The 10th edition of the IMBA Europe Summit attracted a wide range of attendees and guest speakers from around World, all with one common goal and vision- to secure a bright future for mountain biking. Through keynote presentations, panel discussions and breakout sessions, we reflected on the past, the present and the future of mountain biking.
IMBA Summits are a place where all key stakeholders in the mountain biking sector can gather to learn from one another, have open and honest conversations, form new relationships, and build networks. Our mission was to provide a platform to exchange new ideas, create conversation and lead thought-provoking discussions.
The central theme of the Summit, ‘Reframing Mountain Biking”, highlighted the trends and challenges of a sport that has expanded from something niche, into a sport that can be, and should be accessible for a wider audience. The topics of the Summit challenged attendees to rethink sustainability not only in terms of how we are building trails, but rather the broader sustainability issues associated with outdoor sports. Within reframing mountain biking, we need to reframe our identity as mountain bikers, and find solutions to make the sport more accessible and inclusive to a wider audience.
5 key takeaways from the IMBA Summit
When reflecting on the Summit we invited attendees to give us feedback on the lessons learned from the summit, and what we need to do to ensure a positive future for mountain biking in Europe.
1. ‘You can’t be what you can’t see’- The mountain biking sector needs to work together collectively to create a more inclusive and diverse environment to grow our community. How do we (the MTB community) help increase participation and make mountain biking more accessible? Through breaking down barriers, encouraging new communities to get involved, and establishing visible and representative networks of leaders.
2.Industry needs to step up -Industry need to play a bigger part in the challenges associated with access and better representation of minorities in mountain biking. All various factions within mountain biking need to work on a cohesive strategy, where we work to solve these challenges together.
3.Responsible access to nature. Leave a positive trail– Access to natural spaces is crucial if we want people to connect with and care for our natural environment. Through reconnecting with the natural world, we open the possibility and opportunity for people to show environmental responsibility and action. Limited or threatened access is a common problem across Europe with similar themes, but different approaches to solving this issue. We need to draw on the success stories of amazing communities and inspiring individuals to help create change. Better engagement and relationship building with land managers/owners is needed to gain better access as well as manage trails responsibly.
4.Mountain biking as part of the solution, not the problem – Can we imagine a world where mountain biking development helps to enhance and/or restore the natural nature in an area? –Manon Carpenter. There is something everyone can do when it comes to the climate crisis, we just need to use our voices to push for change, whether it be voting, everyday choices, supporting organisations like Trash Free Trails. The mountain biking community can create an identity and culture that cares about the environment.
“There is no magical solution to the climate crisis. Each and every one of us has a role to play- we need to start with looking at ourselves, because the government simply can’t do this alone. Implementation happens with us, the people”. Lindita Xahferi-Salihu, UN Sports for Climate Action
5. The current tourism model is not sustainable– The key to a sustainable future for MTB tourism is through building strong, local mountain biking communities. The pandemic showed us the value in attracting and maintaining the local market. Mountain biking can be used as a tool to spread the flow of tourism in destinations, through building a better offer in the ‘shoulder’ seasons. We need to move away from the idea of concentration and mass tourism to a model of dispersion to align with the 4 pillars of sustainability (Human, Social, Economic and Environmental)
We’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who joined us for a productive, inspiring, and fun few days in Val di Sole. A special thank you to our long-time sponsor SRAM for all their support over the years, and all the fantastic work they do behind the scenes.