How the International Mountain Biking Association Works

By: Gina Fisher
Person cycling outdoors with headwear for extreme sports.
Image Gallery: Extreme Sports The IMBA has helped to create thousands of miles of new trails for bikers. See pictures of extreme sports.

People who like similar activities often form associations and clubs in order to create more opportunities to enjoy their common interests. Mountain bikers are no exception to this, and enthusiasts of this outdoor sport have recreational clubs all over the world. In 1988, several mountain biking groups in California decided to band together, not just to form a larger social network, but to establish an association large enough to have a voice in the realm of land-use issues. They named this organization the International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA) [sources:, IMBA].

The IMBA formed to solve some of the problems facing mountain bikers at the time -- primarily the closure of several California trails that mountain bikers routinely used. Additionally, the rise in popularity of mountain cycling around the world was causing trail crowding in many areas and conflicts between groups of cyclists using the same trails. By educating its members on advocacy strategies and by promoting responsible trail use among mountain bicyclists with their "Rules of the Trail," the IMBA has worked to help trails stay open and create an ethical standard for trail use. The idea is that if trail users become more committed to responsible use, then land managers may be more willing to maintain their trails [sources: IMBA, U.S. Bureau of Land Management].


So far, the IMBA has members in all 50 United States and 40 other countries, and it has had a hand in creating thousands of miles of new trails [source: IMBA]. If you want to learn more about joining the IMBA, read on.

Joining the International Mountain Biking Association

If you are or someone you're close to is an enthusiastic mountain bicyclist, membership in the International Mountain Biking Association may be something that interests you. Membership fees support the work of the IMBA -- making sure that the quality of trails is maintained and that positive mountain biking experiences are attainable.

By yourself or with family, you can join more than 30,000 members in the "Individual" category of membership. These memberships range from youth memberships, which cost $20, to family memberships, which have a price tag of $50 for the group. Those who want to contribute to the IMBA beyond just their membership fees can choose to join the "Singletrack Society," which costs around $1,000 [source: IMBA].


If you are part of a local mountain biking club, there are group IMBA membership options available, too. Club memberships range from $30 to $60. Bicycle retailers and corporations can also join at various levels of support [source: IMBA].

The IMBA also has a National Mountain Bike Patrol (NMBP) membership ($50 Basic Patroller, $100 Supporting Patroller, $250 Trailbuilding Patroller), which enables members to join in efforts to maintain and monitor trails and trail use. Members of the NMBP form more than 60 volunteer bike patrol groups worldwide [source: IMBA, National Trails Training Partnership].

Joining the IMBA is simple and can be done in one of the following ways:

  • Visiting the IMBA's online store
  • Calling a toll-free number (1-888-442-4622);
  • Printing out and mailing a form downloaded from the IMBA Web site

[source: IMBA]

Read on for more about the benefits of joining the IMBA.


Benefits of the International Mountain Biking Association

If you are mountain biker, joining the International Mountain Biking Association can benefit both you and the recreational activity you have come to value. You will not only have the advantage of belonging to worldwide association of people who share your interest, but you will have the chance to contribute to the growth and enhancement of mountain biking as a form of recreation, too. Your membership will help ensure that trails around the world will be protected and maintained so that mountain biking experiences are available and enjoyable for those who seek them.

Members also receive various perks, including discounts on new car purchases, health care plans, accident insurance, bikes and biking gear. While all members receive a subscription to the IMBA's newsletter, "Trail News," those who sign up online may also opt to receive "Mountain Bike" and "Bicycling" magazines [source: IMBA].


You'll have opportunities to participate in more practical ways, as well. For instance, you'll have the chance to do volunteer trailwork through the Subaru/IMBA Trail Care Crews, and you may learn how to build new trails through the IMBA's Trailbuilding Schools. You might even want to join the National Mountain Bike Patrol, which helps to assist and educate trail users and land managers across North America [source: National Trails Training Partnership].

If you are a bicycle dealer, there are additional benefits to joining the IMBA. Your membership fee, in a way, may assist in keeping the market for mountain bikes alive and kicking. After all, your business can only benefit from mountain biking continuing to grow as an enjoyable form of recreation. Your membership may help keep you in tune with cycling events going on in your area, too. The IMBA also has an interactive map of all member retailers on its Web site, which could add to your exposure in the marketplace [source: IMBA].

Additionally, the IMBA has partnered with various local organizations that you may also be interested in joining, depending on your whereabouts. The Southern Off-Road Bicycle Association (SORBA), for example, is the largest nonprofit mountain biking association found in the Southeast. Its goal is similar to that of the IMBA -- to promote mountain biking through trail access, preservation and development [source: SORBA].

For more information about the IMBA and other cycling-related topics, visit the links on the next page.


Lots More Information

Related Articles

  • International Mountain Bicycling Association. "IMBA History;' "IMBA History -- A Chronology;" "Membership;" "Membership Benefits: Individuals and Families;" "More Trails = More Sales;" "Get Involved with the National Mountain Bike Patrol!;" "Benefits;" (Accessed 1/06/10).
  • International Mountain Biking Association UK. "Sharing Access with Horses -- A Scottish Perspective of Interest to All." (Accessed 1/06/10).
  • National Trails Training Partnership. "Training and Education." (Accessed 1/06/10).
  • Southern Off-Road Bicycle Association. (Accessed 1/06/10).
  • "International Mountain Bike Association." (Accessed 1/06/10).
  • U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management. "IMBA's Rules of the Trail." (Accessed 1/06/10).