In the last few years I have observed and experienced an increasing trend in mountain biking. Maybe I am an old grouch, but it bothers me how it has become this holy grail of mountain biking contribution.
When I say contribution, I’m talking giving back. Go to any forum these days and you will see the same endless dogma that you must attend meetings or trails days. If you don’t do either then you’re told to basically shut up and be silent. If you dare question it some how becomes a personal attack. This is the wrong attitude to have at all as this does not encourage riders to do anything else other than ride. Let’s face reality, for me if I want that type of talk I’ll go to work more because I will at least receive a pay cheque for it.
In a perfect riding world there would be multiple trail days and everyone could do that as well as attend meetings. But reality is that not everyone can go to meetings or do trail days. Lack of time, family, and who knows what else gets in the way. Some riders are great at speaking at public meetings while their buddy can organize a trail repair crew and work day no problem. Sure I understand that the trail day where a large group shows up is important, but using that as the standard for contribution is poor. It is easy to put on a show that everyone else sees, but in reality this is a small window on giving back or contributing.
If we as a group expand our idea of contributing more opportunities open up. My buddy Marshall has never done a trail day or attended a meeting. But he is the guy everyone know’s who organizes the weekend group rides and does the post ride BBQ’s at the DJ’s.
Not everyone has the patience to attend meetings while navigating government bureaucracy. I know I sure don’t, but I know people who can. They are good at it, yet there are others out there who you will never see at a trail day yet you will see their contribution appear. Those trail sections with overgrowth and low branches trimmed back may be the only sign. Go ahead, be the guy who organizes group rides or carries hand clippers and a folding pruning saw. Because all that matters is did you do something.