Josh Brandt
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An inspiring community event that celebrates and benefits Santa Cruz County trails

Anyone enjoying trails in Santa Cruz County should get themselves familiar with Mountain Bikers of Santa Cruz — a non-profit advocacy group that works tirelessly to maintain and build multi-use trails in the area. You don’t need to be a mountain biker to get involved. This past weekend, I went to my fist MBOSC event and as someone who is not yet a mountain biker, I felt like there was a strong sense of community amongst trail users of all types.

The first annual Trail Vision Awards took place this past Friday and it was an instant success. Similar to other successful grassroots events, the Trail Vision Awards started with a great idea and a lot of community support. With only two-months notice, Mountain Bikers of Santa Cruz and Bicycle Trip announced the photo/video awards evening and pulled off an inspiring celebration of our trails and talented outdoor community.

The idea for this event came about when MBOSC’s Community Outreach Manager Emma Ussat was in Bellingham, Washington and saw their local club’s similar event, Shoot the Trails, and thought “Why not do that in Santa Cruz?!” With all the local photographers, videographers, and photogenic scenery, she knew it would be a hit. And she was right.

Teaming up with Bicycle Trip made it possible to get the celebration started early with live music, free beer, a food truck and bike valet just a few short blocks from the venue. Mike Moore of Bicycle Trip said, “We couldn’t be happier with how things went and we are already making plans for next year.”

Over four-hundred and fifty outdoor enthusiasts came together to enjoy submissions from different trail users, including mountain bikers, hikers, runners, mushroom foragers, horseback riders, and more. In addition to fun photos and videos, there was beer provided by Fort Point Brewing and an exciting raffle featuring a Specialized Stumpjumper Comp Carbon Bike.

Photo by Katy Poniatowski

The event raised over $8,000, which will be used for upcoming trail projects – all multi-use, for everyone to enjoy. “It will be great to put the funds raised from an event celebrating trails towards creating more trails for everyone to enjoy,” Ussat enthuses.

Over 100 photos and videos were submitted this year, in both biking and non-biking categories. One might wonder what a non-bike category was doing at an event hosted by MBOSC and Bicycle trip. The reason for it was inclusivity. Emma Ussat of MBOSC said, “Cyclists realize that we are not the sole users of trails, which is the great thing about our parks. They are a shared place of solace, peace, comfort, beauty, recreation, and more to many. The trails bring people together.”

Even the sponsorship for the event was a show of diversity and inclusion. The event received the support of 22 sponsors, including 12 new MBOSC sponsors — Santa Cruz Track Club and Fleet Feet, and the Santa Cruz County Horseman’s Association were among the non-bike sponsors excited to be a part of this inaugural event.

Every photo and video was displayed on the big screen, giving the audience a chance to take in the beauty portrayed in each image, ranging from bikes silhouetted in front of sunsets to forest trails blanketed in fog. There was also a People’s Choice category, so everyone got a chance to vote for their favorite images and videos.

Some submissions for the biking category featured bikes kicking up dust and doing wheelies. The non-biking category included bobcats, a trail maintenance crew, and an awesome video of a youth cross country team training titled “Run.”  The kids all went on stage when they won the non-bike video category!

Untitled image with fog and trees by Isaac Wallen won the best non-bike photo.

Curious Bobcat by Jenni Peters won People’s Choice best non-bike photo.

The kids all went on stage when they won the non-bike video category for the cross country team training video called “Run.” Click below to watch the video.

If you missed the Trail Vision Awards, not to fret! The Bicycle Trip in Santa Cruz will be hosting a “Best of” screening in the beginning of February, where you can get another look at select entries. Stay tuned for updates.