Hautala speaks at National Bicycle Tourism Conference
SAN DIEGO — Aaron W. Hautala, president of the Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Crew (Crew), recently told Cuyuna’s story — from its mining history to the mountain bike destination it is today — at the National Bicycle Tourism Conference in San Diego.
“Cuyuna is the quintessential story of the passion around mountain biking that inspired purpose-built outdoor recreation,” said Mike Van Abel, president of the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA). “It’s been exciting to see this State Recreation Area rise from its industrial past to its now internationally recognized trail system.”
For the second year in a row, Hautala and IMBA led a breakout session at the National Bicycle Tourism Conference. This year’s talk was called “Mountain Bike Tourism: What Mountain Bikers Want.”
“We presented on the secret ingredients of what we, as IMBA, the Crew and the region have done to make the Cuyuna area up and coming,” Hautala said. “To become a mountain bike destination, you need more than trails. It’s about creating the best possible experience along the way.”
More than 200 tourism, chamber and government officials from around the world joined cycling advocates at the four-day conference held at the Bahia Resort Hotel and Conference Center in San Diego. The event was organized by the Bicycle Tour Network and PeopleForBikes was a presenting sponsor.
Travel Oregon, the state’s tourism commission, also presented at the conference and after hearing Cuyuna’s story invited Hautala to speak at their Bicycle Tourism Summit next year.
“Cuyuna’s story of transformation from its industrial past to a premier mountain bicycling destination was so inspirational,” said Nastassja Pace, Travel Oregon’s destination development specialist.
Since the Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Trails opened in 2011, the Crew has actively partnered with PeopleForBikes, IMBA, Explore Minnesota Tourism, Pedal Minnesota, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, and Crow Wing County to promote trail growth and cycling advocacy, both in Cuyuna and around the United States.
Currently, the Crew is raising funds to expand the Cuyuna trail system to eventually provide the opportunity to ride for three days without repeating a trail. For more information on the trail expansion project, or to make a tax-deductible donation to the trails, visit www.ForCuyuna.com.
“It is refreshing to hear all the great things happening in Minnesota with the Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Trails,” said T.J. Juskiewicz, president of the Bicycle Tour Network. “Turning Cuyuna into a national treasure that is attracting bike tourism to the region is a true success story.”
The Cuyuna Crew is a group of local volunteers who give back to the trails and community by hosting events, conducting trail maintenance, fundraising and promoting trail advocacy.