Create. Enhance. Protect.
It’s been our mission and our mantra since 1988. Today we continue work for more great trails in more places, because we have seen how mountain biking changes lives and improves communities.
In 2017, IMBA’s Trail Solutions team moved nearly 800 miles of trail forward. These miles are spread between 35 projects that touch 18 U.S. states and Mexico. Every project selected by Trail Solutions follows at least one of the team’s guiding pillars: teach, plan, design, build.
Trail Solutions staff hosted 13 educational events across the country in 2017. One such event was a trail building school at Southern Illinois University, which stemmed from the planning and design work Trail Solutions did in 2016 at the University’s Touch of Nature Environmental Center.
When it comes to trails, the pen is as mighty as the pulaski. Trail Solutions worked on 13 trail system plans and designs in 2017, accounting for more than 470 miles of trail. These plans can take years to hit the dirt, like the Sylvan Hill Bike Park in Wausau, WI, that was planned in 2013 and held its grand opening in 2017.
IMBA's design work in 2017 included seven bike parks in five states, including a design in the center of town in Caliente, NV. The bike park links riders to 43 miles of trail designed by IMBA Trail Solutions, with the potential for so much more as plans and public comment periods continue in Caliente.
Eight states, 53 miles of trail, and thousands of hours of sweat defined our trail time in 2017. In Colorado, Trail Solutions experts helped IMBA chapter Colorado Mountain Bike Association and Jefferson County Open Space solve a complex rock build challenge to extend one of the most technical trails on the Colorado Front Range.
Through grants, campaigns and partnerships, we raised more than $200,000 for local trails in 2017. And while we work nationally to raise the bar for mountain biking, IMBA chapters across the country enhance their communities through events like Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day, which saw 78 registered rides in 32 states and four countries in 2017.
2017 was the first year for the IMBA Dig In Campaign, a nationwide fundraising effort we ran on behalf of our chapters to support local trail projects. 68 groups in 31 states participated. Together, we raised more than $122,000 dollars for 500 miles of new trail, maintenance for 140 miles, 10 new bike parks and three projects supporting high school mountain bike racing.
The Model Trails program was relaunched in 2017 after a one-year hiatus to revamp Ride Center™ criteria and review the full list of IMBA EPICS. Our expert staff worked closely with several communities on the educational evaluation process for Ride Center designations, while seven new IMBA EPICS were added to the backcountry bucket list.
We collaborated with the Bureau of Land Management and other partners over several years to develop “Guidelines for a Quality Trail Experience” (GQTE), which was published in 2017. The guidelines establish key characteristics that define a range of trail-based experiences to improve the design, construction, and management of mountain bike trails across the country.
IMBA’s network of more than 200 local chapters tallied 35,000 members in 2017. These dedicated volunteers collectively maintain tens of thousands of miles of trails in local communities and on public lands across the country, contributing more than $2.8 million in-kind volunteer labor annually.
We rallied mountain bikers to submit nearly 6,000 letters through seven calls to action in 2017. Alongside this work, our staff tracked 35 bills, attended 60 legislative meetings impacting trails in 14 states, submitted 21 planning and policy letters and testimonies, and have influenced mountain bike-friendly language on 10 bills in the current Congress.
In May 2017, the Department of the Interior announced an unprecedented review of millions of acres of national monuments. IMBA rallied mountain bikers to voice our concerns about the review, sending over 5,000 comment letters. While we are concerned with the reductions of some monuments, IMBA supporters successfully helped defend the four threatened monuments with mountain biking opportunities.
The bipartisan Recreation-Not-Red-Tape Act (RNR) was introduced in July 2017, and is a bill we enthusiastically support because it will improve mountain biking and outdoor recreation access and grow the recreation economy. We worked alongside Outdoor Alliance and Senator Ron Wyden’s office (D-OR) to shape key components of the RNR Act, and continue to advocate for this bill in the current Congress.
In Montana, we successfully negotiated legislation for a 3,000-acre National Recreation Area companion designation in place of a wilderness proposal that threatened 30 miles of valuable trail. This work took place alongside local mountain bike organization MTB Missoula and statewide IMBA members, and followed our longtime approach of advocating for alternate land protections through cooperation, collaboration and compromise between all stakeholders.
IMBA’s Board of Directors revisited and revised our eMTB position in 2017, and continues to analyze the evolving eMTB landscape. The 2017 revision recommends local collaboration over any decision to allow class-1 eMTBs on non-motorized trails. Simply put: we want mountain bikers at the table for these discussions and decisions. IMBA continues to advocate for access for traditional, non-motorized mountain bikes, first and foremost.
2016 and 2017 have been periods of reflection, analysis and rebuilding. We have worked hard to restructure programs, including new software and key hires to better support Trail Solutions, a listening tour and analysis of our chapter program, and changes to our educational and fundraising offerings to modernize our support for local mountain bike organizations across the country.
Our work is not done, and we look forward to rolling out more developments in 2018 and beyond.
2017 boasted our two best membership drives in history, with record membership contributions and $241,850 going to local IMBA chapters across the country. We continue to pursue new and innovative funding streams, including a more dedicated focus on grant writing to support multi-year programmatic work.
In 2017 we continued to analyze several areas of the organization for efficiencies, leading to reducing membership processing costs by 50% and committing to a lean approach to operational expenses. Downsizing office and storage space and investing in new administrative software has reduced these expenses.
IMBA’s mission is made possible through generous support from hundreds of companies, bike shops, foundations and individuals, along with the ongoing support of tens of thousands of mountain bikers all across the country.
In February 2017, IMBA welcomed Dave Wiens—Mountain Bike Hall of Famer and founder of Gunnison Trails—as its new Executive Director. The IMBA Board of Directors created a role for an IMBA Chapter Representative and Mid-Atlantic Off-Road Enthusiasts President Ernie Rodriguez joined the board in this position.
Our mission to create, enhance and protect great places to ride mountain bikes is not possible without the support of mountain bikers. We look forward to the next 30 years of advocacy alongside riders everywhere.