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Hurricane approves measures to increase mountain biking tourism

Hurricane approves measures to increase mountain biking tourism

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HURRICANE — In Southern Utah, Hurricane may be rising up as a prominent mountain biking destination.

The city council approved two measures last week that continued the city’s support of mountain biking events. Thursday, the council voted to continue providing emergency services for the Frog Hollow races in 2014 and to give a special beer license to the Hurricane Mountain Biking Festival.

Economic impact

Cimarron Chacon, of Gro Promotions — the company that puts together the 25 Hours in Frog Hollow and 6 Hours in Frog Hollow Races — told the city council the races are an economic boom for Hurricane’s economy, as participants of the 6-hour and 25-hour races bring an additional .7 and 1.3 attendees, respectively. Of those, about ¼ return a second time and another ¼ return a third time. According to Chacon’s survey numbers, the races infuse Hurricane’s economy with approximately $100,000 annually. City numbers were not immediately available.

Since the race began in 2009, Chacon said participation has risen from 73 bicyclists to approximately 375. She said the race has become more popular with out-of-towners since it was featured on the “Boundless” TV series. About 90 percent of participants are from out of town, she said.

The measures did not pass without opposition, however. Pam Humphries, a member of the city council, said she hopes the races will eventually not need support from the city. Chacon said that as the Frog Hollow races have become more popular, they have requested less help from the city. For example, in the past, the city helped with advertising.

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Councilman Darin Thomas said that while the races can be tiresome for city residents — closing roads, increasing traffic — the economic impact and awareness it brings to Hurricane and its trails could help the city long-term.

“I believe that the benefits to the city of Hurricane are not so much just in dollars and cents, but it gets people to come to our city and see what we’ve got,” Thomas said. “When I see people coming from other states and other countries spending their money here in Hurricane, it gives Hurricane a good name as a bicycle mecca. I believe that the more people who come and visit our city, the more people are going to want to bring their friends. The city will reap rewards in years to come.”

Thomas said the new mayor, John Bramall, has asked the economic board to look at what it would take to make Hurricane a destination for individual outdoor tourists.

“I believe we need to be proactive, economically proactive. Be open to these people,” Thomas said.

Tourism destination

Thomas, an avid road cyclist, runner and hiker, said he has traveled across the nation to attend races, but wants Hurricane to increase its status as a race destination and gateway to nearby state parks. Efforts like the Frog Hollow Races, Mountain Bike Festival and Ironman are helping with that.

“I’d like to see other people to be able to have those opportunities as well. Unless we educate them, they’re not going to know it’s here and once they’re here, we need to be ready to support that,” Thomas said.

Chacon said the terrain of Hurricane is a gem in the world of mountain biking, without travelling too far from civilization.

“The trails in Hurricane are just fabulous,” Chacon said. “We have slickrock single-track and amazing view back to Zion. There are several things about the venue itself. One is that it gives you the feeling you’re out in middle of the wilderness but you're really close to town. The way the trails and the course were configured, they’re ideally configured for maximum fun and maximum safety, in case there’s an issue. They have the perfect combination of sweeping, flowy, downhill, a little bit of technical and a lot room in double-track for climbing and passing so that we can add a lot of participants without having impacts on the trail itself.”

Thomas said supporting tourism in Hurricane is supporting future growth of a town he loves.

“Hurricane is a great small community, very family oriented, very friendly. You can probably go ask anybody at our local shops where is a good place to go and they’re going to tell you,” There are fantastic roads down here to bike ride on, trails to ride on and hike on. It’s almost like the Garden of Eden, like a secret, nobody really knows it’s down here. But there’s something for everybody and anybody to do down here in Southern Utah,” Thomas said.

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Celeste Tholen Rosenlof

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