Fall is a great Time to Ride!
What is Mountain Biking Worth?
A few weeks ago, I carved out the time to ride in Stowe. When I pulled into the overflowing parking area at the base of Cady Hill, out of state license plates out numbered Vermont plates by 2 to 1. Breathe easy...this is a good thing. It means, our VMBA/chapter membership bases grow, and our shops, pubs, hotels, restaurants and gas stations are all realizing the benefits of riding in Vermont.
As more riders arrive, it is incumbent on Vermonters to unite and collectively send a clear message to each other and those visiting: "If you ride it - you support it." There are a variety of ways to accomplish our goal. The best way is a smile, say hello and be friendly. There's no harm in asking a fellow rider which VMBA chapter they're from or highlighting how hard, "our chapter worked on these trails" (don't forget to smile). If they're not affiliated anywhere, introduce yourself and make a friend.
Given how popular riding in Vermont has become, obtaining the level of support mountain biking requires means chapters, VMBA, and individual riders are encouraging each other and visitors to spend 1% of their annual MTBing budget on membership and 1 day a season participating in a trail day. Unlike ski areas, VMBA and chapters rely on riders independently recognizing their role in supporting trail construction and maintenance.
It's simple, the worth of riding in Vermont is best illustrated by our collective willingness to invest in keeping it healthy.
A recent UVM study suggested there are 49,000 people mountain bike in Vermont each year. Let's say only 25% (12,250) of this number represents regularly active riders. Chapter and VMBA membership totals less than 3000 riders.... Do you know one of those 9,250 riders? Regardless of how you cut the numbers, a fraction of our rider base is paying for 100% of the bill. 12,000+ riders on trails supported by 3000 riders is not sustainable. I checked in with trail builder Brooke Scatchard and he confirmed trail costs between $5-6 a foot to build. It's expensive. This doesn't even touch ongoing maintenance or response to increases in major weather events.
There is a major confluence of significant forces taking shape in Vermont. It's not bad news and there is no doom and gloom warning scenario. Instead, opportunity will fill our path going forward. Better trails, bigger events, growing member benefits, and expanding access are all within our grasp. The best part - these sweet outcomes are almost exclusively up to our ability to unite as a riding community. If we all contribute - we all get more. It's that simple. The danger is that we can steal this progress from ourselves just as easily. Determining the worth of mountain biking in Vermont takes on two distinct complexions. One is how we support its value as a riding community. The other is the extent to which we can measure dollars.
So what about the money...what is it all worth to Vermont? VMBA has embarked on identifying the dollar value describing our collective influence on Vermont's economy. Here's a snap shot of the pilot data and a description of our plans going forward. At this year's festival a survey was collected from 105 riders - thank you if you filled one out:
* 45% of the respondents traveled more than 150 miles to attend the fest
* 44% of participants were female
* Only 35% of the fest participants were from Vermont
* 76% of respondents paid for lodging
* 96% of respondents indicated they travel to Vermont to ride 5 or more times a year
These are some very telling data. When combined with day rate area ticket sales, our numbers are in the millions annually if lodging, gas, food and shop visits are incorporated. In order to achieve empirical numbers to support this assumption, the association has broadened our research scope. Trail counters have been placed in strategic locations this fall. In only three weeks of counting, our numbers are in the thousands of rider days (a chunk of these are Vermonters in weekday PM rides...). Ideally this fall's pilot study will lead to an opportunity to further expand the study into multiple areas in 2014. This research will profoundly enhance chapters' grant proposals and further inform our relationship with public land managers.
VMBA is growing in many important ways. Chapters are more refined today than ever before, which has led to better trails, events, and member benefits. The state and federal representatives clearly recognize the value of riding and are excited to work with a strong partner supported by a proactive user base that understands long range value. Riding is great here and it's going to get better.
If you ride it - you support it. www.vmba.org/membership
Win a $6000+ Santa Cruz Solo Bike!
- Full SRAM XX1 group
- Fox Float 27.5 CTD O/C 130mm Fork
- Reverbe dropper post
- Avid XX brakes
- Deore XT 650b wheels
- PRO Tharsis aliminum bars and stem
- PRO Shimano Venderham saddle and grips
- Michelin Enduro tires
The raffle has been set up to support trial expansion and support VMBA's advocacy work on riders' behalf. Your support would be appreciated.
Enter to win at: https://www.eventbrite.com/event/5902252797
Special thanks to the VMBA BOD for their dedication to making this happen and our sponsors: SRAM, Shimano, Ski Rack, Bike Express, MTBVT, IRide and of course, Santa Cruz.
YOU'RE GOING TO BE IN STOWE ON THE 12TH, RIGHT?
The Stowe Bike Club will be hosting the "Leaf Blower Classic" on October 12th.
The highlight of the event will be an epic ride led on some of Stowe’s most exciting and scenic trails. Whether you are sprinter who rides everyday, a weekend warrior, or a leisurely rider, there will be a group for you. Groups will take a break in the middle to refuel on energy grub and water, before charging back to town!
Once we’re back in town and everyone’s legs are fried the fun really begins. There will be a catered Vermont harvest meal from Just Delicious Catering, which includes a local maple glazed ham, butternut squash lasagna, roasted potatoes and green salad, as well as hearty homemade desserts. There will be bike related contests and trivia around the bonfire, with the opportunity to win prizes from the Club and our sponsors.
12pm - Onsite registration/check-in begins
1:15pm - Kids Camp with Rugged Adventures starts*
1:30pm - Rides depart
5-7pm - Dinner
6-8pm - Contests, prizes, bonfire and festivities
Your ticket gets you admission, a pair of custom SMBC Sock Guy socks, and food. Proceeds will benefit SMBC trail work.
*Online registration is required for Kids Camp. Select "Kids Camp" registration option. Must register each child separately.
Registration closes October 8.
Rain Date: October 20th
Mad River Rider Trail Days
Saturday, September 28th, 9am-12pm, at Blueberry Lake, GMNF - Meet at the Plunkton Rd lot above the lake.
Big Picture Maple Donuts will be on tap. Maybe some other stuff too. Tools will be provided or bring your own. Gloves, glasses, good boots and a smile are necessary.
See you on the trails! John Atkinson
KEEP AN EYE OUT FOR OTHER TRAIL DAYS ON THE VMBA.ORG EVENTS CALENDAR!