I have the best wife ever. She didn’t even blink when I said I wanted to go to the IMBA World Summit to hang out with other bike nuts, because she knew I’d love it. She knew I’d learn about building trails and building a successful MTB organization, effective fundraising and advocacy, and that I’d make new friends. Oh yeah, and there’s some epic riding here, if you’re into that sort of thing. Oh, and a great beer sponsor. Oh, and awesome demo bikes from Moots, Pivot, Niner, Yeti, Specialized, Trek, and SRAM.
So my kids started school the day I left and she just handled it. She also checked me in for my flight online and drove me to the airport. Best. Wife. Ever. And she can probably kick your wife’s ass. Just saying.
So, here I am on day two of the conference. It’s billed as “a day for chapters.” I experienced a strange new feeling as I walked into the lobby of the Steamboat Grand: I was excited to sit in a hotel conference room for a whole day.
The day started with bacon and eggs. Good start.
|Every hotel ballroom in America|
While we ate, we listened to a presentation from a marketing firm about drawing in members and the strength of IMBA’s brand. The main takeaway for me is that the best way to build membership is for organizations like COMBO to be a friend of the mountain bikers and trail users in Ohio. That means fighting for them, sharing information with them, community building, and providing great trails. Got all of that? Okay, get to work.
My day continued with a breakout session on effective fundraising. Fundraising is serious business and raising money is not accidental. An idea, with seed money, can become a plan. Money follows those plans.
|Marjo Curgus explains how to obtain philanthropic foundation funding|
The next session was an industry panel on fundraising. SRAM explained its huge sponsorship of IMBA, which allowed things like the salaried regional directors. SRAM is doing good work globally too.
|David Zimberoff, SRAM’s VP of Marketing and IMBA Board Member highlight’s SRAM’s charitable funding.|
I had a chance to talk to David as we walked to the hotel. I hope I conveyed how thrilled I am with SRAM’s support of IMBA.
Trek and Specialized explained their respective local programs too. Trek’s game-changer program pairs local IMBA chapters with nearby Trek retailers who are willing to support us. Similarly, Specialized’s Community Grants Program funnels funding for bike programs through local dealers. Seriously, are you writing this down? New Belium also supports bicycle advocacy, mainly through the Tour de Fat. They only do this where they directly distribute beer though. Good news! Ohio is on that list! Let’s get Tour de Fat to Columbus! You listening Consider Biking and Yay Bikes!?
Also, Peter Berrige from Clif Bar was there, explaining the grants/events process and how to get sponsors involved. It was great to be able to thank Peter in person for the Clif/IMBA grant that COMBO got for signage at Alum Creek. Clif is a great partner for COMBO and hopefully will continue to be so in the future.
|Thanks Peter and thanks Clif!|
Anyhow, after the sessions, I had a couple of choices: (1) have lunch; (2) go pick up swag and see the latest merchandise from some awesome bike and outdoors vendors; or (3) go ride some demo bikes downhill on ski slopes. Which would you choose? Yeah, me too.
|Representing in Patrol T-shirt!|
On my continuing saga to find chamois butter, I asked a real nice guy from Tennessee that I met at the conference if I could borrow some “ass cream.” But with his southern accent, he misunderstood me and bought me a cup of “ice cream” instead.
I used it anyhow. It was cooling, but sorta sticky. I may use ice cream again tomorrow, but next time, I’ll use straight vanilla. The pecans kinda hurt when it melted.
Maybe this could even spark a new idea for Jeni’s Ice Cream? Spandex mint? Sweaty Caramel? The possibilities are endless. Plus, Jeni’s already sponsors a race team. I see a partnership in the making . . .
Anyhow, my ride for the first downhill run was a Niner Rip RDO.
I was a little nervous, because I haven’t done a whole lot of “real” downhill, but with this bike under me, I felt pretty confident.
I rode down the “beginner” trail as fast as I could, which is still pretty slow, and headed out for the next meeting of the day, the Chapter Summit.
Before the Chapter Summit, I got a chance to walk and talk with Mike Van Able, IMBA’s Executive Director and Andy Williamson, our Regional Director. I was able to tell Mike about COMBO’s trails and our plans for the future. I explained that we are a club in a metro area of 1.4 million and that our trails see over 30,000 laps per year. Simply put, we’re making mountain biking available for central Ohio. And I explained that we are on the cusp of growth. If we can add a real destination trail in Central Ohio, we can boost membership and ridership and really put our organization on the map. We’re also planning timely projects like a skills park and connective trails to local bike paths. Mike was genuinely interested and supportive. I also told him how much we like Andy and how he’s already helped in many ways.
Mike and Andy addressed us at the Chapter Summit.
|Mike addresses the chapter delegates|
|Andy dropping science on us|
It was great to hear IMBA’s plans for developing its business model and it was awesome to be able to provide input. Ultimately, IMBA asked us, working in small groups, to address our biggest concerns for IMBA to tackle this year. We also brainstormed ways to meet the gaps in IMBA’s fundraising.
Also, there was beer.
Then it was time to ride bikes some more.
I grabbed a bike from SRAM’s fleet for this ride. Although the frame is the Kona Satori, SRAM doesn’t make bikes, just parts, so all the parts were different than what would have some from Kona.
This bike had a 140M travel Rockshox Pike, a RockShox Monarch Plus RC3 DebonAir Rear Shock, SRAM Roam 50 wheels, and a dropper post.
This bike is causing problems for me. It’s causing problems, because I am in love. I will have a bike like this in the near future. I even spoke with SRAM’s mechanic to get a list of exactly how he built this bike. Mmmmm, bike.
This time, I rode the blue “intermediate” trails. I may have actually said “woo-hoo” at some point during this run. Too much fun! Rode with my new friend Matt from North Carolina. He was willing to wait for me as I tenderfooted down the trail.
More later. Go be brave!