OK, I borrowed this title from the first session we attended at the National Bicycle Tourism Conference last week. Moderated by Laura Crawford of The Path Less Pedaled, this round table event was a great start to the conference. Participants sat at (of course) round tables and a new presenter came to the table every 10 minutes. It was a great format to get lots of information and meet some movers and shakers in bike tourism. Nastassja Pace, from Travel Oregon, started our table off with details about their bike-friendly business program. There were two sessions from Adventure Cycling Association, one on bicycle travelers’ needs and one on safety, including the rumble strip issue. As we’ve noted in our own travels, rumble strip placement can be a real problem for cyclists, especially on roads with inadequate shoulders. Given my own background, I was intrigued by the data focus of Zachary Cole’s Understanding Mountain Bike Tourism as well as the Tracking Bike Tourism Success session. The round-table format is definitely a winner, and the speakers and topics were well-chosen. We left excited for the rest of the conference.
Maureen has written about much of the conference, so I’m going to fast forward to the final day, except to add a shout-out to Colorado’s New Belgium Brewery for providing the beer for the conference. I really enjoyed Snapshot, which they describe as “an unfiltered wheat beer with a flash of tart at the finish.”
On the last day, Maureen and I split up in order to gather as much information as possible. I went to a session about bicycles in parks and on public lands. The focus ended up being squarely on parks, which is perhaps appropriate, since 2016 is the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service. In conjunction with this anniversary, the Find Your Park initiative, and Adventure Cycling’s 40th anniversary, there will be a Bike to Your National/State Park day on September 24, 2016. The encouraging news from this presentation was that the National Park Service is slowly becoming more open to bicycling. Or, as the presenter put it, moving from a culture of “no,” to a culture of “maybe.” As with any large organization (bureaucracy?) progress will take time, but any movement in this direction is positive.
The final session I attended was a mobile session. This one, though, was designed to accommodate those who hadn’t brought or rented bikes. After meeting our leaders, Russ Roca and Laura Crawford from Path Less Pedaled and Ginny Sullivan from Adventure Cycling Association, each participant drew a card from a stack the leaders had prepared. The cards had roles, such as “self-contained bicycle tourist” “enthusiast planning to rent a bike at destination” and “family of four arriving by train with bicycles.” We spent the rest of the session, which explored the gardens of the resort, in groups with others who’d drawn the same role. Along the way, our leaders posed situations for which we needed to respond “in character.” The situations all involved challenges that bicycle tourists face, such as how to get your equipment to your destination or how to deal with hospitality staff unaccustomed to bicycle tourists. Maureen and I have faced many of these challenges in our adventures, and it was fun to think about them from different perspectives and get to hear other people’s experiences and ideas.
Our session ended on time, so Maureen was not yet back when I got to the room. I witnessed this scene outside the room,
which I assume was some sort of class or team practice. Then I decided to walk down to the beach for the sunset. Along the way, I stopped by the resort‘s seal pond (built to house rescued seals), which apparently was also home to two night herons.
The sunset was great, but the “vibe” of the beach area was definitely different on Friday night than on weekday mornings, so I made sure to head back towards the resort before it was completely dark.
As far as I’m concerned, the National Bicycle Tourism Conference was a great success. We learned a lot, met a bunch of great “bike people,” and got to have a few sunny days in San Diego before heading back to chilly Colorado. Hopefully, the inspiration will help us as we strive to move forward towards our goals.