A New MTB Trail... and MORE
by Beth Donovan
TRAIL ADVOCACY FOR ALL
Over the last year, in the midst of a pandemic, the national mountain bike community has exploded in numbers. Thankfully, this explosion brings new riders of all shapes, backgrounds, and abilities to the sport, which is why we are so grateful for the innovative trail advocacy of folks like Carlos Matutes and his passionate group of fellow riders.
Carlos, tell us a little about yourself.
My name is Carlos Matutes, and my pronouns are he/him. I just turned 50 at the beginning of May, and live in Boise, Idaho with my beautiful wife and our two dogs.
I’m the son of Cuban immigrants and I grew up in a working-class neighborhood in San Antonio, Texas.
You serve as the Executive Director of SWIMBA in Boise. Describe you path to this role.
Well, I spent over 25 years working in the bicycle industry, almost all of that as a mechanic in shops. I started volunteering doing trail work in San Antonio in the mid 90's, but really became more active after moving to Fort Collins, Colorado.
After almost losing my life to a hit and run driver, I felt that I wanted a change. I am a student of Political Science and Sociology, but never lost my love of mountain biking. When the Southwest Idaho Mountain Biking Association (SWIMBA) decided that it was time to hire their first Executive Director, I put together my resume and here I am!
What improvements to Boise’s trail system are you most proud of?
I am passionate about building and fostering an inclusive mountain bike community; however, here in Boise, we have been known for having an extensive trail system that, unfortunately, the majority of the trails lack technical difficulty yet require a lot of fitness.
As a step to change this, we have recently opened Pick Your Poison, a downhill trail that pushes expectations about what’s possible here. While I’m super proud of the trail, I’m most proud of the fact that our local cyclists have really come together to improve our community! We have been able to do big projects like Pick your Poison as well as supporting other nonprofits even through this pandemic because of our community.
We are currently building an adaptive MTB trail system for Camp Rainbow Gold, a summer camp for kids diagnosed with cancer and their families, and hope to break ground on a new adaptive MTB trail that will also serve as a training and race venue for our local NICA teams.
We want to offer trails for absolutely every BODY.
How can people get involved with their local mountain bike advocacy group?
Getting involved in your local mountain bike advocacy group is so important! Most people think that means giving up your limited riding time on a weekend to haul tools out into the backcountry and digging all day. That’s definitely something that we hope folks are able to do, but there are so many other things that you can do.
First of all, join up! Your membership fees are part of making advocacy work. However, what matters as much (if not more) is adding your name to the list of people who care about trails. As advocates, we need the strength of our numbers, whether negotiating with land owners for access, working with federal agencies, or encouraging local governments to open areas for recreation. Volunteering at events, and yes, financial donations, also mean a lot to us.
If in Boise, what trail should we not miss?
For anyone visiting Boise, there are so many choices for riding, but my personal favorite ride to recommend is the Shingle Creek/ Dry Creek loop. Starting from a small parking area about five miles from downtown, you climb from sage brush to Ponderosa pine forest. The descent is rocky, technical, and fast, with several creek crossings that have optional wooden skinnies to ride. Depending on how fast you want to go I’d rate this as a solid blue for cautious riders up to a good blue/black if you’re sending the rocks and riding the skinnies!
Want to learn more about Carlos?
Check out this video and give this podcast a listen.