Get Involved in Building and Maintaining Mountain Bike Trails

Though based in Boulder, Colo., IMBA's roots are in California. In 1988 a group of mountain bike clubs concerned about the closure of trails to cyclists organized themselves with the mission of protecting, creating and enhancing quality trail experiences for mountain bikers worldwide. Though the California issues were on the table, founders foresaw trail-user conflicts as a world-wide issue, hence the name beginning with "International".

Greg Mazu
Greg Mazu works on helping to clear the trail.

I suspect you have seen the triangular shaped sign that instructs bicyclists to yield to foot and horse traffic. Hikers yield to horse traffic. The development of this sign and the "Six Rules of the Trail" were developed by IMBA.

The Six Rules are worth repeating here:

  1. Ride On Open Trails Only - Respect trail and road closures—ask a land manager for clarification if you are uncertain about the status of a trail. Do not trespass on private land. Obtain permits or other authorization as may be required. Be aware that bicycles are not permitted in areas protected as state or federal Wilderness.

  2. Leave No Trace - Be sensitive to the dirt beneath you. Wet and muddy trails are more vulnerable to damage than dry ones. When the trail is soft, consider other riding options. This also means staying on existing trails and not creating new ones. Don't cut switchbacks. Be sure to pack out at least as much as you pack in.

  3. Control Your Bicycle - Inattention for even a moment could put yourself and others at risk. Obey all bicycle speed regulations and recommendations, and ride within your limits.

  4. Yield to Others - Do your utmost to let your fellow trail users know you're coming—a friendly greeting or bell ring are good methods. Try to anticipate other trail users as you ride around corners. Bicyclists should yield to all other trail users, unless the trail is clearly signed for bike-only travel. Bicyclists traveling downhill should yield to ones headed uphill, unless the trail is clearly signed for one-way or downhill-only traffic. Strive to make each pass a safe and courteous one.

  5. Never Scare Animals - Animals are easily startled by an unannounced approach, a sudden movement or a loud noise. Give animals enough room and time to adjust to you. When passing horses, use special care and follow directions from the horseback riders (ask if uncertain). Running cattle and disturbing wildlife are serious offenses.

  6. Plan Ahead - Know your equipment, your ability and the area in which you are riding—and prepare accordingly. Strive to be self-sufficient: keep your equipment in good repair and carry necessary supplies for changes in weather or other conditions. Always wear a helmet and appropriate safety gear.

Moving from the Subaru Trail Care Crew to a Trail Specialist position, Jason goes to trail or mountain bike park areas that need help.

Whether you are looking to help your community or the world of mountain biking, there are plenty of opportunities. If you are interested in initiating a trail project, fighting trail closures to mountain bikers or helping with trail maintenance, you can find a listing of opportunities on the IMBA site, What You Can Do to Help.

Gale Bernhardt was the 2003 USA Triathlon Pan American Games and 2004 USA Triathlon Olympic coach for both the men's and women's teams. Her first Olympic experience was as a personal cycling coach at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games. Thousands of athletes have had successful training and racing experiences using Gale's pre-built, easy-to-follow training plans. For more information, click here. Let Gale and Active Trainer help you succeed.

Photos of Jason Wells and Greg Mazu taken by Gale Bernhardt.

Related Article:

Rules of the Off-Road: Mind Your Mountain Bike Etiquette


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