Feeling the Flow at the IMBA World Summit
By Andy Lambert, Bike Fixtation
If you've never heard the term "Oz Trails" before, chances are you're like me and had no idea that the Northwest Arkansas region is quickly becoming a hot spot destination for mountain bikers seeking a hidden gem. This region boasts 260 miles of paved and single track trails, much of which is accessible just minutes from the various downtowns in the upper northwest region of the Razorback State.
Home to some of the best-in-class mountain biking trail systems anywhere, Bentonville, AR, hosted the 2016 International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA) World Summit. This annual event brings together trail builders, IMBA chapter members, city officials, advocacy groups and mountain bike enthusiasts from around the world to talk about everything from trail building techniques and amenities to legislative policies around public land use and mountain biking. There was also no shortage of demo bikes, craft beer nor delicious food options to keep you going.
One cannot talk about this growing network of trails without giving props to the communities who've embraced mountain biking as a tourism draw and family friendly activity that encourages numerous health benefits and positive self-esteem.
One family in particular who's been incredibly supportive of mountain biking in the region is the Walton family. Walmart heir and Walton Family Foundation Home Region Program Committee Chair, Tom Walton, told World Summit attendees that the family foundation has a goal of providing as much access as possible to paved and single track trails to as many downtowns in the region as possible. Their idea is that if the trails are easily accessible, people won't have to sacrifice access to nature just to have the amenities of a city. This in turn boosts tourism and quality of life in myriad ways.
Bike Fixtation was at the Summit to promote our Deluxe Public Work Stand and Bike Wash and Bottle Fill Stations, all three of which are fantastic amenities for any mountain bike trailhead. While most of my time was spent chatting with folks who stopped by the tent (and keeping a watchful eye out for Tom Walton to introduce him to Bike Fixtation) the most notable experience was learning about NICA (the National Interscholastic Cycling Association) and the "Teen Trail Corps."
The Teen Trail Corps is a program designed by NICA and IMBA to inspire and train the next generation of trail stewards and advocates. More broadly, NICA exists to develop and promote interscholastic mounting biking programs for student-athletes across the United States. There are currently 19 active NICA leagues of various sizes at the state level and it's easy to get involved. For more information about your local interscholastic cycling league, visit http://www.nationalmtb.org/nica-leagues.
Did you see that wood paneled Deluxe Work Stand? This unique look stemmed from a design test, the result of which was branded and donated to IMBA. And if you're a resident or visitor to Boulder, Colorado, you can find this stand at the Valmont Bike Park.