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Getting a grip on mountain bikes

Conference stresses the importance of managing growing sport

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"Just seeing all the things that Whistler does well was valuable to people at the conference," said Juryn. "Because of the bike park we saw the biggest gathering of lift-serviced bike park operators that there’s ever been. People got to meet the municipality’s trail crew, and get a look at what they do in WORCA as well."

Still, while Whistler is a mountain bike success story compared to other towns, there are issues.

Juryn is encouraged that the new Ministry of Tourism, Sport and the Arts is studying mountain biking in the Sea to Sky corridor, and is prepared to grandfather existing trails if local clubs take responsibility for maintenance. However, he’s concerned that promoting tourism on those trails will make it harder for volunteers and local groups like WORCA to shoulder the burden.

"It increases the pressure on you maintaining the trails for the public while someone else is making cash," said Juryn.

There’s also a problem with the way mountain biking is being marketed, believing that beginner and intermediate trails are not well represented.

It all comes down to management, says Juryn. The tricky part is managing the sport without stifling it.

"People are stepping up and talking to government, and there are people who want to manage the growth. Partnerships between clubs and levels of government is the only way it’s going to happen, and some people are going to be ticked off with the way things move," said Juryn. "Some trails are going to be decommissioned and some people are passionately against that. But when trails are poorly designed and constructed, or they’re going through or near an environmentally sensitive area, some things are going to be lost. But it could be a gain, because of the kind of people that are involved, and the number of people stepping up for the trails."

Juryn will be meeting with representatives from the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) to discuss future conferences, and the possibility of hosting both the IMBA Summit and Juryn’s World Mountain Bike Conference together in the future. It’s also possible that the conference will return to Whistler at a later date.

"It probably won’t be this year, but what I can say is that Whistler did an amazing job. Everybody from the bike shops, to the residents, to WORCA, to the three main groups; the municipality, Tourism Whistler, Whistler-Blackcomb, they definitely made us feel welcome and we heard nothing but good things from all the attendees. There were definitely people that are going to be going home and talking up Whistler."

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