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Why the IMBA hating

Dec. 8, 2008, 9:04 p.m.
Posts: 798
Joined: March 22, 2007

Ok stemming from this thread I'm interested to know why some people I've met in the Vancouver area are not big fans of IMBA?

I'm pretty new to the scene so perhaps i've missed some history.

Anyone care to elaborate? I'm interested to know why people feel how they feel.

I ride Bikes

Dec. 8, 2008, 9:09 p.m.
Posts: 0
Joined: Nov. 19, 2002

..and I was too slow and didn't see the photos. I assume they were of Shotgun. Put them back up.. or CH: mail'em to me.

Dec. 8, 2008, 9:43 p.m.
Posts: 1922
Joined: Nov. 22, 2002

I've been a supporter of IMBA for years but, having just experienced firsthand what such a clinic can do to a trail, I can see how people would object to direct interaction with IMBA-affiliated trail clinics.

Whether it's a case of the IMBA rep being unfamiliar with our local, extremely wet environment, the type of trails we build out at the Woodlot, our approach to building lines, or just getting stuck on a bad day, Shotgun received a shockingly poor treatment in an area that needed a minimal amount of work over the weekend.

We ended up with a ten foot wide muddy swath in a previously dry 3 foot wide area, a hideous drop / ridearound combo (see below), huge uncovered dirt holes left for volunteers to clean up, a new berm when a log and some dirt would've worked, etc. etc.

Caption: All that was needed here was a rocked-in roll down. That's it. It could've been finished by a single person in an hour, kept the line intact and narrow, and been easy to manage and sustain. Instead we got this. I'm not going to begin to critique the bridge on the right (it's new, and wasn't there previously). Everybody had to ride the huge drop or walk around it.

A lot of people I know attended the clinic / seminar and none of my comments are directed at individuals. I'm sorry if I've hurt any feelings but, JHC, that work f**king sucks.

restored:

"It's, like, so much fun."

Dec. 8, 2008, 9:53 p.m.
Posts: 495
Joined: Nov. 23, 2002

i think the issue with imba stems from the way they do things in areas besides bc, they seem to forget to accomodate our riding style and conditions. it seems like a case of some good foundational info that gets executed poorly.

it's hard to say what the story is exactly because i wasn't there, but the aftermath definitely speaks volumes. the drainage is absolutely horrible, and frankly potentially dangerous. while i like the idea of the berm, it was constructed quite poorly, will not last and simply wasn't necessary. like robot says, a much simpler solution would have been more than adequate and much easier to maintain than what was left behind. i now see a day of work to take that stuff out and do the proper repair that shold have been done in the first place and would have only taken a couple of hours to do.

I'm not a human in real life, I just play one on the internet. 

Dec. 8, 2008, 9:57 p.m.
Posts: 7566
Joined: March 7, 2004

IMBA, through the Ministry of Tourism Culture and Arts, held a clinic at the Woodlot this past weekend for volunteers from various groups who are working with MoTCA, as well as employees from various local governmental agencies (GVRD, FVRD, city of Abbotsford).

The scope of the work that was attempted far exceeded the timeframe available, and the abilities and knowledge of those involved (many of whom are not mountain bikers and have never done any trail work before). Unfortunately, the end result was poor, and the woodlot builders are left to rectify the situation.

It's a shame the clinic could not have been held at a more appropriate location. Probably the only reason it was held at the Woodlot is that there is a building there for the presentation part of the clinic.

Dec. 8, 2008, 10:43 p.m.
Posts: 26382
Joined: Aug. 14, 2005

i think the issue with imba stems from the way they do things in areas besides bc, they seem to forget to accomodate our riding style and conditions. it seems like a case of some good foundational info that gets executed poorly.

That is one of my biggest complaints. They forget that the IMBA building books are really a set of guidelines. Nothing more. That what really decides a trail is what one has to work with.

Then the other issue that Robot mentions. They invite the locals who ride the trails for input. And totally dismiss the input. They already have a plan and agenda. The whole invite seems to be just a courtesy.

If IMBA would show up and say "Ok, this section is a problem. How do you guy's want to deal with it?" Actually let the locals do it and just offer info as needed. I think they would get a better reception.

The scope of the work that was attempted far exceeded the timeframe available, and the abilities and knowledge of those involved (many of whom are not mountain bikers and have never done any trail work before). Unfortunately, the end result was poor, and the woodlot builders are left to rectify the situation.

That is a big detail. There have been at least 3 IMBA trail builds I've seen out here that was also not finished. And we are not talking little details here.

One project was a complete trail reroute and the shut down of a fall lione section. All we heard for a year was bitching about riders hitting the decommisioned trail. Yet when we the Don riders contacted those involved about the problem and offered to fix the problem. We where told in polite terms to piss off and it would be done. A year later it was done and it wasn't done by no IMBA approved trail crew.

www.thisiswhy.co.uk

www.teamnfi.blogspot.com/

Dec. 8, 2008, 10:58 p.m.
Posts: 798
Joined: March 22, 2007

Very interesting. Thanks for taking the time to respond everyone.

I too have been a long term supporter of IMBA. Seems to me that MTB'rs have been isolated and fragmented organisationally for a long time and a peak body like them is what we need. Obviously everything is not perfect however.

I've attended two of the IMBA clinics myself. Mostly because when I go home to Australia the kind of trails I will be building are much more 'IMBA style' and so I though it would be good for me to attend the courses. Both were excellent and I really enjoyed them. Neither tried to teach much about specific north shore building techniques and indeed Mark from IMBA Canada pointed out the NSMBA reps on one of the course and said "talk to them" when someone asked some questions about structures.

I guess its also good that they were getting land managers along to a building course too. Gotta be a step in the right direction even if the execution wasn't perfect.

Anyway, interesting stuff.

I ride Bikes

Dec. 8, 2008, 11:08 p.m.
Posts: 1922
Joined: Nov. 22, 2002

Then the other issue that Robot mentions. They invite the locals who ride the trails for input. And totally dismiss the input. They already have a plan and agenda. The whole invite seems to be just a courtesy.

to be fair, local builders were all extended an invite but i couldn't make it (bad time of year for people with kids). i wasn't really involved in the trail selection process, so i can't comment on it too much.

and if the area that was worked was problematic, i would've had no problem rectifying things. that section of trail has been largely unchanged for three or four years.

That is a big detail. There have been at least 3 IMBA trail builds I've seen out here that was also not finished. And we are not talking little details here.

Again, that could be an area-specific thing but I've heard the same criticisms for a few years. Building trails out here takes waaaaay longer than some of the places around North America.

"It's, like, so much fun."

Dec. 8, 2008, 11:16 p.m.
Posts: 1922
Joined: Nov. 22, 2002

indeed Mark from IMBA Canada pointed out the NSMBA reps on one of the course and said "talk to them" when someone asked some questions about structures.

there's this perception that trail builders from bc love building wooden shit. i know synchro loves building stuff like that but, generally speaking, we've moved away from that at the woodlot because the alternatives require less maintenance, are lower impact, are longer lasting, etc.

imo, that just goes to show that you can't use a blanket approach to a region, even if the trails are close to one another. i think most people would be hard pressed to argue that the trails in north van are identical / very close in construction methods than those in the valley. different demographics, different terrain, different soil, etc.

gawd, i've spent enough of my day on this stuff.

"It's, like, so much fun."

Dec. 8, 2008, 11:27 p.m.
Posts: 495
Joined: Nov. 23, 2002

there's this perception that trail builders from bc love building wooden shit. i know synchro loves building stuff like that but, generally speaking, we've moved away from that at the woodlot because the alternatives require less maintenance, are lower impact, are longer lasting, etc.

yes it's no secret that i love working the wood, but i enjoy all aspects of trailwork. i've spent a lot of time doing armouring on sections of trail before i put structures in to prevent pits and mudholes forming. i take care and pride in every aspect of trailwork that i put my hand to.

I'm not a human in real life, I just play one on the internet. 

Dec. 8, 2008, 11:50 p.m.
Posts: 3989
Joined: Feb. 23, 2005

there's this perception that trail builders from bc love building wooden shit. i know synchro loves building stuff like that but, generally speaking, we've moved away from that at the woodlot because the alternatives require less maintenance, are lower impact, are longer lasting, etc.

imo, that just goes to show that you can't use a blanket approach to a region, even if the trails are close to one another. i think most people would be hard pressed to argue that the trails in north van are identical / very close in construction methods than those in the valley. different demographics, different terrain, different soil, etc.

gawd, i've spent enough of my day on this stuff.

Absolutely, well said. Working with wood is fun and you can express your creative side more, it's also (usually) faster but has the down side of requiring maintenance. As I've often said in the past wood for show, rock for go.

As mentioned, every trail is different, on some you can't find decent supplies of cedar or sometimes there is not enough rock, you have to build with what you got. A lot of trail work is maybe 60-80[HTML_REMOVED]#37; is just gathering.

Then there is the trail demographic. I've had very respected builders tell me (we) should be using more dirt and less rock. This is fine on a double black where a low volume of good riders can ride the trail without leaving much of a mark. However, build the trail low down on a hill where beginners like to ride or on a shuttle mountain, and you have to armour the crap out of it.

I think there is a ton of good in IMBA, but the trails on the Shore and throughout a lot of BC are unique and need their own build style to accommodate the aggressive riding and weather conditions. This can only be appreciated once you have put in the blood sweat and o so many tears to figure out and EXPERIENCE FIRST HAND, what does and does not work.

Please let me demonstrate the ride around; really it's no trouble.

Dec. 9, 2008, 1:15 a.m.
Posts: 2835
Joined: Nov. 22, 2002

This can only be appreciate once you have put in the blood sweat and o so many tears to figure out and EXPERIENCE FIRST HAND, what does and does not work.

I agree with this statement wholeheartedly, however I don't know if it was directed in any specific direction although I can assure you Mark and Lora have built in almost every single type of terrain possible. Most of their experience gained while living out of a simple subaru station wagon for two years.

As for the well respected builder(s) telling you to use more dirt and less rock… their intentions are right however their wording is wrong. What this specific builder might be referring to is the basic design principals for sustainable trails. By following them then you will be able to use more dirt and less rock. However when people are adopting trails on the shore, like you Ian. Then you don't have the real ability to cut a sustainable trail and are forced to do more trail hardening by using rock and wood.

Talking about creating sustainable trails on the north shore that follow basic design principals recommended by IMBA. Well in my 9 years of riding on the 3 local mountains probably only a small handful of trails, and I'm talking less than 10[HTML_REMOVED]#37;, have the chance to be sustainable and long lasting without heavy maintenance. What do I mean? The most of the trails on the north shore (and I'm talking about original trail cut) are technically speaking, shit. Thank god for local builders who so lovingly put their time into these trails to maintain them.

An example of this is during the first World Mountain bike conference held on the north shore, professional trail builders from all over the world went for tours on our trails to see why they were so world renowned and to see the quality. What did they see? Quality rock work and bridgework. But they laughed because most of it was unnecessary. If local builders had just originally cut the trail properly then a lot of the work could have been avoided and we could ride on some dirt on certain trails instead of rock highways.

However, build the trail low down on a hill where beginners like to ride or on a shuttle mountain, and you have to armour the crap out of it.

I'm sorry, I will make sure Whistler Blackcomb gets the memo for all of their non-machine made blue trails. Once they understood IMBA guidelines they began cutting a lot higher quality of trails that required less maintenance and less rockwork. (of course their climate was a bit different but I would think sheer numbers make up for that)

Even their machine made trails showed growth in trail design process. I don't know if tom pro still checks out these boards but he will tell you that they learnt a lot when they made A-line, and consequently many things were done differently when they made crank it up.

Ok I got really side tracked there. The greater vancouver area is an incredibly challenging place to build trails because of the steep hills, high rider population, as well as year round riding ability. I know that Mark does have the knowledge to build in these situations, however with him being insanely busy all of the time, occasionally his effectiveness in his work is somewhat compromised. By busy I mean Mark and his wife Lora run IMBA Canada (from mailing you news letters to attempting to prevent trail closures in government arenas) all from their home while raising two young girls and teaching at Capilano University in Sechelt. I think you might not have seen them too much around here in the past few years because the local trail groups have done so well in what would normally be IMBA's fight/ job in other locations.

Give them a chance. Give Mark your feed back on what you thought went well and what you thought didn't. There is no way somebody can fix what you think they are doing wrong if they don't know. mark@imba.com

oh and Straya. what kind of specific north shore building techniques were you looking for? Check out imba's book Trail Solutions along with the whistler trail building guidelines. Those two pieces are a really good starting point.

Cavan

www.knollybikes.com

:canada:

Dec. 9, 2008, 1:18 a.m.
Posts: 2835
Joined: Nov. 22, 2002

^^^holy cow that was a lot longer than I planned, i'm sure it has tones of mistakes and stuff so don't jump on me for it. I'm going to bed and will read it over tomorrow.

www.knollybikes.com

:canada:

Dec. 9, 2008, 5:44 a.m.
Posts: 453
Joined: Aug. 23, 2003

The work done was completely unnecessary, poorly executed and did nothing whatsoever to remedy the situation they were trying to. In fact as far as I am concerned they left us with a liability issue in the "berms" that were built using 5 inch nail to hold them together. I'm also concerned that if this is the way the bc govt is planning on doing anything involving trails, everything is going to get f'd up right quick. Mark Schmidt has no business whatsoever doing any work like this, the fact he got paid for that "informative session" makes me sick. Hey Mark how about you donate the wages you got to us so we can fix that shit properly? Maybe you can come back up and cut down some more hazard trees on another of our bridges and break them for us too. I know I love rebuilding perfectly good bridges. And dry hard sections of flowy trail.

Disclaimer. Anything written above this should not be taken literally, its called sarcasm you idiots.

Dec. 9, 2008, 7:20 a.m.
Posts: 26382
Joined: Aug. 14, 2005

I think there is a ton of good in IMBA, but the trails on the Shore and throughout a lot of BC are unique and need their own build style to accommodate the aggressive riding and weather conditions. This can only be appreciate once you have put in the blood sweat and o so many tears to figure out and EXPERIENCE FIRST HAND, what does and does not work.

That's what I have been saying out here in the Don. That we the builders have figured out the solutions that work with the soil Ontario has. Which is way different then BC and requires a different approach.

It seems that building the IMBA way is politically correct and therefore is the only way. And the buzzconcept of the IMBA PC is "The Whistler Standard" has to be the only way.

www.thisiswhy.co.uk

www.teamnfi.blogspot.com/

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