IMBA - Joey Klein

December 12, 2014

Awesome MTB Destinations

Joey Klein has one of those jobs the rest of us want. He basically travels the world for IMBA consulting on, designing and building mountain bike trails.

Talk about a sweet deal. We caught up with him at the inaugural Mt Buller Mountain Bike Summit.

Back when Joey was a kid beating about on his bike in Colorado, MTB was all about single tracks. Then, in the 90s Wales and Scotland started building MTB bikes, and suddenly the world changed. According to Joey, MTB now accounts for a whopping 3% of Wales’ GDP, and parks like Coed y Brenin have gone from 14,000 annual visitors to in excess of 200,000; all there to hit the trails on their bikes. But the outcome hasn’t just been about MTBs – improved local economy, improved health benefits and even an important role in preserving the Welsh culture have been just some of the side effects of this awesome project.

And there are more and more like it popping up all over the globe.

At the Buller MTB Summit Joey talked us through some of the diverse trails he’s had a hand in creating.

Aspen, Colorado – Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow

For one of the world’s richest communities, Aspen sure was a bit slow off the mark to develop proper MTB facilities. That all changed thanks to a private investor, and Aspen is now home to a level of MTBing that brings a twinkle to Joey’s eye (get him talking about Government Trail – a gnarly, moody, rocky, steep, fun adventure of single trails made by hand). He talked about new techniques used in Aspen, such as Lifted and Tilted; a great way to recycle old trails and for road-to-trail conversions. He also talked about snow resorts increasingly turning to MTB to make up for the shortfall from a winter season that doesn’t deliver as much snow as it once did. MTB trail designers are using this as an opportunity to kick start the season earlier by creating flow trails out of snow (this is really taking off in areas like Michigan).

Valmont – ‘Tot Tracks’

Trail designers are no longer just catering to one type of rider. Joey stepped us through the Valmont Bike Park, a 42-acre facility years in the making, and with a ‘$4 - $5-million price tag’. The park features a Tot Track right near the car parking area, meaning tiny tackers don’t travel far before they’re on their bikes and zipping around. The idea is that the park then caters for a natural progression of skills; the Tot Track’s connected to the pump track, the pump track’s connected to the dirt jumps, the dirt jumps are connected to the flow trail, the flow trail’s connect to ‘The Glades’, where more difficult features are introduced. Originally The Glades were designed with adults in mind, but reality has seen it totally taken over by young budding MTBers.

Frisco Park – Dirt-loving Mums

The stereotype goes like this – dad smashes the trails with his mates, the kids go out and do a skills course, and mum waits for them all in the car. Not at a bike park in Frisco, where a Ladies Clinic is run regularly to teach women how to ride dirt jumps. In Joey’s words ‘you wouldn’t have seen that ten years ago’.

Alabama – More than MTB

Joey talked about Bomb Dog in Coldwater Mt and Anniston, Alabama, as MTB trails that have ended up having a positive impact way beyond MTBing. Towns with declining populations have been revived, local kids have turned to family friendly green trails versus time in front of the tele on the couch. There’s even a free shuttle run by the local fire department on Sundays; all geared towards getting kids and families out, active, and spending time together. So with all these great MTB stories from the US, what does Joey think of the scene in Australia and New Zealand? How do we stack up? Check out this video to find out.

BikeExchange was a guest at the Mt Buller Chalet during the inaugural Mt Buller MTB Summit.