The Tahoe Area Mountain Biking Association (TAMBA) is a volunteer-driven nonprofit organization that builds, maintains, and advocates for multi-use trails in Tahoe while providing education to all trail users and hosting fun community events. TAMBA works in partnership with land managers such as the U.S. Forest Service, Nevada State Parks, California State Parks, and the City of South Lake Tahoe. In addition, TAMBA helps maintain more than 100 miles of trail per year.
TAMBA is dedicated to the stewardship of sustainable, multiple-use trails and to preserving access for mountain bikers through advocacy, education and promotion of responsible trail use.
The History of TAMBA
1988 to 2001:
The original TAMBA was organized in 1988 by Kathlee Martin and Jesse Desens in North Lake Tahoe and Gary Bell in South Lake Tahoe. The three developed a model program driven by volunteers who helped build trails and educate riders. Although never called upon, TAMBA even developed a bike search and rescue team, a first in the nation. After attending an IMBA meeting in 1988 where they learned about educating riders about responsible riding and protecting bike access on trails, the small group of local mountain bike pioneers recognized the need for a unified voice to represent the passion and growth of the sport. As spokespeople for mountain biking in the Tahoe-Truckee area, TAMBA grew quickly as a legitimate user group working with land managers. By 1996, they had well over 1,500 members.
Due to the hard work of the three founders and folks like Greg Forsyth of Cyclepaths, pro-racer Max Jones, local bike shops and many other individuals, TAMBA made progress in getting bike access returned to many closed trails and launched very successful education and trail maintenance programs. Gary Bell’s wife, Becky, also worked tirelessly with IMBA and the offices of California Senators Feinstein and Boxer to keep mountain bike trails near Mr. Toad’s, Kirkwood, and Caples Creek out of proposed wilderness designations. Greg Forsyth and Aaron Martin also promoted fun events and races like the Tahoe Roubaix and Tahoe Fat Tire Festival that defined Tahoe’s bike culture, attracting attention and riders to Tahoe and Truckee. The growing bike park at Northstar held annual fundraising events for TAMBA as well.
2001 to 2003:
While still very involved with the organization, Gary and Becky Bell passed the torch to a new board in 2001. Dave Hamilton, Dave Cooper, Greg Forsyth, and Gregg Betonte led the group during a major time of transition in the bike world when big downhill bikes evolved the sport once again, challenging land managers to address the desires of this new riding style. Over time, however, interest in TAMBA waned and the organization faded away.
2003 to 2010:
TAMBA was inactive and lost its nonprofit status. Unfortunately, there was no organization in the Tahoe area representing mountain bikers and working with the U.S. Forest Service, which was very active in trail building during this time. Wanting input from local mountain bikers, the Forest Service partnered with IMBA to host the Tahoe Trails Conference in October 2010. After the conference, multiple community meetings were held that fall to discuss how to bring back an active mountain bike organization. After lots of input, it was decided that we should bring back TAMBA and resurrect the former organization.
2011 to Present:
The new TAMBA held its first meeting in late January 2011, led by Lauren Lindley, John Drum, Ben Fish, Kevin Joell, Nils Miller, Pete Fink, and Linda George.
The new leadership of TAMBA immediately tasked themselves with major goals, including:
1. Input on a Forest Plan revision that included wilderness proposals that potentially could have banned bikes from Freel Meadows and Meiss Meadows (Mr. Toads, Christmas Valley and TRT)
2. Rebuilding trails at the top of Kingsbury Grade (to become the Stinger Trail, finished in 2016)
3. Create a community bike park (to become the Bijou Bike Park, built in 2015)
4. Aid in the rebuild of mountain bike-specific features on Corral Trails (built between 2014-2017)
5. Secure a Volunteer Services Agreement with the U.S. Forest Service and other land managers to contribute to regular maintenance and trailing building
6. Secure permits from the U.S. Forest Service to host fundraising events
7. Create a geographically-diverse membership base
Currently TAMBA is thriving with successful partnerships with all major agencies and land managers in the Tahoe area. TAMBA has a track record of built projects since 2011, including Corral Trail, Kingsbury Stinger, Bijou Bike Park, Snapdragon Trail, Sunflower Hill Trail, and continued upgrades to popular trails like Tyrolean, Stanford Rock, Sidewinder, Armstrong Connector, Christmas Valley, Mr. Toads, Flume Trail and more.
TAMBA has a 15-person volunteer leadership team and a 30-person volunteer trail crew leader program, three seasonal part-time staff, and a budget in excess of $100,000 for 2017.