We received a number of comments on our article last week about dozens of IMBA Epic rides being retired to the Epic Hall of Fame list, and clearly many readers were confused about the process and what it means for the overall list. Earlier this week we spoke to IMBA’s Mark Eller about the changes, and here’s what we learned.
First, we should note that the Hall of Fame retirements actually happened in 2013, though we honestly didn’t notice until just last week when we looked at the official Epic list at IMBA.com. Judging by the comments, many of our readers didn’t realize a change had been made, either.
In an effort to return “the Epics to the original intent of the designation,” IMBA applied new objective and subjective criteria, which meant many trails on the Epic list didn’t appear to meet the new criteria. However, Mark assures us that anyone can submit a Hall of Fame trail for reconsideration to be included on the full Epic list, especially if the trail has been improved since the time it was first added to the Epic list. And having a local IMBA group that’s affiliated with a trail is important for trails on the Epic list–the list is, after all, managed by IMBA and is designed to showcase the work that’s being done by affiliates.
In fact, just this month the Seven Summit Trail was reinstated to the Epic list after a local rider contacted IMBA to let them know the trail does indeed feature 20+ miles of trails now. At the time of the changes last year, IMBA was using information submitted with the original Epic applications to determine trail mileage. Some of that information hadn’t been updated in years, which may have resulted in some trails being removed when in fact they qualify based on more current trail info.
Mark went on to say that in some cases, the HOF retirement announcement has spurred local riders into action to improve their trails. The Syllamo trail system in Arkansas was removed from the Epic list after falling into disrepair following storms several years ago. With no active club maintaining the trails, the IMBA team felt like the trails were no longer deserving of the Epic title. After seeing the announcement, a group of local riders decided to make it their mission to return Syllamo to its former Epic glory and is currently working to improve the trails in hopes of returning Syllamo to the list.
Still, there’s no doubt that losing Epic status for a trail system has the potential to be detrimental to tourism and morale among local volunteers. Mark points out that tourism was never really the main purpose of the Epics list, though admittedly it has been used as the basis for many riders’ bucket lists. The morale issue is a little trickier, and clearly can go both ways; in Syllamo local riders were able to use the HOF as a motivator, but other local groups may not take such a positive view of the changes.
While Mark says there’s no hard-and-fast rule for the number of IMBA Epics that will be recognized over the years, it’s clear that in order to stay relevant, the list will need to remain selective. That means this won’t be the last time we see trails retired to the HOF as selections are constantly re-evaluated and compared to one another.
Does your local club maintain one of the Epic HOF trails? If so, we’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!