Keeping the silent sports community informed and self propelled.
Mountain bikers in Wausau, Wis., have only just formed their own club. But if they are to build singletrack trails at Rib Mountain State Park, as their organizers wish to do, they may want to marshal forces with a mountain bike club in Stevens Point and the Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin, which announced Tuesday it will soon assume advocacy for mountain biking statewide.
The Central Wisconsin Offroad Cycling Coalition, as the Wausau-area club is calling itself (see its Facebook page here), wants to help maintain existing trails, including those at the Nine Mile County Recreation Area, according to the Wausau Daily Herald.
Building new trail at nearby Rib Mountain is also a dream, said Scott Cole, a pro mountain biker and manager of the Hostel Shoppe, a bicycle and ski retailer in Stevens Point. "I think it would be a huge draw for the Wausau area," he told the newspaper.
Cole said the Wausau group could benefit from working with the Point Pursuit Mountain Bike Club, which is affiliated with the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA).
Many IMBA members in Wisconsin are members of the Wisconsin Off-Road Bicycling Association (WORBA), but that group will cease to exist in March after more than 20 years as an advocacy organization. At that point, WORBA and Wisconsin IMBA members will become members of the Wisconsin Bicycle Federation, an announcement made by Bike Fed Executive Director Kevin Hardman at the 2012 Wisconsin Bike Summit in Madison on Tuesday.
(The coming merger wasn't a well kept secret. IMBA's Midwest Regional Director Hansi Johnson announced last November the deal had been brokered -- prematurely, as it turned out, and he publicly apologized with this blog post.)
More than a year in the making, the merger of WORBA and the Bike Fed involved discussions with top IMBA officials. They talked openly about the possibilities at the 2011 Wisconsin Bike Summit, as I wrote here.
To ease the transition, John Siegert, a long-time WORBA officer and membership coordinator, was named to the Bike Fed Board of Directors on Monday. And Dave Schlabowske, the Bike Fed's marketing director, said he will be overseeing the organization's mountain biking initiative.
WORBA will add about 160 members to the Bike Fed's current membership of 3,500. Schlabowske said the goal is to increase membership to 15,000 by the end of the year.
With the Bike Fed eager to prove itself to be the best friend of mountain bikers in the state, the timing may be ideal for the Wausau-area club to get the organization's backing for singletrack at Rib Mountain.
Full disclosure: This week ended Joel Patenaude's three-year term as a member of the Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin Board of Directors. After seeing so many better qualified candidates seek election to the board, he opted not to run for re-election last month.