News from the trailhead

  • Here are five common misunderstandings and some related information to help clear up the confusion.

    Full Face Rock Drop
    1.) Sanitizes Trails


Let's tackle one of the most common misperceptions first—that IMBA promotes "trail standards" that don't allow for technically challenging riding. Nonsense! IMBA has never published or promoted any kind of "standard" for trail design, and we do not ask local groups to conform to a preordained style of trail building. IMBA does promote the idea that trails should be built sustainably: to be durable and resistant to erosive forces. But we're all for challenging drops, big jumps and gnarly rocks, so long as that trail type is the intended riding experience and has the land manager's approval. 

    2.) No Love for Locals
    It's not unusual to read comments like, "Why would I support a national organization when the trails I care about are at home?" First off, most riders like to visit new places from time to time, so we think our community should want trail systems and MTB groups in other locations to be great, too. Even if the trails that matter most to you are the ones in your backyard, IMBA is putting a big effort into programs that support local-level trails. IMBA's nearly 200 U.S. chaptersreceive the highest level of support—including grants, advanced training sessions and professional assistance from region-based directors and pro trailbuilders—so they can be more effective than ever before. 

    Woman Snow Biking

    3.) Doesn't Fight Hard Enough

IMBA was born from the need for advocacy and that continues to be a primary focus of our work. IMBA's professional advocacy/policy team works every day at the local, state and national levels to protect and expand access to trails. So, why doesn't IMBA file heaps of lawsuits to open trails? We rarely go that route because it's often the least effective way to create more opportunities for mountain biking—court rulings can get overturned, are expensive to file and it's ultimately hard to predict the outcome. Our focus is on forging effective, long-term partnerships and influencing agencies, lawmakers and other decision makers. 

    4.) Won't Work With Other Groups

    Some critics say IMBA is too closely aligned with "wreck-reation" groups and should promote conservation values more frequently. Others are just as loud in taking the opposite view and arguing that we are too sympathetic to conservationists. The balance we thoughtfully strive to achieve is promoting responsible outdoor recreation that respects the natural world and protects its integrity while encouraging people to experience it on bicycles. To that end, we partner with dozens of pro-recreation and pro-conservation groups—ones that agree that these values of recreation and conservation are compatible. 

    Cute Kid on MTB

    5.) Too Big

    Reading some critics of IMBA, you might think we are the size of Microsoft or as powerful as the NFL, which gets to dictate the height of its players' socks. Think again. It is estimated that there are 6-7 million mountain bike enthusiasts in the U.S. alone. IMBA counts about 80,000 supporters, or about 1 percent of active riders. If that percentage were to increase by a single decimal point, you can be assured that there would be substantially more places to ride, with less risk of losing access, than the reality we face today. (For comparison, The Wilderness Society counts more than 500,000 active supporters and has an operating budget ten times the size of IMBA's.)

    Posted May 6, 2015, 8:18 PM by Loren Easter
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The Central Illinois Trails Association seeks to grow, preserve, protect, and promote access to diverse human powered recreation opportunities, on natural surface trails, through education, communication, and unified action.