What Connecticut NEMBA is all about:
The Connecticut Chapter of NEMBA began in 1996 with a land manager, a guy with a webpage, and lone trail maintainer.
Alex Sokolow, an avid mountain biker and supervisor at several state parks in the southern part of the state, had met the 'NEMBA guys' at the Northeast Mountain Bike Advocacy Summit in fall 1996. During a ride at the West Hartford Reservoir, Alex spied Steve Clarke working by himself on a trail. The two got to talking., hooked in Joe Ortoleva who had been promoting the idea of an MTB club at his So-CT Mountain Biking page (now CTNEMBA's webpage). A bit of networking produced other like-minded MTB enthusiast/advocates. The notion of organizing independent efforts was tossed around. An overture were made to NEMBA about a chapter affiliation (something new to NEMBA at that time), and CTNEMBA became a reality.
Since these humble beginnings, the chapter's membership has topped 300 members from all over Connecticut and continues at a healthy growth rate. The chapter got a big boost in its early days in 1997 from a bad situation. Liability concerns had prompted the Metropolitan District Commission to consider banning "high-risk" activities and restricting mountain bike use on its properties, including the very popular West Hartford Reservoir. CT NEMBA in conjunction with other concerned parties responded with an alternative proposal, including a bike patrol and some key recreational usage guidelines, which the MDC approved. The New England Mountain Bike Patrol, Connecticut now has twenty-five (25) volunteer patrollers, who have logged approximately 1300 hours at the Res in 2000.
Chapter Programs and Activities:
If you're out riding just about anywhere in Connecticut and you see another rider in a bright yellow jersey with a CT NEMBA logo, you're about to have a close encounter with a Connecticut Trail Ambassador. The Trail Ambassador program aims to educate, inform and assist mountain bikers on the trail. Similar in context to the bike patrol, this program is a very much laid-back, grass roots approach to access advocacy and the promotion of ethical riding behavior. It's supported by the federally funded National Recreational Trail Act Fund (NRTA). This fledgling operation of twenty (20) volunteers has logged 600 hours over the summer and fall of 2000, and on trails all over the state (better than 30 different venues). We hope to broaden the depth of this program by fielding new Ambassadors in the spring of 2001.
Anyone who has participated in a CT NEMBA trail maintenance event knows that we're as comfortable with mattocks and shovels as we are with venerable allen wrench. In 2000, volunteers spent more than 580 hours building and maintaining trails all over the state as part of the NEMBA/Cannondale Trail Maintenance Series. Who knows how much more of this activity goes undocumented?
The chapter also helps out some good causes, including the Multiple Sclerosis Society's BKM/Steelcase Mountain Bike Tour for the Cure, the Recreation Discovery Day at the West Hartford Reservoir and other events as our capabilities permit.
So, you ask, when do CT NEMBA members find time to ride? C'mon. There's always time to ride! Fortunately, Connecticut is a small state, so lots of awesome trails are within easy reach. Our Fun Ride series reaches all corners of the state, from the Shenipsit State Forest in Somers to Cockaponset State Forest in Chester to Huntington State Park in Redding. Then there is our end-of-the-season blowout -- the Annual Fall Fiesta – This one is not to be missed!