Last updated Nov 2011

While there are some hurdles to overcome, we have also made significant progress and given sufficient resources, we hope to launch the first 'season' of mountain biking, hiking, and other trail activities this November.

Advisors, Team Members & Volunteers (latest additions, complete list coming soon)

  • Sebastien Pierrel, Jaakko Helleranta - Open Source Mapping Haiti (COSMHA) - think wiki maps, where anyone with a GPS enabled device can record data about the trails, waypoints, and other navigational aids, as well as terrain features, and upload that data to a free, open source map.  (See details below)
  • Michael Brown - Director/Founder of Serac Adventure Films. Among the most highly regarded and awarded adventure film directors in the world, with 3 Emmy's, 5 nominations, and more than 40 film festival awards.  They have signed on to direct a documentary-style film on the first pioneer mountain bikers to take on some of the undiscovered, epic descents and terrain hidden in the "land of mountains"  Currently scheduled for shooting in Feb 2012, the film with follow 5 icons and legends of mountain biking along with 2 amateur riders (read more below).
  • Doug Taylor - an American who has been working for nearly 30 years for Habitat for Humanity, and is currently living in Hinche.  He is starting a hiking/trekking guide service out of Hinche and we are looking to combine efforts on the broader offering of trail activities
  • Loyal Mehnert - "Everyday Journeyman" and "Travelanthropy" practitioner.  He is widely followed in the social media channels and will be spreading the word among adventure travelers who seek trips that make a difference.  He is planning a trip to Haiti this fall to scout a multiday hike between Cap Haitien & Hinche.
  • Amy King - active, passionate Haiti volunteer and uber connector.  It was thru her that Andy, Doug and I were connected. (click on Our Team > Village Leaders)
  • Rick Sutton - CEO, Plus3Networks and founder of Sea Otter Classic, the largest mountain bike festival in the world.  He is one of the legends of the industry and as an adviser, will lend credibility while also opening doors.
  • Gia Rapasadi - Brand strategists and Travelcology partner.  She is helping spearhead efforts to connect with brands and working on sponsorship efforts
  • Andy Tarbutton - core member of Travelcology Haiti project team, he spent 3 weeks in Cap Haitien working on scouting and assessing the opportunities for larger scale adventure tourism ecosystem.  
  • Tony Casseus - Extreme Bike Haiti is the only mountain bike tour operator in Haiti, and guides 1-2 trips a year.  Based in Cap Haitien, Tony brings local connections that will be critical in the early trips.
  • Sustainable Haiti Coalition - Doug Cohen, Jonathan Cloud co-founded this consortium of organizations and individuals that are coordinating efforts to bring Haiti to sustainability. 

Social Networks & Social Media

  • facebook page - we just launched to act as the social network hub for this project. Please connect through and 'like' the page, and then forward it to your network so we can start to build the fan count.  We will be launching a contest soon related to the movie (see below) and would like to have as many fans as possible when that goes live.

Logistics & Operations in Haiti

  • local guide - see  Andy spent 3 weeks in Cap Haitien with Tony and we all agreed that we need more resources on the ground to provide an exciting and inspiring experience for the initial mountain bikers that venture down.  Doug Taylor is now working with us to provide trail guiding services for hikers, bikers, etc.  We are continuing to look for additional resources who can guide the early trips while Haitian tour operators are mentored and trained.
  • travel - we are working with airlines to allow for free transportation of mountain bikes.  Already have an agreement with IBC Airways, which flies direct from Fort Lauderdale & Miami to Cap Haitien, bypassing Port au Prince altogether. We also have Vayama on board as a sponsor.  They have a landing page to assist with flight bookings indirect via Turks & Caicos They also have this landing page that describes the Mountain Bike Haiti project
  • logistics on the ground - As referenced above, Andy's visit revealed that we need to continue to identify sufficiently comfortable hotels and lodging.  There is one that is currently used mostly by UN personnel but the price points are high due to fuel costs to provide power via generators. Healthy and fresh food seems relatively accessible and inexpensive.  Doug can give us an assessment of options in Hinche.  We would ideally like to have all the 'approved' food and lodging options mapped out as part of The COSMHA efforts (more details below)
  • trail mapping - Community Open Street Map Haiti (COSMHA) is available to provide mapping technology and resources to develop open source maps for adventure travelers to use during their trips.  This will also serve as part of the marketing efforts to alleviate concerns about the trails and support resources (lodging, food, water, emergency care, etc).  See an example of a trail in south east Haiti.We would also like to invite the pioneer mountain bikers to actively support the mapping efforts by 'discovering' new trails and uploading their GPS data along with pictures, video, etc - effectively crowd sourcing the marketing efforts. This data can be downloaded *to* compatible GPS devices prior to setting out.  COSMHA team members are working with Doug Taylor and our team in Hinche & Pignon to train them on use of the system so that when they start heading into the field leading trips, they will begin developing an extensive map of the interconnected latticework of trails.  This will help not only with trip planning for adventure travelers, but also be a significant contribution to the local population, who have no maps of the existing footpaths that account for a significant portion of their transportation network.

Marketing & Outreach

  • industry sponsors - in various stages of discussions with Trek, Cannondale, and several other notable brands.  One of the requests (requirements?) for becoming a sponsor is that the company must make a multi-year commitment to supporting the local ecosystem by training Haitian mechanics, guides, bike shop owners, etc.  The film will highlight the local projects to demonstrate that the sponsor companies are genuinely committed to the long term viability.  Naturally, if Serac/Outdoor Adventure has committed to producing an initial promo film (pending financing) and is working to bring their own film school there on an annual outing, then this will accelerate the discussions with these sponsors.
  • mountain bike associations - IMBA is fully behind the project and prepared to send staff down to assess the trail system.  They will also promote the project to 35,000+ members, and are building a new division called IMBA Destinations that will offer trip planning and guide services.  Cap Haitien will be an early signature trip for them.  Nantahala Outdoor Center(NOC) is interested in coming down to recon the opportunity, and assuming they can meet their standards for safety, they believe they could organize a significant number of trips each season (Nov - Apr).  One of the ir senior team members runs an NGO on the side that teaches field medicine skills in developing countries, and they would consider Cap Haitien or Hinche as their Haiti HQ.

Film Project

  • mountain bike icons & legends - Rick Sutton, founder of Sea Otter, is onboard and helping with outreach to personal friends.  Hans Rey is very interested.  We also have introductions to Rebecca Rusch, Keith Bontrager, Fred Day, and a couple others.  There has been no substantive discussion with that set yet, but the basic pitch is pretty compelling, and again, Serac/Outdoor add yet another reason to commit.  I can guarantee we will have ~5 legends & pros in time for the December shoot.  We also plan to have 2 slots for amateur mountain bikers that will be chosen by contest (see below).  The contest will run thru the summer and entrants win additional chances by getting votes (in the form of likes) from lots of friends which will dramatically increase awareness of the project and encourage mountain bikers to book their own trips to this epic, undiscovered destination.
  • rank and file mountain bikers - To build up the hype, we intend to run a contest thru the entire summer in which the prize is a trip to Cap Haitien where you get to ride with the legends (see above) AND be featured in the film.  To increase chances to win, contestants will volunteer in their local community, use their social media channels, and get creative to try and gather tons of votes - all of which will increase awareness of the project and entice mountain bikers to book trips to this epic off season destination spot. The sponsors that are selected will also promote the contest heavily through their existing channels (web, retail stores, newsletters, etc)
  • Haitian film students - set up near Port au Prince to help teach a trade, but they are lacking interesting new stories, and rarely get the opportunity to work with US-based film professionals and students.  They are available to work on the crew however they are needed, we just have to cover the lodging.  Outside/Serac film school is looking into offering 'scholarships' to the local students when the US students travel down for the annual (hopefully) trip in December

Support Needed

Here are the main things we need help with(in no particular order, numbered for ease of reference)
  1. sponsorships - we need to speak with brands that are in the mountain bike, adventure travel, active lifestyle space.  What we are offering is the chance to align with a great cause and a long term project that will become a sustainable industry - ensuring a very long term exposure to a passionate, active, and VOCAL demographic.  They also get to be featured in the promo film with these icons and legends.  I am happy to spearhead the discussions with any contacts you may have.
  2. mapping - we need boots (& wheels) on the ground to map out a few of these trails, along with some lodges, food, etc so that there is a basic framework for us to show off.  We will add this to the facebook page and project website and promote your efforts.  There is currently no budget for this, but as we are out securing sponsors, we would be happy to add this to the budget that needs to be covered and/or help get a specific sponsor for the mapping portion (Garmin, Suunto, etc come to mind)
  3. local guides - Tony and Doug can train local Haitian's who want to become mechanics, guides, porters, etc, we just to start to get the word out so that we have a pool of trainee's to pull from.
  4. partner organizations - sustainable tourism will only be successful as the ecosystem grows to support the increased pool of adventure travelers.  We are initially focusing our efforts on the geographic area between Hinche and Cap Haitien to build up a density of service providers that can act as a template for other regions.  We will need a network of cottage industries including clean water refill stations, repair services, transport (bike, gear, people, etc), porters & guides, photographers/videographers, internet/mobile phone providers, local merchants and crafts, etc.  Any NGO's working on these areas would be greatly welcomed into our project.
  5. exposure - the more partner organizations we have working on this, the broader the exposure to the ultimate market - adventure enthusiasts who can be inspired to explore the trail system.