Joey Klein, a master trail builder and trail advocate for the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA), recently wrapped up a six-week tour of Australia. Operating on a whirlwind schedule that called for daily presentations to mountain bike clubs, land managers and bicycle industry leaders, Klein made the most of his time in Oz.
Here's a by-the-numbers look at Klein's visit:
- Visited 7 out of 8 territories
- Met more than 500 land managers
- Rode with 20 local bike clubs
- Gave 26 presentations
- Conducted five Trail building Schools
- Inspected 28 mountain bike sites
- Built 1.6 kilometres of new trail
- Flagged 4.5 kilometres of trail for future projects
"The final weeks of the trip were incredibly productive," says Klein. "I attended a series of meetings in the Capitol Territory, many of which focused on Australia's National Parks, which are at a crucial turning point."
Klein described the key issues facing Australia's Parks:
- National Parks in Australia are managed at a state level (not federal), so mountain bike clubs have to create partnership's with each state's Department of Sustainability and Environment.
- Many National Parks are adjacent to cities, and even though these parks have a front-country atmosphere they are managed much like back country Wilderness in the United States - including bans on riding singletrack trails.
- Every state and territory in Australia is adding new National Parks which potentially negate current riding opportunities in State-managed forests .
- Some National Parks could be designated as "World Heritage Areas," making them off-limits to riders.
Despite the obstacles that Australian riders face, Klein reports that there are many hopeful signs. Land managers are beginning to open their eyes to shared-use trails, and partnerships between IMBA-affiliated clubs and state officials are increasing. "During the final days of my visit, I had positive meetings with high-level managers for the lands surrounding Canberra. The nation's largest mountain bike club, the Canberra Off Road Cyclists turned out in force for my "An Evening with IMBA" slide show - more than 70 singletrack-starved mountain bikers came away from that show determined to find new solutions to their access problems," says Klein.
"IMBA's Trail Solutions book is well regarded here," notes Klein. "It's really gratifying to see that the book and the previous tours I've done here are helping make a difference in what has to be one of the most varied and thrilling places in the world to ride a bicycle."