Utah officials want the state to claim title as the mountain biking mecca of America, and slickrock country is expected to play a big role in the campaign.

Jan Wilking, Park City Chamber of Commerce president, said a movement is under way to promote mountain biking in Utah through a program modeled after the "Ski Utah" campaign.He said a "Bike Utah" vacation promotion is being planned by a new non-profit organization, Bicycling Utah Inc., to work with the Utah Travel Council and the state's nine regional travel councils in building Utah's image as a mountain biking destination.

Lynn Butterfield of Salt Lake City, director of the Golden Spike Empire Travel Region and an officer of the new bicycling organization, said the campaign has been in the planning stages approximately one year.

He said Wilking, publisher of Lodestar magazine in Park City, is soliciting membership in the organization and has been consulting with the group about marketing Utah as a vacation destination for bicyclists.

Bicycling Utah president is Larry Jackstein of Fotheringham & Associates advertising firm in Salt Lake. Russ Veenema, director of the Park City Convention and Visitors Bureau, is secretary-treasurer.

Wilking spoke last week at a Moab Chamber of Commerce meeting. The audience packed the Moab City Council Chambers to hear suggestions from Myles Rademan, Park City planning director, on developing Moab's tourist industry.

"Biking is becoming bigger and bigger around the country," Rademan said, citing figures that show the number of bicyclists has grown from 72 million in 1975 to more than 120 million.

No one area has been billed as the mountain biking capital of the country, a designation up for grabs for "anybody who gets out and promotes it," Rademan said.

Wilking said recent surveys show mountain bike enthusiasts are willing to travel to enjoy different trails and are likely to spend more money along the way than skiers do, because more working professionals are getting involved in bicycling. He said bicyclists also go all out to buy equipment and clothing associated with the sport.

"People spent $700 million on bicycle clothing last year, and it's growing at a phenomenal rate," Wilking said.

Mountain bikers logged 100,000 "bicycle days" in the Moab area alone last year, and that is only the tip of the iceberg, he said. What is happening with mountain biking in Moab can be compared to the early days of skiing in Park City that eventually revolutionized the town, Wilking said.

Wilking said the "Bike Utah" vacation guide would be similar to the "Ski Utah" planner distributed by the state Travel Council.

The promotional organization will be seeking $30,000 in matching funds from the regional and state travel councils to launch the promotional campaign by spring.

A long-range goal is to conduct a national magazine advertising campaign. More immediate goals are membership recruitment and producing the bicycle vacation planner for distribution through airlines, bike shops and travel councils, Wilking said.

Memberships for groups or individuals are $125.