According to Tom Sauret, Southeast regional director for IMBA, the organization established a system in 2007 that identifies and ranks ride centers, which are the areas and amenities that surround a biking trail. The scale includes bronze, silver and gold distinctions. There is only one gold ride center, which is Park City, Utah.
Sauret said there are only six bronze-level trails in the country.
IMBA ride center status candidates must be invited to apply by a member of the IMBA senior staff. Sauret will be sponsoring Coldwater’s application for bronze-level recognition.
Edwards said that according to his estimates, Coldwater currently has 53.5 out of a total of 100 points IMBA officials use to gauge trails. Bronze status is awarded to trails with a minimum of 55 points. He said officials can get more points for Coldwater once they create more challenging trails. Members of the planning committee also discussed connecting Coldwater to nearby parking and restrooms as well as establishing shuttle services linking the trail to downtown Anniston, both of which could increase the trail’s IMBA points.
Toby Bennington, Anniston’s city planner, said the key to attaining a higher rating is to provide more recreational destinations with bike rentals, areas for hiking, canoeing, etc. He said connecting all of these recreational activities together is the key to success.
“You’ve got to be able to connect all of these networks together,” Bennington said. “You’ve got to have more than mountain bikes and hikers to create the whole recreation picture.”
Sauret, who has been involved in developing the Coldwater Trail for the past two years, said bronze classification with the IMBA identifies ride centers that “people would like to come and spend a few days to come ride bikes and other activities.”
Sauret said Coldwater is different from other IMBA ride centers because it’s not a recycled hiking trail. It was made from scratch.
“We decided to create mountain bike trails,” Sauret said. “Everything on the mountain is optimized for mountain biking.”
The Coldwater planning committee will meet again Tuesday to discuss Coldwater Mountain’s pathway to achieving a gold trail and connectivity.