It’s hard to believe that PASA has been around for a decade now and even harder to believe that I was a young 31 years old when we formed the club back in 2005. Back before us founding members created PASA we were an infamous bunch that hung out on an online forum called SmallBrownDog and we were better known for criticizing the local trail building and trail maintenance practices than we were known for “getting involved” in the local scene. It’s kind of funny how we’ve never lost that stigma to this day but we do kind of wear it like a badge of honor. Rightfully so, we are still the same outspoken malcontents we were back then; the big difference between now and then is that we are PASA and we’ve built the best trail in the Charlotte region. Poston Trail is the result of years of frustration with the local scene and the way trails were built and managed, it directly affected the way we designed the trail as well as the way we maintain it to this very day. So in a way I guess we’re still those same pricks from SmallBrownDog except we have something to back up our uncompromising opinions and unlike before PASA was formed nobody can ever try to throw “get involved” in our face as a cheap cop-out to our valid (and now validated) beliefs on what a mountain bike trail should and should not be.
Now if we have one weakness as a club it’s that we are a pretty disorganized bunch. That is something we’ve always struggled with as we never really wanted to become some big super organized well-structured non-profit. We are a ragtag group formed out of a mainly haphazard movement so the thought of becoming some big regional club always seemed far-fetched. Because that’s what a club is supposed to strive for however we have drifted into legitimizing and growing ourselves; we’ve been through definite ebb and flow as a club. We’ve had as little as 10 members and we’ve had as many as 70 members. We were once a SORBA affiliate before SORBA decided to un-affiliate us for being the disorganized group we are, at least that was the reason given and honestly it’s the truth so fair enough. We’ve had trail relationships with communities and turned around and dropped those, like Huntersville and Belmont. We’ve explored helping with some local trails like Anne Springs to some relatively less local like Uwharrie. We built a pump track at North Meck Park back in the day, the first local public pump track but then we didn’t really keep up with it. Building PASA into some big organized machine was never our intention yet we got sucked into conforming to public expectations of what a club is supposed to become. What we’ve come to realize is that we don’t have to strive to make PASA anything more than what it already is and that we need to concentrate on our greatest successes, those being Poston Trail and having fun riding together. Honestly when we’ve tried to do more than that we’ve simply fallen short of our expectations and spread an already small informal club WAY too thin.
So you are going to see some changes in the club and our website over the next month or so. Here are some things coming down the pipeline.
1) We are going to drop our relationship with Pee Wee’s Mtn Bike Park. This one is the hardest decision we’ve had to make since a few of us have a long and even originating history with this trail and were friends of the late, great Pee Wee Morrison. The truth is the trail’s ridership is way down from what it’s ever been and Lincoln County’s mountain bike scene is all but dead. When Ride-A-Bike bicycle shop moves from Lincolnton to Gastonia this summer we won’t have a good trail work presence up there anymore and the scene will get even more stagnate. On top of that we have a lot of issues with rogue trail work out there and without more eyes on that trail it’s just getting worse and we don’t care to spend limited time attempting to fix and re-fix shoddy “work”.
2) We are ending any attempts at building a mountain bike trail as part of the Kings Mountain Gateway Trail. I personally have been working on this for 8 years and have built some really good relationships in Cleveland County and others in the club recently have worked hard to get the project rolling again after it fizzled a few years back. This one has lots of moving parts, multiple groups to get permission from, and like anything else its fair share of politics. We are also learning that it’s just far enough away to make it difficult for the core workers to be able to commit the time really needed for it. It’s a great concept but without more freedom and more access to land its potential is lessened. I still have a lot of hope for that area as that quarry land over time transitions over to the park system. Mountain bike trails are eventually coming to the western Crowders Mountain State Park property and in turn I think you could see it happen in the Kings Mountain parks as well as on the greenway as we were trying to make happen. It all just needs time to develop and we were not able to be that catalyst unfortunately.
3) Obviously there are going to be some changes to the website based on the items above. We will be removing those trails from the website. Additionally the forum is going to be simplified greatly. No more 1000 subcategories for different styles and types of riding, we’re gonna make it all about simply riding (earth shattering…I know).
4) The “About PASA” page will change a bit as our mission statement is going to be fairly different as we become more Poston-centric…more about that later in this read.
5) Our idea of “membership” is going to become much less informal since we are after all pretty informal. We might change the semantic a bit by calling it “supporters” or something like that instead of member. We want people to feel like they can give $5 or $50 or whatever they want simply because they enjoy Poston and want to support us. Paid “membership” to PASA is really unnecessary; being part of that club should simply be about showing up and hanging out…financial support should be secondary as we were never concerned with that to begin with. I’d rather people throw us some coins because they enjoyed the trails.
6) All the other changes I am forgetting to mention because I am sure there is plenty.
So if you can’t read it in the tea leaves we are concentrating, simplifying, and informalizing (even more so) PASA. We are going to be a Gaston County club ONLY instead of trying to work in multiple counties. We are going to work (almost solely) on Poston Trail and continue to strengthen our relationship with Gaston County Parks & Recreation and the Gaston County Commission. Nobody has given us the freedom to do what we want to do like they have, not even close. No headaches, no push-back, no politics…all we’ve been given from the beginning is a greenlight and the ability to do things the way we want to do them. They have spoiled us and I just don’t think we should be treated any other way because of it. So from now on it’s all about Poston Trail and any land/trails that attaches to Poston. So yes we will also continue to help maintain the South Fork River Trail and as it expands we will expand our obligations to it. We will continue our relationship with the Carolina Thread Trail which has been equally wonderful. Poston by itself has a few years of trail work left to get it to a finished state and we feel that’s the place to concentrate PASA efforts. Between it and the adjoining lands and sections of the Carolina Thread Trail we will have our hands plenty full and that alone is enough to keep PASA inundated. Poston is the best trail in Charlotte (not in Charlotte) and this is the plan to keep it that way.
Thanks to all of you for your years of support, work, and fun times,
Josh Taylor (and the PASA Core)