After much anticipation, representatives of internationally renowned mountain bike (MTB) trail builders World Trail have been in Eden the last two days to conduct the fieldwork component of the company's mountain bike destination audit.
World Trail director Glen Jacobs and general manager Gerard McHugh have undertaken the audit as a follow-up to the summary report prepared for the Eden MTB club to support its recent application to the Bushfire Local Economic Recovery Fund.
Eden MTB Club treasurer Stan Soroka said the outcome of the audit will be an important piece of evidence to influence ongoing funding applications for Eden to become a MTB destination.
"Having Glen Jacobs here himself is a positive step toward building Eden's credentials as a potential mountain biking region," Mr Soroka said.
Mr Jacobs spoke with ACM on Tuesday, and praised the suitability of the region overall, saying everything is pointing towards a positive outcome.
"Eden itself is already a wonderful destination, that marries in with the forest which links into the town, so close to amenities and services, that's a critical part," Mr Jacobs said.
"There's a great variety of hills, creeks and valleys on the proposed site. We visit a lot of sites and this one is quite amazing.
"It's very beautiful and that's what mountain bike riders want to see, somewhere they can ride from their accommodation for four to eight days, it pretty well ticks all the boxes," he said.
The impact of COVID has seen an increase in domestic travel. ACM asked Mr Jacobs if he anticipated that change would further encourage MTB as a more mainstream holiday and adventure activity.
"Very much so, we are experiencing it all over Australia. MTB has so many different layers.
"It is is most popular with the 38-55-year-old age group and riders often often travel in big groups, usually with their families.
"Mountain bike riders are good spenders who love the outdoors. Trails are sustainable and can be designed for all different levels of riders.
"One of the great things about Eden, you pretty much have 12 months of riding per year, positioned perfectly to be one of the top MTB destinations," Mr Jacobs said.
Funding for the audit was secured through the Business Council of Australia's BizRebuild program and was negotiated by the Eden Chamber of Commerce.
The audit covered six attributes that World Trail consider essential for a successful mountain biking destination including the potential for quality trails, the availability of pubs and accommodation and access to attractive natural features.
Mr Jacobs said the process from this point forward to completion could take anywhere from 18 months to 3.5 years, factoring in concept plans, masterplanning and then construction.
"It's great to see so many people backing the project. If everyone gets on board and champions for it to succeed, it will," he said.
"We expect to be back here soon. You have a lot of very proactive people here and a vibrant community."