Trails don't just happen to appear from the lift of a shovel or the scoop of a backhoe; it takes a mountain of organization and advocacy before an inch of dirt ever moves. Seven Mountains Conservation Corps is one of those organizations whose work within Central Pennsylvania has created and maintained trails for mountain bikers, trail runners, and even moto riders. We reached out to SMCC member Wyatt Stoup, who builds bike frames and operates a mobile bike shop under the name Blacklist Bikes, to learn a little bit more about the organization's history and activities.
Seven Mountains Conservation Corps is one of the organizations listed in the Stan's Connection program. Each time a customer registers a Stan's wheelset to receive warranty and crash replacement coverage, we donate $10 to that customer's choice of cycling-related cause, advocacy, or trail maintenance group.
Stan's NoTubes: What led to the creation of SMCC?
Wyatt Stoup: SMCC was created by a group of outdoor enthusiasts who wanted topurposefully and sustainably build trails aimed toward the user groups and riding styles unique to the State College area. Our founding member, Matt Spigelmyer, acquired a sizable plot of land adjacent to Bald Eagle State Forest, took a course on sustainable trail building and got to work. Since the trail network is on private land, we are less restricted in the way we build trails. This allowed SMCC to build exciting trails for dirt biking, mountain biking, hiking, etc. that were not limited by concerns for timber harvesting, trail system management efforts, and the slow nature of bureaucracy.
SNT: What types of events does the club promote or support?
WS: Our club currently promotes a trail running half marathon that is part of the Rocksylvania series, a mountain bike enduro that is part of the Mid-Atlantic Super Series, and we assist in promoting a dualsport focused motorcycle ride promoted by our friends at AltRider. We also grant access to our trail system for the Transylvania Epic. If there's an opportunity to get more users on our trail system, we are all about it.
SNT: What sort of overlap is there between the local mountain biking and dirt biking community?
WS: The local dirt biking and mountain biking community are becoming more and more synonymous. Whether you started on mountain bikes and moved to dirt bikes, or vice versa, more and more trail users are bridging the gap between sports. Not to mention the ease of access E-bikes have created for riders used to getting their throttle fix. This area also has a bit of a perfect storm for variety of trail systems. There's so many trails in the area with specific uses (multi-use, hike only, mtb/hike) you almost have to ride dirt bikes, mtb, and hike to enjoy them all.
SNT: What led to the club wanting to host a mountain bike enduro?
WS: The club's mission is to build sustainable trails and get more people out on them. Hosting a mtb enduro is just another way to achieve that mission. The majority of our active members are avid mountain bikers (as well as dirt bikers) so the decision to host The Raven Enduro was almost automatic. We've adapted and improved the event over the years with influence from the riding community, which has made our event more inclusive yet a truly unique experience for the riders running the MASS race calendar.
SNT: The most recent efforts of the club have gone into creating trails that will be off-limits to motorcycles. Trailwork benefits all types of users, but why do you feel it's important to expand the trail network for other user groups?
WS: Trailbuilding and trail use can be a complicated and argued over topic. Most user groups want access or exclusivity to certain trail systems, but these natural resources need to be shared and preserved for future generations to use. This means erosion control, utilization rates, soil types, and environmental impacts need to be factored when building a new trail. Unfortunately, dirt bikes can have a significantly impact on trails where mountain bikes and hikers will have little to none, so as we find new places to build trail we must consider these factors. In our mission to get more people out on sustainable trails, this is just par for the course. As long as we get to keep our mission moving forward, we've succeeded as a club.