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  1. #1
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    Since this forum is allegedly sponsored by IMBA :p

    This is a pretty good summary of WTF happened in the last few years (chapter insurance debacle notwithstanding)...

    https://www.bikemag.com/features/ori...-for-question/

    It is crazy to me that we as a community can't unilaterally support access to public trails already on the ground that provide challenge, solitude, reward and memories for a lifetime (nevermind actively OPPOSING legislation to address that!). To me, it is incredibly tragic how far the current IMBA has strayed from the founders of IMBA. Yes frontcountry stacked loops and flow trails are great for mountain biking... but the backcountry beckons each and every one of those frontcountry riders at some point in their mountain biking lifetime. I won't shed a tear if IMBA fizzles out completely. I believe it will be replaced by a more modern and bold thinking, access hungry organization who knows how to get a seat at the proverbial table and stand its ground.

  2. #2
    WillWorkForTrail
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    Quote Originally Posted by Empty_Beer View Post
    I won't shed a tear if IMBA fizzles out completely. I believe it will be replaced by a more modern and bold thinking, access hungry organization who knows how to get a seat at the proverbial table and stand its ground.
    I can't decide if this is me playing devil's advocate or not. But since we all know the group you're talking about in the future can't be the STC - it simply isn't their mission - how many people do you think continue to support IMBA because the future organization doesn't exist yet? Wouldn't the fastest way to choke off IMBA be get the other organization started so that the people who are GOING to support an advocacy group have somewhere besides IMBA to send their money?

  3. #3
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    According to Wikipedia, there are over 50 conservation organizations in the US.

    Every time I have been in a contentious public meeting about mountain biking, there are at least 4 or 5 different conservation groups speaking against mountain biking. Yet the pro mountain bike side is only represented by one organization.

    For some reason the mountain bike community seems to expect the ONE organization to fight and win every battle. This is hard to do, because each battle has a unique set of challenges.

    At the State level, here in Indiana, our DNR leaders asked for one group to represent mountain bikers across the state, So we formed HMBA. But even with in the DNR, there is the need for more groups. While most Park managers are happy to work with HMBA, there are some who would rather work with a local group. So, even though State DNR leadership said the wanted one group to work with, two of our State Parks have local/regional mtb groups that work directly with the local park manager.

    At the City and County level, it is even more likely that the Park managers/boards/politicians want to work with a local group.

    The correct tact to take with each property is different as well. We got into some properties by presenting our trail building abilities and selling the land land managers on volunteer built trails that will add to the quality of life of local residents. And there are cases where we got into properties over top if the desire of the local land managers through political efforts.

    This has been a big challenge for me as a leader of our organization. Some times I need to be the volunteer / trail building partner to land managers, and other times I have to go over their head and take a political approach.

    I like that we now have 2 organizations (STC and IMBA), but think we do need at least a few more (probably not 50). With IMBA seeming to focus on urban trails, it seems that there is a need for a back country focused organization. [Note that if IMBA wants to focus on urban trails, then they need to stay in their lane. The letter they sent opposing STC's efforts has really soured me towards them].

    But will there be a group of mountain bikers willing to take on the huge task of starting and running a new group? If they do, will IMBA play nicely with them?

  4. #4
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    Local, home grown, grass root. That's the future of mtb advocacy. IMBA will be limited to ride centers in places that don't have strong local advocacy, as long as those locations can afford to pay for them.
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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by life behind bars View Post
    Local, home grown, grass root. That's the future of mtb advocacy. IMBA will be limited to ride centers in places that don't have strong local advocacy, as long as those locations can afford to pay for them.
    There will always be a place for local advocacy. But national level advocacy will also always have a place.

    I think we'll probably see at some point a legit advocacy group popping onto the scene with a focus on backcountry trails.

    There's already Bikepacking Roots, which is an advocacy org focuses specifically on long bikepacking routes.

    https://www.bikepackingroots.org/

    STC exists to focus specifically on the Wilderness issue. Particularly from a "big issue" political standpoint.

    There's two orgs right there whose missions ought to overlap to at least some degree, but Bikepacking Roots doesn't really say much regarding bike access in Wilderness. Access through Wilderness areas would open up a lot more route options, for sure. Unfortunately, it appears that Bikepacking Roots tied themselves pretty closely to IMBA from the start, and I'm sure this is exactly why they don't say anything about Wilderness access.

    IMBA definitely seems to be moving away from backcountry mtb access and putting most of its efforts into urban systems. There's definitely a real need there, with some cities being pretty abysmal in that regard.

    The article makes an interesting point. It sounds like IMBA is trying to make a distinction between "doesn't support STC's efforts" and "actively opposes STC's efforts" which I don't think is a distinction you can make in regards to the letter they wrote. The author of the article points out, rightly so, that saying they "didn't support" STC's efforts effectively MEANS they "actively oppose" STC's efforts. IMO, a more tactful approach would have been to just be silent on the issue. Which is honestly how I think IMBA should position themselves regarding ebikes, at most.

  6. #6
    I should be out riding
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    Quote Originally Posted by indytrekracer View Post
    According to Wikipedia, there are over 50 conservation organizations in the US.

    Every time I have been in a contentious public meeting about mountain biking, there are at least 4 or 5 different conservation groups speaking against mountain biking. Yet the pro mountain bike side is only represented by one organization.

    For some reason the mountain bike community seems to expect the ONE organization to fight and win every battle. This is hard to do, because each battle has a unique set of challenges.

    At the State level, here in Indiana, our DNR leaders asked for one group to represent mountain bikers across the state, So we formed HMBA. But even with in the DNR, there is the need for more groups. While most Park managers are happy to work with HMBA, there are some who would rather work with a local group. So, even though State DNR leadership said the wanted one group to work with, two of our State Parks have local/regional mtb groups that work directly with the local park manager.

    At the City and County level, it is even more likely that the Park managers/boards/politicians want to work with a local group.

    The correct tact to take with each property is different as well. We got into some properties by presenting our trail building abilities and selling the land land managers on volunteer built trails that will add to the quality of life of local residents. And there are cases where we got into properties over top if the desire of the local land managers through political efforts.

    This has been a big challenge for me as a leader of our organization. Some times I need to be the volunteer / trail building partner to land managers, and other times I have to go over their head and take a political approach.

    I like that we now have 2 organizations (STC and IMBA), but think we do need at least a few more (probably not 50). With IMBA seeming to focus on urban trails, it seems that there is a need for a back country focused organization. [Note that if IMBA wants to focus on urban trails, then they need to stay in their lane. The letter they sent opposing STC's efforts has really soured me towards them].

    But will there be a group of mountain bikers willing to take on the huge task of starting and running a new group? If they do, will IMBA play nicely with them?
    Multiple national level groups are a sign of maturity for the cause. It allows them to play against each other, good cop/bad cop style, and get compromise where it might not have occurred. It's obviously worked very well for the mainstream enviro orgs. Yet IMBA did all they could to sink STC, and failed at that too.

    It is time for a new national org. Who will start it?
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  7. #7
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    IMBA is effectively irrelevant to most mountain bikers and mountain bike orgs in most parts of the country. Local orgs have matured, operate independently and no longer need IMBA. We know how to organize, we know how to get grant money, we know how to design, we know how to build. Many of us also have a many years long relationship with our local land managers, we aren't the ragtag newcomers any longer.

    There are also an amazing amount of quality professional trail builders out there. The past model of a zillion hours of volunteer labor and the small army of people needed to accomplish those builds is becoming an option. We still have maintenance days that are all vounteer, but we and the land managers around here have embraced the design it our selves, and pay a pro to build it model, they can do a better job anyway, and the trail is done in
    a week to a month.

    If IMBA wants to focus on lobbying at the national level, have at it, I think that would be their best role.

  8. #8
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    MBOSC bails

    One of the best MTB Clubs on the planet has made the move; mbosc-leaves-imba.
    Content here does not officially represent the CA DPR.

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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Moe Ped View Post
    One of the best MTB Clubs on the planet has made the move; mbosc-leaves-imba.


    I'm going to join MBOSC as a show of support.
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  10. #10
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    My gut tells me that there's something missing from this story here. I doubt the IMBA is deliberately throwing mtbr's under the bus. There may be factors that they can't even share with the public. When there's 50 organizations apposing mtb-ing and one pro mtb group it would be pretty easy to get backed into a corner.

    I should add that my thoughts are entirely based on speculation. I don't know anything on this topic but that's what makes sense to me.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by raisingarizona View Post
    There may be factors that they can't even share with the public.



    If they have to be that covert with their own members they don't need any further support.
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by life behind bars View Post
    If they have to be that covert with their own members they don't need any further support.
    sounds great but not always reality.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by raisingarizona View Post
    sounds great but not always reality.


    The reality is that IMBA has failed to serve the interests of their members.
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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by raisingarizona View Post
    My gut tells me that there's something missing from this story here. I doubt the IMBA is deliberately throwing mtbr's under the bus. There may be factors that they can't even share with the public. When there's 50 organizations apposing mtb-ing and one pro mtb group it would be pretty easy to get backed into a corner.

    I should add that my thoughts are entirely based on speculation. I don't know anything on this topic but that's what makes sense to me.
    My gut tells me there is plenty of information out there, including numerous statements from those who do know - groups like NEMBA, SDMBA, Jim Hasenhauer, and John Bliss. Perhaps instead of pointless, and uneducated, speculation, you might do more research before adding comments that you acknowledge are speculative and based on no knowledge of the topic?
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  15. #15
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    I agree with everything Harold wrote

    As others point out, IMBAís focus is clearly on new stacked loop systems in urban and suburban settings. Great, thereís a need for that. But they arenít doing anything for backcountry riders beyond what Melson is able to do on his own here in Montana. And they let him go for a while a few years ago- local clubs were trying to find funds to keep him active.

    Imperfect analogy, but it reminds me of what an old scoutmaster of mine found when he took a retirement job with the Boy Scouts of America. He discovered that they didnít GAF about older kids or programs that increase retention- the things he was excited about and wanted to improve. Things that seem to be relevant to the image and brand of scouting. Instead, everything was about increasing Cub Scout signups. Their parents are the ones who spend money on all the Cub Scout branded crap.

    When IMBA dropped the insurance program, they pushed a lot of groups out of the nest. Local clubs had to build capacity. In the end that probably benefited local scenes, but it cost IMBA a lot.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by ACree View Post
    My gut tells me there is plenty of information out there, including numerous statements from those who do know - groups like NEMBA, SDMBA, Jim Hasenhauer, and John Bliss. Perhaps instead of pointless, and uneducated, speculation, you might do more research before adding comments that you acknowledge are speculative and based on no knowledge of the topic?
    Or I can post whatever the hell I want because......Merica. Just like anyone can act like a total richard on an internet forum.

  17. #17
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    Article from today (Oct 16th) - IMBA looks to shore up support ó both inside and outside the industry

    https://www.bicycleretailer.com/indu...y#.W8ai6XtKjIU

    No mention of support for eBikes and not pushing for Wilderness Access which is the real reason they are collapsing. Very odd. Instead the blame is put on Specialized and other companies for cutting funding. Does anyone know the real story of why Specialized cut its IMBA funding?

    Great article from BIKE by the way. It really provides a lot of details that a lot of us knew but wasn't clearly written in one place.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Porkchop_Power View Post
    Article from today (Oct 16th) - IMBA looks to shore up support ó both inside and outside the industry

    https://www.bicycleretailer.com/indu...y#.W8ai6XtKjIU

    No mention of support for eBikes and not pushing for Wilderness Access which is the real reason they are collapsing. Very odd. Instead the blame is put on Specialized and other companies for cutting funding. Does anyone know the real story of why Specialized cut its IMBA funding?

    Great article from BIKE by the way. It really provides a lot of details that a lot of us knew but wasn't clearly written in one place.
    I have a feeling it came down to an "effectiveness of the dollar" business decision. If Specialized pumps money into NICA (Trek beat them to that as a major sponsor of that group), they are more directly influencing future sales in the long term, so I think those manufacturers see that as a better investment.

    So I think IMBA in that sense has failed to show its relevance in a different way than we have been talking about here.

    It's been quite some time since IMBA has really been able to capitalize on any major political victories. There haven't really been any at the national level, I think, since IMBA was involved with breaking mtb access into the national parks system. And since permission to ride on singletrack in national parks is still quite limited, it hasn't been a major nationwide victory to continue crowing about.

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  19. #19
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    When the Waltons pull the plug on funding IMBA goes extinct.
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  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by life behind bars View Post
    When the Waltons pull the plug on funding IMBA goes extinct.
    Any sources confirming the Waltons are funding IMBA? If true, I am (pleasantly) surprised.

    Regarding Specialized, what value does IMBA bring to increasing bike sales? If the local clubs are now the mtb advocates, then Specialized rationally would transfer funding to those entities.

  21. #21
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    It appears that IMBA has no clear purpose anymore. They are not leading on any national issues and the local front-country trails that they work on are probably best built and maintained by local organizations.

    If they can't offer a clear and appealing mission to mountain bikers, then their demise will be imminent. Fundraising is not a mission.
    Riding Washington State singletrack since 1986

  22. #22
    since 4/10/2009
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    Quote Originally Posted by life behind bars View Post
    When the Waltons pull the plug on funding IMBA goes extinct.
    Quote Originally Posted by bingemtbr View Post
    Any sources confirming the Waltons are funding IMBA? If true, I am (pleasantly) surprised.
    The Waltons are dumping a lot of money into mtb (I think it's one of the heirs, in particular, who is a passionate mtb rider), but they're dumping it into the NW Arkansas local scene. They're probably hiring Trail Solutions crews a lot of the time, but AFAIK, they're not exclusively hiring them. They're dumping so much money into it that local governments are hiring trail management staff themselves. I have a friend who's a former IMBA employee, and still works in the industry. He is pretty well connected with what's going on there. I don't think the Waltons have really donated much to IMBA as a charitable org.

    Quote Originally Posted by Curveball View Post
    It appears that IMBA has no clear purpose anymore. They are not leading on any national issues and the local front-country trails that they work on are probably best built and maintained by local organizations.

    If they can't offer a clear and appealing mission to mountain bikers, then their demise will be imminent. Fundraising is not a mission.
    I agree with this assessment for the most part. Honestly I think their Trail Care Crew program was probably their most successful program and it's a real shame that they haven't found a new sponsor to keep it going. That program alone is what got them such a positive reputation with land managers, and gave affiliated clubs that same reputation simply by association.

  23. #23
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    Seems IMBA represents electric motorbicycles, for profit trail building pretty well lately.

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