Santa Cruz mountain bikers head south to pitch in on the Pismo Preserve Trail Project
Words and photos by Bruce Dorman
There is something so magical and mesmerizing about grand ocean vistas – they have always inspired me and soothed my soul, and gazing out across a vast sparkling ocean from way up high on a bluff is the best medicine. To be invited to help with the creation of a trail system with such a grand ocean vista as Pismo Beach was a unique opportunity that I, as a trail builder and mountain biking enthusiast, could not miss.
On the weekend of February 20-21, 2016, several fellow Mountain Bikers of Santa Cruz (MBoSC) volunteer trail crew leaders and I dragged ourselves out of bed in the wee hours of Saturday morning and appropriately caffeinated ourselves for the three hour journey south to Pismo Beach to help our friends with Central Coast Concerned Mountain Bikers (CCCMB) make more headway on their latest jewel of a trail project, the Pismo Preserve Trail Project.
We were invited to help out on this project by our good friend and former MBoSC Trails Officer Drew Perkins. Drew was the designer and main driving force/project manager for the popular Emma McCrary Trail in Santa Cruz and the Soquel Demonstration State Forest’s now world famous four mile Flow Trail. Now living in Pismo Beach, Drew is employed by the project to run its excavating machine, and after only seven short weeks has seen the project amass over 3,000 volunteer hours and complete over six miles of the 11 mile system.
Seeing all the beautiful images that CCCMB had been sharing on their Facebook page in the past two months, I knew I just had to get down there before the completion of the project to experience the wonderful work they were doing. When Drew’s invitation to come down to Pismo for a weekend of building, camping and riding came along, it was a no-brainer to rally a crew of MBoSC trail work enthusiasts together to visit Drew in his new work location with the sweeping coastal views. As it turned out, CCCMB was short on crew leaders that day, so they were grateful that we came down to lend a hand.
We arrived in Pismo at 8.30am, after an inspiring drive highlighted by the rising sun filtering through the fog and mist of a beautiful Salinas valley morning. By the time we pulled in, the fog was burning off and it was shaping up to be a stellar blue sky day. After a half day working with other volunteers doing finish work on one of the upper trails, Drew took us on a hiking tour of some of the new trails. The tour took us through beautiful oak forests which opened up to the most amazing meadows with views over Pismo Beach and the Pacific ocean. The Pismo Preserve is scheduled to be opened to the public sometime later this year, and I’m sure it will quickly become a destination on the bucket list of many mountain bikers and other user groups.
Saturday evening found us relaxed and camped out near San Luis Obispo. Drew blew everyone away with his gourmet pizza making skills and homemade portable pizza oven. On Sunday we did an epic 18 mile ride at Montana De Oro State Park and were once again treated to amazing coastal vistas and fun swoopy singletrack. CCCMB has been building amazing trails around SLO for 25 years now and has a great reputation for involving all types of trail users in the creation of their trails, not just mountain bikers. It’s obvious when you ride their trails and see the way the various user groups and trail users respect and interact with each other that they are doing it right.
Based on the success of this weekend, I’m sure we will be seeing a lot more of these collaborative build/camp/ride weekends with other nearby mountain bike clubs!
Bruce Dorman began trail building in his kindergarten sandpit way back as a toddler in Melbourne, Australia. These days when he’s not riding his mountain bike or wandering through the local redwoods with his DSLR in tow, you’ll find him at almost every volunteer trail work day with MBoSC or just hanging out being a larrikin with his friends in his adopted home town of Felton.