Brian Kelly breaks out the heavy artillery during a TAMBA trail day on the Christmas Valley Trail in South Lake Tahoe. All photos by Brian Fish.

Story by Seth Lightcap, Photos by Ben Fish

udging by the number of mountain bikers that ride trails on the daily, yet never help build or maintain them, you would assume that singletrack grows on trees. Just shake the branches and down falls a sweet berm corner right? Not so much.

Pick up a shovel and start digging a trail and you’ll quickly realize that every inch of new or rehabbed trail is hard earned…and the shovel work is often the easy part. The planning and permitting process for building a new legal trail is typically beyond difficult, bordering on impossible.

It would be nice if we could water the ground and grow trails, but the reality is, trail building and maintenance is hard work on paper and in practice. Which is all the more reason to support mountain bike trail stewardship organizations if you’re an avid rider. These groups are doing the dirty work for your dirty fun! Becoming a member and volunteering for your local trail crew is the best investment you can make towards improved future trail riding opportunities in and around your region.

No doubt many of you enjoy riding the singletrack around Lake Tahoe so you’ll be interested to hear about two new trail groups in the Sierra that are worthy of your support. The Tahoe Area Mountain Bike Association and the Truckee Pump Track Project both have exciting plans in the works. Read on to hear what they are up to, and if you like what you hear, don’t just get stoked, donate!

TAMBA's tools of trade.

Tahoe Area Mountain Bike Association (TAMBA) –

Like a phoenix rising from the dust of a blown out switchback, the Tahoe Area Mountain Bike Association is a new incarnation of a decades old Tahoe trail stewardship group. TAMBA was originally founded in 1988 as an IMBA chapter that lobbied for mountain bike access to Tahoe trails. After success opening many Tahoe trailheads to fat tires in the 1990s, the group slowly disbanded.

In 2011, TAMBA was resurrected and re-organized with the mission to promote new sustainable, multi-use trails, help maintain existing trails and preserve trail access for mountain bikers. Though they’ve been back on their feet for less than a year, TAMBA’s efforts have already found substantial support.

“Our biggest success thus far has been our growth,” said TAMBA president Kevin Joell. “We went from a small group of people who talked about reviving the organization in October 2010 to ending 2011 with over 350 paid members.That growth has helped us do a significant amount of volunteer trail work last year and forge positive relationships with several land managers in Tahoe.”

No doubt TAMBA’s project list has riders from around the Tahoe basin and beyond aligning with the group. They are planning for exciting trail work in both North Tahoe and South Tahoe for many years to come. Just don’t expect miles of brand new singletrack to pop out of the ground overnight, says Joell.

“New trails in Tahoe are a multi-year project just to be able to break ground,” said Joell. “The trails that are being built now were planned several years ago and the new projects we are
helping plan now won’t be in the ground for several years.”

Looking for a new Tahoe trail to ride this summer? The Sierra Canyon Trail is a new 9-mile connector trail from Gonoa, NV to the Tahoe Rim Trail that was completed in late 2011 thanks to the tireless efforts of the Carson Valley Trail Association.

That said, the group does have a couple new trail projects in the works that should see tire tracks sometime soon. TAMBA is spearheading the effort to build new pump tracks in South Lake Tahoe and Reno. A pump track is a short looping trail system built to be ridden without pedalling. The berms and bump runs found in pump tracks provide infinite fun in a finite area, much like a skate park. According to Joell, both tracks are likely to break ground this spring/summer and represent important successes in TAMBA’s MTB advocacy mission.

“Pump tracks are important because they will be high profile in their respective communities,” said Joell. “It will take dedicated volunteers to build and maintain them, and they will enable us to introduce mountain biking to more people, especially the youth. That will help with continued growth of the sport and energy for our other trail projects.”

The TAMBA crew will also break out the McLeod rakes to help rehab and maintain existing trails. Once a month from May to October, TAMBA hosts a trail work day including a free BBQ lunch for volunteers. Potential locations for 2012 trail work days include Angora, Mr. Toads, Tyrolean Downhill, Burton Creek State Park, Missing Link and the Snow Peak TRT. Tentative trail work dates are May 19, June 9, July 21, August 25, September 8 and October 13.

For information on TAMBA or to become a member visit

Truckee Pump Track Project –

Never fear North Tahoe riders, you need not feel left out by TAMBA’s proposed pump tracks in Reno and South Lake Tahoe. There is also a pump track coming to a town near you – Truckee! The Truckee Pump Track Project is working towards the construction of a 17,000 sq ft pump track facility adjacent to the current BMX track at the Riverview Sports Park in Truckee.

The project has gone from concept to reality in less than a year thanks to the efforts of co-founders Brooks McMullin and Mark Featherstone. Upon organizing the idea last summer, the two friends have been bombarded with support.

“The Truckee community has totally embraced us, from the municipal boards to the local riders,” said McMullin. “Even people who aren’t able to donate money have donated time or services.”

The first phase of the pump track facility will include a pump park with multiple cross-over lines, an intermediate track and a ‘toddler’ track circling the outside. The track design was created by renowned trail builder Randy Spangler thanks to an IMBA Trail Building grant and substantial donations from Specialized, High Fives Foundation and many others. In March, the plans were approved by the Truckee Rec and Park District, who also gave the go ahead to break ground this spring.

The construction schedule is tentative as the project still needs to raise about a quarter of their estimated $43,000 construction budget, including $8,000 in dirt costs. If you happen to have a dump truck load of clean, clay-rich dirt that you’d like to contribute the group is open to both in-kind and monetary donations. The plan is to have Spangler and his crew build the course in the span of about two weeks in May or June of this year. Once completed, the Truckee pump track will be open sunrise to sunset, seven days a week, with short daily closures to allow for irrigation. Yeah, you heard right, the track will have sprinklers lining the course!

“The Truckee pump track will be a fun place for riders of all abilities to build their bike skills and socialize with friends,” said McMullin. “If you’re interested in helping making it happen, find us on Facebook and make a donation.”

After connecting with the Truckee Pump Track Project on Facebook, look out for an announcement about an April fundraiser party featuring a movie premiere and live music.


Mountain Bike Trail Advocacy Groups By Region

Auburn – Folsom Auburn Trail Riders Action Coalition (FATRAC) –

Downieville – Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship (SBTS) –

East Bay Area – Bicycle Trails Council Of The East Bay (BTCEB) –

Forest City – Forest Trails Alliance (FTA) –

Kern County – Southern Sierra Fat Tire Association (SSFTA) –

Lake Tahoe – Tahoe Area Mountain Bike Association (TAMBA) –

Los Angeles – Concerned Off-road Bicyclist Association (CORBA) –

Marin County – Access4Bikes –

Marin County – Marin County Bicycle Coalition (MCBC) –

Mendocino County – Ukiah Valley Trail Group (UVTG) –

Monterey – Monterey Off Road Cycling Association (MORCA) –

Nevada City – Bicyclists Of Nevada County (BONC) –

Orange County – Share Mountain Bike Club –

Pasadena – Mount Wilson Bicycling Association (MWBA) –

Reno – Poedunks –

San Diego – San Diego Mountain Bike Association (SDMBA) –

San Luis Obispo – Central Coast Concerned Mountain Bikers (CCCMB) –

San Mateo and Santa Clara County – Responsible Organized Mountain Pedalers (ROMP) –

Santa Barbara – Santa Barbara Mountain Bike Trail Volunteers (SBMTV) –

Santa Cruz – Mountain Bikers Of Santa Cruz (MBOSC) –

Sonoma County – Sonoma County Trails Council (SCTC) –

Tehachapi – Tehachapi Mountain Trails Association (TMTA) –