Brian Stokes is the Chair of the Board of Directors for IMBA Canada. Living in Edmonton, Brian loves to get out riding with his family whenever he can, snaking along river trails right in the city. Brian took some time to reflect on the recent board retreat and what lies ahead for IMBA Canada.

When you hear “mountain biking” what comes to mind for you? For some folks, I’ve heard it is bombing steep trails. For others it is long days in the saddle with friends, or wrenching on bikes in a garage with the kids. I would bet that there are as many answers as there are mountain bikers.

IMBA Canada asked ourselves this very question to help us kick off our strategic planning retreat last month. What does mountain biking mean today? When you meet riders on Ebikes and fat bikes, when there are mountain bike clubs in Manitoba, and when fat tires are featured in network TV ads, you have to consider that our sport has changed a lot in the last few years.

Some of these changes are great for the mountain bike community and industry: more trails, more diversity in riders and more buy-in from local governments means plenty of opportunities no matter what type of riding you prefer.

But some changes mean challenge as well – even conflict. The debate is raging over Ebikes, for example. Reports of land-use conflicts grow with every new kilometer of trail. Digital trail mapping is putting more people on to trails that they might not have the skills to ride, and those trails might not be able to sustain the numbers of new riders.

All of this has pushed IMBA Canada to ask itself: who do we represent, and how do we fit in to the community? Figuring this out is sort of like a good ride – overcoming challenging parts, pushing yourself, and getting the most fun out of every feature along the way.

I am excited about the answers IMBA Canada is coming up with, and I think you will be too. Our Board of Directors wrapped up our planning retreat energized and with a clear direction, and new board members are bringing new ideas and enthusiasm.

IMBA Canada’s core mission remains to ensure that Canada is home to a strong and vibrant mountain biking community, riding a world-class network of trails. We are doing that by giving riders, clubs, and trail groups the tools and knowledge to succeed and grow. Our programs have been successful at bringing people together, at working with local governments and land owners, supporting clubs, building new trail, and promoting the sport across Canada. From Fundy National Park and gaining access to Canada’s park system for mountain bikers, to getting more kids on dirt in northern BC with Take A Kid Mountain Biking Day, our programs, staff, and members are doing great work from coast to coast to coast.

IMBA Canada has developed a plan that will focus our resources on growing the riding community, opening more opportunities for you to ride, and supporting trail maintenance and construction at trailheads near you. IMBA Canada is poised to grow over the next few years to reach new heights of activity. Together as a community, I know that we will be able to tackle the challenges that are facing us, cleaning those steep climbs, and to make the most of every opportunity, having a blast popping off every little rise on the trail along the way.

In the end, mountain biking is something different for every rider. IMBA Canada is supporting the people who make it possible for all of us to get out and mountain bike, in what ever way that means to you.

IMBA Canada depends on the support of mountain bikers across Canada. We’d love to have you join IMBA Canada, sign up for our newsletter, give us a follow on social media, or send us a message.