Dirt duel: Squamish resident claims legal ownership to Mountain Bike Capital of Canada title

Andrew Zwicker
By Andrew Zwicker
October 6th, 2010

With one fell swoop of a pen and a thousand dollar fee, Cliff Miller of Squamish yanked the title of ‘Mountain Bike Capital of Canada’ out from under Rossland’s feet (err tires) this past week. The battle of which mountain city is truly the mountain bike capital has since ensued with riders on both side of the spectrum voicing their opinions and questions over whose trails trump whose.

Long known as the Mountain Bike Capital of Canada, Rossland has had the phrase associated with it for roughly the past twenty years. When the Rubberhead race first got underway in the early 1990s, Terry Miller was heavily involved in the organization and recalled the beginnings of the name.


“I think it was as early as 1990 when we started carrying on the Rubberhead in Rossland. It started with some other guys who had a little bike event that grew and I ended up taking on more of lead role and started to ramp it up. I also had a little business in marketing and journalism and started arbitrarily splashing “Mountain Bike Capital of Canada,” on some press releases and documents. And it really took hold. We used it as a pitch to position Rossland as a great place to come mountain biking and the name just stuck. Some people probably wrinkled their nose and said, ‘who do you think you are?’ but It was totally a self-proclaimed title that we gave ourselves to promote Rossland as a mountain biking destination.”


Cliff Miller of Squamish, who is also the organizer of the Test of Metal mountain biking event, recently had the idea that he should trademark the phrase for his own town.


“It just hit me last year as I was driving the Trans Canada Highway that we should probably trademark it for some reason. It was available and it seemed like the right thing to do, but I don’t really know what we’re going to do with it,” commented Miller. “We can use the title to promote the community worldwide. That recognition gets some formal clout with this announcement.”


After paying to trademark the fee, Miller noticed (while searching the phrase on the Internet) that it was associated with Rossland . Miller then acted to enforce his rights over the phrase through a letter to Tourism Rossland.


“He sent us a cease and desist order that we’re not allowed to use it as he’s trademarked it,” explained Deanne Steven of Tourism Rossland who also noted that Squamish itself is not the holder of the title.

“We need to clarify. It’s not Squamish who has claimed to be the mountain bike capital of Canada but a fellow who happens to live in Squamish who has trademarked it. That’s very different. So because the City of Squamish is not behind it, Tourism Squamish is not behind it: it’s just one fellow on his own. In fact, we’ve never used that slogan as part of Tourism Rossland’s marketing material.”


If you buy and trademark a phrase does that make it true? That question is another that Tourism Rossland is asking.


“Our whole issue is that you can’t just buy a title,” added Steven. “I’m not going to go out and register the trademark on mother of the year. Buying a title doesn’t make it the truth. It’s something that you are awarded. In a lot of ways it’s a non-issue. We have actually now decided that Rossland is the Lawn Darts Capital of Canada. If Cliff doesn’t want us riding our bikes anymore, we won’t and we’ll trademark the title Lawn Dart Capital of Canada. That will make it so by his way of thinking.”


Various articles, Facebook posts and surveys on the subject have appeared over the last week, and if nothing else the controversy has brought a lot of extra attention to the mountain biking scenes in both cities. The mountain bike community has been intrigued by issue and message boards around both communities have been filled with Rossland vs. Squamish plotlines as riders plead their passionate cases for their home turf.


Should the now-friendly competition remain at that level, both sides should expect to win out of the debate through the free publicity generated.


“Maybe it’s getting the discussion going among mountain bikers out there and people are remembering that Rossland is a great destination for mountain biking, so it works out as free publicity for us,” added Steven. “Of course our other idea was that maybe we should trademark the name “The Real Squamish” [laughs]for Rossland.”


What do you think about the issue? Are you partial to coastal rain-forest descents or high interior alpine ridge riding? Are you a fan of testing your metal or hanging out with rubberheads? If you had to decide yourself who is the official mountain bike capital of Canada who would it be?

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