IMBA Trail Care Crew

Mor­gan Lom­mele shares some of the chal­lenges and the many rewards of being a mem­ber of one of two Trail Care Crews for the Inter­na­tion­al Moun­tain Bicy­cling Association.


The Clymb: What are some func­tions of the Trail Care Crew with­in the IMBA?

Mor­gan Lom­mele: The Subaru/IMBA Trail Care Crew is the Inter­na­tion­al Mountain
Bicy­cling Asso­ci­a­tion’s flag­ship edu­ca­tion and out­reach pro­gram. There are two teams (usu­al­ly mar­ried or part­nered cou­ples) that trav­el around the Unit­ed States ten months out of the year, going to a new loca­tion every week­end to work with a new orga­ni­za­tion. Our bread and but­ter is lead­ing IMBA Trail­build­ing Schools designed for moun­tain bik­ers, oth­er trail users and land man­age­ment agency per­son­nel, where we teach the basics of sus­tain­able trail design and con­struc­tion in the class­room and out in the field dur­ing vol­un­teer trail­work projects. Our basic goal is to build advo­ca­cy capac­i­ty on the local lev­el by pro­vid­ing feed­back on  exist­ing prac­tices and sug­gest­ing areas for growth and improve­ment. We meet with moun­tain bik­ers, land man­agers and oth­er trail user groups to share trail­build­ing exper­tise on design and con­struc­tion of new trails, and main­te­nance and restora­tion of exist­ing trails. Oth­er duties include lead­ing “Club Care” train­ings to edu­cate moun­tain bik­ers on the basics of estab­lish­ing and oper­at­ing a suc­cess­ful club, and orga­ni­za­tion­al advo­ca­cy techniques.


TC: How long have you been involved?

ML: My hus­band Steve and I have been a Trail Care Crew since Jan­u­ary 2010.


TC: What are some of the chal­lenges the crew faces?

ML: Chal­lenges main­ly stem from the hotels and dri­ving asso­ci­at­ed with trav­el­ing so fre­quent­ly, even though we absolute­ly love trav­el and the adven­ture (and thick skin) that comes with it. The first thing that comes to mind is doing dish­es in hotel bath­room sinks — ugh! When­ev­er pos­si­ble, we like to stay with fam­i­ly and friends that pro­vide some nor­mal­cy and con­sis­ten­cy to our lives.

Work­ing with a dif­fer­ent orga­ni­za­tion and group of peo­ple every week­end can be chal­leng­ing in that it takes a lot of research and prep to be ful­ly in the know on an orga­ni­za­tion’s prac­tices in order to best serve them, so our days off are busy! We help orga­ni­za­tions solve trail man­age­ment chal­lenges through shar­ing infor­ma­tion about
suc­cess­ful trail design phi­los­o­phy and con­struc­tion tech­niques, so every week­end car­ries its own chal­lenges (that we are thank­ful­ly skilled at address­ing!). On the same token, hav­ing to leave our new favorite place every week­end is a huge bum­mer. We dream of one day tak­ing our (future) chil­dren to all of the trails that we worked on, to show our kids the impor­tance of pub­lic ser­vice and sus­tain­abil­i­ty, but also to see how our work and train­ing has held up!

TC: How about some of the rewards?

ML: We live for adven­ture, so the fact that we get to trav­el to a new loca­tion every week­end is price­less. We’ve worked in almost 30 states and trav­eled to almost 40. On our off days we like to ride new trails, camp, or see sights that we would oth­er­wise not take trips to see. It’s amaz­ing how many nat­ur­al land­scapes exist in the U.S. that rarely see vis­i­tors, even Nation­al Park Ser­vice prop­er­ties. Our favorites are the last remain­ing tall­grass prairies of Kansas and Oklahoma.

Every­where we go, we have hosts who treat us like kings and queens, and who are dying to show us their favorite trails, restau­rants and local hang-outs. It is most reward­ing to share our exper­tise with com­mu­ni­ties of trail users who are eter­nal­ly grate­ful and who pass along the infor­ma­tion to future gen­er­a­tions of trail stewards.


TC: How does one go about join­ing a Trail Care Crew? For those that can’t, what are some ways peo­ple can assist in your orga­ni­za­tion’s efforts?

ML: To attend a Trail­build­ing School (we’d love to have you!), check out our cal­en­dar. All Trail­build­ing Schools are free. And if you’d like to be the next Trail Care Crew and think you (and your part­ner!) have the chops, we are cur­rent­ly hir­ing: (the dead­line is May 10, 2011).

We encour­age all trail enthu­si­asts to at least learn about IMBA, learn the basics of trail sus­tain­abil­i­ty (it’s not just for moun­tain bik­ers) and become an advo­cate for sus­tain­able trails. If at the end of the month, you have a few dol­lars to spare, con­sid­er join­ing our cause. Thanks!

Edi­tor’s Note: The appli­ca­tion dead­line to join a Trail Care Crew has passed, but you can check the IMBA blog reg­u­lar­ly for infor­ma­tion on future openings.


Pho­to Cour­tesy of IMBA

Mor­gan Lom­mele, along with her hus­band Steve, are one of two Subaru/IMBA Trail Care Crews. The Trail Care Crews are pro­fes­sion­al trail experts, who trav­el year-round through­out the U.S., lead­ing trail work ses­sions, meet­ing with land man­agers and work­ing with IMBA-affil­i­at­ed clubs and the com­mu­ni­ties they serve to improve moun­tain bik­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties. Mor­gan is from Col­orado and enjoys run­ning, moun­tain bik­ing, ski­ing and being outside.


If you know of an orga­ni­za­tion doing good works in pro­mot­ing the care and preser­va­tion of the envi­ron­ment, and you’d like to see it and its mem­bers fea­tured on The Clymb, please send an email to