TSI Instructor – Colin Marthaller

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Growing up here in the Pacific Northwest, specifically the Portland area, spending time outdoors has been a constant in my life. I did not discover mountain biking until somewhat recently, but once I did, I was hooked. After a short time, I started meeting some great people with NWTA and started getting involved with trail work at Sandy Ridge. After a couple of years, I found myself being asked to be a crew lead.

I’m sure we can all agree that riding bikes is a blast, and I would add that a day of building or maintaining trails can be equally rewarding. I feel this way thanks primarily to all the fantastic volunteers we all share time with. Providing freshly built, maintained, or cleared trails for our community is also a great feeling.

What interested you in becoming a TSI Instructor?

If I can remember this correctly, Nancy created TSI out of thin air (read: rockstar) and asked me if I would be willing to help out by being a Trail School Instructor. Remembering my first few trail events in which I did not know anything, this felt like an excellent opportunity to help new volunteers learn about the tools and techniques we use. Teaching people about trail building and maintenance is more than just about the skills; the newfound knowledge also helps them feel more connected with our community and provides a sense of belonging.

Shortly after kicking off Trail Schools, we started the Crew Leader Trainings. And yet again, I felt honored being asked to co-instruct these new courses. As a similar story like trail work, when I started as a crew leader, it was definitely a case of “jumping into the deep end.” Being able to pass on my crew lead knowledge and experiences to help give our students a head start towards being an effective crew leader interested me in becoming an instructor.

What do you enjoy most about being a TSI Instructor?

We have a fantastic community of volunteers! Trail schools and crew leader training are much more than just the instructors teaching the students; when we come together and share our knowledge and experiences, we become better people.

Why do you think this program is important and/or why should folks participate in this program?

As more of our members feel welcome and included as an integral part of our volunteer activities, our community becomes stronger. The more members we teach about trail work, the more miles of trail we can build and maintain. And, of course, with more crew leaders, we can have larger work parties and/or more events at multiple locations. With more of our members being knowledgeable about sustainable trail methods, our trails will be better for years to come. This showcases our organization’s capabilities and mindset and opens up more trails closer to home. Hopefully.

What aspect of trail maintenance/building can you nerd out on the most?

Recently I became involved with and certified for sawyer work. This has quickly become my favorite type of trail maintenance. Figuring out the logistics of getting into a downed tree, especially by bike, is very fun. Assessing a downed tree and figuring out the safest and most efficient method to clear the trails is a great challenge that I very much so enjoy.