Area updates from Steve Schneider, your IMBA South Central Region Director
NEW MODEL TRAILS CELEBRATED IN SOUTH CENTRAL
IMBA has designated two, new Ride Centers and two new Epic rides in Arkansas. The City of Bentonville received silver Ride Center status, and the City of Fayetteville received Bronze-level. Both of these communities have put forth significant collaborative efforts to reach this designation, the excitement is evident in these communities. The Upper Buffalo Mountain Bike trails along with the LOViT [Lake Ouachita Vista Trail] can now claim Epic status as well. Both trails flow through US Forest Service lands with the LOViT offering 45 miles point to point, and Upper Buffalo stepping up with 33 miles of singletrack. These trails offer a "true" outback experience, and riding does not get any better in this part of America, for sure!
MORE BIKES FOR KIDS IN ARKANSAS SCHOOLS
The City of Fayetteville, AR, recently received 550 mountain bikes for school kids that will be used in the official curriculum. Funds came from the Endeavor Foundation and the Walton Family Foundation. These new bikes bring the total to more than 1,100 bikes provided to NW Arkansas schools in the last couple of years. Educational skills will be taught by school staff, Bicycle Coalition of the Ozarks (BCO), Bike Bentonville, and the new IMBA Chapter, Friends at SlaughterPen Trails [FAST].
"The future of mountain biking has arrived in our neck of the woods!" FAST President Gary Vernon said. BCO President Paxton Roberts coordinated the bike-building effort in Fayetteville using local volunteers, students and school staff, wrenching tirelessly to get these tires on the ground. Four local bike shops provided a great variety of bikes from 24-inch up to 29'ers for tall high schoolers.
I hope this can be used as a model for other communities moving forward, and help these kids learn the importance of outdoor recreation and off-road cycling in a natural environment.
MOUNTAIN BIKE CAMP FOR KIDS
New IMBA Chapter FAST just completed its 3rd annual mountain bike camp for kids. This camp was held at Park Springs Park in Bentonville, AR, and saw over 40 school kids participate and receive certificates of achievement upon completion. 8-10 FAST members volunteered for four nights working with City Parks and Rec staff to teach these students basic to intermediate, natural-surface riding skills.
"Some of these children had never ridden on trails before, and now they love it!" FAST Founder Dale Bailey said. This program includes basic safety/bike awareness, bike love, braking/cornering skills, shifting gears, climbing, and overall bike etiquette. FAST volunteers continue to ramp it up when it comes to mountain bike schools, leading this community in educational bike advocacy and getting kids on the bikes.
IMBA SOUTH CENTRAL REGION EXPANDING
I have visits planned for Amarillo, TX, Houston, TX, Wichita, KS, Leavenworth, KS, and Jonesboro, AR, during late summer and early fall. These areas have shown interest in partnering with IMBA and need help with future development projects. I can't wait to share some IMBA Love with them! I enjoy the challenge and the reward of rolling into these communities, sharing IMBA's vision, answering questions, and developing awesome relationships within the mountain bike culture. IMBA's chapter program continues to grow, and while it's not a perfect fit for all clubs, those that are ready jump at the chance to partner with IMBA to help create more great riding experiences for all.