“Back in the day..”
The Mount Wilson Bicycling Association (MWBA) was formed in 1986 by Alan Armstrong, now a member of the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame. MWBA’s initial purpose was to educate mountain bikers about trail courtesy and safety. Alan and many of the early MWBA members frequented the Mt. Wilson Toll Road and hung out at Henninger Flats after the climb. They were a social group and were known to enjoy “beverages” after good rides.
In the late 80s as mountain bikes became more prevalent on the Toll Road so did conflicts with other trail users.
MWBA was formed to educate fellow mountain bikers about trail courtesy and to protect mountain bike access.
Early MWBA members were essential to preserving mountain bike access in the Angeles National Forest above Pasadena. Their dedicated work in teaching trail courtesy secured one of the few early victories in keeping bike tires rolling in the California dirt.
Soon after MWBA was founded, volunteers began trail maintenance to help the USFS maintain the trails in the Angeles National Forest. Trail work developed into a vital part of MWBA’s mission to keep trails open and safe for all user groups.
MWBA was made up of a great group of people who enjoyed hard work, giving back to the forest they loved, and of course, drinking beer.
MWBA members would recruit volunteers by chatting up other people along the trails and handing out business cards with a call in phone number. The “hotline” was a telephone answering machine with recorded information about the next trail work day.
In 1991, MWBA started work on the Ken Burton trail. This was a long term project that MWBA spent 3 years working on with the USFS. The Ken Burton trail was the first new trail built in the Angeles National Forest in decades. It was built by mountain bikers for all trail users.
Early MWBA members had an impact throughout the Angeles National Forest. Ken Burton may be their most well known accomplishment; however, MWBA adopted dozens of multi use trails and was responsible for restoring the Hoyt Mountain trail. MWBA did regular trail work on El Prieto, Sam Merrill, Gabrielino, Idlehour, Sunset Ridge, and Strawberry Peak.
The Pancake Breakfast was held at Henninger Flats. Riders would make their way up the steep ~3 mile climb to be rewarded with freshly made pancakes by MWBA. Besides the killer pancakes, MWBA held a huge raffle with amazing donated items from local businesses and the bicycle industry. The fundraiser was MWBA’s means to cover the cost of tools and materials for trail work.
At the 1991 Pancake Breakfast, USFS Ranger Terry Ellis spoke and credited MWBA with not only the year’s most volunteer hours in the Angeles Forest, but in the nation.
A great tradition was started in 1986 and many Pancake Breakfasts have been held at Henninger Flats since then. Today, the Pancake Breakfast continues to be MWBA’s main fundraiser and membership drive.
Around 1999, the local USFS administration changed and the new staff halted all volunteer trail work in order to do a forest wide “trail status report” and evaluate all conditions. Unfortunately, this put the brakes on the robust MWBA trail work machine. Volunteer work in the forest was put on hold for about 2 years and MWBA began to fade. Volunteers found other things to do since trail work couldn’t happen as frequently. During this “hiatus”, MWBA did occasional trail work in the La Tuna Canyon area.
Around 2010, new interest in trail work got MWBA started again. Fresh blood picked up the MWBA banner and started to share the familiar message of trail courtesy and giving back to the forest. Today, MWBA is back at it and doing trail work regularly. It’s fantastic thing to see the mountain bike community back out in the forest moving dirt and making trails more sustainable.