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Mountain Bike Teton Valley: Our local IMBA Chapter

A few weeks ago we helped the new IMBA Chapter, Mountain Bike Teton Valley get started at our St. Patrick’s Day Party.  Well now the organization has a name and Facebook Page.  We’d thought we’d share some FAQs with you all.

Introduction to Mountain Bike Teton Valley, or MBTV: Both the development and the enthusiasm for a new Teton Valley mountain bike (“MTB”) advocacy group has gone from concept to reality in just a few short weeks.  As word gets out about MBTV, some questions have naturally arisen about its origins, its leadership and especially, its mission. The Founding Board of Directors thought an “FAQ” might be in order to address the issues we’ve heard the most about, to help educate potential supporters about the value of this new organization. In no particular order:

1. What is the mission/objective of MBTV?

The mission statement of MBTV is “To enhance recreational and economic opportunities for Teton Valley through development of our mountain biking resources.”  MBTV intends to accomplish this mission through marketing and branding Teton Valley as a world-class mountain biking destination; Dedicated trail development/maintenance work; Cooperation among all trail user groups; Grass-roots advocacy; and Innovative trail management solutions.

2. What is TVTAP’s position on this new organization?

TVTAP—the predominate trails and pathways nonprofit here—is limited in the resources it can dedicate specifically to MTB vs. winter programs, pathways, trail work, and other goals of their organization.  TVTAP offers many initiatives around trails and pathways that serve many diverse user groups, such as hikers, skiers, equestrians,students, road cyclists and mountain bicyclists.  It is anticipated that the MBTV will coordinate its trail efforts very closely with TVTAPs, allowing both organizations to better serve their respective memberships.  TVTAP has no intention of changing their mission, goals, or programing as a result of this new organization.  The organizers of this group approached TVTAP in the very early discussion stages and has received both encouragement and support for the concept from its Board of Directors.   TVTAP will retain its popular three-per-season “Volunteer Trail Days”, continue its work with Teton Basin Ranger District, and will work cooperatively with MBTV to create a world class MTB trail system in Teton Valley.

3. Why introduce another organization in Teton Valley when we already have groups that have a focus on mountain biking?

Teton Valley is one of the few areas that boasts so much riding resources (trails, trail advocates, bike shops, ski resort) and yet doesn’t have a dedicated MTB-advocacy group. Many in the Valley feel we’re missing a tremendous opportunity to help drive economic development as well as trail system expansion/sustainability by not having an advocacy group that sole focus is speaking for the sport of off-road cycling.  IMBA, the International Mountain Bicycling Association, has substantial resources that are only available to MTB-dedicated groups that are a “Chapter “ of IMBA.

4. What is meant by “economic opportunity” as it relates to mountain biking?

A quick, but by no means complete, inventory of our key resources to suggest Teton Valley could be a world-class rider destination: 1) bountiful trails with low-density use, 2) a year-round resort that already offers 37 miles of trail, with 10 more—and a bike park—coming this summer 3) three full-service bike shops 4) perfect conditions for riding during our season.  And throw in the value-adds of world-class road biking, lake/river sports, fishing, hiking and camping, two nearby National Parks, etc…  Now think of other areas that have turned what is arguably less natural resource into destination MTB: Moab, Fruita, Mountain bike Oregon(Oakridge).   Trails can be a key point of economic development, as is argued in this study/presentation Mountain biking could drive significant economic value to the Valley, including the ability to focus more State and even Federal funding on our trail development/maintenance programs.   Access to good riding trails and shops has been demonstrated to be a key consideration for talented “creative class” workers in their decision to relocate.  If we want to see more of that sort of energy come to Teton Valley, we have to have a clear MTB value proposition to offer them.   Part of our strategy will be to seek State and Federal funding for projects that contribute the economic development through MTB—funding that Teton Valley deserves to receive.

5. Who is behind MBTV?

The initial discussions for this idea took the concept to several key MTB stakeholders in the Valley: each local bike shop, TVTAP, rider groups,and Grand Targhee Resort (GTR). From this came a Board of Directors: (alphabetical order): Tim Adams, Scott Fitzgerald, Geordie Gillett, Linsey Hayes, Mike Lien, David Treinis (chair), Dick Weinbrandt, Andy Williams, Lynne Wolfe.  The MBTV was soft-announced at Fitzgerald’s Bicycles annual St.Patrick’s Day Party and promptly signed up nearly 40 members in one evening!  The overwhelming response that evening alone tells us that there’s a broad-based Teton Valley constituency behind the MBTV.

6. Why become an IMBA Chapter?

As a Chapter, MBTV has instant c(3) status under IMBA’s umbrella designation.  As a c(3) nonprofit, we can raise tax-deductible funds, be exempt from most taxation on operations, participate in the match fundraising of Tin Cup, etc.  IMBA will provide all of the “back office” tasks related to membership:tracking, renewals, etc.  Our MBTV members will enjoy reciprocal membership in IMBA.  We can tap IMBA’s substantial strengths in land-planning (including any issues at Federal level), trail building/consultation, corporate supporter relationships, and a host of other benefits.  See for a description of all services and benefits we anticipate receiving as an IMBA Chapter

7.  What will be MBTV’s role in dealing with area land managers and other trail use groups?

Without exception, IMBA-supported discussions and negotiations with land managers and other trail users have led to improved relationships and demonstrated progress in trail management.  The MBTV will make one of its first priorities the establishment of open communication with land managers, TVTAP, and other user groups.  There are numerous land management-related initiatives underway that we want to support and help to create solutions for more diverse and well planned mountain bike network of trails

8. What’s the timeline?

Several timelines and “gates” encouraged the founder group to move quickly to establish itself as an operating entity going into the spring:  First, the deadline to apply for once-yearly IMBA chapter designation was March 13th.◦ We wanted to be ready for this year’s Tin Cup fundraising cycle, which kicked off on April 3rd. Finally, seeing the across-the-board enthusiasm for this concept, we MBTV just didn’t want to lose even one riding/trail season in moving towards our objectives!

9. How can I join?

There are membership forms available at the local bike shops.  Links to download membership forms are available on our Facebook page.   Website coming soon!   By the way: Joining as a Founding Member means you get lifetime designation as a founder as well as a special Founding Member hoodie.

FOOTNOTE TO FAQ’S: During the development of the concept, a stone soup document was created by the founder group to help focus everyone’s thinking on why we should undertake such a project as this MBTV.  Below is a “raw data” summary of points gathered from that process: The big question… Why are we engaging in this project? What are the big picture goals that we are looking to achieve?

These goals become the guiding light through the entire project.

● There is a need to focus local motivation to develop MTB trails

● TVTAP resources are spread between nordic, bike, hike, and pathways. As MTB grows in popularity, there will be a need for more resource than TVTAP has available

● There is an untapped resource of people that given the right avenue would be interested in participating in growing MTB infrastructure in TV.

● There is a need to develop an organization to spearhead TV economic development through MTB infrastructure development to engage visitors, prospective businesses, and future residents to increase economic sustainability in TV.

● Mountain biking needs its own voice in advocacy and stewardship for TV–a dedicated seat at the table when trail issues affecting MTB in the valley come up.

● The broad stroke of TVTAP does not allow for a focused effort on this level.

● Local partnerships among businesses that have opportunities to benefit from increasedMTB infrastructure need to be developed.

Principles: The most important attributes that must be maintained throughout the project.  The organization being created here…

● is singularly focused on MTB development in Teton Valley.

● is Mission Driven to enhance the Teton Valley economy.

● is considerate of other trail users.

● leverages its ties with and has a strong working relationship with TVTAP, GTR, Forest Service, BLM, local electeds, and other trail advocates.

● engages the community in supporting the goals.

● is able to reach out to all elements and all ages of Mt Biking: ie. XC, Freeride, Fat Bike,Bike Park riders

● provides a portal for young riders to develop mtb riding skills, much like the nordic and ski clubs do.

● ensures that members and stakeholders enjoy some social time together–group rides and gatherings.

● is comfortable talking about and managing short and long range, big picture thinking about TV.

● is comfortable using all resources available: IMBA, local schools, other advocacy agencies for example.

● includes stakeholders from the South and North ends of the Valley.

● has a solid foundation from which to build a sustainable entity: ie. Mission & Vision statements, by-laws, board of directors, etc.

Step 2: Vision / Outcomes When the project is completed, what will the outcome look like, feel like, act like? What capabilities will it have? The organization being created here…

● is a non-profit with a board of directors clearly interested in economic development in TetonValley through Mt Biking.

● has its own governance, with a clear mission and vision.

● has a strong brand identity that originates from the Mission Statement and goes on to include logo, website, marketing materials.

● is model that can be replicated in other small towns as it relates to working with local businesses and governmental agencies.

● works toward a full time staff to oversee and further the mission of the organization.

● is membership based – every TV Mt Biker, and a majority of local businesses are paid annual members.

● It coordinates Trail Work Days in conjunction with the USFS, BLM, GTR and TVTAP.

● plans for the future big picture trail network by aligning stakeholders and actively seeking funding.

● maintains communication with similar organizations from Jackson Hole.

● has a strong working relationships with the USFS, BLM, and electeds at the local, State,and Federal level and actively seeks grant opportunities through these channels.

● It helps organize and run the Mt Bike Festival.

● organizes welcoming group rides and events for all ability levels. Events such as a Spring fundraiser, end of the season Fall celebration, and regional races will be considered.

● fosters a sense of ownership in the organization within its members and is without question the go-to authority for all things MTB in TV.

● will be able to articulate why what we have to offer is better and different than other MTB destinations.

● it considers taking over operations of the Victor and Driggs bike parks down the road. If there is a rec district created in the future, it will participate in the use of those tax dollars to maintain and build better bike park infrastructure

● it is key in developing TV as an IMBA recreational ride destination, and/or ride center with an “epic” designation of at least one TV ride.

Check out the Application form for Membership Here.

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