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: http://www.imba.com/news/tcc-new-hire-2011 (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!
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.
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