Every one of IMBA's 157 chapters has a unique story to tell. The Maui Mountain Bike Coalition (MMBC) and Oahu Mountain Bike Ohana (OMTBO) have been vocal and open about their successes since organizing under the IMBA Chapter Program as startups.
In March, IMBA's communications team paid them a visit in conjunction with strategic planning meetings led by Anna Laxague, IMBA Pacific Northwest Region Director. We wanted to observe firsthand the leaps and bounds the two groups have been making in the difficult access landscape of the Hawaiian Islands.
Much of the land on Hawaii is privately owned. Public land is at a premium (they’re islands, after all) and historical uses—like hiking, horseback riding and pig hunting—have received precedence from land managers. Not only that, but people go to Hawaii for the beaches, and water-based recreation gets the vast majority of the state’s attention and cold, hard cash. A proliferation of illegal trail building and destruction of illegal trail features had historically left bad tastes in the mouths of land managers and riders about each other.
In the three years since becoming an IMBA chapter, MMBC has developed a significant mountain bike trail system and paved the way for good vibes and relations on the other islands with state agencies. The day we left Oahu, the chapter there succeeded in getting permission to build both a bike park and new singletrack, with the land manager indicating an interest in seeing similar bike parks on other parts of the island. The land managers were open to the meetings in part because of the solid reputation MMBC helped establish by showing what a unified group of mountain bikers can do with the backing of IMBA, and proving that mountain bikers can work on natural-surface trails for the benefit of all users.
But most of the credit, of course, goes to the passion, gumption, creativity and professionalism of the chapters' leaders and members. They have fully taken advantage of locals' unique talents and strengths and IMBA's resouces, and run with them to enhance their respective visions.
A huge thanks to the incredibly kind and welcoming locals for spending time with the IMBA team, and to The Bike Shop in Kailua (Oahu) and Krank Cycles in Makawao (Maui) for hosting meetings and interviews.
Look for a feature story about riding and mountain bike advocacy in Hawaii, complete with snazzy photos, in the next issue of Dirt Rag magazine, which you can get for free when you join us as an IMBA member.
(All photos by Leslie Kehmeier)
The story of the IMBA Chapter Program, as seen from Hawaii. IMBA.com