Take 350 motivated mountain bike advocates, add IMBA’s leadership, a healthy dose of nearby singletrack, plenty of good beer and Southwest food, and you have the IMBA World Summit. Last week, Outdoor Alliance was honored to attend and present at IMBA’s biannual get together, hosted in Santa Fe, NM.
Looking at a room full of advocates from across the nation, most of whom were taking time away from jobs and families to attend, we found ourselves wondering, “Who are all these people?” The answer: the bright future of conservation and advocacy for mountain biking. Universally, the delegates at the Summit were capable and incredibly motivated. Each one was anxious to tell you about his or her project, whether it is a mountain bike pumptrack at an elementary school in Texas, or a national movement to make high school mountain bike racing as ubiquitous as soccer or football.
For our part, we presented the findings from our 2011 Partnership Summit and discussed our initiative to connect mountain bikers with climbers, paddlers, hikers and backcountry skiers at key locations around the country. IMBA staff spoke to their experiences starting and participating in cross-linked recreation networks in Colorado and Asheville, NC. Then afterwards, we rode tacky trails with longtime friends and supporters of Outdoor Alliance.
Most exciting of all, we left the World Summit with a new appreciation for the evolution taking place in conservation and recreation advocacy. In keynote speeches and IMBA’s presentations, it was clear that mountain bikers really are moving from pleading to leading. Gone are the days of reacting to closed trails and degraded landscapes. Now, mountain bikers proactively lead the way to better trails, new partnerships and more protected lands. And it’s not just mountain bikers – the entire human powered recreation community is part of this evolution, opening up new opportunities to shape the future of conservation.