A positive buzz exists among local business owners as they learn about and plan for new mountain biking trails under construction in Caliente.
A third in a series of workshops on the trails was held in Caliente Nov. 27-28, where businesses agreed on the need to work together to prepare, as the 40-mile trail system is constructed at Barnes Canyon and Kershaw-Ryan State Park.
The City of Caliente, in cooperation with the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension (UNCE) and the Lincoln County Authority of Tourism (LCAT), once again invited Over the Edge Sports to the workshops. Owner Troy Rarick and colleagues Paul Aieta and Brittany Phelps facilitated discussions with business owners and community members on marketing, event planning and general questions around building a mountain biking destination economy.
Rarick founded his business as a bike shop over two decades ago in the once “broke” Fruita, Colorado. That city now is surrounded by around 1,000 miles of trails, which generate around $50 million per year in economic impact. Over the Edge has expanded, with locations in Utah, California, Arizona, Mexico and Australia.
“Lincoln County is on the ground floor of what could be developed into something special and unique that can bridge the gap between economies of old and new,” Aieta said.
Caliente UNCE Educator Holly Gatzke said the evening meeting on the 27th was particularly impactful, as the businesses in attendance agreed to cooperate more and refer visitors to one another in order to extend visitors’ stays. Just 24 more hours would give a significant economic boost to the county, Gatzke said.
Business partners Mary Love and Jamie Van Roekel bought and completely renovated the Brandin’ Iron into the Side Track restaurant last spring in Caliente. They feel motivated by what’s happening in their area and agreed with the need for cooperation and preparation.
“That was his whole pitch,” Love said. “We have to work together as a county.”
Bud Sanders, owner of the Knotty Pine Restaurant & Lounge, said such cooperation has been key to his business’ survival.
“All of us owners know each and always help each other,” Sanders said. “I think it’s real important for everybody.”
Sanders added he feels optimistic that the new trails will bring a more steady influx of visitors, filling some of the slower times during the year. He said that any effort to bring more customers to the community is positive. More jobs means more young people can come back and raise their families here.
A steering committee has been formed and developed a plan to continue connecting with the businesses, monitor the needs of the mountain biking visitors and provide that information to business owners. A monthly email newsletter has been created by LCAT specifically for businesses to keep them informed on upcoming events. A business membership arm of LCAT is also in the works. Another email newsletter is going out to the general public on the county’s upcoming events. All of which is connected to the county’s tourism website, LincolnCountyNevada.com.
Teva Avery, who owns the Shady Motel with her husband Nolan, is enthused that the workshops touched on getting a map of all the mountain bike trails with directions to local amenities, the forming of a local mountain biking club and overall making the community more accommodating to visitors.
“I like what they said about just being really friendly,” Avery said. “That feeling that visitors leave with will make them want to share it with others, and bring their friends and family.”
With some trails already open and the entire 40-miles slated to be ready by Spring of 2019, plans are underway for a September 2019 soft opening event with the mountain biking industry and a grand opening event September 2020.
In addition to the evening workshop, Nov. 27 activities included a noon meeting on county tourism promotion and marketing at the Depot and an afternoon mountain bike riders meet and greet at the Caliente Skills Park.
The following day, an evening question and answer session was held at the Depot, as attendees discussed how outdoor recreation tourists affect Lincoln County life.
Around 16 business owners and community members participated in some or all of the meetings. A group of around 20 mostly young people showed up for the meet and greet at the park, and Rarick brought out some of his mountain bikes for riders to try.
The workshop series was funded by a federal Outdoor Recreational Tourism Assessment, Impacts and Opportunities RBED grant with the City of Caliente. The grant also provided an economic study, which estimated an impact of $636,136 in yearly revenue and nine jobs from 10,000 mountain biking visitors for the current businesses in Caliente. However the community could capture more revenue if additional tourism-related businesses were established. The study estimated if sporting goods, shopping, and entertainment businesses were added, the potential income would increase by $213,855 and three more jobs.
“More businesses that cater to mountain bikers will be needed in order to satisfy their thirst. Literally,” Aieta said. “‘Every trail leads from coffee to beer,’ as we like to say.”
Some local businesses are already adding services. Life Café Coffee & Roasting Co. is a mobile coffee shop that recently opened in Caliente. Kristal Romans, who lives near Pioche, recently founded Rocky Road Adventures, which puts on outdoor adventure races in the county. Tall Bike Ed’s, a bicycle art shop, plans to relocate early next year and expand to offer bike repair and rentals.
Dana Lee Fruend, who co-owns the business with her husband Edward, said they are making the leap because of the positive buzz they are seeing in the community.
“We want to be part of that movement,” Fruend said. “Because we believe it’s going to grow.”
Love said it has been helpful to talk with the Over the Edge folks to see what they’ve done and is encouraged at the dialogue going on with the businesses.
“Positive vibes,” Love said. “Sure we’re rural here, but I think we need to think big.”