Sep 15

Coe MTB patrol discussion

A couple of years ago we had the Lick Fire and I tried to make an MTB Fire Survey Patrol program so we could ride in the burn zone while it was still closed. We did manage to form up something and do some rides, discover new trails, and have fun, but the program was really a dud. I admit it. Still, it was a new thing to try.

Now we are facing a possible closure of the park. I doubt it will close. If it does close, it would be good to be part of a patrol program so you can be in there legitimately, and not run when you see Cameron coming around the bend. It is a fact, in my mind, that the mountain bikers of Coe know the park best, and visit the nooks and crannies more often and with better understanding, than the other user groups, as a whole. We’ve been patrolling the park for years.

You may know that I have been doing trailwork hodge-podge in park for a decade, leading groups in this and that, that I’ve been working with the trail committee, and now serve on the PRA board, and am now in training for the newly revamped uniformed volunteer program. I like Coe so much, I am willing to suffer all of that. And now more.

I’ve sent to most of you (let me know if you think you missed something) a list of the requirements for an MTB Patroller in Coe. This is not an IMBA program. It is not that I have anything against IMBA. From a practical stance, if we do the minimum that the park staff and volunteer committee expect from us, that that is more than enough. I do not wish to complicate this anymore than it already is. Capiche?

The park wants an mtb patrol for the practical reasons, and political ones too. It will help the cause of riding in the park to have an active mtb patrol. From a rider’s POV, you just ride where you would normally, and report on it, as briefly as possible. I would expect you to edit the proceedings for public and park staff consumption. Capiche?

There are some forms you will have to fill out (some of us have them from the Fire Survey Crew days on file still). These are the DPR forms such as the volunteer service agreement, release to allow your image in publications (in case of photo/video), statement of fitness, etc. I will send these to you in attachment on an email if you confirm that you are interested.

This paperwork is essential, and I really need to get it on file as soon as I can (before the park closes). So if you decide you really would like to participate let me know if I can take you seriously on this. I need committment.

The committment is for 50 hours. That would include every minute of ride-time in Coe that you log as a patroller plus every minute of trailwork, event support, and even at home planning or rehashing of patrol related activity. Plus the training day(s) time is part of it too.

I propose to have the MTB Patrol training/certification day on Saturday Dec. 12, 2009, at 9am. This is the next 2nd Saturday trail work. I have cancelled 2nd Saturday trailwork until then, because of the uniformed volunteer training I am currently doing that conflicts with 2nd Saturdays. I would do this day rain or shine, and will likely propose that we meet at the Kickham Ranch (location if you are not familiar will be explained later) so we can do the stuff indoors, and bike riding in an open barn (derby!) if the weather turns out to be atrocious.

You need to let me know of you can do Dec. 12.

A main point of training is the use of the radio and assigning IDs to operators. This needs to be done by either Verhoeven or the authorized volunteer who does radio training. I’ll need to get that person to come to the Dec. 12 yet.

In my mind there is an urgency to get this done now in case the park closes. If it closes it would close Jan 1, probably. Then if we have the patrol in place, we can roll. If it doesn’t close, we can still have fun patrolling.

For now, all I want to do is get some commitments, and move forward with these people.

I find myself responsible with the unenviable task to develop the “Coe MTB patrol handbook” of sorts by tomorrow evening. I haven’t started it yet, but I can tell you it will be brief. In truth, I believe (it or not!) that the less said the better. It will be mostly to satisfy the people who do not ride mountain bikes. Your suggestions if any will be seriously taken into consideration.

Some of you got the draft of the general patrol requirements that repeated 3 times that the patroller needs to know which trails bikes and horse are not allowed on and that bikes are not allowed in the wilderness. Don’t let that rile you up. Of course you know the score. Capiche?

Also, there will be no requirement to notify a week in advance for patrol activity. This notion has been repealed by popular vote. A patroller can spontaneously visit the park and log the observations.

There exists a website that patrollers will log their service hours into. This is a website that the Uniformed Coe volunteers use to log hours. That will also be a task and part of the training. I do not use this appliance yet myself, and still need to learn about it.

The original fire survey crew members are the genesis of this patrol. The Senior Ranger and Supervising Ranger want us grandfathered in. I want anyone honestly interested and really motivated to be included as well, and am going to make it work. With the furlough days and daily tasks the rangers have it is a lot to ask to have them process our applications, but ask, and demand I will.

There are some of the pre-existing volunteers from the uniformed program who might be bitter about having an influx of mountain bikers. They’ll get over it. But Verhoeven has conceded to them that the mtb patrollers will have to promise that they’ll put in 2 days of the uniformed training in Sept. 2010. That is exactly a year from now, and a part of what I am doing right now, these 2nd and 3rd Saturdays of the September. That is how the uniform is earned. I hope that you can concede those days. If not, well at least you were a patroller for most of a year.

There is no bike jersey yet, and frankly I need to find some help on that. It would be good to have ready for Dec. 12. There is some design help I’ve been pledged, but ideas and directions are very welcome from you, the wearer. There is also a competing idea that a “number plate” could be used on the bike to indicate a patroller status, but I am quite sure that the Superintendent is thinking that only an official bike jersey is something that the State will accept. Name tags would probably be requested as well I think.

I am interested in your critique, contributions, complaints, rants, and constructive ideas. It is not about what I want. For the most part we are the core of the usual Coe riding community and are ideal persons to form an MTB patrol for Coe.

Related to that is the probablitly of the developement of new events for Coe revolving around mountain biking such as a 2010 fall endurance mtb event, more xc racing, and 2 backcountry weekends per year, and a Spring MTB epic weekend in 2010, which will give ample opportunities to put in patrol hours. Even racing a race in Coe would count as patrol hours. There is a change in the wind.

Well, give me what is on your mind. If you say that you would be a patroller I will send you the applications by email.

Keep in mind the Dec 12 training/certification day. Let me know if you can’t make it. I will need to make another date that will work as a make up day if enough people demand one.