SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. - To ride a bike is to be an engine. And to join the Tahoe Area Mountain Bike Association is to be part of an engine of change.
Wednesday night at Mo's Place, members of TAMBA celebrated a productive year and toasted to the success of their reformed and now growing group.
"They've got this new blood and they just took off this year," said TAMBA member Maria Pickett.
TAMBA was originally formed in 1988, but had been disbanded for years before reforming earlier this year. The new organization worked with the U.S. Forest Service and several other agencies to build miles of trails and promote the sport of mountain biking around the Lake Tahoe.
"We literally went from just an idea at the beginning of the year to 1,000 hours of volunteer work and a major effort to attract mountain bikers from all over the country," said TAMBA president Kevin Joell. "It's been terrific."
Membership in TAMBA has grown from a handful at the start of the year to nearly 300 after the Wednesday night dinner. Forming the group has helped both mountain bikers and the agencies that hope to work with mountain bikers to achieve common goals, Joell said.
"We definitely filled a need for the mountain bike community," Joell said. "Just like the riders wanted something to be a part of, the land managers wanted a group to talk with."
With help and coordination from the Forest Service and other agencies, TAMBA members on Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, the Armstrong Connector, the Star Lake Connector, Corral Loop Trail, Tyrolean Downhill and the Sierra Canyon trails during numerous trail work days spread throughout the year. The amount of volunteer trail work days this year has been more than the Forest Service has had with mountain bikers in the last decade, said Forest Service forest engineer Garrett Villanueva.
"I would say this is the most successful season we've had in the last decade working with our mountain bike community," Villanueva said.
At the Wednesday night dinner, Joell honored the half-dozen volunteers who made it to more than three trail work days with custom TAMBA pint glasses.
The group already has its sights set on a few goals for next year: a mountain bike park in or near Bijou Community Park in South Lake Tahoe and some new trails around the Angore Fire area. Though they won't be out on trails for a few months, work will continue through the winter.
"There's plenty of stuff to be done," Joell said. "The only thing we're not doing right now is trail work."