Far from any major metropolitan area sits a small western town in Wyoming where any mountain biker would be happy to live. It's not an IMBA Ride Center. None of the trails are designated as IMBA Epics. Unlike places in Arizona, the residents don't have 50 miles of singletrack within walking distance of their homes. But what they do have is something we at IMBA can't just swoop in an create overnight, like trails. The mountain bikers there want all of those good riding opportunities; they have a big group that gets along well and they have an excellent relationship with the local string-pullers at the BLM office. (There's also a local brewery and a fantastic coffee shop in town, Old Town Coffee. I mean, like, really, really freakin' good espresso.)
You can't program passion and community buy-in; you can only hope to kindle it. When an IMBA Trail Care Crew goes into a town to teach best practices on everything from sustainable trail building to club building to relationship building, it's up to the locals to get excited and spend the next several hours discussing opportunities, who should do what and what the master plan should look like. That's exactly what happened in Lander, Wyo., last weekend. Steve and Morgan put a little lighter to the butts of club members and the mountain bike contingency of the Lander Cycling Club - including local land managers, local business owners and local bike shop staff - went off like a tinderbox.
As an IMBA paper-pusher, I don't get out into the field among "the people" very often. Trade shows don't count, because it's just a bunch of industry bros. As fun as those events are, the real inspiration comes from the grassroots level, where regular people with other jobs not related to bikes are making awesome riding experiences happen. It never fails to impress me how hard these people work and how much they care when they're not being paid to work so hard or care so much about being able to ride their mountain bikes legally and sustainably.
So, thank you. Anyone who volunteers in any capacity, whether you bake cookies as the trail mom or you go to public meetings about land use or you build incredible rock armored projects with a smile on your face, thank you. I look forward to returning to Lander to ride the sweeping, bermed turns Steve and Morgan laid out across a beautiful landscape.