Wednesday, June 5, 2013

International Mountain Bike Association's Regional Trail Summit 2013

I left Thursday afternoon from North County Escondido bound for one of my favorite places, Idyllwild for the International Mountain Bike Associations regional trail summit. I pulled in to town center and checked into my cabin at the IdyllwildInn. It's a cozy little cabin with a lot history. The place is covered with peoples names etched into the wooden walls that have stayed there, the oldest I found was a couple from 1968. I did add my own before I left.

 After a brief rest and stocking up on groceries for the weekend I made my way over to The Hub Cyclery to get the 411. The plan was to ride and have dinner then rest up for the next day. Fuzzy from Niner was just pulling in so Brendan and I decided to wait and hammer with him. Always good to ride with those guys, it was a tough one but hella fun. The night ended at Café Aroma eating Gnocchi in the back room, mm, mm good.

Number 9
What follows is my brief overview of the summit itself, no names have been changed because no one is innocent. A lot of the information given out at the summit can be found on IMBA's website in more detail.

Friday-1st day of the summit.

Those that had not arrived the night before started to slowly filter into town throughout the day. Meanwhile Brendan, Fuzzy and Jason from Shimano decided it was time for some Niner product testing. We all took some Niner RDO Rip9's out and hitched onto a shuttle up to South Ridge trail for some tasty downhill action. Those bikes handled like a dream while I don't think I would ever own one(unless someone gave it to me) I can easily say it was one of the best full suspension rigs I have ridden yet. Nothing seemed too big for it and the power out of the saddle when climbing was excellent. 
Registration and group rides- Registration went quickly and group rides were loosely formed and poorly organized on the IMBA's side of things. A couple of good rides were organized on the fly with help from Brendan at The Hub Cyclery. The ride Brendan and I took out was 20 deep, they all had a great time and they all made it back together. 

The Hub System
Saturday-2nd day of the summit, time to hit the books.

The summit officially kicked off with a nice breakfast put on by the Idyllwild town hall followed by introductions that were held in the basement(kids classroom) of said town hall. Apparently there was a jazzercise class still going on in the main hall. Still it was kinda funny seeing a bunch of grown men and women sitting in tiny plastic chairs. Lots of mtb clubs, a couple of land managers a few concerned citizens and one local "trail gardener" were on hand.
Class is in.

The first workshop was a simplified version of the IMBA's trail solutions plan and dealt with the costs of trail planning, effective trail planning and the benefits of trail systems to the public. When asked about how much it would be to use IMBA's trail care crews to create these trail plans the first answer was "It depends" but the simplest figure was between $500-$700 initially. There was a lot of other costs involved to inflate that number and I came away with no clear picture on costs involved with using IMBA's crews.

Second workshop dealt with what areas the IMBA'S governmental arm deals with. Policy, land management, trail management and trail advocacy. Discussions on PCT usage in sections were talked about in their Long Live Long Rides Project. It ended with one slide explaining how to deal with land managers. Ha! It could have and should have gone into a little more detail when it came to this area as most of the clubs in attendance will be dealing with land managers and local agencies as opposed to the federal government directly.

Brief lunch from Idyllwild Pizza and a chance run in with Jim from Central Coast brewing. After a glass of Catch 23 an excellent Black Rye IPA I was ready for round two.

Third workshop focused on collaborative problem solving between trail advocacy groups and land management aka common sense 101. Good info to use that most don't.

Fourth workshop talked about the IMBA mapping program, the MTB Project. An overall trail mapping initiative. This will give users access to trail maps online and with phone apps. What this will do to local bike shops is unclear since this application kind of cuts them out of the picture. If it were not for Brendan from The Hub Cyclery I would not know half the trails I do in Idyllwild and there have been many other occasions in other cities where bike shops are the go to source for local trails. Of course the app will only list "designated" trails, and some of the follow up questions brought up concerns on just how and who will determine this "designation".

The final workshop of the day was grant writing. Basic "do's and don'ts" when it comes to writing an effective grant proposal as well as where to find said grants. Again good information to know and have for the up and coming trail advocate.

Rides were organized afterwards and fun was had by all. Found out later that some who went on rides got left on the trail, fortunately locals were on hand to guide them back.

The evening culminated in a BBQ and raffle at local eatery Jo-Ann's. The food was solid and the raffle was full of decent swag. Crowning moment was watching the locals karaoke. Elvis was spotted alive and well in Idyllwild.
Raffle time! 

Sunday-Final day of the summit.

No breakfast for me apparently when they said on the summit schedule breakfast at the town hall like the previous day they actually meant somewhere completely different. Missed the memo.

We start with a workshop on how to create a bike park and the management involved. IMBA has a very pragmatic view on the creation of bike parks, not as easy as it would seem. Bottom line get your ducks in a row before you approach an agency with an idea like this.

The final workshop of the summit was on high school mountain biking and why it's a good benefit to local advocacy groups. Program runs thru NICA National Interscholastic Cycling Association that provides grants and guidance to the affiliated leagues. They are not purely race based but more of a high school sport youth development program. All of that translates to trail advocates in the making. Wish they would have had these when I was a kid.  Man they got it good these days.

At the end Patrick Kell from the IMBA presented the Idyllwild Cycling Club with 500 dollars, part of the proceeds from the previous night's raffle. Kind gesture to be sure.

Overall it was a very informative weekend and I got to meet a lot of really good people with some really great ideas on how to progress mountain biking and trail advocacy in the future. I want to give a huge THANK YOU for the kind gesture that was afforded to me by the San Diego Mountain Bike Association. They will be graciously donating 500 dollars to the San Dieguito River Park's Mountain Bike Patrol from some of the proceeds generated from the Archipelago Ride held last April that was supported by the SDRP. It's partnerships and summits like these that will make it easier on upcoming generations of mountain bikers to continue to enjoy the trails we all hold so dearly.

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