2008 IMBA World Summit

IMBA World Summit belt buckleThey don’t disappoint. The International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) puts on an incredibly valuable and inspiring world summit every couple years. This year’s in Park City, Utah continued that winning streak.

Of course, how can you go wrong when you combine perfect weather, cold beers, the world’s foremost mountain bike advocates and Park City’s 300 miles of singletrack?


The event kicked off at Utah’s Olympic Training center. We had excellent food and beer, but the highlight was watching the Flying Aces ski jumping team. But before they came out, IMBA executive director Mike Van Abel showed them how it’s done. Nerves were a bit on edge, especially from the IMBA staffers around me, until Mike nailed the landing.


IMBA\'s Jenn Dice with NPS Director Mary Bomar

The first opening speaker was John Burke, president of Trek Bicycles. Trek is really stepping up their support for bike advocacy through their One World, Two Wheels initiative. We’ll blog more about this soon.

National Park Service (NPS) Director Mary Bomar followed. Her message? “Bicycling can be a major element of visitor experiences at national parks.” She added that IMBA and the Park Service share a “special bond.” Another bond? The Director’s son is an active mountain biker and he’s been very helpful in bringing the Director more in tune with mountain biking.

The breakout sessions were next. I attended “Linking Downtown to Dirt” and got an excellent overview of the League of American Bicyclists’ Bicycle Friendly Community program — something that should be pushed more in Metro Detroit.

I also attended an informative risk management session. One key design principle for reducing liability — “No forced risk”.

Next, IMBA board member John Bliss and I gave a session “Effective Club Leadership”. John handled most of the board governance best practices while I provided real world how-to and how-not-to examples.


2008 IMBA World Summit

One keynote highlight for the morning was from Joel Holtrop, the Deputy Chief of the Forest Service. This June he sent a letter to regional forest service staff about better accommodating mountain biking.

My first session was for urban bike parks, including the I-5 Colonnade trail in Seattle. There is tremendous opportunity for these in Detroit and throughout Michigan.


As with any conference, much of the information and ideas you gain and give occur outside of the formal summit programming. That in itself was invaluable.

Carol Potter, the executive director for the Mountain Trails Foundation did an amazing job bringing this summit to Park City and then ensuring it was a home run. While Carol works in Park City now, she’s originally from Cadillac, Michigan where she was also very involved in trails. It was great meeting Carol.

The only disappointment was that I was the only Michigan/MMBA person at the event. On the other hand, Indiana sent about five guys. They are really turning around their state’s mountain bike trail situation and a quick and impressive manner.

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One Response to “2008 IMBA World Summit”

  1. Jonathan Juillerat Says:

    Todd, nice write-up on the IMBA Summit. It really was a fantastic and worthwile event to attend. Thanks for the kind words about Indiana and our hard-working advocates. MMBA has really helped us a lot over the years with lots of sage advice and help. We look forward to working together with Michigan and our other surrounding states to make the upper Midwest an even more amazing place to mountain bike.

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