The sign of a healthy club sometimes comes from a very funny story. The Northeast Tennessee Mountain Bike Association has one such tale. It involves two guys in jeans on rigid bikes, cigarettes, no helmets, and NTMBA’s Bike at Bays event. To make a long story short, the two guys were the highlight of the day riding demo bikes(w/ helmets) and making a lot of new friends. It’s a great example of how socially-minded events can be the most powerful tool for a club.
There are a lot of good mountain bike clubs. And then there are some great ones. These clubs are not necessarily large in number; they just have that secret ingredient that makes them successful. The secret ingredient? F-U-N. Great clubs do this well. Sure, they spend much of time their working with decision makers and building trails, but they also spend some time perfecting their social skills. It’s always good to know what your fellow mountain biker looks like without a helmet and sunglasses or a Pulaski in her hand. This balance of physical, political, and social is what we call the Triangle of Advocacy.
In the last couple of years NTMBA, the local advocacy group in the Tri-Cities area (Bristol TN/VA, Kingsport, TN and Johnson City, TN), has been working hard to bolster their own triangle. In an effort to provide more trail based recreation in the area, they have built great relationships with local leaders in the surrounding communities and have provided knowledge and labor as educated trailbuilders and land stewards. Fortunately, their contributions don’t end there. To balance and compliment their sweat equity and political will, NTMBA has executed some great events.
Our Trial Care Crew visit was another successful weekend for the NTMBA. We had the privilege of working with the City of Bristol Parks and Recreation, the staff at Steele Creek Park, and an enthusiastic group of outdoor volunteers. The group of 20+ patiently sat through our morning education session before venturing out into the park on a beautiful spring afternoon. There, we put our heads down and worked diligently to re-route a 500’ section of flat, perennially muddy section of legacy trail. By the end of the day we had returned the old segment to its native bottomland and opened a fun and sustainable new line in the forest above.
The enjoyable day didn’t end there. Most of us reconvened later to enjoy some smoked meats and fizzy drinks (essential to most club functions). To add to the evening, we set up an outdoor theatre and cued up ‘Freedom Riders’, a movie that speaks to the power of clubs and what they can accomplish as a cohesive group. One unified voice always speaks louder than a crowd and it seemed fitting that we would enjoy such a film with a group who has mastered this well.
With big things on the horizon, NTMBA is poised to make a very positive impact for mountain biking in this part of Tennessee.
Many Thanks to:
Northeast Tennesse Mountain Bike Association, Steele Creek Park, Bristol, TN Parks and Recreation, all the volunteers that helped on Saturday, Courtyard by Marriott in Bristol, VA for donating our room, Texas Roadhouse for donating some tasty food.
More photos from the weekend: