Five-hundred cyclists from throughout the world landed in Bentonville on Thursday (Nov. 10) for the International Mountain Bicycling Association World Summit, and Gov. Asa Hutchinson took the opportunity to announce a number of initiatives aimed at boosting Arkansas’ mountain biking and road cycling industries.
In a speech at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art on Thursday evening, Hutchinson said Arkansas will start promoting itself as the “Cycling Hub of the South.” He also announced a plan to form a Governor’s Advisory Council on Cycling to promote the health benefits of cycling and the industry’s impact on the state economy, in addition to working to improve cyclists’ experience on Arkansas trails.
The council will consist of one representative each from the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism, the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, the Arkansas Forestry Commission and the Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department, in addition to seven “at-large” members “with an interest in cycling and tourism,” according to a press release from the tourism department.
Gov. Hutchinson also announced a $309,000 grant from the Walton Family Foundation to help provide professional maintenance to five mountain biking trails (more than 200 miles worth) in the state that were deemed “Epic Rides” by IMBA, according to the press release.
With Ouachita National Recreation Trail, Lake Ouachita Vista Trail and the Womble, Syllamo and Upper Buffalo trails, Arkansas is tied with Colorado for the second most IMBA “Epic Rides” in the country, behind California, according to the release.
IMBA also distinguishes the cities of Bentonville, Fayetteville and Hot Springs as “Ride Centers” for their world-class facilities and high standards of hospitality. Northwest Arkansas has been designated the first ever Regional Ride Center by IMBA.
More information is available at www.Arkansas.com/bicycling.
The IMBA Summit, first held in 2002, will be going on until Saturday (Nov 12). It is the first time the IMBA has held its biennial event in Arkansas.