PMBIA Expands with Adaptive Module, New US Ambassador and Executive Director

Oct 7, 2020
by PMBIA  
The first PMBIA Adaptive module took place on September 26 in Whistler's Lost Lake Trails.

Press Release: PMBIA

Since 2006, the mission of the Professional Mountain Bike Instructors Association (PMBIA) has endeavored to get more people on mountain bikes in every part of the world. The means to achieving this goal is quite simple: make the sport easier and safer for new riders to learn, and for current riders to keep progressing. We do that by sharing our consistent, professional training methodology with both new and experienced mountain bike instructors and guides. With adaptive mountain biking becoming more popular, it made sense for the PMBIA to offer specific training in that field.

Last month, the PMBIA held its first adaptive training module in Whistler’s Lost Lake trails. Course participants included experienced adaptive instructors from Whistler Adaptive Sports Program (WASP) and the Kootenay Adaptive Sports Association. The session was led by PMBIA Technical Director Paul Howard. The focus of the module was how to safely guide and instruct paraplegic and quadriplegic riders on various models of adaptive cycles including the Explorer, Quad and Recumbent.

bigquotesWe didn’t need to necessarily change the way we think about teaching, guiding or even riding, we just need to adapt the teaching methodologies to students with different abilities. This module simply hones in on different pace, riding style and equipment that’s being employed to fulfill the student’s needs. We're excited to be working with associations like WASP to provide a unique training opportunity for all PMBIA members. Paul Howard, PMBIA Technical Director


The one-day module featured a rundown of the equipment and the different types of handcycles, how-to guide safely on the trails, dealing with rollovers and participants taking turns leading the clinic with feedback from the course conductor.

The PMBIA Adaptive Module will be rolling out in the spring/summer of 2021 and the PMBIA plans to release an online version of the module as well.

PMBIA's new US ambassador and former Downhill World Champion Leigh Donovan

A new US Ambassador
The PMBIA began in Canada (Whistler, specifically) where it has since been embraced as the official guide and instructor training program at resort bike parks all over North America including tourism heavyweights such as Whistler Blackcomb, Silverstar, Aspen Snowmass, among others. But with the PMBIA’s board of directors all residing in Canada, the organization needed a dedicated ambassador south of the border. That title and responsibility was handed to Leigh Donovan, inductee to both the BMX and mountain bike halls of fame. Donovan now works as a PMBIA-certified coach with her own skills clinic program

Snowsports instructors in the US can now cross-train in the offseason to keep their certifications in good standing

Partnership with US snowsport certification bodies
At resort towns across the world, there are a considerable number of instructors that work the summers coaching on bikes and the winters instructing on snow. So it made sense for the PMBIA to partner with the Professional Ski Instructors of America and the American Association of Snowboard Instructors (PSIA-AASI). With this new partnership, instructors from both organizations can acquire continuing education units (CEU) and keep their respective certifications in good standing while cross-training in the off-season.
You can listen to PMBIA Technical Director Paul Howard’s interview about this partnership on the First Chair Podcast.

In partnership with Cube Bikes and Bosch, the PMBIA will be offering specific e-bike modules beginning in the 2020/21 winter season

A new E-Bike module
The PMBIA prides itself on staying up to date with teaching methods as the industry evolves. In 2020, that includes the rise of popularity with e-bikes.

bigquotesWe’ve had more and more input from our members asking about specific teaching for guiding and instructing on e-bikes. We’re also seeing more e-bikes on the trails, and at some point, those riders are going to be looking for coaching. If you’re teaching things like cadence or braking, that’s going to look different when you have a heavy battery and motor on your bike producing torque. Pressure control comes into the equation as well, with the added weight it takes more effort to lift and bunny hop the bike. Paul Howard, PMBIA Technical Director

The module will be an online learning program including a virtual classroom meeting with a PMBIA course conductor. Candidates learn about the technology and different classifications of e-bikes, as well as how having pedal-assist affects the six skills of mountain biking (body position and balance, gears and braking, line selection, direction control, pressure control, timing and coordination). Students then walk each other through the lesson plan they’ve created for their e-bike client.

The PMBIA E-bike module will be rolling out during the 2020/21 winter season.

Executive Director David Gagnon racing at the Patagonia Enduro in Chile in 2018

Rolling with the punches in 2020

The year that is 2020 has been a challenge for certain segments of the mountain bike industry and a boon for others. The PMBIA has fallen somewhere in the middle. While travel restrictions and regional mandates on group gatherings did hinder the number of instructor courses the PMBIA was able to offer, the organization still made progress on the international stage this year. That did come with some last-minute adaptations to a world that was changing daily.

“I was traveling in the southern hemisphere to run instructor courses in Chile and South Africa when the pandemic began to take shape,” says David Gagnon, who took on his new role as Executive Director of the PMBIA in January. “I was in Johannesburg about to start another Level 1 course and was monitoring the COVID-19 situation daily. I made the call to jump on an earlier flight and get back to Canada. The South African government entered one of the strictest lockdown regimes in the world a few days later.”

Gagnon’s appointment as executive director signaled a new phase for the organization, one that required a dedicated role for overseeing the day to day operations and being both the face and voice of the PMBIA as it continues to expand globally.

bigquotesOur main market is in North America, but we’re also seeing quite a big demand in Australia, New Zealand and Japan. The UK and Europe are also growing and we’ve had quite a few national cycling bodies approach us about how to help strengthen their mountain biking scene with an internationally recognized instruction program. David Gagnon, PMBIA Executive Director

Course conductor retreat to Moab, Utah in 2019.

Looking forward into 2021
No one really knows what to expect in 2021, but the PMBIA will continue to operate as much as many courses as possible for aspiring instructors as well as those seeking higher certification levels and course conductor training. Every spring, the PMBIA course conductors meet for a summit in Whistler to discuss evolving teaching methods and any updates to course curriculums. A large part of 2020’s update had to do with teaching mountain biking as safely and as distanced as possible, a trend that will likely continue as the world of mountain bike instruction adapts to its new normal.

If you are interested in pursuing mountain bike instruction as a part-time or full time career, visit to read more about our organization. The 2021 course dates are released around the beginning of the 2020/21 winter season, but please bear in mind quite a lot could change between now and the 2021 summer.

For more updates follow us on Instagram @pmbiassociation or Facebook PMBIAssociation

Author Info:
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Member since Feb 8, 2017
3 articles

  • 2 0
 Cant wait to do the EMTB Course, great to see they are moving with the current situation. Hopefully Cube will offer discounts for Coaches through PMBIA.
  • 2 0
 Had the pleasure of getting certified through PMBIA and David was our coach. He is a class act and his appointment as ED is well deserved. Cheers David!
  • 3 0
 So psyched for this. Thank you, PMBIA!
  • 3 0
 These guys are doing great things for the professionalism of the industry.
  • 2 0
 So cool to see this here! Lots of really talented, experienced and passionate people collaborating on a vision!


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