Tag: motherlode bicycle coalition

Advocacy. Bikes. Community. Our New Tagline and a Renewed Purpose

WHEN we formed California Alps Cycling in 2017 the reason for doing so was a simple one: how do we share the beauty, diversity and amazing outdoor opportunities this area has to offer?

I had always enjoyed writing. I’ve practiced it since elementary school, thanks to Mom; and got another dose of “scrivinerspiration” a bit later in life, in junior high, thanks to Mrs. Giacomazzi. Working in the legal field my entire adult life also helped stoke the bug. I still chuckle today at the memory of one particular teacher at Lincoln Law School (I only did a year), Judge James Ware, who in our first class together urged us to write like normal people, without too many heretofores and whereafters. LOL.

SO that monkey had been on my back for awhile, and I had been wanting to start a blog, so the idea of this blog came to mind.

clear light bulb on black surface

THAT idea further coalesced when my wife and I had a conversation on our way to Gardnerville (Nevada) for a doctor’s appointment.

While she was in that appointment I took the first step and reserved the California Alps Cycling URL.

SINCE then I’ve ridden thousands of miles here in our beloved Alpine county and written thousands of words here in the CAC blog.

WE’VE done many days of adoptin‘ and many weekend clean-ups. I’ve spent many weeknights and weekends volunteering (and the associated off-line hours that comes with that) on various boards and committees while at the same time not really understanding the direction I was truly headed.

I guess you could say I was conflicted, or rudderless perhaps is a better description. Not seeing the sign(s), maybe, not paying attention to what the universe was trying to tell me; thinking at one point that I might open a shop, or run tours. Wait, still willing to do that. Now or when I retire. πŸ˜‰

photo of pathway surrounded by fir trees

EARLY on I also had dreams of perhaps making a living selling really cool, Alps-branded gear. I still sell the gear but I’ve come to realize it’s about the brand, it’s been about the brand, and not necessarly the CAC brand, but the alps brand, the alpine brand, the Sierra Nevada brand, the giving-back-to-the-community-and-surrounds brand.

I’M fortunate enough to have a great employer that among other things, promotes work-life balance. It’s because of my job, I often remind myself, that I can continue to give back to this place that has such a special aura.

LIKE I wrote in my last post, this place needs our help and that help comes from many sources.

Looking west towards Poor Boy Road from Hwy. 89. cleared and many burned ones still standing. Photo taken this past spring.

BTW, when I write “this place” I’m referring to the Sierra Nevada, and not just to the east slope of the Sierra, but the west slope too. And the foothills, which run for hundreds of miles on that west slope, the portion of which just west of us here coincidentally, is known as the “Motherlode.”

Motherlode Bicycle Coaltion

IT was my recent interactions with Rob Williams, Ben Cook and Todd Berg, board members of MLBC, that truly got those turbines to turn, if you will. Rob (Motherlode’s founder) and I have worked together on the District 10 Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC) this past year and we’ve had many conversations around events like the Deathride, Mr. Frog’s Wilde Ride and the Ride & Walk 4 Art. Riding bikes, grandkids (his), cats (mine), Markleeville, e-Bikes, gravel riding, and other subjects have been bantied about, too.

AND so it was I found myself talking to Ben and Todd a couple weeks ago while I was in San Jose on a business trip. “Rob said you may be interested in joining our board”, said Ben. That took me a bit by surprise because I had told Rob I’d be willing to get involved. But hey, when you raise your hand and volunteer…

WE three (Ben, Todd and I) hit it off, though, and an invite to Motherlode’s Vision Session would be forthcoming. They held that “vision quest”, as I called it, just last Tuesday. I’d just come from another community meeting, after an arduous workday, and was a bit worn out. I joined virtually, as did a few others, but the majority of the group went to Carl’s house in Columbia. It didn’t take long for the energy in the room to consume me, and the rest of the group.

PART of the meeting outcome was the concept of combining forces, as it were, by bringing Alpine County and the central Sierra into what Motherlode had already begun. Joining the “foothill fold” made so much sense and I was stoked to be able to be a part of something that we all hoped would have some serious legs.

NOW it’s not quite that simple. IT never is. It’s going to take some work (including my assigned homework). It always does.

IN my mind, though, I just saw THE SIGN.

WE (California Alps Cycling) needed to focus our energy differently. We needed to be, not just act like, a coalition. We needed to continue to build on what we had started even though until then we didn’t realize what that was. We needed to be that advocacy-focused, community-oriented, education-friendly organization that our Prana was telling us to be.

SO, as we continue to navigate away from that original retail model to something more like (maybe exactly like) a non-profit model, we’ll be changing things around a bit. A new look for our website, edits to some of our pages; an updated mission. All of these I suspect, and more.

MAYBE even a – gasp! – board of directors.

WHAT started as a getting-to-know-each-other conversation between my wife and I, at the home of two skeptical individuals who both later became friends, Fritz and Nancy Thornburg, has years later come into laser-focus. Now it’s up to us to execute.

WE’LL look to you dear readers, and local riders, and upstanding friends, and friendly advisors, and especially you conscientious contributers, to remind us of that from time to time.

Ps.

We’ll try not to be patronizing or preachy, and if we already have, for that we apologize. We also promise to continue writing about the groovy things that happen around here (and the not so groovy), as well as things to do, see and hear while you’re here, because without you we’d run out of volunteers. πŸ˜‰

Lastly, just because “cycling” is in our name, that doesn’t mean we’re only about bikes. We promise to advocate for all responsible outdoor recreationists, especially you friendly OHVers who often look at Chris and me in confusion, yet frequently ask if we need anything, when you see us riding our gravel bikes where you drive your toys. Drive on, drivers!

How Can You Support Cycling in the California Alps? – Here Are Five Ways!

THE California Alps comprise the chunk of the Sierra Nevada from Mammoth to So. Lake Tahoe, at least that’s what I remember reading early on in our “tenure” here in Markleeville. However, in my Google search just today I found instead at least two (2) articles that pinpoint it more specifically to our headquarters here in Alpine County.

ELIZABETH Zach, of Sacramento Magazine wrote this in March of 2018:

But the so-called California Alps, which border stunning Hope Valley south of Lake Tahoe, are just as stupendous, and you won’t break the bank getting there, either. With just two people per square mile, and with 96 percent of the land set aside for public use, Alpine County has bragging rights to secluded lakes, killer peaks, grassy valleys and hiking amid steep canyons and through lush forests.

THAT’S definitely true, that “secluded lakes, killer peaks, etc.” part. What Ms. Zach neglects to mention though, is the world-class riding to be had amidst these dramatic settings.

That’s me next to one of those secluded lakes (Kinney Reservoir) which was still frozen over, as you can see, in the spring of 2020.

ALPINE County earned its moniker, per Wikipedia, “due to its resemblance to the Swiss Alps.” Let’s keep in mind though, that the Washoe People were here thousands of years before white settlers did that naming.

WHILE “Cycling” is our last name, we’re not just about road cycling. We’re about anything bike related, and as you may have noticed from of our previous posts, we’re also about hiking, birding, snowshoeing and more.

FOR the purposes of this post then I’ll focus primarly on our stomping grounds in and around Markleeville, yet in my mind the following suggestions translate well to other communities, other non-profits (and “profits” if you will) and other sports, too.

Numero Uno – Advocate and Represent

BE a part of the community. Represent bike riders and bike riding. Respect nature and your neighbors. Our mission speaks to our mission yet if I may be so bold, these principles apply worldwide.

  • Spread the gospel of cycling (all types of cycling).
  • Advocate for cycling and the outdoors.
  • Help the communities in which we live, work and ride.
  • Kick ass on the bike. Let me clarify…I’m talking riding with passion while honoring the sport of cycling, not riding like a knucklehead, breaking the law or being an aggressive a’hole.
  • Have fun off the bike. Yeah, have fun on the bike, too.
  • Provide helpful, timely and valuable information about where to ride, eat, sleep and adventure.
  • Be kind, compassionate and environmentally friendly. ALWAYS.

Numero Dos – Support Local/Area Infrastructure

SPEND your money at local establishments (that ol’ shop local) when you’re in the area. Stop by that general store – sadly, ours is still closed due to repairs and re-stocking problems because of the Tamarack Fire and pandemic related supply chain issues, but should open soon – eat at that local pub or sandwich shop or grab an espresso at the local cafe.

We “own” and clean a three-mile stretch of Highway 89 between Turtle Rock Park and Camp Markleeville, and have for several years now.

Coincidentally, Alta Alpina Cycling Club “owns” one of the other sections on the highway, right next to ours.

How about you? Do you participate in local clean-ups, Earth Days and the like? If so, big kudos. If you don’t, or haven’t yet, please consider doing so!

Numero Tres – Join Local Cycling Clubs or Coalitions

MOTHERLODE Bicycle Coalition is one such option. Alta Alpina, link above, is another. We too, have a membership component. Dues/fees are usually very low (ours are only $40.00 annually) and those ducats help support not only the the club or organization, but also the communities around them. Most of the dues money we collect goes to the Alpine County Friends of the Library, Friends of Hope Valley, Alpine Watershed Group and others. Cycling clubs, at least those that I’m familiar with, as you may have guessed, aren’t in it for the dinero. We’re certainly not. It’s much more about “the mission.”

Numero Quatro – Partake In Local Rides

WEEKLY rides, memorial rides, organized rides; you name it. The Deathride, Mr. Frogs Wild Ride, The Mammoth Gran Fondo and America’s Most Beautiful Bike Ride are some examples of BIG, organized rides. Big Daddy’s in Gardnerville, NV, a major supporter of bike riding in and around the area, has a weekly ride. Alta Alpina also hosts regular rides.

HERE at California Alps Cycling we have yet to start any sort of regular ride. No doubt we need to, and it’s on my list. Stay tuned. I’m thinking I’ll get my act together this spring.

ARE there local rides that you can participate in; not just by riding, but by volunteering, perhaps? And if you already do partake of local pedaling, consider bringing snacks or coffee to your next ride. Maybe donate some socks, or neck-thingys, or what have you.

YOU don’t have to be on the bike to give back to biking.

Numero Cinco – Buy From Clubs and Non-Profits

including ours! Admittedly, I’ve had a hard time moving my merch and based on what I’ve seen and heard from other organizations, I’m not the only one. The profit-margin on tees, jerseys, bibs and the like is low and pricing sometimes reflects that (a little higher than non-branded stuff) and so I think that scares some people off.

WE didn’t do our kits and tees to make money; it was/is about brand recognition and area awareness/advocacy. I started CAC for that reason: to make people aware of the beauty, diversity and all around great riding in the area. I’m definitely not in it for the money. Still, my accountant regulary reminds me that I don’t need to take a loss every year either. So far, however, that’s been my modus operandi. No profit here.

Maybe after I retire from that day job I can fulfill my BHAG (big hairy audacious goal) of making money by riding, perhaps by providing tours and such.

IN the meantime, if you have some disposable income, we’d love it if you’d give us some. It’s a win-win.

WE can continue to give back to our alpine community and you can get some cool gear.

THERE’S a link to our online store in our menu above or you can just click here and head right on in!

So There You Have It

FIVE (5) suggestions as to how to give back to the places where you live, work and ride.

Comment on this post with your thoughts, and if you are already doing something towards this end, tell us and we’ll send you a tee!

It’s a write-off you know. πŸ˜‰