Mountain biking has become a passion for Jones - Courier Post Online (6/17/06)

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Mountain biking has become a passion for Jones
Saturday, June 17, 2006

By CELESTE E. WHITTAKER
Courier-Post Staff


Haddon Heights resident Jay Jones has had a lifelong love affair with the outdoors.

As a child growing up in Barrington, Jones remembers his parents sending him to Cub Scouts and how much he enjoyed the wooded setting when they went outdoors.

He also loved alpine skiing, backpacking, canoeing and kayaking. After college, he got into mountain biking.

"Mountain biking turned out to be what I enjoyed most," said the 42-year-old Jones, a graduate of Haddon Heights High School. "You could enjoy more of the natural setting biking than you could walking. It can be a family activity or it can appeal to most Gen-X extreme athletes, or it can be enjoyable and peaceful. It's also great exercise. It helps to erase the obesity trend we have in this country. It's a healthy activity.

"I ended up discovering mountain biking in the 80s. In our area, you have to sort of look for trails for mountain biking."

Jones was recently named the first Fox Racing Shox/International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) Hero Award winner for his tireless efforts concering mountain biking.

He has worked countless hours to ensure that New Jersey bikers have good places to ride, serving as part of the Jersey Off Road Biking Association (JORBA) leadership and leading a local IMBA-affiliated club, the Jersey Action Riders (JAR) -- which he founded in 1997. He co-founded the Delaware Valley Mountain Bike Patrol in 2000 and has served as an IMBA South Jersey representative since 2000.

"It's quite an honor and surprise," said Jones, who is the deputy executive director with the South Jersey Port Corporation in Camden. "Really, I see it not as much recognizing me, but they're recognizing everybody's efforts here. There are partnerships and friendships that are developed. Everyone coming out to volunteer and participate in these sports and taking care of the places that we use so they're there for our kids, and they're there for our kids', kids. It's awesome that IMBA's recognized our efforts in this part of the country. It's very appreciated and not expected."

Last year, he and his Jersey Action Riders helped start developing a mountain bike trail system in Wharton State Forest, the largest state park in New Jersey.

Additionally, Jones has spent a lot of time helping to protect trail access at Wissahickon Valley Park in Philadelphia, a favorite of mountain bikers in the Delaware Valley, and helped raise $7,000 to support trail maintenance.

"In South Jersey, one of the most appealing parks for mountain bikers is Wissahickon Valley Park," Jones said. "It's a long, narrow park, with a valley with a creek down the middle. The upper trails are appealing for the sport of mountain biking. There was a lot of user conflict. We thought a national mountain biking patrol unit would be best.

"We started the Delaware Valley Mountain biking patrol in 2000. We work closely with the park rangers, the commissions, do volunteer trail maintenance, provide volunteer patrolling -- whether they're lost, hurt or whatever. When we went in 2000, it was a very heated contest whether bikes should be there or not. . . . Last year we were able to host the first mass mountain biking event in the park."

Reach Celeste E. Whittaker at (856) 486-2424 or cwhittaker@courierpostonline.com
 

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