Mountain bikers from around B.C. will descend on Williams Lake starting today when the city plays host to the provincial Mountain Bike Tourism Symposium.
As the sport continues to grow in popularity, the MBTS is an opportunity for stakeholders and industry experts to gather and share insights and knowledge on how to move toward a more sustainable and vibrant mountain bike tourism sector.
Williams Lake, meanwhile, made sense to play host to the symposium due to its vast trail networks and devoted community of mountain bike culture and industry specialists, said Thomas Schoen, president of the Cariboo Mountain Bike Consortium.
“We’re hoping we might get up to 200 people registered,” Schoen said. “That was our dream goal.”
The MBTS officially gets underway Friday, Oct. 2, at 6 p.m. with a welcome reception at the Tourism Discovery Centre and will feature food grown in the Cariboo and prepared by local chefs, Barkerville Beers and a night of entertainment featuring Block Treat.
Saturday and Sunday will provide two days of informational and entertaining presentations at the Cariboo Memorial Recreation Complex and at City Hall’s council chambers.
A pre-symposium International Mountain Bike Association Canada trail-building workshop, along with guided rides throughout the Williams Lake trail networks, also promise to be some of the weekend’s highlights.
Topics during Saturday and Sunday’s presentations will include: land use agreements, First Nations partnerships, regional collaboration, mountain bike culture and community building, visitor information needs and content marketing.
“The biking community, as well as the business community, has given us so much support,” Schoen said. “We have so many volunteers making sure everything is at its best this weekend. It really blew us away and shows you Williams Lake is a bike community.
“[We have] so many community trailblazers from Sprokids volunteers, to those continuing to maintain our trails and a community seeing the value of mountain bike tourism.”
Saturday evening will feature a film and music night at the Gibraltar Room at the CMRC beginning at 7:30 p.m. when Drum and Bell Tower takes the stage. The last two winners from the Cariboo Mountain Bike Film Festivals’ movie shorts will also be shown, and Red Shred’s Bike and Board Shed owner Mark Savard has a film of his choice selected up for viewing.
On Monday, interested participants will travel to Desous Mountain for a day of guided riding.
Schoen highlighted the importance of focusing on growing relationships with First Nations communities, noting the CMBC and the Williams Lake Cycling Club currently work well together and have worked together on various projects, such as the William Trail Network stretching from the Chief Will-Yum Campsite to Fox Mountain.
“We really want to focus on First Nations relationships,” Schoen said. “We’re using the land out there, and we have to be respectful of the Tsilhqot’in title land.”
He added the city’s director of community services, Geoff Paynton, has been great to work with helping organize the logistics of the MBTS.
Savard, meanwhile, said they want to put on a good show this weekend and show off what Williams Lake has to offer the industry.
“I’m just happy and proud to be a part of something this positive in town showcasing what I love,” Savard said. “The benefit I see [of this being in Williams Lake] is the people coming and participating will go away aware that this is a real hot spot for riding and how to do it right. I’ve been to a few of these before and they are super informative, which has helped Williams Lake get into the loop for leading the charge as a destination.”
Additionally, Rocky Mountain Bikes is in town with a demonstration van, and Surley Bikes has loaned Savard a fleet of fatbikes for a Funduro on Sunday. Endless Biking will also be doing clinics today in the bike park.
The schedule of events for the weekend is as follows:
Friday, Oct. 2
9 a.m. to 12 p.m.: IMBA Canada Trail Development Workshop – field work continues. Anyone joining Friday should meet Schoen at Red Shred’s at 9 a.m.
3 to 5 p.m.: Friday afternoon ride; shuttles leave at 3 p.m., 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. from Barking Spider at 1024 Broadway Ave. S.
6 to 9 p.m.: Delegate registration
6 to 10 p.m.: Welcome reception at TDC
Saturday, Oct. 3
7:30 to 8:30 a.m.: Delegate registration
8 to 9 a.m.: Breakfast at CMRC
8:30 to 9:15 a.m.: Welcome from Martin Littlejohn (MBTA); Keynote: John Hawkings, Rec Sites and Trails BC
9:15 to 10:15 a.m.: Land use agreements; panel discussion into the often complicated world of land use 10:15 to 10:30 a.m.: Break
10:30 a.m. to 12 p.m.: Concurrent sessions: 10:30 to 11:10 a.m. – Mark Schmidt – Parks Canada: Better Planning Today for Better Trails Tomorrow; Kevin McPhedran – Village of Cumberland, Mike Manara – United Riders of Cumberland: The Cumberland Story; Getting along with neighbours
11:20 a.m. to 12 p.m.: Daniel Scott – Alpine Bike Parks: Master planning; setting up a trail system for long-term success; Peter Larose, Larose Research: Mountain Bike Tourism in Kamloops – Economic Impact and Sustainability Analysis
12 to 1 p.m.: Lunch
12:45 to 1:25 p.m.: Keynote: Chief Joe Alphonse – Tribal Chairman of Tsilhqot’in National Government
1:30 to 2:15 p.m.: Building partnership with First Nations to support mountain biking and tourism; panel discussion with First Nations and the MTB community
2:30 to 3:15 p.m.: Concurrent sessions; Patrick Lucas, Aboriginal Youth Mountain Bike Program: Allies on Mountain Bikes; Brent Hillier, Trailforks: User generated trail data for riders, clubs and land managers
4 to 7 p.m.: Group rides (immediately following last session of day)
8 to 11 p.m.: Saturday Night Films and Music at Gibraltar Room (doors at 7:30 p.m.)
Sunday, Oct. 4
8 to 9:15 a.m.: Breakfast
8:30 to 9 a.m.: Keynote: Brian Finestone – Whistler Bike Park
9:15 to 10:15 a.m.: Mountain bike culture and community building; panel discussion on secrets to becoming a great mountain bike town
10:15 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.: Break
10:30 a.m. to 12 p.m.: Concurrent sessions: 10:30 to 11:15 a.m. – Zachary Cole, University of North Carolina: Demographic and behaviour/preference profile of the MTB tourist; Josie Heisig, Destination BC: Creating a buzz; Using social media and travel media to tell your story
11:20 a.m. to 12 p.m.: Matt Coté, Kootenay Mountain Culture and Andy Brown, Tourism Golden: Social media marketing of community mountain bike infrastructure
12:30 to 12:45 p.m.: Richard Lewis, Destination BC: Co-operative marketing partnership update
12:45 to 1:25 p.m.: Regional collaboration; panel discussion exploring examples of regional collaboration in B.C.
1:30 to 3 p.m.: Concurrent sessions; Education and industry; panel discussion on career training for the MTB sector; Ted Morton, BC Enduro Series: Showcasing the tourism impact for host communities
2:20 to 3 p.m.: Martin Littlejohn, MBTA: Mountain Biking BC; 2015 Tactics Review and 2016 planning
3 to 3:30: Symposium wrap up
4 to 7 p.m.: Fun-Duro Group Ride