In some areas, a protected bikeway event ties in the use of a bike park. Blumenthal described one in Colorado where they took 40 acres and built a facility that has a multi-generational attraction to it. It contains areas for experienced mountain bikers and scaled-down trails easy enough for a kid who has just learned to ride.
“When I see kids on bikes, it not only hits you in the heart, but it hits you in the mind,” Blumenthal said.
John Edman, with Explore Minnesota Tourism, said Minnesota is on the cusp of a major marketing push, and it will use bicycling as one of the state’s featured products.
“We need to start getting a little more bold about how we promote Minnesota,” Edman said, “and biking is one of those areas where we stand out.”
And within Minnesota, southern Minnesota and Mankato stand out from the rest of the state, Edman said.
The extensive local trails, including the Sakatah Singing Hills State Trail the runs out to Faribault, and the Red Jacket Trail, which heads south to Rapidan, have been popular.
But biking is harder to track from a city promotion standpoint. Anna Thill, president of the Greater Mankato Convention and Visitors Bureau, said they’ve tried to get a handle on what visitors do when they come here by surveying people who have requested visitor guides.
When someone from Iowa comes to Mankato for the bike trails, they rarely stop in to the chamber offices and let them know why they came. But from those surveys, they’ve been able to tell that, of the people who came for outdoors activities, a big chunk of them came to ride the trails.
Trails and biking always have been part of the array of activities the Mankato area offers, but Thill said it wasn’t until 2011 that things really started to pick up.