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.
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).
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.
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.
Right: The conversation at times turned to mountain bike tourism for the Upper Midwest region, as epitomized by Jay and Claire, two college students visiting Copper Harbor from Vermont. They were traveling to Montana, trying to visit as many mountain bike parks as possible on their way. For their next stops after Copper, I told them that the sequence (heading west) would be to ride CAMBA, Spirit Mountain, COGGS, and then Cuyuna. Alas, due to the wet and cold spring, only Cuyuna would work for this trip.
When the mountain biking was over on the Sunday of the Ride the Keweenaw weekend, the festivities in Copper Harbor park ramped up. Many dozens lined up for the $25/person BBQ fundraiser while…
an excellent rock band, a GoPro-equipped quadcopter, and a, um, enthusiastic dancer provided entertainment. (Just in case you’re looking for the top quadcopters under 100 bucks – check out more reviews here.)
Left: It’s always good to see some fellow graying geezers on the trails and at the party. These guys were from Ishpheming, MI Center: Hollywood Dave Markman and CHTC Board Member Tony Schwenn provided security Right: He doesn’t know it yet but MTU student and hot shot mountain biker Oliver Cooper is going to be my coach next time I’m back up there.
As the sun went down, the dancing cranked up. A fitting end to a memorable event.
A couple weeks ago, it occurred to me that organizing get-out-the-vote parties might be another way to inspire Midwest mountain bikers to get their non-mountain biking friends and family to vote. The idea was to replicate what get-out-the-vote organizers do when D-Day approaches and the hard/tedious work of stuffing envelopes, making phone calls, and sending emails has to be done: 1) They get the volunteers together in one room and make it a fun and social event; and 2) They urge the volunteers to make one-to-one contact with potential voters.
I pitched the idea privately to some local mountain bike leaders and advocates and got encouragement to go for it. I put together this video/screencast that explained the idea and with the help of IMBA Midwest Regional Director Hansi Johnson, emailed a link to it to IMBA club/chapter leaders in the Midwest:
I got a small team of people to volunteer to help me but when everyone got so busy with their other duties, I had to concede that the idea was too much and too late. MORC board member Jay Thompson asked me to create a how-to-vote video (YouTube link here) but basically, I gave up.
When I posted a couple of photos from the event in the MORC forum, Rhett wrote:
I recognize some of those people… people will come when you have half a barrel of beer lol Hopefully this helps the midwest!!! On facebook it said 40+ people were going.
The only places i can think of up here that would be good meeting places are, bike shops, the legion, bars in anoka or an ice arena meeting room… but the ice arena costs money
Although i work at the coon rapids ice arena and we have a few rooms we could use. I work tomorrow and can call today and ask if i could get a deal or just use the rooms if people will come.
MORC board member Chance Glasford chimed in:
well ask a bike shop or a coffee shop or the legion and make it happen Rhett! time is a ticking!
If i can, my arena has wifi and coffee, get a room, i need to know that people will come. I can have tables chairs wifi coffee. If MORC reserves the room (if i cant get it with a deal) will be either $25 or $40 if you want both party rooms. It would be ideal to have at least 5 people to show up, and i will stop by and help when im on my break. I need to know asap if we are going to use this venue. I dont know of a big enough place with wifi around here.
Rhett, probably the best thing to do is what Copper Harbor did: create a Facebook event on the Elm Creek Facebook page with the time/date/venue info and then start alerting everyone to that event so that they can indicate ‘going – maybe – no.’ (You have to be an admin of the page to do that.) Then the admins who run the MORC and other Twin Cities’ area MTB pages can promo the event on their FB walls. I think a coffeehouse or pub would be best because then there’s a stronger socializing element, whereas ‘come to the conference room at the arena’ isn’t quite as compelling. But at this late date, whatever works!
Im just trying to think of places where theres wifi and that are social… we dont have much up her like this… look at maple grove for somewhere to meet. If no one finds anywhere let me know. Should i make a facebook event and make you guys admins so we can change times and places…. mike loerzel said if we get a room he could bring subway to help make it a party
do what you have to do! Griff can you help Rhett out at all with this?
Thanks chance, any help will help, im at school til 830 tonight. I will set things up online, if we dont have a place by 7-8 tonight i think i can still set up a room… we arent that busy tomorrow i think so we will have room and time to do all this
see if they will donate the room since it is for a non-profit organization and if it is not being used it should be a big deal. definitely put it on blast whatever you are doing…. time place and all that f/b group would be good
Yea i think i can get the room and i can provide some drinks (non alcohol) and if people bring some food or snacks i also can do popcorn…. bring laptops and ill get it set up if we get a good amount of people… i know of 3 so far
make the facebook page and get it out there i will put it up on all the pages I manage
Alright i will at 4 once my class is done, then post it on everything and make guys admins. I got a room no charge… i need times now
Rhett, I just spoke with Jay Thompson who’s the admin of the Elm Creek Facebook page. He’s going to make me an admin so I’ll create the event page for this. Can you phone/text me asap at 507-319-5541?
Did the effort help? Earlier in the evening, we were behind Colorado’s Bear River Bike Park in the voting by 1%. By the end, we were tied at 39% each. We like to think we made a difference but of course, there’s no way to know.
Are there lessons to be learned? Maybe.
In this age of social media, photos of bike advocates in action do matter. The photos of the Copper Harbor crew’s party were definitely an inspiration.
Leadership doesn’t come only from leaders. 18-year old Rhett Williams saw a need and took charge.
Online networks can facilitate organizing in ways that are otherwise difficult to do. This would not have happened without the MORC forum and Facebook.
The hard work of advocacy can be both satisfying and fun. If Elm Creek Bike Park doesn’t win next week, we can still savor the week’s experience. And if it does win, I have a hunch that another party will be in the works.