International Mountain Bicycling Association World Summit attendees listen to Linfield College Professor Jeff McNamee speak about the economic impacts from cycling events in Oregon on Friday at the Sheraton Steamboat Resort.

Photo by Matt Stensland

International Mountain Bicycling Association World Summit attendees listen to Linfield College Professor Jeff McNamee speak about the economic impacts from cycling events in Oregon on Friday at the Sheraton Steamboat Resort.

Scholars discuss economic impacts from cycling


— One of the images shown during Zachary Cole's presentation depicted a $100 bill with Benjamin Franklin wearing a cycling helmet.

IMBA World Summit awards Steamboat trail builders

More than 400 delegates have made the trek to Steamboat this week for the biennial International Mountain Bicycling Association World Summit.

During the opening reception Thursday night, IMBA presented longtime members Marc and Gretchen Sehler its IMBA Volunteer Stewardship Award in front of a packed ballroom at the Sheraton Steamboat Resort. The Sehlers were recognized for their contributions to mountain biking and the entire trails community in Steamboat Springs.

Routt County Riders also was presented a plaque recognizing Steamboat's IMBA Bronze Level Ride Center status, which was declared last year.

The IMBA World Summit Vendor Expo continues Saturday in Gondola Square. Come by and visit with local reps from Moots Cycles, Honey Stinger, Big Agnes, PowerICE, RCR and Bike Town USA, along with numerous other national product and destination businesses. You can also check out Moots' trail maintenance bike and RCR's new ST240 trail building machine.

— Wendy Tucciarone, Routt County Riders

Cole was among the several speakers Friday during the International Mountain Bicycling Association World Summit in Steamboat Springs who had hard data to show that mountain biking truly does bring in the dollars from a demographic of people who typically are young and affluent.

The University of North Carolina professor presented a staggering number about how much cycling pumps into the United States economy.

According to the Outdoor Industry Association's 2012 report, cyclists spend $81 billion annually. About $10.5 billion of that is related to gear, and more than $70 billion is related to cycling trips.

Linfield College Professor Jeff McNamee focused on how groups can get a good of idea of exactly how many dollars cycling brings in.

McNamee said his research was prompted by his belief that the health benefits from cycling were not enough to convince decision-makers to build more trails.

As the president of the Salem Area Trail Alliance in Oregon, McNamee noted that his research might be naturally biased.

With a shoestring budget of $3,000, McNamee headed up an economic impact study of major cycling events in Oregon.

"I should have called this talk 'How to do an Economic Impact Study on the Cheap,'" McNamee said.

McNamee and his team were able to survey about a third of the 1,015 people who participated in the Mountain Bike Oregon events, which are two, three-day races. They asked participants how much money they spent on things like lodging, restaurants and shopping.

"We spent a lot of time on trying to create the best survey we could," McNamee said.

McNamee found that the two races combined had an economic impact of $1.23 million. On average, people were traveling with two other people and they stayed an average of 3.13 nights. Each person spent about $100 per day.

"If you can get them to stay longer, you have a much bigger impact," McNamee said.

McNamee had some advice for other groups who were interested in measuring the economic impact of their events.

"Think about reaching out to the colleges to see if there is someone you can work with," McNamee said.

He also encouraged groups like the International Mountain Bicycling Association to develop a standard economic impact survey.

"That could be a template that others could use," McNamee said.

Many of Friday's sessions at the World Summit were devoted to exploring the investments and payoffs in mountain bike communities. The summit is winding down, with Saturday devoted to riding the local trails and an outdoor film screening of "Singletrack High." The film starts at 8 p.m. in Gondola Square and is open to the public.

For those sticking around, the Summit-X Enduro Benefit Race is Sunday at Steamboat Ski Area. The race benefits the Bike Town USA Initiative and Routt County Riders, the local IMBA chapter.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland


Scott Wedel 2 years, 8 months ago

Maybe someone should do an economic study on the value of economic studies. Look at how many people attended the presentation, how much they spent on food and lodging. Economic studies could also be written up as great for the local economy.

The only real value in an economic study is that politicians can use them to justify spending money to benefit special interests.


rhys jones 2 years, 8 months ago

Yeah, I just love the leeches who make their living mooching off of us, then telling us about all our problems. Got a bunch of 'em in-house at the Grand right now.


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