The Tahoe Area Mountain Biking Association (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.
TAMBA is a 501(c)(3) organization. We are non profit with no paid staff and contributions are tax deductible.
The History of TAMBA
The original TAMBA was organized in 1988 by Kathlee Martin and Jesse1 in North Lake Tahoe, and Gary Bell, owner of Sierra Ski and Cycle Works in South Lake Tahoe. The three developed a model program driven by volunteers who helped to 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 to have 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 on getting bike access returned to many closed trails and launched very successful education and trail maintenance programs. 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. 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.
While still very involved with the organization, Gary and Becky 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 for various reasons and the club faded away, becoming all but dormant by 2004.
By 2010, the Tahoe area had been void of an active mountain bike group for quite a while. Wanting to get input from local mountain bikers, the Forest Service partnered with IMBA to host the Tahoe Trails Conference in October 2010. After the conference, you could feel the energy in the room. About 20 people stayed afterwards and met with the IMBA rep to discuss what we could do locally to create a mountain bike group. A second meeting was scheduled and was very well attended by the community. After lots of input on what to do, it was suggested that we bring back TAMBA. A couple more meetings were held over the winter to assemble a core group of volunteers who became the new board.
The new TAMBA held its first meeting in late January 2011. A new board has injected the 25-plus year old club with new representation, while continuing the focus on advocacy and trail building. The rest, as they say, is history. Enjoy the ride!
1 Unfortunately, we could not confirm Jesse’s last name. If you can, please let us know.