Posted by Editoress on 04/25/02
Sprockids in Moab
by Doug Detwiller Sprockids
From April 18th to the 1st IMBA, The International Mountain Biking Association held it's second international summit, and Sprockids was invited to come and present its program to the world. The 175 international participants came from countries such as; Australia, Italy, England, Scotland, Wales, Canada, and the US, representing many of the movers and shakers from within the mountain biking community.
A conference of this magnitude could only be held in a setting worthy of such an event and IMBA chose Moab, Utah. Moab is one of the truly unique locations to ride in the world, and is on every mountain bikers Must Ride List. The accommodation for the conference was the brand new Red Cliffs Adventure Lodge and we were the first people to enjoy their incredible facilities. The lodge is 14 miles east of Moab and is situated beside the Colorado River, surrounded by the towering red cliffs that rise dramatically from the valley floor. The agenda for the conference was extremely hectic, but the first rate accommodations allowed each of us to relax between sessions.
As the Director of the IMBA/Sprockids Program I had been asked to speak to the conference on how Sprockids could play a major role in enriching the lives of today's youth. As an educator I have always looked for new ways to make learning, exciting, interesting and relevant to an ever changing generation of students. Mountain biking represents a fun, healthy, life long activity that is all inclusive, while teaching the participants many of the skills, values, and strategies that young people need to succeed in school and in life. In both the US and Canada statistics reports that over 37% of our young people are "out of shape", with some 27% labeled obese. It is time that we redefine the definition of sports in our schools and in society. We are missing a ton of our young people that do not "make the team" or simple are not drawn to team sports. Mountain biking is "cool" and gets young people motivated and out being active. For adults it allows them to rediscover the child in each of them, while providing them with an active way of coping with the stress of today's hectic life. Mountain biking can also bridge the generations and provide a common activity that can be experienced and enjoyed by all ages. As a parent you are no longer merely a spectator in your child's recreation, you become an active participant. When this happens the lines of sincere and honest communication open up.
At the Sprockids Seminar the audience contained a very diversified group, ranging from government officials, trail advocates, educators, youth programmers and industry representatives, to members of the press. I was part of a four member panel that spoke on the program. As the creator of Sprockids I spoke on the history, philosophy, and future goals of the program. Hill Abel from Austin, Texas, and Karen Morgan from San Jose, California, both coordinate a Sprockids Program in their respective areas, and spoke on their successes and challenges in starting up a program. Dirk Vinlove, the IMBA/Sprockids Coordinators mediated the presentation. The response of the audience was extremely enthusiastic and many new clubs are planned for the near future.
Every conference has its perks, and this one definitely had some very special rewards. The good food, great accommodation, fascinating people, mind expanding topics, and incredible location all came together to ensure a memorable and successful conference. But let's not forget that the participants were mountain bikers, and we had come to Moab to ride the world famous Slickrock! Each afternoon the participants donned their riding gear, filled their water bottles, climbed into the vans and headed off to ride the famous red rock of Moab. On Friday we all rode the incredible formations high above the town of Moab. For me this was my first experience and as the afternoon wore on my confidence grew. I found myself cruising down rock slopes that I wouldn't even attempt here in B.C.
On Saturday, after a busy day of seminars we all headed east to ride a long and grueling trail called, "Top of the World." After a lung busting accent , where we rode through a snow storm, we emerged on top of some of the highest cliff formations that I have ever been on. We were presented with an amazing view of the cliffs and a 360 degree, panoramic view of the unique rock formations and plains below. After taking in this marvel all that was left was to point your bike down hill and look forward to the decent of your life. We all emerged safely, back at the vans, with huge smiles on our faces and ravenous appetites. That night was the closing banquet and ceremonies that carried on late into the desert night.
Sunday was the end of the conference, and as we all said our goodbyes, we all vowed to take the energy and enthusiasm that the weekend had generated back to our individual locations and put the ideas and lessons learned into practice. The IMBA organization had put together an incredible conference and had left the participants with some memories that will last a life time.
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