Racing Icon is IMBA's New Leader

Feb 8, 2017
by Vernon Felton  
Dave Wiens
Longtime pro and Mountain Bike Hall of Famer, Dave Wiens, is now the International Mountain Bicycling Association's Executive Director. Photo courtesy of IMBA

There have been quite a few shake ups at the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) in recent years, including the departure of IMBA's former leader, Mike Van Abel, who served in that position for 12 years. Today, however, the organization named its new Executive Director, Dave Wiens.

Dave Wiens, aka The Vanilla Gorilla (he didn't shave his legs back in the day), is a racing legend--one of the true strongmen from NORBA's heyday. That description, however, fails to capture just how monstrous of a badass Wiens truly is. This is the guy who utterly dominated the Leadville 100 from 2003 to 2008: a period that most people would characterize as his "retirement" from racing. And, yes, Wiens even put the smack down on Lance Armstrong at Leadville in '08. Armstrong came back and narrowly beat Wiens the following year, but you get the idea--IMBA's new leader is fast and good at suffering.

None of this, of course, explains why IMBA made this guy its new Executive Director. Well, the other side of the Dave Wiens coin is that the guy is also an ardent trail advocate. Wiens is the founder and executive director of Gunnison Trails, a non-profit organization dedicated to enhancing singletrack bike trails on public lands adjacent to Gunnison, Colorado.

For IMBA, an organization that has (fairly or unfairly) faced criticism of being detached from the mountain bike community, the move to place Wiens atop the org chart seems a wise one. Wiens knows what it's like to build trail and build alliances with different trail user groups. It could be a good match. Time will tell.

"As a mountain biker I share a passion for trails and riding with this entire community," says Wiens. "IMBA has been an important part of mountain biking getting better and better over the past 30 years and I'm looking forward to working with mountain bikers from all over, as well as other stakeholders, while IMBA continues to help provide great places to ride."

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51 Comments

  • 59 1
 Great lead in @pinkbikeaudience (Vernon) and congrats IMBA on a great hire! This is a tough and sometimes thankless job that's open to an enormous amount of criticism (especially on P.B!!) but as they say.... "somebody's gotta do it" -and I for one am glad it's Dave Wiens. My 1st job out west when I moved to Crested Butte in 1991 was working with Dave and 15 other die hard skiers packing snow for the Crested Butte Ski patrol. He was, BY FAR the hardest working guy of the bunch. Over the years he's obviously won a lot of races, but has continued busting ass - for others! Pinkbikers probably won't agree with his kit, his bike or his even his E-bike stance, but I guarantee he'll be the hardest working guy at the trail day. And remember, IMBA is almost as complicated as U.S politics, so don't blame Dave on everything you don't agree with. Change happens by the people who show up! And if it matters (& I think it will to this crowd) - he's one bad ass hockey player and a pretty huge RUSH fan too.
  • 28 0
 I completely agree. Dave's one of the good ones - if anyone can steer IMBA in the right direction it's going to be him.
  • 14 0
 Nailed it! We are fortunate as a brand to be in a relationship with Dave. Even more fortunate to have him on our side as mountain bikers, cyclists, and outdoor enthusiasts.
  • 8 1
 Love positive comments like these.
  • 15 0
 Well said, @sevenoff. Wiens is a hard worker and has a good head on his shoulders. His record as a trail advocate more than speaks for itself. IMBA has a hard job to do--at the end of the day, there's no way to please everyone when it comes to advocating for better trails and trail access. I'm personally glad to see Dave Wiens in the leadership role.
  • 5 1
 Make MTB great again!
  • 4 8
flag alwayslivingthedream (Feb 9, 2017 at 9:04) (Below Threshold)
 In sorry but Rush sucks..
  • 3 0
 Having built trail with Dave for years here in Gunnison I have to say that no one else can bring his enegy level and his ablity to engage with all land owners, users, and managers. The cooperation he has developed locally with the BLM, Gunnison Trails and the local government has allowed our community to constantly and steadily improve the quality of trails and the quantity. Bring the momentum of your enormous wheels to IMBA Dave!
  • 21 2
 Neat, asking the important questions here, is he pro or anti e-bike?
  • 6 5
 Sounds like: what is his take on immigration?
  • 1 0
 @WAKIdesigns: curious what's your take been your the humanitarian superpower and all?
  • 7 4
 @MX298: everything dies
  • 1 0
 @WAKIdesigns: Not me!
  • 2 2
 @bohns1: not yet

Unless you find a way to be rich enough to become a technological minion (if this will get invented soon enough for you) and then a good enough technological minion to evolove into something that can survive into times where you can do a successful interstellar travel and populate galaxies (if that will ever be possible by creatures coming out from Earth, we may simply not have enough energy and we may be bound to the Sun which will swallow the Earth. We may be able to change the orbit of the Earth or suck energy out of the sun and turn it into a red dwarf, which will prolong it's life hell of a lot, but that means we would possibly be able to travel to other stars). Off course then you wouldn't give a flying fk about MTB so you'd be dead for us on Pinkbike.

Fermi paradox works against you.
  • 1 0
 @WAKIdesigns: wow! U got way to much time on ur hands dude!
  • 14 0
 now maybe just maybe IMBA will stop being so complacent about bullies like the Sierra Club banning MTB's from just about everywhere.
  • 10 0
 Sierra club: do people breathe the earths air?
People: yes
Sierra club: people are now banned from breathing... it's too hard on the earth
  • 15 0
 Now that's a spandex warrior I can get behind, hairy legs for life son!
  • 10 0
 awkward
  • 8 0
 Gotta Love a man that can stomp Lance & afvocates for MTB access, building trail in the coldest spot in North America. Appreciate everythin Mike Van Abel did, but new blood is necessary to invigorate a fickle crowd.
  • 6 0
 Dave is an awesome guy. Back in the early '90s when the Specialized Cactus Cup was brand new and out in the middle of nowhere Scottsdale, AZ (now just a full-on part of Phoenix) we were all camping at the race site. Some tall guy, obvious pro, came by to share some food, fire, and drink. Turned out to be Dave Wiens! We told him what team we were all on (Team Angst!). He rooted for us during our several events and he had fans for live. After that he made it a point to come by at each big race we were at. Super cool, very chill, and ULTRA fast guy. Very happy to see him take their reins here. Good times.
  • 4 1
 Should we be talking about the effort to sell off Federally managed public lands? HR621 was pulled but HR622 is being submitted to defund the management agencies setting up the system to fail.
  • 4 3
 Like they said. Go out of your way to ride a "classic IMBA trail" only to find it's a sterilized boring piece of crap. They probably do a lot of good though. Just not in terms of helping people design good trail or helping with trail advocacy at a local level for many of us.
  • 1 0
 I agree I want my National Organization to do more for trail access and to prevent motor-cycles (electric or gas) on the trails, but at the local level our two clubs in NWA are the boots on the ground doing the actual work to maintain the trails and get new people stoked on riding. It is overly simplistic to make this issue black and white. I think folks should take a look at what their local chapters are doing. It is easier to reform an organization from the inside than the outside.
  • 3 0
 I might be wrong, but it seems like therĂ©s a lot of anti-imba sentiments on pinkbike. Why don't you guys like imba?
  • 28 1
 Mostly because IMBA does not take any action on Wilderness Areas being taken from mountain bikers. Some have their own reasons, but I find that the most common.
  • 37 2
 Also whenever a trail is redone or built with IMBAs stamp it is a benchcut sidewalk riddled with backwards built switchbacks.
  • 18 1
 @Jimmy0: I remember IMBA came and showed us how to build trails. It was exactly as you described. And it was boring, the greatest sin in trail building. What may have applied in the forests where such a trail might work did not apply in ours. That IMBA trail disappeared with lack of use whereas trails we built a decade before IMBA visited are still some of the best around. Waste of time.
  • 17 1
 Same as most politics these days: people don't feel that IMBA has their best interests in mind any longer.
-Not much in the way of transparency or communication that the voices of those they seek to represent are even being heard.
-Their trail guidelines are a one-size-fits-all approach and often (not always) produce bland dirt sidewalks in the woods--yet if you want the grant money, you have to do it their way.
-Appear to cower to the Sierra Club and other anti-biker organizations instead of being assertive, leading to organizations like WTC being formed to pick up the slack.
-Seem pretty darned receptive to E-bikes on singletrack, even though some forests and counties have already banned them. see: Colorado.

The faith that myself, and others, once had in IMBA seems to be rapidly fading. Of course I welcome some new leadership and hope for the best for Dave Wiens! But honestly, I set the bar pretty low for IMBA these days..
  • 3 2
 Oh, where to start... Let's start with Specialized is front and center and ensures (bullies) their interest are served. Enough? Have you ridden IMBA trails? Clearly not. Like a e-bikes? If so, IMBA is on your side. Huge Wiens fan but even with him at the helm, IMBA, like Specialized, will never see another penny of mine. Good luck, Dave - you're going to need it by the truck load in trying to right this dysfunctional organization.
  • 7 1
 To add another reason for IMBA criticism: Their stance on trail maintenance has also suffered immensely since IMBA trail solutions (their in house trail building firm) was created. There is a perception that they spend a lot more effort to secure new trails, that they make money building, than they do now on the core trail maintenance & advocacy mission. We've seen it locally with them opting to skip public comment meetings to preserve existing trails that are threatened.
  • 5 1
 @TheFunkyMonkey:Nailed it. I haven't sent $ to IMBA in years, due to their lack of action on Wilderness, and their iffy ebike policy and trail building policies made it even less or an org I'd support. If anyone can right that ship, it's Wiens. Hopefully they'll emphatically state that ebike = motorized, and clarify that IMBA = bicycle = nonmotorized. I'd like to see less empire building via trail solutions and more trail advocacy. Most importantly, they don't necessarily have to join STC's efforts on Wilderness, but they need to not oppose it. They can be the good cop vs STC's bad cop. They damn sure need to make clear that when Ahole Korenblat is reaffirming Sierra Club positions as if she speaks for IMBA, that she in fact does not.
  • 3 0
 What is this about Lance beating Dave? Wasn't he doping at the time? So does that even count?
  • 2 0
 Any news on a replacement Executive Director for IMBA Canada? Lora Woolner stepped down last summer...
  • 3 2
 IMBA Canada is a disaster and has been for several years (Not Lora's fault).
  • 5 8
 @ratedgg13: oh no, the trumpisms are spreading to canada! lol
  • 8 3
 @ithomas: purely unintentional I assure you. Now If you'll excuse me, I have a wall to build...
  • 5 0
 AJ is still interim director so in short, the answer is no, Lora haven't been replaced yet. While I agree there's a place for a national advocacy organisation, each region have developed so much that it feels like IMBA Canada just missed the boat. NSMBA, Velo-Qubec and few other are full-blown "chapter" and could be great partner, but IMBA is lacking the leadership to keep going and need to review its mission/vision to maintain its role.

That being said, the I of IMBA is still their biggest struggle. There's nothing international in IMBA if you don't want to collaborate with the rest of the worlld. IMBA Canada website was down a good part of the week because IMBA USA didn't want to renew the DNS record. Still some major management issues to address on that part.
  • 2 0
 @HypNoTic: Yeah, I noticed the outage when I went to renew my corporate membership.

I'd agree that the "I" is a problem. The fact that the Canadian operation isn't in control of its own domain is quite telling. Has there been any interest in creating a new Canadian association entirely separate from the US?
  • 3 2
 Make IMBA Great.......ugh.... ahem.... ugghhhh..... ohhhh..... again?
  • 1 0
 @ratedgg13: Hahahahahaha!!!!!! Almost had my lunch come out of my nose!!
  • 3 0
 Okay Wiensy get busy. Something about chaos and opportunity.
  • 1 0
 Maybe some hope for IMBA, many of my friends and myself have dropped membership for their lackluster attention to supporting access to BLM and STC.
  • 1 0
 Total fucking joke. IMBA IS SHIT I have sought help on local legislation from IMBA thru local affiliates and directly. Crickets. TOTAL BULLSHIT ORGANIZATION!!!
  • 2 0
 Congrats Dave, you deserve it!
  • 1 0
 The fraternity stays strong
  • 1 1
 Kinda like hiring Cam to sell your shitty VWs
  • 6 8
 F IMBA
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