Biking association plans training course in Anniston
by Brian Anderson
banderson@annistonstar.com
Feb 23, 2014 | 3980 views |  0 comments | 76 76 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A cyclist rides the Coldwater Mountain trails during a race in July 2013. (File photo by Stephen Gross.The Anniston Star)
A cyclist rides the Coldwater Mountain trails during a race in July 2013. (File photo by Stephen Gross.The Anniston Star)
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If a small, tight-knit community of mountain bike enthusiasts in Anniston wants to grow, it’ll need a way to reach out to new riders, members say.

To increase the number of trainers and guides for the sport in the area, the International Mountain Bicycling Association hopes to host an instructor certification program at the Coldwater Mountain Bicycle Trails in March. The three-day, 19-hour course is designed to prepare more-experienced riders to lead groups of all skill-levels on trail rides in the area, and to help them learn to teach mountain biking to novices and beginners.

“Anniston has got some great trails, and so we’ve really wanted to build our base there,” said Tammy Donahugh, the instructor certification program manager. “But it’s not easy to go out on your own; there’s a high barrier of entry for our sport. So we want to get some instructors in the area that can make things a little easier for people.”

The course, scheduled to run from March 14-16, is IMBA’s level-one certification class. Participants completing the course won’t be certified instructors, but would be able to serve as guides for bikers who want to plan trips or use trails.

“It’s not as easy as it sounds,” said Darin Sims, an Anniston resident and four-year mountain biker who has registered for the course. “There’s quite a bit involved in being able to guide people on trails.”

The International Mountain Bicycling Association has been invested in the progress of the Coldwater trails, and has had experienced trail builders in Anniston aiding in their completion. Donahugh said getting certified teachers to boost the sport is the logical next step for the city and community.

“Mountain biking is a great sport for all ages, however, as with most sports, there is some amount of risk involved,” said Bobby Phillips, a member of the Northeast Alabama Bicycling Association and avid mountain biker. “The risk can be greatly reduced by being able to help newcomers to the sport by teaching them correct bike handling skills and methods for safely increasing their skill set.”

But getting younger riders involved in the sport is a challenge that the community hasn’t done a lot to address, Sims said.

“I’d say the average age of guys I see out on the trails is 40, 45,” said Sims, 49. “I don’t think a lot of youth even know this is here. It’s a great resource — we just have to get them interested.”

Sims said he hopes that after completing the course, he’ll be able to receive training that can get him certified to teach mountain biking to young people in the area.

As of Friday, only two participants had registered for the course, Donahugh said, and the organization will need at least three more participants to sign up before the March 5 deadline for the course to go on as scheduled.

Interested participants can learn more about the course and register at imba.com/icp.

Staff Writer Brian Anderson: 256-235-3546. On Twitter @BAnderson_Star.
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