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Shaping Mountain Biking's Future - Recap of the 2010 IMBA Congress

The IMBA Congress was convened at the 2010 IMBA World Summit in Augusta, Georgia and entirely met my expectations for advancing the conversation between local, regional and national mountain bike leaders for how we ensure a bright future for mountain biking. I am very appreciative of the nearly 60 leaders that sacrificed the afternoon ride in order to sit indoors and envision what we want and how we work together to get there.

Jason Stoner, President of the Mid-Atlantic Off Road Enthusiasts (MORE) took good notes during the Congress and sent them to me afterward with his thoughts and suggestions for moving forward. They are worth sharing here. I have edited them for brevity.

The question I thought I heard was, "If you could reinvent the Mountain Bike Community (IMBA and local clubs) what would it's mission be and how would it be organized?"

IMBA's Mission/Vision - To increase mountain biking opportunities through advocacy and education while securing mountain biking's future by building and uniting the mountain bike community. - rough and poorly worded but overall idea is there. I feel community building and that social aspect has to be a part of IMBA's mission moving forward. In my experience with MORE, advocacy only appeals to a percentage of the overall community, it's that social component that is what the other percentage is looking for. Without both you will be always be half divided.

Overview - A national overarching vision and presence with local grassroots advocacy, support and community. The national presence is needed to make sure mountain bikers have an equal (hopefully greater some day) voice as groups like AHS, Sierra Club, Wilderness, Congress, etc. The local grassroots is needed to build that local face-to-face connection for members and land managers. This is done through local advocacy, trail work, rides, events and other social functions. It was brought up in the meeting there could be two different types of people; one that joins local groups and one that joins national groups, this idea would plat out to both types of people.

How would it work - National collects input from local groups to form a national strategy, local lets national know of local issues that are forming, national idenitfies trends and patterns throughout the country and forms action plans and provides guidance and national support for local issues. National provides communication to local so they are prepared and properly organized. This is to make sure what happened in PA, WV, and Montana doesn't happen elsewhere (ie George Washington National Forest in VA). And as a personal feeling getting mountain bikes out of being classified as mechanized vehicles

Structure -  Believe it or not I had this written down before Ryan announced it.
National Office - Regional Directors - State Representatives - Local Clubs - Individual
Outside advisory groups / IMBA Board - National Advisory Council - RLAC - Lobbyists
Supporting groups / Trips for kids (Trails for youth), 1 World, 2 Wheels, Larger Bike Industry, etc

Miscellaneous thoughts - In the long run I'm not sure if I see the current or proposed chapter naming working (IMBA SORBA). To me this confuses the one cohesive voice and message. I feel IMBA Southeast, Mid Atlantic, Northeast, is what would be needed. Depending on the area it could be broken to smaller groups based on the area. I know something like this would be a very long time out because of the history, pride and sweat equity local clubs have. At our table there was a SORBA member that was saying there was another local mountain bike club starting up in their area, that made me ask the question what need is SORBA not fulfilling in that area that causes another group to form. Also the another SORBA member was talking about the turf wars they are having with some other clubs. This made me think of the feudalism and fiefdoms, and I don't think IMBA or SORBA want an uprising so some clear lines of delineation and hierarchy need to be formed. Having one name gives people a central cause to rally and unite around, it also takes away the infighting.

IMBA gives national voice and cache while the local clubs are the face for new members to identify and socialize with (Fraternity model)

The cohesive message needs to be answered as well as the what's in it for me and why does it matter.

Advocacy only appeals to a few, others it's the social networking aspect.

As the fight for ever decreasing forests grow there is more of a need for outdoor users (hikers, bikers, equestrian, hunters, fisher, etc) to unite against big businesses, government and energy companies looking to exploit the forests resources.

Thanks to Jason for this nice synopsis.


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