International Mountain Biking Association Designates West Virginia’s 1st Official IMBA Ride Center
At a ceremony held at the Linwood Alive Pavilion on Monday, August 12th, Cara Rose, the Executive Director of the Pocahontas County Convention and Visitors Bureau, made the official announcement that the International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA) has designated the Snowshoe-Highlands Ride Center as West Virginia’s first IMBA Ride Center. Listen as Cara makes this announcement.
“On behalf of the Pocahontas County Convention and Visitors Bureau, as well as all of our partners, I really do appreciate that you’ve taken some time out of your day to be here for this special announcement event” said Rose. “As you may have already guessed, we have been working on a project for a couple of years now, and I am happy to say today that Pocahontas County is being designated as an International Mountain Bicycling Association Ride Center (applause.) We are a premier mountain biking destination already, but this puts us with the world’s best.”
A number of other representatives spoke from organizations that made up the “team” that worked so hard for years to make this IMBA Ride Center designation happen. They included the following.
Eric Lindbert, the President of Pocahontas Trails, the local IMBA Chapter in Pocahontas County spoke and said his club has been working toward this Ride Center Designation for about five years. Lindbert said that when the IMBA assessors came to evaluate the suitability for the area to achieve the Ride Center designation, they commented that this was the best application they have seen. He also said that when these assessors went to ride the trails, they asked that they be shown some wilderness riding experience, but while on the ride they said “this whole place is a wilderness experience.”
Ken Gaitor, Vice President of Mountain Operations for Snowshoe Mountain resort talked about how this designation project brought out the “willingness of the people involved to jump in” and he was impressed with their passion to see it through.
Several people from the Mon National Forest spoke. Marlinton -White Sulphur District Ranger Cindy Sandoval talked about the team effort it took and how she enjoys being in an area where “people care about outdoor recreation.” Greenbrier District Ranger Jack Tribble talked about how this IMBA designation is a springboard to the next set of tourism travel and economic growth for Pocahontas County, and Robin Bruin, who is also a mountain biker, talked about some of the criteria IMBA considers before granting a Ride Center designation. Among those were the total number of single-track trails, the variety of those trails, including having a bike park and a gravity park, the local services geared toward mountain bikers and the team effort of the stakeholders seeking the designation.
Cara Rose added that the West Virginia Extension Service was also very helpful to the project, especially in the area of mapping. She said that the Ride Center designation was at the Bronze level, but they almost reached the Silver level, and IMBA said they expect them to do so within a year. She said that Tucker and Randolph Counties are now trying to become Ride Centers, and when they do, they will seek to become one large Regional Ride Center, of which there are very few. She said that there are only 40 IMBA Ride Centers in the entire world and only five in the Mid-Atlantic area, and now the Snowshoe-Highlands Ride Center is one of those, because this area “has the best mountain biking product in the Mid-Atlantic.”
Pocahontas County Commissioner Walt Helmick and Marlinton Mayor Sam Felton also attended the announcement ceremony and according to Cara Rose they have also been very supportive of this project.