Last Saturday, July 14, was a watermark for trail users everywhere. Conceived in 2001 by Mike Bishop, the rockcrawling obstacle course at the Azusa Canyon OHV area officially opened.
The details of how many hoops Bishop had to jump through would fill volumes. Suffice it to say that building the course was the easy part. Getting permits and funding consumed the lion’s share of the effort.
One final hurdle was routing a drainage channel through the course so that the natural flow would not be disturbed. After a lot of brainstorming and a final stroke of inspiration, Bishop integrated the channel into the course, laying a concrete culvert into the drainage channel and then stacking boulders on top of and around it to create yet another obstacle.
At the opening ceremonies, it was apparent just how many agencies worked together to create the final product. Speakers from the California Trail Users Coalition, CORVA (California Off Road Vehicle Association), the Forest Service, the California State Assembly, the City of Azusa, and Los Angeles County Parks & Recreation addressed the body of OHV enthusiasts crowding the 100-foot sunshade.
When it was Bishop’s turn to speak, he didn’t have to dwell on the logistics of getting the course built. The previous speakers had already done so. Instead, he had a chance to talk about his family, quipping that “my wife and I are down to 51 minutes of marriage counseling a week.” Mike then picked out several key people in the crowd and told them they were all going for rides on the course.
The ribbon was then cut and the trailriding began. First, the dignitaries were treated to rides with professional drivers, and then the course was opened up to anyone who dared brave the rocks.
What makes the Azusa Canyon Obstacle Course a watermark for trail users everywhere? It shows that new trail and OHV opportunities can still be created. The term that kept coming to light was “partnership.” As trail enthusiasts, we need to work in partnership with land managers and government agencies. We also need to show local communities how OHV use can financially benefit them. New opportunities can be created, and existing opportunities can be preserved. If you’re searching for a paradigm of success, look no further than the Azusa Canyon Obstacle Course.