Meet An OGExpert: Leela Hornbach

What’s an OGExpert? They’re the folks that huff and puff alongside you in the skin track, give you a yell from the lift, move that pad for you at the climbing gym, share their granola at the summit, or help you change a flat tire at the bike trail head. They’re us. We’ve done it all, and used pretty much every kind of gear along the way. We live, breathe, and recreate with the community.


Leela Hornbach 




Farmington, Maine

What brought you here to Vermont?

I came to Vermont for college, but fell in love with the people and the adventures here. 

How long have you been working at Outdoor Gear Exchange?

I’ve been working at OGE for a year and a half.

What is your role at OGE?

I primarily work in the bike department, helping folks find their future bikes or get advice on new places to ride. I stay busy between setting customers up with demo bikes and answering questions. When I’m not working directly in the shop, I’m Co-leading OGE’s basic mountain bike skills clinics or getting customers on bikes at our local trailside demos.     

What would you consider your area of outdoor expertise?

Mountain Biking! I love mountain bikes so much, and I think it also goes without saying that I enjoy sharing my knowledge of gravel bikes and road bikes as well. Outside of my stoke on spokes, I love sharing my knowledge of backcountry skiing and climbing.

Tell us about any upcoming goals or trips you have.

I recently took a pretty hard digger riding dirt jumps and I had to have reconstructive surgery on my shoulder. So, my only goal right now is to ace rehab and get back to climbing, biking and skiing as soon as possible. 
This winter I’m headed to Moab, Utah for some stellar mountain biking and then to Salt Lake City for some equally as exciting skiing. In March, I have tentatively planned a trip to backcountry ski in Iceland.  

What is one piece of advice or trip recommendation you often give to people who are experiencing the outdoors for the first time?

 No matter what, be patient with yourself and your ability. The best thing you can ever do in the outdoors is listen to your body and meet yourself where you’re at. Start small, one of my favorite weekends in Oregon was spent hiking to and from a yurt on the coast. 

Favorite piece of outdoor clothing or equipment you bring on every trip?

I have to say that my Jetboil goes with me everywhere. I bring it with me to make breakfast on early hikes and to make lunch on long days spent riding bikes.   

What’s your favorite trail snack and local beverage?

My favorite trailside snack is Cabot cheddar, some crackers and local pepperoni. It never gets old. My favorite local beverage is Rookie’s root beer, but nothing beats a post ride beer from Foam Brewery in Burlington.   

Do you have a hidden talent? What is it?

I can quite reliably nap anywhere. Bottom of a crag? You got it. Lunch break while hiking? Already asleep.  

How do you keep the stoke at 11?

I sleep a lot and I’m a big advocate of naps if you didn’t notice! I also surround myself with good people who support me even when I’m tired, cold and grumpy.  

Instrument of choice for digging a cat hole?

A stick.

Are you involved in any local outdoor community outside of the shop? If so, please explain.

Outside of the shop, I work with an organization called Little Bellas. Little Bellas is a summer camp that pairs young women with mountain bikes and mentoring. I work with the girls on and off of their bikes, helping them find empowerment and set new goals. Over the course of each program I get to see these girls quite literally flourish and grow stronger amidst the camaraderie. Nothing is more rewarding.  
I am also the New England Grassroots team leader for the Outdoor Women’s Alliance. OWA is a nonprofit organization that promotes leadership in women through the outdoors. The goal is to help women find other women to get outside with and for these women to gain new technical knowledge of adventure sports. In the future (when I’m less broken) I will be facilitating activities like women’s climbing nights and mountain bike clinics. I also help run and moderate the social media accounts of OWA, primarily the New England facebook page/group. The facebook groups are the central way that OWA helps connect women, aside from the main website. It’s entirely volunteer run and the outings are kept free unless guides have to be hired. OWA occasionally helps sponsor and promote film festivals or guided clinics.

How were you introduced to the outdoors?

My grandfather was a biologist, we used to go on hikes in search of looking for owl pellets or canoe paddles to gather data for lake water purity research. He’s my biggest role model in the outdoors and in academia. 

Favorite after-work shred spot/outdoor adventure?

You can catch me shredding Perry Hill in Waterbury almost any day of the week. The trails there never get old. 

Favorite part about the OGE?

The camaraderie, everyone is so excited to get out on an adventure and to support each others epic suffer-fests. I also can’t say how awesome our full moon group rides are. We ride to the end of the causeway and back with 20-some riders and it’s quite an experience.   

Biggest outdoor pet-peeve?

Bro culture in the outdoors above all else.  

Are you a fan of Type 2 fun?

Heck. Yes. I love being dead tired. 

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Published:November 19, 2019

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