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For Tires on Dirt; Org Ups its Ante for Mountain Biking in the Tetons

(Teton Valley, Idaho) - If you know any mountain bikers, you would know that many of them spend more money on their bikes than rent, cars, etc. This is true for Mountain Bike the Tetons Executive Director Amanda Carey, who laughed as she told us her bike was worth twice as much as her car. With many passionate mountain bikers in the area, there aren't many organizations to serve the trails and the interests of the group -- until recently. Mountain Bike the Tetons is a fairly new organization, but this summer they are poised to expand their staff and their programs dramatically. The founding board members started looking into the possibility of the organization in early 2013, and it was official in 2014. Carey was hired as the first permanent employee in December 2014. Mountain Bike the Tetons was initially Mountain Bike Teton Valley before the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) asked them to take on the full region. "There is such unbelievable potential for mountain biking to bring sustainable tourism dollars not only to Teton Valley, but to Jackson Hole. We grew mountain biking with this purpose in mind," said Carey. Currently, the Teton Region is a Silver Level Ride Center (as ranked by IMBA), but Carey says that with recent improvements they would reach Gold Level if they reapplied. "What we are trying to do is get the Teton Region attention as being a fantastic destination location. That is a two part thing -- it is going to inject a lot of money into our riding economy, which in turn is going to help us create jobs through hotels, gas, shops, etc. Mountain bikers spend money on par with golfers," she said. Their mission is to maintain existing trails, look for new trail building opportunities and grow the sport. The organization is working to bring people here, but also serve the local mountain biking community. And some new hires this summer will help them achieve these goals. According to Carey, Mountain Bike the Tetons is planning to hire two full-time trail crew employees this summer. They are also hiring a head coach for the high school mountain bike team. Beyond the new staff, the organization has increased programming for the season. They will continue their "Maintenance Monday" program starting May 23, where volunteers gather from 4 - 8 p.m. to socialize and work on a part of a trail. "We pick easy trail maintenance projects that are attainable through volunteers," said Carey. They also have a trail ambassador program with the forest service in Idaho. These programs, along with the new trail crew employees can make a huge impact on the trail system. "We have so many trails that people don't ride, so we feel that if we can slowly chip away at those maintenance projects, then we can make a huge impact on the riding," Carey added. The organization is also collecting donations through the 2016 Trail Fund Campaign and working to connect with the community through events like "Get to know MBT at Snake River Brewing" tomorrow night. "We really want to hear from the community," said Carey. "Where they want to ride, where they can't ride but want to ride now, what can we address that isn't being addressed, and what they would like us to work on." The event at Snake River Brewing is tomorrow, May 19, from 5 - 7 p.m. *Feature Photo: Amanda Carey on Grand Targhee last summer. h/t Amanda Carey