What we’ve been up to lately

-Roanoke IMBA helped support the recent Mill Mountain “Earth Day Work Day” by providing lunch for the volunteers who came out to work on the trails. Volunteers picked up trash, trimmed bushes and cut deadfall, fixed muddy trail spots by adding water diverters and armoring, and blowing leaves.

-A trail proposal has also been submitted so flagging for new trails at Mill Mountain will happen this summer.

-Roanoke IMBA is sponsoring the “Lakeside Trail” building effort at Carvins Cove by providing most of the humanpower and all of the tools required.  (Tools to date = $690.00, Work Hours to date = countless). Construction continues with less than 1 mile left to join with Hemlock Tunnel.  This last mile will include some of the most challenging sections to build on the whole trail, so be on the lookout for emails and watch Facebook for opportunities to come help out.  You can also contact Steve Powers at fishdoc.powers@gmail.com for more details and opportunities to help out.

-Roanoke IMBA has contributed $1100.00 in fuel & power equipment rental fees for the Blue Ridge Gravity (BRG) sponsored trail at Carvins Cove.  We also purchased over $500.00 in hand-tools to be able to loan to BRG for the duration of the project.

-RIMBA gave $30.00 scholarships to 8 Chapter members who attended Roanoke City’s Parks & Rec “Chainsaw Safety” certification class in May 2014.

-Richard Blackwood helped us get set up with Meetup. Sign up here if you haven’t already: http://www.meetup.com/Roanoke-International-Mountain-Biking-Association/

-Roanoke IMBA is collecting donations (and contributing $1000) for concept/design work for a proposed bike skills park in the Town of Blacksburg at the bottom of Gateway Trail.

-Roanoke IMBA represented mountain biker interests in a stakeholders meeting held by The New River Land Trust and Mountain Lake Conservancy regarding the conservation plan (including trail development) for Mountain Lakes Conservancy in Giles County.

-Over the past year, RIMBA in conjunction with NRVBA has held a number of trail work days at Pandapas Pond near Blacksburg, addressing mud-prone section of Poverty Creek Trail.

-To date, 20 miles of singletrack have been cleared and re-opened on Price Mountain and Patterson Mountain in Botetourt County. We are calling this trail system Patterson Creek Trail System. See our website for a map.


If you saw our previous post then you also know we have a new President, Craig Riddle. Look out for more socials, more rides, and more social rides.


Welcome Pres Riddler!

Jeff Busche, former acting President, and Emily Painter, former Secretary, have departed the board of Roanoke IMBA after serving since its inaugural meeting in October 2011. When the board was developed they took the roles of Secretary and Trails Chair, then Jeff volunteered to take the lead when Skip (former president) resigned. Jeff and Emily were crucial to the development of RIMBA and their contribution, from large scale, like revitalizing Price & Patterson Mountain trails, establishing Roanoke’s first Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day, and planning what we hope will be an annual holiday party shared with BRBC and any other bike clubs who’d like to join in, to the less seen, but crucial to functioning tasks of the President, like insurance coverage, negotiating with the city, Parks and Rec. and others, to purchasing tools for trail work.  We’re appreciative of their efforts while we welcome, Craig, a former board member, and new acting President. We’re sure that he’ll manage the details while building the fun-factor that a club like RIMBA should have.

Craig says, “The main goal I’m hoping we can achieve is to provide a good foundation for social community amongst all trail user groups.  Additionally, I’m hoping we can continue our efforts in local trail advocacy and maintenance/building.” Craig adds that he’d like to be as inclusive as possible with “cross-socializing.” “Outdoor enthusiasts are one tribe really,” he says.

RIMBA is still in need of a secretary, so if you or anyone you know is interested, please contact Emily at secretary@roanokeimba.org

“Happy Valley”


“There was once a beautiful place in our Valley called “Happy Valley” where all the people living there were kin –if not by blood certainly by spirit,” writes Helen Prillaman in Places Near The Mountains. Happy Valley, named by the first minister there, is now Carvin’s Cove Reservoir, a place us mountain bikers know in varying depths of intimacy. Whether we stick to the lowers, take to the uppers, hit the fire road on cross bikes, or hang a hammock at the edge of  Enchanted Forest to search the sky for osprey and eagles, we leave the cove feeling better, more grounded, more peaceful, and more joyful. It might be for this that we are so devotedly impassioned by our desires to ensure its protection.

It was thru a conversation about the cove with my friend, Carol, a native of the Hollins area, a former leader in the Horseman’s Association, and a woman with a passion for trails and forests, that I came to know Places Near The Mountains which recounts the history of the cove including some details of the families who lived there prior to the dam. In the Forward is written the Chinese Proverb, “To forget one’s ancestors is to be a book without a source, a tree without a root.” Carol, understands the rich history of the cove and worked to have many of the trails we know named in honor of the families who resided there prior to the building of the dam.

There were 59 families in Happy Valley, and some of their names may sound familiar to you, though other historical names have since been changed.  The cove is named after William Carvin, who was the first to take up land there according to the book. William Carvin is important grammatically as well as historically. It should be Carvin’s Cove, but it’s officially Carvins Cove. Native Americans surely came before, but I could not find enough in writing to share their pre-Carvin history.

At one time Happy Valley was home to Dr. Jacob Kern (Jacob’s Drop), then his son, Senator John W. Kern who built Kerncliff, a summer home overlooking the road and creek bottoms. Joseph Leonard operated a sawmill; Charles Riley a general store, Densmore Poultry operated a hatchery. There was an inn, a school, and a church, Cove Alum Baptist, which was “the social center.” Wife of Senator Kern, Aramenta Kern, founded Tuck-A-Way Park which was built near Cove Alum Springs, and hosted concerts drawing large crowds from Roanoke.

In November of 1926 the Manager of Roanoke Water Works announced that a dam had been planned for Carvin’s Cove to supply water to the city of Roanoke; the 59 families residing there would be displaced. The school was soon torn down, as was the church. The church bell, a donation of Mrs. Kern, went to Catawba Valley Baptist Church, where I believe it is still today. But the homes and businesses fundamental to the functioning of Happy Valley did not survive. The dam was complete in 1928 though not put to use until the early 40’s. Within a decade there was demand for additional water and the tunnel through Tinker Mountain was planned, as well a tunnel to divert Catawba Creek to the cove.

Carol shares that she wanted the trail names to reflect the history and to honor the sacrifice that was forced upon this community. She’s a bit miffed that Clownhead (now Hemlock Tunnel) was chosen over Layman Trail. James Layman resided in Carvin’s Cove for 45 years and served as a deacon, Sunday School superintendent, and Justice of the Peace. Hammond Trail, today’s Gauntlet,  was proposed for Dr. Hammond who drove his buggy about to provide medical care. Tinnell Trail, for the Tinnells who worked a 400 acre farm and also taught school, became Buck’s Rutt.

We don’t need more reasons to endear ourselves to the cove; we all declare “how lucky we are,” but it is my hope that this brief history adds to our roots and enriches our experiences. I’m so glad Carol shared her knowledge, history, and Places Near The Mountains. The book is available on Amazon and at our local libraries, and several websites have briefer accounts. Maybe one of you, who knows the history and landmarks best, will be inspired to lead a ride –a guided tour by bike– of what’s not underwater but remains to be seen.

Explore Park, Where History & MTB Racing Unite

Wake Fulp, leader of the East Coaster’s Junior Cycling Team, provided the following updates happening at Explore Park. Thanks to Wake & the Junior Team for all of your work. We look forward to the upcoming race season!
Per Wake:
The  JR Team will be hosting the Roanoke Valley Junior Mountain Bike Series this April through June. It will be a 3 race series with the 1st race on April 12th which will also be the 1st race in the VAHS (Virginia High School) series. We will have the final 2 dates secured this week and a website within 2 weeks. All 3 events will be at Explore Park. We will be offering Varsity, Junior Varsity, Elementary A and B for 8-6 years of age, Youth 5-4 and Youth 3-2. Both of the Youth classes will be free. There will be overall series awards for Varsity, JV and Elementary classes as well as overall school award for each class.
Roanoke County Parks Department has given me the opportunity to restore and re-route the current trails. We have a 4 mile loop that we are working on for the series which will start by the river at the old “Journeys End” store. From the starting area riders will climb the road and turn onto the Nature Trail and take right on the upper section to connect to the Intermediate Trail. After crossing the bridge riders will climb and take a left onto the Endurance Loop and will take that to the Inner Loop until they come to our new connector trail which takes riders down an optional bolder drop and into a super fun banked turn to a jump finish to connect with the River Trail. Riders will follow this until the 3rd dirt road on the left that takes you to the stable. From the stable riders take a right and do a loop around the historical village before shooting over the bridge and back to the finish.
Trail projects completed so far include: Trail head, road connector trail for the Nature Trail, the restoration of the trail right after the bridge on the Intermediate Loop, which included moving 3 huge boulders in place, Inner Loop connector with the River Trail with an A and B line and this Saturday we started on the restoration of the Endurance Loop. Future projects include, finishing the Endurance Loop, re-route of the switchback climb after the bridge and building a 3 foot high 180 degree berm near the creek on the Intermediate Loop.

THE Holiday Party

Maybe you’re wondering why RIMBA has joined with the Blue Ridge Bicycle Club for a holiday party, and one which is taking place well after Christmas trees are back in attics and new year resolutions are already being broken?  Some of us thought it might be a good idea. Here’s why:

We may love bikes of only one type, or of all shapes and wheel sizes, but we can’t all ride together –your downhill bike and my road bike just won’t do. We can, however, collaborate, compromise, and get together over a drink in celebration, in honor of the machine(s) which have changed our lives immeasurably, and indirectly made us friends, riding companions, improved our relationship with the natural world,  with our sons and daughters, or with the youth otherwise at risk of maladies of poverty.  It makes sense that we should toast to the New Year, to the glowing future of cycling in the Roanoke Valley, and to the bonds that bring us together.

When the BRBC suggested early January to accommodate their board elections, we said, “Sure, that’s fine with us.” No one needed one more party packed into December anyhow. And now it’s January, a new year, a fine time to reconnect, catch up, and welcome new folks.

We hope you’ll join us for the first ever Roanoke IMBA and Blue Ridge Bicycle Club Holiday Party this Saturday, January 11th at Parkway Brewing. Membership to at least one of the clubs is encouraged, and required if you wish to have a drink or bite to eat on us.

You can join Roanoke IMBA by going to our website, click Join, and select Roanoke IMBA as your Chapter. You may also join at the door. You can also come, check us out, chat us up, and decide after the party. Either way, we look forward to seeing you Saturday!

An Interview with the Man Behind the Ditch Witch


Everyone who rides, hikes, runs, or hunts illegally at the cove has seen him. You’ve surely passed him, skirted around him, turned around to avoid him, or pulled up for a chat and a thankful pat on the back. He’s actively involved with Pathfinders for Greenways and with RIMBA, and when he’s not working as an electrical engineer or attending a board meeting, he’s probably doing trail work at the cove.

RIMBA got together with Brian Batteiger to ask some questions about the man himself, his vision for local mountain biking, Carvins Cove, his work with the greenways, and more.

Brian is from Evansville, Indiana, and says that though he’s lived and ridden all over, “Roanoke is by far my favorite place to live.” See what else there is to know about this dedicated and passionate man:

1/ Will you provide some clarification on Roanoke Valley Greenways, 

The Greenway Commission, and Pathfinders for Greenways?

Roanoke Valley Greenways is not an organization; it is actually the local greenways and all the organizations and staff behind them.  By the way, many times the dirt trails are also called greenways and their mileage is lumped together often to report out on total greenway or trail mileage, which is normal practice across the country.

The Greenway Commission is made up of representatives from Roanoke City, Roanoke County, Salem, and Vinton, plus representatives from most of the local user groups and organizations that support the greenways.  It meets every month on the fourth Wednesday at the Roanoke County Administration building at 4pm.  Most of the people at these meetings do this as part of their jobs.

The Pathfinders for Greenways is a volunteer non-profit organization that was started to support the Roanoke Valley Greenways by promoting them, finding funding and volunteering on projects.  All board members are also very interested in trails of all kinds from paved trails to the most rugged back country trails.  So this group is usually involved in most of the local trail projects in one way or another.  The interesting thing about this group is that we have representatives from most of the user groups and we focus on promoting multiuse trails in order to pool resources.  I think I can safely say that Pathfinders has by far the largest trail building tool and equipment inventory in the area thanks to our generous supporters and matching grants we have won.  Our volunteers have a great selection of tools to choose from and we have been wearing them out.

Pathfinders has around 15 board members that meet every month on the first Tuesday on a rotating schedule of 12pm and 5:30pm at two different venues.  Our membership is basically our donors and our volunteers.  Our database has 1039 volunteers with 798 that have come out to help and around 450 that still have valid emails.  The total volunteer hours in the database = 46,974 since 2003.  In 2013 we have had 120 volunteers help out with a total of 4,883 hours so far.

2/ How did you become involved with Pathfinders?

Back in 1996 I moved to Roanoke and loved riding at Carvins Cove among many other places nearby.  I would help out on any trail work days that were going on at the different places.  Since the Cove was nearby but not officially open for trail use, my friends and I would unofficially cut the deadfall off the trail and do minor trail repairs.  In the mean time Explore Park started to build their trail system and many of us got involved in that and started to get our first official trail building training from IMBA.  Then parking started to become an issue at the Cove as more and more people found out about the trails.

The City then had professional studies done on the trails and feasibility of opening them officially up to the public.  There was a Citizen Advisory committee established and Wes Best and Ian Webb were biking reps on the committee along with others.  They decided to open the Cove trails up officially to public use.  A group of mountain bikers then went to the City requesting to officially do trail work to make sure trails did not get closed due to erosion as the first professional study strongly suggested may happen.  The Parks and Recreation and the City Water Works representatives were not comfortable with just giving permission to one user group to work on the trails.  They were afraid that other user groups would object and frankly they were not sure of our qualifications.   They told us we needed to develop a group that represented most users (basically cyclist, hikers, runners, equestrians, and bird watchers).  That group which Ian Web first lead and I was a part of, was called VAST (Valley Area Shared Trails Network).

The first thing the City challenged us to do was to agree on trail names.  Believe it or not, this was a huge task because all the user groups had their own names that they did not want to change!  During this year of forced compromises and very long meetings, most of the members of the different user groups actually bonded and spent some time in each other’s shoes so to speak.  Many of the members were also part of Pathfinders for Greenways, and I was invited to join that board.  At that time I was leading VAST as Ian Webb had left town and I had developed the Web Based Trail Work Database as an easy way to track the trail work being done to promote our group and in order to get grant money for tools.  Eventually we just merged VAST into Pathfinders.  Besides, nobody can write a grant like Liz Belcher who is behind all the greenway and trail grants in the area and the glue that holds Pathfinders together.

It has been a great group to be a member of.  I went to many of their trail building and maintenance work days and eventually became a crew leader and was able to lead my own work days.  Pathfinders sends its crew leaders to several trail building training courses and workshops.  I have learned so much by working with this group even when I thought I knew everything, which I didn’t and still don’t.

3/ Everyone who mountain bikes at the cove has seen you working on the trails, and I bet plenty of us have felt guilty about riding past you. What motivates you to volunteer so much of your free time to work at the cove?  What do you have to say to those of us out there riding?

Let’s be honest, I would not be out there as much as I am if I didn’t love some aspect of it.  I love being out in the forest.  The engineer in me loves to make or fix things.  It feels great on those days when you end up with a group that works great together, with everyone doing the right things to make the project come together, and where we can all be proud of the results.  I don’t think there are many people that show up to work on the trail that don’t use the trails.  So we all will be passing people that are working on the trails at some point.  You should not feel guilty and I hope no one is made to feel guilty.

The people working do enjoy friendly interactions and certainly some patience if we happen to be blocking the trail while working on it.  We just want people to care about the trails and understand that the government will likely not be building and maintaining all your trails.  Some users are going to have to take an active role to get things done.  One of the first things that users can really do to help, is to not ride when the trails are thawing after a heavy freeze.   This does the most damage of anything we have seen.  The problem is that everyone wants to get out when the weather breaks.

4/ What is the role of Pathfinders at the cove and other areas heavily utilized by mountain bikers?

Pathfinders promotes the building and maintaining of sustainable non-motorized multiuse trails.  Many of the volunteers with Pathfinders like to mountain bike.  As far as Carvins Cove is concerned, Pathfinders and VAST were the first groups that the City and Water Authority have worked with to do trail work at the Cove.  Pathfinders played a very active role in helping the City put together the current trail management plan for the Cove in 2010.  Our group did the detailed trail assessments and helped write the plan.

Pathfinders has worked with many organized user groups, but we have always noticed that mountain bikers really didn’t have an organization which is a big problem when user conflicts arise.  There were several attempts, but it seemed that mountain bikers were not into clubs or organizations much.  Mountain bikers are also not all the same, there is a huge difference in what kinds of trail experiences they like.  Pathfinders has always believed that the volunteers doing most of the work have the most influence on the trail they are making or maintaining as long as it is sustainable and meets the land managers requirements.

5/ What is the relationship of Pathfinders and RIMBA? How do you see these 2 organizations working together in the future?

Pretty much all the mountain bikers in Pathfinders for Greenways are also part of RIMBA, and if they are not, Pathfinders would recommend that they join.  Pathfinders follows IMBA’s trail building advice and has a club membership with IMBA also.  RIMBA is the Roanoke area chapter of IMBA, so we support the need for a mountain biker’s organized local voice.  Also, RIMBA has been great for attracting more mountain bikers to the trail work days no matter who is leading them.  RIMBA has also graciously agreed to provide the snacks and drinks for the Carvins Cove trail work days.  It looks like in the near future RIMBA will also be leading their own trail work days at the Cove and may be collecting their own tools and equipment over the years.  No matter where each group is doing trail work, I am sure there will be members of both groups helping.

6/ What is one thing you would like people to know about you?

I moved to Roanoke on purpose from Indiana.  But I have lived in several other places.  Roanoke is by far my favorite place to live.  Other places are nice to visit, but usually due to weather or them being too small, I would not want to live there.  I have lived in Chicago area and LA area and they are too big and crowded for me.  I have never been anywhere that has as many trails within an hour as Roanoke and that includes Colorado and Asheville!

7/ You seem most heavily involved with work at Carvins Cove. Can you clarify my long held question? Apostrophe or no apostrophe? And what is your vision for the future of the cove?

No Apostrophe.  As many of you know, Carvins Cove is the 2nd largest City owned park in the country at near 13,000 acres.   I would like to see around 80 miles of well maintained trails with a variety of features.  However, I hope that erosion or mud is not ever considered a desirable feature purposely left on the trails by the land managers.

8/When did you start riding?

I started in the mid 70s riding what we called 10 speeds on trails.  With the fat road tires we used back then, they were closer to cyclocross bikes than the road bikes of today.  Then I mostly did road touring starting in college in the 80s.  I got my first real mountain bike in 1987.  My first mountain bike race was in Chicago Waterfall Glen Park around 1989.  I joined IMBA around that time (I have only let my membership lapse a few years in all that time).  I raced in the Craig County Escape (Potts Mountain) in 1991 on a business trip to Roanoke.  At that time around 7 years in a row, I went out west for mountain bike vacations.  I do miss doing that, but to be honest I think it is because we have such nice trails here, I have not pushed harder to keep going out west.

9/ What do you love most about mountain biking?

I do love hiking also, but I love the distance you can cover with a bike.  I also like the feeling of rolling down the trails.  It is sort of like a roller coaster and you wonder or anticipate where the trail is going to take you next.  A brand new trail is the most exciting for me, but they are getting harder to find as I get older.

10/ What do you love most about trail work?

I like the feeling of accomplishment.  I can’t wait to ride something that we have worked on.




The Board

Come January 2014 many of the RIMBA board members will have served their 2 year terms. Some will be staying on but others will hope to be replaced by folks equally (or more) dedicated to the cause of promoting RIMBA goals and objectives, in short: advocacy, outreach, more and diverse trails, better signage, maps, continuing to improve the website so it is a Go-To source, hosting scheduled rides, parties, and trail work days.

If you are interested in learning more about the board, or are considering a position yourself, please review the By-laws below and chat with anyone of us. We’d love to hear from you!

The website is: http://www.roanokeimba.org/. Click The Board tab for a list of current officers and email addresses.

*Pictured above is not the board but some of the riders from the Halloween “Lunch Vacation Mountain Bike Ride,” aka LVR, which meets Thursdays at 12:30 @ Underdog Bikes.

Article IV


Sec. 1 DUTIES: The CHAPTER Board will develop, and oversee the implementation of CHAPTER policies and program goals. Board responsibilities shall include:

A. Formation and adoption of an annual advocacy platform

B. Approval of trails stewardship projects

C. Planning and execution of events

D. Approval of new supporting members

E. Recruitment and election of board members

F. Approval of the annual budget and financial reporting

G. Approval and modification of THE CHAPTER Operating Guidelines

H. Contractual authority

Sec. 2 NUMBER AND QUALIFICATIONS: THE CHAPTER board shall be made up of not less than

5 members and not more than 12.

Sec. 3 FIRST MEMBERS: The first board members or current board members shall be the organizing committee members duly elected at THE CHAPTER’s first meeting of interested supporters.

Sec. 4 TERMS OF OFFICE: Terms of office will be 2 years, renewable for not more than 2 consecutive terms. Board member terms may be staggered so that one-third to one half of Board member’s terms shall expire each year.

Sec. 5 VACANCIES: Board vacancies shall be filled by action of the board from a list of nominee prepared by a Nominating Committee. The person or person’s chosen shall hold office until such time as the unexpired term(s) caused by the vacancy are filled by election. The service of a Committee member filling an unexpired term of less than one year shall not count toward the maximum allowed consecutive years of service.

Sec. 6 REMOVAL FOR CAUSE: Any member of the Board may be removed for cause by a two-thirds vote of the full Board taken at any Regular or Special meeting, provided the member in question has been given written notice that such action is to be considered at the meeting involved and only after the member in question has been given an opportunity to be heard.

In addition, the unexcused absence of a board member from any two consecutive meetings, or any three meetings in any year, shall constitute grounds for removal from the board, which removal may be effected by the Chair in his/her discretion after due notice to the Member in question. Removal of a Board Member in accordance with the provisions of this section shall create a vacancy to be filled as provided in Section 5 of this Article.


Sec. 1 OFFICERS. The principal officers of THE CHAPTER shall be: Chair, Vice-Chair, Secretary and Treasurer. (These positions are Board-elected).

A. CHAIR. The Chair shall be a voting member in good standing and shall be responsible for determining who presides at all meetings of the board. The Chair shall be the primary contact on behalf of the board for CHAPTER contractual relationships. The Chair shall perform all duties incident to the office of Chair and other duties as may be prescribed by the Board from time to time.

B. VICE-CHAIR. The Vice-Chair shall be a voting member in good standing and shall perform such duties as are assigned from time to time by the Board. In the absence of the Chair, the Vice-chair shall have all of the powers and perform all of the duties of the Chair.

C. TREASURER. The Treasurer shall be a voting member in good standing and shall be responsible for:

1. Serving as the fiscal manager for THE CHAPTER, accounting for, depositing, disbursing and acknowledging member dues and donations, grants, and other contributions.

2. Prepare and submit THE CHAPTER financial performance reports to the Board, and annually to IMBA (for independent audit purposes) and in general, perform all duties incident to the office of Treasurer, and other duties from time to time as may be assigned by the Chair or the board.

D. SECRETARY. The Secretary shall be a voting member in good standing and shall perform such duties related to recording keeping, notification of meetings, recording meeting minutes and other such duties as assigned from time to time by the Board.

Sec. 2 ELECTION OF OFFICERS. The board shall elect all Officers by simple majority.

Sec. 3 TERM OF OFFICE. The term of office for all officers shall be two years. The Chair shall not serve for more than two consecutive terms. The Treasurer shall hold office for not more than three consecutive terms. Incumbent officers shall serve until their successors have been duly elected and installed.

Price Mountain, Patterson Creek

Price Mountain, Patterson Mountain, and the valley separating them have long been home to an extensive back-country trail system. Yet, despite being only 40 minutes from downtown Roanoke, it has remained mostly unknown to trail users in our area. As a result, the trails have been largely neglected due to lack of use and interest. In fact, these trails were on their way to vanishing for good.

In the Spring of 2011, RIMBA took up the cause to bring this trail system back. Working with the USFS, it was determined which trails could be re-opened.  Over the past year and a half, volunteers have been busy with saws, trimmers, Macleods, and Pulaskis. So far, 14 miles of singletrack are now open. When finished, this trail system will boast ~20 miles of singletrack, with very good looping options.

These trails are classic Virginia backcountry goodness. Most are ridgeline trails, so they are physically demanding with some very challenging climbs. The reward is the beauty of these remote ridges, and some spectacular downhill runs. We encourage you to ride the trails that are now open, and to come out and help us open the rest.

Patterson-Roanoke Area Map


For maps and information on how to become involved with this effort, visit our web site roanokeimba.org, or send an email  to: trails@roanokeimba.org

A Conversation with Roanoke’s New Outdoor Recreation Specialist for Trails and Trail Programming


RIMBA hooked up with Renee Lavin to get the scoop on her new gig. Here’s what she had to say:

Tell us about the path that led to your newest position:

My current position is Outdoor Recreation Specialist for Trails and Trail Programming with City of Roanoke Parks and Recreation. I feel as though this position is dream job status for sure in a lot of ways. I have worked in recreation in various respects since 2006 and have a Master’s degree from the University of Maine in Higher Education and Outdoor Recreation. I have been a mountain biker for almost 7 years now and consider myself an intermediate rider. When the position came open, I was encouraged to apply by my current supervisor as I have experience running an outdoor program at Roanoke College, am a mountain biker, and have done a lot of large scale programming at Wilderness Adventure at Eagle Landing as the Assistant Director for Group Programs.

What are your responsibilities as an Outdoor Recreation Specialist?

My current responsibilities are to supervise and maintain the Carvin’s Cove and Mill Mountain trail networks as well as the other city parks that have trails in them–Fallon Park, Fishburn, and Fern Park. I am the Parks and Recreation liaison between the City and volunteer work crews, i.e. Pathfinders for Greenways, RIMBA, BRG. This makes me the point person for trail proposals, coordinating volunteer applications for trail builders, time sheets for work days, and doing some trail maintenance and construction myself.

I am going to start offering workdays through the City of Roanoke Parks and Recreation starting in December on Thursday afternoons since there is a need for more open to the public, not affiliated with any organization, workdays. We will focus on maintenance and new construction when there is a need for it. Right now, my focus is to do some maintenance and get the bridge re-done on Horsepens. It is a high priority in the Trail Management Plan that came out for Carvin’s Cove in 2010 and after the rains this summer, there are some culverts that need to be cleared out, a new crossing that needs to be built, and some trees that need to be trimmed back.

The dates for the workdays are: December 12th from 1-5pm, January 23rd from 2-6pm, and February 27th from 2-6pm. You can sign up for them on playroanoke.com just so I know how many people to expect and we will meet at the Timberview Road Parking lot with gloves, protective eyewear and sturdy shoes. I will have access to tools that the City already owns and we will work for a few hours on Horsepens, unless another project becomes more pressing. Going into the spring, things may change and I hope to get more workdays scheduled, but this is a start. I am also the point person for developing and implementing trail-based programming. Activities should highlight local and regional trails and opportunities include but are not limited to biking, hiking, and skiing. This is where the Roanoke 7 Summits program fell under my guise as well as the new ski and snowboarding shuttles to Snowshoe and Wintergreen. I offer Thursday hikes at least twice a month to local and regional trails, cross country skiing at Mountain Lake in February, and am trying to get the rock climbing program restarted here too. I will also be working with my co-worker Sarah Delise on revamping the whitewater kayaking section of the program overall. I am also here to help and support organizations who are interested in hosting a program on trail systems.

In September, I came out and helped Pathfinders for Greenways with their National Public Lands Day event at Carvin’s Cove and helped RIMBA in October with Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day. I just did a bunch of behind the scenes set up stuff with Nate Kerr, Wes Best, and Michelle Dykstra for GO Cross and am currently working with Rebecca Stimson and Virginia Tech Cycling on a Cross race at Fallon for November 10th. In addition to this, I work on larger department-wide programming such as GO Fest.

How will your responsibilities impact local mountain biking?

Hopefully it has a huge impact. That is the idea. We are the best trail town in the Blue Ridge and Carvin’s Cove is destination quality riding. It is my job to make the trail plan become a reality, which means more trails for more riders. I also am working on expanding opportunities for trail builders with more groups being able to propose and sponsor trails, hopefully I can advocate for more resources to be sent the way of trails–money for trail building clinics, tools, better resources out at the Cove, the possibilities are endless.

How do you envision working with RIMBA in the long and short term?

Short term, I am trying to help the best I can to get the trails you all want to have happen on Mill Mountain a reality. I will be walking the proposed trails, taking pictures, flagging, and going back to Parks and Recreation to advocate as to why these are good for the park and the surrounding community. Long term, I am here as a resource. People who want to do trail programs now have a name and a person they can go to for help. The City has incredible resources in the trails in its parks and I am here to help you all gain access to them for your programs. I think Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day will be bigger and better than ever next year. I will be able to market it more, we will have more mountain bike skill features built, which were a big hit with the kids, and we have bikes we can bring for people to use that don’t have one. RIMBA will also over time have more trail projects come up and I will be here to advertise workdays, organize the volunteer trail  worker database, and advocate for the proposed trails to be built.

Leap ahead 5-10 years. What do you want your greatest accomplishment(s) to be in this role?

I want to see the Carvin’s Cove Trail System be much farther accomplished in the plan. We have a lot of trail that was approved–40+ miles of it–and a lot of people excited about building trail. I need to make that a reality. It won’t be my accomplishment though, if there were no volunteers, I would be moving rocks by myself. It will be the accomplishment of hundreds of people over thousands of hours.

What do you want people to know about you?

I am a “do”er. If I say I am working on it, I am. If you want something to happen and talk to me about it, I will probably come back and touch base with you on it a few weeks or months from now. Making Roanoke better is a passion. This place is a sick place to live for mountain biking, kayaking, bouldering, and just drinking really good local beer. I have the opportunity every day to do things that will only make it better.