By Thomas Schoen, Chair of CMBC –
As the chair of the Cariboo Mountain Bike Consortium (CMBC) I often get asked: “What do you guys do and why do we need another bike club?”
Well, the answer is very simple. The CMBC is not a local club and has no membership beyond the Board of Directors. We are a regional marketing organization, the second largest in the Interior, promoting mountain biking in the 100 Mile House, Williams Lake, Quesnel, and Wells/Barkerville corridor. We have no individual members, as we do not wish to compete with local clubs and split up their membership base. Our directors are representing their respective communities and are all members of local clubs. Think of us as the Cariboo-Chilcotin Coast Tourism Association with a mandate to promote biking.
So, how do we fulfill our mandate? The promotional tasks are easy to grasp. We pay for advertising in local and regional publications, and we run ads on Pinkbike, the worlds’ largest website for mountain bike enthusiasts. We attend tradeshows, visit events, and host our own website: www.ridethecariboo.ca.
What the public does not see is the work behind the scenes: grant writing, advocacy work, presentations to municipal and regional governments, and most important, our administrative support of local bike clubs. Clubs are volunteer run and often lack the capacity to keep up with administrative tasks. We step in and help them write grants and other documents, provide some funding for trail maintenance and trail signage, and just help out with whatever we can. All CMBC Directors have a connection to the industry (I am the owner of a trail building company) and we all have business and consulting backgrounds.
The other question I often hear is: “Why are you guys so successful?” Again, the answer is quite simple. We have a great track record and we do what we are mandated to do. We raise the number of visiting mountain bikers year after year and we have the numbers to prove it. A great example was the 2015 MTB Symposium. The event had a significant economic impact and the total spending was $95,800. As a direct result of this event we are now hosting the BC Enduro Series, with an estimated impact of $100,000+. We have built and maintained great partnerships including all four communities, the Northern Development Initiative Trust, the Cariboo-Chilcotin Action Coalition, the Cariboo Regional District, a handful of First Nations partners and many, many local business partnerships. Now keep in mind, we have no paid staff and are all volunteers.
What’s new and what is the 2016 season bringing? A lot of new development. From our brand new website (www.ridethecariboo.ca), with a winter page coming in the late fall featuring local/regional winter sport venues and events, to new trails to the north and to the south of Williams Lake. Our biggest project, however, is the development of the Desous Mountain Trail network. This is a regional initiative and is the brainchild of our VP Mark ‘Shreddie’ Savard. (Mark is the visionary in our group; I’m the administrator and pencil pusher.) While the network has been in existence for many years, it needs to be updated and further developed. The CMBC is the driving force and fully supported by the local club, the City of WL, the CRD and CCBCA, and NDIT. All organizations see a need for further development and Desous is our prime choice.
Thomas is a McLeese Lake resident since 1993, who runs a a trail planning and building company. In addition he works as the ED for the Central Interior Regional Arts Council and volunteers on a number of regional non-profit boards.