IMBA Europe Summit, day 2 (and last)

Since our stay in Portugal was short, we tried to make the most out of it. Second day of the IMBA Europe Summit was exactly what we were expecting – great speakers, excellent lectures and lively discussions. Here is a short recap of what we did that day.

Katarina Rönnbacka Nybäck from Sweden was the first panelist. I was really looking forward to her presentation, not only because Katarina was talking about the Bergslagen Cycling project (which is located not that far away from my place), but mainly because I’ve got the chance to chat with her the day before, and she made a huge impression on me being so humble and super friendly despite her remarkable achievements (both when it comes to sport and the Bergslagen project). Katarina shared with us her story of how she came up with the idea of using mining routes from 14th century and adapting them for tourism purposes. Now, there are 1200 km of mountain-bike trails in the area! What I really like about the Bergslagen Cycling project is how Katarina managed to work together with the local community, using rich history of mining and smelting in the region as something to attract tourists, and this way creating something valuable not only for mountain bikers, but also all the other people living in the area. Katarina told us also a bit about challenges that she has, especially when it comes to maintaining so many trails that are scattered around. My friend moose came up as a topic as well, which couldn’t make me happier. 🙂

Ricardo Pinto took us all for a half an hour to Madeira. I would say that Ricardo is doing a good job as an ambassador of the island, as Madeira popped up on my bucked list after first 3 minutes of his presentation. Madeira has recently emerged as a popular enduro destination, and now there are 240 km of trails on this tiny island, but only abut 20% of them are legal. Madeira, distinguished by UNESCO as World Natural Heritage, is still looking for more sustainable solutions for its development. Although tourism is the greatest part of Madeira’s economy and increasing number of mountain bikers visiting the island is definitely supporting local businesses, many questions of how to protect and enhance island’s natural environment and minimalize damages created by biking in such a fragile vegetation, are yet to be answered.

There have been many studies on how mountain biking affects wildlife. Most experiments focus on stress and disturbance caused by human activity, some measured changes in population dynamics, and there are also some studies of collisions and mortality when wildlife is struck by humans, resulting in injury or death. Still important knowledge gaps are visible when it comes to the environmental effects associated with mountain biking. Martin Wyttenbach from Zurich University of Applied Sciences tried to fill this gap with his research on the impact of mountain biking on the roe deer. What was unique in the experiment that he conducted was that Martin together with his students were measuring the impact of night riding – something that is now increasing in popularity. According to the experiment roe deer showed significant reaction to mountain biking at night. The animals were avoiding trails days and nights and therefore off-trails activities cause bigger disturbances. I never really thought about that before, being quite proud of my powerful flash light, so this is something to think about when planning our next night ride. Please, read more about the experiment here.

Mark McClure was moderating the last panel I’ve attended, so I knew it’s gonna be a lot of fun. 🙂 Duane Butcher, John Thorpe and Alexandros Loridis told us a bit about their bike parks – from the idea to reality. What made them to build their own trails, their strategies, ups and downs, fails and successes. They talked about costs and maintenance issues, and gave a lot of practical advices for everyone who would be considering similar investment.

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The most important lesson from IMBA Europe Summit 2017 was shared by all the panelist, no matter what topic they’ve discussed. It was their passion about what they are doing. It was truly inspiring and motivating to take part in the Summit and meet people from all over the Europe who share, no matter of their profession, the same passions and goals. I know my post cannot fully give you that filling, but this video from Alexandros Loridis surly will do the trick. Enjoy!

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