Sunday, March 21, 2010

My trip to the National Bike Summit in Washington DC

Last week I was lucky to attend the National Bike Summit (NBS) in Washington D.C. as a representative of CAMBA and IMBA. It was an amazing opportunity to be a part of the cycling movement on the national stage. First, I should explain what the National Bike Summit is. For three days people who believe in the importance of the bicycle converged on the nation’s capitol to lobby for more bicycle friendly laws and initiatives. Everyone from advocacy representatives (like me), bike store owners, and industry representatives from all across the country came together for one goal, to promote cycling.
The first day was just a precursor to what was to come ahead. The main highlight of the day was the first timers meeting. Being my first time at the summit I attended this meeting which was an introduction to what was to come. With a brief primer on how to talk to the representatives to best get your message across. The goal for the first two days was to prep us for the third day where we would meet with senators and congressmen from our own state. I must admit it was overwhelming on the first day, though I knew that my love of the sport of mountain biking would make it easy to get my message across.
The second day started with a large opening ceremony where, Google announced its new biking directions on its map tool. After the meeting we broke off into the first of three break-out sessions. I choose to follow the IMBA path and take the three seminars. The first was titled, Best Practices in Youth Cycling. It was an introduction to how to best get youth involved in cycling. It covered topics on Youth Races, how to introduce kids in the sport of mountain biking and how to foster the love of the sport. It was informative because to help grow this sport and keep this sport going we have to introduce youth into the sport.
The second course was Growing Mountain Bike Participation. This session was the most informative as it was aimed at an introduction about how IMBA and local clubs can work together to grow the sport. It was nice to hear about the options that IMBA provides the help local clubs to make it easier on the local clubs. After this session we broke for lunch where I was able to meet Gary Fisher and talk to him shortly, I got a chance to tell him my story of how I got into the sport, he was very gracious and it was nice to meet such a legend in our sport. The third session was Cycling Tracks to Pump Tracks. This discussed linking cycling paths (towpaths, bike lanes) and mountain biking trails so that a seamless system exists. It was interesting to hear of plans of cities across the country linking a biking community into one system.
The last day was the big day, a full day on Capitol Hill. I arrived briskly at 7 in the morning on the hill, grabbed a quick breakfast and stepped into my first meeting at 8:30 with Senator Sherrod Brown. Over the course of the day I met with six different members of congress, some out of our area as backups for their constitutes but most were from our district where I was able to push our agenda and make sure congress knew how important our cause is. Overall, it was a great experience and I learned a lot and I can’t wait to go back next year.

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