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Don't worry, be happy!
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm looking for input and conversation on growing a club.
I know that getting mtb-ers together is like herding cats. And I think we've accomplished a whole lot in a short amount of time, considering there has been no mtb-specific club in the area before and our first meeting was in January. .Now, I think it's just a matter of keeping on getting the word out, those of us that are at the core to keep on doing what were are doing, and think positive.

I get kind of snowed looking at web sites for MORE, BBTC etc.... but then I have to remind myself that some of these clubs have been around a long time,and that we just need to give it time.

Here's what we've done since the first of the year - the glass half full view
-25 paid members, an email list of about 85
-web site http://www.fttrc.org
-one trail clean up under our belt: 18 yards of trash hauled off
-got the main city mtb trail area signed up on the city's Adopt a Park program, this means the club is approved for trail maintenance and cleanup in this park
-got the OK for a stunt building committee at same park
-we are hosting the trail care crew in August for 4 days
-one of the local state parks has asked the club to rate the trails there for mtbs
-a few folks are starting to show up on what few rides are posted
-we had a great trail maintenance workshop with our local IMBA rep.

and, then, there's the "glass half empty" view:
-not many people are posting rides to the calendar.
not many at meetings, either ( who wants to come to a meeting....)
-a lot of folks still don't know about us
-we don't have a real board, or bylaws or any of that stuff yet

So, just looking for thoughts from those that have been there and done that...

thanks,
formica
 

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Looks like a good start...

Looks like a good start...to me.

Formica,

Looks like a great start to me! I think you'll find that most clubs have a core group. The old adage that 10% of the people do 90% of the work. I've experienced it in everything from clubs to church.

Like you, I'm interested in getting our local club, Central California Off-Road Cyclists - Fresno California, to grow. While the club has been around since the 90's, it's membership has dropped. Club rides do not have the attendance they once did. I wouldn't mind exchanging ideas with you regarding club membership/activities. Email me at dmtbrider at hotmail dot com.

Daniel
 

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Don't worry, be happy!
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
DMtbRider said:
Like you, I'm interested in getting our local club, Central California Off-Road Cyclists - Fresno California, to grow. While the club has been around since the 90's, it's membership has dropped. Club rides do not have the attendance they once did. I wouldn't mind exchanging ideas with you regarding club membership/activities. Email me at dmtbrider at hotmail dot com.

Daniel
I'm going to post a reply and not email, just becuase maybe some lurker out there can use the info.

heheh, we're like 4 months old. I shouldn't be cranky at all!! But here's what has worked for us. First, we utilize as many free calendar listings as we can, in the monthly alternative/activity rags. Also, the outdoors editor of the daily newspaper does a weekly outdoors calendar and he'll list any acitivity/workshop for free. And I post regular updates of club activity to regional boards where riders from our area are.

One really good idea we got from another club in our region is having business cards with club info printed up on them. We hand small stacks of them out at meetings, and I keep the cards in my pack when riding. I'm kind of an extrovert ( understatement) and I'll talk to anyone I see with a mountain bike about the club and give them a card. It has the club name, what we do ( rides/advocacy/trail work) our website, email and phone, plus lists that we are an IMBA affiliate. The real trick, which I'm not very good at, is not to just give folks a card, but to get their email - ask them if they want to go on our list serve to get updates and info.

The ride thing to me isn't a real focus - our area has tons of informal riding groups through shops, other outdoors clubs and so on. It's certainly a componet of what we do, and for that reason I'd like it to be sucessful. The part we are emphasizing, mainly because it hasn't happened before, is the part about advocacy and trail work. This is new to our community, and really, the response has been great.

formica
 

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paintbucket
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formica said:
So, just looking for thoughts from those that have been there and done that...
You might try posting this to the women's lounge in hopes that catzilla will see it. I know she's got some insight. Personally I think you're on the right track by "adopting" a park. Now make it the best ride venue around.
 

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formica said:
I'm looking for input and conversation on growing a club.
I know that getting mtb-ers together is like herding cats. And I think we've accomplished a whole lot in a short amount of time, considering there has been no mtb-specific club in the area before and our first meeting was in January. .Now, I think it's just a matter of keeping on getting the word out, those of us that are at the core to keep on doing what were are doing, and think positive.
thanks,
formica
IMBA has some good documents on this subject. Information that they've gathered from clubs that have "been there, done that". Here's a few good ones....

Energizing Your Mountain Bike Club
Attracting and Keeping Trail Volunteers
Maximizing Your Club's Internet Presence
How To Start A Mountain Bicycling Club

And, something that makes for a good sign at a trailhead kiosk:
10 Responsible Riding Tips

Good luck.... you're off to a very good start.
JohnB
www.omba.org
 

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Don't worry, be happy!
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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
johnb said:
IMBA has some good documents on this subject. Information that they've gathered from clubs that have "been there, done that". Here's a few good ones....

Energizing Your Mountain Bike Club
Attracting and Keeping Trail Volunteers
Maximizing Your Club's Internet Presence
How To Start A Mountain Bicycling Club

And, something that makes for a good sign at a trailhead kiosk:
10 Responsible Riding Tips

Good luck.... you're off to a very good start.
JohnB
www.omba.org
Nothing against IMBA, it's a great resource. I have those and many other articles printed out and read, in my notebook. Right now I'm more interested in having real conversations, with real people about what specifically they've done that worked and didn't work. Some of the articles are just way too general for me - but certainly they are a good place to start.

formica
 

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What we're doing this year...

I'm the Pres of the Northern Indiana Moutain Bike Association for this year, and a few things we've done this year...

Increase visibility.
We've put people at a table at a local swap meet.
Put up a booth at a local bike festival
Worked with the state wide organization to put up our events on the state wide website (www.hmba.org).
And we're trying to get the word out as much as possbile. We have a web site, and we publish a bi-monthly newsletter that goes to the local shops as well as all our members.

The swap meet orgainzers, the festival organizers, and the local race series have all been great to work with and have bent over backwards to help us get out there to promote our message.

We've also adjusted out meeting times to try and make it easier to attend, as well as made it easier to join (paypal memberships and the like).

We are still trying to grow, but I've found we have several different types of members. Those who pay once every few years, when they get around to it. Those who pay every year, but don't do much more. Those who pay and get out and help on the trail, and finally those who go to the meetings and handle that stuff. There is quite a bit of overlap between several of these types of members.

What I've found to be the most interesting dynamic is word of mouth. For several trail days, and new trails that have opened, is the amount of people who just show up. (You build it, they will come). But it takes a core group to get the process started, and finding that core group can pose some challenges between work, kids, and even a chance to go riding.

I wish you lots of luck, and if you find the magic pill, let me know! :)

JmZ

formica said:
Nothing against IMBA, it's a great resource. I have those and many other articles printed out and read, in my notebook. Right now I'm more interested in having real conversations, with real people about what specifically they've done that worked and didn't work. Some of the articles are just way too general for me - but certainly they are a good place to start.

formica
 

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There are a couple outdoor clubs in my area that host mtb rides every week. They list their mtb rides in the outdoor section of the local paper. Seems like a good way to get the word out.
 

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formica said:
I'm going to post a reply and not email, just becuase maybe some lurker out there can use the info.
formica
Okay, I can appreciate the not using email. The only drawback for me, as you can see, is that it takes me awhile before I can respond. BUSY! Busy!

Some ideas I've had regarding promotion (and thanks to the others that have posted some good suggestions)

1 - host meetings at a local bike shop, have the shop present a topic (i.e. new products, new industry trends, new models, accessories, how to repairs, etc)

2 - host meetings in conjunction w/ showing a cycling film, i.e. Kranked, etc. This might also be done at a LBS. If the attendance grows enough perhaps at a local brewery/resturant/etc establishment.

3 - offer free one-year membership to mtb bike purchasers. Get the LBS's to include a postcard that offers the purchaser a free one-year membership. They simply fill out the card and mail it in.

Just a few thoughts I'm contemplating.

Questions for you (and others)
1 - my club has never filed as a non-profit. Has anyone gone through this, and would they share a copy of the paperwork/process?

Thanks,
Daniel
 

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Don't worry, be happy!
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
DMtbRider said:
Questions for you (and others)
1 - my club has never filed as a non-profit. Has anyone gone through this, and would they share a copy of the paperwork/process?

Thanks,
Daniel
I'm sure each state varies, but in WA you have to have your structure, bylaws etc on file.
IMBA does have an article on it. One of our lawyer guys has taken it on... a little tricky for us as we are still in the pre-board/pre election stage. But I did get an email from a bwering company this morning wanting to know if we had our 501 so they could donate a portion of thier local revenues to us....scrambing now...!!!
 

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Good start

Hehe, that's a good one about "herding cats".

My experience is you're doing great if you can get 1% of the local riders to join your club. Then about 10% of those will actually contribute. The numbers aren't great, but we've accomplished a lot with a handful of people. It's hard to stay positive, but going negative doesn't work at all: don't let people in the workgroups yell at riders passing by. Provide donuts to the people who show up. Lean on local shops to donate swag for workers.

Don't hesitate to ask outside groups for help, we've gotten a lot from the Boy Scouts and the local Friends of the Park group.

My $0.02 is: pace yourself. Don't try to do everything yourself, you will just burn out. It really sneaks up. Accept the contributions of others, even if they aren't exactly as you would have done. Trailwork is not an exact science. Mistakes can be corrected later, but you can totally turn someone off by breathing down their necks and criticising every move they make. Set an example instead and if everyone doesn't follow, fix it later. You can correct someone when they show up a second time (you should be so lucky!).

Give yourself a pat on the back, you deserve it!

Walt
 

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desert dweller
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Clubs

formica said:
I'm going to post a reply and not email, just becuase maybe some lurker out there can use the info.

heheh, we're like 4 months old. I shouldn't be cranky at all!! But here's what has worked for us. First, we utilize as many free calendar listings as we can, in the monthly alternative/activity rags. Also, the outdoors editor of the daily newspaper does a weekly outdoors calendar and he'll list any acitivity/workshop for free. And I post regular updates of club activity to regional boards where riders from our area are.

One really good idea we got from another club in our region is having business cards with club info printed up on them. We hand small stacks of them out at meetings, and I keep the cards in my pack when riding. I'm kind of an extrovert ( understatement) and I'll talk to anyone I see with a mountain bike about the club and give them a card. It has the club name, what we do ( rides/advocacy/trail work) our website, email and phone, plus lists that we are an IMBA affiliate. The real trick, which I'm not very good at, is not to just give folks a card, but to get their email - ask them if they want to go on our list serve to get updates and info.

The ride thing to me isn't a real focus - our area has tons of informal riding groups through shops, other outdoors clubs and so on. It's certainly a componet of what we do, and for that reason I'd like it to be sucessful. The part we are emphasizing, mainly because it hasn't happened before, is the part about advocacy and trail work. This is new to our community, and really, the response has been great.

formica
Sounds like you're on the right track. We've gone through the growth and contraction period with our club. We formed as an advocacy group and that really brought the group together. Then the advacacy fight was finished when the Lands Bill completed it's trip through Congress. Right now, we are little lost as a club. Our leadership is tired of doing all the work for events and stuff. Myself, I feel like it is something that is still fun and I make time to run the website, make the newsletter, do event graphics and shirts, take event photos, and ride when I can with them. Our challenge has been finding people with the time to commit to helping out.

As a club we hold a monthly trail work day or ride (alternating months) on the 3rd Saturday each month with extra days for special events when needed. We'll assist local trailsday events, REI mtb demo days and the National Mountain Bike Patrollers (2 of us) assist at races and Interbike.

We have about 25 members (100 person mailing list) and plan one large organized epic ride each year which attracts up to 150 riders. But we still don't get the support we would like from our members. Most people are way more likely to float us a $20 membership once a year and never show up for anything else. We have a core leadership group and several MTBR posters who show up more than our non-MTBR riders. It's funny, but without this forum on MTBR we wouldn't ever have anyone besides our Board of Directors on our monthly activities. (Thanks guys!)

Don't get discouraged. If you enjoy what you are doing and are accomplishing your goals -- keep at it. Every time you ride invite your riding pals and make it a club ride.

You can brouse our website and download our bylaws and stuff. We completed the state non-profit stuff years ago and last year finished and became a 501c3 (or what ever) club.
http://www.barta-nv.com

matt
 

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Don't worry, be happy!
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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Walt Dizzy said:
Hehe, that's a good one about "herding cats".

My $0.02 is: pace yourself. Don't try to do everything yourself, you will just burn out. It really sneaks up. Accept the contributions of others, even if they aren't exactly as you would have done. Trailwork is not an exact science. Mistakes can be corrected later, but you can totally turn someone off by breathing down their necks and criticising every move they make. Set an example instead and if everyone doesn't follow, fix it later. You can correct someone when they show up a second time (you should be so lucky!).

Give yourself a pat on the back, you deserve it!

Walt
this is really good advice. I'm pretty good at saying "no" anyway, delegating, and letting people who have offered to do things, do them their way without me getting into micromanaging what I think they ought to be doing.

Heh, it's one thing to think "when I am queen and have my own club" and the reality of truly trying to focus on the greater good, what's best for a club as a whole, to set ego aside, and to have a welcoming attitude so that others feel welcome to participate.

this is good, gang!!

formica
 

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Kind of long reply...

Formica,

It is good to hear that you are at least succeeding at getting your club off the ground. Three years ago a pal and I had a grand idea to begin one in our area.
We were initially looking at getting official permission to build some additional trails in an area that has been ridden for about 25 years...mostly by old school BMXers, back in the day. Everyone had at least some iota of intelligence about this small area being public. It was used by walkers, and MTBers alike, each understanding that it was 'multi-use'.
I had spoken with a park's commission fella about doing just what I described. This was during the off season and when the ground thawed we began plotting out a trail with surveyor's flags. No problems, he basically said to do what you want there. There were three spots where we needed to span a deep ravine, and planned on building three bridges. Using already-fallen trees, we cut logs for the first bridge, and planked across the ravine. I'll admit, we were kind of loud, as we used post building nails and just pounded and pounded for about twenty feet worth of bridge.
Well, I can tell you we upset the wrong beeotch there. This lady barked really loud to the mayor and some other swells about the whole thing. The park commission guy rolled on us, saying that he knew nothing of it. That blew a$$. Then we ended up having an official meeting with the park commission. We told everyone we knew about this, hoping that we would rally and get our voice heard. Well, no one showed up 'cept me and my pal (singlespeedy here). The invite list included two bikes shops and their employees, as well as probably thirty people between us. We were beat down by the 'locals' that lived near the area. Some were not nice, some saw our side, yet 'voted' against us. It was a massacre, remnant of Little Big Horn! The swells ended up getting the 16 (or so) acre area defined as a "Non-Mechanized Area". Frickin' politicians!
Here's the real kicker...the woman we upset is a chairperson on a committee that promotes trails (read, paved) in the area. I think they are the Cedar Trails Commission, I think...it is close to that for sure. She would not bend a bit. AND, another woman that is the president of said committee, who regularly rides a MTB, would not bring this issue up at meetings because it did not fit in the scope of their commission. ********!!

All is better now as the puke that rolled on us has since offered us Ulrich Park, in Cedar Falls, IA...there is a review here of it. Anyway, the jist of my rant is that we were beginning to get a 'club' together and this mess disbanded the whole thing. Another fella, new to the scene 'round here, has gotten permission to build trails on their land...private land owned by a church group. They have about 160 acres that we can use. Pretty cool
The only thing that is troubling is that we try and try to schedule a day (few hours) to do some trail work, or build new trail, but requests for help are shrugged off for whatever reasons...that we are being "trail Nazis". Again, ********, from area riders, some of who work in local shops.
Boils down to the fact that what you have going is REAL good. Congrats! Even the most organized labor unions only get about 10% turnouts for meetings/functions, unless, of course, it is a contract vote. You're taking the bull by the horns, and 'he' is coming along swell, so it seems for you. Keep up the good work!!
 

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Glue Sniffer
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formica said:
Nothing against IMBA, it's a great resource. I have those and many other articles printed out and read, in my notebook. Right now I'm more interested in having real conversations, with real people about what specifically they've done that worked and didn't work. Some of the articles are just way too general for me - but certainly they are a good place to start.

formica
Heh.

On the articles, I'm in total agreement. I've got fancy plans of slowly but surely updating and making those articles more relevant. Not everything can be done in 8 steps.

Since you are getting a Trail Care Crew visit by us later in the year, you might be happy to know that we're adding a "Club Care Crew" element to the TCC quiver this year. We've developed a new and improved workshop focused on dealing with the main issues every advocacy club faces - leadership burnout, membership stagnation, and infighting.

We know that part of having a sustainable club is ensuring that there is a community around to care and advocate for that trail. Between our prior club experience and traveling around the country dealing with hundreds of different clubs, we've learned quite a bit. Now, we're creating a way to share what we've learned with our clubs.

We're even rolling out some full on "Club Care Crew" weekends where we exchange trail work with club building activies throughout the weekend. Trail work is substituted with an organized group ride and the weekend is filled with various workshops that target areas like club building and maintenance, strategic planning for the future, diplomacy, etc.

Formica, feel free to PM me with any questions or just talk to Spencer about the Club Building possibilities for your weekend.
 

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idea for meetings...

The road bike club I belong to has their meetings the first Wednesday of each month immediately after the group ride ends. So I might suggest having the meetings after a group ride, some will leave, but you may get a few more to stick around.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Two years later.....

I can't believe I posted that two years ago. Wow, how time flies.

fast forward to May 2007. We still take the glass 1/2 full approach.:)
-we received a $2200 REI Conservation grant last year to buy tools
-we received a NPS RTCA grant for a trail system proposal:
http://www.fttrc.org/beacon-rtca.cfm
- Our 501(c)3 became official about a month ago.
-we've got more or less 30 paid members, plus 5 local shops have signed on to be corporate sponsors.
-we've got total support from city parks for developing a mountain bike park. The most respected downhillers in the area are getting involved.

Yes, we are still small and short on volunteers. Yes, the main crew has to be really careful not to get burned out so we pick and choose our projects.... which means that other things just don't happen. Yes, there is still a lot of "oh, that's nice" from the biking community, but we get a lot of "thank you's " too.

We could be doing more social rides and "fun"stuff, but it's just not happening yet. But someday....

formica
 
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