Why REMBA? – Abbie Durkee

Why REMBA? - Abbie Durkee
Why REMBA? – Abbie Durkee

Sure I could go on and on about the many reasons to ride a mountain bike: human powered exploration that connects us to nature and raises sustainable awareness, yadda yadda. Instead I will assume that I am speaking to the tribe here so beyond convincing you to become an advocate, let’s talk about the specifics of why coming together here and now are so vital to the future of MTB.

Locked tightly into these woods is evidence that we as MTBers tread MORE LIGHTLY than other user groups. Annadel, with it’s diverse network of trails and friendly welcoming attitude, is the gateway park to the Mecca of mountain biking that is NorCal. Sure Fairfax houses the MTB Hall of Fame where we pay homage to all that are now washed. As the birthplace of MTBing Marin will always hold a special place in our bike family. But once you’ve ventured beyond it’s hyped up political battle, you will realize there is a big wide world to explore and the bike is the enlightened catalyst to sustainable actions both environmentally and socially across America. But First: get some skills. This is what makes Annadel such an important blueprint park that we must get right!

While Marin fights trail by trail to convert “hiking” trails into multi-use trails so that bikes can legally go where they have been poaching for decades, Sonoma County is riddled with networks of trails that have been built, respected, and maintained exclusively by mountain bikers for nearly as long. Rather than riding rebelliously, attempting to dodge authority at every junction, here it’s simply a deeper connection to the terrain that has been established over time out of our love for the woods. There is nothing saying that you can’t go for a hike on these trails, but you better be ready to self navigate as there are no signs indicating duration or direction.

What makes these trails so important to the conversation of environmental impact of mountain bikes is that these flowy luscious trails are beautifully integrated into the topography with gentle impact in a way that could dissolve just as quickly as they are formed. You can’t say this about very many man-made systems. Even trails built and maintained by the Park Service are predominantly designed for vehicular access making them both highly erosive and requiring regular maintenance: destined to be archeological evidence of our society’s boom not quite as pronounced as our concrete jungles.

In this secret network of trails we can distinguish the lesser impact of bikes over foot traffic as the narrow twisting trails are only slightly more evident than the lines made by deer. But what does it matter? It’s only dirt, right? Right! But to PROVE that we as MTBers ACTUALLY leave LESS of an impact then the other user groups, that are welcomed into the Wilderness, is huge!

It’s time that we develop the dialog with land managers that articulates this evidence to help cultivate the development of regulations and trail networks to include our tribe at the table. This is a vital time for this advocacy work because the sheer numbers of users has increased significantly.

By joining REMBA you are not only backing up the work of advocacy but also aligning to a common respect and understanding to educate future generations on how to tread lightly. These trails, that were once protected by a secret code that required a solid foundation of skills to earn the rite of passage, are now being openly explored by hundreds naively beyond their level causing skidding and poor riding technique to damage their integrity. With REMBA we can educate riders, and be a part of the system’s sustainable evolution.

~Abbie Durkee

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