FRIEDRICHSHAFEN, Germany (BRAIN)—The International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA) is expanding the “I” in IMBA with the formation of IMBA Europe.
The new affiliate, announced Thursday at Eurobike, involves at least 10 European countries including the Czech Republic, Poland, Germany, Ireland, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
The group aims to provide a cohesive voice and legitimacy for Europe’s mountain bike community, which often gets lost somewhere between the racing and commuting groups, said Tomas Kvasnicka, founder of the Czech Mountain Bike Association and leader of IMBA Europe.
The idea is also to bring IMBA’s well-established standards for building sustainable trails to Europe.
“There are plenty of wonderful destinations in Europe with beautiful trails, but some are not legal, they’re not managed, they’re not maintained because they fall outside the scope of the conservancy people, so they get closed easily,” Kvasnicka said.
The group will also aim to work on access issues to help build more trails closer to where people live, Kvasnicka said.
IMBA Europe is not meant to step on the toes of existing national advocacy groups, and therefore will not solicit individual members as IMBA does in the U.S. Instead, it will encourage riders to join their national advocacy organization, as well as IMBA Europe.
The effort to form IMBA Europe started last year, and was helped along by a $40,000 grant from SRAM that allowed IMBA CEO Mike Van Abel to travel to Europe last May to meet with Kvasnicka and advocates from eight other countries to get the group started.
IMBA Europe was formally announced at Eurobike, where Van Abel, Kvasnicka and Thomas Kleinjohann, with the Deutsche Initiative Mountain Bike organization, are hoping to pick up sponsors.
“We’re being very well received. The companies we’re talking to, many are seriously considering the fact that we can now grow the sport [in Europe] from their perspective,” Van Abel said.
IMBA already has international affiliates in Canada and Australia.
For more information, visit www.imba-europe.org.
Photo: Thomas Kleinjohann, Tomas Kvasnicka and Mike Van Abel work to spread the word about IMBA Europe at Eurobike.