Economic Impacts of Mountain Biking Tourism - 2016 Update

Jul 26, 2016
by Lee Lau  

This article is a collection of literature (both academic and non-academic) having some connection to economic impacts of mountain-biking. In this article I attempt to analyze the literature and abstract data to the extent practical, to allow for some very rough, comparative analysis between regions, countries and times. There are no standardized baselines for comparison, so I used my own judgment to come up with categories that would hopefully make sense.

These articles, the analysis within and the methodology employed are rough and ready. Criticism and input are welcome. I’ve been told that the information has been useful for trail advocates and for tourism organizations – which I expected. Much to my surprise, I’ve also been told that movie makers, photographers, grant-writers, government organizations and other research houses have also found the data useful so that has been particularly gratifying. This collection of information was publicly sourced; its collection and any analysis are donated freely to the community to use. If you could cite the source I would be grateful.

The genesis of this article was a wish to encourage a positive image for the sport by compiling and publishing research to inform and support mountain biking. I found diverse studies focusing on different areas, but no coherent picture and that led to the first article describing the economic impacts of mountain biking tourism published on Pinkbike in 2014. This 2014 article canvassed studies from 2010 onwards. Even then the sea change in attitudes towards mountain biking was apparent. At least in BC we are now seen as an affluent, positive outdoors demographic; visages of smiling happy clean bikers are used in real-estate marketing, in general tourism ads and in lifestyle tech-company promotions.

Real estate promo pic
Real estate promotional picture from Vancouver Best Homes - Lynn Valley where the average price is $1,163.000 [and rising] and the area is touted as ....[sic]host to world renowned mountain biking at nearby Mount Seymour and Mount Fromme

It turns out that there is good reason for this enthusiasm in the eyes of realtors, marketeers and tourism organizations. Data shows that mountain bikers are a lucrative demographic to target. To expand on the 2014 Pinkbike article I took the liberty of canvassing information about all mountain bikers, and not just bikers who travel. The demographics for mountain bikers in general are very similar to that of mountain bikers who travel; ie they are mostly male, between the ages of 25-44 and relatively affluent. For examples of studies about mountain bikers in general (and the basis for this profile) see a 2007-8 study of mountain bikers in the UK, Koepke's seminal and oft-cited 2004 study), Tourism BC's 2010 study data (pg 33 onwards), and a Parks Canada 2010 study.

By no means does this harken the death of the budget road trip (see this recent pictorial by Max Berkowitz for an example of how to do things right). Additionally, for some data that is somewhat older but shows that mountain biking event participants in the UK are younger and spend less than other studies' norms see Dan Harmon's executive summary for his 2007 study concerning participants in mountain-biking events. Food for thought.

Based on the public and private reaction I received from all quarters, the numbers from the Pinkbike 2014 article were surprising so I thought a 2016 update would be worthwhile. To repeat, this is what I found from the 2014 Pinkbike article and its literature survey.

.... mountain bikers who destination travel spend comparable amounts per day, spend as much time and are willing to travel as far as other groups such as golfers who tourism marketers typically chase. A useful study from the Canada Tourist Commission displaying average spend and duration of average stay for all tourists (all years) shows mountain bikers coming in about average or above average on counts as compared to other summer visitors. In general the EIA's show that the profile of a typical visitor is as follows:

• Predominantly male (approx 75%)
• 25-45 years old (approx 65-70% on a bell curve distribution with tails dropping off dramatically on each end except in Moab and Whistler where there were a significant amount of younger travellers). 19-29 year olds are generally the second largest category at approx 27%.
• A majority (55%) had household income levels greater than $80,000. As a datapoint 31% of all BC outdoor recreationalists had household income levels greater than $80,000. Mountain biking visitors were generally in line with all tourists to Canada going on guided tours (59% had incomes of greater than $100,000)
• Average stay at each location 3 to 5 days (longer if the visitor is from far away; shorter if the visitor is from close by)
• Average spend per day $60 - $100 (inclusive of accoms, food, recreation, etc but exclusive of travel costs to get to a destination)

Since that first 2014 article many people have kindly supplied me with more information and other economic-impact assessments from around the world. This update canvasses some of these updates and confirms the summaries and conclusions first reached two years ago. If anything mountain bikers are becoming higher yield and the activity a higher-margin sport. The dollar sum that bikers are willing to spend and the extent to which they are treating themselves are increasing, which bodes well for tourism marketeers. If I am missing other worthwhile literature, please let me know in the comments.

Source information is located at this dropbox public folder (for 2016 and for 2014 and also in my personal website (2016 and 2014). Many other sources are also collected at the Headwaters Economics site (use the dropdown menus to select for studies).

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Video from when friends from South Tyrol came as tourists to visit the North Shore. Sometimes you need outside eyes to make you appreciate what you call home. Michaela wrote this up as "Trails, Burgers and Beers"

A case study from Telimbela, Ecuador

Before getting into the morass of statistics it's worthwhile putting a human face on all of this.

Telimbela is a small village in Ecuador of approximately 100 people. You would never have heard of it unless you've either ridden in Ecuador (see part 3 of a Pinkbike frontpage 4 parter) or raced the Downhill Mama Rumi race. Telimbela is connected to the higher adjacent towns of San Miguel and San Jose del Chimbo by a 1920m vertical steep road. This year the people of Telimbela (and other villages located along this road) will finally get a water system bringing potable water to this centuries-old village.

Why is this happening? It's because of the Downhill Mama Rumi race and the national/international attention that it's drawn. A bit more context may be necessary. Mama Rumi (Mother Rock in Quecha) is a centuries-old Inca trail descending from 3023m to 1130m at Telimbela. Its 12km length and 1920m descent was lost for many years as the jungle took it back until Mauricio Gaibor’s grandfather re-discovered it in the mid-20th century. Now used primarily for downhill mountain biking, Mauricio’s granddad used the trail as a smuggling route for alcohol. Brewers would distill in the lowlands in Telimbela and hike all the way to more populated highlands starting at 9 p.m. in the evening and finishing in the wee hours of the morning to evade authorities.

The Gaibor's, friends and local volunteers re-opened the trail after countless hours of work fixing holes and clearing back dense cloud forest jungle. The Downhill Mama Rumi race attracted 284 participants in the 2015 edition. Over 600 people come to San Miguel and Telimbela over the race weekend and over 150 riders (international and Ecuadorians) come to the region during the year to ride this trail and other trails in the area (contact Ride Ecuador for more information about the area). Particularly for tiny Telimbela, that is a huge tourism economic boost and has resulted in real quality of life changes.

The story of Telimbela and Mama Rumi shows that, not only is mountain biking serious business, mountain biking can change lives for the better.

Mama Rumi Mother Rock in Quecha is a centuries old Inca trail descending from 3023m above San Miguel de Bolivar in Ecuador to 1130m to Telimbela over 12kms. It was rediscovered by Mauricio Gaibor s grandfather. Mauricio now runs the Downhill Mama Rumi race on it
Mateo Cuesta who runs the guiding company Ride Ecuador on the Mama Rumi trail in central Ecuador. From Pinkbike "Ecuador Mountain Biking: Avenue of the Volcanos, Part Three - Mama Rumi and Southern Cordillera"

Selected Newer Studies

The 2016 EIA folder collects studies from a range of dates from 2007 to 2016. It also contains some more recent general literature dedicated to broad forms of outdoor recreation in 2015 in Washington state, outdoor recreation economic impacts in Wales via a a 2014 EIA study, and economic impacts concerning cycling generally (for the UK in 2013 and for Arizona in 2014). In this drill-down below I attempted to focus on more recent studies.

Kamloops BC

In 2015, Tourism Kamloops and the Kamloops Bike Riders Association (KBRA) partnered to conduct a study on mountain bike tourism in the Kamloops region. The study, conducted by Larose Research & Strategy, was presented at the October 2015 Mountain Bike Tourism Symposium in Williams Lake. (The full report is an internal planning document of Tourism Kamloops and has not been released publicly).

The study findings confirmed many of the trends and patterns from other studies regarding visitor profiles, trip activities, and other characteristics. This is unsurprising as Kamloops is a fairly large town located on the Trans Canada highway and would therefore attract a representative sample of mountain bike tourism visitors.

Areas surveyed extended to Kamloops trails as well as Sun Peaks with the surveys extending throughout a fairly extended timeline encompassing shoulder seasons (from May 1 to Sept 17, 2015). The length of the survey was dictated by Kamloops' long riding season. Interestingly this EIA found that the total dollar-sum economic impact of mountain biking tourism in Kamloops at $3.5 m total per annum was substantial (second only to Whistler in dollar value).

Of the total estimated 7,300 mountain biking tourists to Kamloops during the riding season, most were from BC (61%), with 13% being from other parts of Canada. A large proportion (27%) were international visitors. One look on Pinkbike at the number of videos and stories show that Kamloops is on the hit list for many people from outside Canada as a riding destination, so this is perhaps not a big surprise.

79% of visitors were male (not much deviation from norm); 27% of the mountain bike visitors were 25 - 34 years old, 18 % were 35 to 44 y.o., and 12% between 45 - 54. Not many were in the 15-24 age group (only 8%). A significant number (50%) had incomes of greater than $100k.

Many visitors were on road trips of medium length (3.8 days) with the average stay in Kamloops being 2 days. Average daily expenditures per person was $76 per person.

Some of the more interesting findings regarded sustainability-related issues, such as trail crowding and visitor ethics. With nearly unlimited single-track in the Kamloops region, trail crowding was virtually a non-existent concern of visitors, scoring a satisfaction rating of 9.1-out-of-10. The survey also asked visitors whether they were more likely to ride on trails that were legally sanctioned, and an overwhelming 84% stated that they stick to sanctioned trails.

 Lee Lau Mateo5 SharonB Sebs-I-think
I have no pictures from Kamloops. Here is a distant geographical approximation from Lillooet

Bridge River Valley (Bralorne, Gun Lake, Gold Bridge) BC

This 2012 study is a bit dated. However it was worth including because such a large proportion of riders in this area are visitors (not many fulltime residents in this area). Additionally the Chilcotins and surrounding area has a relatively high profile in mountain biking culture and I'm a Chilcotins nut, so I feel I am allowed a little bias here.

The main point worth noting was that a significant number of visitors (21.5%) of visitors mountain bike when they visit this area This is noteworthy given that this tourism study was for both summer and winter activities. Most visitors were from BC (57.3%), but an overwhelming number (more than 26.7%) were from the Sea to Sky corridor (Vancouver, Squamish, Whistler, Pemberton). Numbers were not available to break down demographics of visitors by sex, age, income spend etc., as this was a general tourism study not involving primary survey data.

To get a sense of how mountain biking tourism has changed for Chilcotin visitors I got some more impressions from Dale Douglas of Tyax Adventures. Since 2012 the absolute numbers of visitors counted via Tyax Lodge (hotel and campsite) and the Tyax air charter service has increased, but by far the most significant increase has been international visitors (US, NZ, Europe, Mexico) with demographics being male, middle-aged, having disposable income and spending between $300 to $800 per day. This segment is booking higher end products (e.g., the float plane direct to the region from Vancouver or Whistler and guided multi-day trips) and is doubling year-over-year. Also showing a recent increase are women's participants: Chilcotin women's camps are now filling up. Sea-to-Sky riders still represent the bulk of the market, but numbers are not increasing at close to the rate that was once seen. Perhaps it's because local riders have so many other options. Perhaps it's also because Chilcotin riding requires a good dose of self-sufficient backcountry skills; something which the average mountain biker may not have.

To put a human face to these numbers the economic stimulus to the region is significant. For Tyax Ventures alone, the increase in business and the health of the Chilcotin mountain biking tourism market has meant fifteen seasonal jobs to the company alone. That multiplies throughout the restaurants, gas stations, suppliers and other small businesses in the region.

Tyax ventures uses horses on some trips.
A horsepack trail approaches mountain bikers heading up Deer Pass in the South Chilcotin. This is one of the regions where various user groups interact well. Local outfitters like Tyax Adventures employ a good number of people in the area and also do a ton of trailwork. From Pinkbike "Tyax Adventures - Old Yet New In The South Chilcotin"

BC Bike Race

Now in its 10th year, the BC Bike Race is a high profile, multi-stage mountain bike race held over various locations in southwest BC. The BCBR commissioned an EIA in 2013. Sampled were BCBR 2013 participants. Demographics were not included for participants so that breakdown isn't available.

What is significant is survey confirmation of the anecdotal evidence that many non-biking people also travel with biking parties; a data point to which the BCBR EIA puts a number. In total for every 3 biking people in the BCBR there was 1 non biker also traveling, and in the process, also spending dollars and contributing to local economies.

Some other information was answered by Andreas Hestler of the BCBR, who also kindly provided the informal surveys the BCBR conducts of event participants. One reason the BCBR has switched to a mid-week format is that so many participants stay for days before/after the event (an average of 2.5 days before/after). A substantial number (22%) stay for 4 or more days before/after . Additionally, the BCBR participants are now increasingly international (50% are now international, whereas a few years ago, 20% were international), use extra days to travel and because they view the BCBR as a bucket-list activity, dedicate more resources (travel and time) to the event itself.

Demographics for the event participant have some variation from other EIA regions in that BCBR participants are bike nuts. The BCBR is male dominated (85%) with most being middle-aged, but having disposable income especially as dedicated to recreational pursuits (65% have household incomes of over $100,000), are event junkies (63% attend 6+ events/year) and love their bikes (92% have 4+ bikes in their homes). Many are frequent travellers and have either already been to BC to ride/visit or are planning to come back to BC to ride/visit.

Stage 1 Marshall pictures
The BC Bike Race attracts hundreds of tourists each year to BC to ride a selection of coastal BC's finest trails. Lots of people travel with their families and friends. The race employs people and puts money back into the communities and trails among other things. It also attracts Flying Kiwis to North Vancouver attractions such as "Lawndart Corner" - From Pinkbike "BC Bike Race Day 1 - Racer's Take On The Shore"

Northern BC

This Northern BC 2014 study was geared towards developing a tourism strategy for this vast region. There was no data available to segment visitors to Northern BC as that was outside the scope of the study.

Some points of interest were the results of a survey canvassing the attitudes of mountain bikers who represent the target market for Northern BC Tourism (pgs 60-8 ). Findings generally replicated that of all mountain-biking tourists generally ie mostly male, between the ages of 25-55 and of two distinct economic strata; relatively affluent and passionate with limited budget (ie inclined to budget road-trip).

Another data point of note canvassed in this Northern BC study is how to increase awareness. Simply put, many riders surveyed were unaware of the biking potential in the region. Following from that there was additional data (pg 68-75) diving into the question of how bikers even heard of destinations. The most important source of information was word-of-mouth recommendations from friends/peers. Closely tied were internet sources such as biking websites, videos, general internet research (Pinkbike of course). Lagging behind were print sources such as magazines and visitor centre literature.

Smithers is a town in Northern BC. It has a network of trails way bigger than any small town should have and a thriving bike community. Some (but not many) people travel to Smithers to bike. Many people move to Smithers because of skiing, biking and the outdoor recreation opportunities. If that isn't an economic impact I don't know what is. From Pinkbike: "Road Trip - Smithers, Burns Lake and Terrace British Columbia"

Revelstoke, BC

Tourism Revelstoke commissioned an EIA surveying riders over two weekends in August of 2014 surveying riders in their local riding area of Mt MacPherson. The survey did not extend to the landmark high alpine trails such as Frisby Ridge or Keystone Standard Basin; two trails which attract large numbers of visitors. The timeline is during the high season for summer tourism, and so probably did the job of capturing the peaks of the riding season and representative samples. 52% of riders surveyed were visitors on the two-day weekend of the survey while 65% (writers note !!). were long-weekend visitors.

Extrapolations are that 3,716 mountain bikers visit MacPherson over the course of the riding season, not taking into accounts bumps from major events (BC Enduro series, Singletrack 6) or surveys at other major trailheads (Frisby/Boulder. Sale. Keystone Standard). This number shows that Revy punches above its weight in attracting tourists. Most visitors are from BC (54%), with 36% being from other parts of Canada. Very few riders (5%) are international. Breakdowns for sex, household income and age were not part of this survey.

Other numbers are inline with other destination averages; average stay was 2.4 nights; average group size was 2.4 people and average spend per person was 58 pp/day. What was above average was the absolute number of visitors. Revy's location on the TransCanada highway no doubt helps in this. Revy's success in giving people a reason to stop (for a couple of nights or more) and ride their bikes is irrefutable.

At BikeFest Revelstoke
Revelstoke punches well above its weight. It attracts mountain bikers from all over North America. Bikefest Revelstoke is just another way that the town is diversifying its economy from resource roots. From Pinkbike: "Revelstoke's Keystone Standard Alpine Dreaming"

Coldwater, Alabama, US

This 2012 EIA study from Alabama is not the most recent, but is included as it is fairly comprehensive and illuminating in that it canvasses an area not thought of as a destination for mountain biking, yet which attracts a large number of visitors due to its proximity to dense population centres.

Detailed breakdowns are at pages 26-29 with economic-impact model calculations starting on page 39. The results were taken from a survey circulated to mountain bike club affiliates located in the southeast United States (SORBA) area. Respondents were very interested (88%) in travelling to visit these Alabama trails. They were middle-aged (30-50 years old), very affluent (43% had household incomes greater than $100,000 pa) and tended to travel in groups (55% would travel in groups of 2, 3 or more). The type of riders who travelled to ride were avid enthusiasts riding more than 40 days the previous year.

Most riders indicated they would spend $61 pp/day without lodging and a very high $139 pp/day if requiring lodging so the yield of the visitors would be above norms (but keep in mind that survey respondents were passionate bikers who, no doubt, treat themselves well when on roadtrips).

Trailhead surveys were not conducted so there's no data on what percentage of riders at Coldwater would be local vs tourist/visitors but there is a fascinating table at pg 32 showing that the Canadian and other international numbers for "destination" biking locations of 50-70% of riders being visitors is matched and sometimes surpassed by US riding destinations. For examples, see Jackson Hole (60% visitors) and Chequamegon (95% visitors). Note that from the 2014 Pinkbike article, Oregon and Bellingham are more representative at 65% and 31.5% visitors respectively

As was seen in the Northern BC EIA, this Coldwater Alabama study showed that word-of-mouth and bike-related website referrals were the more important ways for southern US riders to learn about destinations. Print and general travel-related information was of limited and declining importance.

Having no knowledge of what Alabama looks like here is a picture of Sharon and Wade from Upper Tall Cans in West Vancouver. I'd imagine Alabama looks somewhat like this.

Oakridge, Oregon, US

A 2014 EIA from Oakridge Oregon imparts a tighter geographical focus to the 2012 McNamee Oregon-wide study which was canvassed in the 2014 Pinkbike article. A bit of context. Oakridge is a 3,200-person town in the heart of central coastal Oregon, with an economy based heavily on resource extraction. That economy took a big hit when logging slowed down. Since Mountain Bike Oregon started in 2005, a series of three-day summer biking festivals has brought visitors to the area, injecting much-needed tourist dollars and attracting people to live.

Note that this EIA did not use trailhead surveys, but extrapolated rider and visitor counts from other sources. Methodology is explained in pages 21-27. A HUGE number of people now come to Oakridge to bike (in proportion to its full-time residents). Estimates range between 10,700 - 15,900 annual bike trips with an average group size of between 2.4 - 2.8 persons per trip. Back of the envelope scratchings means between 26,750 - 40,000 biking visitors per year to Oakridge.
This Oakridge EIA did not dive into demographics. The EIA's average spend/day numbers were based on extrapolations so would only repeat data from other EIAs. It's unlikely to deviate substantially from the 2012 McNamee study which showed that "65% of mountain bikers in those events were visitors. The majority (73%) were older at 25 - 44 years old (44% were 25 - 34; 29% were 35-44). Also a prosperous crowd 43% had household incomes greater than $100,000. Average length of stay and average spent per day was comparable to non mountain biking visitors to Bend (3.9/nights; $99/day vs 4.2 nights/$96/day)"

However, what is noteworthy from this 2014 Oakridge update was the revelation belying the dirtbag stereotype of visiting riders sleeping in trucks; it showed that many visitors were working stiffs (many with families) with 43% choosing to stay in commercial lodging and many others staying in commercial campgrounds.

From Mountain Bike Oregon 2015
Mountain Bike Oregon is one of the oldest bike festivals in the West Coast. It's brought first time and repeat visitors to the logging town of Oakridge, provided jobs and improved trails throughout the region.

Tasmania, Australia

This 2013 Tasmania report is not strictly speaking an EIA, but is useful in assessing the viability of promoting a somewhat exotic (at least to North Americans) destination of NE Tasmania for mountain-biking tourism and is quite detailed. Note that there is also a 2011 study for Northern Tasmania

None of the data in the two EIAs cited here are based on visitor surveys. Interestingly from the 2013 study (pages 35 - 37), it's now assumed that mountain bikers' spending will be inline with other tourists, with an average spend pp/day of $97. It's assumed that mountain biking visitors will combine biking with other activities, but will spend an extra 1.5 days in NE Tasmania due to the biking trails; with even Tasmanian riders travelling within the state doing so and travelling to NE Tasmania just for trails. From the 2011 study, a Tasmania-wide survey shows that biking tourists in general stayed significantly longer and spent significantly more over their entire trip than other tourists, including even other tourists who are in Tasmania for outdoor recreation (page 41). Canvassing tour operators and event organizers in Northern Tasmania a typical visitor profile is inline with other regions; ie typically male, 20-50 years old, higher income and willing to travel domestically and internationally.

Research for the Locals Guide to Okanagan Rides
I have no pictures of Tasmania so here is a shot from Penticton BC. I'd imagine Tasmania looks like this and not, please call me out or better yet, invite me for a visit!

Graubuenden, Switzerland

This 2016 study is from the Swiss canton of Graubuenden in Switzerland, which I confess to having read via Google Translate

Having had the pleasure of visiting Graubuenden in the relative infancy of its bike tourism (multipart Pinkbike article from 2011); it's been astounding to see how the Swiss (with the advice of Allegra Tourism) have developed the Graubuenden Bike tourism product so masterfully. It's a consistent theme of hospitality towards biking tourism; one that's been recognized even in mass-media as being successful and keeping ski operators happy in the summer.

This document is the result of surveys of 2,938 guests throughout 2015. 75% of visitors to Graubuenden were Swiss; 25% were internationals. Approximately 67% are male between the ages of 30-59. Most (over 80%) are still into pedalling for nature or sightseeing with less than 15% into enduro/DH. Visiting mountain bikers remain high value with 70% staying between 2 - 7 nights (32% 4-7 nights; 40% 2-3 nights). As in Oregon, mountain-bikers travelling to Graubuenden destinations were not sleeping in their cars with over 74% staying in hotels/rented apartments (as opposed to camping). Daily spend per person was also high at 90 CHF and an additional 85 CHF for those who paid for accommodations. Interestingly a significant number (13%) travelled with family.

A significant deviation from other regions is on page 20, which speaks to how biking visitors found out about Graubuenden as a destination. The site was cited as the most important source for information with maps, regional websites as also being important. This is very different from Australian and Canadian examples where "official" tourism collateral is relegated to obscurity.

This 2016 update confirms the previous Swiss studies from Graubunden dated 2012 (trans.) repeated and reproduced below. "Graubunden mountain bike visitors are mostly 40 years old, predominantly male (67%) and are from other areas of Switzerland. Trail bikers stay an average of 2.7 days; downhillers stay an average of 4.7 days. Mountain bikers were high value, spending an average of 159 CHF/day (higher than other visitors who spent an average of 128-140 CHF/day)."

Trailrider Bikeshop - Ageri represent
These guys are good friends who own Trailrider Bikeshop in nearby Ageri. We rode in Davos as guests of Tourism Switzerland and Graubuenden canton who hired Darco Cazin of Allegra Tourismus (a singularly effective consultancy) to help them shape a coherent mountain biking tourism strategy. 20 years ago it's a distinct possibility that such jobs didn't exist - hard to believe in mountain-bike mad Switzerland. Mountainbiking brings jobs and CHF to the communities. From Pinkbike "Switzerland for Dummies: Davos Klosters"

New Zealand

Two more recent studies from biking-mad New Zealand are included. One is the 2013 Taupo Cycling EIA. Another is the 2016 Rotorua Crankworx EIA. Both are from APR Consultants who kindly provided the reports for distribution.


Taupo is in NZ's North Island located at the NE tip of an inland lake. It's a destination for roadies and triathletes, but a trail inventory shows a large off-road network. I could not break out mountain biking from general cycling numbers, but there's a paucity of recent EIAs and demographic breakdowns for NZ, so I'll take a stab at deconstructing numbers. Comments, critiques and pointers to EIAs or NZ studies I have missed are welcome. This Taupo EIA took data from participants in the Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge an event involving road and offroad categories. 2839 participants were surveyed. The 35 - 54 age group was far and away the largest at 63%. As with all things mountain-biking it was a sausage fest (72% male). Most event participants (93%) were visitors (Taupo is small and this was a big event) with 63% from North Island, but 4% being international visitors.

The Taupo survey also canvassed the 1921 people who travelled to Taupo as a riding destination in the past 12 months. As consistent with Oakridge, OR and Graubunden Switzerland most of these visitors stayed in hotels or other accommodations (63%). Group sizes varied with average groups being approx 2.4 persons. Average group spend pp/day was $191; unusually high but perhaps reflective of Taupo visitors' preference for staying in quality accommodations..


The Rotorua EIA is heavily mountain-biking focused and also centred around an event. Rotorua is located just north of Taupo and also on the North Island of NZ. Heavily marketed, this is an eight-day event attracting a significant number of international visitors (10.3%), many of whom planned around Crankworx as one leg of a cycling trip to NZ itself. However, only the economic impact to Rotorua itself was considered for this EIA. Strictly speaking this is a spectator event and not one where the majority of survey respondents can be assumed to have ridden their bikes. However from personal experience, most Crankworx spectators mountain bike and it can be assumed that the demographic of attendees would somewhat track the demographics of people who would likely bike in Rotorua (60% of Crankworx attendees said they would also bike while in Rotorua). With this caveat the data is presented as follows.

In total 15,439 people were estimated as having attended Crankworx Rotorua including participants (ie athletes, support, volunteers, visitors). Surveys were conducted of all attendees with most being males (70%) between the ages of 25-49 (55%)

Keying just on visitors 77% stayed overnight or longer with the average length of stay being an eye-popping 4.2 nights. Most visitors were from the North Island (60%) itself. Visitors tended to stay at hotel/other accommodations (53%) Average group size was 3.4 people (many came as families - no breakdown on that number).
A day after 30mm of rain in 24 hours Trevor Sharon and I rode one of the few trails on Fromme built to take it.
With no pictures of New Zealand here is a throwaway of how I imagine the riding in Nelson to look like


At face value, recent data shows little change from the seminal 2004 Koepke study profile (pages 3-6) and the 2014 EIA study first published on Pinkbike. Anecdotal and some limited data sets (Oregon and Swiss bikers willing to spend money on hotel and accommodations for example), however, show that mountain bike tourism is becoming a higher-yield, higher-margin endeavour. If anything, the mountain bikers willing to travel to a destination to ride their bikes are willing to spend more, to have more comforts, to cut down on travel time so as to increase saddle time. By no means does this mean the death of the van-by-the-river, beans-in-a-can and a-can-of-PBR road trip. One look at parking lots and trailheads in the hotbeds of Vancouver - Squamish - Whistler will tell that tale. As a sidebar, it's also worth noting that the very key and often-cited Sea to Sky Economic Impact Study of 2006 conducted by Mountain Biking BC will be updated with results to be published in late 2016; something that will very likely freshen data concerning mountain-biking's economic impact.

It seems that some communities are now realizing that mountain-biking is a normal (and generally positive) activity and that mountain bikers are normal (and generally positive) people. It is my sincere hope that this article and the 2014 article help by presenting objective data from a selection of places around the world, showing a lot of positive facts (hence the excruciatingly tedious statistics); i.e., that mountain biking has a measurable positive economic impact, especially when gauged in terms of tourism and visitor dollars.

In the 2014 article I also alluded to the immeasurable impact mountain biking has on a community. The very existence of trails, of outdoors recreation and of the possibility of sharing mountain biking with their kids draws people to a community. Indeed a thriving local scene with good trails and outstanding local community doesn't just add quality-of-life for locals, but also tends to attract people who want to relocate to the region . This 2016 update confirms these immeasurable impacts; indeed the Northern BC, Revelstoke and Oakridge, Oregon studies specifically make mention of this fact, on which you cannot put a $/CHF/EUR value.

As a final note, there is a vocal minority of mountain bikers who want to see less people on the trail. Some oppose the increase in bikers because increased ridership results in increased impacts. This article does not purport to address this issue, but welcomes discussion of that issue in the comments. Personally, I feel that increased ridership is a fact. What we should do as a community is discuss what to do about it. My opinion is that one concrete thing to do is encourage increased resources to trail maintenance, both from the community and from parties who benefit from mountain biking. It is my hope that this article assists in this respect.


  • 60 2
 Excellent article and great research Lee!

I doubt the majority of riders realize the importance of this info/data to us, who work behind the scenes in MTB advocacy. In order to raise awareness, create partnerships, apply for funding, legalize trails and grow the sport, we need facts to make our case.
If I can add one important element, it is the growth of interest in MTB trails within the First Nations communities here in BC.
Under the umbrella of the Aboriginal Youth Mountain BikeProgram, I have been traveling to many FN communities to deliver trail building workshops. Clubs are forming partnerships with First Nations and co-operate on trails and MTB infrastructure. The benefits go beyond economic impact, of course, but the monetary value this development brings to FN communities can not be underestimated.
(Here's a link to some photos, FN crew working at Soda Creek, BC)

A huge "Thanks!" from us here at the CMBC for the work you do.
  • 2 0
 Articles like this one help Parks and City Planners sell the trails investment projects to City Council's. By dangling dollar figures like the $3.8 million that is generated in Kamloops, or having trail counts with demographic information like Revelstoke collected, makes politicians drool and gives justification for planners to complete and implement Trails Plans.

The next step is to get more City Officials and Planners onto bikes and advocating for this type of recreational pursuit.

PS. if your local club isn't speaking to the politicians, then they won't get funding/support. Get out to the Council meetings and state your case. You may be surprised at what good things come your way.
  • 2 0
 @roberm: Yes! It's my hope that by doing a small part in the boring number-crunching to come up with these numbers that they are useful for rudimentary business and use cases for funding requests. At least its my hope that it'll help with cost-benefit analyses that funders, city and district councils use to justify funding decisions. Fantastic work going on in Kelowna
  • 42 0
 Dear City Planners, Just to confirm, if you build sick trails we will come and spend money there. Sincerely, Mountain Bikers
  • 11 0
 Yes! Build it and they will come.
  • 7 0
 Excellent summary
  • 1 1
 double post
  • 19 2
 I'm no tourism expert but some of these towns may need more than just riding to attract people. Oakridge, for example, has awesome riding but the town consists of basically a bike shop, grocery store, and dairy queen. Possibly some other sketchy businesses that looked like they closed down 10 years ago. There's absolutely nothing to do other than ride bikes. I spent 2 weeks biking across Oregon and although Oakridge was one of the best spots to ride, it was by far the worst for everything else. That's where places like Squamish, Vancouver, Whistler, etc, all do pretty well and attract those with money to spend.
  • 4 1
 Pretty much this. It is unfortunate that the development and promotion of support industries that float a lot of these tourism economies (restaurants, hotels, spas etc.) are often seen as selling-out by the MTB "core".
  • 4 1
 @sheldonuvic: I think there is significant demand to bring MTB into cities, but its a hard fight in places where city parks are little islands of dirt surrounded by private property. We're lucky in the west, we've got big cities surrounded by national and state parks, national forests and BLM land. As the density of cities ramp up, the number of trails fall, and the drive time to reach the trail head increases. California is guilty of this. Likewise, there are places in the southern USA where "Green Belts" could really attract lots of new residents to otherwise geriatric communities, but the foresight to reserve land for such trail development never happened. Tallahassee and Ocala are great examples of what could have been in Florida. Asheville is a rad town with great riding, but a stiff job and housing market. I can't think of too many places in the southeast where one can ride to a good paying job, after work ride to decent trail mileage and a hit local grocery before going home.
  • 5 2
 You're wrong. Oakridge Oregon has a pretty decent Chinese restaurant too! But yeah that's about it.
  • 3 1
 @gbeaks33 That was one of the main conclusions I draw in the Oakridge report. A primary finding was that mountain bike tourism is not an end all be all, and we shouldn't think of it as one--instead it can be both a catalyst while other sectors of the economy are developed, and also if a focus on tourism is made, it can be one aspect of a multi-faceted economic development strategy.
  • 2 1
 I agree with you, Oakridge is my hands down favorite riding area, I would never bring my family there, as entertainment options are dismal. I do like eating at the 180 though. They only have 2 hotels, one is scary as all get out log cabin style, the other is nice but no space for bringing dirty expensive bikes inside. Camping is fine but limited options close to town. Randy apparently built a campsite recently, can't comment on it though. Big complaint earlier this year showed up sans gloves, went to mercantile and only found one option for nearly 60 bucks... More than I spent on three shuttle rides. Another thing is Kate's cut in still had snow in late May, and can close in early September, only having your premier trail available for such a short time must be difficult
  • 13 3
 It has everything we need; killer trails and a grocery store. So theres no big indoor malls or a multiplex; keeps out the riff-raff.
  • 4 0
 @meltzermt: You're right about the Oakridge report. That holistic multi-pronged approach is also cited in the McNamee Oregon study and is also cited in another to-be-published McNamee article in a peer-reviewed journal. I'll update when that new study is published.

@Tkavan01 your anecdotal experience aside (and I'm not dismissing it) I found it interesting that so many MBO/Oakridge visitors mentioned that they would be interested in bringing their families to Oakridge.

@gbeaks33 what were your impressions of other Oregon towns such as Ashland, Hood River and/or Bend. I cite those as places with perhaps a mix of trails + amenities
  • 11 1
 That's what I like about Oakridge. No bullshit tourist traps, just genuine, friendly and hardworking locals that make it a place to visit. Lee's Gourmet Garden is seriously good Chinese food, perhaps some the best in the state. The owner Jeff used to be Jacky Chan's personal chef and is a rad dude to chat with. If you are lucky he will let you sample some of his tequila! The Brewers Union Local 180 is an all-ages American/English style pub that brews an assortment of excellent cask conditioned ales and also serves fine beers from around the region. They have darts and a pool table, no TV's and some amazing grub. Lion Mountain Bakery has fresh baked from scratch goodies and coffee/espresso to get you going in the morning. The Oakridge Lodge is a nice bike friendly Hostel downtown and at the base of Alpine trail lies the Westfir Lodge which is a B&B. Huckleberry Flats OHV park up is just up the road if you want to twist some throttle on your trip. There's a hot springs nearby, lakes and streams for camping and swimming. A&W for rootbeer floats. Oregon Adventures supplies the shuttles and the Mercantile will sort you out with maps, advice and bike necessities. It's too bad Willamette Pass closed because they used to have gondola accessed trails and DH races in the summer. If you feel the need to knock Oakridge for being a broke logging town and not having enough opportunities to gloat about the wads of cash you blew, go somewhere else or embrace the radness. If you think all the trails are mellow singletrack that isn't gnar enough for you, go ride Eula Ridge and get back to me.
  • 5 0
 @MmmBones: I'm pretty sure the bakery burned down. A shame, as it was certainly a gem in the area. Also, if you ever promote Eula Ridge on the internet ever again I will come to your house and let the air out of your bike tires! Shhh. Got that everyone? Wink

@leelau Oakridge is not "central coastal Oregon". Central and Oregon, yes, but no where near the coast. Great story though! Definitely food for thought.
  • 2 0
 @PHeller: Regarding "places in the southeast where one can ride to a good paying job, after work ride to decent trail mileage and a hit local grocery before going home," check out Birmingham, AL. As a million-plus population metro area, B'ham has plenty of the infrastructure critical to mountain bikers (i.e. bike shops and breweries), but remarkably also has some great mtb trails close-in to the city. Prospective bike commuters should be aware that since the Ham is where the Appalachians peter out, there will likely be one or more ridges between your home and job, but that'll just make you stronger on the trail. In my case, after a good climbing workout on the ride to and from work, when I get home I have 10,000 acre Oak Mountain State Park literally out my back door. Through the efforts of local mtn bike club Birmingham Urban Mountain Pedalers (BUMP) and supportive state and local officials, an extensive trail network has been developed there, with more trails still to come at OMSP and at other parks in and around the city. BTW, the big Coldwater Mountain trail system, subject of one of the studies cited in the article, is only about an hour's drive away, at Anniston, AL. Come on down!
  • 4 0
 @leelau: I should have been more clear in my first post: I wrote the Oakridge study (so thanks for agreeing with me, haha!) And also thanks for highlighting it in the first place, I'm glad to see the research getting out there!

In response to other Oregon MTB towns: I don't do it in my paper, but I mention it in some of the presentations I've given on it. It really depends on what you're looking for. Bend is a much bigger city with more restaurants and a lot more breweries, night life, etc. However their trail system is more loop oriented and with significantly more riders, can feel very crowded. Oakridge has 350 miles of trails, with individual trails as long as 15 miles. So even with a dozen riders on the trail, you're so spaced out it can feel as if you have it all to yourself. If you're more concerned about riding as much as possible than night life, Oakridge is the place to go. Hood River slots somewhere in the middle of Bend and Oakridge for size and amenities, but being 45 minutes from a metro area of 2 million, can also get very very busy.

Thanks again for starting, and continuing, this conversation on mountain bike tourism!
  • 5 0
 Oakridge has some new eats that just opened, The Grub Hub food truck! its run by a Mt. Biker who is a trained chef. Food is very good and very affordable! Check it out!!
  • 4 1
 Totally hit the nail on the head. In Utah many towns see the tourism traffic in Moab and Park City and try to emulate it, but they simply don't have the "night life". Most mountain bikers traveling want to try some local craft beer and try an interesting places to eat that pours out onto a crowded street. It is part of what makes a vacation fun and what helps the local economy as well. Otherwise the trails have to have something really special. Cranking out miles of dirt sidewalk in a run-down town is an idea hatched by non-riders, often trying to salvage a town from an alternate dwindling economy.
  • 1 0
 great article! Oakridge is a great place to ride be sure to stop at Brewers Union Local 180 for some grub and a brew. If you are going to Oakridge you also should make it a priority to check out other areas close by such as The Umpqua trail, Mckenzie River trail and the town of Bend -Phils trails complex.... can put together a mega awesome ride at Phils....up Mrazek, Down Farewell, up North Fork(Tumalo Falls) to Metolius-Windigo, down Flagline, down Swede ridge, down sector 16, down Whoops, down Bens. = possibly the best ride in Oregon. Smile

tons of good riding in Oregon, Hood river, Sandy ridge, Black rock etc...
  • 3 0 in oakridge the place to get your MTB grub on!
  • 3 0
 @leelau: I bring the family to ashland all the time, food, places to stay, stuff to do... Oakridge has a nice park but the river isn't great for the kids as it is fast and cold!
  • 2 1
 @gbeaks33 very good point! Amenities and infrastructure beyond trails are an important element of attracting visiting mountain bikers. A US MTB Economic Impact Study shows that the second most important element of a MTB trip is drinking beer.... no wonder breweries are partnering up with bike events and small craft breweries are preferred event sponsors. Good restaurants, great campsites, good hotels/motels and excellent food are all part of the puzzle.
  • 4 1
 @leelau: I didn't get far enough south for Ashland but Hood River and Bend were totally different worlds when compared to Oakridge. The cities are lively, there are human beings around, and there are lots of breweries, restaurants, cool stuff going on, etc. Oakridge...not so much. Just driving around I felt like I was not welcome there. Even the bike shop staff were kinda rude and seemed like they didn't want us in their town. But...I'd still go back to Oakridge over Bend just for the riding. Bend riding was kinda lame in comparison.
  • 2 1
 Good point. You can not ride all day long. Need some good coffee shops, food and local beer to compliment. Important to have non riding activities too. Just got back from Terrace, beautiful fun trails with legendary fishing.
  • 2 0
 @caribooyj: what US MTB EIA is that? Re drinking beer and mtb
  • 11 1
 Really strong, comprehensive look at the power (and by power I mean revenue potential) of mountain biking. This is, in a sense, one of the primary goals behind East Bound & Down here on PB; showcasing parts of the country that not only embrace mountain biking, but see mountain biking as a viable economic driver (huge driver for smaller towns, less so for larger cities) for their respective corner of the world. It's not only how I and several other contributors here earn a living, but trail development and mountain bike travel really do have the ability to help shape and improve communities around the world. I truly believe that. As far as the contingent who want to see less riders on the trails, I just don't get it. I love seeing people on trails I build, and quite honestly, the greater our presence, the greater our leverage when it comes to future trail development. Great work!
  • 1 0
 Right on, Brice. I don't know if I'd move back to Reading, but quite a few of the spots on your trip interested me, as do Chattanooga and Anniston. Unfortunately while mountain biking and trail development can certainly increase the quality of life for current residents, and often times may be a great inexpensive way to explorer a new area on a road trip or vacation, most towns that see substantial economic benefits from mountain biking are usually pretty small, meaning lack of economic opportunities for those who might want to live there full-time. Cities and towns alike need to think of outdoor recreation as something to make an already strong job market more attractive to future residents. Likewise, some of these small towns with great trails need to work better at attracting employers outside of the tourism industry. It'd be awesome if someone did a study of "miles of non-paved trails within metro area" for some of the strongest job markets in North America. I'm a sure a "miles of MTB trails per capita" would be really disappointing in most of those places. Likewise, the cost of living in most places with substantial trail systems would probably be pretty high.
  • 4 0
 Brice - That's part of why I included Coldwater Alabama in the review even though the data was a bit long-dated. It's inspiring to see towns I don't think of as hotbeds make something good happen out of outdoor recreation and biking specifically.

It really struck home to me how blinkered one can get living in SW BC being so close to destination areas yet perhaps being blind to the utility and attractiveness of regional destinations proximate to large urban population centres. Population centres starved of trails and biking opportunities like your neck of the woods, or the Welsh/Scottish regional riding parks.
  • 4 1
 @leelau: Alabama has some of the best quality trails I've seen in the states. It's not true best but it's too 5 for sure. As a former demo rep whos territory was the lower 48 of the US I've ridden pretty much everything!
  • 4 0
 @leelau: This is what trails in Alabama look like! This is in Coldwater, Alabama:
  • 1 0
 @rpearce1475: Yikes! I would never want to ride there! ;-)
  • 1 0
 @rpearce1475: Nice love this !will have to go try.
  • 6 0
 Forestry Commission in UK has done studies into the first trail centre Coed y Brenin and others that followed. They are quite detailed economic impact studies, some of which secured European Funding (don't make Brexit jokes) to help economic development in rural areas remote from growth.
  • 3 0
 Are these studies available for review in the public domain?
  • 2 0
 I'd be keen to read that too.
  • 6 1
 Hey Lee, if you are looking for some additional research on mountain bike tourism, you can view my research here: The 'published' version can be found in any academic library.
  • 2 0
 Blake - thanks. I'll include this in the EIS library. The Yukon has done amazing things
  • 2 0
 I only hear amazing things about the riding and wind sports in the Yukon.
  • 5 0
 In the past year, i think 95% of my trips have been based around riding or racing a mountain bike(Whistler, Park City, Mammoth, Ashland, Monterey, Bootleg, And countless places in so cal). I cringe to think about the $ spent on bike-cations, but then remember all the fun I had, memories I've made and people I've met.
  • 2 0
 But what would you have done if you weren't in to mtb? Not just laid in bed staring at the ceiling I think. This weekend I'll be driving hundreds of miles, and eating in cafe/pub for 3 meals a day. If I didn't have a bike to ride in the daylight hours I could end up spending way more money.
  • 6 1
 I remember how depressing little valley towns in wales became lively mtb hubs thanks to biking trail centres, whose upkeep was funded largely by the European Union. Suddenly little old ladies had a place to sell their tea and cakes, men got jobs digging up new trails instead of coal; pubs and BnBs burst into life in towns that offered little other economic promise.

Then Wales voted to leave the Europe Union.
  • 5 0
 I was just starting to look into a lot of the same data, so you saved me a lot of time. Thanks Lee! Let me know if you're ever near Kelowna and I'll buy you a cold one or two.
  • 2 0
 No problem Henri. You'll see in the 2016 folder there's a big study about Kelowna by Cascade Environmental but its dated. However the fact that the City put a bunch of $ into Knox bodes well. Good trails in the area and in West Kelowna too
  • 4 1
 Great article that shows the economic growth potential for mtb. Some action sports have very limited growth potential based on finite resources i.e. Rock climbing vs number of cliffs. But there seems to be soooooo much room for more trails and once people can the economic value trail access will grow
  • 4 2
 Bike Parks are the Artificial walls of Mountain Biking.
  • 3 2
 @SteveDekker: I disagree (not arguing just debating): bike parks Can almost always be expanded and new ones can always be opened...
  • 3 1
 @piersgritten: I skewed @ EKrum's post to make my own point. Indoor Climbing gyms can be expanded easier and cheaper. Indoor climbing expanded the sales of climbing gear opening a new market for those who wanted to climb (posers) or train in an artificial environment. Bike parks act in the much the same way. Its another market.
Neither is a finite resource.
  • 4 2
 @stevedekker technically that is correct. was there something else?
  • 9 0
 @lyophilization: Sometimes I have Maple Bacon GU on an english muffin for breakfast.
  • 3 0
 It's to bad Chilliwack didn't put more stock in these studies. Vedder's trail system is apparently having the sh*t out of it for "road maintenance". Check FVMBA's facebook page.

The road and all trails are closed during the week from July 20th to Aug 20th as the Ministry upgrades the main FSR. Trails will be open on weekends starting from 5 or 6 pm Friday evening to 6 am Monday morning.
Signs and gates will be installed to deter people from using the area. This is a legal closure please respect this for your own safety. People choosing to ignore the signage may be subject to fines.
Due to the tight time frame, the contractor cannot afford to take time to stop work for people who have ignored signs. Trees will be getting dropped possibly over trails and there will be heavy equipment on sight. The machines being used will have the tendency to be spitting out chips as far as 20 feet.
When we have more information from the Ministry we will post it up here. Please respect the closures in the mean time. Thank you for you cooperation.
  • 2 0
 Isn't it a provincial forestry road? So it's the province not Chilliwack making that call.

Only been to Vedder once, the trails are amazing! The road was pretty rough, we pedaled up the awesome climbing trails there, I would think you'd want a decent truck to drive up that road.
  • 3 0
 @resnick it appears that @gramboh is correct. It's a MoF call for Vedder Road to be closed in the heart of the riding season
  • 2 0
 @leelau: Spring and fall are the heart of riding season round here. You could .just go to Cultas roll up a coner and bbq. And don't we MTBR's always follow the code of don't ask don't don't tell? Or just don't get run over by a logging truck or Grader. #playsafe #bigtreesKill#DontBeAFoo.#TheWack
  • 3 0
 This is a terrific update, Lee! I have found that Municipal Governments, Regional Districts, and Provincial Planners are also taking a closer look at the growing importance of this sector. Here are a couple of additional resources which may support some of your assertions...

Mountain Bikers' Attitudes Towards Mountain Biking Tourism Destinations, Moularde, 2015.

What factors make rail trails successful as tourism attractions? Developing a conceptual framework from relevant literature, Taylor, 2015 (not Mountain Bike-specific, however; there are some relevant components here).

As a different example, the Nature Trails Society here on Southern Vancouver Island has been successful in raising $280,000 to interconnect trails across the region. Disparate land owners/managers have been convinced to provide support when presented with the evidence provided from a number of these EIA resources.

Keep up the good work! Cheers, Ray
  • 2 0
 Thanks Ray. I'll digest these
  • 3 0
 Pretty much all our major vacations are bike related, typically BC or Southern Alberta. I wish more towns would promote more. Not only is it good for the town financially, it's good for it's people as more would partake and their health would be better. Living in Northern Alberta, I live in the hotbed of quad/skidoo country and most people couldn't imagine doing something like mountain motors, no can it possibly be fun.
  • 3 0
 Good read and interesting data. Thanks Lee for posting! As a European though I wish there was more data available for our regions and markets. The CAN / US market, especially as strong as BC, is too abstract for us here across the pond.
  • 2 0
 @Rockyroots I found nothing for Germany, Italy Norway and Sweden. Some infrastructure studies for Denmark and Holland generally on cycling that were dated. Some general stuff by the EU on outdoor rec but with cycling embedded. It was surprising there was so little. If I missed something it'd be great to see it. It's quite possible that the language barrier made the searches hard.

The best data is Swiss and the UK
  • 1 0
 @Rockyroots I agree. I haven't found any studies coming out of Germany. As a German immigrant to Canada, who works in the MTB industry I have researched this quite a bit, but without success. Any links to studies in Germany/Austria/Switzerland would be greatly appreciated.
  • 3 0
 @leelau @caribooyj As a mountain bike rider (20+ years) and archaeologist here in Australia, I occasionally get to work on projects that integrate my two passions: mountain biking and archaeology. How good is it to rail down sick trails and also learn about history and environment? In consultation with local Aboriginal communities, trails can be designed to minimise or avoid harm to Aboriginal archaeological sites in a socially, ethically, morally and legally responsible manner.

Mountain biking has become an increasingly more popular sport and industry in Australia and throughout the world. Australian mainland alpine and Tasmanian biking locations offer mountain bikers unique riding experiences comparable to destinations in North & South America, Canada, Europe and New Zealand. These Australian locations also encompass significant natural and Aboriginal cultural heritage values. Consequently, there are legislative requirements in place for the protection and mitigation of harm to significant natural and cultural heritage places from the construction of mountain bike trails. If managed properly, these natural and cultural values can be integrated into sustainable trail networks with vast recreational and cultural tourism potential.
  • 2 0
 We should talk - having a tough time understanding what harms Aboriginal archaeological sites, and it has closed a number of our best trails in recent years (with more on the chopping block).
  • 1 0
 @bikesarehellafun: A shame that trails are closing down. An issues inherent with poor local government planning. Some councils are better than others. Some National/State Parks have agreements in place with local Aboriginal communities. Here in Victoria, the construction of a bike trail is a high impact activity and if all or part of the proposed trail/s are located in legislated areas of cultural heritage sensitivity, will require cultural heritage assessments, or the preparation of a Cultural Heritage Management Plan (CHMP). In this instance, a consultant prepares a report detailing the results of the background research and fieldwork, the location of any registered Aboriginal sites and management requirements. In essence, the CHMP becomes the permit for the proponent to construct trails in areas where there are Aboriginal sites, preferably to avoid harm, otherwise there are measures in place to minimise harm.

The most common Aboriginal archaeological sites in Australia include stone artefact scatters, scarred trees (extracting wood/bark to make canoes, containers and shields), campsites, rockshelters/cave entrances, quarries (source of suitable stone for making artefacts), and many more site types. Building a trail through a stone artefact scatter for example is destroying this place (unless there is a permit or CHMP in place). Utilising manual excavation over mechanical excavation can help minimise harm to sites. I have read on social media about illegal trail construction where significant Aboriginal sites have been destroyed which can cause significant distress to local Aboriginal communities. Archaeological sites are a non-renewable resource and are the tangible links between present and past communities. Once destroyed, these sites are gone forever. Added to this is the fact that trail construction can damage or destroy significant and rare local fauna and flora habitats (natural values). In this case as well, natural landscapes are considered cultural landscapes.

Appropriate consultation and heritage assessment including sustainable trail design and construction integrated with interpretive signage about local history and environment is the best way moving forward. Some local governments and land managers are better than others. In some areas unfortunately bureaucracy prevails. Not sure if this helps but happy to chat!!
  • 1 0
 @archsolutions: you probably read about the track we recently lost.

Unfortunately, the media campaign was utter rubbish, as the significant Aboriginal sites were: (i) several kilometers away; and (ii) on the other side of a busy road. In this case, the trail was dirt only, and nowhere near any rock shelves or the like.
  • 5 0
 Thanks for this update Lee! I hope to use some of this information in meetings with public land managers here in the States.
  • 3 0
 X2. Just sent the article off to a land manager that I know. Thanks @leelau !
  • 4 1
 Would love to see data from Leadville CO and Downieville CA, having spent time in both places both off season and during the race you can see the events and MTB riding around them completely transform the towns
  • 2 0
 If there's any I'd love to see it. I dug around but there was no hard data to profile and analyze
  • 3 0
 I can't believe I read that all. I usually don't have the patience to read such a long article, but this was very interesting. Good work Lee. Thanks for being such a great advocate of mountain biking.
  • 2 0
 Hey! That top pic is of my wife and I. Looks like it was taken 3 or 4 years ago as I still had the dual crown. No idea someone took a picture of us. For the record, a large part of why we bought here (Upper Lynn Valley) was for the mountain biking and yes we paid through the nose.
  • 2 0
 Awesome article. I'm digging into similar documentation for Andalucía and in general for Spain as I'm trying to get actual numbers and bring those to the table when meeting with local authorities and ask for help or just understanding on how MTB can really help local business. Thanks for the details, comparison, numbers, etc, really good job.
  • 2 0
 Glad it's useful!
  • 4 2
 This is super helpful, I wish it were PB front page. I'm trying to get some sort of bike park or trail updates done in my town and these case studies might be just what I need to get people off their asses.
  • 4 0
 super helpful info to pass on to our town planning dept.

Also, I'd fall over too if I had a "lefty" on my bike...
  • 2 0
 You guys all need to have a look at what a little town called Derby in Tasmania Australia has done. Not just because it attracts events but more for what happens when people get together. Everything starts with an idea
  • 2 0
 Derby is on the list. I'm talking to NE Tasmania and Tourism about a visit. It's a long way from Canada but the story is amazing
  • 2 0
 @leelau: combine it with an NZ and Cairns trip - worth it just for the wildly different riding available and you will not be disappointed Smile
  • 2 0
 @Murbahman: you say that like they're close together! That's a lot of travelling within the region. Will look into it. It's interesting how so many of the Australian and NZ towns and regions have put money into tourism and how its paying off
  • 2 0
 Yes!! The few paragraphs were written about a report which was from 2013. There were some great trails around then, but way more now! And the state is slowly but surely seeing what a great opportunity this is for riders. Come one come all!
  • 1 0
 @leelau: They are if you're from OZ - just a weekender Smile
  • 4 0
 Going to dig deeply into this soon, but as a board member, advocate, and trail builder, thank you so much doing this work.
  • 3 0
 Too right. I just sent this to everyone in our club. Spending so much time advocating when all councils and land management want are numbers. Will forward this to everyone I know.
  • 2 0
 @icanrideabikewithnohandlebars and @b-26-4-Life. It makes me very happy to know its helping out local advocates. Having spent many years doing this very thankless volunteer job my empathy.and gratitude to you (and others who do this) is boundless
  • 1 0
 Great article, just a few weeks ago i was asking my friends how i can persuade my local government unit into developing my home town into an mtb and trail running oriented tourism destination, this data's are great help, thanks a lot.
  • 3 0
 Great job Lee, thank you for your hard work and research. This is excellent!
  • 3 0
 Thanks for this, it is extremely useful for those of us in the trenches advocating for trails.
  • 2 0
 Melrose in South Australia and summertime in Thredbo in New South Wales are great examples where mountain biking brought cash flow to a community.
  • 2 0
 Melrose in particular is on the list for further due diligence. I'm trying to get more information but there is a lack of hard data so I might have to schedule a site visit
  • 1 0
 @leelau: well, if you HAVE to get first-hand experience, you might just HAVE to go to Canberra, Tasmania... And then, well, since it is only just across the pond, you may as well go to Rotorua, Taupo, Queenstown...
  • 3 0
 Thanks for your resesearch, i hope to put it to good use really soon in a council.
  • 2 0
 I laughed out loud. Was going to put this in but figured I'd already put everyone to sleep
  • 2 0
 @leelau: Not a total snooze fest. Thanks for putting this together - a very interesting read.

Quick question, I did very quick look at some of the supplemental info you provided and it looks like the dollars spent per night in the studies is the mean number... when trying to profile the group of visitors, were you able to find any numbers on the median spend per day?
  • 2 0
 @dhx42: I had more source data on that in 2014 and did get a average spend number. I don't think it will deviate significantly from a median number due to the tails not being fat (ie not that many outliers). Also had some comparables to other activities (bikers spent as much as golfers, tennis players, more than hikers)


"• Average spend per day $ 60 - $ 100 (inclusive of accoms, food, recreation, etc but exclusive of travel costs to get to a destination)

To the extent there is data, international travellers generally spend more than domestic travellers over the course of their trip. Perhaps that might be because the upfront cost of forking over for the airline ticket means that the international traveller wants to invest more time and money in having a good experience. But international visitors also spend more days; accordingly their per day spending tends to be less - presumably because package lodging and food deals are priced cheaper for longer stays."

Does that help?
  • 1 0
 @leelau: Thanks! That's interesting info, but makes a ton of sense. I would say, typically, the lady and I on a trip are right in that range depending on camping/hotel for day to day spending on trip.
  • 3 0
 May the city officials of Santa Cruz read this! Duh! We dont want there money. Hikers spend more???
  • 4 0
 An economic report with no graphs or tables? Blasphemy!
  • 2 0
 I laughed out loud. Was going to put this in but figured I'd already put everyone to sleep
  • 2 2
 Great article! When you look at places that hugely support biking the impact is more than mention real estate prices going up but not the change in demographics in a community from immigration of like minded active people. I think we've seen this in Bellingham and it is a huge positive Synergy. More bikers, hikers, sledders, skiers....Mecca.
  • 2 0
 I tried to dive into that as the census available but determing the causal relationship was difficult. All I could come up with was anecdotes. The analysis is doable imo but not by me.
  • 1 1
 Hi Lee
Last year I was lucky enough to visit the Czech Republic and got to ride Rychlebske Stezky trail center. They have a pretty cool story of how one guy got a whole village behind him and created some seriously fun trails and now bring lots of tourist $$ to an otherwise struggling economic region.
Definitely a success story and some ripping trails
  • 2 1
 sweet, so if I ride bikes I have a good chance of becoming middle aged and affluent? All I've gotta do is wait for the latter part now.
  • 3 0
 All my vacations are bike trips! lol
  • 1 0
 me too my girlfriend finally figured it out.
  • 3 0
 Nice job Lee!
  • 2 0
 I need to move to Canada and keep my same pay, but it seems impossible.
  • 2 0
 Kingdom trails anyone? Hello?
  • 1 0
 I have ZERO primary data from the Kingdom Trails or from any New England locations. I've heard a lot about the areas but without the data there is no way to analyze and compare
  • 1 0
 Incredible article. Thank you for posting.
  • 1 0
 Quit talking about Oakridge! I hear Zika is bad there.
  • 1 1
 NIce job, but TL;DR. Sorry.
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