The first-ever USA Cycling Mountain Bike Summit was held November 14-16 in Colorado Springs with the simple goal of providing a forum for industry stakeholders to share ideas. The three-day conference offered a variety of industry members the opportunity to collectively meet and discuss direction and changes within the sport, share best practices and develop initiatives to advance mountain bike racing in the United States.
The 45 attendees took part in several colloquiums involving USA Cycling staff and industry experts on Saturday before participating in round table discussions surrounding a variety of topics on Sunday.
Directed by USA Cycling’s Mountain Bike Events and Program Director Kelli Lusk, the Mountain Bike Summit aimed to open dialogue and discuss the overall direction of the sport. Stakeholders from all parts of the industry converged to take advantage of the educational and resource-building opportunities as well as be a part of the ongoing discussion on how to help the sport prosper in the near future.
“For this first Mountain Bike Summit, we wanted to open it up to promoters, officials, team managers, industry members and other interested parties,” explained Lusk. “We haven’t held an open Mountain Bike Summit like this before, so we were excited to see so many individuals with a vested interest in the sport of mountain biking take part in the inaugural year.”
USA Cycling's CEO Steve Johnson
Saturday’s opening session acted as an overview of various USA Cycling programs. Informative presentations were also given by organizers of successful junior racing programs and a top-level official spoke on the relationship between officials and promoters. The group, which included race promoters, officials, team managers and eight NORBA Board of Trustee members, was able to interact with various USA Cycling staffers, including USA Cycling CEO Steve Johnson, on topics surrounding officiating, race publicity, insurance, athlete development and race sponsorship among others.
“The opportunity to attend any seminar hosted by USA Cycling is always something not to be missed,” said Andy Bohlmann, a long-time Colorado race promoter. “It clearly shows the importance USA Cycling places on direct communication with the membership. This past weekend race organizers, both from the mountain bike side and the NRC road side had an opportunity to hear first-hand about current and future USA Cycling programs and policies and to meet other race organizers from around the country. Road or mountain makes little difference as we all have the same issues, needs, problems, etc. and USA Cycling understands this.”
A series of group discussions highlighted Sunday’s agenda. NORBA Board of Trustees President Lisa Nye-Salladin and Lusk lead the assembly in examination of topics such as relationship building, trends in mountain biking and the future of the sport.
“We’ve wanted this summit for several years now,” said Nye-Salladin. “As a promoter myself I feel it’s a piece that has been missing in the all-inclusiveness of USA Cycling. Promoters are key to the success of bike racing and are the voice that represents USA Cycling to the riders. It’s really important to bring that constituent group together and open dialogue. Hopefully we were able to jump start the lines of communication and get everyone rowing in the same direction for the benefit of our sport. Moving forward we plan to implement a structure for the growth of our sport and will begin this with regularly scheduled monthly conference calls.”
A similar summit involving National Racing Calendar promoters also took place over the same weekend at the U.S. Olympic Training Center. On Saturday evening the entire group was treated to a special dinner presented by Sportsbaseonline.com, allowing more than 100 cycling leaders from all parts of the industry to gather in an informal setting.
Yeti general Manager Chris Conroy felt the facetime was worthwhile.
Yeti's Chris Conroy (orange top) also participated in the Summit
"We gave a presentation on juniors and gravity racing based on our experiences with the Mountain States Cup Series," Conroy told BikeRadar. "Always good to remind the road and cross-country crowd of the successes with the gravity crowd.
"I guess a lively discussion ensued on Sunday regarding how to structure the US race calendar to replace the now-defunct National Series," he added. "That will be a much longer and painful discussion..."
According to Lusk, there were some great discussions, not just in the meeting, but also during the Friday night mixer, Saturday’s dinner and lunches.
“It brought a variety of different aspects of the sport together, connecting people from around the country and offering amazing opportunities for networking and sharing best practices," she said. "Feedback has been very positive so far and a survey is being sent out so attendees can provide comments and suggestions to make future summits even more valuable and informative.”