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Getting to Know Mike Repyak, IMBA Trail Solutions Senior Project Manager

Last month, IMBA hired Repyak to head up overall project management for its fee-based trailbuilding arm. “I'm bringing my passion and excitement to be on a bike, along with my recreation planning experience, to help support IMBA’s mission to create great mountain biking experiences,” Repyak said. “I came from being a kid on a bike in the Wisconsin countryside, to getting my degree, to working in the ski resort and recreation industry. It seems like the stars have aligned to lead me to a job in my passion for creating great landscapes for riding.”

Repyak brings a well-rounded point of view to the job, since he has seen trail development from every angle. Besides being a rider, he’s worked as a land manager, a private consultant and as a volunteer. Being able to see each side of the process makes him ideal for the role. “The past two years that I worked with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources I learned a lot, especially from my involvement in planning and permitting processes, I had a chance to see from the inside what government agencies are faced with,” he said. “I have an understanding of how to address their concerns and needs.”

Riding the Colorado Trail

After earning a Bachelor of Science in Landscape Architecture from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Repyak spent the next fifteen years working as a planner and landscape architect for SE GROUP in Frisco, Colorado. Meanwhile, he was a volunteer with the Summit Fat Tire Society in nearby Breckenridge and remotely supporting Capital Off-Road Pathfinders (Dane County, Wisconsin IMBA Chapter) with planning and trail mapping,. “The mission (of IMBA) definitely rung a bell with me,” he said. “Taking the professional background of planning, design and build to support that mission is a great opportunity to take my skill set gained from private practice and land manager experience to Trail Solutions.”

Trail layout work in Breckenridge, Colo.

Projects he’s worked on include: developing a multi-use recreation plan for Emerald Mountain in Steamboat Springs, Colorado; improving trail connections from Diamond Peak Ski Area in Nevada to the Tahoe Rim and Incline Flume trails; working with the Capital Off Road Pathfinders in Wisconsin on trail expansion at CamRock County Park in Cambridge; and planning and developing trail system for ski areas in Colorado, New Mexico, California and Utah. His international experience encompasses projects in China, Norway, Turkey and South Korea.

“My favorite part of the process is the interface with stakeholders and trail users when it comes to the planning and vision for trails,” he said. “I like being able to take a holistic approach, applying planning techniques to each locale and what it needs… where specific parks fit, seeing the potential for connectivity, and educating land managers and municipalities of what is possible. Planning with environmental and social sustainability is the unifying theme.”

As always, sustainable doesn’t mean boring. “I’m really excited about the work Trail Solutions is doing with the Bureau of Land Management, analyzing what makes a quality trail experience,” Repyak said. “And I’m excited about being part of the IMBA and Trail Solutions team which is a valuable resource for groups and land agencies beyond just the planning and design.”

When asked if he could work on a project anywhere in the world, Repyak chose Norway. “It would be awesome to work on trails there, because the landscape is amazing and the people are great (thanks to Shane for kick-starting the opportunities there). Plus that’s my ancestral homeland. Bottom to top in Norway would be super cool.”

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