Report - Scottish Mountain Bike Conference 2018 - Day 1


On the 22nd to 24th November 2018, Developing Mountain Biking in Scotland (DMBinS) hosted the Scottish Mountain Biking Conference – Future Proofing the Trail Ahead. A 3-day event the with the aim of aiding the continued progress of mountain biking in Scotland, sharing our innovative successes with an international audience and learning from examples of good practice from around the globe.

Scottish Mountain Bike Conference 2018 from DMBinS on Vimeo.

Key Aims of Conference were:-

• To highlight Scotland’s mountain biking success stories.

• To discuss and consult on the proposed Scottish MTB National Strategic Framework 2019-2025.

• To showcase how a wide variety of partnerships are delivering and improving mountain biking in Scotland. 

• Engage industry leaders and inspiring speakers to give global examples of good practice on sustainability and effective campaigning, to discuss the latest innovations - allowing effective integration into the new national strategic framework and,

• Enhance the Highlands & Scotland’s global reputation as a world class mountain bike destination.

The conference focussed on the key issues and opportunities which face the mountain bike sector in Scotland, Europe and globally. Held at the Macdonald Highland Resort in Aviemore within the phenomenal Cairngorms National Park. Day One focused on Tourism & Economic Development; Day Two on Sport & Participation; and on Day Three we held a Trail Summit where delegates initially took part in discussions on the new National Access Forum Guidance and the potential for a pan-European approach to education and training to plan, design, build and maintain sustainable mountain bike trails. The delegates were then taken to a site where a number of trails have been built without the landowners permission. Working with Forestry Commission Scotland (FCS) and a vast number of riders and other volunteers, they worked together in the spirit of the new guidance on specially selected hand built trails.

Working with event partners The Scottish Government, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Cairngorms National Park Authority, Edinburgh Napier University, Mountain Bike Centre of Scotland, Scottish Cycling and Cairngorms Business Partnership, the conference welcomed over 285 delegates from 15 different countries to hear from some of the world's leading figures in mountain biking. 

Download all the presentations from the conference.

Day one of the conference focused on Tourism & Economic Development. The conference was opened by Lee Cousins, Chair of DMBinS, who introduced the conference host, Adventure Syndicate Director, Bike Adventurer, Ambassador for Komoot, Shand Cycles, Apidura and Endura, the irrepressible, Lee Craigie

The first presentation was by Graeme McLean from DMBinS with an update on the work of the project and its partners over the last 3 years. He showed an inspiring video about a recent project that the team have been involved with around mountain biking and mental health. He also introduced the delegates to the new National Strategic Framework for mountain biking in Scotland 2019 - 2025, highlighting the key themes which DMBinS are proposing for the next 6 years. See draft Strategy here.

Grant Moir and Dr Pete Mayhew- Cairngorms National Park Authority delivered a presentation looking at the impact, opportunities and challenges in sustainable developing mountain biking not just in the Cairngorms National Park, but right across Scotland. See this presentation here.

There followed a talk from  Professor Geraint Florida-James - Edinburgh Napier University and Ed Shoote – DMBinS. Professor Geraint Florida-James, presentation showed just how Scotland’s current innovation centre is helping foster a culture of innovation in Scottish mountain biking businesses through collaborations with academia. During this talk Ed Shoote demonstrated to the audience the work that he has been involved in in the Tweed Valley and introduced the prospect of the Tweed Valley being the destination for a new Innovation Centre and a world class bike park. See Ed and Geraint’s presentation here.

After a short refreshment break Kevin Mayne from Cycling Industries Europe took to the stage and provided some amazing facts and figures regarding the impact of cycling across the board in Europe. He talked about the impact of E-bikes and the importance of lobbying and getting cycling on the public policy agenda. See Kevin’s presentation here.

Then followed a talk by Neil Walker from Cube Bikes giving delegates some very interesting food for thought on the future of electronically assisted mountain biking. Neil delivered some eye-popping statistics including soon almost 40% of their sales are expected to be ebikes, with a fifth of these eMTBs.

Following a short lunch break – David Henderson-Howatt, Chair of the National Access Forum alongside Kevin Lafferty from Forestry Commission Scotland and Karen Ramoo, Scottish Land and Estates to launch the new Guidance on Unauthorised Trails. They explained how the new guidance developed by the National Access Forum has been created to help mountain bikers and land managers understand different perspectives on this issue, in the context of Scottish access rights and to suggest ways in which they can work together and try where possible to find solutions. Download guidance here. See presentations here.  Karen Ramoo, Kevin Lafferty, David Henderson-Howatt.

Paul Errington founder of Northern Consultancy Co , brand ambassador and someone who has an outstanding record of suffering on a bike took to the stage next. His presentation centered around experiential (or engagement) marketing. A growing trend which involves marketing a product or a service through experiences that engage the customers and create emotional attachment to the product/service. In an industry so heavily focused on digital content distribution, Paul explained how we have in part forgotten how powerful a face to face interaction can be and how prospective client or customer is far more likely to engage with your product or brand while it is immersed in an experience.

Workshops were then delivered by DMBinS, Scottish Land and Estates, and Forestry Commission Scotland, looking at how will the new guidance help the management of ‘unauthorised trails’ and how exactly do we effectively plan for an ebike revolution. A marketing workshop was hosted by, Komoot, DMBinS, Visit Scotland and Scotty Laughland, looking at e-platforms and vloggers – how can destinations and marketeers work with trail platforms and vloggers to get their messages out. The final workshop was hosted by Cycling Industries Europe, MTBCoS with Highlands and Islands Enterprise and looked at innovation across the sector. How does the sector continue to innovate – create new products and use collaborations – both formal and informal to help sustain and grow?

The day closed with an incredibly inspiring and humbling look at the effect of the creation of pumptracks across the globe, by the legend that is Claudio Caluori. His company, Velosolutions are now building pump tracks across the world, including one each year, free of charge, in some of the world’s poorest countries, but his talk had a relevance closer to home. Many of Scotland’s new trail projects in the past 10 years have been pump tracks and urban trails, and he made a persuasive argument that the BMX-riding kids of today are the mountain bike champions of tomorrow. Amazing insight in words, film and stills into the work of Velosolutions, globally.

Day One ended with a Scottish banquet and a ceilidh to show all our visitors, that here in Scotland we know how to look after people!