Archive for the ‘IMBA News’ Category

Dirt Rag Magazine Credits CORBA with first volunteer mountain bike patrol group

Tuesday, September 1st, 2009

September 1, 2009

In an article on the history of IMBA‘s National Mountain Bike Patrol (NMBP), Dirt Rag magazine reviews the role CORBA had in spearheading volunteer mountain bike patrols. To quote:

“Although the NMBP was officially ‘started’ in 1994, volunteer mountain bike patrol’s roots run deep, back to the early days of mountain biking, when trails were rife with user conflict, and blanket mountain bike bans threatened great riding locations from coast to coast. The Concerned Off-Road Bicyclists Association (CORBA) was arguably the first organization to begin volunteer patrol activities with their Mountain Bike Unit (MBU), formed in 1988.

“Based in the Santa Monica Mountains, near Los Angeles, CORBA was at risk of losing many great riding venues. ‘Due to frequent complaints about user conflict, land managers were throwing their hands up,’ explains Blumenthal. ‘The [mountain bike advocacy] toolkit had to be developed quickly.’ So, with support from the National Park Service and the California State Department of Parks and Recreation, the patrol was formed, and became an overnight success, being nominated for the ‘Take Pride in California Award’ in 1991.”

Read the entire article, 15 Years of Service: A Look Back at IMBA’s National Mountain Bike Patrol.

Subaru/IMBA Trail Care Crew Visiting Santa Barbara March 26 – 29

Saturday, March 7th, 2009

Santa Barbara, March 7, 2009 – The International Mountain Bicycling Association’s (IMBA) Subaru/IMBA Trail Care Crew will be in SANTA BARBARA, March 26th through March 29th to talk trails, teach people sustainable trail building technique, and spend quality time on trail with volunteers. The visit is one of 70 stops on the 2009 schedule. Everyone is invited to attend the weekend’s events – but registration is required for the Trail Building workshop.

Subaru Commitment
to the Outdoors

The award-winning Subaru/IMBA Trail Care Crew program includes two full-time, professional teams of trail experts who travel North America year-round, leading IMBA Trail building Schools, meeting with government officials and land managers, and working with IMBA-affiliated groups to improve mountain biking opportunities. IMBA’s Crews have led more than 1,000 trail projects since the program debuted in 1997.

The Crews teach “sustainable” trail building, which means building trails that last a long time and require minimal maintenance. This helps reduce trail damage, protects the environment, and enhances visitor enjoyment.

Now in its eighth year, the Subaru/IMBA Trail Care Crew program is more popular than ever.

The Subaru/IMBA Trail Care Crew program has inspired great volunteer trail work across the U.S. and abroad – a big help to government agencies and land managers who have limited funding for trail construction and upkeep.

Coming to SANTA BARBARA are Subaru/IMBA Trail Care Crew members Inga Beck and Jason Van Horn.  Beck hails from the San Francisco area while Van Horn is from Oregon.  They bring a unique combination of professional experience to the program – from coaching mountain bike skills, working with a multitude of environmental organizations, to swing dancing and yoga – on top of being trained as some of the country’s top trail builders.  They’re also committed volunteers who have logged hundreds of hours building trails and performing outreach work with a host of public agencies.

All are welcome to join the Subaru/IMBA Trail Care Crew leaders when they come to town. Below is a schedule of events that are open to the public:

This presentation focuses on techniques that advocacy groups across the country have used to reach goals, overcome, challenges, and build up their community.  Any trails, outdoor, environmental, or sports based organization will benefit from this workshop.  Included will be ideas on sustaining boards of directors, recruiting members, and making sure that everyone has a great time participating in their organization.  No cost.

    • March 28th, IMBA Trail Building School and trail work.

8:30am – 5:00pm, Louise Lowery Davis Center 1232 De La Vina St Santa Barbara, CA: Pre-registration is required. Registration: or register by email to or

This workshop instructs hikers, cyclists, and equestrians sustainable trail building/maintenance philosophies and trains volunteers and land managers to use these skills on their trails and in their community.   The workshop will include a half day (8:30am -12:30pm) in class instruction and a half day on a trail applying and refining skills. Location of the trail will be announced in the workshop.  Carpooling is strongly encouraged.  No cost.

  • March 28th,  After Trail Work Social with the IMBA TCC, Location TBA
  • March 29th, TCC Fun Ride , 10am Location TBA

For more information and to register for the IMBA Trailbuilding School, contact Chris Orr ( or register at

For a complete list of visit dates, photos and additional information on the Subaru/IMBA Trail Care Crew visit

The previous visit of the Subaru/IMBA Trail Care Crew to the region was to Ventura County in 2005. You can view the photo galleries of trailwork and the following recreational ride.

About Subaru of America, Inc.

Subaru of America, Inc. is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. of Japan. Headquartered near Philadelphia, the company markets and distributes all-wheel drive Subaru vehicles, parts and accessories through a network of nearly 600 dealers across the United States. Subaru of America, Inc., is the only car company that offers symmetrical all-wheel drive as standard equipment on every vehicle in its product line. Subaru has been the best-selling import wagon in America for the past 20 years, based on R.L. Polk & Company new vehicle retail registration statistics calendar year-end 2002.

About IMBA

The International Mountain Bicycling Association creates, enhances and preserves trail opportunities for mountain bikers worldwide. Since 1988, IMBA has been bringing out the best in mountain biking by encouraging low-impact riding, volunteer trail work participation, cooperation among different trail user groups, and innovative trail management solutions. IMBA’s worldwide network includes 32,000 individual members, more than 500 bicycle clubs, and 400 corporate partners and dealer members. For more information visit


Santa Barbara Mountain Bike Trail Volunteers is a group of advocates dedicated to building a trail community and sustainable trail system through continued volunteer work. The Santa Barbara Mountain Bike Trail Volunteers formed over 20 years ago in response to threatened trail closures. Since then the Trail Volunteers have worked hard to promote responsible mountain bike trail use and volunteer trail maintenance activities. We are currently focusing our energy on rider education and the development of closer ties between members of the trail community.

About the Santa Barbara County Trails Council

Since 1969, the Santa Barbara County Trails Council has dedicated itself to working with local government agencies and other organizations on the development of a safe and sustainable trail network, acquisition of new trails and support for volunteer trail maintenance programs. SBTC plays a key role in bridging the differences among trail user groups as we work towards building a network of trails that serve the entire community.

Urge California Decision Makers to Adopt Bike-Friendly Land Protection Measures

Friday, June 27th, 2008

June 27, 2008

From the International Mountain Bicycling Association

The Assembly Committee on Natural Resources recently passed a bill — authored by Assembly member Noreen Evans (D-Santa Rosa), Chair of the Assembly Democratic Caucus — that directs the state to assess the suitability of numerous state lands in Northern California for Wilderness designations.

Bicyclists value natural landscapes and access to trails that bring us closer to nature. Because our activity is a quiet, low-impact and human-powered use that is compatible with wild settings, we believe many of these Northern California areas should not be protected with Wilderness designations, which would effectively prohibit bike access.

IMBA California Policy Advisor Tom Ward has testified in front of the committee and many members expressed their support for mountain biking — but they still passed the bill out of committee. Unless they hear from the mountain bike community, the bill will keep moving and suggest massive closures at three important parks.

There are many ways to protect these important places without banning the existing use of mountain bicycling. Cyclists need to rally and make sure their assembly member hears from our constituency.

Take Action!

IMBA’s simple online comment form takes seconds to complete! Tell the governor and your state senator and representative you support land protection that allows bicycling to continue.

A quick phone call can be even more effective. Click here to find contact information for your elected officials.

Please also forward this alert to all mountain bikers, bike shops and industry employees you know.

Additional Information

Assembly Bill (AB) 2923 passed from committee with a 6-2 vote and awaits further review in the Assembly Appropriations Committee

Sponsored by the California Wilderness Coalition, the bill directs the Resources Agency and the State Lands Commission to assess whether selected state lands merit wilderness designation.

Mountain biking is an existing use in several of these areas, including Robert Louis Stevenson State Park and Henry W. Coe State Park.

Mountain bikers also have a long-standing proposal to create shared-use trails in Austin Creek Redwoods State Park.

Because Wilderness designations would prohibit bike access in these parks, we urge that these areas should be protected through other means.

IMBA California’s Tom Ward is meeting with key Senate staffers and will keep the pressure up to ensure that mountain bike access is protected.

Economics and Benefits of Mountain Biking

Wednesday, March 5th, 2008

March 5, 2008
(updated March 14, 2008)

IRVINE, Calif. — Enjoying the outdoors is as natural as riding a bike and Shimano American Corporation and the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) have teamed up to promote how important the activity is. Shimano is a major manufacturer of bicycle components and IMBA is a national advocate for responsible riding and trail construction. Together they are releasing the new document, The Economics and Benefits of Mountain Biking at the National Bike Summit in Washington D.C. March 4 – 6, 2008.

More than 1 in 5 Americans age 16 and over ride a mountain bike, and contribute $26 billion annually to the American economy while enjoying the sport. Kozo Shimano said, “We want legislators, policy makers and the public to understand how significant mountain biking is to both the economy and to keeping people healthy.” One recent cost benefit analysis concluded that every dollar invested in trails led to almost three dollars in direct medical benefit. The World Health Organization recommends riding a bike to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Mountain bikers are also dedicated conservationists who volunteer their time, labor and money to protect the natural and cultural resources where they ride. IMBA Executive Director Mike Van Abel commented, “From the beginning, IMBA members have embraced a stewardship ethic that benefits conservation of our natural lands and waters. This timely publication shows how that conservation mindset also gives back with economic benefits.”

Scientific research has shown mountain biking to be a low impact environmentally sustainable activity with no more impact on natural resources than hiking, and far less than many other recreational activities.

Kozo Shimano added, “To put the activity in perspective, 50 million Americans ride a mountain bike – more than 1 ½ times the number of people who play golf. “

Copies of The Economics and Benefits of Mountain Biking can be obtained from IMBA by sending a request to

March 14, 2008: You can view the report by clicking this link: The Economics and Benefits of Mountain Biking


Mountain Bikers Retain Trail Access in Southern California Forests

Monday, April 30th, 2007

April 30, 2007

The most extensive formal appeal in IMBA’s 19-year history has culminated in an agreement that will maintain widespread bicycle access in four National Forest units in Southern California. With hundreds of trail miles at stake in the Angeles, Cleveland, Los Padres and San Bernardino forests, bike advocates embarked on a lengthy appeals process to a Forest Service decision to close dozens of trails to bikes.

The decision was the culmination of five years of mountain biker participation in the Forest Service planning process. “Even when the documents and alternatives didn’t favor us, the Forest Service staff welcomed our participation and encouraged us to keep working toward a solution,” says IMBA Rep Jim Hasenauer, who began working on the issue in 2001 when the four forests first announced a joint planning process for trail management.

According to IMBA California Policy Advisor Tom Ward, strong partnerships with state and federal agencies hold the key to bike access throughout the state. “IMBA’s approach to mountain bike advocacy is to build strong relationships with land managers throughout California. We promote quality riding opportunities and work hard to create fun, environmentally sustainable trails that all users can enjoy,” says Ward.

IMBA Filed Extensive Appeal

In 2004, after three years of preliminary work, the four Southern California forest units jointly released alternative plans for forest and trail management. IMBA’s action alert generated hundreds of messages and letters urging that trails be kept open to bikes. “Although there was much that we liked in the original plan, we had concerns about some of the proposed Wilderness areas, the treatment of bicycles in ‘critical biological zones,’ and the ambiguity of language regarding bicycle use only on formally designated ‘system’ trails,” says Hasenauer.

In 2005, the forests issued a revised plan that addressed most of IMBA’s initial concerns. New Wilderness additions would have little effect on mountain bike opportunities, bikes would be allowed on trails in the “critical biological zones” unless specifically prohibited, and the Forests promised to deal with the “unofficial” trails issue with public participation, over time.

In Oct. of 2006, the San Bernardino National Forest indicated its intention to close all “non-system trails” to bicycles. “We felt that was inconsistent with the 2005 plan,” says Hasenauer. The Forest disagreed, but met with local bicyclists to inventory and keep some of those trails open. The local mountain biking community stepped up to help the Forest identify important trails for mountain bikes and the Forest agreed to delay the closure.

At the same time, Hasenauer worked with fellow IMBA Rep Daniel Greenstadt, IMBA’s Gary Sprung (then Senior Policy Adviser, now an independent contractor) and Washington-based policy advisor Kirk Bailey to develop an official appeal. “The appeal was the most extensive public participation document that IMBA has ever developed,” says Hasenauer. “Most appeals are quickly disqualified, but ours went forward.”

Meetings Lead to Withdrawal of Appeal

In Nov. 2006, Hasenauer met with the Southern California Forest Supervisors and staff. “We agreed that the three other forests had a more reasonable approach and we’re in fact, a more reasonable interpretation of the new plans,” says Hasenauer. “We agreed that there would need to be a process and a Forest Order before trails were closed. Bicyclists could continue to ride such trails unless specifically prohibited. They also indicated that generally if non-classified trails were to be closed, they should be closed to all users.” That understanding resulted in the December 2006 withdrawal of IMBA’s appeal.

“This is a great example of how steadfast advocacy inside public participation processes can save trails. IMBA is quite satisfied with the resolution and we look forward to working with the Forest Service on trail management issues again,” says IMBA Government Affairs Director Jenn Dice.

For more information, Contact: Mark Eller, Communications Director,, 303-545-9011

President’s Message: Changes are Coming

Thursday, March 2nd, 2017

Changes are coming. We just need to figure out what is in the best interest of you as mountain bikers, for our members, for CORBA, and finally for IMBA.

Since the abrupt loss of Suburu as a sponsor of several of its core programs last year, IMBA, our parent (and child!) organization, has had to undergo some major cutbacks. The Trail Care Crew and other programs are on indefinite hold. Staff layoffs and the resignation of Executive Director Mike Van Abel set IMBA on a much-needed transformation.

The IMBA Chapter program, which CORBA joined in 2011, was a key factor in IMBA’s recent growth. Much of the funding for the Chapter program came from Suburu, including travel expenses incurred by the Regional Director. One of the main functions of the RD was to liaise with and help coordinate all the chapters in a territory. In our case, the region is California and Hawaii.

In return, IMBA receives 60% of your membership dues and CORBA receives 40%. The basic membership is $35, with options at $50, $100 and higher that include swag. IMBA handles everything regarding membership management. The time and energy we would otherwise spend on membership management we can devote to advocacy and trailwork.  IMBA has supported us in Washington DC while we worked locally with members of Congress to prevent trail closures due to wilderness legislation. We’ve had access to IMBA expertise including the Trail Care Crew and Trail Solutions crew.  We also increased our membership numbers by about 40% when we became a chapter.

Recent IMBA messaging, however, has not been taken well by a portion of our members. Some have quit their membership and chosen to donate money directly to CORBA (which we welcome, regardless of membership).

IMBA recently chose Chairman of the Board Dave Weins as its new Executive Director. He’s widely respected and well-known. He ran a chapter himself. The ED is at the service of the IMBA Board of Directors, so we don’t expect any immediate changes in IMBA policy or messaging.

Overall, we’ve had a productive, fruitful and mutually beneficial relationship with IMBA. However, it’s been quite expensive at 60% of membership dues and is unsustainable without Suburu’s sponsorship.

Proposed changes to the program to make it sustainable are to increase the base membership price to about $50. About 40% of our members are now at the $35 level. Understanding people’s financial constraints, we expect to lose some members if the membership price is raised.

In the 1990s IMBA’s mantra was to give 20-20-20. $20 for IMBA, $20 for your local organization, and twenty hours of volunteer trailwork. Considering inflation, that’s not much different to the proposed changes: local and national advocacy group memberships for $50.

Hopefully most of you see the immense value in our programs: keeping trails open, restoring trails after disasters, advocating for mountain bikers to land managers and organizations around Southern California. We have bike parks completed and operating, and are working to bring more to the area. Without CORBA’s 30 years of advocacy, your local riding options might be much more limited.

Other proposed changes include the development of a Regional Leadership Council in which all SoCal chapters could meet among ourselves and coordinate efforts. We’d also get a new nationwide insurance plan which is hopefully less expensive than our current policies. We’d have access to experts in various fields by email or voice. It’s a streamlined and more efficient program. The question is whether it’s worth the 60% share of membership dues IMBA takes.

San Diego Mountain Bike Association and others in California are considering whether to stay in IMBA’s chapter program or go it alone. CORBA must make also this decision in the near future. There is much value to CORBA’s relationship with IMBA, but there’s also great value in a California-focused organization as proposed by San Diego Mountain Bike Association. At more than double CORBA’s membership, SDMBA could easily thrive as an IMBA Associate Club, rather than a chapter.

The departure of any chapter would reduce the number of IMBA members nationwide. A departing chapter might lose some members too. Some members may subsequently choose to join both the local organization and IMBA at the national level, as things were before the chapter program. It’s doubtful all current members would join both under those circumstances.

However, significantly weakening IMBA will ultimately hurt us all. IMBA remains dedicated to improving mountain biking for everyone. STC, which most of our members also support, has a much more narrowly focused mission that affects California more than most other states. IMBA’s efforts are having a positive impact nationally and local, but the local impacts are more difficult to quantify. The soon-to-be-released “Guidelines for a Quality Trail Experience” developed in partnership with the BLM, is a great example. Aimed squarely at Land Managers, this extensive new reference will be key to helping land managers understand our needs and desires. It will help guide the development of more bike-specific trails to meet a growing need. We can’t wait to supply a copy to our local Land Managers as we advocate for quality trail experiences locally. Resources like this help us all.

IMBA has taken feedback from its chapters on the proposed chapter program changes through a series of conference calls and surveys. They’re tweaking it based on the feedback and we’re waiting for the final version. When that comes, we’ll have a decision to make. But we’re interested in hearing from our members, and from those who aren’t members. (Why not?)

Most of you already join at the $50 level and higher (and we appreciate your support!). How many who now pay $35 can’t or won’t want to join us for $50?

How many of you feel strongly either way about our association with IMBA?  Would you join both organizations separately if we parted ways, or just one or the other?

We may send out a survey in the near future asking these and other questions, but feel free to email or comment to share your views.

In the meantime, it’s business as usual for CORBA. We’re busy with trailwork, advocacy, bike parks, fundraising, education and mountain bike advocacy. We’re improving relationships with Land Managers and looking for new opportunities. We’re in it for the long run and need your continued support.

IMBA’s Member Survey is now Live

Wednesday, May 4th, 2016

IMBA is conducting a nationwide member survey. If your membership was current on April 30th, you should have received an email invitation to complete the IMBA Member Survey during the first week of April. Invitations are unique to each member, and the survey can only be taken once. You have the opportunity to save your survey and come back to it. Surveys must be completed by May 17.

Since IMBA reorganized to unite all of California into the same region, we have had the good fortune of working with Laurel Harkness as IMBA’s California/Hawaii Regional Director.  However, we face a unique challenge here in Los Angeles. We have the largest population base of any IMBA Chapter, yet one of the smallest Board of Directors, and an disproportionately small membership base. We have a City of Los Angeles blanket ban on bicycles on trails, new and existing Wilderness proposals, and other issues threatening or preventing our access to new trails. We have several opportunities for new trails and bike parks, but are stretched thin on maintaining what we have.

By participating in IMBA’s Survey, you can help inform IMBA of our local needs. Los Angeles is one of the largest and most complex mountain bike advocacy mosaics in the country, and we can use all the help we can get, from our members and supporters, from the local bike industry, and from IMBA.

Meanwhile IMBA’s Spring Membership Drive continues into May, with all those renewing their memberships being eligible for some great prizes. It’s a great time to renew your membership to CORBA/IMBA and help us grow mountain biking opportunities in the area.



President’s Message: The Wilderness Debate

Thursday, March 3rd, 2016

Trail in the Fish Canyon Recommended Wilderness

Currently mountain bike advocacy is facing one of the the most important long-term issues in our history. The issue is whether mountain bikes should be allowed on trails in Wilderness areas. How mountain bikers and advocacy leaders respond to this can either be polarizing or make us an even stronger voice in the trail user and land stewardship community.

In Idaho Montana, the Wood River Bicycle Coalition, an IMBA chapter, worked with IMBA to build support for a National Monument rather than a Wilderness area. Over a period of several years,  negotiations with wilderness advocates, motorized and other recreation groups and elected officials formed a broad coalition of support. However, raw ugly politics ultimately produced a Congressional designation for the Boulder White Clouds Wilderness. This was a painful and well-publicized loss to the mountain biking community. The land protection provisions they had negotiated in good faith to produce a bicycle-friendly National Monument designation were ultimately lost to a crass political maneuver to deny President Obama any semblance of a success. Congress passed a Wilderness bill and the Castle Divide and Ant’s Basin trails were closed to bikes.

Meanwhile, attorney Ted Stroll had been continuing his research into the Wilderness Act, and the congressional debates and intent surrounding that landmark legislation as it was enacted in 1964. He had concluded that the original intent was never to exclude bicycles, as a human-powered form of low-impact recreation, from Wilderness areas. Further research led him to believe that, in accordance with our constitution, we have the right to bring our grievances to the U.S. government. To do this, he formed the Sustainable Trails Coalition (STC), whose sole mission is to pass legislation that would allow local land managers to open trails to bicycles in Wilderness, and to authorize the use of machinery that would allow the most cost-effective and efficient maintenance on Wilderness trails, on a case-by-case, trail-by-trail basis.

How many mountain bikers view the wilderness ban on bikes

The timing of the Idaho defeat brought heightened attention to the STC and their focused, single-issue mission. It cast doubt in the mountain biking community about the effectiveness of IMBA’s approach of building broad partnerships and seeking compromises to both protect bicycle access, while protecting the landscapes through which we ride bikes with a mix of Wilderness boundary adjustments, cherry-stems, and alternative designations. This approach has been highly successful in many instances, but there have been some exceptions, with this loss in Idaho being the most recent and the most publicized.  

20071201007a-Condor Peak OTB, MTB

Condor Peak Trail – Wilderness advocates are still proposing a Condor Peak Wilderness.

Here in the Angeles National Forest, we’ve lost access to much of the backcountry trail network on our Forest. This has placed increased use pressure on non-Wilderness trails by all user groups. Trail maintenance on Wilderness trails has come to a near-halt in many areas, and all user groups are losing those trails to nature. We don’t have any bicycle-legal singletrack options to traverse the San Gabriel Mountains north-south, or east-west, because of numerous closed trails, Wilderness designations, and restrictions on bicycles on the Pacific Crest Trail.  Similarly, in the Sierra, Inyo, and Sequoia National Forests there are vast swaths of Wilderness and a few isolated areas that are open to bikes, many of which are currently being evaluated for Wilderness (and, remarkably, the folks who maintain many Wilderness trails and can’t keep up with the workload have objected to any new Wilderness.).

These Wilderness losses are very much a localized issue, affecting California and the Western States disproportionately to other areas. California has the most Wilderness areas of any state, and is second only to Alaska in Wilderness acres. Here in CORBA’s territory, we have the largest population base in the country near a National Forest. 1 in 20 Americans live within easy driving distance of the Angeles National Forest, with its five Wilderness areas and additional Recommended Wilderness taking nearly one third of the Forest.

Condor Peak Trail

Condor Peak Trail

Recreational activities are greatly reduced in Wilderness areas compared to non-wilderness areas, even if bicycles are left out of the equation. Maintenance efforts are greatly reduced and near-impossible for the Forest Service to schedule, as the cost of manual labor to rebuild trails (no mechanized tools allowed, even wheelbarrows) means these trails often don’t get worked on. While the same can be said of many lesser-used non-wilderness trails, this doesn’t bode well for the future of Wilderness trail recreation.

It also disproportionately affects a smaller subset of the mountain biking community who seek out, relish, and live for backcountry wilderness-type settings that can be experienced by bicycle. It’s why I started mountain biking, and what inspires me to continue exploring and experiencing these majestic landscapes. Sure, I love purpose-built flow trails, downhill trails, and our many favorite local trails. They are needed, but they don’t offer the same experience and escape that some of us live for. We need a broad spectrum of experiences and trail types to cover the many diverse reasons for which people ride mountain bikes, including wilderness-type experiences.

There have been calls for IMBA to take a stronger stand on the Wilderness access issue in print media, the blogosphere, and on social media. In fact, if you have followed closely, the amount of grandstanding on both sides of the bikes in wilderness debate has escalated. From reading some of what has been published, one could easily come away with the assumption that mountain bikers have to pick a side: either support the Sustainable Trails Coalition or support IMBA. Over the past month there have been many calls, emails and forum posts asking to cancel IMBA memberships.

Some writers in the print media have accused IMBA of taking a hardline stance against the STC, but there is much more nuance to their statements that has been overlooked. IMBA hasn’t condemned the STC or opposed their efforts. In fact, IMBA has for many months taken a neutral public policy position toward STC’s strategy, neither supporting nor opposing. Publicly, IMBA has simply stated that the STC approach is not appropriate for IMBA’s mission, given STC’s  single focus, uphill battle, risks and uncertain future., an internet blog, found the vast majority of mountain bikers surveyed support bicycle access to wilderness. The Angry Singlespeeder gave his take on the issue, calling it the most pressing of our time, and followed it this year with an Open Letter to every IMBA member calling on us to demand IMBA to listen to its membership and take a more proactive stance towards the STC. Former IMBA Board Member John Bliss explained why he joined the STC board, with some compelling arguments.

Pressure continues to mount calling for IMBA to support the STC, or at the bare minimum, take a more conciliatory stance and acknowledge the common ground that exist between the two organizations. IMBA have held a press conference explaining their position, posted an FAQ on land protection strategies they will continue to utilize, and conducted four Chapter Leader Executive Briefings with question and answer sessions with approximately 100 chapter leaders nationwide, which I attended.  Many forum comments have construed their public arguments and tone as denigrating and dismissive of the STC, but in direct conversations with IMBA staff, that tone is much more nuanced.

With all this attention on Wilderness, one could be misled into thinking that this was the only issue facing mountain bikers. Admittedly, it is probably the most far-reaching issue that could fundamentally change our approach, as mountain bikers, to land protections nationwide, and especially in the Western states like California. But there are still plenty of more immediate issues and opportunities that need immediate, focussed attention, and that is where IMBA has chosen to put its limited resources and energy.

We see this “us vs. them” dichotomy as far from the case. The fact that IMBA has chosen not to support STC does not infringe upon anyone’s first amendment right to speak up for and support the STC, including us as a chapter of IMBA. IMBA’s (and CORBA’s, for that matter) plate is full with current mountain biking issues, and the vast amount of attention and resources needed to achieve the STC’s mission and focus on Wilderness access would hinder our ability to tend to more immediate threats, identify new opportunities, take advantage of current opportunities, and just get things done now.

We believe we need both organizations. STC’s single, focussed mission is to enact legislation that will allow management of wilderness trail access (and mechanized maintenance) to happen at the most local level feasible. STC is not a membership organization and as such is not structured for or able to do anything on the ground right now to open closed trails to bikes or develop and maintain positive relationships with land managers that are key to our future successes. It will be a difficult struggle and take some time before STC’s efforts may prove fruitful.

IMBA chapters are currently doing the vast majority of advocacy and access work at the local levels. If STC is eventually successful in passing their legislation it will likely be IMBA chapters doing the necessary outreach and hands-on work to give the STC’s legislation teeth, by working directly with local land managers to open trails under the authority of STC’s Human Powered Wildlands Travel Management Act of 2016 (HPWTMA).

Despite what has been claimed by the Wilderness Society and others opposed to bicycles in Wilderness, the STC bill doesn’t open ANY trails to bikes or mechanized maintenance. It allows the “most local” land managers feasible (likely district rangers and supervisors) to make those determinations on a case-by-case, trail-by-trail basis. That’s why IMBA chapters will need those strong relationships when and if the time comes.

You can bet the opposition to bikes will only get louder when that happens, both locally and nationally. It will be IMBA chapters with current, strong land manager relations that will be best positioned to follow through on any STC success. Land managers aren’t just going to open trails to bikes in wilderness areas if the STC bill is eventually enacted.  If the STC bill does go through–and let’s be clear that we hope it eventually will–IMBA Chapters will need to actively engage with local land managers to open trails to bikes under the newly granted authority of STC’s legislation. Even then, those trail openings will probably require a lengthy NEPA process, and may come with restrictions. Permits, capacity limits, mandatory leave-no-trace classes, or other hurdles could be put in place as a part of that Wilderness access. Passing of the HPWTMA is just the starting point to opening trails in Wilderness.

In the meantime if people start choosing to drop support for IMBA chapters to support the STC, that will impede our ability to get things done now, such as bike parks, trail maintenance, new trails, and being a crucial voice in current land management and trail planning efforts. If CORBA/IMBA is weakened by an attrition of supporters now, it will hinder our ability in the future to build upon any STC success, and open trails currently closed to bikes by Wilderness designations.

One of the best things that STC is doing is bringing more attention to this major access issue. What saddens and frustrates us is that social media are misinterpreting some of IMBA’s responses, and turning this into an “us vs. them” situation, which will weaken our efforts on both fronts. We’d much preferred to have a more conciliatory tone from IMBA towards STC, even in the absence of outright support. IMBA has alienated a portion of their members through their statements and firm stance. That just doesn’t need to be so.

There is room–and a great need–for another group like STC to give the Wilderness issue the razor-sharp focus it will need to see through.

IMBA is a 501c3 and cannot directly lobby our government to introduce new legislation, endorse political candidates, and other restrictions. IMBA (and CORBA) are set up as 501c3 public benefit corporations, that can only influence existing laws and policies through public comments, broad-based partnerships with other organizations, and encouraging our members to speak up with their own comments and letters to elected representatives and land managers.

STC is set up as a 501c4, with the specific purpose of directly lobbying congress and our elected officials to enact change at the legislative level. They are able to do things that IMBA and CORBA cannot. It’s important to note that the Sierra Club is a 501c4, just like the STC. They have a companion 501c3, the Sierra Club Foundation, which collects tax-deductible donations that can then be used to support the lobbying efforts of their 501c4. They also operate under budgets 100 times larger than IMBA’s. Most mountain bikers are decidedly lackadaisical in their approach to advocacy–until their favorite trail is closed, or threatened to be closed. And as previously mentioned, while most mountain bikers support opening some trails in Wilderness to bicycles, the number of riders who may eventually utilize wilderness trails is likely much lower.

The mountain biking community has never had a 501c4 organization to stand behind before the STC came along. Just as the Sierra club leverages both a 501c3 and a 501c4 for various, but related, purposes, the mountain biking community has needed both a 501c3 and a 501c4 voice. As mentioned, where we see things have gone awry is that IMBA’s firm but neutral stance has been twisted and construed in social media and the blog/print media as an “us vs. them” situation.

IMBA’s approach is appropriate for IMBA. The STC approach is appropriate for STC. Together, they have brought more attention to this contentious debate, and hopefully helped engage a new cadre of concerned mountain bikers ready to advocate for continued access to trails–both inside and outside of Wilderness. Both organizations are advocating for increased trail access. They are just employing different strategies and tactics.

Let me re-iterate that in the long run, if STC is successful, strong IMBA chapters will be best positioned to make the changes that STC’s bill will authorize. We’ll then need to leverage our ongoing track record of being good land and trail stewards, and work side-by-side with local land managers to open trails in Wilderness areas. We’ll need to work hard to usher those requests through the NEPA process, and deal with the opposition to bikes that will inevitably emerge. If our voice is weakened by a lack of support now, we’ll be in a more difficult position to ask for trails to be opened under the STC bill’s authority in the future.

If STC is unsuccessful, IMBA chapters like CORBA will continue to work to make a difference, just as we have been doing for more than 29 years. We just hope to have the continued–and even increased– level of support we now get from our members.

But things at IMBA have changed somewhat. Their 2016 advocacy position clearly states that they will continue to fight more aggressively to keep trails open in the face of Wilderness proposals, wherever there are local chapters available to do the local on-the-ground work needed. They have been emboldened to take a firmer stance than ever before to prevent trail closures, within the constraints they operate under as a 501c3. Wilderness and environmental advocates are finding it increasingly difficult to pass Wilderness legislation when advocacy groups like IMBA and its chapters are directly and strongly opposed. IMBA is also investigating the merits of a legal challenge to recent trail access losses in the Bitterroot National Forest in Idaho. They have expressed a desire to legislatively adjust existing Wilderness boundaries to open trails that have been closed to bikes (without any changes to the Wilderness Act itself). But their stance falls short of lobbying for sweeping change at the legislative level, which is precisely what STC is positioned to do.

CORBA and IMBA have on a number of occasions asked for “language-based exemptions” to prohibitions on bikes on specific trails in new Wilderness proposals. We’ve usually been turned down on these requests as being “incompatible with the intent of the Wilderness Act” even though numerous language-based exemptions exist for purposes other than bicycle travel and recreation, and the STC’s contention that the “intent” of the Wilderness Act has been misinterpreted in current regulations.  Yet what STC is proposing is making such language-based exemptions (or, more accurately, allowing Forest Service orders to authorize access) for bicycles and trail maintenance,  an integral  part of an amended Wilderness Act.

Let’s not have this issue divide us, weaken us, and allow us to be conquered. Our members can support both STC and CORBA/IMBA, and both organizations will be stronger for it. While we applaud the STC for their approach, CORBA will continue to work on efforts that have immediate, near-term benefit to all mountain bikers and our public lands: trail maintenance, management plan advocacy, currently pending bills, land manager relations, education, and stewardship.

We also hope that one day, CORBA will be in a position to ask our local land managers to open trails in current Wilderness areas to bikes, under the authority of STC’s legislation. But until then, we have to stay strong, stay united, and keep striving towards making immediate, short-term differences, happy in the knowledge that STC is working on a long-term strategy that most of our members agree would be a step in the right direction for all of us. 

Results of IMBA’s Fall 2015 Membership Survey

Tuesday, November 17th, 2015

Here are the results of the International Mountain Biking Association’s (IMBA) fall survey. Remember that CORBA is a founding organization of IMBA, and now there are dozens of local chapters that work with the international association.

You may need to click on the images to enlarge them to make the text easier to read.






















Vote for CORBA for Mtn Bike Hall of Fame by July 15th!

Tuesday, June 11th, 2013

mbhof-logoThe time is now to vote for CORBA (a chapter of IMBA) for induction into the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame and Museum. We were nominated last year and therefor are eligible again moving forward. To learn more about CORBA’s nomination, click here.

CORBA has been on the forefront of mountain bike advocacy since there was such a thing. CORBA as an organization has developed groundbreaking advocacy policies, standardized trail building guidelines and design techniques, and outreach programs (Skills Classes, Mountain Bike Unit volunteer patrol). CORBA members were present at the initial summit which created the International Mountain Bicycling Association, and is listed as a Founding Member of that organization. CORBA may be eligible as an advocacy candidate for the Hall of Fame, but the organization could easily also be included as a Pioneer.

For you that are already members of the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame and Museum, check your mailboxes for your ballots. If you need to join the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame visit their website at There are options to join via PayPal or by printing out the membership form and sending a check.

Voting ends July 15th, so don’t delay!