An Open Letter to RAMBO from Neil Wagner

 Neil Wagner starting the first stage of the 2016 Big Creek Quick Six Enduro. Turns out, it will be his final race volunteering with RAMBO. Photo Credit: Random Start Photography

Neil Wagner starting the first stage of the 2016 Big Creek Quick Six Enduro. Turns out, it will be his final race volunteering with RAMBO. Photo Credit: Random Start Photography

On May 21st my wife and I are moving to Portland, Oregon to live near our two daughters and our grandchildren. We have lived in Roswell since 1982, so this is a big change for us. It is an appropriate time to look back and remember how RAMBO played such a large part in my life and how important RAMBO was to my happiness and fulfillment.

For 8 years I served as RAMBO’s Trails Director. I loved every minute of it. I designed and led the building of the Big Creek Cross Country Trails and the Charleston Park Trails. I consider trail designing and building to be environmental art. The creative process was always an adventure. Some of you undoubtedly have heard me say this before, but here I go again. For me, laying out a trail system requires a lot of walking all over the area to be designed. I try to imagine what will be fun to ride, what I want to see, how riders will be challenged and what will my body feel as I struggle up a climbing section or the joy of floating through a flow section. At the point when the initial design is first completed, I emotionally feel that this is “my” trail. Next I get input from others and the design is changed for the better. Now those people own the trail. Then the volunteers come to build and maintain the trails and they too become trail owners. Finally the riders come to enjoy the trails. I know I have done my job correctly when hundreds, maybe even thousands of people emotionally feel they have ownership of the trails. I love to work on trails and teach people how to use tools and to see how their efforts keep the trails sustainable and fun. I hope others caught my enthusiasm. I never felt that riders must work on trails. I really only wanted people to volunteer because they wanted to have fun and feel the joy of creating and maintaining what they love.

For so many years, RAMBO was the center of my social life. RAMBO directors and members were my closest friends. There were so many great rides, cook-outs and camping trips. No matter what was going on in the rest of my life, every ride was fun and an adventure shared with friends. I know I will make new friends and have new riding buddies in Portland. There will be new trails to discover and enjoy. Of course, I hope to continue my passion of working on trails.

Being a starter at the Enduro event gave me the chance to say goodbye to so many friends and have one last RAMBO memory. It was especially moving when Jim Cullen called out to me as I walked to my car to leave, “Neil Wagner, have a great life!” I will and thank you RAMBO!