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2018 was a great year

2018 was a great year

And our plans for 2019 are even better

By: Katherine Fuller
Posted: December 20, 2018


Shifted toward a new focus for the future of mountain biking


In 2018, we shifted our focus to be on creating and catalyzing more trails close to home. We see the future of mountain biking in going after opportunities for more close-to-home access. Trails close to home mean more quick hits for mental health and fun. In large cities and small rural towns alike, trails enhance quality of life, provide economic benefits and create community. 

Our overall goal in 2019 is to continue to partner with our IMBA Local organizations to catalyze, educate, and kickstart mountain bike trail development in every community across the country—and around the world—so that every rider has access to great trails, from close to home rides to iconic backcountry experiences.  


Created a new funding source for communities to take on master trail planning


In mid-2018, we launched the Trail Accelerator Grant. Many cities and towns have the interest and political support to develop mountain bike facilities and trail systems, but lack funding and/or knowledge to jump-start efforts. IMBA’s Trail Accelerator Grant is intended to help fill that gap and support visions for model trails in typically underserved states. So far we have awarded $45,000 to three communities to help them create new mountain bike trail plans. You can learn more about those winners, here. 

In 2019, our goal is to support a dozen or more new trail master plans in the U.S. We will offer three rounds of grant cycles with each cycle awarding 3-5 grants, each. Grant opportunities range from $15-30,000, with a total up to $200,000 available in 2019. The first 2019 grant application period is open until December 30. 


Launched an intensive workshop to teach land managers and city leaders the value of mountain biking and how to make it happen in their communities


IMBA Trail Labs are in-depth workshops designed to catalyze the next generation of great places to ride mountain bikes by educating and equipping decision-makers and purse-string holders in communities large and small. Attendees learn about the benefits of community-based trail systems and how to go about planning for, creating, funding and supporting them. 

In 2018, this program reached 71 land managers, city leaders, tourism officials and others from 30 different U.S. and Canadian communities. 

In 2019, our goal is to educate up to 160 community officials. We will hold three or four Trail Labs in 2019, with a maximum of 40 people in each session. 


Hosted IMBA’s first, women’s mountain bike advocacy conference


In 2018, we hosted UPRISING, a women-focused mountain bike advocacy conference in Bentonville, AR. IMBA’s female staff brought together some of the most successful women mountain bike advocates in the country to share their ideas and their stories. Nearly 150 people from all across the U.S. and Canada attended to network, ride, learn and witness a model mountain bike community.

From the event came the idea for International Women’s Mountain Biking Day—a social engagement event to encourage more women on mountain bikes. In 2018, the event generated 7.8 million inspiring moments on social media and was celebrated in at least 21 countries. 

In 2019, we look forward to continuing our support for International Women’s Mountain Biking Day, always on the first Saturday in May. We encourage all of you to do something fun and show it off with #womensmtbday!


Continued to evaluate, recognize and promote model mountain bike trails and communities 


In 2018, we designated two new Ride Centers and added nine new EPICS to the list of unforgettable bucket-list rides (as nominated by people like you!). IMBA recognizes outstanding mountain bike trail communities as Ride Centers™ and backcountry trails as IMBA EPICS. The goal of the program is to inspire and engage stakeholders so that mountain bikers can have more great places to ride.

In 2019, we will continue to expand our revised and improved application criteria for Ride Centers to ensure that only destination-quality communities are awarded this special designation. A new, more stringent criteria will also be applied to the IMBA EPICS designation to ensure truly outstanding experiences. The next class of designations will be announced Fall 2019.


Advocacy achievements: planning, policy, legislation, engagement


In 2018, we continued to create, enhance and protect mountain bike access to trails and public lands; and to ensure mountain bikers are at the table when a wide range of issues affecting us are discussed. We did this by doing everything from running national public outreach campaigns; providing professional and on-the-ground support to local groups; meeting with and educating elected officials and land managers; attending high-level meetings in Washington, D.C.; fighting for critical trail project funding sources at the federal level and much more. 

Here is just a sampling of what we accomplished in 2018 in the advocacy space:

  • Rallied the community to submit more than 6,400 letter to Congress and federal land agencies regarding major funding and access issues related to mountain biking. In one, 24-hour period in April, we helped generate more than 1,800 letters to Congress to defeat amendments that would have negatively impacted a piece of legislation intended to support and grow outdoor recreation opportunities.
  • Partnered with 25 local mountain bike organizations across 10 states to support their grassroots advocacy efforts with educational guidance, land-use planning, action alerts, meeting support, paid consultants and other strategies. 
  • Guided $264,000 in U.S. Forest Service Trail Steward grants toward mountain bike trails on USFS lands across the U.S. 
  • Traveled to Washington, D.C., four times for meetings with federal land management agencies and legislators. 
  • Supported the Montana Bitterroot campaign, including advising local mountain bike advocates, hiring a legal consultant on their behalf and running a national awareness campaign to generate mountain-bike positive comments in support of maintaining trail access. 
  • Participated in negotiations on 12 land bill proposals across five states, as well as federal negotiations around federal trails funding sources, in order to ensure the most practicably favorable outcomes for mountain bikers. Worked to defend National Monuments across seven states, from Maine to California. 

In 2019, our government relations and advocacy goals revolve—as always—around four primary objectives: planning, policy, legislation and engagement. 

We will be actively engaged in four major land-use planning projects from how Wilderness Study Areas are managed to supporting mountain bike-friendly forest service plans. We’re also keeping tabs on multiple pieces of legislation and federal land agency policies and will engage as much as possible to fight for positive outcomes for mountain bikers. On the engagement side, we’re supporting the Outdoor Recreation Caucuses in Congress and will work to rally the community for another strong year of generating thousands of letters and calls in support of mountain biking on public lands. 


Evolved our relationship with grassroots mountain bike organizations to further strengthen their efforts and better resource them


In 2018, we helped develop four regional coalitions (VA, NY, NM, OH) under the IMBA Local banner. “IMBA Local” is the program through which local clubs and organizations collaborate with and gain from IMBA’s national work and expertise. These coalitions exist to serve mountain biker interests at the state level. The Virginia and Ohio regional coalitions have each been recognized as official mountain biking representatives on their respective state-level trails advisory boards. Learn more about the regional coalitions, here. 

IMBA Local has, on average, sent back more than 70 percent of membership dollars back to local organizations, providing them with additional financial tools to accomplish their missions. The IMBA Local team was also successful in providing professional services to a variety of partners from the Bureau of Land Management to local economic development councils, helping educate communities on the value of investing in mountain biking infrastructure.

In 2019, IMBA Local has multiple programmatic and service goals to strengthen the mountain biking community. We will continue to develop regional coalitions as well as launch the following programs:

  • The Dig In campaign returns to provide funds to local mountain bike projects around the country. Dig In is a crowdfunding platform that IMBA Local groups can tap into to raise funds for their hometown trail projects on a national scale. Dig In has the potential to raise nearly $250,000 in funding.
  • The Volunteer Assistance and Recruitment Program will provide training for IMBA Local organizations that want to create or enhance volunteer programming. IMBA’s program will also provide training for “virtual volunteers” to provide those trail gnomes with the knowledge they need to execute maintenance outside of organized volunteer workdays. 


Continued to lead the way in fun, sustainable mountain bike trail development and education


In 2018, Trail Solutions was as busy as ever. Here are just some examples of the work that was done: 

  • Planned hundreds of trail miles across 12 states in every region of the country. Designed trails in the field in places like Arapahoe Basin Ski Area in Colorado and Deep Creek State Park in Maryland. 
  • Constructed mountain-bike tailored trails from Arkansas to Alaska. Our builds included plenty of hand-tuned rock and gnar, giant jump lines artfully crafted by skilled machine operators, and every flavor of singletrack in between. 
  • Trail Solutions professional staff facilitated numerous educational programs from advanced trail building schools to leading IMBA Trail Labs, to also attending the National Recreation and Parks Association and National Ski Areas Association Bike Park conferences. 

In 2019, Trail Solutions will keep its foot on the gas and continue to positively impact and inspire communities through the services it provides. In addition to planning, designing and building sustainable mountain bike-specific trails, we will also enhance our educational offerings to better serve the entire trail management spectrum including supporting land agency staff, professional builders and volunteer trail artists.  


Diversified our board of directors


In July 2018, we welcomed three new, female members to IMBA’s board of directors: Ximena Florez, Jessica Kelleher and Jazmin Varela. The three bring a wide range of experience to the board—including nonprofit, conservation, business, bicycle retail and policy work—and are all passionate about influencing more women and diversity in the sport. Learn more about them, here. 


Celebrated 30 years of mountain bike advocacy!


IMBA turned the big three-oh in 2018. We joined forces with Outerbike Bentonville in October to celebrate three decades of mountain bike advocacy, education, trail creation and the people who have helped make great rides happen. Check out the highlights of our history on this timeline.


Support an even better 2019


A critical piece of our success is YOU. Please support this great work and much more with a year-end donation. No gift is too small. Thank you and happy new year!



About the author

Profile Info

Member for

13 years 9 months

Katherine worked for IMBA in various marketing and communications roles from 2010-2018.

Katherine worked for IMBA in various marketing and communications roles from 2010-2018.

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