This year IMBA is hosting half a dozen regional summits across the US and I got a chance to attend the the Southern Mountain Bike Summit in Brevard, NC this past weekend. The conference was hosted by IMBA-SORBA and the Pisgah Area and Upstate SORBA chapters. The summit brought industry leaders, professional trail builders, local club members, and land managers together for two days of seminars covering a wide range of advocacy topics. Yours truly was there, and it was great! All of the speakers were really good, and I learned a lot. There was a ton of information thrown at us in those two days – I took over 11 pages of notes! We got to do a little bit of riding as well on Friday afternoon, a classic Pisgah ride,but the planned Saturday and Sunday rides were rained out.
This was the first regional summit IMBA is holding in 2011; there will be five others this yearin other parts of the country. Going forward SORBA plans to host one of these summits every two years opposite the biennial IMBA World Summit. If there’s a conference scheduled for your area I highly recommend you check it out – there’s a wealth of knowledge to gain and you’ll meet some very cool people and have a lot of fun.
I’ll be breaking down my coverage of the summit into three parts. This is the first part, and it will cover the seminars on day one. Part two will cover day two, and part three will be my take-away from the summit and a ride report from Friday afternoon’s ride.
Opening Remarks: Krista Rettig
Krista is a great advocate for cycling and she’s very energetic and passionate about all types of cycling. She’s a former mountain bike racer and longtimeemployee at Trek. She is currently serving as the Director of Advocacy and Government Affairs for Trek so her talk focused on the importance of cycling in modern society (all forms, not just mountain biking) and how advocacy groups can approach local governments to get projects going. She emphasized the use of statistics and hard data to convince people, specifically politicians and government employees,of the value of cycling infrastructure, be it a pavedgreenway or a gnarly singletrack trail. She also gave advice for local clubs and talked about how Trek is doing their part. Did you know that for every full suspension mountain bikeTrek sells they will donate$10 to IMBA, and some of theirdealers will match that? Next time you’re shopping for a Trek, ask your local shop if they participate in that program, and if they don’t, try and get them to sign up!
Subaru/IMBA Trail Care Crew: Land Manager Training
The Subaru/IMBA Trail Care Crew is a free resource for IMBA clubs all over the country. There are two crews that travel around the country 10 months out of the year teachingclubs and land managers how to build, maintain, and manage sustainable mountain bike trails. The program was started in 1997 and has been, and continues to be, fully funded by Subaru, one of IMBA’s long time supporters. Subaru covers ALL costs associated with the trail care crews – gas, food, lodging, salaries, everything. None of your IMBA membership dollars go toward the Trail Care Crews – it’s a FREE program for IMBA. Subaru also offers discounts on new cars for IMBA members as well. That’s pretty cool for a car company to support mountain biking in such a huge way and for so long!
The crew that visited us was the husband and wife duo Steve and Morgan Lommele. Their presentation was fantastic! This particular talk was aimed at educating land managers about mountain biking: what we want in a trail, what we don’t want, and how we’ll help them maintain it. The presentation covered the economic and social benefits of trails, sustainable trail building theory and practices, how to design for specific user groups (MTB, equestrian, hiking), and how to use positive control points and how to avoid negative control points.
Again, the Trail Care Crews are a FREE resource for your local IMBA affiliated club. Ask them to come teach your group some things and they probably will! Check out the Trail Care Crew website for more details.
Connecting With Agency Land Managers
This session had several short presentations made by land managersfollowed by a Q&A session. The panel of land managers represented a wide range of agenciesfrom all levels: federal (USFS), State (NC DNR), and County(Forsyth County, GA). They gave us the inside scoop on what they, as managers, arelooking for in a partnership with a volunteer club, and what we should expect from them.They also explained some of the restrictions they have and why things take so long sometimes – usually due to laws they must follow or simply bad timing. One of the big points we need to remember is that land managers are busy, they have a lot on their plates, and we need to be patient with them.
Three success stories were presented by the folks involved in making them happen. These stories showed what great things can be accomplished when a MTB club partners with a land management agency and the two work together for a common goal. The timelines for these stories also illustrate the importance of patience!
Itusi Trail System – Lake Norman State Park, NC
- Project began in 2001, initially using volunteers to hand build the trails
- There are now five loops, for a total of 17.5 miles of singletrack
- The park did not spend any money on the construction of the trail
- The trails are directional to avoid user conflict, hikers and bikers travel in opposite directions. The direction is changed every year
- Maintained by the Tarheel Trailblazers
Santos – Ocala, FL
- Partnership between the Ocala Mountain Bike Association and the State of Florida Office of Greenways and Trails
- 84 miles of singletrack!!!
- Freeride park, skills park, 2 pumptracks, and 3 dirt jump lines
- Trails constructed alongside the 110 mile long Marjorie Harris Carr Cross Florida Greenway
- Uses old limestone quarries for technical terrain
- Designated as an IMBA Epic Ride and a Ride Center
- 5 trailheads provide easy access
Coldwater Mountain – Anniston, AL
- This project is 11 years in the making, and construction is FINALLY about to start. Remember that patience thing I mentioned earlier?
- Partnership between the Northeast Alabama Bicycle Association and Forever Wild
- Will contain somewhere around 50-60 miles of purpose built mountain bike trails
- Stacked loop system will have a little something for everyone, including TWO gravity zones!
- The entirearea will be MTB and hiking/running specific – no horses, hunting, or motorized use
- Trail construction should start this year
Photo courtesy IMBA.
Day two included sessions on how to build partnerships, working with the USDA Forestry Service, how to create a great riding community, and how to grow your local MTB club. Stay tuned!