For Immediate Release
Contact Mark Eller
IMBA Communications Director
markeller [at] imba [dot] com
Hardly anybody wants to tackle long, challenging rides in the backcountry these days. Expert-level trails with big drops and technical features can't be built sustainably, or on public lands. And it would be impossible to create destinations with appeal for every skill level and riding style.
None of these statements are true, but you've probably heard similar claims.
The best way to refute these wrongheaded ideas is to showcase real-world examples that defy the doubters. That's why IMBA offers a Model Trails program. It’s our way of spotlighting places that exemplify what mountain biking looks like when it's done right. We hope you'll find inspiration — and a sense of what can be accomplished when you know what to aim for — as you examine the current crop of Model Trails:
Epic Rides Return to the Backcountry
Each year, IMBA collects online nominations for a new crop of Epics®. In 2011, we’ve returned our focus to challenging backcountry excursions that most people associate with Epic riding. “For many years, the term ‘Epic’ was the only honorific IMBA used, so we started applying it beyond backcountry trails,” explains IMBA Communications Director Mark Eller. “Today, the variety of Model Trail categories provides more options, so it’s a good moment to go back to the original idea of an Epic ride.”
Meet the 2011 inductees:
- Brown County State Park (Indiana)
- Kerr Scott Trails (North Carolina)
- Mountain Hero (Yukon)
- Rattling Creek (Pennsylvania)
- W2 Trail (Wales)
Seven Ride Centers Named
The Ride Center® designation represents IMBA’s Model Trail recognition for large-scale mountain bike facilities that offer something for every rider. Bring your full arsenal of bikes to these destination-worthy areas. From backcountry adventures to shuttle-served gravity trails, and from expert-only to family-friendly, you’ll encounter the best the sport has to offer.
IMBA staff selects candidates for Ride Centers recognition on an invitation-only basis. As of October, 2011, seven Ride Centers have undergone IMBA's evaluation process — you can expect to see more of them in 2012:
- Park City, Utah (Gold level)
- Oakridge Area, Oregon (Silver level)
- Copper Harbor, Michigan (Bronze level)
- Cuyuna Lakes, Minnesota (Bronze level)
- Harrisonburg, Virginia (Bronze level)
- Santos, Florida (Bronze level)
- Singletrek pod Smrkem, Czech Republic/Poland (Bronze level)
Flow and Gateway Model Trails
Two new categories have emerged in the Model Trails lineup: Flow Trails and Gateway Trails. IMBA's Trail Solutions is leading the charge to create these inspiring trail systems.
The term "flow trails" is well suited to describe the evolution of mountain bike trails, with public land agencies, ski areas, and advocates working together to create the ultimate ride where turns link together and moments of weightlessness are snatched from the landscape. IMBA has long been at the forefront of flow trails, building them even before there was a term to describe it. We continue to advance the concept, including our recent partnership with mountain biking legend Hans Rey to create the Flow Country Trails program.
Gateway Trails put standout facilities in places where lots of people can experience the joy of mountain biking. One great example can be seen in suburban Maryland, where the trails at Rockburn Branch will soon offer progressive options for beginners, intermediate and advanced riders — all located in the seventh-largest metropolitan area in the U.S. The design features a 5,000-square-foot pump track, with multiple gravity flow lines in development.