Change is Good
Back in June 2002 through March of 2003, many of us local mountain bikers got together for a bunch of meetings to discuss forming a club. We did this in order that we could have a unified voice, which would represent us in discussions with local land managers, officials, and national and international organizations. There was an upcoming visit by the IMBA Trail Care Crew, because we had written IMBA about our concerns regarding the problems at Ft. Pierce. IMBA and all the local officials (St. Lucie County, SFWMD, DOT, etc. ) would not meet with a few individuals. They insisted that we organize and form a club. The debate ensued. Those of who had gradually become the care takers of the trail and who were investigating the legal documents regarding land ownership and any covenants felt that a pure MTB club should be formed.
However, due to the strenuous lobbying efforts of TCCA members Todd Lyons and Scott O Buck, the rest of us agreed to join forces with the TCCA. Scott and Todd worked hard to help design and build the Ft. Pierce bike trail, albeit illegally trespassing to do so and thus setting the stage for our having to make major corrections in the way the trail was created. For the purpose of having the new MTB club be brought under the wings of the TCCA, they then brought in Bob Michaels, then Florida Rep for IMBA. They all were of a like mind, and felt that representing the largest existing group of cyclists with the least duplication of effort was the best course. A vote was taken by the at large group and it was agreed to become part of the TCCA; even us hold outs capitulated. As such, we were allowed to represent ourselves as an organization, and also were spared the work of completing a 501 c3 tax status for a non profit corporation. In retrospect, they were wrong.
As the first year has passed, we already felt that we would like to pursue a different direction. First of all, we all agreed that the face of our group has remained the same. Membership by those who voted at the Library meetings was never realized. Turnout for subsequent Trail Work and meetings was apathetic. The core group and a few new individuals remained the same. We don't resent this, we instead realize that mountain bikers are an unusual breed - they are not without opinions, but most would rather be riding than making a club and working on land issue. And all mountain bikers dislike the idea of holding titles! But someone has to do it: Us. And because we had voted to become a club under the TCCA - we were cut off from our members, and from their fees and donations.
During late 2003 the TCCA began to die out. Their leadership was unable to continue the level of activity they had created in the past - due to work and personal reasons, and this resulted in a lack of meetings of the TCCA and collapse of their club. The TCCA President resigned, along with the editor of their newsletter and membership director. The TCCA dissipated, and later reformed from within their own ranks.
Our relationship with TCCA never really got off the ground because of their situation. We were unable to answer questions from our own constituents such as, "Did they get my check?" Membership cards were never issued, nor was any sort of acknowledgement. Sadly, even our own IMBA Affiliation was allowed to lapse, because we were without power to motion and then approve the expense.
In the meantime we continued to operate as we had for the previous few years - we met for rides, took trips to festivals, did trail work, maintained a presence on the web, continued our work with land managers...
Then at a meeting of our core group of members on January 20th of 2004, we discussed our need to become an independent club, separate from but affiliated with TCCA, TCR, IMBA and SORBA. We voted to separate officially from the TCCA and become an independent and autonomous club. Yes there would be some paperwork involved but it was a needed move and one we hope will help create more participation from the local MTB community.
There would be s few significant changes: We would apply for our own non profit status and have done so. We would collect membership fees and donations on our own behalf. We would vote and move on issues and opportunities specific to mountain biking We would have our own Officers and our own Board We would be able to provide accurate and up to date membership information, membership cards, etc. because we would collect our own membership data.
In the time since, our membership has continued to grow. Our needs are simple and few, but our inner core group, basically our board, all are in favor of this change. We've grandfathered in all the TCCA members who wanted us to, and in the meantime we'll keep working on the trail, on the land use change with the county, and on our paperwork with the government. It's our primary focus to find more and better places to ride along the Treasure Coast. We hope you'll join us.