Energizing Your Mountain Bike Club

You've got buddies, you've got mountain bikes, you've got beer... but how do you move from being a small group of hardcore riders to an effective mountain bike advocacy organization with an office and broad-based appeal? How do you elevate your group of cyclists into a respected community group?

Here are 10 tips from successful mountain bike club leaders:

  1. Host a regular (at least monthly) social ride. Mountain bikers want to ride first and be activists second. If your ride leaves from a standard place at a standard time, it will start to develop a following.
  2. Schedule a regular, monthly meeting. It is important to get together socially to learn names and network. When a trail advocacy crisis comes up, you will be organized and ready.
  3. Hold meetings in cool locations. Bike shops, brew pubs, bike industry warehouses, bowling alleys, even the local trailhead all make for fun places to meet. Libraries and town halls can be a buzz kill.
  4. Be positive. No one wants to be part of a group of complainers. Don't emphasize political battles or re-hash controversies at every meeting, it turns newbies off.
  5. Schwag 'em. Get a supporting shop to donate a few water bottles, patch kits, socks or tires and raffle them off at meetings or trailwork days. It sounds small but someone who wins a new tire will have a good feeling about your club for a long time.
  6. Request a visit from the IMBA Canada Trail Care Crew. Find a land manager who wants to build or maintain a section of sweet singletrack, and work with IMBA to get the crew to visit your area. Nothing brings out new members and the media like free, expert trailwork.
  7. Host a swap meet. It's cheap to rent the local Lion's Hall, and bikers love selling and buying equipment. It is a great way to publicize your club and is an effective fundraiser.
  8. Get the word out. Make sure you have information posted at all local shops about your club and upcoming events. In addition, volunteer for local races, take newspaper reporters for a ride and get your events posted to online mountain bike websites and forums.
  9. Hold a community bike tune-up. Public events such as a local fair or Farmer's Market are the perfect venue to offer $10 tune-ups. It's a great way to gain exposure and to provide a valuable service to your community.
  10. Local races. Send a group of volunteers to help at a local road or mountain bike race. Have them wear club t-shirts and hand out business cards. The racers will end up joining.