Mike Blide – Raising Truckee
October 20, 2005
Mike Blide has a vision. A vision of what Truckee once was, and a vision of what Truckee can be, if locals like him can just dig in their heels and get to it.
Cottonwood, the restaurant that Blide and his wife Jennifer begged, borrowed, and stole to get nine years ago, saw a bit of change and challenge this summer.
“The buzz about Truckee is out there ” the buzz of a boomtown. I worry about what a lot of the long-time Truckee locals worry about, which is kind of the loss of soul of the place. I am concerned that the new Truckee resident is sinking their roots about a quarter-inch into this community, and not spending the time here to get connected. I am cognizant of the fact that they are paying my way to live in paradise, and I have to keep reminding myself. So it’s a real catch-22 for a business owner. It’s a great environment in which to do business, but…”
Mike trails off. He’s got that twinkle in his eye, that twinkle that hooks you and makes you want to listen, to understand where he’s coming from and what he’s thinking. His comments are clever and intelligent, often sarcastic, always honest.
“I think there has been a definite shift this summer as far as who my clientele is. Every night of the week was busy for us this summer, and still I bet half of those people were brand new faces to this restaurant,” he says.
And so the conversation continued, as it has with many locals over the past four years or so, about the changes Truckee is facing.
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“I haven’t lost my love for this community and I think that a Truckee local has a certain amount of stick-to-it-ivness. You can choose to make this your home or you can choose to make this your vacation spot. I would like to see the locals and the ‘new locals’ get connected, get involved, find out about the history and find out what you can do to make this place better,” he says.
And for his part Blide has taken on the Truckee Trails Foundation, a local organization with the desire to create a connective trail system that will get people out of their cars and onto their bikes.
“I trust that the town fathers are going to do what they can to mitigate the growth, and have it become a town that looks good and functions well,” he says. “But I also knew that since I couldn’t lay down in front of the bulldozer, maybe I could jump in and be a change agent towards making that growth provide us something that we need”trails.”
The group is currently building trails in Tahoe Donner and Glenshire, and on a piece of Forest Service land that begins in Olympic Heights and will eventually connect to Truckee. According to Blide, the trail team is building a single-track path that will go under the bypass bridge, through the forest and into Truckee.
But for all of Blide’s passion and enthusiasm for the cause, he expressed concern for the amount of time and effort that his fellow locals are willing to kick in. This year Cottonwood Restaurant cooked and donated 200 hamburgers to feed those expected to turn up for the annual Truckee Trails Day. Forty faithful volunteers arrived. 40. Not enough to finish the job.
“Truckee is really lacking in really good infrastructure for road-bikes, but all the locals live within five miles of this town and they could all ride to work five months out of the year if we could just get it together,” Blide says. “Step up Truckee, we need your help.”
Blide is self-described as a guy who genuinely enjoys being around people, a family guy, an outdoor guy, and a proud 20-year Truckee local. And being a Truckee local, he thinks, means having a four-wheel drive, two snow-blowers, and at least three pairs of skis. He has all of the above, plus a 7-year-old daughter, two golden retrievers, two cats, and a partridge in a pear tree.
“Mike is probably one of the smartest, most sincere people I have ever met, but I am obviously biased,” says his brother Tom Blide. “You know what you are getting with Mike, he doesn’t hold back, and what he says is a pretty good reflection of what Truckee is because he is on the front burner. If there is one guy that should be mayor, it would be Mike. In fact, I am nominating him.”
When he’s not working in his historic restaurant”the main portion of the building was built in1928 as the warming hut for the town ski hill”he’s usually on his bike. And not to sell his secrets, but Blide says his favorite trail is a portion of the Pacific Crest that runs from Donner Pass to Roller Pass. Now more of a ski-skating fan than a powder junkie, Blide sheepishly admits that in the winter all he’s really into is Alpine for his fresh tracks on powder days.
Blide says he has sunk his own roots deep into his business and into the community, just about as deep as they’ll go, and he is proud to call this mountain town home.
“We are so very fortunate to be where we are and to have this great little historical burg.
“We know that we are really fortunate that we are lucky to have a steady influx of new clients, but if it wasn’t for the stalwart local that keeps coming back and keeps talking about us and keeps joining us from time to time, we know that we wouldn’t have a snowballs chance in hell of making it.”
So pay Mike a visit and enjoy the view, Mike is sure you’ll have a pleasant experience.