In 2019, IMBA Europe introduced the Trail Advocate of the Year award to highlight the exceptional work of trail advocates advancing mountain biking opportunities in their MTB community. There is no lack of passionate riders but sometimes we simply forget to give the tireless advocates the recognition they deserve. Especially in this COVID year, when trail usage heavily increased and new riders entered the sport. A super positive development to see more people on bikes but it also put a lot of pressure on local MTB advocates in terms of solving or preventing social user conflicts, preserve trail access, align with different recreational user groups and land managers. During the TCoYT campaign, they also had to find creative solutions to do trail maintenance work or trail clean ups in compliance with COVID measures.
Meet Mike Hanson, our Trail Advocate of the Year 2020 (m)
Mike is leading Woburn Bike Trails, a volunteer group of trail builders who design, build and maintain the Longslade and Danesborough mountain bike trails in Aspley Woods. Mike and all other volunteers have been working in partnership with the Greensand Trust since 2014 to help protect, manage and maintain all of the mountain biking and cycle trails throughout the Aspley Woods area.
‘Mike is someone who spends more time walking the trail, digging, carving, raking, planning, talking with land managers and solving problems with zero budget to his name. He gives up his time to create, maintain and enhance our permissive trail network, whilst organising an ever evolving and changing group of volunteers, whilst acting as spokes person and liaison all as one’, said James MacKeddie. MacKeddie is one of the volunteers of the group and nominated Mike for the Trail Advocate of the Year Award.
‘Mike does not seek the limelight, talks about Woburn Bike Trails to volunteers and community as we, and over the past 6+ years has logged more hours in woods than anyone, however not on a bike but with tools. The best way to summarise – Mike is Woburn Bike Trails and there would be no Woburn Bike Trails without him’ continues MacKeddie.
Considered as one of Mikes biggest and latest achievement is pivoting throughout Covid 19, to ensure that the trails get much needed attention, as riding usage has seen an all-time high with people staying/forced to be more local. The volunteer group also established 4km of newly build trails, sanctioned by the land managers, that work around existing badger sets and ground nesting birds. The new trail is graded to accommodate new riders to learn skills and gain confidence. Expanding the trail network reduced the wear on the existing trails and increased the permissive riding in the area, which is a hub for mountain biking north of London. Becoming part of the Take Care of Your Trails campaign resulted in a big shift in numbers of volunteer attending in the following months, willing to give their free time to contribute to the trails.
Mountain biking continues to grow in popularity amongst women. It’s not just more women practicing mountain biking, we also see a gradual increase of female trail crew members, advocates, trainers and guides. That is really exciting! We’d like to embrace and encourage this development and hope to see many more women follow this example, increasingly fill leadership roles, making our MTB community more inclusive step by step.
That’s why the Trail Advocate of the Year award has both a men’s ánd women’s category. Time to put the 2020 winner of the women’s category in the spotlight.
Meet Corinne Dutertre, our Trail Advocate of the Year 2020 (w)
Corinne is both president and trainer at Vélo club du Pays de Fayence (FR). In practice, she does a lot more from hosting events to organizing trail maintenance days or liase with local authorities and land managers. Corinne loves to train all different groups of the club after she obtained here federal training certificate. Whether it is the group of youngsters, the Enduro group for teenagers or the leisure group for adults, she does it all.
‘Corinne Dutretre is a great ambassador for our sport! Her Take Care of Your Trails event and follow up on it were impeccable as it was last year already. During this year’s two day event, she managed to raise awareness about the importance of maintaining trails by making sure everyone from her club and local community were involved : the instructors, the youngest riders in the club, the parents and the mayor of Bagnols-en-Forêt to obtain the permission for the event. She’s just a great trail advocate all year round as she organizes different events, ensures the trails are well maintained and encourages kids to start mountain biking’, said Cathy Naveax, national coordinator of Mountain Bikers Foundation.
Besides the honor, our Trail Advocates of the Year will receive the Showers Pass IMBA Jacket. This feature-loaded lightweight yet durable waterproof-breathable hardshell is ready to hit the trails and to resist severe wheather conditions.