Mountain Bike Action: It wasn’t
long ago that most of the trail-access
news for mountain bikers was bad.
There has been a giant shift in the way
communities and states look at mountain biking. Every week there is news
of a new trail that has been opened to
mountain bikers. What has changed?
Mark Eller: I can’t help but toot
IMBA’s horn a little bit here. We are
Why our sport is
growing and how to
keep it going
Things are looking good for our sport. More and more people are seeing
mountain biking as a benefit to
their community, and many are
finding it a great way to attract
people to their towns, which
helps the local economy.
To bring us up to date on the
mountain biking state of the
union, who better to speak with
than the International Mountain
Bicycling Association’s (IMBA)
Director of Communications,
celebrating 25 years of being at this
kind of work. One of the things that we
can point to is that in 25 years, IMBA
has actually done less on its own behalf
and more in terms of empowering local
groups to make those trail openings
happen and to prevent trail closures.
We are doing a better job now of equipping local advocates to fight their battles on their home turf—and win them.
People say all politics are local, and I
say all singletrack is local. If you want
stuff to happen in your hometown, you
need to enter that world of the political
arena, and that means getting decision
makers like the mayor and city council
excited. That is where our grass-roots
advocates have gotten quite skilled.
Mountain Bike Action: Does IMBA
know the number of new miles opened
to mountain bikers this past year?
Mark: It would be impossible for me
to say, because our network is so big.
With all the different groups we work
with and partners, they don’t tell us
about every new trail. And with the
tools we give them, they get more and
more done on their own. And that is
exactly what we want to see. It is a big
army out there now, but it could be
Mountain Bike Action: Most of
these new trails get started on a local
level, sometimes by just a few riders.
How does IMBA become involved?