Thursday, August 21, 2014

IMBA World Summit Day 1

I spent yesterday at the first day of the IMBA World Summit in Steamboat Springs, Colorado.  For those of you who don't know, COMBO (Central Ohio Mountain Biking Organization) has been around for over 20 years.  But this year, for the first time, we voted to become a chapter of IMBA (International Mountain Bicycling Association). I think it was a great move - IMBA brings us a wealth of resources for trail building, organizational support, advocacy, and education.  And, IMBA helps save us some of the administrative costs of running a member-based organization.

Now, before I go further, I have to note that this is my blog - not COMBO's - and anything I say here is my opinion alone.

Anyway, this year for IMBA's Summit, there are many opportunities for learning, clinics, presentations, and programming, aimed directly at chapters.  The gods were smiling on me, because COMBO nominated me, and the Board approved, sending me as COMBO's sole chapter member to the Summit.

My trip began, as all trips do, with a walk through the lavish, international Port Columbus Airport.  I won't go into detail, but let's summarize by saying that I was the last passenger on the plane, out of breath from running to the gate, with my shoes and my ziploc bag of toothpaste and contact solution still in my hand.

 As a side note, I chose to do the trip with only hand luggage.  This means that I couldn't carry a liquid over 4.3 ounces or whatever.  Unfortunately, the only chamois cream I have is in an 8-ounce tube.  For those who don't know, chamois cream is a salve that you slather on your groinal area to prevent chafing from bike seats.  What would you do?  Forgo chamois cream and risk a tender diaper zone or go through the hassle of baggage claim?  Me, I just lathered up with four days' worth of cream and left the rest at home.

I nearly slid right off the plane seat
Still, I reached Denver successfully and hurried for my next connecting flight to Steamboat Springs.  But when I got there, I learned we were in for a bit of a wait; the plane was delayed on the runway because of "maintenance issues."  Inspires confidence, doesn't it? 

The downtime was bumming me out, because it meant I was missing some of the pre-conference festivities like a tour of the Moots factory and demo bike riding.  But, it turned out well, because I got to talk to some really interesting people who were on the same flight.

First, I met a group of people from the Lexington area Kentucky (in the same IMBA region as COMBO) who are trying to convert an old limestone mine into the world's first underground mountain bike trail and playground.  Awesome - I hope this happens for them.  Tom Tyler visited Ray's in Cleveland for inspiration - I hope Ray can hook up with them to help!  Check out

Andy Williamson (our IMBA Regional Director) planting the IMBA flag.
I also met a guy named "Bob" who said he was a IMBA board member.  Turns out he is the Board Chairman.  Anyway, when I mentioned that I was with COMBO, he said "you guys have a really good reputation."  I think I may have blushed a little.  Awesome.

Bob Winston
I also met an Ohio ex-pat named Brandy who owns a chain of specialized bike shops in Arizona.  I'm officially jealous.

Ultimately, the plane took off, and I really enjoyed the scenery.

But, by the time I arrived, I had a tough choice to make: should I do a tour of the Moots factory, or ride mountain bikes?  What would you choose?  Yeah, me too.

I did not bring a bike, but there was a fleet of demo bikes from various manufacturers, so I borrowed a Moots Rogue YBB.

This is an awesome bike.  A 27.5 "hardtail" with a little suspension built into the rear seat stays.

I can't say enough good things about this bike.  It was responsive and light.  Plus, Moots is a local (as in the same damn town) company and they are great folks, as far as I can tell. If I didn't already have eleventy-twelve bikes of my own, Moots would be the next purchase.  Hell, they might be anyway.

Rode the Emerald Mountain Trails.  Again, can't recommend them more highly.  Awesome.  In fact, I felt sorry that the trails were subject to my sorry skills.

 The trails were beautiful.  They looked like this:

Lots of fun uphill and down.

Anyhow, after riding, it was time for the IMBA chapter reception.  We took the ski gondolas up to the top of the mountain, where we got to mix with IMBA chapters from around the country and eat finger foods.  It was amazing to hear what other chapters are doing.  You know how some trips change your perspective on life?  This trip is changing my perspective on managing mountain biking.

Beer by New Belgium.  Awesome.  Great beer, great company.  An obvious beer pairing for this post.

More tomorrow.  Go be brave!


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