ISLAND PARK, ID (BRAIN) — The second annual Fatbike Summit here succeeded in getting land managers and bike advocates on fat bikes for the first time and helped create a new group of educated allies for the activity, organizers said.
More than 100 fat bike enthusiasts, bike and outdoor industry professionals, land managers and congressional staff attended the summit and festival.
“We hit one out of the park,” said Gary Sjoquist, advocacy director for distributor QBP, a major supporter of the event. “Our Friday session was attended by about 40 land managers and included folks from Yellowstone (National Park) and various U.S. Forest units. They all got to ride fat bikes and learned how minimal their impacts are to groomed Nordic ski and snowmobile trails.”
Anna Laxague, IMBA regional director for the Pacific Northwest, had never ridden a fat bike before the summit. Organizers said her presence at the event signaled that IMBA is taking the winter activity seriously. Laxague said IMBA will support advocacy efforts to build industry and grass-roots support; unite diverse trail users through common goals; and help communities use fat biking to boost their recreation economies.
Sjoquist is optimistic about the future and ready to take on an ambitious agenda. Projects include fat bike pilot programs at national parks and forests, and continuing outreach and education for land managers and politicians across the U.S. The goal, Sjoquist emphasized, is to open new territories for this rapidly growing sector of the bike industry.
“There are 10,000 fat bikes in existence today, and it’s estimated that number will double by next year,” Sjoquist observed. “That will put a lot more demand for access to national parks and state forests. Land managers will need a strategy for how to will handle it all. It opens tremendous possibilities, and challenges, too.”
More information: www.fatbikesummit.com.