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  1. #1
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    IMBA tired, old-fashioned PR Spin

    Spin (public relations)
    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    History

    Edward Bernays has been called the "Father of Spin". As Larry Tye describes in his book The Father of Spin: Edward L. Bernays and The Birth of Public Relations, Bernays was able to help tobacco and alcohol companies use techniques to make certain behaviors more socially acceptable in the 20th-century US. Tye claims that Bernays was proud of his work as a propagandist.[3]

    As information technology has increased dramatically since the end of the 20th century, commentators like Joe Trippi have advanced the theory that modern internet activism spells the end for political spin. By providing immediate counterpoint to every point a "spin doctor" can come up with, this theory suggests, the omnipresence of the internet in some societies will inevitably lead to a reduction in the effectiveness of spin.[4]


    <style type="text/css">P { margin-bottom: 0.08in; }</style> Mark E

    'Real' friends communicate uncomfortable truths to one another. For example I will let a friend know if they have food stuck in their teeth or if something dangling from their nose, etc. etc.

    Many of the issues being discussed here are BIG uncomfortable truths about IMBA and the direction they are pointed.

    How many people like me will you/IMBA choose to avoid, ignore, and marginalize before the chickens come home to roost?

    Maybe this is not a convenient place to hold a candid discussion (the many to one pile-on sucks for sure), maybe it is seen as a dangerous forum given some of IMBA's political relationships... That said how much longer can you afford to keep throwing PR crap at the wall to see what sticks?

    I don't have to tell you that mtbr.com is an 'enthusiast' site inhabited by very passionate mountain bikers who are well networked in the larger mountain bike community. Those themes about IMBA, coming up again and again, positive and or negative are already spreading rampantly like viruses.

    So, the question is:

    How will you and IMBA choose to respond?


    From where I stand it is clear that it is time for you/IMBA to engage concerned members of our esteemed community in a more meaningful way than what you have in the past.

    Unchanged, the path that IMBA is traveling now is that of a "Wedge" organization; pitting mountain biker against mountain biker, business owner against business owner, and non-profit against non-profit.

    Sounds like a horrible legacy to me.

    Why not change it?

    CB

  2. #2
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    CB, I'm right here, replying to you. No wedges. But I reject your assertion that every time I post a story that puts IMBA in a positive light it can be dismissed as spin. IMBA doesn't get everything right, but we certainly don't get everything wrong either.

    All of the examples I've posted involve real mountain bikers, with the passion and dedication you describe. Those people are getting value from their work with IMBA, and there are thousands of them. I'm sorry you feel "estranged" from those efforts.

    Here's another example: Southern Shred: Alabama's Coldwater Mountain - Pinkbike

    So, what are the big, uncomfortable truths that you want to candidly discuss?

  3. #3
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    "How many people like me will you/IMBA choose to avoid, ignore, and marginalize"
    If I were IMBA, and I was reading vague and cryptic accusations, like those above, I would ignore all people writing such things.

    If I were IMBA and were dealing with a few folks upset that IMBA could not clean up a mess of their own making, at some point I would have to ignore them too.

    If a small group continuously complains about IMBA's actions in their locale on this forum, and then replies to criticism by saying, "you don't know the whole story." Then that that small group should just STFU on this forum and keep their grievances local.

    Complaining is easy, solutions can be difficult. I have not seen anything constructive coming from the small number of whiners and complainers here the past few weeks.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by cjohnson View Post
    "How many people like me will you/IMBA choose to avoid, ignore, and marginalize"
    If I were IMBA, and I was reading vague and cryptic accusations, like those above, I would ignore all people writing such things.

    If I were IMBA and were dealing with a few folks upset that IMBA could not clean up a mess of their own making, at some point I would have to ignore them too.

    If a small group continuously complains about IMBA's actions in their locale on this forum, and then replies to criticism by saying, "you don't know the whole story." Then that that small group should just STFU on this forum and keep their grievances local.

    Complaining is easy, solutions can be difficult. I have not seen anything constructive coming from the small number of whiners and complainers here the past few weeks.
    Wow, this. Thank you for summarizing that.

  5. #5
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    IMHO, this anti-IMBA sentiment is simply what happens anytime something goes "mainstream." The organization and those who popularized the activity are accused of being sell-outs while the "real" "hardcore" or "pure" people take their ball and go back home to play.

    On the other hand, I think the dispute also has to do with a general split in the sport as to what types of trails are appropriate (which isn't necessarily the same for every place). The one thing I DON'T like about IMBA and modern trail builders is the tendency to put in a ton of man-made features, obstacles, and TTFs. In my view (which doesn't necessarily mean its rights), mountainbike trails should be build with as little disturbance to the natural environment as possible and using the local topography. IMO, something is amiss if you have to bring in a bobcat and heavy machinery to "clear" a trail and haul in tons of rocks and dirt to "manicure" it. There are a ton of great trails around the country that were built by nothing more than some dudes with weedwackers and McClouds.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheBigV View Post
    weedwackers and McClouds.


    I do like the TTF though, IMBA Au does an awesome job on trails and on the negotiations here... can fault them at all... they have done the ground work, funded, organised and built trails here that the pure, hardcore and real were to busy falling over their egos to even think about.
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  7. #7
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    This machine built trail thing:

    I've built trail by hand, with walk behind skid steers, and mini-ex machines. I hate building structures on trails. I do it anyway, when/if it's a good idea/the trails suits it, etc. but mostly, no. You ride the terrain. I've moved rocks around on a property to build rock gardens, and even had rock hauled in to build rock gardens. But many people, having looked at a system that I built partly by hand, and partly with a machine, can't tell the difference between the sections. Other places, it's clearly machine built (flow trails with rollers and berms tend to be a dead give away, although sometimes people will get hard core and hand build them) or clearly hand built (narrow exposed areas, you'd have to winch the machine off the side of a cliff to build....no thanks?).

    I think who is running the project, the machine, doing the design work - all of this matters. As a solo trail building show, I can tell you a machine is a MUCH faster way to build trail, and it doesn't have to look like a highway when you're done.

  8. #8
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    I think to suggest that folks who do no support the way IMBA behaves or that they are a small number is simply dismissive and in error.

    Further, if you have been following the discussions on this topic the ideas were neither "vague" nor "cryptic."

    Sneering is not valid argument.
    I don't rattle.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cotharyus View Post
    This machine built trail thing:

    I've built trail by hand, with walk behind skid steers, and mini-ex machines. I hate building structures on trails. I do it anyway, when/if it's a good idea/the trails suits it, etc. but mostly, no. You ride the terrain. I've moved rocks around on a property to build rock gardens, and even had rock hauled in to build rock gardens. But many people, having looked at a system that I built partly by hand, and partly with a machine, can't tell the difference between the sections. Other places, it's clearly machine built (flow trails with rollers and berms tend to be a dead give away, although sometimes people will get hard core and hand build them) or clearly hand built (narrow exposed areas, you'd have to winch the machine off the side of a cliff to build....no thanks?).

    I think who is running the project, the machine, doing the design work - all of this matters. As a solo trail building show, I can tell you a machine is a MUCH faster way to build trail, and it doesn't have to look like a highway when you're done.
    The truth ^^^.
    I'll take a machine built trail over hand built any day. So much easier to take care of.

    I get so tired of riding these "skinny" trails built by volunteers who barely scratch the duff off the surface, won't cut a bench and leave backslopes that clip pedals.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by ozzybmx View Post


    I do like the TTF though, IMBA Au does an awesome job on trails and on the negotiations here... can fault them at all... they have done the ground work, funded, organised and built trails here that the pure, hardcore and real were to busy falling over their egos to even think about.
    Do you have any specific examples?

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheBigV View Post
    There are a ton of great trails around the country that were built by nothing more than some dudes with weedwackers and McClouds.
    Actually, BigV, I believe that in many instances, even a McLeod is too much. While I have used a McLeod on many occasions to build trail, I think that it is far better, whenever possible, to trim back brush and prune branches if necessary, move any loose rocks that would be rolling around on the surface anyway, and then just ride the trail into existence beyond that point. If the sideslope is steep enough that tires slide downslope a bit, the repeated process of that happening over and over again, is oftentimes enough to just naturally bench the trail into the side of the hill. Doing this is difficult work, requires quite a bit of bike handling skills, and also requires a working knowledge of soil qualities and capabilities. (Which often change moment by moment, as you ride across different geological layers.) Building a trail in this manner also requires, as things progress to an interim stage, an acute awareness of how far toward the outer edge of the trail you can ride before the combined weight of rider and bike cause the softer outer edge of the trail to collapse. Paying attention to the moisture content and its effects on soil compaction is extremely important at this point in the game, and not all days are worth going out to work on a trail that is in this stage of development. (A reason that scheduling "trail work days" months or even weeks in advance, may result in a lower quality, overbuilt trail, rather than paying attention to and taking advantage of changing weather and soil conditions, as they happen.)

    Trails built in this manner may take weeks or even months of repeated and dedicated "riding in" by a dedicated and skilled trail builder or builders, before they are hardened in enough to open them to the general public, without some semi-skilled lout destroying them before they fully take root, but if you have the patience and dedication to establish trails this way, you usually end up with something that is naturally benched into the side of the hill in much the same manner as game trails, and looks as if it "just grew there", organically; as opposed to the huge scars produced on the upslope side of trails that are benched in with McLeods, and the contrived looking rock or log retaining walls that are built by trail crews in a hurry to "get it done today", rather than skilled and patient trailmasters, who are willing to let time, weather, soil conditions and the angle of the slope dictate when the work is done and the trail ready to be shared with the rest of the World.

    Ridden in trails tend to also only be as wide as necessary, as opposed to the "wheelchair accessible" wide sidewalks that are so often produced by well meaning volunteers who show up for "trail work daze."

    Another benefit of riding trails into existence, is that rocks that are buried in the tread of the trail, and not just loose on the surface, tend to stay in place, rather than getting dug out. There is actually a three-fold benefit to this, as 1: the trail is more technical and interesting than a manicured "sidewalk trail". 2: As mentioned above, it looks totally organic, as if the trail just grew there, as opposed to looking contrived and "built". 3: rocks that are firmly embedded in the tread of the trail help to slow and minimize, or even virtually stop erosion.

    If you go back after a few years, and look at most trails that are benched in with a pick, shovel and McLeod, you will find that the vast majority of them are "cupping" in the middle of the tread, due to the removal of naturally embedded rocks that would have been mostly left in place on a "ridden in" trail. Soon the center third of the trail's tread is so much lower than the outer edge of the trail's tread, that water becomes trapped, runs down the length of the trail and causes erosion. At this point, another "trail work" day usually gets scheduled to de-berm the poorly built trail, and the result is inevitably that the trail becomes even wider, even smoother, and more of the naturally occurring rocks that were originally embedded in the tread of the trail are removed, further continuing the cycle of erosion and trail "maintenance". Yes, "ridden in" trails can still experience the negative effects of cupping, especially if there are steep or fast sections of trail that precede sharp turns or other obstacles that require riders to brake hard, and where lesser-skilled riders and speed demon racer types tend to skid their rear wheels; but the erosion and cupping tends to be less than on trails where the original soil was so highly disturbed and "de-rocked", as if unfortunately so common on "benched in" trails.
    If more people rode more bikes, more places, more often, the world would be a more better place!

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by crank1979 View Post
    Do you have any specific examples?
    Example of what, IMBA au doing great stuff for SA trails ? Fox Creek is the best single trail network we have, with IMBA (Nick Bowman + others) and SAMBA the place wouldn't exist.

    Between SAMBA and IMBA we have Eagle, Fox, Mitcham, Prospect, Mawson trail, Melrose and others. These guys do an awesome job with advocacy, trail days, funding and all the other awesome stuff that puts trails on the face of the Adelaide hills.

    Read your Woolondilly site, see you are IMBA members... just wondering what your angle is with the question ?
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  13. #13
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    There are not many things in life that one can support 100% 100% of the time. I have issues with IMBA, namely that standards for Trail Centers are not that awesome. Basically I fear that in 10 years nearly every trail system that ever existed will be a trail center, and the point of the trail center will be lost... Only the best of the best places in the world should be trail centers.

    But I will still be a member of IMBA and support the cause because Mountain Bikers need their voice heard.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by blum585 View Post
    because Mountain Bikers need their voice heard.
    That is EXACTLY why we are having this discussion.

    If IMBA had in fact been listening to the voices of 'Mountain Bikers' this discussion would never have taken place... it would have been unnecessary.

    At the risk of being overly simplistic: Each community of mountain bikers and location is different. There is no "one size fits all" solution. Unfortunately IMBA's race to scale means STANDARDIZATION... so a "one size fits all" approach is what we're in for.

    If you look at the myriad posts on this topic a pattern is not hard to see:

    Folks from community's with fewer mountain bike advocates, facilities, and opportunities (parks, trails, etc.) stand to benefit from IMBA's more recent lobbying/scaling tactics. While areas with well established mountain bike advocates, facilities, and opportunities do not. This might explain why some folks are incredulous when I or others are critical of IMBA.

    It is often difficult to see beyond our own circumstances/recent experiences. Which is why discussions like this one are SO important...

    One size does not fit all.

    CB

  15. #15
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    Re: IMBA tired, old-fashioned PR Spin

    From what I have seen, IMBA trails look like dirt bike paths. 7 or 8 feet wide like in the link to Coldwater Mountain posted earlier in this thread. That doesn't appeal to a lot of mountain bikers including myself.
    The leg bone's connected to the Cash Bone!

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by ozzybmx View Post
    Example of what, IMBA au doing great stuff for SA trails ? Fox Creek is the best single trail network we have, with IMBA (Nick Bowman + others) and SAMBA the place wouldn't exist.

    Between SAMBA and IMBA we have Eagle, Fox, Mitcham, Prospect, Mawson trail, Melrose and others. These guys do an awesome job with advocacy, trail days, funding and all the other awesome stuff that puts trails on the face of the Adelaide hills.

    Read your Wollondilly site, see you are IMBA members... just wondering what your angle is with the question ?
    I'm just interested in the experiences of another Australian beyond what is in the magazines.

  17. #17
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    And this is the value of the discussion of this topic. There are no final answers, just shared info and developing attitudes. What are people afraid of?
    I don't rattle.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by CANADIANBACON View Post
    Folks from community's with fewer mountain bike advocates, facilities, and opportunities (parks, trails, etc.) stand to benefit from IMBA's more recent lobbying/scaling tactics. While areas with well established mountain bike advocates, facilities, and opportunities do not. This might explain why some folks are incredulous when I or others are critical of IMBA.
    You sound like my know-it-all teenagers. If you don't need your parents anymore, move out!

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark E View Post
    CB, I'm right here, replying to you. No wedges. But I reject your assertion that every time I post a story that puts IMBA in a positive light it can be dismissed as spin. IMBA doesn't get everything right, but we certainly don't get everything wrong either.

    All of the examples I've posted involve real mountain bikers, with the passion and dedication you describe. Those people are getting value from their work with IMBA, and there are thousands of them. I'm sorry you feel "estranged" from those efforts.

    Here's another example: Southern Shred: Alabama's Coldwater Mountain - Pinkbike

    So, what are the big, uncomfortable truths that you want to candidly discuss?
    Why are you feeding this troll?

    He is not interested in discussion, only bashing IMBA.
    15mm is a second-best solution to a problem that was already solved.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by cjohnson View Post
    Complaining is easy, solutions can be difficult. I have not seen anything constructive coming from the small number of whiners and complainers here the past few weeks.
    This^^^^ +1
    15mm is a second-best solution to a problem that was already solved.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by CANADIANBACON View Post

    Folks from community's with fewer mountain bike advocates, facilities, and opportunities (parks, trails, etc.) stand to benefit from IMBA's more recent lobbying/scaling tactics. While areas with well established mountain bike advocates, facilities, and opportunities do not. This might explain why some folks are incredulous when I or others are critical of IMBA.

    It is often difficult to see beyond our own circumstances/recent experiences. Which is why discussions like this one are SO important...
    Czar,
    As a 62 year old "teenager", 30-year mountain biker, 20-year advocate, and 15-year leader in one of the largest mountain bike communities in the world I think that this analysis is spot-on.


    Organizations can only form around a mass of interest and will survive only through actually doing what is seen as possible. Failing at what is desired can spell the end of ambient support and, ultimately, the group. Clearly intractable problems can preclude the building of groups in the first place. This can leave enormous numbers of mountain bikers out in the cold whether their style of riding or their political bent is reasonable or not. Remember, exclusion from access is generally unfair from the start.

    That IMBA has formed and survived says that it must have value somewhere and we are hearing from people who feel that they have benefitted from IMBA presence. Descriptions are formulaic and the model, when described by those who have seen their benefit, can be seen as spin as the concepts and language are so easily identifiable.

    That doesn't deny the validity of the effect but neither does it suggest the universality of the IMBA effect. That same approach leaves many out in the cold. To those folks the IMBA value, the culture, the language, the turn of the shovel and the swing of the polaski, do not achieve a desired result.

    IMBA is a major leader in our access work. As a leader I know that we take shots from all directions, including from quarters who do precious little to advance our cause. The frustration with such people of those who do this advocacy work is common and can be expressed in acrimony. I get that, believe me. Yet to presume that we who are organized represent the wishes of the greater mountain biking community is an illusion. To presume that because we are the ones doing the work have a greater right to our point of view defeats our sense of community.
    I don't rattle.

  22. #22
    Bicyclochondriac.
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    Quote Originally Posted by CANADIANBACON View Post
    Folks from community's with fewer mountain bike advocates, facilities, and opportunities (parks, trails, etc.) stand to benefit from IMBA's more recent lobbying/scaling tactics. While areas with well established mountain bike advocates, facilities, and opportunities do not. This might explain why some folks are incredulous when I or others are critical of IMBA.
    It is vague innuendo and loaded questions (such as this thread starter), not any well articulated critisism of IMBA, that many people react to. Your initial post here was just a series of loaded questions. Essentially a "Have you stopped beating your wife" post. Or in this case, "When will you stop beating your wife?"

    It is often difficult to see beyond our own circumstances/recent experiences
    Could not agree more. Pot, meet Kettle.

    Quote Originally Posted by CANADIANBACON View Post
    One size does not fit all.
    CB
    Exactly! Interestingly, your OP here is essentially calling IMBA to task for NOT fitting all sizes.
    15mm is a second-best solution to a problem that was already solved.

  23. #23
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    Here's a relevant story the shows how IMBA's trail building and advocacy efforts work in tandem.

    A few years ago, IMBA and NPS staff at the New River Gorge collaborated to build some of the best bike-accessible singletrack in the U.S. national parks system. Now, thanks to advocacy work and a supportive superintendent, bike access to these trails is about to become permanent. New rule opens New River Gorge trails to bicycling* - Outdoors - The Charleston Gazette - West Virginia News and Sports -

    Here's a brief account of the role that IMBA Trail Solutions played: Several Trail Solutions team members are hard at work in the New River Gorge National River, preparing for a massive influx of Boy Scouts armed with pulaskis, pick axes, and shovels. Starting in July, hundreds of Order of the Arrow members will be creating up to a mile a day of high-quality, backcountry singletrack in this dense, lush Eastern landscape.

    The National Park Service, not wanting to miss the opportunity, has retained Trail Solutions to design the system and "train the trainers" in preparation for next month's work. Trail Specialists are also reconstructing old road beds to remediate drainage problems and make them into singletrack.

    All told, the partnership of the National Park Service, the Boy Scouts of America, and IMBA's Trail Solutions program is going to result in a new, world-class trail system for the Mid-Atlantic region.

    http://www.imba.com/blog/chris-bernh...national-river

    And here's a (now expired) IMBA action alert that points to the advocacy work we did that ultimately succeeded in changing the NPS rule-making proceedures, so that these trails could be given status for permanent bike access.

    Action Alert! Help the NPS Formalize Bike Access to Trails at the New River Gorge

    The National Park Service (NPS) at New River Gorge National River, West Virginia, is now accepting comments on a regulation change that would continue to allow bicycle access to many miles of natural-surface trail in the park.

    Included is a 12.8-mile, stacked-loop system of singletrack trails that was built as the result of a partnership between the Boy Scouts of America, IMBA Trail Solutions and the NPS. Of the trail, the NPS says: "The four mountain bike loops, rated from moderate to difficult, await adventuresome riders. In one of the largest youth service projects in National Park Service history, the Scouts provided 78,544 volunteer hours, valued at $1.6 million, to build the trails in 2011."

    Take Action! Submit your comments here in support of mountain biking at New River Gorge. Comments are due by October 26, 2012.

    Although mountain bikes are currently allowed on the trails, this rule change will make that access permanent.

    Here are a few suggestions to include in your comments:

    I support this regulatory change because it will permanatly allow mountain bike access to the trails currently being enjoyed and stewarded by the mountain bike community.
    These trails are the result of a strong public/private partnership with broad local support. They were built and maintained by a contribution of more than $1.2 million in volunteer time and efforts from the Boy Scouts of America and the International Mountian Bicycling Association.
    Mountain biking is a popular activity with children will attract a younger demographic to the park. This will help to foster a love for the great outdoors, environmental stewardship and support for National Parks.

    http://www.imba.com/alert/help-nps-f...ew-river-gorge

  24. #24
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    @Mark E

    Your cut and paste skills of what has been posted on Twitter, Facebook, and all the social media is great. I saw the above many times before this post.

    Your skills to read, think, and reply, however, are lacking, from what I see in this thread. You have not replied to any of the other comments and questions, but have artfully danced around them. I will bet that most, if not all of what you have posted here was written by someone else.

    I guess all that politicking in Washington makes you more of a spin doctor than a communications director, at least with the common grass roots folk here.

    Thanks to everyone else who has posted some original thoughts in this thread, your candor and feelings, even of anger and frustration, are straight forward, and offer some valuable food for thought.
    "The physician heals, Nature makes well" - real fortune cookie

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  25. #25
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    Slocaus, I'm quoting from materials that I wrote. I've tried to answer the questions posed on this thread. Which ones still need a reply, in your mind? I'll try to be artless ...

  26. #26
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    I think it unfair to bash IMBA for I suppose pussifying trails such as in the Coldwater video. This thread exemplifies the diversity of builders and riders, from what I call riding deer trails in to proper machine building. Each has it's place there is no one type fits all especially considering terrain, rainfall and geology variances coast to coast.

    But I must say the Alabama video illustrates a balance of technical and buff downhill, no doubt fun to ride and preferred by the majority. You hardcores should be happy that IMBA distracts the masses from your technical down hill trails which are probably unsustainabe with high traffic. And if you come to Eastern PA I will show you plenty of abandoned gnarly technical down hill just waiting to be revived. As for me I prefer a little Moto influence downhill and so do my customers.

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bike Doc View Post
    Actually, BigV, I believe that in many instances, even a McLeod is too much. While I have used a McLeod on many occasions to build trail, I think that it is far better, whenever possible, to trim back brush and prune branches if necessary, move any loose rocks that would be rolling around on the surface anyway, and then just ride the trail into existence beyond that point. If the sideslope is steep enough that tires slide downslope a bit, the repeated process of that happening over and over again, is oftentimes enough to just naturally bench the trail into the side of the hill. Doing this is difficult work, requires quite a bit of bike handling skills, and also requires a working knowledge of soil qualities and capabilities. (Which often change moment by moment, as you ride across different geological layers.) Building a trail in this manner also requires, as things progress to an interim stage, an acute awareness of how far toward the outer edge of the trail you can ride before the combined weight of rider and bike cause the softer outer edge of the trail to collapse. Paying attention to the moisture content and its effects on soil compaction is extremely important at this point in the game, and not all days are worth going out to work on a trail that is in this stage of development. (A reason that scheduling "trail work days" months or even weeks in advance, may result in a lower quality, overbuilt trail, rather than paying attention to and taking advantage of changing weather and soil conditions, as they happen.)

    Trails built in this manner may take weeks or even months of repeated and dedicated "riding in" by a dedicated and skilled trail builder or builders, before they are hardened in enough to open them to the general public, without some semi-skilled lout destroying them before they fully take root, but if you have the patience and dedication to establish trails this way, you usually end up with something that is naturally benched into the side of the hill in much the same manner as game trails, and looks as if it "just grew there", organically; as opposed to the huge scars produced on the upslope side of trails that are benched in with McLeods, and the contrived looking rock or log retaining walls that are built by trail crews in a hurry to "get it done today", rather than skilled and patient trailmasters, who are willing to let time, weather, soil conditions and the angle of the slope dictate when the work is done and the trail ready to be shared with the rest of the World.

    Ridden in trails tend to also only be as wide as necessary, as opposed to the "wheelchair accessible" wide sidewalks that are so often produced by well meaning volunteers who show up for "trail work daze."

    Another benefit of riding trails into existence, is that rocks that are buried in the tread of the trail, and not just loose on the surface, tend to stay in place, rather than getting dug out. There is actually a three-fold benefit to this, as 1: the trail is more technical and interesting than a manicured "sidewalk trail". 2: As mentioned above, it looks totally organic, as if the trail just grew there, as opposed to looking contrived and "built". 3: rocks that are firmly embedded in the tread of the trail help to slow and minimize, or even virtually stop erosion.

    If you go back after a few years, and look at most trails that are benched in with a pick, shovel and McLeod, you will find that the vast majority of them are "cupping" in the middle of the tread, due to the removal of naturally embedded rocks that would have been mostly left in place on a "ridden in" trail. Soon the center third of the trail's tread is so much lower than the outer edge of the trail's tread, that water becomes trapped, runs down the length of the trail and causes erosion. At this point, another "trail work" day usually gets scheduled to de-berm the poorly built trail, and the result is inevitably that the trail becomes even wider, even smoother, and more of the naturally occurring rocks that were originally embedded in the tread of the trail are removed, further continuing the cycle of erosion and trail "maintenance". Yes, "ridden in" trails can still experience the negative effects of cupping, especially if there are steep or fast sections of trail that precede sharp turns or other obstacles that require riders to brake hard, and where lesser-skilled riders and speed demon racer types tend to skid their rear wheels; but the erosion and cupping tends to be less than on trails where the original soil was so highly disturbed and "de-rocked", as if unfortunately so common on "benched in" trails.
    Mate, you are kidding yourself. This minimalist method of building comes from a mixture of laziness, selfishness (the builder does not want to appeal to the masses) and failure to recognise that trails built this way do blow out and fail more fatally than those built to last. It's a bit of a fantasy to say that rocks will never erode out of an unmade trail. When average riders avoid a trail that has no flow because it was not made to have flow, things just change more slowly. Add one moto and you have a disaster. Failure to plan for erosion mostly means repairs are impossible and the trail just gets nastier over time. Not sure what your land manager thinks, but ours is less than impressed with 6" wide slide zones over massive exposure. They want us to fix the results of the style of trail building you advocate. While we do that, the dudes who "crafted" it are off scratching out more of the same elsewhere.

    I have my issues with IMBA too, not least of which is excluding local volunteers from decision-making with the LM. However, linking IMBA to dumbed-down building is no more fair than saying no such trails should exist because they do not suit YOU. Quality trailwork is not just about width, manufactured features rather than natural and it does not exclude tech trails. The sort of building you are happy with is not the result of care, but more of a desire to see great distance made fast. We don't all get to ride a line in on bedrock, but that is pretty much the only type of terrain that sustains minimalist construction.

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    I have never seen a trail "ride in" in any kind of acceptable way.

    And de-berming is a fact of life with hand built trails. A plate compacter helps, but doesn't completely eliminate the need. The nice thing is that a properly benched trail will need to be de-bermed once in the first 2 years after its built, then perhaps never again.

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    Quote Originally Posted by slocaus View Post
    @Mark E


    Your skills to read, think, and reply, however, are lacking, from what I see in this thread. You have not replied to any of the other comments and questions, but have artfully danced around them. I will bet that most, if not all of what you have posted here was written by someone else.
    To be honest, I'm not seeing any straightforward questions being asked. You can tell that this thread is just a continuation of some larger "discussion." No one's being specific about anything. So what's the point except to blow-off some steam?

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    Hmmm... To Summarize:

    Group A: We're mad at IMBA, they're not the best at local engagement and we have some legitimate or not reason, waaah, they're horrible and I want to waah about it everywhere I can.

    IMBA: We aren't good at everything. But look look look, we have success after success so we must be doing something right. I mean, right, right, am I right, huh?

    My $0.02: If you grow your local roots and relationships and act like big boys and girls (forget about your trail and riding style for a second), you can muscle IMBA out of your area or negate the need for them to show up. It takes work and effort and time to figure out, but we all have day jobs right? Or you give up some autonomy and bring in a working template and infrastructure from IMBA and deal with it.

    If IMBA wants into an area where the work, effort, and time have been spent to make it work; then its up to the locals to decide what to do. IMBA's in the passenger seat, tough turkeys even if IMBA isn't the biggest kid on the playground. Respect the successes where they are, it shouldn't be IMBA's perogative to be acquisitive of local orgs/clubs just because IMBA can.

    If another group of locals forms up and has some mass, maybe that first org didn't actually put the majority first/was narrow-minded or try just didn't think it WAS necessary to build consensus within the community. Self-awareness is a key to success.

    We NEED a big org like IMBA. We need it to be slick, spin, wealthy and able to wield influence/advocate on a national level, it sucks, but that's who we're playing against just to keep from losing access. The list of allied anti-mtb orgs is vast and wide and well monied.

    If IMBA could focus on that piece and excel, I think everyone everywhere would benefit and probably be happy. But, there is a need for someone to help those folks with day jobs out who also fight the good fight and that's where it can and does get messy.

  31. #31
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    Mountain Bike Advocacy Usurped

    Originally Posted by slocaus View Post
    @Mark E


    Your skills to read, think, and reply, however, are lacking, from what I see in this thread. You have not replied to any of the other comments and questions, but have artfully danced around them. I will bet that most, if not all of what you have posted here was written by someone else.
    Quote Originally Posted by PhxChem View Post
    To be honest, I'm not seeing any straightforward questions being asked. You can tell that this thread is just a continuation of some larger "discussion." No one's being specific about anything. So what's the point except to blow-off some steam?

    THE POINT:

    The issues I raised with Mark E / IMBA relating to IMBA using Spin tactics require quite a bit of background reading and discussion so that they might be fleshed out to become "straightforward questions".

    Here are the relevant links:
    Mountain Bikers, Has IMBA Lost it's Soul?

    Betterride drops IMBA

    Has IMBA Lost It's Soul? I asked this question and stated my case and suddenly I am a IMBA hater?! What has happened to thoughtful discussion these days? | LinkedIn

    The intent of this particular thread is to confront but one of IMBA's issues, a double standard: IMBA uses the media (print and digital) as propaganda in an effort to spread their message, and to enhance their brand and image... and yet when members of IMBA and the mountain bike community criticise IMBA in the same media, IMBA's M.O. has been that of a bully; criticizing, marginalizing, etc.

    The rationale is simple: IMBA generally tries to take the discussion underground so it does not happen on-line because digital info proliferates throughout the web... and it becomes an expensive clean-up job.

    Relating to the "Larger Discussion":

    Legitimate mountain bike advocacy is mountain bike advocacy by the consent of the mountain bikers.

    Mountain Bike Advocacy has historically been a "Grass Roots", "Local" activity. So it stands to reason that "consent of the mountain bikers" has historically been at the "Local" level. When IMBA derrived a larger portion of it's operating budget from membership dues, it's members had significant influence over "Grass Roots", "Local" agendas. However, once IMBA started taking larger sums of money from Federal and National entitiies, IMBA's membership began to loose their influence over "Grass Roots" and "Local" agendas. That trend has continued to accellerate. IMBA is NO LONGER mountain bike advocacy by the consent of the mountain bikers.

    Absent a voting mechanism for it's membership, the only check on IMBA's exercise of power is their own sense of restraint. Based on the issues raised in the links above it appears that IMBA has not and perhaps cannot, restrain themselves. If so, we are witnessing the end of grass roots, local mountain bike advocacy.

    Your thoughts and voice would be a welcome addition to the discussion.

    CB

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    All valid points, very articulate re: Larger Discussion.

    There is a need though to move to more coherent organized regional or national interfaces that match the organization of the "clients", i.e. BLM, Nat Parks, State Parks, Etc. That said, the dues paying member should be IMBA's number one client and priority. A small group of locals just isn't going to have the efficiencies available to it to influence large government bureaucracies in an environment that has limited local government resources and consolidated most decision making in the name of efficiency.

    When a small group of locals does run into a misalignment, I can imagine things get difficult. One group is focused on a larger relationship, where the other has an isolated view point, but relevant.

    That said, if IMBA is receiving financial compensation from one group and the govt "client" isn't paying, there should be no doubt where IMBA's incentives lie and focus should be given to managing it delicately. Under Promise and Over Deliver goes well both ways if you're IMBA.

    If IMBA doesn't feel it can deliver to one group or the other, it should be clear and communicate that as soon as its at that point. If they feel they are unable to help their constituency because it may harm larger or other relationships & efforts, then they probably missed the communication boat somewhere on their roles and responsibilities and being in tune with an issue. i.e. if you are aligned locally, you'd either never engage in a losing relationship or you would have been infront of issues before they become a zero-sum game.

    There are always exceptions and belligerent people. Again, if an individual is putting a couple other individuals' advocacy wants in front of the greater community's, that person is probably in the wrong and deserve what's coming. And if said individual is a "leader" and only focusing on one segment of your community (just cause someone doen't pay dues in your org doesn't mean thery are not part of the community), then it will probably be impossible to get them to see the shortcoming of their strategy or focus.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CANADIANBACON View Post
    Legitimate mountain bike advocacy is mountain bike advocacy by the consent of the mountain bikers.

    Mountain Bike Advocacy has historically been a "Grass Roots", "Local" activity. So it stands to reason that "consent of the mountain bikers" has historically been at the "Local" level. When IMBA derrived a larger portion of it's operating budget from membership dues, it's members had significant influence over "Grass Roots", "Local" agendas. However, once IMBA started taking larger sums of money from Federal and National entitiies, IMBA's membership began to loose their influence over "Grass Roots" and "Local" agendas. That trend has continued to accellerate. IMBA is NO LONGER mountain bike advocacy by the consent of the mountain bikers.

    Absent a voting mechanism for it's membership, the only check on IMBA's exercise of power is their own sense of restraint. Based on the issues raised in the links above it appears that IMBA has not and perhaps cannot, restrain themselves. If so, we are witnessing the end of grass roots, local mountain bike advocacy.

    Your thoughts and voice would be a welcome addition to the discussion.

    CB
    Winner, winner, chicken dinner.

    Well said.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CANADIANBACON View Post
    THE POINT:

    The issues I raised with Mark E / IMBA relating to IMBA using Spin tactics require quite a bit of background reading and discussion so that they might be fleshed out to become "straightforward questions".

    Here are the relevant links:
    Mountain Bikers, Has IMBA Lost it's Soul?

    Betterride drops IMBA

    Has IMBA Lost It's Soul? I asked this question and stated my case and suddenly I am a IMBA hater?! What has happened to thoughtful discussion these days? | LinkedIn

    The intent of this particular thread is to confront but one of IMBA's issues, a double standard: IMBA uses the media (print and digital) as propaganda in an effort to spread their message, and to enhance their brand and image... and yet when members of IMBA and the mountain bike community criticise IMBA in the same media, IMBA's M.O. has been that of a bully; criticizing, marginalizing, etc.

    The rationale is simple: IMBA generally tries to take the discussion underground so it does not happen on-line because digital info proliferates throughout the web... and it becomes an expensive clean-up job.

    Relating to the "Larger Discussion":

    Legitimate mountain bike advocacy is mountain bike advocacy by the consent of the mountain bikers.

    Mountain Bike Advocacy has historically been a "Grass Roots", "Local" activity. So it stands to reason that "consent of the mountain bikers" has historically been at the "Local" level. When IMBA derrived a larger portion of it's operating budget from membership dues, it's members had significant influence over "Grass Roots", "Local" agendas. However, once IMBA started taking larger sums of money from Federal and National entitiies, IMBA's membership began to loose their influence over "Grass Roots" and "Local" agendas. That trend has continued to accellerate. IMBA is NO LONGER mountain bike advocacy by the consent of the mountain bikers.

    Absent a voting mechanism for it's membership, the only check on IMBA's exercise of power is their own sense of restraint. Based on the issues raised in the links above it appears that IMBA has not and perhaps cannot, restrain themselves. If so, we are witnessing the end of grass roots, local mountain bike advocacy.

    Your thoughts and voice would be a welcome addition to the discussion.

    CB
    You have still not articulated any straightforward question to answer

    Loaded questions don't count

    If your point is that IMBA mostly decines invitations to swim in troll-infested waters created on internet on-line forums like MTBR, this is true. IMO, it is a sign of maturity, not conspiracy.
    15mm is a second-best solution to a problem that was already solved.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CANADIANBACON View Post
    Mountain Bike Advocacy has historically been a "Grass Roots", "Local" activity. So it stands to reason that "consent of the mountain bikers" has historically been at the "Local" level. When IMBA derrived a larger portion of it's operating budget from membership dues, it's members had significant influence over "Grass Roots", "Local" agendas. However, once IMBA started taking larger sums of money from Federal and National entitiies, IMBA's membership began to loose their influence over "Grass Roots" and "Local" agendas. That trend has continued to accellerate. IMBA is NO LONGER mountain bike advocacy by the consent of the mountain bikers.
    So you never ride outside of your "Local" trail system? That's sad. There are so many killer trails around the country that your "Local" crew had no part in making accessible to mountain biking. Bummer for you!

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    Re: IMBA tired, old-fashioned PR Spin

    [QUOTE=thefriar;10854945]Hmmm... To Summarize:

    Group A: We're mad at IMBA, they're not the best at local engagement and we have some legitimate or not reason, waaah, they're horrible and I want to waah about it everywhere I can.

    IMBA: We aren't good at everything. But look look look, we have success after success so we must be doing something right. I mean, right, right, am I right, huh?

    My $0.02: If you grow your local roots and relationships and act like big boys and girls (forget about your trail and riding style for a second), you can muscle IMBA out of your area or negate the need for them to show up. It takes work and effort and time to figure out, but we all have day jobs right? Or you give up some autonomy and bring in a working template and infrastructure from IMBA and deal with it.

    If IMBA wants into an area where the work, effort, and time have been spent to make it work; then its up to the locals to decide what to do. IMBA's in the passenger seat, tough turkeys even if IMBA isn't the biggest kid on the playground. Respect the successes where they are, it shouldn't be IMBA's perogative to be acquisitive of local orgs/clubs just because IMBA can.

    If another group of locals forms up and has some mass, maybe that first org didn't actually put the majority first/was narrow-minded or try just didn't think it WAS necessary to build consensus within the community. Self-awareness is a key to success.


    Quote Originally Posted by Bike Doc View Post
    Actually, BigV, I believe that in many instances, even a McLeod is too much. While I have used a McLeod on many occasions to build trail, I think that it is far better, whenever possible, to trim back brush and prune branches if necessary, move any loose rocks that would be rolling around on the surface anyway, and then just ride the trail into existence beyond that point. If the sideslope is steep enough that tires slide downslope a bit, the repeated process of that happening over and over again, is oftentimes enough to just naturally bench the trail into the side of the hill. Doing this is difficult work, requires quite a bit of bike handling skills, and also requires a working knowledge of soil qualities and capabilities. (Which often change moment by moment, as you ride across different geological layers.) Building a trail in this manner also requires, as things progress to an interim stage, an acute awareness of how far toward the outer edge of the trail you can ride before the combined weight of rider and bike cause the softer outer edge of the trail to collapse. Paying attention to the moisture content and its effects on soil compaction is extremely important at this point in the game, and not all days are worth going out to work on a trail that is in this stage of development. (A reason that scheduling "trail work days" months or even weeks in advance, may result in a lower quality, overbuilt trail, rather than paying attention to and taking advantage of changing weather and soil conditions, as they happen.)

    Trails built in this manner may take weeks or even months of repeated and dedicated "riding in" by a dedicated and skilled trail builder or builders, before they are hardened in enough to open them to the general public, without some semi-skilled lout destroying them before they fully take root, but if you have the patience and dedication to establish trails this way, you usually end up with something that is naturally benched into the side of the hill in much the same manner as game trails, and looks as if it "just grew there", organically; as opposed to the huge scars produced on the upslope side of trails that are benched in with McLeods, and the contrived looking rock or log retaining walls that are built by trail crews in a hurry to "get it done today", rather than skilled and patient trailmasters, who are willing to let time, weather, soil conditions and the angle of the slope dictate when the work is done and the trail ready to be shared with the rest of the World.

    Ridden in trails tend to also only be as wide as necessary, as opposed to the "wheelchair accessible" wide sidewalks that are so often produced by well meaning volunteers who show up for "trail work daze."

    Another benefit of riding trails into existence, is that rocks that are buried in the tread of the trail, and not just loose on the surface, tend to stay in place, rather than getting dug out. There is actually a three-fold benefit to this, as 1: the trail is more technical and interesting than a manicured "sidewalk trail". 2: As mentioned above, it looks totally organic, as if the trail just grew there, as opposed to looking contrived and "built". 3: rocks that are firmly embedded in the tread of the trail help to slow and minimize, or even virtually stop erosion.

    If you go back after a few years, and look at most trails that are benched in with a pick, shovel and McLeod, you will find that the vast majority of them are "cupping" in the middle of the tread, due to the removal of naturally embedded rocks that would have been mostly left in place on a "ridden in" trail. Soon the center third of the trail's tread is so much lower than the outer edge of the trail's tread, that water becomes trapped, runs down the length of the trail and causes erosion. At this point, another "trail work" day usually gets scheduled to de-berm the poorly built trail, and the result is inevitably that the trail becomes even wider, even smoother, and more of the naturally occurring rocks that were originally embedded in the tread of the trail are removed, further continuing the cycle of erosion and trail "maintenance". Yes, "ridden in" trails can still experience the negative effects of cupping, especially if there are steep or fast sections of trail that precede sharp turns or other obstacles that require riders to brake hard, and where lesser-skilled riders and speed demon racer types tend to skid their rear wheels; but the erosion and cupping tends to be less than on trails where the original soil was so highly disturbed and "de-rocked", as if unfortunately so common on "benched in" trails.
    This approach to building trails is idealistic, unrealistic, and is much more fallible in reality than bike doc claims. It definitely doesn't work that well in our forest and doesn't hold up to a large volume of riders. Its like using absolutes, great on paper and in theory , but not so much in reality. I think bikes have there place in trail building but to use them as the only tool falls short. I have built trails in the ways BD mentioned, on private land and they have a lot of the same problems of typically or newly built trails.

    If machine built trails only had "educated" riders compacting and determining the line, then the trail would be naturally debermed ( by bikes) and not need a workday the following year to do so. But reality sets in and everyone rides their own line and the law of averages dictates what gets compacted.

    I think most land managers should just include a followup a visit from the builders crew a year or two later to deberm the trail in the original contract. Volly crews can also do this, but why not have the builder have some responsibility?

    Whom ever came up with the thought that sustainable trails will no longer need maintenance after the initial build is ridiculous.
    Last edited by 2bfluid; 12-06-2013 at 07:44 PM.
    Should you do more trail work?

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    Quote Originally Posted by kapusta View Post
    You have still not articulated any straightforward question to answer

    Loaded questions don't count

    If your point is that IMBA mostly decines invitations to swim in troll-infested waters created on internet on-line forums like MTBR, this is true. IMO, it is a sign of maturity, not conspiracy.

    I regret the tendency to suggest that challenges presented here to IMBA are undermined by perspectives regarded as trolling. I think that is dismissive of some pretty valid points of view. That is disparaging and seeks to halt expression.

    Further the idea that a clear question has not been expressed misses the challenge to representation of local attitudes which do not follow the iMBA line. It avoids the suggestion that a mechanism is needed to manage that aspect of representation if subscription dollars are taken from an area. These are valid considerations.
    I don't rattle.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Czar Chasm View Post
    So you never ride outside of your "Local" trail system? That's sad. There are so many killer trails around the country that your "Local" crew had no part in making accessible to mountain biking. Bummer for you!
    That is a pretty transparent attempt to derail a contributor and thereby devalue their point of view.

    Play hard but play fair.
    I don't rattle.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Czar Chasm View Post
    So you never ride outside of your "Local" trail system? That's sad. There are so many killer trails around the country that your "Local" crew had no part in making accessible to mountain biking. Bummer for you!




    How the fook do you know what trails these guy's have or had not had a hand in building? Sometimes you should just sit in the corner and let the adults talk.

  40. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by Berkeley Mike View Post
    I regret the tendency to suggest that challenges presented here to IMBA are undermined by perspectives regarded as trolling. I think that is dismissive of some pretty valid points of view. That is disparaging and seeks to halt expression.
    Criticism of IMBA is not necessarily trolling. However, posts such as the OP of this thread clearly are. I don't see why he should have the expectation that IMBA waste their time engaging him.

    If I started a thread demanding you tell me why you won't stop beating your wife, do you see anything useful to be gained by engaging me in that conversation?
    15mm is a second-best solution to a problem that was already solved.

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    We clearly disagree. The OP has been consistently clear, intelligent, and thoughtful in these of language in expressing an opinion about IMBA. There is an agility of thought, a sense of humor, and pretty board acceptance of other points of view. That is not a troll.

    The application of IMBA principles, their fit with a more general population of mountain bikers, and their stated mission of representing mountain bikers is a worth discussion. To hope to have meaningful public dialogue my just be beyond the pale. that, however, is very different from being unreasonable or destructive. That and IMBA representative cannot or will not engage here is separate problem, certainly challenged by more day to day pressures bearing more fruit.
    I don't rattle.

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    Re: IMBA tired, old-fashioned PR Spin

    So, some issues and questions I have with IMBA.


    Trail solutions is a for profit business that directly competes with professional trail builders and design firms. Isn't it hard enough for prof trail builders to make a living? Should they have to compete against big brother with the inside line?

    A big percentage of our local dues head west to Boulder but don't seem to come back. Our club is pretty much self sufficient with little to no guidance, funding, or support from IMBA.

    $400+ for a two day trail building course. WTF??? This is the type of thing that IMBA should be hosting for their cost. I mean really, let's profit off our volunteers?

    When I didn't send in my renewal dues I received no less than 10 solicitations by mail and numerous emails. I would rather give the club a donation and keep the funds local.

    So what do I think they have done well?

    Trail Solutions: IMBA's Guide to Building Sweet Singletrack. They wrote the book on sustainable modern trail building techniques. Its worth a read.

    Regional advocacy with the USFS.




    And the middle ground?

    Well, they haven't cracked the wilderness area barrier. What are they doing about it now?

    What have they accomplished at the national level? Were they responsible for the NPS system opening up to the possibility of allowing bikes? I assume they played a major roll.

    As far as the homogenization of trails goes, I don't buy it. Its between the LM, the Trail Champion, and the terrain. We need easy stuff to learn on and harder trails to progress too. But IMBA doesn't dictate what will be built. That is, unless Trail Solutions comes up with the master plan. They do recommend best practices, but they don't have their own police force. Yet.

    Just questions and opinions.
    Should you do more trail work?

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    Quote Originally Posted by 2bfluid View Post

    Trail solutions is a for profit business that directly competes with professional trail builders and design firms. Isn't it hard enough for prof trail builders to make a living? Should they have to compete against big brother with the inside line?.
    Trails Solutions is part of a non-profit (IMBA) and is thus also non-profit.
    15mm is a second-best solution to a problem that was already solved.

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    Sure they are a nonprofit, but you pay big bucks for their work.
    Should you do more trail work?

  45. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by 2bfluid View Post
    Sure they are a nonprofit, but you pay big bucks for their work.
    So............. what? They are still a non-profit, which is completely different from a for-profit.
    15mm is a second-best solution to a problem that was already solved.

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    Semantics. They are a for profit business that funds and is owned by a nonprofit. They generate profits directly from the projects they are funneled by the nonprofit aspect of their organization. They also funnel business away from trail builders/designers, which was my main point.

    Know any rich professional trail builders? I don't. Should they have to compete against IMBA? Just askin'.
    Should you do more trail work?

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    Quote Originally Posted by 2bfluid View Post
    Sure they are a nonprofit, but you pay big bucks for their work.
    Hey, I'm not meaning to bag on your comments, they are pretty well thought out.

    I do want to address the issue with Trail Solutions, though, because it comes up a lot. Trails solutions is a non-profit, just like the rest of IMBA. People get a salary (none of these people are raking in big bucks), but the profits from the trails solutions arm just goes back to IMBA.

    As far as them competing against for-profit trail builders: Why not? This is not uncommon. Non-profit colleges compete against for-profit schools. There are many examples of this in other fields. If, as you say, Trail Solutions can do it and make a profit, others should be able to as well. Should state universities and other non-profit, private universities not compete against for-profit schools?

    The comment you made about Trail Solutions having an "inside line" is worth thinking about. Yes, due to IMBA's advocacy work and contacts with land managers, Trail Solutions does get some extra creditability, and in many cases they can seem like the default go-to. However, I think it is also the case (for better or for worse, that is another discussion) that IMBA as a whole and Trail Solutions in particular are largely responsible for the increased number of land managers using professional trail designers and builders. And this is something that the for-profit outfits are benefiting from.

    I think Trail Solutions was a critical part of getting land managers comfortable with trail development. I think that often gets lost in the discussion about them. Of course they were no the only (or first) trail designing/building outfit, but they are the ones that really made many managers nationwide aware of this option as a way to get mtb trails built that they had confidence were being done right.

    I also have to say that from what I have seen around here through my work with local land managers, and now with my involvement in an IMBA Chapter, that the advocacy part of IMBA and the Trails Solution arm work pretty independently of each other.

    My issue has more to do with the fact that now some land managers think they always NEED fee-based outfits to design and build their trails, be they for-profit or non-profit, and don't give enough credit to the local talent.
    15mm is a second-best solution to a problem that was already solved.

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    I hear what you are saying, but don't really agree. State schools are funded by the state.

    The are more than enough trail firms that Trail Solutions is unnecessary and I think, if anything they undermine the other quality firms out there. Not that they are bad or evil, MAYBE too homogeneous for some, but more importantly they have a tremendous advantage. They are the defacto design firm for most, if not all, of IMBA's big projects. No?


    And LM's need design firms to really produce the best master plans. Most clubs don't have the diverse set of talents with the time to produce a top quality vision. Some do, and kudos to them. But Trail Solutions is unnecessary and has a huge, unfair advantage. I don't think that clubs or LM's need firms to layout a trail or two but professionals have their place.
    Should you do more trail work?

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    Quote Originally Posted by 2bfluid View Post
    I hear what you are saying, but don't really agree. State schools are funded by the state.
    .
    State schools are only one type of non-profit schools. There are countless private non-profit schools as well (Harvard, Yale......). Should they step aside for for-profit schools?
    15mm is a second-best solution to a problem that was already solved.

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    2bfluid,

    Your comments are very well stated.

    However, it seems as though the discussion about non-profit is becoming a semantic dispute.

    Let there be no question... many non-profits are created to establish an unfair competitive and strategic advantage in an established market. Some of these non-profits barely operate within the law. And in the context in which you are speaking, it is not an exageration to describe this practice as unethical.

    Giving IMBA the benefit of the doubt though, who knows if they sought this competitive advantage in the first place or they just stumbled into it. To be honest it really doesn't matter.

    What does matter is how IMBA Trail Solutions non-profit staus impacts the ecosystem of professional trail builders (builders, designers, engineer, maintenance, etc) and the health of that industry in the future.

    You seem very professional and sincere. Can you take a stab at answering these questions?:

    Does IMBA's Trail Solutions model threaten the viability of other competing professional trail builders and thier orgs? If so:

    • Does Trail Solutions threten ALL for-profit professional trail buiders?
    • Is that threat imminent or in the future?, and
    • Do you think that Trail Solutions, given it's non-profit status is positioned to establish a monopoly?

    CB

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    Re: IMBA tired, old-fashioned PR Spin

    CB

    Yes. With so few true design build firms TS is a huge threat to ALL Trail firms. Would you agree that they are funneled work by their parent organization? In a relatively new market they have lions share of cherry picked projects any of which could support a small firm. While ALL is an absolute, monopolies have always had competition. But I don't think they have a true monopoly, just a big advantage. That advantage is enough to keep new firms from becoming sustainable. So overall, I think they are unnecessary for IMBA and TS prevent other firms (local?) from gaining/maintaining a foot hold in the market. Can you name 5 trail specific design firms that offer master plans off the top of your head? I don't mean a guy with an hoe and a Mcloed. It is a very small pond.

    There are hundreds of colleges to choose from so its not really an apples to apples comparison. Trail Solutions is unnecessary.

    BTW I am not a professional trail builder and have no skin in this game.
    Should you do more trail work?

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    On the other hand, IMBA is more accessible to more folks than any trail building company I know of. The Zuni Mountains Trail Partnership turned to IMBA when developing a master plan for the mountain because they were a known and respected authority. A weeks worth of meetings with the IMBA expert didn't produce much in terms of on the ground designing or engineering, but it did give the Partnership (composed of three federal agencies, state, two counties, three towns, four non-profits and one trails organization) the confidence to proceed. The ~10 grand helped produce a consensus from a diverse group of interests, which is no small feat. Again, I know of no one else who could do that, although I'm sure they exist. The fact that IMBA is a non-profit means something in that setting, because they are perceived as being less influenced by a group of profit seeking investors, and more influenced by their agenda, which is advocating and facilitating trail building. As the leader of the trails organization involved and one of the lead instigators of the project, I found the IMBA expert to be more interested in what we were trying to do than in giving advice. Useful insights, questions, and comments were exchanged but that was about it. I felt at all times like the expert respected us and was excited about what we were doing.

    We are a small organization in the middle of nowhere, not at all on IMBA's radar.

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    I agree that IMBA should have a seat at the table as a unifier. I don't think they should be the project managers or master planners. They should be advocates and should help to get the ball rolling. I just don't think they should be competing with the trail building industry.
    Should you do more trail work?

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    Quote Originally Posted by CANADIANBACON View Post
    2bfluid,

    Your comments are very well stated.

    However, it seems as though the discussion about non-profit is becoming a semantic dispute.

    Let there be no question... many non-profits are created to establish an unfair competitive and strategic advantage in an established market. Some of these non-profits barely operate within the law. And in the context in which you are speaking, it is not an exageration to describe this practice as unethical.

    Giving IMBA the benefit of the doubt though, who knows if they sought this competitive advantage in the first place or they just stumbled into it. To be honest it really doesn't matter.

    What does matter is how IMBA Trail Solutions non-profit staus impacts the ecosystem of professional trail builders (builders, designers, engineer, maintenance, etc) and the health of that industry in the future.

    You seem very professional and sincere. Can you take a stab at answering these questions?:

    Does IMBA's Trail Solutions model threaten the viability of other competing professional trail builders and thier orgs? If so:

    • Does Trail Solutions threten ALL for-profit professional trail buiders?
    • Is that threat imminent or in the future?, and
    • Do you think that Trail Solutions, given it's non-profit status is positioned to establish a monopoly?

    CB
    Before I forget my train of thought (I'm having one of those days... chemo brain)

    Does IMBA's Trail Solutions model threaten the viability of other competing professional trail builders and thier orgs? If so:

    • Does Trail Solutions threten ALL for-profit professional trail buiders? Yes, to some extent.
    • Is that threat imminent or in the future? Yes
    • Do you think that Trail Solutions, given it's non-profit status is positioned to establish a monopoly? Yes



    My solution is for IMBA to consider themselves not only as advocates for MTB riders but MTB trail builders as well. If Trail Solutions worked with professional and amateure builders as paid consultants only, there would be more opportunities for amateures to become professionals and for trail building companies to grow and hire more people. IMBA still gets to reap some of the financial benefits. I know this is a very simplified solution but it's the best I can do today.
    Quote Originally Posted by Trail Ninja's Son
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    I have been a trail builder for 12 years. Building professionally for four. IMBA, in many ways, has only aided with the growth of my company, not hindered.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bluegrassbiker View Post
    I have been a trail builder for 12 years. Building professionally for four. IMBA, in many ways, has only aided with the growth of my company, not hindered.
    Care to elaborate? Mark E is pretty much on his own here when it comes to specifics regarding other pro builders benefitting from IMBA's efforts. Personally I'm more concerned with Trail Solutions. Have they helped you in any way?
    Quote Originally Posted by Trail Ninja's Son
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    No I don't. Yes they have.

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    Re: IMBA tired, old-fashioned PR Spin

    Quote Originally Posted by Bluegrassbiker View Post
    No I don't. Yes they have.
    Good, I am glad to here it.
    Should you do more trail work?

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    The problem may be that IMBA deceptively promotes IMBA aka Trail Solutions as the preeminent authority on trail planning and building. It is easy for IMBA who is usually brought in by the local club for credibility on a project then to persuade naive land managers Trail Solutions is available to plan, get grants, build the project. Then the local club feels shut out and sees a lot of resources being used on Trail Solutions with a disappointing amount of deliverables for the amount of money. This was my perception of the following in my area. But this is not necessarily reality.

    I have some firsthand experience with competing with Trail Solutions (sort of). I build in a county park in eastern PA. The land manager may have felt we needed some professional guidance but I believe he needed cover and reassurance. We have a great relationship with our local IMBA rep he has helped us on several occasions. When the need for the plan arose a PA State parks overseer got involved some how and claimed to have all kinds of grant money and insisted on using IMBA to create a plan. The trailbuilders felt slided as we work on No budget and we felt we could do a plan for free and use all that free cash for materials and expenses on the build of actual trail. The PA parks guy did say it was important to have the plan created by some sort of professional organization and we would provide a large portion of the input, this would give us cover as we are carrying out a plan created by a professional approved by the land managers, no conflict of interest. In the end the State Parks guy disappeared with any sort of grant$$ and the county did the right thing by putting up $10,000 and put out a bid for the work to Trail Solutions and other Pro builders for a plan. We included our guy who has a ridiculous resume (see Log Feature, Red Bull) and is a skilled machine operator looking to add mountain bike trail planning (with our help) to his repertoire. As it turned out another skilled pro builder from Vermont and Trail Solutions failed to submit, not sure why yet. Anyway we got the inside track and we have the professional cover needed.

    My conclusion is right now the pie is very large, there is a lot of trail to be built right now and as pointed out Trail Solutions is expensive and easy to beat in a bidding situation. If you feel Trail Solutions will not work closely with the local builders insist on a fair bidding practice and make sure the club or builders have heavy input writing the Request for Quote.

    Although sometimes it seems as if your local land managers insinuate your ability is inferior to IMBA (because of PR spin) don't confuse the issue. IMBA for the most part is squarely representing us unless of course you are a total cement head and we know we are not!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bluegrassbiker View Post
    No I don't. Yes they have.
    Well then your post is of no value to someone like me who is trying to understand the good AND bad points of IMBA and Trail Solutions. Thanks for signing up and chiming in though. Good thing Mark is still with us in this discussion.
    Quote Originally Posted by Trail Ninja's Son
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bluegrassbiker View Post
    No I don't. Yes they have.


    Wow.

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    I'm not sure you can blame IMBA for responding to a need/market.

    I like the direction Trail Ninja took, lotsa wisdom there. IMBA can be an advocate and facilitator for trail builders as well as users. I think that is the case in many instances, they certainly didn't try to horn in on what we had going. Maybe there wasn't enough money involved, but my sense is that they respected a credible effort and assisted where appropriate. I suspect where you are is a factor, the West has always been pretty hard to rope in.
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    Quote Originally Posted by bsieb View Post
    I'm not sure you can blame IMBA for responding to a need/market.

    I like the direction Trail Ninja took, lotsa wisdom there. IMBA can be an advocate and facilitator for trail builders as well as users. I think that is the case in many instances, they certainly didn't try to horn in on what we had going. Maybe there wasn't enough money involved, but my sense is that they respected a credible effort and assisted where appropriate. I suspect where you are is a factor, the West has always been pretty hard to rope in.
    Now that you mention it. I do recall an interaction I had with IMBA Canada many years ago. As an individual advocating and building a trail in a local regional park, I ran into a very vocal NIMBY. I had done all the legwork and had the proper permissions. The NIMBY wasn't going to stop the trail. All I really needed was some more voices/backing to quiet the mob so I could work. I didn't have much luck rallying the local MTB community to my cause but one of my builder friends in another location pointed the regional IMBA rep to my problem. He did offer to help but I was able to sort the problem out myself.

    Don't ask me how. It's WASN'T the proper way to do it.
    Quote Originally Posted by Trail Ninja's Son
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    Trail Ninja Great segway. With respect to NIMBY I read the call to action of Boulder White Cloud Idaho then watched the attached video. This looks like the most beautiful Mtb trails I have ever seen. I know not much about National Monument impact on Mtb Trails or the local situation on the ground. From what little I have read in other forums here this Idaho Conservation League may want to rope a dope the Mtbers to get this designation where they will be able to eliminate some existing bike trails and forget about any new trails.

    I don't know how to help but the effort we have put into this topic (IMBA Bashing) we should all be able to work together to protect mountain biking in White Cloud.

    Mark E What is IMBAs participation in this problem? What can we do? Do I understand the problem correctly?

    Sorry to jump topic but it would be a damn shame to see this place degraded. And crickets on the poor bastards original post.

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    2bfluid, bsieb and Trail Ninja:

    Thank you for keeping the discussion on point and constructive.

    Trail Ninja's idea:

    If Trail Solutions worked with professional and amateure builders as paid consultants only
    is very interesting.

    I don't think I need to go into detail here on mtbr about the disastrous W-mart effect on small towns across North America as it is well documented. I see parallels regarding Trail Solutions. The gist is that permitting a larger more efficient Trail Building entity from outside of your community (such as Trail Solutions) to bid on and win local and regional trail building contracts is unsustainable.

    I'm guessing that at the present time each state does not have local professional trail building orgs like Gravity Logic, Hillride, etc. So, currently Trail Solutions may still fulfill an unmet need. I could be wrong and am happy to listen to differing points of view. However...

    If mountain bike advocacy is to take root everywhere, there is going to be the need for professional trail builders at the local level.

    If IMBA really is focused on advocacy they should recognize that in the long run it is much wiser to foster the development of local professional trail builders. Local entities and organizations play an important role in the health of local communities by having:

    • a stake in the local community
    • legitimate and 'organic' local relationships built on regular interaction and trust
    • positive economic impacts; earn revenues that enhance the local economy by creating long-term jobs, derivative spending and taxes

    In my opinion IMBA has become like the prototypical 'evil master' in so many Kung-Fu movies. They are a great, big, strong, advocacy organization that threatens start-ups and those advocates that might challenge them on certain ideas.

    If IMBA actually intend to live within their stated mission, their size and strength should permit them to act from a position of abundance, generosity, and with wisdom; respecting and viewing their competitors as 'fellow players' in an INFINITE (not zero sum) game where each player 'elevates' the others craft.

    What would even be better is if IMBA got back on track and focused on traditional forms of advocacy. This way they would not have for-profit competitors and they could focus on being great mentors and teachers.

    Great mentors and teachers are wise and recognize their job is to teach their students 'how to fish' and then GET OUT OF THE WAY.


    CB

    Trail Ninja, I hope you're feeling better. Don't know if you have seen this yet but I would feel terrible if I didn't at least share it. Have a look at these links:

    Cancer-killing dandelion tea gets $157K research grant - Windsor - CBC News

    Dandelion and melanoma - The Washington Post

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    CB I think you are overstating the National Dominance of Trail Solutions. I do think you are correct Trail Solutions is deceptively peddaled by IMBA to land managers. But I believe rarely to the detriment of the local MTB community. And yes there will always be someone with hurt feelings. I presume Trail Solutions will move on if you really don't want them unless you really failed to develop a positive relationship with the land overlords.

    There are many great trail systems built in absence of Trail Solutions and that will continue but there is no doubt that there are a few trail systems today that would not exist without IMBA/ Trail Solutions (Coldwater Alabama perhaps). My guess is more money from your IMBA dues goes back into these systems then lining somebodies pockets.

    And if you just think Trail Solutions is an Evil Corporation I reccomend South Park season 9 episode 2 "Die Hippie Die".

    Now I challenge you to be specific as we are still continuing to speak in the abstract. Give us a specific example where IMBA/ Trail Solutions has harmed a local MTB Community. We want names.

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    I feel like a couple of assumptions are being made in this conversation.

    1) All pro trail builders are good businessmen.
    2) All pro trail builders have a proven track record of building great mtb trails.
    3) All pro trail builders put in the effort to support the local mtb advocates.

    As someone who has hired pro trail builders, the greatest fear is that we have to hire a pro trail builder who isn't that good at building mtb trails or interested in working with our volunteers. So we work very hard to ensure only the best mtb trail builders have a shot at getting our work.

    The pro trail builders that are high on my list, have a great track record for building MTB trails, They all have supported the local mtb community with volunteering for trail projects or trail design, and they are good businessmen who run a well organized business.

    These pro trail builders are all very busy and in no danger of being driven out by IMBA Trail Solutions.

    And in areas without legit pro builders, IMBA trail solutions can be key to developing large world class trail systems.

    I have experienced people who want to be pro trail builders who aren't willing to put in the time working for an established pro trail builder, aren't good businessmen, don't work well with the local trail builders, and/or aren't really that good at building all types of trails. And they have expressed the same types of complaints that I/we/IMBA are the reason why they are not getting hired.

    Keep in mind that IMBA Trail Solutions only is involved in mountain bike trails. If someone wants to be a professional trail builder, they need to also be willing to build hiking, horse, ADA, etc... trails. So with IMBA trail solutions just focused on one type of trail, I don't see how they are going to crush good professional trail builders.

    What I do see is folks that have this idealist view that if they become a pro trail builder, that they will get to just build their favorite types of trails. If you want to make a living building trails, you have to be willing to build all types of trails and build trails to the expectations of the person/organization who hired you. You may have to build ADA compliant hiking trails, or equestrian trails. If you are asked to build a beginner mtb trail, then you have to build a beginner mtb trail and will likely have to bear the wrath of those who accuse you of building lame trails.

    Pro trail builders also have to be mobile. There is lots of work, but it is unlikely you will be sleeping in your own bed too often. If the local advocacy group or land manager picks another Pro Trail Builder, then you need to move on to another project.

    I see IMBA Trail Solutions as a great tool for developing local pro trail builders. When individuals ask me how to be come a pro trail builder. I tell the to go work for one, it is a trade that needs to be learned. IMBA Trail Solutions and other Pro Builders are often looking for local labor (or individuals willing to travel) for projects.

    At the end of the day, this is an issue for the Pro Trail Building to community to work out. This isn't an issue that can or should be settled on an MTBR forum. If you are concerned about IMBA Trail Solutions and how it works/competes with other pro trail builders, I suggest you go to the Profession Trail Builder Association Meeting this year.

    Sustainable Trails Conference - PTBA

    If you are a pro trail builder and are not a member of this organization, then I suggest you work to become a member. Our IMBA chapter requires contractors to either be members or be in the process of joining to bid on work. So if you are not a member, that may be why you aren't getting work.

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    I'll jump back in here, though I have to say that I'm grateful to see a number of well-spoken posters providing good information about how IMBA and IMBA Trail Solutions benefit local MTB communities.

    It's also interesting, and a little weird, to see assertions that IMBA has attained some kind of death-star-meets-evil-kung-fu-master status. From my seat, it feels like we work hard to overcome the perception that our organization, and mountain biking in general, is a fringe activity without much political or economic influence. We are growing, to be sure, but the reality is that when IMBA gets into a political battle with some of the well-funded nonprofits from the conservation realm we are often outgunned by a factor of 10 or more when it comes to staff levels or financial reserves. In Montana, for example, we have one paid staff member and a handful of talented volunteer advocates working hard to protect bike access -- but they are often pitted against dozens of paid, professional advocates from Wilderness-oriented groups.

    IMBA needs to keep growing and expanding its (non-evil) sphere of influence if mountain bikers are going to enjoy continued and improved access to public lands. That's inarguable, at least in my estimation. Without a national-level advocacy group to represent mountain bikers, there would be no representation with federal land managing agencies like the USFS, NPS, BLM, etc. IMBA has established and maintained formal partnerships with these and other agencies for decades -- and this national-level work definitely benefits local communities as local land managing offices take their cues from the top-level decision makers.

    I'll get back to another local-level scenario. Here's a short video about the Bell Built grant for the Bear River bike park in Steamboat Springs, CO. IMBA worked with take a large bike company and helped create a grant program to benefit local communities. Yes, Trail Solutions performed the master planning and most of the construction services, but many other trail building and trail design firms -- in this case Flowline -- benefited from the Bell Built projects.

    Bear River Bike Park Video | International Mountain Bicycling Association

    I'll give one more example, and I think it's an important one, of how IMBA's work benefits local communities and locally based trail builders. Right now, I'm working with a variety of experts in bike park design and construction, to put together IMBA's next book. Whereas our previous books (Trail Solutions and Managing Mountain Biking) focused on singletrack, this book focuses on bike-specific facilities, from bike parks to purpose-built flow trails.

    A major point that emerges from the book is that these types of facilities benefit enormously when communities hire bike-savvy design and construction outfits, as opposed to taking the low bid from a general construction firm, or using agency staff with limited bike-specific knowledge.

    The experts contributing to the book include Trail Solutions staff, but range far beyond IMBA's employees. In fact, some of Trail Solutions' strongest competitors have offered to write material for the book -- or be interviewed for the book -- because they know that the entire field will benefit when it gets published (next year). Nowhere in this book will you read the advice to only hire IMBA for bike park design or construction services.

    The professional trail building community has benefited enormously from IMBA's books, in part because they have been read by thousands of land managers. The book make it clear that it is worthwhile to invest in well designed, expertly built trail systems. The books do not state "Only IMBA can do this." They describe the value of partnerships between local groups and land managing agencies to facilitate both professional and volunteer-led trail building efforts. And, that make it clear that mountain bikers are a large, important part of the spectrum of recreational users.
    Last edited by Mark E; 12-09-2013 at 11:48 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by indytrekracer View Post
    I feel like a couple of assumptions are being made in this conversation.

    1) All pro trail builders are good businessmen.
    2) All pro trail builders have a proven track record of building great mtb trails.
    3) All pro trail builders put in the effort to support the local mtb advocates.

    As someone who has hired pro trail builders, the greatest fear is that we have to hire a pro trail builder who isn't that good at building mtb trails or interested in working with our volunteers. So we work very hard to ensure only the best mtb trail builders have a shot at getting our work.

    The pro trail builders that are high on my list, have a great track record for building MTB trails, They all have supported the local mtb community with volunteering for trail projects or trail design, and they are good businessmen who run a well organized business.

    These pro trail builders are all very busy and in no danger of being driven out by IMBA Trail Solutions.

    And in areas without legit pro builders, IMBA trail solutions can be key to developing large world class trail systems.

    I have experienced people who want to be pro trail builders who aren't willing to put in the time working for an established pro trail builder, aren't good businessmen, don't work well with the local trail builders, and/or aren't really that good at building all types of trails. And they have expressed the same types of complaints that I/we/IMBA are the reason why they are not getting hired.

    Keep in mind that IMBA Trail Solutions only is involved in mountain bike trails. If someone wants to be a professional trail builder, they need to also be willing to build hiking, horse, ADA, etc... trails. So with IMBA trail solutions just focused on one type of trail, I don't see how they are going to crush good professional trail builders.

    What I do see is folks that have this idealist view that if they become a pro trail builder, that they will get to just build their favorite types of trails. If you want to make a living building trails, you have to be willing to build all types of trails and build trails to the expectations of the person/organization who hired you. You may have to build ADA compliant hiking trails, or equestrian trails. If you are asked to build a beginner mtb trail, then you have to build a beginner mtb trail and will likely have to bear the wrath of those who accuse you of building lame trails.

    Pro trail builders also have to be mobile. There is lots of work, but it is unlikely you will be sleeping in your own bed too often. If the local advocacy group or land manager picks another Pro Trail Builder, then you need to move on to another project.

    I see IMBA Trail Solutions as a great tool for developing local pro trail builders. When individuals ask me how to be come a pro trail builder. I tell the to go work for one, it is a trade that needs to be learned. IMBA Trail Solutions and other Pro Builders are often looking for local labor (or individuals willing to travel) for projects.

    At the end of the day, this is an issue for the Pro Trail Building to community to work out. This isn't an issue that can or should be settled on an MTBR forum. If you are concerned about IMBA Trail Solutions and how it works/competes with other pro trail builders, I suggest you go to the Profession Trail Builder Association Meeting this year.

    Sustainable Trails Conference - PTBA

    If you are a pro trail builder and are not a member of this organization, then I suggest you work to become a member. Our IMBA chapter requires contractors to either be members or be in the process of joining to bid on work. So if you are not a member, that may be why you aren't getting work.
    I wrote a reply to the last 10 replies then you posted this. It cover everything I had in mind. Great job!

    I started my trailbuilding company 4 years ago. What started as a 2 men operation became a 7-men crew, more big toys that my kids can dream of, and we're fully booked for the next 2 years. Am I rich? Clearly not. Am I doing what I love? You betcha!

    PS. Being a PTBA member is a requirement for virtually all major contracts around here, and is part of all RFQ by Parks Canada.
    I build trails for moose & beaver
    PTBA member

  71. #71
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    I have had the privilege of attending the National Bike summit in DC. The Summit opened my eyes to how hard IMBA and other bike advocacy groups are working for our bike nation. The leaders of all attending advocacy groups were extremely accessible for dialogue. The amount of mountain bikers in attendance was poor. Especially when compared to how many mountain bikers are in the nation.

    I have attended the PTBA conference. Trail Solutions and many other trail building firms (big and small) in the nation were extremely accessible for dialogue.

    It is my opinion that one cannot have a clear and informed picture of the national advocacy/trail building world until both of the above conferences I mentioned are attended. It is also my opinion that one cannot change anything in the advocacy/trail building world (or any other discipline for that matter) by pounding keys on blogs or forums. You have to get organized and position yourself in front of the leaders.
    Last edited by Bluegrassbiker; 12-09-2013 at 11:11 AM. Reason: grammar and Im sure there is still errors.

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    I'd be curious to get some feed back from Woody, Ed Sutten, Ben Blitch, Mike Riter, Deno from Benchmark Trails, Arrowhead Trails, etc.

    I do think we as a recreational group are our own worst enemies at times. What I see is most people complaining about IMBA monopolizing may be one's who think any pro trail building on their part as a "conflict of interest". I get that. And if their intentions were truly evil then it would be true, but I don't think that's their intention at all.

  73. #73
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    Of course evil is not the intention and as far as evil goes IMBA is not even evil. At worst it simply misses the mark in service to some communities and offers precious little to others. At the same time it speaks of using resources for national representation with limited or no real production in terms of advocacy for those self-same local constituencies. And what shows up in ones back yard, or doesn't show up, speaks volumes.

    In the SF Bay area we have gotten very, very little, and we started IMBA. They speak of work at the State level and developments in State trails access which may start to open things up. Yet the model for the state planning comes from a model we, the Bicycle Trails Council of the East Bay, crafted with the East Bay Regional Park District some 9 years ago.

    In the East Bay we have gotten nothing more to ride on through IMBA in 25 years of paying dues. Nothing. Our state park does not qualify for any openings as our requests have been placed into a Land Use management program stuck in financial and staffing hell. Our access to EBRPD Parks is changing through the development of the 2014 Master plan which we have massaged for years.

    Now IMBA has returned to the Bay Area to try and form a SF Bay Area Chapter and tap into a huge mtb market which we, the local advocates, have created, developed, and focused. Response is tepid, wary, and confounded by offers or services we don't need. We are already a non-profit, with good memberships and methods to develop that, trail crews and such. But they do see getting money, half of our memberships, and paying a representative for the region. On one hand it seems like a solution but on the other its looks like a power grab offering solutions to problems IMBA has never even assessed.

    Over the years there has been some wrote repetition that IMBA opens trails and folks write them checks. When ask specifically what trails they are talking about they end up being in remote areas, areas outside the state but never here. People are rethinking the value of IMBA to us. Our local IMBA rep, Tom Ward, is terrific guy and I can't say that enough. Yet as an organization IMBA has failed to win over our advocates as there has been a district lack of pudding in this proof. Savy members see this clearly.

    Tom was responsive to my request for Regional Summit which we had last month, to bring us together and see where we lined up. We had much in common and we had little in common. In the end IMBA got backfill support for its work with the State to move forward. The most important thing I came away with was a desire to meet again with some really great people; long-working advocates who have strained at harness, building resurging groups, gathering the community together.

    That said, supporting IMBA for their National work and their trails guidance makes some sense for a real value from IMBA. That we have come together, that it was time to come together, came from me. That our meeting had value and content came from us; the folks who started this whole thing to begin with. Tom worked hard to focus this but it wasn't time. What to do with that and how one does it is a highly sophisticated challenge which may take years. I'm not sure IMBA has those skills in it's quiver.
    I don't rattle.

  74. #74
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    Mike you raise a good point the North Bay from where I stand has a weak selection of trails in what is the birth place of Mountain Biking. I did have the pleasure of riding Tamarancho, nice trail, private property I think.

    Unfortunately my friend you live in the Liberal Capital of the World and one thing about Liberals they love to tell you what you can and can't do, mountain biking emphasis on can't. I am sure IMBA has tried to free up public space for MTB but as explained their pockets and resources are not as big as perceived.

    I will make an assumption. A business decision has to be made. Do we beat our head against a rock with little or nothing to show for? Or do we move on to areas where we are welcomed with open arms, enthusiasm, and buckets of cash from public organizations. Shovel ready projects do exist.

    I understand your frustration with what seems you not getting the advocacy help you need in the North Bay. What are we paying for? There may just not be enough cash in all of IMBA to take on the NIMBY Trial Attorneys in the (North?) Bay.

    Now to your south I have ridden Skeggs Point, phenomenal, a recommend. Not sure if IMBA assisted in this project but the Silicon Valley Mountain Bike Association proudly displays the IMBA trademark as well a rather extensive list of projects in their area. Maybe IMBA focused their efforts where greater gains per dollar could be achieved. I say money better spent.


    Personally I don't expect a quid pro quo from IMBA, I know the money handed up is put to good use. 4 hours from where I live Trail Solutions designed/ built 30+ miles of trail at Reyestown Lake, PA , haven't been there yet but I hear nothing but great things from those who have. And I may never ride Coldwater Alabama or WhiteCloud Idaho but to know a great effort went into them from IMBA my money was well spent.

  75. #75
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    I never said I was frustrated. I was just stating historical facts, the current lay of the land, and how that effects a lack of willingness of people to buy-in to their late presence here. It isn't a 'tude simply contrived but something learned from long experience. Like I said, folks still support IMBA to a degree in some broader sense. In fact our jersey says "we support IMBA" in small letters on the back where it would be covered by a camelback. That is as opposed to proudly stating that we are members on our shoulder where is says, instead, "pardon our dust." We all know who's dust that is. That is a huge difference from SVMTB.

    As far as SVMTB goes I think you all need a bit of info. SVMTB was born of ROMP (Responsible Riders of the Mid Pennisula) one of the founding members of IMBA and one of the oldest in the US along with the BTCEB. Through the years they worked hard to address problems similar to the BTCEB; large fiefdom, few volunteers, tough land managers, limited successes. Over time their leadership dwindled to a small handful who cared the torch and passed it back and forth absent anyone else stepping forward. This really great group of volunteers were burnt out and ROMP near dissolution.

    The advent of IMBA's Chapter program offered a mechanism for taking over many of the board tasks, offered the potential for new growth, and the infusion of new energies into group that was just about to fold. IMBA is good at supporting or forming groups in crisis. IMBA was able to get a foothold in the SF Bay area thereby. But IMBAs effect in the laundry list of ROMP accomplishments by the hard work of truly great volunteers is exceedingly limited if not negligible.

    Discussions re IMBA resound with their tendency to pick the low-hanging fruit but for many of us in the volunteer advocacy game that is where we have to make our gradual gains. Few of us work in low-populated areas where the stresses are much different and possibilities are so much greater. And to attribute the local difficulty to "liberals" is sheer ignorance. Huge spaces are controlled by watershed organizations where pristine drainages near populations numbering nearly 8 million are at issue. Furthermore parks aren born of very strong preservation groups in a highly populated state rapidly losing its natural areas to development. That is a very strong current for the survival of natural areas and riding bikes gets lost in that groundswell. For 27 years we have worked hard to be a part of that discussion. Access had little to do with what is right or fair. We have done it largely on our own.

    There is a very real disconnect: that ability that IMBA has to build PR, harvest money, and then take it somewhere else. For all of you folks who have had the benefit of the many hundreds of thousands, even millions of dollars from the SF Bay area ….you're welcome. The curiosity, and this is critical to this whole discussion, is that even in ABud's contribution there is a tendency to give IMBA credit where it is not due. I do find that frustrating.

    The point I was trying to make, and keep trying to evoke in this discussion, is in understanding the value of IMBA to different groups of people. There are quite a few who want to stem any criticism of IMBA by calling it bashing, trolling and such. Yet a critique is what helps to define things. There are limits to what IMBA can do and it is important to understand them. And there is a limit to what people should give IMBA credit for, too.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails IMBA tired, old-fashioned PR Spin-btceb-2012-jersey-final.jpg  

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  76. #76
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    Canadian B has been asked for specific examples and (in the most neutral and eloquent way) Berkeley Mike has detailed exactly why the Bacon has concerns. IMBA is hard to criticise, because it does stand for MTB advocacy. The question is whether that that advocacy template is universally applicable.

    The IMBA brand carries pretty huge weight with our land manager (National Parks Qld Australia). They refer to IMBA standards, consult them regarding specific issues (eg one-directional trails) and they have asked (paid maybe) IMBA to come to the park twice in the last couple of years to discuss and demonstrate trail building with volunteers. Our volunteers, via the local mountain bike club and more recently others (mtbtrailcare.com), have been pushing the LM for progress in legalising and upgrading historical trails for more than a decade. The LM is feeling the pressure from us and needs some "standard" to use. IMBA provides that "standard".

    However, if IMBA had independently come to our LM and said you need trails here and there in the absence of any local advocacy, it would be unlikely they would be in a position more powerful then ours (or those of mid pen SF). Catch 22.

    Here's where politics become a distraction from work on the ground. Entities like IMBA do not develop by pursuing the difficult. They pursue reputation and $s. That is a conflict of interest regardless of where the dollars come from.

    Just why the home of MTB is unable to convince "watershed organizations" that 2 foot wide MTB trails, built sensibly, or existing sustainably over decades are not a death sentence to the environment is something I cannot fathom. Apparently the national (international) standing of IMBA as an advocate is not effective, or these huge land managers would know that.

    It seems apparent that the relentless enthusiasm of volunteers creates concern for land managers who have limited funds and time to officially deal with our need for progress. The question is whether IMBA will be a moderating and benevolent influence on that process, or a profiteering label, where profit equals power as much as money.

    Just an observation, but there are 2 other threads going on mtbr that have ripples like this one - the Specilalized suing Canadian LBS and the Fairy Shrimp threads. What a strange and unstable environment we deal with. The only stable thing is that people want to go into the land and experience their country. Mountain biking can only grow (maybe with other names) and in time it will be accepted as something of value to both people and the land. Will IMBA be there then, or will the paid staff be working for other labels pursuing their own place in the worlds of recognition and funding.......... Time will tell

  77. #77
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    Re: IMBA tired, old-fashioned PR Spin

    What I am taking from this thread is that there is a disconnect between the paid staff and the local, on the ground troops. These troops are the only ones not getting paid to do so. The locals are getting things done for the most part without much support from the paid staff. Then they take/get the credit for the local chapters work, that the admin had no part of. No? Maybe not, but it seems that is the perception of some.

    We were members of SORBA which was then "absorbed" into IMBA. Our current 501-C3 status is under SORBA. So is our clubs insurance, but it seems there is discussions of taking those away too.

    The statement about low hanging fruit also rings true. With IMBA focusing on the invited, easy projects, meaning come help us because we have cash and a park that needs to be built. Not that they should walk away from these projects, but do members feel like they have been slighted by the organization when it comes to the difficult projects or the projects they actually needed the support. Like in the Bay area and Montana.

    Just trying to distill big thread, which frankly is one of the best discussions I have encountered on the subject. I don't think IMBA is evil in any way but they don't seem to be making the experienced trail folks very happy. They do help the newbies, and again, the low hanging fruit projects.

    Maybe there should be more discussion on specific changes or directions we feel IMBA needs to change.
    Should you do more trail work?

  78. #78
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    Quote Originally Posted by 2bfluid View Post
    What I am taking from this thread is that there is a disconnect between the paid staff and the local, on the ground troops. These troops are the only ones not getting paid to do so. The locals are getting things done for the most part without much support from the paid staff. Then they take/get the credit for the local chapters work, that the admin had no part of. No? Maybe not, but it seems that is the perception of some.

    We were members of SORBA which was then "absorbed" into IMBA. Our current 501-C3 status is under SORBA. So is our clubs insurance, but it seems there is discussions of taking those away too.

    The statement about low hanging fruit also rings true. With IMBA focusing on the invited, easy projects, meaning come help us because we have cash and a park that needs to be built. Not that they should walk away from these projects, but do members feel like they have been slighted by the organization when it comes to the difficult projects or the projects they actually needed the support. Like in the Bay area and Montana.

    Just trying to distill big thread, which frankly is one of the best discussions I have encountered on the subject. I don't think IMBA is evil in any way but they don't seem to be making the experienced trail folks very happy. They do help the newbies, and again, the low hanging fruit projects.

    Maybe there should be more discussion on specific changes or directions we feel IMBA needs to change.
    We have been a SORBA chapter since 2010 but been an active club since 1990, just a little younger than IMBA and SORBA. All of the progress in land access and advocacy in the local and state arena as been us. We set the precedent for MTB trails in NC state parks. We didn't become a chapter because we needed much help (although we have received it) or needed non profit status (had our own 501 c3 since 1997), we joined because we saw the value and benefit in being part of something bigger than ourselves.
    I understand BerkleyMikes POV, especially coming from the birthplace of IMBA but I think his group has done/will do more for advocacy and access in his area because they are local, have a dog in the fight and have better connections/relationships in that area.
    2bfluid, I know about the talks of the SORBA 501 c3 status and discussion continues about it. Frankly, if the cost to administrate it is minimal I don't see any reason to dissolve it. But on the other hand, I don't see that there would be much if any change at all in how SORBA is organized or run. Multiple 501's do allow for multiple grant opportunities, though.
    I couldn't tell if your post was implying that SORBA was going to do away with the insurance policy all SORBA chapters are covered under. If so, I haven't heard anything about it from Tom Sauret or our local IMBA board member.

    Well, that's all I've got for now.

    Peace.

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    I do believe the IMBA is a great organization for the urban cyclist. Not so much for the backcountry cyclist. why IMBA is in support of creating more wilderness areas is beyond me. You can't move the trails, and trails we where riding are now closed? It is kind of hard to support an organization that supports closing your trails down. I am in north Idaho where, there is a lot of trails, but not much new trails being made. Thank god for the ccc.

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  80. #80
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    I may have overstated IMBAs direct hands on, cash out achievements but let us take a look at the big picture. Low hanging fruit is the most efficient path to success, success is the best way to build credibility, credibility is the best form of influence, influence is the key to getting what you want.

    IMBA for the most part is a framework holding the mountain bike trail community together. We are IMBA. We need Lobbyists local, national, and even Down Under. We benefit from a unified standard although not perfect nor etched in stone. We need a name and slick marketing to give us professional standing and credibility. This does cost money. If you buy in to this organization their credibility is your credibility, our individual success is our shared success. I do understand the need for love and attention and clearly some areas need more direct support. Quality completed projects done by affiliate clubs, a dues paying member, or Trail Solutions all lend credence to what you are trying to do locally when using this framework. What is that worth? I don't know.

    About Liberals, Mike you have so eloquently made my point. If you try to protect yourself from yourself you get what you get. It's worth your money to have IMBA build in somebody else's backyard and put your bike on the bird. If you come to PA we will ride our watershed then go water skiing in it afterword.

  81. #81
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    Quote Originally Posted by ABud View Post
    I may have overstated IMBAs direct hands on, cash out achievements but let us take a look at the big picture. Low hanging fruit is the most efficient path to success, success is the best way to build credibility, credibility is the best form of influence, influence is the key to getting what you want.
    This makes a great deal of sense, even to me.
    Quote Originally Posted by Trail Ninja's Son
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  82. #82
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    Its not that anyone is against the picking the low hanging fruit. But that is not where they are needed the most. The projects that are going to happen anyway are just that. I would rather see the TL staff as advocates rather than paid consultants.
    Should you do more trail work?

  83. #83
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trail Ninja View Post
    This makes a great deal of sense, even to me.
    And accurate, from my perspective.
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  84. #84
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    Quote Originally Posted by 2bfluid View Post
    Its not that anyone is against the picking the low hanging fruit. But that is not where they are needed the most. The projects that are going to happen anyway are just that. I would rather see the TL staff as advocates rather than paid consultants.
    Then other paid consultants need to do a lot better job of advertising. Nobody knows about them on the local level. None in my phone book. The situations that surrounded the birth of IMBA may never be resolved. IMBA looks/works different for latecomers, I think. Less politics more guidance. It has been my experience that credit for projects completed is due at whatever level the participants need credibility, ie the politicians get political cred, the designers get designer cred, the builders get builder cred, the econ dev folks get... etc. Without win/win their will be endless problems, even though at times it can be nauseating for the folks on the ground as well as those who have endured the necessary meetings.
    I ride with the best dogs.




  85. #85
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    Quote Originally Posted by ABud View Post
    About Liberals, Mike you have so eloquently made my point. If you try to protect yourself from yourself you get what you get. It's worth your money to have IMBA build in somebody else's backyard and put your bike on the bird. If you come to PA we will ride our watershed then go water skiing in it afterword.
    Thanks for the invite; beer is on me. But I don't need your trails; you do. Like I said; you're welcome!

    However, I have trails 300 yards from my door which I cannot ride. EBRPD controls 125,000 acres and 60+ different parks over a 2000 square mile area. Everyone in the area is minutes away from trails they cannot ride. The majority of riding is done in parks proximate to homes on fire roads. Weekends see destination rides to very crowded trails at China Camp, Tamarancho and others becoming busier such as
    Annadel, Skeggs, Skyline……


    I don't want to have to travel to Penn or Montana, or…..I want access to my trails here.
    I don't rattle.

  86. #86
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    I too have lived somewhere (Boulder) where there are hundreds of miles of trails that are closed to bikes. I too have struggled with the system, been at a zillion meetings, and felt the sting when our proposal to build multiuse trails on a hillside that was being used as a homeless campsite/illegal party zone/trash dump was nixed as too destructive to the terrain/environment by NIMBYs. IMBA lobbied HARD in that effort and was extremely helpful - but we ultimately failed.

    Here's the thing, though - every one of the NIMBYS was 60+ years old. Most were in their 70s or 80s. I won't mince words: they are rich, burned out former hippies who don't understand outdoor recreation and want to keep everyone else out now that they have their multimillion dollar house and nice views. I bet the situation in Marin/the Bay Area is similar, and IMBA (or anyone) has zero chance against these people until their generation is no longer around.

    Once they're gone, having lots of success stories in other parts of the country, guidelines for building sustainable multiuse trails, and a national organization with long term credibility and connections will matter in lots of local places where access seems hopeless right now. At least that's my hope. So IMO even if you feel like you get nothing out of IMBA now, they might well help you in the future.

    And to be honest, even if I felt that IMBA had zero chance of getting a trail built where I live, I'd *still* pay dues because I enjoy riding other places, might move somewhere else someday, and I'd like to think my kids will be able to ride fun trails wherever they live when they grow up. So paying for "someone else's" trails is actually ok with me.

    -Walt

  87. #87
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    Quote Originally Posted by Walt View Post
    I too have lived somewhere (Boulder) where there are hundreds of miles of trails that are closed to bikes. I too have struggled with the system, been at a zillion meetings, and felt the sting when our proposal to build multiuse trails on a hillside that was being used as a homeless campsite/illegal party zone/trash dump was nixed as too destructive to the terrain/environment by NIMBYs. IMBA lobbied HARD in that effort and was extremely helpful - but we ultimately failed.

    Here's the thing, though - every one of the NIMBYS was 60+ years old. Most were in their 70s or 80s. I won't mince words: they are rich, burned out former hippies who don't understand outdoor recreation and want to keep everyone else out now that they have their multimillion dollar house and nice views. I bet the situation in Marin/the Bay Area is similar, and IMBA (or anyone) has zero chance against these people until their generation is no longer around.

    Once they're gone, having lots of success stories in other parts of the country, guidelines for building sustainable multiuse trails, and a national organization with long term credibility and connections will matter in lots of local places where access seems hopeless right now. At least that's my hope. So IMO even if you feel like you get nothing out of IMBA now, they might well help you in the future.

    And to be honest, even if I felt that IMBA had zero chance of getting a trail built where I live, I'd *still* pay dues because I enjoy riding other places, might move somewhere else someday, and I'd like to think my kids will be able to ride fun trails wherever they live when they grow up. So paying for "someone else's" trails is actually ok with me.

    -Walt


    I think Jacquie Phelan said
    We throw out these ideas, searching for some middle ground, but we get nothing in response, nothing. So we'll just have to outlive them.
    But it's not hopeless....just slow.
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    Walt you nailed it top to bottom.

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    I said many years ago that we would have to wait for a certain population to die. In the meantime we are doing the hard work on the front lines.
    I don't rattle.

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    Mike the upshot is the interest mountain bike and bike park development by land managers has exploded over the last 3-5 years nation wide. It is odd that a progressive state like CA is slow to adopt but Walt has so succinctly identified the core of the problem. I believe you will make inroads in your area soon helped by progress else where. Marin County is just sitting there waiting to be tapped.

    Sorry about being a dick I would love to host you in PA if you are back East. Not the most epic but fun none the less. Last year two MTB friends 1 from your neighborhood and 1 from Durango came out and we rode WhiteClay DE they enjoyed it immensely.

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    I am not even slightly versed on the issues and challenges in the SF Bay area, that said I hear them being characterized by some here as tremendously complicated, expensive, a David vs. Goliath battle, aka.. the highest fruit on the tree, and therefore not a good use of IMBA's resources.

    When presented in a very straight forward manner, Berkeley Mike's story is extremely compelling and clearly illuminates some of the significant flaws that exist in IMBA's current system of mountain bike advocacy and the thinking that has guided that current system:

    Drawing funds from one relatively rich geographical region/population and spending them elsewhere to curry favor, harvest low hanging fruit, and generally to scale an organization quickly, while paying lip service to the area in which those funds were collected without collaborating with the local “funders” to create a solid plan, strategy, and timetable is indicates a lack of respect and understanding and is a recipe for disaster.

    If it has not already, in time this scenario will manifest itself as donation and advocacy fatigue/burnout in a real and symbolic mountain bike stronghold; a place that is a cultural and economic engine in the fight for mountain bike advocacy progress. Worst of all, this scenario undermines the long-term movement by drawing-down this stronghold's critical mass without offering hope of meaningful change. This is not just a flawed strategy it is irresponsible leadership and a dangerous precedent.

    CB

  92. #92
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    Quote Originally Posted by ABud View Post
    Mike the upshot is the interest mountain bike and bike park development by land managers has exploded over the last 3-5 years nation wide. It is odd that a progressive state like CA is slow to adopt but Walt has so succinctly identified the core of the problem.
    Bike parks area function of the same effort over the last 25-30 years of advocacy. It is further instigated by the placement of mountain bikers on boards and other places of influence as our culture matures. It is not some recent autonomous 3-5 year emergence.
    I don't rattle.

  93. #93
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    Quote Originally Posted by Berkeley Mike View Post
    Bike parks area function of the same effort over the last 25-30 years of advocacy. It is further instigated by the placement of mountain bikers on boards and other places of influence as our culture matures. It is not some recent autonomous 3-5 year emergence.
    took me 3 years to get a city pump track approved (Santa Cruz County)

    There is a noticeable increase in Mountain Bikers getting organized...don't be surprised if sections of the Pacific Crest Trail are opened up in the next 3-5 years...along with other NST's.

    The recent developments in Marin are also interesting....I'm curious to see how that plays out over the next year or so.

    Edit: that came across wrong...it is because of cats like you who have worked for decades that projects now are feasible and can be done in a realistic timeline
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    Re: IMBA tired, old-fashioned PR Spin

    Quote Originally Posted by Berkeley Mike View Post
    It is further instigated by the placement of mountain bikers on boards and other places of influence as our culture matures.
    Gaining local and regional board seats should be a big part of the strategic focus for IMBA members and mountain bikers in general. There are very few things that could turn the tide faster in our favor.
    Should you do more trail work?

  95. #95
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    Mike I agree completely that the 25-35 years of advocacy is the reason why the rubber is finally meeting the road in a big way.

    I was suprised to hear Boulder was so anti mountain bike but 2 years ago (I think) Valmont Bike Park opened in the city of Boulder. This project took many years. I believe the sucess of Valmont may have begun to nullify the opposition, not to say the fight is over but clearly the genie is out of the bottle as in this case the in your face happy constituents, a bunch yet to young to vote.

  96. #96
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    Quote Originally Posted by Walt View Post
    I too have lived somewhere (Boulder) where there are hundreds of miles of trails that are closed to bikes. I too have struggled with the system, been at a zillion meetings, and felt the sting when our proposal to build multiuse trails on a hillside that was being used as a homeless campsite/illegal party zone/trash dump was nixed as too destructive to the terrain/environment by NIMBYs. IMBA lobbied HARD in that effort and was extremely helpful - but we ultimately failed.

    Here's the thing, though - every one of the NIMBYS was 60+ years old. Most were in their 70s or 80s. I won't mince words: they are rich, burned out former hippies who don't understand outdoor recreation and want to keep everyone else out now that they have their multimillion dollar house and nice views. I bet the situation in Marin/the Bay Area is similar, and IMBA (or anyone) has zero chance against these people until their generation is no longer around.

    Once they're gone, having lots of success stories in other parts of the country, guidelines for building sustainable multiuse trails, and a national organization with long term credibility and connections will matter in lots of local places where access seems hopeless right now. At least that's my hope. So IMO even if you feel like you get nothing out of IMBA now, they might well help you in the future.

    And to be honest, even if I felt that IMBA had zero chance of getting a trail built where I live, I'd *still* pay dues because I enjoy riding other places, might move somewhere else someday, and I'd like to think my kids will be able to ride fun trails wherever they live when they grow up. So paying for "someone else's" trails is actually ok with me.

    -Walt
    That is all very well said

    I agree that success in OTHER places helps efforts in more challenging environments. Nothing helps success like success, and the opposite is true as well. If you want to change things in SF, having success in other places gives you something to point to both in terms of making it seem possible, and also to sooth other people's fears about the impacts of opening trails to mtb

    There is a lot to say for waiting out some of the older generation, or at least whatever generation are in power in regards to land management. In our area, in the late 90's, the greatest potential trail system in the Roanoke Valley (Carvins Cove) was dangerously close to being closed to trail recreation. A nearby rails-to-trails proposal was shot down by the locals around it. in just ten years, things made a 180 degree turn. Greenways are being built and funded like crazy, and the land managers of Carvins Cove are actively encouraging people to get involved in building trails.

    Did we change many minds? Not really, it was more a matter of turnover in the system. We are not dealing with the same people now as we were in 1998, and our influence shaped the attitudes up the people coming up through the ranks.
    15mm is a second-best solution to a problem that was already solved.

  97. #97
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    Low hanging fruit is the most efficient path to success, success is the best way to build credibility, credibility is the best form of influence, influence is the key to getting what you want.
    Abud,

    That is one succinct statement... However, that does not make it true.

    Efficiency is not necessarily the goal when it comes to mountain bike advocacy, success is in the eye of the beholder, there are many ways to build credibility, and influence is not necessarily the "key to getting what you want". Despite what Carnegie might have written.

    In my personal experience IMBA has not played a large role in "holding the mountain bike trail community together"... Local mountain bikers have.

    IMBA is comprised of individual mountain bikers. These mountain bikers comprise IMBA's "membership" and literally have made IMBA's existence/funding possible. It is they who actually do the bulk of the work that IMBA takes credit for. One only need look at the stories related to successful IMBA projects. The IMBA brand is the central focus, the land manager or locale is second, the IMBA Chapter or Affiliate is third, and rarely if ever is it stated that "Without Joe Blow mountain biker this project would not have happened". Although, I have to say, I really did appreciate the nice zip-up cotton jacket. Thanks!

    Further, although not perfect nor etched in stone the jury is still far from out on whether or not unified standards serve mountain bikers interests or constrain them. Regarding lobbying, if "we" do not agree on what our interests are then IMBA is not necessarily lobbying for "us" but, for IMBA.

    This thread has become an opportunity for people to tell their story... The goal has never been to "bash" IMBA but to speak truth to power, illuminate issues (that are often not obvious, easily understood, nor universal), to seek support, and ultimately seek to influence real change to the status quo in the areas in which we need and want change.

    When IMBA's only visible response to diplomatically voiced concerns is classic PR spin IMBA needs a wake-up call.

    Do you believe IMBA is perfect? Do you think that IMBA can learn something from the betterride.net blog post, and many of the threads and posts here? Do you believe that P.R. spin is a constructive and reasonable response from the worlds largest mountain bike advocacy organization?

    CB

  98. #98
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    You know, when I get the IMBA flyer every few months in the mail (which, btw, is one of my gripes - that should be distributed electronically. Save the $ and trees, guys) I see a ton of info about "Joe Blow" and his club and how they built some trail... I have never gotten the sense that IMBA is about taking credit for the accomplishments of others.

    And there's this, too - I *don't care* who takes credit for getting a nice new trail system built and opened. If I spend months planning, attend a billion boring meeting, and sweat all day out there with a Pulaski and some slick politician (or IMBA guy) cuts the ribbon and makes a speech taking all the credit, that's fine with me - I'll be out riding the next day.

    I was probably the #1 or #2 person (other than the landowner who so graciously sold the property to the county) who got Boulder's Benjamin trail approved and built 6 or 7 years ago, but other than a couple of people in the local club who were part of that effort and also spent a ton of time in meetings with me, nobody knows. And that's ok. The trail is there and I don't need outside recognition to be satisfied with what I've accomplished.

    So: I don't get this whole "IMBA is hogging the credit" thing because A) in my experience both dealing with them directly AND reading their "PR spin", it's not true, and B) If it were true, I would not really care as long as fun trails are getting built.

    -Walt

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    Regarding Marin and other Bay Area trails, there's no doubt that IMBA has come up short of our goals. It hasn't been for want of trying though. Our very first paid regional staff position was created in California, with an eye on improving that situation. As Berkeley Mike points out, Tom Ward is an outstanding advocate with an amazing background -- he was a top-brass leader in the Calif. state parks department for decades before coming to IMBA. Yet, even with his personal skills, agency connections and a collaborative approach with local MTB organizations, trail access in Marin remains nearly intractable. There are some hopeful developments -- like the Stafford Bike Park and the regional advocacy summit work that Berkeley Mike mentioned -- but there's a long way to go before IMBA is satisfied with the MTB access for the Bay Area.

    The notion that IMBA has siphoned funds from the Bay Area, or other population centers, and distributed it to other places is both wrong and right. In terms of membership dollars and fund donations by Bay Area residents, it might be about a wash if those monies were directed solely to Tom's paid region position, plus the legal work and advocacy initiatives in the Bay Area that IMBA has undertaken.

    Membership fees and fund donations are just part of the picture, however. In California, Specialized has been especially generous in supporting IMBA's advocacy work. They offered support that allowed IMBA to hire Tom Ward as our first paid, region-based employee. In that position, Tom has produced great results for riders across the state, though sadly not as many as we'd like in Marin (for reasons that were described well by other posters).

    By combing membership and fund drives with industry support and revenue-positive programs (yes, that includes Trail Solutions) IMBA has been able to continue hiring paid, professional bike advocates across the USA. So in that sense, yes, money from the Bay Area has helped other population centers, plus rural riding areas and mountain bikers in all kinds of other locations across the nation. The Bay Area isn't the only large population center where IMBA is active, so places like Chicago, Washington DC, Atlanta, etc. have all contributed to the larger effort.

    Today, we have IMBA regions and paid staff covering almost all of the country. Tom's position in California helped establish the model. Another big influence was the outstanding record of success that SORBA created in the South, in large part through their well-organized, vibrant chapter system.

    By learning from SORBA, and strongly partnering with them (we are now fully merged), IMBA hit on our current approach to hiring region-based professional staff and funding their positions via a dues-sharing relationship with chapters -- combined with continued support from the bike industry (SRAM has been particularly generous with this type of programming) -- means that mountain bikers have more regionally based resources than ever before.

    If you are against the idea of working collectively on a national level to benefit mountain bikers on the regional and local levels, IMBA may not be for you. Some groups would rather do everything on their own, with funding and trail building efforts that are isolated within their communities. Many of the groups build great trails and achieve remarkable advocacy successes with little help from IMBA -- although it could be argued that the broader mountain bike community would benefit if they worked with IMBA, and that they have benefited from IMBA's good reputation with land managers. But that's up to those local groups to decide.

    IMBA's goal is to keep expanding the chapter program and continue hiring professional bike advocates to work on the regional and local levels. The results have been clearly positive. Check out this interactive map and click on the IMBA regions to read about real-world achievements of the region- and chapter-based approach: Support the Annual Fund | International Mountain Bicycling Association

    Dismiss this map-based info as "PR spin" if you like, but the reality is that mountain bikers from coast to coast are seeing the results of having access to region directors, associate region directors and other professional staff. Yes, this is a collectivist approach -- that's what nonprofit association work is about. When we work together, we are truly stronger. That's true in all sorts of mountain bike realms too -- from political advocacy to creating trail building resources. Will every dollar you contribute go directly back to the trail in your backyard? No, but if you ride more than a handful of trail systems and want to support the sport of mountain biking broadly, and in your own region, IMBA is able to facilitate those goals better than ever before.

    Phew -- sorry for the long speech!

  100. #100
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    Walt -- thanks for weighing in. BTW, you can opt out of print mailings pretty easily by logging into imba.com and selecting 'communications preferences." There's an option to receive no postal mail but continue receiving electronic communications.

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