Dirt Daze Demo
A regional nonprofit making a big impact
Photography by Brady Nations
The crew over at MTB NorCal has a simple ethos – build community, support trails, and share stoke. What started as a simple gas station conversation has now turned into a full-on passion project to raise money and awareness for the world class trails found around Northern California. From dig days to regional races, MTB NorCal always sets to put fun and community first. Now in their second official year, MTN NorCal is a substantial 501c3 giving back thousands of dollars each year to trail building efforts across the northern half of the state.
This wouldn’t really be a modern-day saga without the ole’ Instagram. Shon Garten created an account called MTB_NorCal in 2017 where he wanted to showcase his trail travels and meet some friends to ride with along the way. Fast forward two years and he meets Don Huntsman at a local gas station. They complimented each other’s bikes and trucks, had some mutual buds, and exchanged info. A few weeks later they were able to link up for a pedal and began discussing their passion for the sport and wanting to give back. Creating quality Instagram content, advocating for trail maintenance, and making apparel designed to give back became the easy solution for the two.
After seeing some early success slinging hats and shirts, the two wanted to make a bigger impact on regional trails. In 2019, Shon and Don began making a sizeable impression posting about dig days, fundraisers, and just general awareness. Directly impacted were Folsom Auburn Trail Riders Action Coalition (FATRAC) and Bicyclists Of Nevada County (BONC) – two of larger groups in the Sierra Nevada foothills. They still refused to settle and wanted to continue their momentum with hosting their own group rides, fundraisers and regional race teams; all while the Instagram following and industry network started to establish itself.
As this was happening, they knew they needed to create a legitimate business to start financially making an impact. 2020 of course proved to be a challenging year, but the duo was able to gather some ideas and start building a foundation for the future. They did some recruiting and Shane Scrimager came into the mix. Now, the crew of 3 had some bigger ideas – host owned events, build an ambassador team, and promote trail advocacy among the state of California, not just locally. In early 2021, the newly formed trio was able to establish MTB NorCal as an official 501c3 and set their sights on hosting their own event and large-scale fundraiser.
The first annual Dirt Daze demo in Nevada City, California was one of the first events to come back post-Covid in Spring 2021. With support from local bike shops and industry brands such as Specialized, Rocky Mountain, Fox, Muc-Off, Continental, Rubicon Expedition Products, and Pyga – they knew they could have a well-attended demo. Expectations were blown out of the water with over 1,000 people showing up in year one. Once it was all said and done, MTB NorCal was able to write a check for $5,000 to be split between BONC and FATRAC! With the summer going on MTB NorCal proceeded to host larger group rides, support regional dig days, attend some races and continue to grow a positive reputation in the community.
With such an impactful inaugural event, the guys wanted to ensure 2022 Dirt Daze was even bigger. This meant more brands, more people, and of course, more beer. With a growing network, MTB NorCal continued to recruit more high-profile brands, including PNW Components, Pivot, Ride Concepts, Smith, Oakley, Kali Protectives and local strength training guru Derek Teal of Dialed Health. On the beer front, Crooked Lane Brewing in Auburn, CA has been a partner since Day 1, and helped the crew create Dirt Daze IPA, a special blend of west coast hops that is brewed specifically for the event every year. The two kegs kicked in a matter of hours on Saturday May 7, the day of the event, but there was plenty of more beer to go around from numerous California based breweries.
One of the main focuses of MTB NorCal is to support trails, and Dirt Daze is setup to do just that. The event is free to attend and demo, but all food, beverage, and raffle proceeds all go back to the trails. The demo takes place in Nevada City, at the Hoot and Scotts Flat trail heads, two intermediate flow trails that riders of any skill level can enjoy. With the growing popularity in this area, and the countless hours of work from the local trail group BONC, there has been an agreement with the Tahoe National Forest. The agreement is to build 5 brand new mountain bike exclusive downhill trails, with 1 climbing trail. BONC is calling the new network the Parliament Trail System. Orion Kroeger of BONC, and Steve Wentz of Momentum Trail Concepts will be leading the build.
The Parliament Trail Network is currently tracking on schedule with two trails completed in the winter of 2022 including the climbing trail, and the first blue line called Talon Show. The newly built Talon Show was the talk of the event, a 400 ft descent with loads of doubles, hips, berms, and fast flowing single track. BONC is hoping that the trail network and agreement with the National Forest will become a footprint for new trails across the state of California – directional mountain bike specific trails to be shared by both mountain and electric bikes.
Looking ahead, the MTB NorCal trio will use the Dirt Daze demo as a marquee event in the Spring to kick off bike season. In 2022, they are estimating 2,000 bike enthusiasts in attendance and early numbers are showing a whopping 7k donation back to FATRAC, BONC and the Parliament Trail Network! There will be some more fundraising efforts this summer to help areas like South Lake Tahoe and the Lost Sierra who were affected by wildfire last Fall. Additionally, you can catch ambassadors of the MTB NorCal team at races such as the CA Enduro Series, or Big Mountain Enduro. To stay up to date on group rides, fundraising events, and dig day support, give them a follow @MTB_NorCal on Instagram or head to mtbnorcal.org for more information.