inSERVICE: IMBA Aims for More Mountain Bicycling Closer to Home

Adobe Stock

In 1988, a group of California mountain bike clubs who were concerned about the closure of trails to bicyclists got together to form the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA). Founded on the belief that developing and promoting mountain bike education programs and trail management solutions was the key to gaining and keeping access to trails, the association has evolved over the past 35 years to adapt to provide a diverse range of education, advocacy, trail design consulting, networking and more for its members, with a goal of creating, enhancing and protecting places for people to ride mountain bikes, both on destination trails and, even more importantly, close to home.

By 2025, IMBA hopes to partner with 250 new communities to provide equitable access to diverse, high-quality trails. To that end, it provides both educational and networking opportunities, as well as a matching grant program. Folks can get involved in the IMBA’s various programs and workshops, such as Trail Management Schools, Trail Accelerator Workshops, Trail Labs, Trail Care Schools and more. For example, the recent Trail Labs: Foundations workshop held in Cedar City, Utah, featured two days of IMBA staff, trail industry experts and local stakeholders leading participants through all of the steps needed to create a model community trail system, from planning and design through building to activation, promotion and measuring success.

The IMBA’s Trail Accelerator grant program matches funds in local communities that have the interest and support to develop trail systems, but still need assistance to get their projects up and running. Through this program, IMBA has partnered on 118 projects with 42 grants awarded and $577,000 leveraged into $12.8 million to support local trails. With the matching grants, typically ranging from $5,000 to $30,000, awardees, including local, state and federal government, nonprofits and mountain bike clubs, gain professional expertise and consultation on trail planning. The most recent grant cycle closed on Aug. 31, 2023, but look for a new round of grants to become available in the summer of 2024.

For more information on the association, its wide-ranging educational opportunities and grant program, a blog covering a diverse array of topics, or just to get connected, visit the website at     RM