Mar 29, 2013 10:58 PM by Russ Thomas - MTN News
MISSOULA - A local non-profit organization is making an impact on the local level and around the world.
If you aren't into cycling, and even if you are, you might not be aware that Missoula is the home of the largest membership cycling association in America.
"We're known globally. In fact, Missoula, Montana is known as one of the mecca's for bicycle travel in the world," said Jim Sayer, the head of Adventure Cycling.
Since it was founded nearly 40 years ago, Adventure Cycling has grown from an idea hatched by one couple, to a staff of over 30.
They bring a wealth of information to cyclist around the world, according to Sayer.
"We provide tours. We have five full time cartographers who help create some of the best bike routes and maps anywhere, we also have a great magazine, and then we do advocacy work to make America and North America a more bike friendly place," he explained.
Over 1,200 cyclers traveling hundreds of miles, made visiting Adventure Cycling part of their trip last year - and that's good news for the regional economy.
"States like Wisconsin have found that they are generating almost a billion dollars a year in economic impact for bike tourism. Many people are coming here and spending one-hundred to two-hundred dollars a day as cyclists, because you can't carry that much on a bike," Sayer said.
He added that his organization generates more than $5.5 million, much of which is invested back into the community as Adventure Cycling has been focusing a lot of its efforts recently on the local level.
Sayer says that even with a big following on a broad scale, they want to make sure folks at home know they are here for them.
"We've been more engaged in making Missoula a more bike friendly community. We helped start a group called the bike/walk alliance Missoula, that advocates better facilities for cycling, better education for drivers and cyclists. We've also helped start up a group called bike/walk Montana."
The Adventure Cycling team is excited about what's ahead in 2013, and believes they might see more cyclists passing through Missoula this year to visit their organization than ever before.
Sayer also says he is hoping for a grant will come which will allow for the bike trail that runs from Hamilton to Lolo to be extended into Missoula.