Back in her hometown, Morgan joined the board of the Boulder Mountainbike Alliance (BMA), an IMBA-affiliated club. Since its inception in 1991, BMA has advocated successfully for more than 70 miles of new mountain bike trails in Boulder County and put in almost 32,000 hours of volunteer labor on trail projects. All of the trail work that BMA conducts is done with sustainability and water-resistant trail alignments in mind.
The devastating 2013 flood created an extreme test of the trail design principles that Steve and Morgan spent years promoting.
Initially, Boulder’s favorite mountain biking destinations were closed to public use while managing agencies surveyed the damage. In some places, entire hillsides had sloughed off and tumbled into the valleys. Several of the dirt roads permitting car access to the trails were completely washed out. The nearby town of Lyons – the hub for popular rides like Hall Ranch and Heil Valley Ranch – was completely shut off from the world.
Slowly, the public was allowed to return to Boulder’s trails. Even after such a deluge, the vast majority of sustainably designed trails held up beautifully.
“There was a stark contrast between the newly built trails that were designed with sustainability in mind and our older trails,” said Boulder County Parks and Open Space professional trail builder Mike Rutter. “Trails built with the IMBA model of rolling contours withstood the rains because there were so many places where drainage could occur. Even for our older trails, there was a noticeable difference for segments that we had retrofitted with sustainability in mind.”
Without a doubt, the floods in Boulder wrought tragedy. Lives were lost, homes were destroyed, and many natural areas were terribly damaged.
Yet, mixed with tragedy were opportunities to learn and improve the city’s resilience.
“Even before the flooding, we knew that many of our legacy trails were vulnerable,” said Rutter. “But the cost of rebuilding them was daunting. Now we have no choice. Some trails will never be rebuilt, but wherever possible we are going to replace poorly designed trails with the flowing, rolling contour approach that IMBA encourages.”
After the flood, Morgan, now vice president of BMA, and Mimi Mather, BMA president, were overwhelmed with offers of help from community businesses. Morgan spearheaded a successful BMA fundraising drive to help the city and county pay for trail-building tools, train crew leaders, and coordinate volunteer efforts. She’s confident that it won’t take long to get Boulder’s wheels spinning again.
Photos: Joshua Lawton
Meet the Subaru/IMBA Trail Care Crew
Photo: Joshua Lawton
On the road since 1997, the Subaru/IMBA Trail Care Crew features teams of professional trail experts traveling year-round throughout the United States and beyond, leading trail work sessions, meeting with land managers, and working with community leaders to help improve mountain biking opportunities. Each crew visit is anchored by IMBA’s highly respected, one-day Trail Building School. These sessions focus on the principles of sustainable trail building, helping local groups to create durable trails that require minimal maintenance and protect natural resources.
IMBA’s Specially Equipped Subaru Vehicles
Subaru is one of IMBA’s elite-level corporate supporters. It supplies Outback and XV Crosstrek vehicles for IMBA’s field-based staff, including nine regional directors and the roving Subaru/IMBA Trail Care Crew. The vehicles feature:
- Custom wraps with Subaru and IMBA branding
- Yakima® bike and gear racks
- Mountain bikes
“With Subaru support, IMBA has helped hundreds of communities learn how to build and repair trails. The Trail Care Crews are like modern-day Johnny Appleseeds – the recreational resources they create return value long after they have left town,” said Mike Van Abel, IMBA’s president and U.S. executive director.