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By on July 22, 2022 in Featured, News, Newsletter


Anthony Avildsen started volunteering in the midst of Covid. Over the past year and a half, he has logged more than 160 hours of volunteer work and recently became one of our Volunteer Trail Crew Leads. We are proud to highlight Anthony’s contributions to the OVLC, in an interview he had with Land Steward, Linda Wilkin.

Anthony thank you for being such an invaluable and dedicated volunteer. Can you tell me a little about yourself? 

Hi, my name is Anthony Avildsen. I’ve been doing independent filmmaking, editing, and graphic design since about 2000. Before that I worked as a personal fitness trainer for about eight years in the 90’s, and prior to that I did some work in the film industry proper, doing set lighting. That was after going to the Rhode Island School of Design to study film and video. As far as hobbies go, I think I was one of the last people to still be rollerblading in the 2000’s and that was my favorite way to get exercise. Living in Ojai, the bike path is awesome for bikes, but it’s not really smooth enough for skating. Once I discovered OVLC’s trails, I rented a mountain bike and immediately fell in love with mountain biking. Since then, my skates have been gathering dust. 

How did you hear about volunteering with OVLC and what motivated you to start volunteering? 

I was poking around on the OVLC website to get a map of the Ventura River Preserve so I could explore the mountain bike trails there, when I came across a sign-up for volunteers and thought, “oh yeah-that would probably be fun.” Unfortunately, this was right before Covid shut everything down. Once outdoor volunteer events restarted, I signed up and volunteered with Brendan Taylor (Director of Field Programs) out on Gridley Trail. I had no idea what I was doing, but I met some awesome people, did what I was told, and it all made sense at the end of the day. 

What were your initial impressions of trail work. Did anything surprise you and what had you coming back? 

I was into it! Even though I was a first timer to trail work, the OVLC staff and the more experienced volunteers are all excellent instructors, super patient, and they do a really good job of explaining what we’re doing and why. Volunteering is a great way to give back to the community. It’s also very satisfying to put in three or four hours of hard work and then see the results of your labor. You can actually see how you made the trailer easier to navigate and look cleaner. On my first volunteer outing, we were making a check step—digging up this giant rock and somehow moving it with a rock-bar. Initially, I didn’t see what the point of this was, but once I did it in a few other locations, I could see how it was going to help make the trail more sustainable. What had me coming back was the camaraderie amongst the volunteers. It’s the best group of people, whether it’s the staff or the volunteers. 

Is there a section of trail or specific feature you worked on that you’re most proud of? 

I’m most proud of what we are working on right now: Luci’s Trail. It’s been the most impressive project thus far because we’re making some comprehensive changes. The trail is being rerouted to make it more resistant to rain (when we get it) and to make it last longer. There’s nothing more satisfying than having people say to you, “thank you, the trails have never looked better.” Another perk of volunteering is you get to be up on these trails early in the morning and you get to witness some spectacular views. 

My second favorite project was the benches we put in; although getting all of that concrete, water, and wood to the work sites was some of the hardest work I have done! 

Has being a mountain biker changed your perspective on trail work? Are there any aspects of trail building that you incorporate from your bike riding experience? 

It can be a challenge to make certain sections of trail viable for all users. You want to keep everyone happy, and I think for the most part OVLC does a good job of that. I know sometimes mountain bikers, especially the more experienced riders, prefer the trails to be a little more challenging. However, that’s not always feasible since the trails need to be safe for everyone. 

What are your favorite trails to ride and why? 

My favorite route is at the Ventura River Preserve. I like to ride up Rice Canyon, down Wills Canyon, up “Heart Attack Hill”, and then down Allan Jacobs Trail. It’s got a good mix of steady climbing, technical stuff, and some fun downhill switchbacks. 

What would you say to someone, especially a mountain biker, who is thinking about volunteering? 

I highly recommend volunteering with OVLC! It’s an excellent way to learn more about the trails and actually have a hand in maintaining them. You’ll also meet some like-minded people who you may end up hiking and/or biking with someday. 

Why did you decide to be a Volunteer Crew Lead and what have you been enjoying the most about leading? 

I was honored to be asked to lead. It’s definitely an added level of pressure, but I’m enjoying it. I’ve been fortunate to have amazing volunteers on the days I’ve been leading and hopefully that will continue. Volunteering on the trails can be hard work, but it’s so rewarding and certainly worth the effort! Everyone at the OVLC is awesome, and the volunteers are amazing, helpful, and friendly. 

Thank you, Anthony, for all your hard work, your awesome mentality, and always offering to carry the rock bar!

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