LAS VEGAS, NV (BRAIN)—A standing room only crowd jammed into IMBA’s industry breakfast on Thursday morning at Interbike for an annual update on the mountain bike advocacy group’s efforts.
About 200 retailers, corporate sponsors, board members and media packed into Casanova 106 and 107, about 80 percent of whom raised their hands when asked if they were attending the annual breakfast for the first time.
Executive director Mike Van Abel let a film do most of the talking this year in order to share an IMBA success story with the crowd. “Pedal Driven” a bike-umentary currently in production that details the balance that must be struck between federal land managers and mountain bikers, who feel they have a right to build trails in pubic forests.
The film, produced by Howell at the Moon Productions, illustrates success stories in Bend, Oregon, where the local community worked with the feds to develop 1,200 miles of trails on National Forest land. Another work-in-progress is in Oakridge, Oregon, a tiny former logging town that recently secured $400,000 in federal funding to help build trails and signs as part of the development of an IMBA Ride Center.
That money came out of the Transportation House and Urban Development fund after local advocates traveled to the National Bike Summit last March and spoke to their Congressmen about the importance of mountain biking in the community.
“There’s no reason this has to be unique to Oakridge. This can happen in your community,” said Anna Laxague, IMBA’s Pacific regional director.
Laxague is one of five regional directors IMBA hired this year to guide trail projects in territories across the U.S. The additional paid staff members represents a transition away from the days when volunteer advocates worked alone in the field.
In 2009, IMBA will fund 30 new trailbuilding projects across the country, including five new epic trails. Also, this year the organization awarded 14 retailers with platinum and gold level recognition for their contributions to IMBA.
For 2010, IMBA is rolling out a new retailer program that includes new signs and materials retailers can display in their shops to show their support for the organization. Also, IMBA will develop an interactive map for its Web site that tells its constituents what local bike shops are supporting IMBA.