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Hitting the ground running, from IMBA's new Upper Midwest region director

By Michelle Barker, IMBA Midwest Region Director

The first two weeks on IMBA payroll passed in the best kind of whirlwind. While sitting in the airport following a few days of meetings at IMBA's Colorado headquarters, I was able to reflect on my travels, conversations with friends old and new, and the great trails and opportunities that exist in the Midwest.

The first trip with the IMBA Subaru was a test run to Decorah, IA,; test the car, test the bike rack, test my cold weather gear. We surprised the local mountain bikers and rode some gravel to celebrate the New Year.

Shortly into my tenure, I met with the rest of the Upper Midwest IMBA team in Milwaukee. Part of the time was spent talking with Derek from Ray’s Indoor Mountain Bike Park and Matt from the Wisconsin Bike Federation; the rest of the time was used to engage in regional planning.

Later that week, I had the opportunity to make a stop at Quality Bicycle Products (QBP) and attend the Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Crew's Master Vision for Trails unveiling. We talked fat bikes and trail opportunities at QBP, and I experienced the power of community in Crosby, MN.

Week two saw me spending time in the Madison, WI, area, first at Trek Headquarters in Waterloo, WI. I met with Joe to discuss all things mountain biking, and left with some reading and some pondering. That evening saw me in attendance at a meeting with a group of advocates in to discuss their local trail plan.

The weekend took me back to Milwaukee for Ray’s IMBA weekend. It was a prime opportunity to connect with advocates and volunteers from Milwaukee area, including chapter leaders from Metro Mountain Bikers. Thanks to Vance, I was able to ride some great Trek bicycles in their natural environment!

Reflecting on the first two weeks, I can’t keep the grin off my face while thinking back to the travels and ahead to future adventures.

About Michelle:

A bike shop colleague invited Michelle on a mountain bike ride shortly after she started in the industry. All it took was one ride and she was converted. Advocacy followed soon after and Michelle was involved not only in her local chapter, but also in community planning, serving on commissions, and writing grants. Her experiences in finance and education have played a key role in her advocacy efforts. Multi-day mountain bike trips, with craft beer stops and eclectic food options, still top her list for a perfect vacation, made even better if they include a stop to explore the local bookstore. She has completed many of these trips with her family and seen destinations and great mountain biking throughout the U.S. and Canada.

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