The trails that abound in the Nicola Valley are a prime opportunity for anyone looking to dirt bike – and now one man has developed a team to help facilitate the appropriate use of the landscape.

The Nicola Valley Dirt Riders Association launched in January and is already zooming forward with 45 members strong, all looking for a taste of the action.

“There are a lot of dirt bikers in Merritt and we needed a club in town to give them a voice,” said Scott Dearden, association president. “This is really a family thing.”

The association is launching its first event on Father’s Day, June 17, just off Aberdeen Road, approximately six kilometres off Highway 8 and past Craigmont Mines in Lower Nicola.

The Father’s Day Family Fun Ride will feature events for every age group. Prizes and trophies will be handed out.

But the club goes further than just hosting events. Dearden said part of the association’s mandate is to instill etiquette among riders so there is better relations with area residents.

Some locals have complained about excessive noise along the trails behind the Bench neighbourhood.

“We want the riders to respect the trails and hikers, wear proper gear, they don’t have to disturb the wildlife and grasslands, and we educate people to pack out whatever they pack in,” Dearden explained. “We are trying to give everyone an area to go to that is outside city limits.”

A City of Merritt proposal last year to limit dirt bikes and all-terrain vehicles to 96 decibels was defeated in council chambers after about a year of debate.

“I think this is a ridiculous bylaw,” Coun. Dave Baker said at the time.

Signs were posted to encourage riders to limit their noise and Mayor Susan Roline noted in June 2011 that the City didn’t receive any additional complaints.

Those who don’t have a dirt bike can attend a club meeting or join the riders this Father’s Day to get an idea of what the two-wheelers are all about. Meetings are held at Garden Sushi on the last Wednesday of each month.

More information can be found on the association’s website at www.nvdra.com

The Father’s Day Family Fun Ride costs $20 to join, but $10 for those younger than nine.

Sign up is at 8 a.m., with the riders meeting at 10 a.m. The course is open from 10:15 a.m. to 2 p.m. An awards presentation is scheduled for 3 p.m.

A concession will be available.

Organizers are working on providing a free camping option during the weekend.

The association is also planning a Thanksgiving Weekend Family Fun Ride for Oct. 6.

On Oct. 7, the group is planning the year-end race for the BC Off-Road Championship Series. Racers of all ages compete for points. The course is between 25 and 50 kilometres.

The cost of membership to the club is $30 for an adult, $15 for a youth, $50 for a family and $100 for a corporation.