I spent the better part of last week in beautiful Whistler British Columbia. I attended the IMBA Summit/World Mountain Bike Conference for the BTCEB. The conference had over four hundred delegates from seventeen different countries. The delegates were made up of mountain bike advocates like myself as well as land managers and resort operators.
I arrived at the conference early Wednesday morning after a grueling sixteen and a half hour drive from the San Francisco Bay Area. Another BTCEB board member and I split the driving duties. Amazingly I survived the first day of the conference with the little amount of sleep I got during the drive up. I spent the morning in the main ballroom listening to a couple of different speakers. One of the main themes that carried across the speakers was getting the whole family onto bikes. Obesity has become an epidemic not only here in the <st1:country-region w:st="on">US</st1:country-region>, but also in <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1>Canada</st1>.</st1:country-region> The afternoon was spent in smaller group seminar type sessions. I attended a discussion on sustainable trail building. The amount of knowledge contained in that room was mind blowing. It was also great to see that other areas in the<st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1>US</st1></st1:country-region> don't have the access issues that we have here in the Bay Area. I did feel that there was a focus on building more technical trails that would interest the downhill/freeride community. A lot of time was also given to mitigating risk with trail design, which was another discussion I attended.
The local advocacy group WORCA put on a group ride/race called the Loonie race. I was feeling the lack of sleep so I didn't participate. I really wish I had though. I went back to the town home and got a quick cat nap and took a quick spin in Lost Lake Park. So this ride was my first introduction to ladder bridges. I must say I was quite intimidated by them at first. The trails in the park are all relatively short, but certainly way more technical than the trails around here in the Bay Area. It was great to be able to ride such varied terrain so quickly from the front door.
The second day of the conference brought more speeches that I felt were a tad long. The big success of the second day was the advocate's round table discussion that was held in the afternoon. We basically arranged the chairs in a circle and discussed a couple of topics. We talked about generating leadership in our organizations, working with downhill/freeride community and our organizations and another topic which I don't recall. We spent most of the time on those two topics. It was nice to see that everyone was facing a lot of the same challenges as we are at BTCEB. A lot of great ideas were tossed around in handling and approaching the various issues. I came out of that discussion with lots of great ideas that I'll be sharing at our next board meeting.
The final day of the conference was more of the same. We had some speeches in the morning that I felt were once again a tad long and smaller seminar type sessions in the afternoon. The afternoon sessions were tough since I could only attend one, but there were three that interested me. I ended up selecting to attend a discussion on using technology to manage your trail system. I really should have attended the discussion on dealing with rogue trail building. The discussion was about two hours long; unfortunately they could have covered it in about an hour and a quarter including questions. The material got a bit repetitive and dragged on a bit.
Saturday was my free day to do what I wanted all day. I wanted to do an "epic" ride. I had ridden every evening after the conference and was feeling a bit tired, but still wanted to do a big ride. I picked out a trail called Comfortably Numb that a lot of people really talked up as being a must do trail. I'd picked up a trail map earlier in the week and planned our route out. I think this was our first mistake; I should have consulted the locals more. So Saturday morning I set out and rode through <st1><st1>Lost</st1><st1> Lake</st1> <st1>Park</st1></st1> and onto a trail called Green Lake Loop. Well it was more of a narrow fire road with very loose rock and was quite steep. So I did a fair amount of hike-a-bike. It ended up taking about two hours to get from the town home to the Comfortably Numb trailhead. I was still feeling pretty good so I pushed on. Let me say that I'm not a big technical rider; I just don't have the experience in that terrain. I do enjoy some technical bits on the trails, but this trail was just non-stop tech. It was fun for the first few kilometers, but I quickly found out I just didn't have the strength in me to complete the ride. I turned back and rode to the trailhead. I rode back towards Whistler on the highway for a bit before I got onto the paved bike path system in the valley. I made it a leisurely trip back, but when I got back to the town home I passed out for a good hour.
All in all what a great trip! I will say I have a lot, "man I wish I would have done this, or that". So I guess that means I need to make a trip back. A part of me really wanted to rent a big downhill bike and do some lift served riding. I kind of wish I had now, but with the limited time I don't know when I would have fit it in.