Getting an International Mountain Bike Association (IMBA) Ride Center in Wausau, Wisconsin, would be a big deal, a coup for the local mountain bike club and the surrounding community.

Currently, there are 17 ride centers worldwide and only two in the Midwest: one in Copper Harbor, Michigan, and the other in Cuyuna Lakes, Minnesota. If things go right, Wausau could join this exclusive list. 

Hansi Johnson, IMBA’s upper Midwest regional director, thinks Wausau will ultimately get the ride center designation. “They will be successful. It’s more how long will it take,” he said. 

Johnson said the Central Wisconsin Offroad Cycling Coalition (CWOCC) is one of the more organized IMBA clubs with which he works. “They have the narrative in hand,” Johnson said.

According to IMBA, the aim of a ride center is to “create destination-quality trails and bike parks that appeal to beginners and families as well as experienced enthusiasts.” 

IMBA Ride Centers must feature a smorgasbord of trails and experiences – long, technical singletrack loops, lift-assisted gravity trails, pump tracks and bike parks. And the facilities must meet the needs of everyone, from families with young children, downhillers and cross country riders with a full range of experience. In other words, a rider center must meet the needs and wants of all members of the fat-tired tribe.

For the Wausau area to qualify as a ride center, all of its sustainable trails and bike parks would need to be within 30 minutes of town. Existing trails systems, such as what lies at Nine Mile, would need to be augmented with new trail connecting the parks. In any case, it is an ambitious undertaking.

The entirety of Mark Parman's column about the prospects of an IMBA Ride Center in Wausau appears in the June 2014 print edition of Silent Sport. To order a copy, call 888-706-4045. Or subscribe online here.