YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Valley Life | jaunts

Positive Pedaling

Joe Dillman, 77, recruits bicyclists to help patrol Santa Monica Mountains recreation area.


At age 77, financial planner Joe Dillman is an avid mountain-biker. He is on a trail in the Santa Monica Mountains just about every weekend.

Besides keeping him fit, the exercise gives him an opportunity to perform his duties as recruiting coordinator for the Mountain Bike Unit, an organization of volunteers who patrol at least eight hours a month to help the safety staff of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.

Dillman, of Westlake Village, is known for catching up with other bikers on the trail to tell them about the Mountain Bike Unit. That's how he recruited Steve Hollinger, 44, of Westlake, who has biked in the area for years.

"He stops everybody," Hollinger said. "Joe's a good recruiter."

Dillman will hold an indoor recruiting session Saturday in Calabasas for people interested in volunteering. The meeting will be held at the National Park Service's Diamond X Maintenance Facility on Mulholland Highway, east of Las Virgenes Road.

"Bring your bike and your helmet because weather permitting, we will go for an easy, fun ride after the meeting," Dillman said.

Volunteers attend a series of weekend training sessions that include CPR, first aid and using radio equipment. They also receive information on commonly encountered bike patrol situations, such as helping lost bikers with directions, fixing flat tires and summoning park rangers to treat injured hikers or bikers.


Under state law, anyone younger than 18 must wear a helmet when riding a bicycle. Hollinger has made youths without helmets dismount their bikes and walk them back to the park entrance.

"If a ranger sees a kid riding in the parks without a helmet, they can fine the parents $50," Hollinger said. "A lot of parents think the helmet law just applies to the streets."

At 23, Calabasas resident Will Enser is one of the younger volunteers and sometimes patrols at night during group rides held between 5 and 8:30 p.m.

"We're the eyes and ears of the park," Enser said.

The organization has about 100 members who patrol in pairs, wear uniforms and maintain a log book to keep track of their volunteer work.

"You patrol where, when and with whomever you wish," Dillman said.

Members may also participate in training sessions in search-and-rescue techniques; Youth Adventures, a program that offers mountain biking experiences to disadvantaged children; and Wheels to the Sea, a program that provides escorts to park visitors who use wheelchairs.


Mountain Bike Unit information meeting and ride, Saturday from 9 a.m.-1 p.m., rain or shine, National Park Service Diamond X Maintenance Facility on Mulholland Highway, east of Las Virgenes Road, Calabasas. Free. Call (818) 706-2789.

Los Angeles Times Articles