http://metrospirit.com/index.php?cat=19 ... 5104255444
Very proud of my friend, Randy DuTeau, who works with Augusta Sports Council, who helped to bring IMBA to Augusta:
Issue #21.41 :: 05/05/2010 - 05/11/2010
Sports tourism again proves to be recession proof for Augusta, as IMBA holds world summit here this week
BY AMY FENNELL CHRISTIAN
AUGUSTA, GA - Last September, right before ESi Ironman 70.3 Augusta brought 3,500 participants and hundreds more staff to Augusta for what was to be the biggest event of its kind in the nation, Augusta Sports Council Events Manager Randy DuTeau talked about the recession-proof nature of sports tourism.
“Sports tourism is huge right now,” he said. “You can’t really put a price on the marketing and public relations value you get through events like Ironman Augusta, but it’s just tremendous, and now it’s being followed up by the IMBA Summit.”
IMBA stands for the International Mountain Bicycling Association, a group founded in 1988 in California whose mission is to protect, create and enhance mountain biking, to promote the sport and to get rider-volunteers involved in creating and maintaining trails around the country and world.
Their yearly summit brings together hundreds of enthusiasts for educational workshops, social events and group rides.
After being held in stunning locations around the country, this year’s summit is being held in downtown Augusta this week, May 5-8.
“That’s a pretty big deal,” DuTeau explained last fall, “especially when you look at the places it has been held. Park City [Utah], Whistler, British Columbia, Moab [Utah] and now Augusta.”
A mountain bike summit in a place where there are no mountains? How’d that happen?
The Sports Council had a lot to do with making the bid, but Augusta won that bid largely on the strength of the SORBA (Southern Off-Road Bicycle Association)-CSRA, an active group who helped create FATS (Forks Area Trail System) in South Carolina’s Sumter National Forest near McCormick.
Liz and Bill Victor of Aiken, S.C., are members of SORBA-CSRA and were instrumental in creating FATS, which is one of the few elite trail systems around the world to have been designated an IMBA Epic trail.
This despite the fact that the group broke ground on the trail in 2005 and it only opened in 2008.
“In the world of trails, in the span of the life that it will have, it’s a baby,” Liz Victor said Monday as she helped IMBA personnel get ready for the summit. “It’s carved so it will not erode away.”
The Victors worked for years to gather the volunteers and funding to make the trail.
“It used to be called the tower trail and it wasn’t really a legal trail to ride but it wasn’t really enforced,” Liz Victor explained. “Bill’s dream was to get that trail legal. He worked with the Forest Service for a number of years, and countless studies had to be done. Lots of red tape. Bill and I wrote a lot of grants. Two of the three grants we got to do FATS were through the state of South Carolina.”
The Epic designation is huge for FATS and Bill will be one of the speakers at the summit this week as participants use FATS as a case study for developing and managing a trail system.
In addition to the educational components of the world summit, there are many other aspects to the event that, according to DuTeau, will do wonders for the Augusta community in terms of exposure. Among those events is a two-day expo in which members of the national mountain biking media and manufacturers will be present. The expo, held outside the Marriott on Reynolds, is Thursday and Friday from 1-8 p.m. and is open to the public.
“This type of exposure is invaluable,” he said. “If I was a distributor, knowing we are so close to a port city and so close to all these population hubs, whether it is Atlanta or Charlotte, and that we have an available work force, that makes us look good.”
The summit is expected to bring in approximately 300 attendees and countless more staff, who will participate in opening ceremonies, a film night, a ribbon cutting for the new North Augusta pump track and First Friday, around which the dates of the summit were planned to coincide.
After riders attend the ribbon cutting, they’ll receive a police escort for a ride down Broad Street to the expo at the Marriott. During the three-day event, riders will also be shuttled to FATS for group rides.
DuTeau is confident in the positive aspects of what hosting this week’s IMBA summit will do for the city, and he said that credit for pulling the event off can be almost solely attributed to the strength of the area’s cycling community.
“It’s always been, ever since we announced it, really positive,” he said. “The thing that really worked for Augusta, I believe, is the strength of the club and of the FATS trail. We are everycommunity. Not everybody can be Park City, Utah. The FATS trails are a real testament to what a grassroots effort can do. This entire city is going to benefit.”
For more information on the world summit, as well as a detailed list of its activities, visit imba.com.