I have mixed emotions spinning around in my head these days about mountain biking.
On one hand, mountain biking has never been more important to me or more fun. I see how valuable and meaningful riding bikes on trails is for so many people: young and old, as well as new riders and even grizzled vets like me. All across the country, NICA high school racing is expanding like wildfire, IMBA Trail Solutions and other professional craft trail builders are creating amazing riding experiences, and more and more people are finding out how mountain biking can change their lives for the better. For many of us, riding is our rock. Riding resets our bodies and minds.
However, more and more, I’m feeling mountain bikers are divided. Two topics in particular are resulting in drama played out in print, online and over beers across the country. I’m referring to the blanket ban on mountain biking in congressionally designated Wilderness areas and the concern over pedal-assist electric mountain bikes (eMTBs).
IMBA takes both of these topics very seriously and, regardless of how simple they are believed to be by some, IMBA considers them to be complex and pivotal to the future of mountain biking. I ask that you respect the cautious positions IMBA has taken with regard to Wilderness and eMTBs. I know I have learned a great deal about the nuance of both in my short time as Executive Director.
My promise to you is that we are looking at every aspect of IMBA and how we can best move forward our mission of creating, enhancing and protecting great places to ride. Our entire extended team is engaged and working diligently on Wilderness and eMTBs, and updated positions on each are expected this year.
That said, while these can feel like the climactic issues facing mountain biking, there are bigger movements challenging the places we all ride. And hike, climb, ski, paddle, camp...you name it.
We’re facing an administration in Washington D.C. hell-bent on pursuing radical changes to public lands. This includes selling off our land and grossly underfunding land management. Under these threats the current Wilderness discussion could become a non-issue. And believe me, these champions of change love seeing us divided.
So here is my ask: keep the conversations going, keep them civil, and also consider acknowledging our common ground. That common ground, at the very base level, is that we are all mountain bikers. We can be stronger when we stand as one. Join us.
Stay tuned for a mid-May blog.