There Are No Shortcuts
By Al Head
Over at the Golden Giddyup, we are incredibly lucky and honored to have LAWS Whiskey House as one of our sponsors and supporters. LAWS represents so much of what we stand for. Do something, put all of your effort into it, and do it right. If you ever go into the LAWS distillery in Denver (I highly recommend a tour), you will see a slogan on their wall: “THERE ARE NO SHORTCUTS,” it reads. And it guides everything they do. It’s not easy, and the people behind the scenes are dedicated - and because of this dedication, LAWS has won awards in every contest they’ve entered for the best damn brown liquid one can ask for.
We live by this same mantra at the Giddyup. We remind ourselves every time we come up against someone in our community who messes with our sanctioned trailwork, and we remind ourselves of this every time we’re pushing up against resistance to make our trails better. We want it to happen faster, but one thing we’ve learned for sure is that it won’t happen if we’re not making it happen. Every time we let our feet off the proverbial gas pedal, progress comes to a halt. So, it seems change takes time. But more importantly, it takes showing up. And not just on the trails - trust me, I LOVE what we’ve done and are doing on the trails and how far we’ve come - Giddyup, CoMBA, and the ColoRowdies are regularly working to improve trails for the mountain bikers' experience, with 60% of all volunteer trailwork in Jeffco done by mountain bikers. For those of you who are newer to the area, that’s HUGE progress. But, we’re making these improvements in the confines of multiuse trail systems that were built for hikers, and we’re still operating under a “one-size-fits-all” management strategy. We’ve made a lot of progress (for instance, we now host a mountain bike race on closed trails), and we’re grateful to the staff at Jeffco and the City of Golden for engaging with us…, but there is still much progress to be made.
We want what you want- more and better trails. We want directional use and user specific management strategies. We want to be treated fairly and equally on the trails we love (and help care for). We also want our own to be more responsible and courteous and patient. But we need your help. Hell, YOU need your help. With hundreds of Mountain Bikers volunteering on the trails, with the Mayor’s award, with congressional recognition, with CoMBA’s/WRC’s Gil McCormick winning the Rocky Mountain Juniper Stewardship Award from JCOS, and with scores and scores of letters of support for keeping our event in Lions Park (including those from several former city councilors)... still, we need your help.
You see, it’s not enough. Showing up for trailwork is just about the best thing in the world and the impact is huge and on multiple levels. But, it’s not enough. Showing up to an annual meeting to voice your opinions and engage productively with staff is fantastic - I’m so heartened by the turnouts at recent meetings (it seemed nearly all of the 114 attendees at the recent Jeffco Trails Talk were mountain bikers). But, it’s not enough. Writing an email or making a phone call to weigh in on a matter is next level engagement. But… yeah, not enough. In order for us to make real change, we have to show up everywhere, and we have to show up consistently. Mountain bikers need to be at every Jefferson County Open Space Advisory Committee Meeting (these are the first Thursday of every month). We need to be at every City of Golden Parks, Museums and Recreation Committee meeting (these are every third Tuesday at 6:30). We need people present at City Council Meetings (every second and fourth Thursday at 7pm) and County Commissioners meetings (every Tuesday morning at 8 or 9am). These meetings are where decisions are made that guide all other operations of these government institutions. And mountain bikers need to be there. Shape. What. You. Shred.
Oh- and, if you go, you’ll learn some cool stuff about Open Space, or about the City or the County. You’ll pick up on some cool history, begin to understand the politics, and you’ll learn what the goals, values and objectives are of the people appointed to run the towns and counties in which you reside and recreate. And you’ll be bored. Omg, you’ll be woefully bored. These are not typically well attended meetings, and nothing happens quickly. You can’t go in all fire and brimstone, full of piss and fury and expect there to be change overnight. We have to be there regularly, building relationships and engaging and influencing and befriending. And you have to stay committed and not just show up once and stomp your feet and get mad when nothing happens. Because that’s what it takes to get real change. Commitment. Patience. Perseverance. I wish it were different. I wish it were easier. But, here’s the thing: There Are No Shortcuts.
Post Script: Who am I to tell you how to express your opinion? If you want to go in all fire and brimstone, do it. Go. Attend. Participate. Engage. Any segment of our voice being heard is better than none.