanks to your generosity. And more importantly, we’re learning how to raise substantial money for trails for all user groups.
It means that some 250 people joined MORE in 1996 — including Fifty women. It means our members now range in age from 16 to 53. It means responsible riders, from sponsored speedmongers on the race course to fire road roving leisure lovers, all found a comfortable place at MORE. Our variety of rides and events suit our variety of members.
It means that MORE members helped found the region’s first volunteer bicycle patrol, working in close cooperation with the Maryland-National Capital Park Police. Volunteers serve as roving good Samaritans, trained in first aid and police procedures, acting as eyes and ears for local law enforcement. It means a positive, high visibility role for trail cyclists.
It means that MORE made our good web page great (see the newest update yourself and watch that “hit counter” go?) On top of that, we put out a top-flight newsletter, Blowing our own horn? Maybe. But then several of our stories are slated for re-printing in national magazines!
It means that despite all the education, advocacy and occasional preaching, MORE still considers plain old fun to be our ultimate mission requirement. Just when you think you’ve heard more appeals than you can endure about helmets, the Rules of the Trail, low impact riding and the need for trail maintenance, we lead a spectacular ride through GW National Forest, unfurl a wacky game like Frizbike, conduct an eccentric night ride through the heart of the city, or throw a party or a picnic that you just won’t ever forget. We know where our roots are and, if need be, we invite you to remind us.
Of course, all was not perfect in Fat Tire Land 1996. Our revered treasurer, Trish Bunn, was afflicted with Lyme Disease in Wisconsin several months before suffer-ing an unrelated burst blood vessel in her head while in Colorado. Thankfully, she’s on the road — or the trail — to recovery. Charlie and Valerie Theriault, who left an indelible mark on the club through sheer personality (and lots of hard work), moved to Minnesota. And the once-hallowed family name of Kosmicki now no longer appears on our roster.
In the trails department, the Frederick Watershed was nearly closed to bikes, and the spine of the Catoctin Ridge, the blue trail, remains threatened. Maryland, despite its normally positive approach towards trail cycling, may curtail biking in Patuxent River and Gunpowder Falls State Parks under new “Wildlands” regulations. And across the region, isolated land managers consider the misguided strategy of segregating trail users, needlessly limiting where hikers, bikers and equestrians may go.
And 1996 was severely wet. We know that riding muddy trails damages them, and so we don’t. But Mother Nature has certainly put a damper on conscientious riders this year. (Any more bad weather, and we’ll all become permanent roadies.)
All in all, though, it was a great year to be member of MORE. With your active participation, 1997 will be even better!