IMBA Summit Comes to Augusta

Augusta Georgia was the hostess with the mostest  and had a lot to show during the biennial (Every two years) IMBA Summit last weekend. The southeast is a stronghold for IMBA due to their merger with the Southern Off Road Bicycle Association (SORBA) And Augusta is a fine venue to show this off.

The moment in time I can’t get out of my mind was walking down Broad Street Friday night, while the monthly First Night was going on. Musicians of all types, Gospel singers, breakdancers, fire breathers, Jamaican chicken Jerkers and Classic car nuts were all there to entertain  the racially mixed crowd that roamed the streets, all centered around the life size (5’6”) bronze statue of James Brown that adorned the median of the street.

And while mountain bikers are a distinctly white bunch of people, some of us are working on that. Trips For Kids held a conference on Wednesday that was attended by 30 people representing 12 TFK chapters. As you hopefully already know, part of TFK’s mission is to bring ethnic and economic diversity to the sport of mountain biking by exposing less fortunate kids to the joys of biking. They are doing a swell job, and many other breakout sessions during the summit had to do with getting the kids on bikes. This to me is a key component of the bicycle mission we are on.

Diversity was also a key to the keynote address on Friday. People for Bikes aims to unite one MILLION bicyclists in a unified campaign to make us one voice that he government will hear, thus granting the return of some our tax dollars in the form of bicycle infrastructure destined to help our country more than some useless imperialistic endeavor halfway around the globe. Whether you commute, tour, race, road ride, mountain bike, BMX, or anything, is for you.

IMBA is at a crossroads of diverse ideas. Fight for access like the punks that we are, become a mainstream conservation group that protects wilderness, or a powerhouse that can walk over everyone like the National Rifle Association. On the board for discussion at the IMBA congress on Friday was the chapter program. IMBA wants all the mountain bike advocacy clubs to become IMBA chapters (Like SORBA), sharing membership and membership dollars. With 32,000 members out of ten million mountain bikers, we have a long way to go to reach the representation in Washington we need to maintain access to the land (Such as wilderness). But many clubs stand strong by themselves, and don’t need IMBA’s help to get what they want locally. Time will tell. See what IMBA Executive Director Mike Van Able has to say here.

Another highlight for me was the session on “Connecting with the bike media” with yours truly and other journos discussing best practices for clubs to get the word out to the media about what they’re doing. I used this opportunity to tout Dirt Rag’s legacy of advocacy of which I am so proud. The room did fill up BTW. Here’s the view from the hot seat…

There were many more diverse program, too many to choose from in fact. IMBA is doing a great job of putting trail on the ground in an expedient fashion. Clubs are wising up, building urban bike parks, pump tracks and infrastructure that really fit in with the vision of a bike-friendly world. Friday evening saw the grand opening of one such pump track, a short ride across the river from the summit. Georgia red clay is a beautiful thing.

And to wrap it up Saturday, we all went out to the Forks Area Trail System, (FATS) for an epic ride. Six loops totaling 25 miles of fun, swoopy, pumpy, jumpy track built for mountain biking. What a gas! A testament to what $200,000 in grant money plus 1500 volunteer hours will get you! Here’s to IMBA an SORBA, our hosts!

Our Access guru Philip Keyes liked FATS…

And the compulsory group photo courtesy of Rachael Lopes IMBA/Hilride…


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