IMBA was founded in 1988 by a group of California mountain bike clubs concerned about the closure of trails to cyclists. These pioneering clubs believed that mountain biker-education programs and innovative trail management solutions should be developed and promoted.
While this first wave of threatened trail access was concentrated in California, IMBA's pioneers saw that crowded trails and trail-user conflict were fast becoming worldwide recreation issues.
IMBA's First 20 Years
Spring 1988 - Faced with the threat of widespread trail closures in California, five Golden State mountain bike clubs linked to form IMBA. The founding clubs were: Concerned Off Road Bicyclists Association, Bicycle Trails Council East Bay, Bicycle Trails Council Marin, Sacramento Rough Riders and Responsible Organized Mountain Pedalers. Gibson Anderson of Sacramento became the group's first executive director. The first group of IMBA board members comprised: Jim Hasenauer, Michael Kelley, Gary Klein, Rodney Johnson, and Don Douglass.
Summer and Fall 1988 - IMBA created and publicized "Six Rules of the Trail." Land managers throughout the U.S. (and abroad) started posting these rules on trailhead signs and in trail brochures, which helped them get comfortable with the idea of allowing mountain bikers on public trails. IMBA produced strategic advice documents such as "What to do if your local trails are being threatened by closure," "How to organize a mountain bike club," and "IMBA's multiple-use philosophy."
Fall 1989 - Bylaws and articles of incorporation were developed. Specialized held a "No Trails, No Sales" breakfast at Interbike in cooperation with Bicycling Magazine. IMBA made its first pitch to the bike industry, saying that the future of mountain biking will depend on responsible riding, volunteer trailwork by mountain bikers, and political clout. Linda DuPriest of Specialized and Tim Blumenthal of Bicycling Magazine joined IMBA's board.
1989-1991 - IMBA's office operated on a part-time basis in Bishop, California (south of Mammoth Mountain), run by IMBA president Don Douglass and his wife Reanne. IMBA produced a regular newsletter "Land Access Alert."
1992 - IMBA opened a tiny one-room office in Pasadena, California, staffed by part-timer Sarah Meigs. IMBA president Jim Hasenauer and members of the board of directors filled essential staff functions on a volunteer basis.
September 1993 - IMBA hired Tim Blumenthal, a former IMBA board member and cycling journalist, as its executive director. When Blumenthal began, IMBA's annual budget was less than $100,000 and the organization has roughly 1,200 individual members and about 60 affiliated clubs.
April 1994 - Five IMBA leaders met with five leaders of the national Sierra Club in Park City, Utah, as the culmination of a six-month mediation process. One outcome of the meeting was written recognition - for the first time - by the Sierra Club that responsible mountain bicycling is a legitimate recreational activity, including on narrow trails. This meeting also led to the separation of mountain biking from motorized trail use in official Sierra Club policy.
June 1994 - IMBA moved its headquarters to Boulder, Colorado, renting a one-room office a block from the downtown post office. IMBA signed a five-year memorandum of understanding with the U.S. Forest Service that encouraged the USFS to promote mountain biking throughout its 191-million acre system.
September 1995 - IMBA and the UCI hosted an international advocacy conference at the World Championships in Germany, helping IMBA introduce its work to Europe, where singletrack trails had been closed in Germany, Austria and the Netherlands.
January 1996 - IMBA held its first National Advocacy Summit at Biosphere II in Oracle, Arizona. More than 130 mountain bike leaders from across North America attended. IMBA's state representative network began to take shape. Spring 1996 - IMBA hired Stuart Ulferts of Kentucky as its first development director, and its staff lawyer. Elite mountain biker racers such as Ned Overend, John Tomac, Juli Furtado, Missy Giove and Travis Brown became IMBA members and voiced their support.
1996 - IMBA's membership grew to nearly 15,000. The roster of IMBA-affiliated clubs toped 250. RockShox increased its support for IMBA and the first round of RockShox/IMBA Club Assistance grants were awarded. IMBA clubs built more than 400 miles of new trails and donated 150,000 volunteer hours to trailwork this year. IMBA launched its first website.
1997 - The Subaru/IMBA Trail Care Crew program was initiated. Jan and Mike Riter began working with IMBA clubs, land managers and other trail-user groups across the nation. The outcome of their work: a better image for mountain biking, lots of new trails, and hundreds of miles of existing trails that stand up better to heavy use and bad weather. Also in '97, IMBA began coordinating the National Mountain Bike Patrol, with support from founding sponsor NORBA. IMBA hosted a Global Advocacy Summit in conjunction with the '97 World Championships in Switzerland. IMBA hired its first full-time advocacy director, Jennifer Lamb. Her job was to build a cohesive network of state IMBA representatives and build mountain biking's clout in the halls of government. By the end of the year, IMBA had nearly 18,000 individual members and more than 250 member clubs.
1998 - The Subaru/IMBA Trail Care Crew program expanded to two full-time crews, doubling the clout of the program. The National Mountain Bike Patrol added patrols from coast to coast. IMBA conducted a state reps summit near Knoxville, Tennessee. IMBA's membership, staff and budget all grow. By the end of the year, IMBA has 24,000 individual members, a staff of 10, and a budget of $800,000. During the year, IMBA and its affiliate clubs built nearly 1,000 miles of new trails and donated more than 200,000 volunteer hours to trailwork. In November, IMBA hired former pro racer Pete Webber as its first fulltime membership director, and Dirt Camp founder Rod Kramer as its Development Director.
1999 - IMBA had more than 28,000 individual members, 14 staffers and a budget of $1.2 million. Midway through the year, the Trail Care Crew program completed its 500th trail project. IMBA opened its first office in Europe. IMBA also created and launched the IMBA Epics Series this year.
2000 - IMBA focused on federal agency relationships with the National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management. IMBA president Ashley Korenblat met with President Clinton in March to discuss mountain biking rules in National Monuments. In June, IMBA board and staff met with the top three recreation officials of the U.S. Forest Service and top brass of the Park Service. IMBA signed a new cooperative agreement with the Bureau of Land Management, and a five-year Memorandum of Understanding with the U.S. Forest Service IMBA launched a new website that includes more than 700 pages of well-organized, concise information. The Trail Care Crew and National Mountain Bike Patrol programs continued to grow and achieve national recognition. IMBA grew to more than 32,000 individual members and a staff of 15. Steve Anderson of Tucson, Arizona, was elected board president; RockShox founder Paul Turner joined the board. Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong, an IMBA member, appeared in his second IMBA membership ad campaign. Lance, as well as all four U.S. mountain biking Olympians, are current IMBA members.
2001 - Trail Care Crew veteran Joey Klein retired from full-time Trail Care Crew duties at the end of 2001 and became IMBA's first trails consulting specialist, a new position. An IMBA campaign helped reverse a BLM decision. After receiving more than 10,000 comment letters from mountain bikers in 30 days, they decided not to group mountain bikes with motorized vehicles in a new management plan. "This change is exactly what we want," said IMBA executive director Tim Blumenthal. "Mountain bikers spoke and the BLM listened." IMBA organized its first-ever European mountain bike patrol in the Mediterranean town of Finale Ligure, Italy.
2004 - IMBA's second Executive Director, Mike Van Abel, was hired to succeed outgoing E.D., Tim Blumenthal. Tim left to assume the Executive Director role of the bike industry's association, the Bikes Belong Coalition which is also headquartered in Boulder, Colorado.
As IMBA moved into the new millennium, its staff and resources continued to grow. Online press archives on IMBA's website are the best repository for IMBA's recent activities and achievements.