Please write to IMBA and share YOUR OPINION about Wilderness

The San Gabriel Mountains

It’s time for MWBA members to swap our trail work hard hats for our advocacy caps. You need to speak up. IMBA needs to hear your opinion. Your voice matters.

For the first time in many years, there is a divide in the mountain biking community. Two respectable mountain bike advocacy organizations are not seeing eye to eye for mountain bike access in Wilderness areas. Sustainable Trails Coalition (STC) and International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) shared different strategies on Wilderness and this has been the topic of discussion at meetings, conference calls, trailheads, and bike shops.

As an IMBA chapter, the Mount Wilson Bicycling Association has been vocal about what IMBA should be doing on behalf of its membership.  MWBA strongly feels that IMBA should support STC and the two organizations need to work together. We have raised our voices to IMBA leadership and have requested a formal survey to ensure that their Advocacy Plan is aligned with their members views. We are encouraged to hear that IMBA listened to our feedback and is now working on such a survey.  Stay tuned and stay a member to be included in the upcoming survey.

Our MWBA board believes there is space for multiple mountain bike advocacy organizations. We must all stand together, as a united front, to protect and restore mountain bike access.

Below are a number of website articles about this issue. We encourage you to read with an open mind and form your individual opinion.

IMBA’s 2/23/16 Press Release on Wilderness Plan

Singletracks informal poll shows 96% of mountain bikers think wilderness should be open to bikes

Pinkbike Banned in the USA: Part 1 by Vernon Felton

Pinkbike Banned in the USA: Part 2, Jim Hasenauer IMBA Co-Founder

CA Adventure Sports Journal: Pedaling the Wild

Bike: Taking the Wilderness Debate to DC, an interview with STC President, Ted Stroll

Mountain Flyer: Family Feud – Is There Only One Wilderness Strategy?

IMBA Blog: IMBA Vice President “Opinions, Principles, and MTB Advocacy”

High Country News: Opinion piece by Ted Stroll, STC President

View of the Angeles National Forest from near Strawberry Peak
View of the Angeles National Forest from near Strawberry Peak

What are your thoughts? Please take a moment to share your opinion with IMBA about mountain biking in Wilderness areas. Make your voice heard. YOU really can make a difference.

We sent a letter similar to the sample below to IMBA President, Mike Van Abel. Feel free to copy and paste, add your own flavor or start from scratch in your own words, and send him an email.

Dear Mike,

I write to you as a mountain biker and a member of the MWBA organization regarding IMBA’s public position to not support STC’s decision to lobby Congress to alter the Wilderness Act to allow for local land managers to determine if bicycles should be permitted.

I believe the strategy currently employed by STC is the most direct and a good course of action of furthering our goal of gaining/not losing our access to the trails. I urge IMBA to stand in solidarity with STC and represent the wishes of the mountain biking community at large and their respective IMBA chapters. I am concerned that IMBA’s lack of public support for STC will only divide our community and make our voices ineffective to not only the organizations IMBA is currently trying to maintain good relations with e.g. The Wilderness Society and The Sierra Club, but also to the law makers.

Though greatly appreciated, I believe that fighting the fires that pop up across the country is not the most effective way for IMBA to advocate on our behalf. I urge IMBA to listen to its constituents and advocate on behalf of them, by being inclusive of the efforts put forth by organizations such as STC to increase our chances of access in areas that are appropriate for mountain bikers.

I urge IMBA to send a clear and unified message that the mountain bike community is organized and united, by supporting STC’s goals.




  1. Todd, appreciate your thoughts and perspective on the IMBA/STC happenings. It’s nice we have a forum to be able to exchange ideas and express ourselves. In that spirit, allow me to clarify a point. STC’s goal is to have the local land agencies determine whether or not it’s appropriate for bikes to be on lands that are designated Wilderness and not have it be a blanket mandate nor a blanket permit. That simply doesn’t make sense; there are some areas where it’s not appropriate for us, but there are other areas where we are not allowed and it’s only because of the designation, not because we don’t belong there.

    We are not encouraging anyone to speak ill of IMBA or STC, in fact, just the opposite. We are asking our community rally together as a unified front so that we make everyone’s stance stronger. If IMBA wants to focus on future Wilderness areas only, then they are still going to need the community to stand in solidarity. Ditto with STC.

    We can agree to disagree on the finer details, but let’s all agree that we need to work together.

  2. Perhaps this should be your letter to IMBA

    Dear Mike

    Thank you for supporting the original Wilderness Act by not trying to change it.
    It’s clear that when the original Act states “no other form of mechanical transport”
    under its list of prohibited uses, that bikes truly are banned from the Wilderness.
    In this era where big Oil, Timber and Mining interests are continually trying to
    undermine environmental standards, opening up the Wilderness Act for
    mountain biking will also open the door for the weakening of the Act.

    It is great that IMBA has seen through all the misinformation that the Sustainable
    Trails Coalition is spewing. STC says that bicycles were never meant to be banned
    in the original Wilderness Act. But, yet STC has never found any quote from the writers
    of the Wilderness Act that supports having bikes in the Wilderness. All the
    STC is doing is basing their opinions on circumstantial evidence, and not very good
    circumstantial evidence. For instance, Ted Stroll of STC says that if fishing reels are
    allowed in Wilderness Areas, then so should mountain bikes. The reason is that
    fishing reels are “mechanical transport” because they transport fishing line out into
    the water. To me there is a big difference between transporting fishing line and transporting
    a person. With logic like that, is it any wonder why IMBA is not supporting STC’s efforts?

    Other IMBA Chapters like the Roaring Fork Mountain Biking Association in Colorado have
    spoken out against STC’s proposal of having mountain bikes in the Wilderness. Here is a
    quote from an article that Mike Pritchard, Executive Director of RFMBA did with the Aspen

    “Pritchard said there are plenty of access issues for him to work on without targeting wilderness areas.
    The Roaring Fork Mountain Biking Association board of directors did discuss the Sustainable Trails Coalition
    proposal at a recent meeting. “Nobody has gotten riled up over it,” he said. That includes members he has spoken with.
    Many mountain bikers also are hikers and backpackers, he said, and they appreciate
    wilderness for its solitude and lack of motorized and mechanized travel.”

    It’s great that IMBA is concentrating on making great trail systems where they are really needed
    instead of advocating mountain biking out in the middle of nowhere. With the limited amount
    of resources it is better to make mountain biking available to people living in the cities, suburbs
    and towns than it is having it where there are very few people living.

    So, I thank IMBA for all their great efforts in this area. It is great that IMBA was able to keep several
    trails out of the Federal Wilderness, by getting the boundaries moved. Now, mountain bikers who ride
    the Bowery Loop in Idaho will forever have the scenery wild because there is designated Wilderness
    next to most of that trail.

    Thank you, Todd McMahon

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