Our local mountain biking history is fascinating.
As a teenager in the early 1990s, I heard many stories of mountain biking’s past in the Santa Cruz mountains. Our riding group was made up of local bike shop employees and early mountain bikers from the Bay Area. Learning to ride while mountain bike access was seriously controversial was a great lesson in trail courtesy. I was taught to be extra polite to other trail users and to tread lightly.
When I joined MWBA a few years back, I was very interested to see what was happening in the San Gabriel mountains during the 1990s.
I saw glimpses of MWBA history via photos and heard a few entertaining stories told on rides. Old photographs from past trail work days prove MWBA’s history of working in the San Gabriel mountains and how important the group has been to maintaining local access for mountain bikers.
Through Kyle at Golden Saddle Cyclery, I was recently introduced to Ray Juncal. Ray designed the original MWBA logo with a great sense of humor and a timeless appeal. In October, I spent some quality time with Ray at his Los Angeles studio.
Ray spent over 12 years swinging tools with MWBA and created the early MWBA artwork.
After just a few minutes with Ray, one can tell that sense of humor is part of his core. We had great conversation over photos, artwork, and eventually killer fish tacos down the street. Sifting through old flyers and magazine clippings was a blast. Ray has kept a great archive of MWBA history in his studio flat files.
One of my favorites is a FAX press release announcing the purchase of a “1 Ton Commercial Ice Machine” for MWBA Refreshments.
Alan Armstrong is quoted, “We know of no other group in the nation that puts this kind of emphasis on refreshments after a day on the trails.” MWBA history is full of hard work and “refreshments.” I really enjoyed seeing examples of the original MWBA attitude. Work hard, play hard, and with a great sense of humor.
Ray has many photos of MWBA working on the Ken Burton Trail. Built specifically for mountain bikers, the trail was created by MWBA with USFS approval in the early 1990s. A large photo poster from 1991 shows the trail as seen from Angeles Crest Highway. The trail was named after Ken Burton who was a USFS Firefighter Battalion Chief in the Angeles National Forest. The Station Fire destroyed the trail and its been closed for years. However, this fall both CORBA and MWBA have trail work days scheduled to work on Ken Burton and make it rideable once again.
Mountain biking has a pretty short history and it’s important to preserve it. It wasn’t that long ago that mountain bikers were fighting hard to keep access to local trails. The original MWBA members were key to preserving the trail access many people now take for granted in the San Gabriel mountains.