Mountain bike association focuses on Lake Tahoe
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – The Subaru International Mountain Bike Association’s Trail Care Crew stopped in South Lake Tahoe to educate representatives from several basin organizations and the community on the economic, health and community benefits of mountain biking and how to advocate for mountain bike causes.
“Tahoe is obviously known nationwide for for cool trails,” said Chris Kehmeier, member of the IMBA trail care crew. “It’s a pleasure to work here. We wish it wasn’t under snow so we could ride.”
Representatives from the U.S. Forest Service, the Tahoe Rim Trail Association, South Lake Tahoe Parks and Recreation Department, the North Tahoe Parks Department, the TRPA, Friends of the El Dorado Trail, the Carson Valley Trails Association and just plain mountain bikers attended the March 8 workshop. The crew will also hold a sustainable trail building demonstration Saturday.
“I hope this sustains the energy that local mountain bikers have created,” said Lauren Lindley, secretary of the recently reformed Tahoe Area Mountain Bike Association and manager at Pearl Izumi factory store in South Lake Tahoe. “I’m curious to see how other areas have dealt with land use issues.”
Trail care crew members Chris and Leslie Kehmeier jumped into their presentation, beginning with the power of mountain biking to change the quality of life in communities. Using the recently built trail system in Eagle, Colo. as an example, they discussed how trails attract new residents, tourists and businesses, how they can bring community members together, and how they promote health and fitness.
“It’s really important for the small groups in the community that understand mountain biking to take people by the hand and get them into it,” Leslie Kehmeier told the crowd.
The next and larger segment of the presentation included land use issues, how to build sustainable trails and how to brand a location as a mountain biking destination.
“We want land managers to give equal access to all trail users, including mountain bikers,” said incoming TAMBA president Kevin Joell.
The Tahoe region hosts a number of mountain bike trails, but, in order to expand, riders must be educated on respectful riding techniques and sustainable use, Joell said.
For Lindley, Tahoe trails offer everything she needs to have fun, but some riders might be looking for more, she said.
“I think a lot of our local riders are looking for rock drops, log rides and bridges, stuff we don’t have,” she said. “We’ve definitely had those trails but they’ve been taken away. I’m sure they exist somewhere, but they’re not legal.”
Mountain bike trail builders in Tahoe face unique problems and a number of organizations that have concerns about the sport, Chris Kehmeier said.
“Tahoe is so well loved and the water quality is so sensitive, anything that people see that could impact that quality is a tight rope we have to balance,” he said.
“This region is very fortunate to have receptiveness from the land managers, especially the Forest Service,” Chris Kehmeier added during the presentation.
The April 9 phase of IMBA’s visit includes breaking ground on a new single-track trail that will connect the town of Genoa with the Tahoe Rim Trail on. They will demonstrate sustainable trail building, which is meant to have minimal impact to the environment, minimal user conflict and minimal maintenance.