By Lani Bruntz
Everyday it happens like clockwork: I meet another rider on the trail, or am just pumping gas, and I get asked, “So, where do you live?” I still stumble over the answer, which usually ends up being, “On the road,” or, “In that there Subaru.”
Before I can explain, I am interrupted with, “But where do you really live?” Depending on the day, I usually just give an answer that people are expecting to hear, which is to pick one place, a definitive home-base that I go back to. I either tell them Idaho, where I lived one year ago, or Colorado, where I grew up.
But the truth is, my boyfriend Jordan Carr and I live out of a brightly colored, hard-to-miss Subaru Outback, flashing the IMBA logo, complete with two Trek bikes on the back and a Yakima roof box bursting with dirty riding gear and trail building tools. We travel the country working to share our passion for mountain biking and trail-based recreation as members of the Subaru-IMBA Trail Care Crew. We visit a different community each and every weekend to educate the local mountain bikers and trail users on sustainable trail development. We collaborate with land managers to find the balance between their agency goals and providing quality recreational opportunities to benefit both locals and visitors. We discuss the health and economic benefits with community officials in hopes of getting them excited about trails.
Every weekend, whether it’s in Brookings, South Dakota; or Ithaca, New York; or Moab, Utah; we are welcomed into the community by enthusiastic mountain bikers eager to improve access to trails and the experience of those trails. I accepted this job dreaming of all the different trails I would ride, and never adequately anticipated the impact these communities would have on me. In each place we visit, passionate individuals have mobilized into tight-knit communities—individuals who may have never crossed paths otherwise. It is a passion for the sport of mountain biking and a passion to build and have high-quality trail experiences that bond these individuals.
Regardless of anyone’s profession, background, or even their riding ability level, bikes break barriers that would otherwise inhibit relationships. Riding bikes provides a platform for friendships to develop and, most of all, for a community of likeminded individuals to flourish. As the Subaru-IMBA Trail Care Crew, my boyfriend and I take bits and pieces from each visit and share them with the next, weaving together a stronger, bigger and more inclusive community of mountain bikers. And while nothing puts a smile on my face quicker than a rowdy, rocky trail, or a fast, flowy section that rips through aspen groves, it is the close but diverse communities of trail lovers that make me want to settle down and find my place—to have my own community that I can be a part of.
I am indeed one of the millennial generation who is deliberately choosing to lead a different life than the stereotypically mapped-out path of my parents’ generation: the baby boomers. The majority of folks I get to work with are ‘Boomers, and the idea of not having a home is foreign to most of them. While I sometimes agree with the person who wants to hear “Ketchum, Idaho,” in response to their question about where I live, the “IMBAru” is my place for now and allows me to get a taste of communities all over the country.
See if the IMBA Trail Care Crew is going to be in your neck of the woods this year and sign up to participate.