Siems: Putting Austin on the biking map

Published 2:09 pm Sunday, July 3, 2016

By Greg Siems, Vision 2020 Director

As the Daily Herald reported last week, Austin was chosen for a visit by the International Mountain Bicycling Association’s Subaru/IMBA Trail Care Crew. It’s a mouthful of a name but very exciting news for everyone who has been working to increase the quantity and quality of biking opportunities in our community.

Over the past year the Austin High School Cycling Team, the Southern Minnesota Bike Club, and Vision 2020’s Biking and Walking Trails committee have built a competitive mountain biking trail near Todd Park. The trail hosted over 700 bikers for a state high school race last September and will do so again this year. Thanks to a recent grant from The Hormel Foundation, the trail will be even bigger and better than ever the second time around. Although the trail is currently permitted only for private use, volunteers are working to obtain the proper permissions that will allow the public to enjoy the trail as well.

Email newsletter signup

Being selected for a visit from IMBA is a special recognition for everyone who has participated in these efforts. It’s even more extraordinary considering the trail has only been complete for less than a year. It just goes to show that with passion and hard work we can accomplish great things for our community and build a reputation that is worthy of outside attention.

The IMBA visit will kick off with a seminar called “Better Living Through Trails” from 3 to 5 p.m. on Friday, July 8 at the Jay C. Hormel Nature Center. Saturday the 9th will begin with a special “Trail Building School” from 9 a.m. to noon and then move to the Austin trail for hands on instruction from 1 to 5 p.m. The Trail Care Crew places an emphasis on sustainability, which helps reduce maintenance needs, protects the environment, and increases enjoyment for everyone.

These events are all free and open to anyone interested in attending, but registration is requested. To register you can visit and click on the Austin event, or contact Gareth Hataye with the Southern MN Bike Club at 507-219-1886 or

I hope everyone will take advantage of this unique, informational, and fun opportunity. It is only the latest instance of Austin getting recognized for all of the great things happening in our community. Whether it is for biking, education, recreation, the arts, or anything in between, people are taking notice of the work being done here. I’m certainly proud to call myself an Austinite, and I hope you are, too.