Trail Worker Award

This award recognizes an individual that has made outstanding contributions and provided consistent support for trail planning, development, or maintenance. It is intended to recognize the efforts of a private or public sector individual working for enhanced trail recreation on either the local, state, or national level.

 

Nebraska: Dale Rabideau

Dale Rabideau has been a member of Trails Have Our Respect (THOR), the local IMBA chapter, for about 9 years.

When he joined, he immediately made an impact. Moving here from Chicago for his wife’s career, he discovered the sport of mountain biking after getting a bike from the bike shop in his neighborhood. While being a stay-at-home dad and homeschooling his two pre-teen daughters, he eventually became an employee of the shop. Biking became a way of life for the Rabideaus. Dale would bring his daughters to local races and soon they too were racing. One of them even started working at the bike shop too!

Literally down the street from the bike shop was a large parcel of city property doing nothing. It was sandwiched between a suburban neighborhood, a beautifully sculpted soccer and hockey complex and a popular softball complex. Dale saw some potential. Would the city of Omaha allow THOR to put in a singletrack trail? There was one way to find out. After joining THOR and helping on many trail days, learning the ins and outs of trail design, building and maintenance, Dale put in the request for proposal for a trail system on the empty hillsides. In 2005 he was granted his wish. Tranquility Mountain Bike Park would be the first sanctioned bike park in the city.

Dale will be the first one to give credit to everyone else. That’s just his nature. And everyone knows that not one person is solely responsible for any trail system but it was his vision and initial dedication that brought that trail to life. And it also brought riders out of the woods, so to speak.

Riders who came into the shop learned about what Dale was up to in their neighborhood and soon started showing up at trail days. They never left, a testament to the kind of person he is. The same guys have been tending to TP ever since and now the area, once an empty barrier between neighborhoods, is a corridor for families to enjoy the outdoors, right out their own back yard. Three miles became five miles and five miles has now turned into over nine miles of single track. The newest three miles, completed in 2010, was on the other side of a busy street. The TP crew found a route by way of an underpass allowing not only for more riding but also allowing land-locked residents to safely use the trail without having to cross any busy streets.

Coincidentally, the trail now sees as many runners and dog walkers as bikers. It plays host to a mountain bike race every year lead by Dale and the TP Crew, that sees anywhere from 150 – 180 racers and their families. THOR has hosted non-compete running events to introduce the trail to that user group. This year THOR celebrated IMBA’s Bring Your Kid Mountain Biking Day at TP where kids (and parents) could ride or learn to ride on trails.

And for the past several years, the weekly, no-drop Monday night ride at TP has become more of a social event, welcoming anyone on two wheels to ride and have fun. Tranquility Park has become a beloved trail system that has allowed a community to be more active and give back. A success story, thanks to Dale, the crew at TP, THOR and the city of Omaha.

A couple of years ago Dale passed on the title of Trail Leader to another, allowing him the freedom to float. He’s now on the THOR board as Trail Leader Chair, helping give advice and direction on a larger scale. His kids are grown but now he takes care of a toddling grandson. But that hasn’t stopped his involvement with THOR projects. Dale has been the catalyst for new trail at several locations in Eastern Nebraska.

When Ponca State Park asked THOR to help add on to their trail system in 2010, Dale answered with a 1/8th mile design of a fun, swoopy, stacked trail that spiraled up and down a very hilly section of the park. It was included in this year’s mountain bike racecourse and heralded by all. Lewis and Clark Monument in Council Bluffs, Iowa, needed a new entrance after a landowner cut off access. In the summer of 2010, Dale led the charge and along with THOR and a crew of Teen Serve, opened up a new entrance and exit on some very challenging terrain. When Calvin Crest Christian Camp in Fremont, Nebraska contacted THOR in 2008 to see if we would design and build a trail on their land, Dale and THOR stepped up to the challenge. Within two years, with the help of THOR and teens from the camp, almost 4 miles of flowing single track was open to the camp and the public late summer 2010.

I could go on and on. When there is a need for a body, Dale is there. When advice is needed, Dale has something to say. His dedication to THOR and its mission is well known. Some of our volunteers have put in the same amount or more of trail time. We have a wonderful group of dedicated volunteers who thanklessly continue to do what they do but Dale has stood out, year after year, as the go-to guy for everything from trail design, to digging dirt to fund raising. If there is a trail in our area, I can guarantee Dale has had a hand in it. And it’s through his good nature and can-do attitude that has attracted others to him and THOR’s cause. He’s been a pied piper for our sport and trail use in general, welcoming anyone and everyone to join him in the fun.