Rich Edwards and Joey Klein of the IMBA provided an overview of the economic effect the trails could eventually have on Calhoun County and the region, once their construction is complete. In a two-hour presentation, Edwards and Klein took turns talking to a receptive group about the potential gold mine that awaits once word spreads about the Coldwater Mountain bike trails — a 4,000-acre piece of land connected to downtown Anniston the region is hoping can become a hotspot for bike and outdoor enthusiasts.
“This is going to be a national destination, it might even be an international destination when it’s completed,” Edwards said.
Part of the trails’ appeal is their unique quality, Klein said. Coldwater Mountain, when development is finished, will be one of the only destinations in the Southeast made of completely prepared trails that are largely self-sustaining.
“These guys are coming in from all over the country,” Klein said of the trail builders on Coldwater Mountain. “And they’re getting up there, and they’re like ‘Wow!’”
Taking questions from those in attendance, which included Anniston Mayor Vaughn Stewart as well as councilmen David Reddick and Seyram Selase, Edwards said the mountain biking demographic is often made up of college-educated, wealthy and family-oriented individuals, who after a day of riding have disposable income to stay at nice hotels and enjoy a meal with their families. The Coldwater Mountain trails offer an opportunity for the city to take advantage of tourists’ dollars.
But it’s about a lot more than just outsiders, Edwards said.
“You have potential future residents coming here and seeing what Anniston has to offer,” he said. “Young people see there’s a lot going on.”
The next steps are advertising. Patrick Wigley, owner of Wig’s Wheels bike shop on Main Street and the vice-president of the Northeast Alabama Bicycle Association, said five years ago Bike Magazine published a feature on the Southeast that completely overlooked Alabama.
“They have an article coming out in July that’s only focusing on Alabama,” Wigley said.
Even more important, Klein said, is fostering a community that cares about bicycling — something Anniston has already worked toward by hosting events like the Sunny King Criterium and the Cheaha Challenge.
“You guys know how to throw a party,” Klein said about witnessing the Criterium for the first time. “Once you start getting events and festivals like that, the word explodes.”
Staff Writer Brian Anderson: 256-235-3546. On Twitter @BAnderson_Star.