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I Like Maps

‘Maps are both a useful tool and magic carpet to faraway places…’

My name is Leslie.  I like maps.  I take that back….I really like maps.

Some of you might know me from my travels with one, Chris Kehmeier.  Together we were the 14th Trail Care Crew, living in a Subaru from 2009 to 2011.  Since leaving the road last July, I’m been jumping back into my chosen profession, GIS work and mapping.

Better yet, I get to do this work for IMBA in my new role as a Mapping Specialist.

Way back when, I decided to become a geographer for a few reasons, one being to make "pretty maps."  I was also trying to avoid math, but that’s another story.  During my time at the University of Colorado I would come to find out that "pretty maps" were great for impressing your classmates, but clearly not going to change the world.  Or so I thought at the time.

A lot has changed about mapping and the way we do it since I emerged from my collegiate cocoon 17 years ago.  Back in the day I had learned how to make maps by hand before I transitioned to a computer.  Yes, that’s right, a map by hand.  Drafted with pens and paper.  Yes, seriously.

Today paper maps are not a thing of the past, but they have definitely become somewhat dwarfed by the advent of computers, the internet and mobile phones.  There is now an overwhelming plethora of electronic information at our fingertips and we have the ability to look at our world from a digital birdseye view.

In my new role,  I will be leading the charge to immerse IMBA in the world of mapping.  Since almost everything we do is location-based, we have the great opportunity to connect people to the world of mountain bike advocacy in a way that’s both graphically informative and visually exciting.  From the regions we cover to the members we serve, right down to the trails we ride, the Mapping Program will further IMBA’s mission to ‘protect, create, and enhance great trails experiences for mountain bikers worldwide’.

Or to put it more simply, IMBA is going to do what I envisioned almost two decades ago — make pretty maps that can change the world.

Send Leslie your ideas for the kinds of maps you'd like IMBA to produce: leslie [dot] kehmeier [at] imba [dot] com

+ Comment On This Post


We love maps too!!

Hello Leslie, love your story above and how you are using GIS to further advocate mountain biking. I too have a similar story that I detail on our website for wanting to map our trails. We have started up a local organization for trail advocacy, maintenance, fun, races, etc.; but the organization stemmed from wanting to advocate through standardized maps...essentially helping others find and use the trails and feel confident that they know where they are while riding. We have completed two local trail maps, working on four others, and also wrapping up a new trail map for an IMBA project at Fountainhead Regional Park in Northern Virginia. I was out there GPSing while 402 trails and other teams were building it...that was awesome to witness. If you are interested in seeing the two published maps, you can see them under the trails link on We just uploaded a draft of the IMBA project at Fountainhead to our facebook page. You can see that at:!/pages/Fredericksburg-Area-Mountain-Bike-Enthusiasts-FAMBE/227332237281546 Would love any feedback. It woudl also be cool for IMBA to like our maps!!! :)

I like maps too

topoiculitius, toponography, topofilia, terrafilia maybe there's a support group for map geeks like us?

map on my contour sista!

Way to go!

The perfect person for an awesome job.
Good to see it.

Even with all the options and amazing technology available to us these days I for one still prefer to stand trail side with a folded paper map in my hand. I will forward an idea or two your way soon.

Your job is my dream job! I

Your job is my dream job! I love mountain biking and making maps! Do you have any that can be viewed online? I'd love to see them. If you ever have some free time, check out the maps on my blog, Looking forward to seeing the maps.

Leslie's map rock

Kevin -- Leslie's map are going to rock. Here's a map she produced a few years ago for IMBA. Not the format or scope of the work she's digging into for us now, but it provides a taste of the skill and dedication she pours into trail maps.