Last June I attended my first regional IMBA Summit, held in Crosby, MN near the Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Trail System. It was titled the 2nd Annual Great Lakes Summit.
This year, it was titled the IMBA Upper Midwest Regional Summit and it was hosted in Cable, WI, in the middle of the Chequamegon Area Mountain Bike Association (CAMBA)’s off-road bike trail system.
After the IMBA Upper Midwest Regional Leadership Advisory Council meeting on Friday afternoon (I didn’t attend), a group of us got in a 10-mile ride on CAMBA’s Seeley Pass Trail from the HWY 00 Trail Head. I was indeed “superb rolling, flowy singletrack.” We then made our way to the Sawmill Saloon in Seeley for refreshments and dinner and where I got a chance to chat with a couple of fellow geezers that I’d met briefly on the ride, CAMBA’s Executive Director Ron Bergin and longtime CAMBA trail coordinator/volunteer Steve Morales.
IMBA’s Midwest Regional Director Hansi Johnson opened the Summit on Saturday morning at the Cable Community Centre, thanking the 35+ attendees for coming and citing examples of regional cooperation in the past year (e.g., teaming up on get-out-the-vote efforts for the Bell-Built Grant competition).
Representatives of the Upper Midwest IMBA chapters at the Summit (there are over 20) then each gave short summaries of their chapter’s activities and accomplishments in the past year, as well as their plans for the upcoming year. In a follow-up email, MORC Board Secretary Susannah King captured my sentiments:
It was helpful to see so many other clubs working toward a common goal, dealing with similar (and different) successes and challenges that we do.
IMBA Director of Public Affairs Jeremy Fancher (with support from colleague Aaron M. Smith) presented on the legal ins and outs of IMBA Chapters having MOU’s, partnership agreements, contracts, etc. with land managers/owners. Several Chapter board members I talked to afterwards seemed grateful, worried, and motivated to roll up their sleeves upon returning home to delve deeper into their land manager agreements and do what needs to be done to make them better.
John Gaddo from QBP gave an overview of the rapidly growing fat bike market (expected to double in the next two years). In the Western US, there’s a push with land managers to allow fat bikes to share the use of cross country ski and snowmobile trails for touring-type riding in the winter. But here in the Midwest, he felt it’s far better for Chapters to focusing on grooming some of their singletrack for both fat bikes and regular mountain bikes; hence, a good chunk of his presentation was about the variety of snow grooming techniques and equipment being used in the area. Reed Smidt, president of MORC, gave details on their grooming experiences in the past few years.
The session on fundraising featured Adam Sundberg and Kit Grayson from COGGS and Lori Hauswirth and Aaron Rogers from the Copper Harbor Trails Club.
COGGS has learned 1) how to leverage small grants into a series of ever-larger grants; and 2) that face-to-face, ongoing contact with the grantee organization is critically important, ie, it’s not enough to just submit the application. They’ve also learned that 1) its annual Gala allows them to reach out to a segment of the Duluth population that doesn’t mountain bike but who believes in its importance to the area. Attendees include community leaders and the more financially well-off; 2) it’s best to have auction items have wide appeal rather than being mtb-related (eg, vacation packages, restaurant deals, etc); and 3) the committee in charge of the Gala works on it for the entire year.
Copper Harbor has learned 1) how to scale the value of its sponsorships from local business owners; and 2) how to conduct a raffle with large ticket items (2013 raffle: $6,000 camping trailer, $4,400 Trek, etc).
IMBA Mapping Specialist Leslie Kehmeier presented on their new partnership with MTB Project which this IMBA page describes as
a next-generation mountain bike guide and trail map web site. This robust platform for online mapping displays the known trails in any given area, complete with elevation profiles, full GPS routes, photos, detailed ride info and more.
They’ve just added a feature that I think will create an incentive for Chapters to participate/contribute: once a trail has been mapped, embed code for it can be put on a Chapter’s own website. The quality of the mapping is not something that a Chapter could easily do on its own, so this a pretty big deal IMHO.
Leslie blogs about the project at IMBA.com. See all the IMBA blog posts in the Mapping Category, including her recent blog post, Understanding “rides and trails” on MTBproject.com:
If you’ve visited the MTB Project website you may have noticed two categories: “rides” and “trails.” Some have wondered what the difference might be — one doesn’t exist without the other, right?
CAMBA Executive Director Ron Bergin led the group ride after the Summit was over. I took one photo as riders were getting ready to depart but the vicious mosquitoes created a strong incentive to keep it in my hydration pack thereafter. His description of the new (built last summer) cross country flow trail:
5 miles of fast riding, open & flowing with dozens of bermed turns plus two super-fun gravity features and a 180-foot log ride. Start from our newest trailhead on Camp 38 Rd. – so new there are hardly any signs yet.
I found some photos of this new trail in the CAMBA Trails Flickr group including the two above by Scott Anderson of that 180-foot log skinny (which can be ridden backwards) and the roller coaster Gravity Cavity section (which can be ridden repeatedly in a loop). These two photos are small thumbnail-sized screenshots that are linked to Scott’s originals. Be sure to click through to see them. After Saturday’s ride, we gathered for refreshments and stone oven pizza at the Rivers Eatery in Cable.
On Sunday, some did the 27-mile Rock Lake IMBA Epic ride and others, including me, just the 12-mile Rock Lake trail (click here to see the difference between a ‘ride’ and a ‘trail’). Most notable for me was 1) the steep rocky downhill section called Wall Street; and 2) the No Hands Bridge (I used both hands and road the angled cut board). The above right photo is from this blog post about the entire Rock Lake trail by someone named rlove2bike.
Here’s the information and live MTBProject.com map (using their embed code) for the Rock Lake Trail:
All in all, ’twas a memorable weekend of great weather, good information, tasty food, excellent microbrews, and exhilarating riding, all stitched together with friends new and old. Saaaaaweeeet.