Photos courtesy of Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance

Dirty 30 Three Decades of Building Washington's Mountain Bike Community

I used to have a kickstand on my mountain bike.

My naiveté prevented me from recognizing this flagrant offense within the world I had just discovered.

A weekend trip to the Methow Valley with a childhood friend gave me a taste for knobby-tire two-wheel machines, and I spent the ensuing months ravaging through old copies of Mountain Bike Action magazine. I needed a bike. Stat.

And once I had that bike—a yellow Giant Yukon hardtail with electric tape obscuring the “G” and the “T”—I needed people who could teach me the sport.

As a 13-year-old in the early 2000s, my search for ride buddies led me to the Backcountry Bicycle Trails Club (BBTC), the moniker used until 2008 when the nonprofit formally adopted its current name: Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance.

After combing through the BBTC’s website, which, at that time primarily consisted of an event calendar and a short list of MTB-legal trails, I loaded my bike into my mom’s Volvo station wagon so she could drive me to a group ride an hour outside North Seattle at Carnation’s Tolt-MacDonald park.

I was surprised by the makeup of the group when we arrived. The picture in my head I’d been cultivating weeks prior of meeting new mountain bikers my age was nothing like reality. These people looked like my parents, I thought.

What I found, though, was a warm group of strangers eager to have me along for a muddy spin through the woods.

Hours later, I returned equal parts exhausted and elated.

I knew I'd found something special—both in the sport and in the men and women who so patiently waited for me at each trail intersection, and who so gently suggested to me that kickstands aren’t really the greatest addition to a mountain bike.

What I didn’t know was that during those same years in the early 2000s, and for more than a decade prior, the BBTC was taking critical steps to become a powerhouse for good when it comes to mountain biking and sustainable recreation in Washington state.

In early 2003, the organization hired its first part-time staff member. Today, Evergreen operates with more than 50 employees during peak summer months.

In 2005, the BBTC broke ground on its first trail project, I-5 Colonnade Park, a mountain bike skills park built in the loose sand of a freeway overpass just north of downtown Seattle. In 2019, Evergreen will deploy 12 full-time and a slew of part-time professional trail builders all across Washington to construct and maintain trails on more than 20 active projects.

These projects range from a fresh pump track and skills park in Spokane to a brand new, fully shuttleable downhill zone on Darrington’s North Mountain.

It would be a mistake to view Evergreen’s explosive growth as a product of only the past few years. The seed was planted in 1989, and now, 30 years, hundreds of miles of singletrack and more than 5,400 members later, Evergreen—and the state’s mountain bike scene—is flourishing.

How to participate

For their 30th anniversary, Evergreen has set a lofty goal of 30,000 hours of trail work for 2019. The organization hosts weekly dig days and, for those who’d like to get out for an overnighter, numerous backcountry work parties. Check out evergreenmtb.org for more information and a calendar of events.