IMBA Europe Summit 2023

Off the beaten track 


Welcome! We look forward to learning about your big ideas that are changing mountain biking across Europe and beyond! During the full month of February you have the opportunity to submit your abstract to complete our final Summit program. Please read the following guidelines carefully before submitting. 

These guidelines are here to help you understand the goals of the Summit, and how to navigate your options as a presenter. If you should have any questions whilst completing the submission, don’t hesitate to contact us at

***The deadline for submission is midnight (CET) February 28th. 

What is the IMBA Europe Summit?

The Summits, an annual institution since 2014, were established to bring IMBA Europe’s widespread collective of member organisations together to share good practices, start new projects and discuss trends and challenges in mountain biking. Over the course of the years, the IMBA Summits have attracted an increasingly diverse range of participants and organisations to become Europe’s premier mountain bike conference. 

From mountain bike advocacy groups, trail builders and professionals in the bicycle and tourism industry, to land managers, academics, public authorities, and health care practitioners.  More and more professionals are working in the developing field of mountain biking and the need to learn from each other, exchange knowledge, to get inspired and build partnerships has only increased.

The European Mountain Bike Summit is a three day event, combining keynote speeches from leaders in the sector, workshops, site visits, round table discussions, panel debates and social activities, including optional, daily (group) rides.

Goals of the Summit

The goal of the event is to connect, inform and inspire people working in the mountain bike sector or other related fields. More specifically we aim to:

  • Spread high quality knowledge and expertise about community building, visitor management, MTB tourism, mountain biking’s social & health benefits, planning, design & construction of MTB or shared use trails; 
  • Highlight the importance of making mountain biking affordable and accessible to all members of society, through keynote presentations, and examples of current best practices and trends; 
  • Address the importance of ample trail access opportunities for mountain biking and co-existence strategies between different trail users; 
  • Identify strategies & good practices to work towards a more inclusive and diverse mountain bike community; 
  • Offer a platform where cities, regions or destinations can showcase the benefits their MTB projects provide to citizens, businesses, and society;
  • Encourage a sustainable development of the mountain bike tourism and trail building industry
  • Integrate grassroots mountain biking into all relevant policy sectors (health, outdoor sports / leisure, tourism, nature conservation);
  • Seek involvement from all relevant stakeholders (SME’s, Universities, forestry departments, policy makers, tourism boards, MTB guides, bike media, public administration, and civil society organisations); 
  • Show examples of quality trail infrastructure and trail building projects by means of practical site visits.

Benefits as a speaker

Joining the IMBA Europe Summit has multiple benefits for a speaker:

  • Engage in meaningful and impactful dialogue with professionals from around the world
  • Network with leaders in policy, trail advocacy, trail building, tourism, sustainability and industry from around the world
  • Showcase your innovative ideas and inspiring work through storytelling, a lecture or fast pedal talk
  • Teach a skill or show practical approaches to issues in a practical (outdoor) demonstration or workshop
  • Lead a roundtable discussion or problem-solving session
  • Tell your organisation’s story and share unique insights that others can learn from and use themselves
  • Discount on your event ticket

The theme: “Off the beaten track”

“Off the beaten track is a travel idiom that describes an unusual route, or rarely travelled to destination, but can also be interpreted as someone who is attempting to shun a frequently utilised belief or daily routine”

Valposchiavo is the ideal setting for the theme of the upcoming 11th IMBA Europe Summit – Off the beaten track. As described by the hosts of this year’s Summit, Valposchiavo lies somewhere between Switzerland, Italy and the sky.  Sustainability is at the core of everything they do in Valposchiavo, from the restoration and maintenance of trails, to managing tourism and agriculture. A destination that is truly off the beaten track but also successfully diversified their rural economy. 

The main theme of the summit “Off the beaten track” is about challenging the preconceived ideas of what mountain biking is and for whom. It’s rethinking our relationships with nature and how we use the word ‘sustainability’ in everything we do- from trails, to tourism, the way we travel to participation and behaviour. It’s about reflecting upon the level of use that an area can receive without suffering negative impacts to its environmental resources or the visitor experience.

Summit subthemes

This year’s Summit will be divided into two subthemes; Trails and tourism and Participation and community

Day 1 – Tourism and trails

Day one of the Summit will look into topics like the benefits of trail development for communities; how diversifying the offering of destinations can attract new users; why creating year round offers is a solution to recreational carrying capacity issues.

Tourism is central to realising the economic potential of trails, as highly desirable destinations. It is a way in which rural places can diversify their economy, serving as an economic boost for communities in transition, for example ski resorts. 

Here are a few example of topics that would fit into the theme of tourism and trails, 

  • Transitions in the alpine (tourism) industry: What does a new, sustainable tourism business model look like? How can large scale (mass) tourism destinations convert into small(er) scale, more sustainable tourism destinations? What kind of change do we see in alpine recreation in general due to climate change, shorter winters, less snow? More specifically, how can mountain bike recreation and tourism support this transition?
  • Recreational carrying capacity: How much is too much and how can this concept be applied to mountain biking? Should we revise our own sustainability principles? How can we improve or create specific habitats to improve biodiversity while planning and developing trail infrastructure?
  • From sustainability to restoration: How can we do better and go beyond sustainability and shift towards the restoration of nature / biodiversity / landscapes?
  • Sustainable trails – what are the latest insights to enhance the social, environmental or economical dimension of sustainable trails? 
  • Trails and trail networks – what role can they play to preserve the quality of life in (rural) communities?

Day 2 – Participation and community

Day two of the Summit will dive deeper into new trends in offroad cycling,  user demands, the shifting identity of the ‘mountain biker’ and how we (the MTB community) can influence growth and participation through changing the perceived image of the sport. If we want to encourage more people to ride bikes, what are framework considerations that should be taken into consideration? From lobbying for cycling-friendly policies and funding programs to responding to the policy agenda of other sectors such as the health, forestry and mobility sector or DG Climate Action.

Here are a few example of topics/titles that would fit into the theme of participation and community:

  • The MTB identity, both a blessing and a curse: What’s the role of the industry in shaping our future identity, what are (proven) strategies to change the perceived (neg.) image of mountain biking amongst some land managers and nature conservation agencies?
  • More people on bikes, what are the framework conditions to strive for? From legislation, funding, policy/strategy to trail infrastructure and promotion. Success has many fathers… 
  • Bridging sport and everyday cycling (mobility)- Can increased participation in outdoor sports encourage people to change the way they move?
  • ‘Covid’ boomers – what are succesfull strategies to consolidate the growth of cycling across Europe? How to ensure covid boomers become cyclists for life?
  • Trail access as precondition for growth: how local access wins can have a huge impact
  • From subculture to maturity  – growth of niches in offroad cycling unravelled (or why they should stay subcultures)

Session formats

  • Lectures feature three to four presentations (12-15 minutes each). The presentations will cover a wide range of topics and are combined with questions and answer sessions. 
  • Master classes are given by an expert on a particular discipline or subject. The presenter and the audience can go deeper into the subject of their interest on a more personal level.
  • Storytelling sessions invite maximum 3 speakers to tell stories that help illustrate or enhance themes in the conference tracks. They should reflect the authentic experience of an individual, a team, or a community, but be told like a traditional story. The narrative should contain a beginning, middle, and end, characters and themes that hold interest, like adversity and triumph. Stories should be about 15 minutes long, with time for Q&A afterwards.
  • Practical demonstrations are sessions that usually take place outside. This could be a short demonstration of a new intervention, methodology or technique in the field of trail development, guiding, instruction or specific target groups (adapted sports, ADHD, kids etc.)
  • Round table discussion are moderated debates, great for having conversations about oppossing viewpoints on the same topic.
  • Fast pedal talks: 20 slides, 20 seconds per slide. Fast pedal talks take place during program breaks in an informal setting.

How to submit your abstract:

In order to submit your abstract, you will need to complete the following;

  • Choose a subtheme
  • Decide on a format
    • Lectures 
    • Poster presentations
    • Master classes
    • Storytelling 
    • Practical demonstrations
    • Round table discussion
    • Fast pedal talks (Pechakucha)
  • Prepare a 200 word summary of your presentation, class, demonstration etc
  • Attach any necessary links to your work.
  • Provide a short biography and profile picture