Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Fear and Loathing on the trails of San Diego County

I run into a lot of people on the trail while out on patrol and I have been hearing a lot of concern regarding what is happening in San Diego/North County with the trail systems. Their main concern is that as of late the parks are only focused on taking trails out rather than putting them in. That's only a tiny piece of the story, the process of building trails in San Diego/North County is fairly involved costing tens of thousands of dollars just to get a concept off the ground. If all the stars align and you manage to be able to pay for every environmental study that comes your way then you may be able to start to build your trail within a year. Very rarely does that scenario happen, but it does.

Why? We live in a dry semi-arid climate (very little rainfall) that just so happens to be next to a nice coast line, guess what; everybody wants to live here. So we have to take steps to ensure there will be viable habitat in the future that everyone and everything can enjoy. Because of the area we live in our resources are very finite, meaning in a lot of cases that once it's gone, it's gone. Remember we live in a dry semi-arid climate with not a lot of rainfall, not the lush forests of Oregon. Most of the parks you see throughout the county are "Open Space Preserves" set up to do one job. That job is to protect the natural resources of the area. Is it a perfect system? No. But were it not in place, we wouldn't be discussing trails because there wouldn't be any, just a bunch of houses and tract homes as far as the eye can see.

The San Dieguito River Park is always looking to build more trail. Trails are a good way to protect habitat, by making sustainable trails users are able to enjoy and learn about the benefits of an area. We plan to build a lot of trail in the future but we need to make it to that point first without anything impeding the process. As a park we know how to work with government agencies on the best way to put these trails in. We may not see eye to eye, but that's how the game is played and as a park we are players in that game. The privateer illegal trail builder is not. If you wanna see a trail system get shut down in San Diego build an illegal trail on it. It may not happen over night but it will happen.

Some of the issues that illegal trails cause a land manager and why they get shut down are, destruction of habitat, non sustainable trails that cause safety issues, the blatant disregard for the lands on the outside of the parks, increased maintenance costs, all of which push back the legal process of us, the land manager, being able to go out there and build trail. The process takes time but until someone changes the process that's where we stand in "Americas Finest City". Just because it doesn't look like we're building trail doesn't mean we're not going to be. If you want to affect change come on out and put your trail building skills to use and help us maintain the trails we already have.

That never works you say, we give and help but it doesn't do anything you say. If there's a will there's a way, every positive step made is a step in the right direction. That's exactly how I started. I rode the trails around San Diego county for years and then like a lot people I know asked myself "I wonder if there's anything I can  do to help maintain some of these trails I enjoy riding so much. I was a volunteer for this park and others from 1993 'til 1999, I did trail maintenance and a bike patrol before most of the riders on the trail today could even ride a bike. I was hired as a contract employee and eventually hired on as a full time employee. I've always had the rider in mind but understood from early on the give and take we as a user group would go through. Mountain biking as a user group has been on a steady climb since then and it is only now that the effects of such a large user group are being felt. The knee jerk reaction that a lot of the parks are dealing with right now only reveals the extent of the problem. Slowly but surely the tides are changing and more consideration is being given to things like "bike only" trials and bike parks. This just means that in the meantime even more pressure will be put on the biking community to be an overly responsible user group. We need representatives that want to effect change not just be a bunch of renegade trail builders.

The way things are starting to setup, I have high hopes for the future of mountain biking in San Diego/North County. Local programs like my mountain bike patrol and the events that more and more parks are doing, are being talked about by a lot of different government agencies, on a lot of different levels. Who really knows though, maybe I'm just some optimistic asshole with rose colored glasses on. Doesn't matter, no one really reads these blogs anyway.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Yeah it's been awhile!

Yes it has it's been a awhile since the last time I wrote anything in this blog. Why, not sure, other crap going on, building a ukulele or the overwhelming feeling that these ramblings just fall on def ears, so it goes. When last we spoke the park was gearing up for some big events. The Freedom 50 one of the parks longest mountain bike races went off without a hitch this year, my initial intention was to just ride it as a patrol but about half way in I decided to race it. As normal it was about the hottest day of the year so much suffering was had by everyone, but never the less it was fun event with good competition. The Quick n Dirty 30 was also a big hit with a good showing. The event which I thought would be a really unique and fun was the Ninja Night Race. I had never seen or heard of a nighttime mountain bike race in San Diego so I was keen to take part in it. Normally the park would be closed during that time but I was willing to make a concession because of the uniqueness of the event. The race was also limited to 50 participants in order to try and mitigate some of the night time impact an event such as this would generate. All of the participants seemed to have fun and while it was cool seeing all those lights along the lake shore I can not see myself putting in the effort to do it again, but who knows. Suffice it to say the park out did itself last year by hosting over 40 events. 2014 looks like another big year, Quick n Dirty will be back on February 22nd for a stand alone race and also for the Wednesday night summer series. We will also be having a Tuesday night running series event this summer.

The mountain bike patrol had its first mountain bike swap meet in September. Twelve vendors showed up and all the people that came to check out the deals walked away with something worthy of the effort made to attend. It would be great to have this swap meet once if not twice a year and hopefully see it grow. It fills a much needed niche in the North County area.The event raised money for both the SDRP Mountain Bike patrol as well as the Sikes Adobe historic farm house.

Mountain Bike Patrol Swap Meet

I was also able to hold another patrol training within the last couple of months and the SDRP mountain bike patrol is now up to 21 patrollers. Outstanding by any measure and we have been nominated for an award by the Parks and Recreation Association to boot. With the continued support of our sponsors and dedication of our volunteers this program remains one the best attended mountain bike volunteer patrol programs in San Diego County if not the whole of SoCal. In six months the patrol has put in 436 hours of volunteer time patrolling the trails. This has enabled me to stay on top of things in the park and address any issues that may come up in a timely manner. I will be doing one more patrol training in the coming weeks, so if your on the fence now is the time to act. I have discussed spreading the love to other parks but I am still waiting for the phone call. If you live near an open space that may or may not be having difficulties managing their trails send them my way.

The patrol crew, well half of them.

Cool side story to the SDRP mountain bike patrol. Just before Christmas one of our more active patrollers had his bike stolen. During our end of the year BBQ we decided to put the word out to our other patrollers in hopes of getting some donations to get him back on a bike. Within two weeks the patrol donated $700. That enabled us, through working with one of our great sponsors (North of the Border bike shop) to buy him a brand new Norco 27.5. Couldn't ask for a better group of guys and gals!

Mario and his new bike!
Quick trail bulletin, if like me you ride the trails around the San Dieguito River Park you may have started to notice that some of your favorite trail features are slowly but surely being removed. I can assure you the the rangers of the San Dieguito River Park are not responsible for this trail sanitation. I prefer to preserve those features, they act as good buffers in slowing traffic and add fun to an already tame trail, if I didn't I would just flatten everything, pave it with DG, through some peeler post fencing up for good measure and call it a day. The sole responsibility for this recent round of sanitation lies within the mountain biking community. Those trail features have been in place since I started riding these trails over 20 years ago and within the last year they are gone. If you can't ride the feature there is no harm in walking your bike, really no one will give you any grief for doing so. If someone out there witnesses this type of behavior please due us all a favor and ask them not to. Since when did this become a popular way of looking at a challenge? That being said while I pride myself on some of the best maintained trails around there is plenty of actual trail work to be done in the park. I hold a trail maintenance day every second Sunday of every month from 0800 to 1100 and have done so now for over ten years. So if any of you would be trail work folk are out there we would love to have you. I always find it strange that mountain bikers who use the trails the most are never there come trail maintenance day. If you love the trails and want to help maintain them please come out. Right now the trails are bone dry so please stay on them at all cost, any incursions off trail will cause irreparable, unsightly and unneeded damage. Now if we could just get some rain!

All in all I am looking forward to this year and working with everybody in anyway I can in order to provide a great outdoor experience for both parks users and it's inhabitants. Stay safe and enjoy the trails!

Friday, August 16, 2013

What's growing on?

It's been awhile since I put my thoughts down on here but that doesn't mean that nothing's been going on just that I'm a lazy ass. One of the things that has surprised me the most is the success of the volunteer mountain bike patrol. I trained a dozen fine individuals back in June to start the program and they hit the trails in force. In the month and a half since I started the patrol we have put in 106.25 hrs on the trails. I now have a consistent feel for what is going on in the park and that has enabled me to respond to conflicts in concerns almost immediately. This response time is crucial because it lets the public and the organization know that we are on top of things, in the past unfortunately some important issues fell through the cracks. Through the amazing support of the local bicycling community I was able to purchase patrol jerseys, pumps, tools to help maintain and fix bikes, first aide kits and nutrition.

 I believe that this program can and should be used in parks around the country. It's my hope that I can progress it at least within the SoCal area, it just makes good common sense. I get that the IMBA has the National Mountain Bike Patrol, and I am one of it's members, but unfortunately I think that this type of program needs the personal touch and the IMBA is just too far removed from the process to be effective in that area. I have pitched the idea to a couple of groups and have had a pretty decent response. Some groups are just too mired in their own politics to see the program for what it really is. Hint, it's a bunch a people that care about trails and riding and want to promote a safe and mutually beneficial progress of it. Enough on that, again thanks to all involved with the program.

The park is also gearing up for a couple big events. The Freedom 50 will be on tap at the end of the month and the Giro Di San Diego in September. Both are great events but we all know how jittery I get before one. If you don't know please refer to my "Herding Cats" post in this blog. I'm sure the promoters will do me right. On top of that we are gearing up for the first ever, at least in the SDRP, Bike Swap Meet on the 28th of September. I'm pretty excited to see how this will turn out. All the proceeds will go to support the SDRP mountain bike patrol and to help out the Sikes Historic Adobe Farm House that is one of the parks cool historic features. Do some garage cleaning, gather up your old, new and in-between bike parts,and join us out in the park for a fun day.

The condition of the trails in the park are stable but only just so. The lack of rain last season has made for a really dry summer and with that the trails can only hold for so long before they start to give. This coupled with the high amount of traffic we receive in the park make it very important for people to take their time and really be mindful on the trail. Ride within your ability, use the trail that is given to you, don't skid. All of these principles seem pretty basic but time after time after time I see trails destroyed by this very behavior. I have seen a staggering number of trails throughout the county in other parks that have been completely altered. Downhills are being reduced to foot deep silt trough's with four or five ruts even deeper causing people to cut the corners or go farther to the outside to avoid the conditions making a once nice single track trail into an eight foot trail builders nightmare. The uphills are not immune, some people think that if an obstacle on a trail is just too tough they'll take it upon themselves to go around or create a bypass. This again causes irreparable damage. Like I said no rain so there's no time for the ground to recover. Once one person goes that way it just makes it easier for others to follow suit.  I know I've said this before but here it goes again, if you cannot ride the trail, suck it up, walk your bike over the obstacle and carry on. How are you going to know your making any progress as a rider if you continue to cut corners. Here is an appropriate picture that has been making the rounds on FB lately.

I could blame this behavior on all kinds of things but I won't. In the end we all have to take responsibility of the land we ride and actually give a shit once and awhile. If we don't then the trails are going to continue to decline and with that the experience and pure joy some of us get by using them. Please enjoy the trails, just do so responsibly.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Trail Tales

Its been an interesting and busy month in the park. Most of the 5k's and half marathons have wrapped up until fall. The Quick n Dirty summer mountain bike racing series has come to an end and the oppressive California heat has started to settle in. I have also launched the SDRP Mountain Bike Patrol and have trained 12 patrollers. Since I a haven't written in here in awhile I decided it was high time for some stories from the trail.

For the most part I don't run into many issues on the trail. Most people come out to the park enjoy the outdoors, go for a hike, a run or a bike ride then go on about there day content. A chosen few seem to have other plans. Usually the culprit of most of my encounters on the trails are those visitors that come to the park with their four legged friends. I've heard it a thousand times, my dog is the best behaved dog in the world, it's an open space park right, he stays by my side the whole time, he's a hunting dog, whatever the reason the rule still states that "Dogs must be on trail and leashed at all times."

That brings me to my first tale or should I say tail. One afternoon I was out on foot patrol on one of the parks more popular trails with people with dogs. It's proximity to the community just plain makes it easy for people to take their dogs for a walk after work and I think that's great as long as they are leashed. I was walking towards one of the parks kiosks when I noticed what I thought were two dogs off leash running on the trail. I started to approach the owner and when I got closer I noticed that these were not dogs and in fact the were goats. I called the owner over and explained to him that he needed his goats on a leash in the park. His first answer was "I heard that hoofed animals don't need to be leashed." not sure where he got that from but it is sadly not true. I told him that in this park you do. His second statement was that "They are very obedient and would never go off trail."  I continued to tell him that for the safety of his animals and other trail users I would need to insist that he now put his goats on a leash. No sooner had I said that, another user was making their way down the trail towards us, as soon as those goats saw him they took off down the trail right at him scaring the living daylights out of him. The whole scene was comical and unfortunate at the same time. I turned to the gentleman and said "That's exactly why I need you to put your goats on a leash." After apologizing to the other trail user he did.

Occasionally I get calls on lost pets, more than likely because there animal was not on a leash and their well-trained dog took off on them. This a however was a strange call. I received a call about a small dog that was stuck in a porta poty in one of our staging areas. My first thought was man this is gonna be nasty. All I could picture was a little dog stuck in the porta poty covered with blue dye (referring to the blue liquid they use in most porta poty)  and who knows what else. I prepared for the worst, latex gloves, baggies and a couple towels. I gathered all the gear and headed out to rescue this porta pooch, all the while the B52's song Quiche Loraine played in my head, "has anybody seen a dog dyed bright green?" or blue. When I got there the door was closed and I approached with caution again expecting the worst case scenario. I opened the door to find a little Chihuahua snarling and heading straight for me. I quickly shut the door. "Thank god it was not in the actual toilet." I got a little water for him and put that and a towel inside and proceeded to call animal control. After a little while they showed up to rescue him and all was good in the world.

Some people think it's perfectly fine to camp in the park. It is an open space preserve and we do have plenty of space. But not for camping! Usually I spot the camp, talk with the people, then they pack up and move on. One lady in particular decided she was gonna stay and stay she did for almost two years. The first time I meet her was on the trail as she was setting up her "camp", this loose term describes the rock wall and tarp she was using to live in. When I approached her to introduce myself and ask her what she was doing I was meet with fury and venom. While she stood about 5'4" and weighed about 110 lbs the language and hate that she spewed towards me would have made a sailor pause. That was enough for me and SDPD was called. They arrived talked with her for awhile and she decided to move on. End of story right? No sir, a couple months later while on patrol I passed by the (at the time) newly constructed bike bridge path over Lake Hodges and noticed the smell of a campfire. I went underneath the bridge to investigate only to find the same lady ready to do battle. I tried to explain the reason she could not live underneath the bridge or anywhere in the park (one big reason was the fact that she had an open non-contained fire) and again she would have none of it. I departed and SDPD arrived this time she was taken away.

This sad saga played out off and on for months, different Rangers had dealt with her and all refused to do so again because of her demeanor towards them. One time I went to try and talk to her and was attacked with a random cup filled with liquid (you do the math) that was thrown at me. If it were not for my ninja like skills she would have connected. Push finally came to shove and I was again tasked with "fixing" the problem. The plan was I would go one last time, try and talk to her and see if I could maybe get her some help, if not at least inform her that she again was illegally trespassing, she could not stay there and the we the SDRP were going to block off the access to underneath the bridge to stop anyone trespassing. When I started to talk with her she now insisted that I didn't work for the SDRP that in fact I worked for the Wild Animal Park so I had no jurisdiction. I told her that was not the case and that I had talked with her many times before. This lead to the most vicious attack yet. As she started to come out from under the bridge swear words a blazing she decided to step it up a notch and hurled whatever rocks she could find at me, (most were softball size and bigger). She also made it very clear to me that her son lived not to far away and when she told him of me he would "Kill me and bury me in a shallow grave!" I retreated to my park vehicle as she continued the verbal and physical assaulthitting the vehicle before I got out of there.

SDPD was called, this time charges were pressed and off to jail she went. I immediately got on the phone with the fence contractor and they built a cage underneath the bridge to stop any further incursions. So far this has worked and from my knowledge we don't have anyone else living in the park. I do however still see this lady from time to time on the outskirts of the preserve and if you ride the trails you probably have too. All I was trying to do was my job which included trying to help this person, unfortunately not everyone can be helped or even want to be helped.

I would never give this job up, for me it's a way of life and a passion but not all days at the office are fun and games. Some days are just truly bizarre!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

International Mountain Bike Association's Regional Trail Summit 2013

I left Thursday afternoon from North County Escondido bound for one of my favorite places, Idyllwild for the International Mountain Bike Associations regional trail summit. I pulled in to town center and checked into my cabin at the IdyllwildInn. It's a cozy little cabin with a lot history. The place is covered with peoples names etched into the wooden walls that have stayed there, the oldest I found was a couple from 1968. I did add my own before I left.

 After a brief rest and stocking up on groceries for the weekend I made my way over to The Hub Cyclery to get the 411. The plan was to ride and have dinner then rest up for the next day. Fuzzy from Niner was just pulling in so Brendan and I decided to wait and hammer with him. Always good to ride with those guys, it was a tough one but hella fun. The night ended at CafĂ© Aroma eating Gnocchi in the back room, mm, mm good.

Number 9
What follows is my brief overview of the summit itself, no names have been changed because no one is innocent. A lot of the information given out at the summit can be found on IMBA's website in more detail.

Friday-1st day of the summit.

Those that had not arrived the night before started to slowly filter into town throughout the day. Meanwhile Brendan, Fuzzy and Jason from Shimano decided it was time for some Niner product testing. We all took some Niner RDO Rip9's out and hitched onto a shuttle up to South Ridge trail for some tasty downhill action. Those bikes handled like a dream while I don't think I would ever own one(unless someone gave it to me) I can easily say it was one of the best full suspension rigs I have ridden yet. Nothing seemed too big for it and the power out of the saddle when climbing was excellent. 
Registration and group rides- Registration went quickly and group rides were loosely formed and poorly organized on the IMBA's side of things. A couple of good rides were organized on the fly with help from Brendan at The Hub Cyclery. The ride Brendan and I took out was 20 deep, they all had a great time and they all made it back together. 

The Hub System
Saturday-2nd day of the summit, time to hit the books.

The summit officially kicked off with a nice breakfast put on by the Idyllwild town hall followed by introductions that were held in the basement(kids classroom) of said town hall. Apparently there was a jazzercise class still going on in the main hall. Still it was kinda funny seeing a bunch of grown men and women sitting in tiny plastic chairs. Lots of mtb clubs, a couple of land managers a few concerned citizens and one local "trail gardener" were on hand.
Class is in.

The first workshop was a simplified version of the IMBA's trail solutions plan and dealt with the costs of trail planning, effective trail planning and the benefits of trail systems to the public. When asked about how much it would be to use IMBA's trail care crews to create these trail plans the first answer was "It depends" but the simplest figure was between $500-$700 initially. There was a lot of other costs involved to inflate that number and I came away with no clear picture on costs involved with using IMBA's crews.

Second workshop dealt with what areas the IMBA'S governmental arm deals with. Policy, land management, trail management and trail advocacy. Discussions on PCT usage in sections were talked about in their Long Live Long Rides Project. It ended with one slide explaining how to deal with land managers. Ha! It could have and should have gone into a little more detail when it came to this area as most of the clubs in attendance will be dealing with land managers and local agencies as opposed to the federal government directly.

Brief lunch from Idyllwild Pizza and a chance run in with Jim from Central Coast brewing. After a glass of Catch 23 an excellent Black Rye IPA I was ready for round two.

Third workshop focused on collaborative problem solving between trail advocacy groups and land management aka common sense 101. Good info to use that most don't.

Fourth workshop talked about the IMBA mapping program, the MTB Project. An overall trail mapping initiative. This will give users access to trail maps online and with phone apps. What this will do to local bike shops is unclear since this application kind of cuts them out of the picture. If it were not for Brendan from The Hub Cyclery I would not know half the trails I do in Idyllwild and there have been many other occasions in other cities where bike shops are the go to source for local trails. Of course the app will only list "designated" trails, and some of the follow up questions brought up concerns on just how and who will determine this "designation".

The final workshop of the day was grant writing. Basic "do's and don'ts" when it comes to writing an effective grant proposal as well as where to find said grants. Again good information to know and have for the up and coming trail advocate.

Rides were organized afterwards and fun was had by all. Found out later that some who went on rides got left on the trail, fortunately locals were on hand to guide them back.

The evening culminated in a BBQ and raffle at local eatery Jo-Ann's. The food was solid and the raffle was full of decent swag. Crowning moment was watching the locals karaoke. Elvis was spotted alive and well in Idyllwild.
Raffle time! 

Sunday-Final day of the summit.

No breakfast for me apparently when they said on the summit schedule breakfast at the town hall like the previous day they actually meant somewhere completely different. Missed the memo.

We start with a workshop on how to create a bike park and the management involved. IMBA has a very pragmatic view on the creation of bike parks, not as easy as it would seem. Bottom line get your ducks in a row before you approach an agency with an idea like this.

The final workshop of the summit was on high school mountain biking and why it's a good benefit to local advocacy groups. Program runs thru NICA National Interscholastic Cycling Association that provides grants and guidance to the affiliated leagues. They are not purely race based but more of a high school sport youth development program. All of that translates to trail advocates in the making. Wish they would have had these when I was a kid.  Man they got it good these days.

At the end Patrick Kell from the IMBA presented the Idyllwild Cycling Club with 500 dollars, part of the proceeds from the previous night's raffle. Kind gesture to be sure.

Overall it was a very informative weekend and I got to meet a lot of really good people with some really great ideas on how to progress mountain biking and trail advocacy in the future. I want to give a huge THANK YOU for the kind gesture that was afforded to me by the San Diego Mountain Bike Association. They will be graciously donating 500 dollars to the San Dieguito River Park's Mountain Bike Patrol from some of the proceeds generated from the Archipelago Ride held last April that was supported by the SDRP. It's partnerships and summits like these that will make it easier on upcoming generations of mountain bikers to continue to enjoy the trails we all hold so dearly.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Urge Endur-o-Matic helmet review.

I been getting a lot of questions about the helmet I've been wearing lately out on the trail so hear it is. I happened upon the Urge Endur-o-Matic helmet back in February while working on the Quick n Dirty XC race that I was helping put on in the park. I spotted a friend of mine on the trail sporting it during a pre-ride and was immediately drawn to it. I had been looking at alternative styles of helmets for a while and this one seemed to fit the bill nicely. It has a retro look to it that reminds you of the old school moto helmets, the kind from the Evil Knievel/ Easy Rider days. Look wise I was intrigued, but how would it work.

The nuts and bolts.
It has 8 round vents (30mm diameter) that are positioned in order to create a Venturi effect and the air flow is regulated by internal channels. The weight of the visor is close to 0 grams and its material is flexible, which helps prevent injuries in the event of a crash. Its design contributes to create the internal Venturi effect by guiding air into the vents. As good as that sounds I still had reservations but after 4 months of riding with the helmet it makes sense and really does provide the air flow need to cool your melon down.

Comfort is guaranteed by soft, removable and washable pads. The frontal pad features a very simple and unique innovation: the «Gangsta pad» Passing just under the mould (around15MM) and being in contact with the air while riding, this part of the pad remains dry and absorbs sweat. This is one of the areas the hype falls short. The pads are soft and comfortable and makes the helmet sit nice and snug on the head. This system has no tension mechanism so the various pad sizes help you tune the fit and stays on your head amazingly well. The “Gangsta pad” does adsorb sweat but not to the point that the pad remains dry and I found sweat in my eyes on many rides. I ended up wearing a Halo Headsweat band to control that issue. Works like a charm.
The helmet itself is an in mould one piece design that weighs in at 319g and is extremely durable. I have to admit I did go OTB a couple of months ago and hit my head on a nice well positioned pointed rock. The helmet had a small scuff on it and the visor stayed in place with no harm done. That crash with a traditional helmet would have saved me yes but also would have sent me back to my local bike store for a replacement. Like I said extremely durable. The back of the helmet also extends down past temporal lobe of the skull giving you added protection in that area as well.

The price on these babies are right around a hundred bucks and the color combinations are many and unique.

The Ride.

The ride is great! The weight and vent system make it feel like there is nothing there but the wind blowing threw your hair. I've been on all sorts of terrain and it stays put regardless of the lack of retention system, and the knowledge that the material it’s made of is near bullet proof provides me with great comfort while bombing down the trails. Be forewarned though you may get some people that just don’t understand the benefits of this helmet and will seek to ridicule you on looks alone, but don’t worry too much about that you can take comfort in the fact that you are protected. It’s a small price to pay to be on the cutting edge.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Herding cats

Its been a little over three years now since I helped author the program to allow events to take place within the boundaries of the San Dieguito River Park and man what a roller coaster it has been. While I do admit that in the beginning it was more a way of generating monies for the park that had been taken away by the City's budget issues than anything else, it has grown into much more than just that. I feel that I have been able to create a small but unstable bridge between the meeting the parks goals and the needs and wants of an ever expanding community of riders and runners. But it's not without it's issues.

I like the fact that I can help people come together in a natural setting by holding events, I like participating in events, I like sharing what I think is a great resource (the river park) and I like the joy that the events bring to all the people attending them. But what I don't like are some of the underlying attitudes that come with them.

These attitudes manifest themselves in different ways, some seem to think its OK to tell you one thing then do another.  The old adage of "It's better to beg forgiveness than ask permission." happens too often to ignore. In actuality it only makes it harder for the next guy to hold an event.

Some seem to think it's OK to change features within the park or open space to accommodate what they perceive are lesser skilled individuals. They sanitize the trail by taking out rocks and other features or haphazardly fill in areas they deem to be problems, again without asking permission from the land owner. Now they have not only made it harder on the next guy to hold an event but they have also managed to make it less enjoyable for all those people that frequent the area on a regular basis. More times than not this renegade trail work actually makes things more dangerous.

Others seem to forget who and where they are. They obliviously believe that the money they spent to participate in the event and the mere fact that they're part of an "official" function gives them the permission to run roughshod over the land and not feel bad about it later.   

Like I said I love being able to do events, but when I see the blatant disregard for the environment it causes me to pause and question my motives. This is where I and others work and play, I have dedicated countless hours to try and make everyone's experience an enjoyable one, and most importantly I am trying to preserve and enhance that experience for generations to come. I know my situation is not a new or unique one, I see other areas dealing with the same issues.

Merriam defines an "advocate" as a person who upholds and defends a cause, to speak, plead or argue in favor of. I consider myself to be both an advocate of the natural resources of the park and the trails that reside within, as well as for the enjoyment of said park by both the individual and the masses. It would be a lot easier to be one side of the fence or the other, but for me I believe it's crucial to walk down the middle of the fence and chance having the proverbial shoe thrown at me by a mean ol' man. Play by the rules and I'll be right there with you if anything should happen, side step them or ignore them and nobody wins. Hopefully with education and patience we can continue to walk this road together because I don't even want to think about the flip side.

I want to thank everyone I have met and worked with over the years that have made these events so successful and to all the support for the San Dieguito River Park shown by so many people. Thank you and keep up the good work. See everyone on the trails.