2016 IMBA Summit Bentonville, Arkansas

Nov 23, 2016
by Pinkbike Staff  
IMBA Summit photographer Liz Chrisman


Earlier this month IMBA held their biennial World Summit in Bentonville, AR. The event provided a forum for learning, sharing ideas, and developing new collaborations. Attendees attended sessions that ranged in topics from women in mountain biking to e-bikes, and from bikepacking to advocacy. And between panels and lectures, attendees revelled in the riding to be had throughout Bentonville and the surrounding area.

IMBA Summit photographer Liz Chrisman

IMBA Summit photographer Liz Chrisman

Michelle Barker, the Director of Chapter and Regional Development at IMBA, was actively involved with the summit both in speaking sessions, leading chapter congress workshops, and collaborating on the summit VIP experience. She also assisted in designing the community and diversity strand and helped coordinate speakers for it. With the summit taking place is a less traditional location – as opposed to the mountain towns it’s been held in previously – Michelle noted the inspiration visitors took away from their visit to Bentonville. “Something I heard mentioned often was about the great variety of trails in Northwest Arkansas and how this impacts mountain bike destinations; specifically how great trail experiences can be created in a wide variety of environments and also, the power of community in creating great mountain bike experiences. We all experienced this first hand in Bentonville and it exists in many places around the world.”

IMBA Summit photographer Liz Chrisman

IMBA Summit photographer Liz Chrisman

Jenn Dice, Vice President – Business Network, PeopleForBikes Coalition, was also struck by the world-class trails in Bentonville. “North West Arkansas doesn’t just build trails, they build best in class trails and raise the bar in everything from flow, to TTF, to armoured berms to bike parks. Then they back it up with effective community building cycling groups, bikes in schools, NICA leagues, and more. The people and the leaders in Northwest Arkansas really make everything come together and we were there celebrating their work.”

bigquotesNorth West Arkansas doesn't just build trails, they build best in class trails and raise the bar in everything from flow, to TTF, to armoured berms to bike parks.
- Jenn Dice, Vice President - Business Network, PeopleForBikes Coalition

This impression of Bentonville and the summit was widely experienced, especially by summit presenter, instructor, and performer; Ryan Leech. “Our sport has deep reach and potential to provide a lot of good in this increasingly digitized world. IMBA knows and represents this, and cities like Bentonville are proving what’s possible. Flowy, high quality, all level trails that connect neighbourhoods, schools, and longer more challenging rides. Our sport is not fringe, nor should access to nature be an exclusive thing. There are so many passionate mountain bikers working and volunteering their time and energy to help make their love for the sport available to more people. Ultimately, the message I got was that everyone at the Summit loves mountain biking, yet they love getting others into the sport even more.”

IMBA Summit photographer Liz Chrisman

In addition to giving a presentation about how mental fitness skills need to be more explicitly connected to skill coaching in order to support long-term sustainable enjoyment of our sport, as well as teaching a yoga class for guests of the event, Ryan also performed in a trials show with Hans Rey and Danny Macaskill; three generations of trials riders. “I felt deeply honoured to be included. I was the ‘middle child’ in the show and I felt the inspirational pull going both directions - Danny’s mastery, amplitude and precision and Hans's longevity, care and dedication. It was a powerful force for me, especially when combined with an audience that was largely familiar with each of our careers - and who expressed that recognition through cheers and smiles.”

IMBA Summit photographer Liz Chrisman
IMBA Summit photographer Liz Chrisman

IMBA Summit photographer Liz Chrisman

IMBA Summit photographer Liz Chrisman

One of the most talked about presences at the summit was that of the NICA (the National Interscholastic Cycling Association) and their collaboration with IMBA, REI, and Shimano to create the Teen Trail Corps - a program designed by NICA and IMBA to inspire and train the next generation of trail stewards and advocates. Isabelle Phraner, a NICA Alumni presented at the summit’s VIP Reception dinner, “mountain biking has, for me, provided the tools to deal with the stressors of a rigorous academic and professional life, as well as teaching me the importance of community. It’s been very ‘learn by doing’ for me, and by seeing a strong mountain bike community in action, banding together to work for equal trail access and riding and celebrating together; I’ve found community and engaged and learned the value of it.” Isabelle felt that summit elevated her knowledge of mountain biking and the community involved in it. “Never before could I have even Imagined such a large, welcoming, tight knit group of bikers getting together and talking access and advocacy for five days. It was a life changing experience, especially so for me, since moving to college has provided me with a distinct lack of a cycling community.” Some of the key points that she took home with her were, “that mountain biking is the most equal of all sports for women, and the community is stronger than ever, despite being such a diverse group of people in terms of gender, race, sexual orientation or political views.”

IMBA Summit photographer Liz Chrisman

bigquotesThe most valuable part of the Summit was getting to experience first hand what can happen when a whole community gets behind and supports cycling. Bentonville really showed the results of this.
- Spencer Ciammitti, Arizona NICA League Student-Athlete

Isabelle’s fellow Teen Trail Corps Captain, Spencer Ciammitti, also inspiration through the conference, “the most valuable part of the Summit was getting to experience first hand what can happen when a whole community gets behind and supports cycling. Bentonville really showed the results of this.” Spencer who describes himself just three years ago as, “13 years old and extremely obese,” had never participated in a team sport before he started mountain biking. “Mountain biking has forever changed my life and I am so incredibly grateful for it to have.” Currently he works closely with his local IMBA chapter (Desert Foothills Mountain Bike Association) and he says that after this summit he’s more determined than ever to make a difference in the city of Cave Creek, AZ. “I plan on doing this by seeing what we can do to build new trails and how we can get the city to support it. I encourage anyone who rides bikes for fun or competitively to seek out their local IMBA or trail organizations and just to try to give back an hour each month to the trails.”

IMBA Summit photographer Liz Chrisman

Ashley Korenblat, owner of Western Spirit and founder of the non-profit, Public Land Solutions, presented at the summit as part of a panel speaking on the Wilderness Act. Despite the stakeholders not necessarily moving any closer to a united front, the summit provided a format for open dialog that engaged the audience on a well-debated topic. As for IMBA itself, Ashley gives a nod to all the IMBA chapters and mountain bike advocacy groups that build the trails that she takes her clients riding on. “There are thousands of miles of trails that have nothing to do with wilderness that IMBA is impacting.”

bigquotesThere are thousands of miles of trails that have nothing to do with wilderness that IMBA is impacting.
- Ashley Korenblat, Western Spirit

Another contentious topic at the summit was E-Bikes. The PeopleForBikes Coalition, Trek’s Gary Fisher, Specialized, Bosch, and representatives of the Colorado Office of Outdoor Recreation Industry spoke together about it. “E-Bikes, both on road and off, are a growing market segment and our job at PFB, in partnership with the bike industry and BPSA, is to clarify and streamline regulations and local laws to allow governments and land managers to make the best decisions possible for managing and regulating e-bike use,” says Jenn Dice. The have already passed model e-bike bills in four states, tweaked many more states, and have roughly twelve states on tap for new bills next year. “We also have a handful of pilot projects where land managers around the country are testing the social and environmental impacts of allowing Class 1 e-bikes on trails.”

IMBA Summit photographer Liz Chrisman

With a wide range of interests and focuses the IMBA summit was successful in the exchange of ideas and the creation of valuable connections for advocacy internationally. “[IMBA’s] vision for the future is even more exciting,” says Jenn. “Mountain biking is growing in many places around the United States and IMBA has that magic formula of combining local advocacy leadership, cutting edge trail layout and design, and trusted land management partnerships to equal lighter fluid to mountain bike access and growth. The World Summit helped kick off the next era of IMBA and we are excited to support their critical work.”

IMBA Summit photographer Liz Chrisman

Photographer: Liz Chrisman


MENTIONS: @peopleforbikes



Posted In:
Industry News



96 Comments

  • 70 3
 Can't decide if this was a hugely beneficial meeting for mountain biking across the word...or a colossal circle jerk of epic proportions.
  • 11 2
 both? for sure the latter
  • 18 38
flag pkmtbaz (Nov 23, 2016 at 15:40) (Below Threshold)
 I heard nothing but positive feedback from anyone that I chatted to there.
  • 33 3
 I'm going to go out on a limb and say the latter. No movement on the wilderness issue and it sounds like it was agreed that eBikes are a great thing that are coming whether we want them or not. Everyone got to go back home and talk about all the important work they did.
  • 26 2
 Same thought. I'd would have liked to have seen an actual "ebikes are motorized vehicles" statement instead of the tiptoe answer that they the together previously.
  • 10 38
flag allix2456 (Nov 23, 2016 at 19:01) (Below Threshold)
 @gdnorm: E-bikes have zero effect on your ability to enjoy the same trails. Stop being an elitist.
  • 19 0
 @allix2456: classification of electronic motor propelled/assisted ebikes are motorized vehicles. That unfortunately is not an elitist stance but a federal legislative classification. They do not belong on multi-use trails and should be federally regulated as such. I fully sympathize with the disabled community but this is a form of motorized, not just mechanized transportation. Modernizing state and federal laws must be done, but ebike use is not appropriate for multi-use single track trail. Although, the hundreds of millions, if not billions $$$$ in profits will see that large manufacturers will position the product for consumption and use by the masses. This has implications far beyond what any of us can imagine. Corporate $ buys power, and power has political force - that's elitist. Note they are fun, great for the road, but they should regulated and classified as a motorized vehicle in the US
  • 18 0
 "Flow to armored berms to bike parks..."is like an alphabet that goes from A to D.
  • 16 5
 @IMBA-south-west: pretty much defines "circle jerk"
  • 1 0
 @nicolai12: uhhh..doesn't "multi use" include dirt bikes? I don't disagree with your premise that e bikes don't belong on bicycle trails
  • 1 0
 Cjep
  • 3 0
 @codypup: yes you are correct (good catch), but there are very few mulit-use single tract trails that support support hiking, cyclist, and motorized use. If you want to use a motorized vehicle get a dirt bike. Even if you want to call a ebike a low power electric assist bicycle there is something important and valuable (as in wilderness) to making it in under your own power.
  • 8 1
 @gdnorm: all you ever get from IMBA is tiptoe answers, and long-winded explanations that don't really say anything.
  • 3 0
 @codypup: Ahaha, so true! They all sit around and pat each other on the back after getting rad on the nation's greatest flow trails.
  • 41 1
 “E-Bikes, both on road and off, are a growing market segment and our job at PFB, in partnership with the bike industry and BPSA, is to clarify and streamline regulations and local laws to allow governments and land managers to make the best decisions possible for managing and regulating e-bike use,”

Typical on the take answer. Industry stooges, nothing more. The decisions have already been made by the NPS, NFS, & BLM. They are motorized vehicles.
  • 11 0
 amen to that brother
  • 4 45
flag allix2456 (Nov 23, 2016 at 19:01) (Below Threshold)
 E-bikes have zero effect on your ability to enjoy the same trails. Stop being an elitist.
  • 9 0
 No but they get the already riled environmentalists even more riled up and that hurts mtb trail initiatives/access. Stop being naive.
  • 5 1
 TRUE THAT ! E-bike users who argue otherwise might as well join a marathon on one of those stupid hoverboards ! its not even a real "hover"-board for crying out loud !!!
  • 6 1
 @allix2456: nonsensical comment
  • 30 9
 I used to be excited about this organization till i actually rode IMBA trails. truly some of the worst ones i've ever ridden. Trail building is an art/skill in which these people seriously lack.
  • 9 2
 What basis do you have to make that claim on? I'm genuinely curious, what makes a "good" trail build, a totally smooth bike park flow track and/or magnifying the natural features a land holds? Every trail is a different and from riding at this event I can tell you these people in Arkansas know what they are doing when they build these trails, something for everyone there.
  • 18 1
 Agreed. IMBA is the McDonald's of the mountain biking community, specializing in generic and often poorly executed trails that only excel in promoting their own agenda.
  • 7 2
 @strikeeagle17: Yes I understand. All trails are different but the IMBA trails i rode were 4 foot wide, flat, no tight turns. basically a weird mix of a bike path and dirt trails.
  • 6 12
flag Myfianceemademedoit (Nov 24, 2016 at 5:48) (Below Threshold)
 @dvp8: IMBA Trail Solutions has some of the best trail builders in the world working for them now. What IMBA trail were you riding?
  • 8 1
 @strikeeagle17: imba style trails are all the same. Side hill bench cut to 65 switchbacks to side hill bench cut, make sure it's 3'wide no rocks....
  • 7 2
 @Myfianceemademedoit: hahaha that's a good one. The IMBA trail solutions reps we had had in our area been building for 2 years..... some of us have been building professionally for over 10 years. Nothing like a guy who has never ridden a dh bike telling you how to build a dh trail....
  • 2 4
 A guy asks a simple question only to be labeled as "Below threshold"? I would ask more questions but they would never be answered......sad.
I guess an open dialogue is something I should not expect from this site. Instead of getting things done, we just complain about what others have done.
  • 1 0
 @Myfianceemademedoit: I rode these trails in an area just north of Toronto
  • 2 1
 I hereby call on pinkbike to create a new trail standard. Call it whatever you want, (PISOF Trails... "Pinkbike's International Standard of FUN trails") include methods for sustainability but also for fun and that actually looks at factors that IMBA does not take into account and allows for "freeride" features. IMBA trails are fantastic for a certain demographic but end up being cookie cutter and contain a lack character for riders who are looking for something more. We are being contoured to death!
  • 2 0
 @Mckenzieinc: just a few short years ago my area did just that, with IMBA's help. We started are own IMBA chapter, they give us the resources to help working with land management/local government (and sometimes $$), we do everything else locally by raising more $ and building maintaining trails. We can only blame ourselves if the trail suck even if IMBA built, because believe it or not, most likely someone locally hired IMBA to build those crappy trails everyone dislikes or a local IMBA chapter did it to themselves.
  • 2 0
 @Myfianceemademedoit: Yes but only because they are following the IMBA guideline which have terrific intentions but limit creativity. Something like whistler standards cover the basics but allow for interpretation and flexibility. When people are more worried about their clinometer reading than how the trail actually rides, we have a problem.
  • 1 0
 @Mckenzieinc: I agree with that.
  • 28 4
 E bikes! Spawn of evil.
  • 12 27
flag MuskratMatt (Nov 23, 2016 at 16:16) (Below Threshold)
 Everyone hates them until they ride one
  • 26 2
 @MuskratMatt: Still don't like them after riding them.

Ebikes are good. Less cars commuting

E mountain bikes are evil. Not actually mountain bikes. Electric motor bikes.
  • 7 14
flag Jo-rides (Nov 23, 2016 at 16:40) (Below Threshold)
 Share your concern, but I still prefer 100x sharing trails with evil ebikes than noisy 4x4 and motocross
  • 2 4
 Check out the Elby... pedal-assist e-bike: elbybike.com/product/9-speed

Ebike-o-phile: I don't mean that kind of e-bike.
Me: Why not?
Ebike-o-phile: It's not the right shape.
Me: So e-bikes for trails have to be no throttle, with a fairly low top speed and a certain "mountain bike shape". Hmmm, yeh, land managers are really going to get that distinction.
  • 5 1
 @MuskratMatt: I don't hate them, but I'd rather keep getting stronger than adopt something that makes riding easier. My rigid bikes help me to appreciate how far MTB tech has come. SSMFKM singlespeedmidfatKaratemonkey!
  • 10 1
 We just don't need them. Mountain biking will continue to grow and expand so long as we build high quality trails and have passionate people riding them. Don't water down the experience. Mountain biking is an amazing sport. Take it as it is, or... maybe try disc golf. I hear it's awesome.
  • 4 30
flag allix2456 (Nov 23, 2016 at 19:05) (Below Threshold)
 E-bikes have zero effect on your ability to enjoy the same trails. Stop being an elitist.
  • 17 0
 @allix2456: Do you know any other songs?
  • 2 0
 @MichaelLinehan: Curse you for tricking me into looking at that hideous thing
  • 1 1
 @AllMountin: who is "we" do not decide what "I" want to ride.
  • 1 1
 @allix2456: so true
  • 11 1
 Does anyone else get personally contacted by IMBA when they make negative comments about them on the internet? I've had to block their directors from my email and other social media sites, it got so bad! Glad to see people are finally catching on to the IMBA "agenda."
  • 9 1
 Even if you disagree that's pretty f'in rad. If you don't communicate back and forth you're just bitching for the sake of listening to yourself bitch.
  • 1 1
 @schofell84: at first it was cool, and I was impressed. But eventually I realized that their direct communication with me was just as much b.s. as their blog posts and this article. It could have gone on forever, and we wouldn't have gotten anywhere.
  • 8 0
 It's amazing how much the cycling infrastructure has grown in NWA he's past few years. Thanks to a certain large financial backing by a certain family and now the adoption of all the NWA metro cities.
  • 6 0
 It's funny how bike companies make e-bikes so that's OK. I'd love to hear the excuses from the people that ride them if Ducati or Yamaha got in the game. Doesnt matter who makes them, they are motorbikes and should not be allowed on non-motorized trails.
  • 2 0
 KTM?
  • 1 0
 @schofell84: Of course! Can't believe I forgot them.
  • 2 1
 @Super7: I said that because I think they're in the e-bike game already.
  • 1 0
 @schofell84: Wow. That will give the Sierra club all the ammo they need. Nice job lazy people!
  • 1 4
 If yamaha comes out with an ebike with pedals that's awsome. As long as it has pedals its a bicycle.
  • 6 0
 After reading articles about entire regions in the US being closed to mountain biking, I can't understand why IMBA hasn't come out against e-bikes (well I can, it's the industry pushing for more sales). Other user groups will surely point to e-bikes as 'motorized' (with or without reason) and use them as a catalyst to try and get mountain biking banned altogether. Offer permits to those with disabilities so they can use e-bikes on the trails, but otherwise GTFO.
  • 8 3
 I would be interested to see where we would be without a large lobbying group advocating for MTB. We can criticize the trails built or soft ebike stance all we want, I doubt the MTB community would have lasted very long against the Sierra Club and other well-organized groups who would love to see us vanish from trails. The fact we can all afford to NOT get involved is probably a fairly strong testament to their success over the years in defending our access.
  • 3 0
 Imba has done nothing for trails in my area other than dumb down sections worked during trail building workshops.
  • 1 0
 @d-man: Amen. It drives me crazy. Build as many novice trails as you like, but leave established trails alone!
  • 1 0
 @d-man: Right, but I am not talking about whether or not I like the results of a trail project in my hometown, I am talking about access - whether or not mtb would be legal at all in many areas. If we don't have a voice, we lose trails to hiking groups, conservation groups, dog-walkers, little old lady clubs, NIMBYs and equestrians that are motivated and well organized.
  • 4 0
 The event was pretty cool I thought it was pretty lame tho that all of the builders of the area were not given accessto all the VIP events. I would've liked to meet a lot of the people that attended those events. I thought that was ridiculous that the guys who did the actual work weren't allowed to participate in anything other than riding public trails that we built. I had company in town anyways I guess so my attention was more focused on them ... Bottom line I had a great time with my friends and got lots of kudos that were truly appreciated. That was a lot of hard work getting all the new trails built in time for summit
  • 6 0
 IMBA in no way represents me or my kind of riding. They have become sycophants for the Sierra Club and environmentalists.
  • 3 0
 Do you use word of the day? That just came up on my app this week.
  • 1 0
 Also I am not sure you can call them sycophants if they are openly supporting ebikes. Unless it's a crazy backwards way to get all bikes banned from several trails. Which I guess would be strangely genius on SC's part.
  • 6 0
 ...and 10,000 grade reversals were built (somewhere) in that week
  • 1 0
 www.youtube.com/watch?v=b0Vv0uMhWA4 www.youtube.com/watch?v=b0Vv0uMhWA4 Yeah these won't cause any trail damage at all, let alone giving anti-bike groups some teeth when pushing to get all bikes banned from trails.
  • 1 0
 I guess you have Never skidded down a hill before? Or road in the mud?
So many riders on their soap boxes claiming they are perfect.
  • 1 0
 @d-man: that's not a skid, that's roostering up.
  • 4 1
 Yep, I was happy to attend this event, was all around great. The riding was top notch!
  • 8 4
 Walmart and E-bikes
  • 3 0
 Do e bikes have enough torque to spin the rear tire and dug ruts?
  • 2 1
 Modified ones sure do.
  • 1 1
 No but regular bikes sure do leave ruts when riding when it's wet....
  • 1 0
 @d-man: so you are completely uniformed, or more likely trolling.
  • 1 3
 @gdnorm: no uniform for me, i leave that to the racer wanna bees.
I am dead serious, anyone who thinks ebikes do more damage than a regular bike are blind. I can find pictures or videos of people shredding berms or skidding down trails on regular bikes in less than 2 pages on this site. Until every rider stops doing this the arguement is bs.
The new age bikers are so much like the hikers 15 years ago when we were trying to get access to trails. All the same bs arguments, trail damage, noise, bla bla bla.
  • 2 0
 @d-man:Sorry about the grammar error. Read this: www.bikerumor.com/2015/12/08/e-bikes-to-trail-or-not-to-trail-an-open-letter-to-imba-from-nembas-executive-director-philip-keyes

It has nothing to do with trails erosion. It has everything to do with losing access or access opportunities. If you have really been involved in the game for 15 years then you will know how easy it is to lose trails.
  • 1 0
 @gdnorm: so some guy from the east coast doesn't like ebikes.... he feels its not mountainbiking unless you are 100% human powered. Sounds familiar to what hikers say about mountainbikers.

Heres my opinion.
They have pedals, gears so they are bicycles.
No hiker would ever know I am riding an ebike and 75%of mountainbikers would not know either.
Studies show no different damage done than a regular bike.
Eco opponents to mountainbikes hate the idea of bicycles on trails period and it doesn't matter if they are e powered, 29r, 26, 27.5.
Mountainbikers all need to stand together for equal access. Why is walking on a trail ok but not rolling?
Ebikes will allow non bikers to get out and realize what the thrill is without the suffering. Why take that experience away from someone because you feel that they need to earn it???? Again elitism.
  • 2 0
 @d-man: didn't read it huh?
  • 1 1
 @gdnorm: sure did, as I said all opinions. No facts, no actual land managers taking away trails due to ebikes. A lot of maybes and what ifs.
The only people crying about ebikes is mountainbikers.
  • 2 0
 @d-man: study citation please.
  • 1 0
 @d-man: www.hcn.org/issues/47.12/illegal-mountain-bike-trails-and-a-forest-service-crackdown-divide-an-arizona-town

If you can't at least appreciate the parallels and how beurocratic history repeats itself, you are doing a major disservice to the biking community.
  • 1 2
 @gdnorm: so what's your point? No mention of ebikes doing damage or closing trail anywhere....
What have you done for mountainbiking in your area?
I am the original founding member of out local cycling society. We were instrumental in authorizing our current trail network. So please do not try to tell me about working with government agencies. Been there done that.
  • 1 0
 @d-man: you're right. History is useless and the foresight of the President of the New England IMBA is just "some guy from the east coast".
  • 2 0
 @d-man: still waiting on that study.
  • 1 0
 @schofell84: There actually is a study by the IMBA sponsored by the ebike industry showing no increased erosion. So obviously no bias there. Common sense says increased traffic equals increased errosion. A point the IMBA and others choose not to recognize for whatever reason. But like it was stated in the open letter fron the NEMBA to the IMBA linked above, the real issue is that the STC is dead in the water without ebike opposition.
  • 1 0
 @gdnorm: there's a study a I can fart unicorns.

Citation please.
  • 1 0
 @schofell84: Ha! It's in the bike rumor link. The author critiqued it.
  • 1 0
 @gdnorm: "Physical impacts to trails from eMTBs will likely fall somewhere between those caused by mountain bikes and motorcycles.
We expect that eMTBs may lead to more soil displacement under certain conditions, such as through turns, including bermed turns; on ascents and descents; and where there are abrupt changes in trail conditions."
  • 1 0
 @gdnorm: from your article and study.
  • 1 1
 My home town, we made it on Pinkbike, sweet!
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