We’re well into the first year of building MTB Project, IMBA's ride guide and mountain bike trail map resource. Since launching the site in the spring, our dedicated contributors have published a vast array of information, including more than 17,000 miles of rides and trails—thank you!
As one would imagine, that means there’s an overwhelming amount of data to sort through and review. We aim to make accurate and appropriate content one of the site's hallmarks, and is not a job we take lightly. Although it can be daunting, the IMBA/Adventure Projects team is committed to reviewing every single video, photo and trail description that appears on the MTB Project pages that we oversee.
As IMBA's mapping specialist, I’m charged with reviewing the trails. Every morning I wake up, sit down with a strong cup of coffee and begin the daily process of verifying content. Every trail or trail segment cataloged on the MTB Project site must be open to bikes and legal to ride. Once I get in a rhythm, I can usually knock out a good chunk of information before my second Americano.
How do I verify this information?
I start with personal knowledge from my travels on the Subaru/IMBA Trail Care Crew. I gained firsthand experience working and riding on trails all over the country thanks to numerous local groups that hosted our visits. Beyond that, I spend a fair amount of quality time with Google, tracking down official land management agency maps and data. Sometimes this goes quickly, but I can also spend more time than I'd care to admit doing really fun things such as reconfiguring key words in Google's search box. When Internet queries fail, I contact land managers directly.
Those folks are usually happy to hear from me and appreciate knowing that we mountain bikers are taking the time to do our best in representing trail information accurately. Since land managers' time and resources are limited, they rely on local advocates and engaged visitors to help them with best trail practices—everything from maintenance to making great maps.
As we move forward with MTB Project and develop its regional administrator network, we’re looking forward to including as many land managers as possible. During the recent (and incredibly successful) IMBA Pacific Northwest Summit, I was approached by a very engaged land manager offering to review content for Oregon and Washington. It was gratifying to see this level of enthusiasm — the more we can get people involved in MTB Project, the closer we get to having the best possible mountain bike ride and trail resource on the web.
I’m looking forward to my final trip of the year to present IMBA Mapping and MTB Project when I head to the Southeast next month, where the riding season is still in full swing. I’ll be buried in trail approvals when I return, hopefully from my time spent in the field rallying another part of the population to contribute.