LAS VEGAS, NV (BRAIN)—Half-past seven may not be the most popular hour to hold an Interbike event, but about 60 or so folks managed to pull themselves out of bed to attend IMBA’s second annual industry breakfast on Thursday morning.
Over coffee, eggs and bacon, IMBA executive director Mike Van Abel updated the crowd on IMBA’s latest trailbuilding efforts and asked for industry support to help the advocacy organization reach its goal of raising $5 million over the next three years to meet the demand for new trails.
Stan Day, president of SRAM, drew a round of applause as he pledged to work with IMBA as part of his company’s promise to donate $2 million per year for the next five years for mountain and road advocacy projects around the world.
Part of the demand for new trails will be met through IMBA’s new Ride Center concept. A Ride Center consists of trail systems including singletrack, dirt jumps and pump tracks, as well as skills areas for beginners, and strives to drive participation in the sport and boost local economies. The first five are planned in Cuyuna Lakes, Minnesota; Payette River Valley, Idaho; Santos Trails, Florida; Fraser Valley, Colorado; and the Uwharrie Mountains in North Carolina. The idea is to develop mountain biking destinations, creating a week’s worth of epic rides instead of one epic ride, Van Abel said.
Van Abel also addressed the importance partnerships with local advocacy clubs to build new trail systems. One example is Wakefield Park, a six-mile network of singletrack in Washington D.C. built by MORE, an IMBA affiliate.
Anne Mader, co-owner of the Bike Lane in Burke, Virginia, got involved with the club, sponsoring a team and providing food during trail maintenance days, and her efforts have paid off.
“Our shop is lucky enough to be about five minutes away from this trail and we have significantly prospered because of that. Our mountain bike business is huge. There’s another park in the other direction that has about seven miles of trails. While these trail systems aren’t huge, they bring the mountain bike community together,” Mader said.
Since the trails went in, MORE has grown from 200 members to 600 members, Mader said.
Another example is Highbridge Park in New York City, a partnership between the NYC MTB club and the city’s parks department to turn a Brooklyn forest littered with rusty cars, hypodermic needles and ratty mattresses into a mountain bike park with singletrack, a pump track and free ride trails.
The result was so successful that the city is attempting to establish similar projects in all five boroughs.