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The Summit was great, enjoy this report.

Friday saw everyone checking in and meeting at one of the cabins for a social gathering. The gathering lasted for several hours until everyone had their fill and headed back to their campsite, for camp fires and a good night's sleep in the brisk night air. (30 degrees F!)

Saturday morning saw the start of the more business like portion of the Summit.


First Session: Speaker Joe Cross from the Bike South Fork Mountain Biking Club gave a speech on a recent study about trail degradation that was conducted in his home riding area. The study, Assessing and Understanding Trail Degradation: Results of Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area, was completed by respected non-biased researchers and examined mountain bike impact on the tails in comparison to other user groups. The study concluded that mountain biking has a lower impact on trails than other user-groups, including hikers. Additionally, the study suggested, "park managers should use the bike user group maintenance actions as a positive example for other user groups to encourage trail stewardship." The discussion was very important and of great significant to the Tennessee mountain biking community, as it can be cited to waylay unfounded fears often claimed by those who seek to prevent mountain bike access.


Second Session: Jeffrey Schaarschmidt (that's me), from SORBA-Chattanooga, discussed threats to mountain bike access in Tennessee.

First, a proposal to charge an access fee to use our state forests. Under the suggested plan a user fee would be charged to all State Forest users with either the entire fee or a portion of the same earmarked for the TWRA (read hunting activities). In other word, mountain bikers and other non-hunter users could end up paying a fee to TWRA to use non-TWRA lands, specifically our state forests, in effect subsidizing hunting activities. (This is not to suggest that TWRA shouldn't be allowed to charge access to land managed by TWRA which are specifically set aside and maintained for hunting as the primary purpose of TWRA managed land is for hunting.)

Second, a proposal to designate 17,785 acres in the Cherokee National Forest, Southern Division, as Official Wilderness, which would forever prevent mountain bike access to the same. The proposal should raise concerns for mountain bikers in that it would prevent the ability of trail users from creating a long liner trail that would allow mountain bike access. Presently there are a number of hiker only, long liner trails in the eastern United State, including the AT and the partially finished Great Eastern Trail, which prohibit mountain bike access. Thus, if mountain bikers wish to have a similar trail, they need to be sure that potential routes are not closed off by Wilderness designations, especially when the land is not immediately threatened, and there exists a number of other designations that would offer very similar protections while preserving mountain bike access.

In addition to closing off the possibility of a future long linear multiuse trial that would allow mountain bike access, the proposals requests Wilderness designation of 4,400 areas which sit between the very popular multiuse Tanasi trails and Big Frog Wilderness. Should the land in this area be designated Wilderness it could have the result of a huge net loss of mountain bike accessible trails in the near future. This is because of the Corridor K highway project may be constructed directly through the Tanasi trails, requiring a like number of miles of replacement trail be constructed. This 4,400-acre section of land would be the most likely candidate for the construction of the replacement trails. Also, due the currently existing Wilderness, which includes Little Frog Wilderness and Big Frog Wilderness, it would be difficult, if not impossible, to find another area locally where replacement trails could be constructed that would provide a similar trail experience to mountain bikers.

While mountain bikers support designations that protect and preserve our natural areas, mountain bikers should be very careful before supporting any designations that would directly on indirectly result in a loss of mountain bike access or prevent future mountain bike projects.

Third Session: This was a panel discussion, which reviewed opportunities for mountain bike access. The panel consisted of Joe Cross, from Big South Fork Mountain Biking, Shana Payne, from SORBA-Mid TN, and Gary Patterson, State Parks Trails Administrator. During the session the panel discussed and answered questions from the floor about the potential of increasing mountain bike access in Tennessee, specifically in State Parks. One item noted by Gary Patterson was the continued, inaccurate belief that mountain bikers cause greater trial erosion than other user groups. Ideas were discussed about helping educate park managers, including potentially having an expert speak to park managers at their next statewide meeting. Additionally, the participants discussed the potential for gaining mountain bike access on non-peak days of the week or during the park's off-season, which generally runs from November 1 through March 31. Gary Patterson concluded the sessions by stating that he looks forward to working with us in the future.

Following the third session, everyone headed to the cabin for a lunch provide by the good folks of SORBA-Mid TN, before heading back for the afternoon sessions.

Fourth Session: Darryl Glascock, from SORBA-Mid TN, discussed the National Mountain Patrol program and it importance in securing greater access. He noted that he was planning a statewide certification course tentatively set for March of 2009.

Final Session: This was a panel discussion to determine if those in attendance wanted to form a statewide advocacy organization. The panel consisted of Joe Cross, Shana Pyne and Jeffrey Schaarschmidt. I noted that all of the other user group organizations have already formed statewide organizations and that mountain bikers' voices would be diminished should we fail to form such a group.

After discussing various structures and other concerns those in attendance voted to form a statewide mountain bike advocacy organization. The organization was officially named Tennessee Mountain Biking Alliance, after an advocacy blog I have maintained for the past year, with the formal mission being "Devoted to protecting and promoting mountain bike access in Tennessee." The organization was structured as a coalition of existing mountain biking organizations from across the state of Tennessee. This will allow each group to act independently when working on local issues but come together as one voice when mountain bikers are faced with state-wide issues. The group will seek to meet annually near the first weekend of November. The meeting concluded with me nominating Shana Payne to head up the new organization with her being elected by unanimous vote. Congratulations Shana!


Following the sessions everyone went for a group ride on the Piney Creek Trail (I lost my camera!) and then they returned for another social gathering, with many cheers going out to our sponsor, Oskar Blues Brewery!


The weekend was not only educational but it was great fun hanging and riding with fellow mountain bikers.

At the present time Shana is surely making plans to make the Tennessee Mountain Bike Alliance the best statewide advocacy group in the nation. At the same time Brandon Johnson, from the Northeast Tennessee Mountain Bike Association, and myself are working to establish a web presence.

I want to take a moment to thank everyone who took time away form their lives to attend and help advance mountain bike advocacy in Tennessee. All the speakers who sat on the various panels did a right fine job and are to be commended. Thanks to our sponsors, Heed, Clif-Bar, National Mountain Bike message board, Oskar Blues Brewery, Tennessee State Parks, IMBA, Hammer Nutrition, SORBA-Mid TN, and SORBA-Chattanooga.


I also want to give a special thanks to Shana who really stepped up to help me plan this event. She took on a tremendous amount of responsibility to make sure this event was top notch. She was able to secure the attendance of both State and Local land managers, put together a very professional program, and did just about anything one could expect to make sure this event was without comparison. There is no way this event could have happened without her. Thanks Shana!

Hi all - sorry this has taken so long for the follow up, but I wanted to make sure I did follow up with everyone from the Summit now that the holiday season has ended and life is getting back to normal. I want to thank everyone who attended - I know the date was not ideal, but we had a great turnout and I think we all learned a lot and had a lot of fun. I would also like to thank our amazing sponsors again for all of their support. Our major sponsors, TN Trails & Greenways donated the conference room for the Summit, helped with the TMBA Summit Cabin (party central), IMBA-SORBA donated some great SWAG, along with providing lunch on Saturday, and New Belgium Brewery donated cases of Fat Tire for our Saturday evening social.
 
I would like to give a quick recap of the Summit, make some announcements, and tell you about some upcoming 2010 TMBA events.

TMBA 2010 Summit Drawing Winner

First, on the Saturday evening of the Summit, quite a few attendees were travelling several hours and were not able to stay for the social. We held drawings for the items SORBA donated and decided to include everyone who attended the seminar sessions, even if they didn't make the social.

TMBA 2009 Summit Recap

This year's Summit was held at Montgomery Bell State Park, about an hour west of Nashville. For those who were not able to attend, I wanted to give a brief recap of Summit and overview of the seminars.
Our first seminar was presented by Bob Richards, with TN Greenways & Trails, who gave attendees an overview of RTP in TN. Bob was kind enough to send a copy of his power point presentation which can be viewed on the TMBA website at http://www.mtbtn.org/?p=628.
Walt Bready from IMBA-SORBA followed with a seminar explaining IMBA's new Gateway Trails & Model Trails programs. The short and sweet description of a Gateway Trail is a trail that is ideally located in an urban area (read: easily accessible and high use) and is beginner friendly. The goal of a Gateway trail is to bring new people into mountain biking and hopefully create lifelong riders (and hopefully advocates). A Model Trail is a trail that is sustainable economically, socially, and environmentally. This type of trail is well used, may draw people from out of area, has great flow, has something for everyone (beginner to expert - think IMBA's stacked loop system), has a core dedicated volunteer group, and is built in an environmentally sustainable manner (think IMBA Trail Standards). Volunteer groups can point to a Model Trail as a success and as an example of what the group can accomplish. A Gateway trail can be located within a Model Trail system. TMBA followed the seminar with a challenge to each volunteer group or club across the state to try to identify or create a Gateway trail and a Model Trail in their area. We would like to cover each of these trails on our website in the future, so let us know if you already have a trail you feel meets the criteria for either category or if you are working on one that will! For more info on Gateway Trails, you can visit the IMBA Website . I could not find a link on IMBA's website for the Model Trails program yet, but when one becomes available, we will post on the TMBA website.

Our Gateway Trails Seminar was followed by a quick update by SORBA Chattanooga president, Jeffery Schaarschmidt, on Wilderness polices and how they can affect riding opportunities and trails in Tennessee. As many of you may be aware, unfortunately, mountain biking is not currently allowed in areas designated as Wilderness. However, Wilderness designation proposals have been increasing recently - especially in National Forest Areas where mountain biking has traditionally been allowed and embraced. It is important that we, as mountain bike advocates, are aware when Wilderness designations are proposed in the state so we can work together to let our representatives know that while we support protecting the environment and our public lands, we do not support the banning of mountain biking in those areas, and therefore do not support Wilderness designation. This is especially important in areas where mountain bike trails are currently present. If you are aware of or become aware of a proposal for Wilderness in your area, please let TMBA know and we will get the word out across to all TMBA clubs so we can take action. You can email me at
president@mtbtn.org or Jeffrey Schaarschmidt, our web guru at info@mtbtn.org .
 
Next, Pat Clements with Bike Walk Tennessee spoke with TMBA Summit attendees about his organization, a new statewide group that advocates for bicyclist and pedestrian rights. Many mountain bikers also own road bikes and may commute and we all walk. By joining forces with groups like Bike Walk Tennessee, we can help protect all cyclists' rights and promote the sport. Most mountain bikers don't start on the trail, so we should recognize that the more cyclists in general will likely translate to more mountain bikers and working together can help grow both sports and make commuting safer for everyone. If you would like more information about Bike Walk Tennessee, you can visit their website at http://bikewalktn.homestead.com/ or contact Pat Clements at pat@patclements.com
 

Lastly, Tom Sauret, Executive Director of IMBA-SORBA answered questions about the IMBA-SORBA Merger. IMBA and SORBA recently combined efforts and SORBA is now IMBA in the Southeast. If you are an IMBA affiliated club in Tennessee, you are essentially now an IMBA-SORBA affiliated club. Likewise, when you join IMBA in the Southeast, you are also joining SORBA. Tom Sauret is your contact for IMBA-SORBA and can answer any questions you may have. He is available to help you with IMBA Trail Care Crew visits, advocacy issues, and anything else you need. You can contact him at tom@sorba.org .

After a long day of seminars, we capped the Summit off with a mountain bike ride, and beer, food, and some cards at the TMBA cabin! If you would like to see pictures from this year's Summit and ride, please visit our Facebook page.

What's In Store For 2010

Lastly, we will not be holding a 2010 TMBA Summit due to many other events such as the IMBA Summit and National Trails Symposium that will both be held in the Southeast this year. We encourage everyone to try to attend one of the events and we will be organizing a get together for any TMBA members at both events. We will send details closer to each event.
We would also like to invite you to join TMBA at Big South Fork for National Trails Day, June 4-6th. We will be camping, riding, and doing a bit of trail work and hope you can join us! More details can be found on our website at http://www.mtbtn.org/?p=621

Again, thanks to everyone who attended this year's summit and I hope to see many of you at the IMBA Summit in Augusta, GA this May and/or at the Big South Fork weekend this June. For more info about the IMBA Summit, you can visit
www.imba.com . Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or if I can help with anything in your area.
Thanks

Shana Payne
TN Mountain Bike Alliance President
E:
president@mtnbtn.org
P: 615-364-4628
web:
www.mtbtn.org  www.sorbamidtn.org

2009 Summit Report
by Shana Payne TNMTB President

2008 Summit Report by
Jeffery Schaarschmidt

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