In May 2018 my family made the move from BC to the small town of Hillsborough NB. Drawn in by the wide-open space, being able to connect with family and a new adventure we told our western friends we were headed east. The number one comment was “But there is no riding in New Brunswick, you ride…a lot, what are you going to do?”
My partner and I knew that there were trails and specifically bought land 3 km off the Whiterock Recreational Area, but what we did not realize was the amazing and diverse terrain that has been developed into mountain bike trails across the Maritime Provinces. After settling in and connecting to the local riders and clubs, it became apparent that the east coast trails were the best-kept secret in the mountain bike community! Online searches result in very little content and word of mouth was the way to discover hidden gems.
After four months of immersing myself in the outdoor community, I found myself at the Holy Whale Brewery in Alma with the newly formed Fundy Bike Collective discussing how to link the trail networks and communities in the Fundy National Park Region. I suggested a marketing campaign to promote the area to increase tourism and exposure of the amazing assets that were being produced. Micha Fardy from the Friends of Fundy took the bait and off she went, chatting with her contacts in tourism to see if there was funding available.
Over the following six months the project proposal for the Fundy Region was presented to and discussed in detail with the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) and local members of parliament. Through these discussions, it was realized that this project could span the entire province of New Brunswick! But why stop there; similar conversations were happening in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. Connections in those provinces were made and it was determined that the mountain bike community was interested in being a part of a project as well. Everyone was thinking the same thing – we need to meet!
The first major milestone in the evolution of MTB Atlantic was the Roundtable in Keppoch.
Twenty stakeholders from the three maritime provinces came together to talk mountain biking and make a plan to put those trails on the map!
Through the development of a trip planning website, social media campaign, local advocate engagement and events, this goal would be accomplished and the key stakeholders signed off on the application which received the funding approval that day from ACOA!
Since that round table event in Keppoch, the project managers have worked together to evaluate trail networks across the Maritime Provinces and have reached out to NL to be involved. The website and social media channels were developed by Dose Media – a branding firm out of Halifax with deep roots in the Mountain bike scene in NS. The stoke is high on the project and the first Mountain Bike Atlantic Summit in Fundy National Park is a way to connect, collaborate and discuss the future of MTB Atlantic while celebrating the amazing trails and provinces we are so lucky to call home.
Contributed by Leah Knutson