Thanks, Dave Trumpore, for capturing the ethos of IMBA.
This is also sad:
That article is sad because the author concedes the number one problem with modern trail "advocacy" organizations, on paper, for everyone to see. The number one problem with S-advocacy groups is that no good, advanced trails that satisfy advanced riders will ever be built at a public riding area ever again. It will only be greens and blues, forever. But don't listen to me, listen to Morgan Taylor, a huge proponent of the North Shore Mountain Bike Association and head of (yes, this is the real name) Project Dumbing Down The Shore:
"You either cut a "rogue" line for yourself and a few friends in an area that doesn't have existing trails, or you work with the local advocacy association on trails that satisfy the land managers and the advocacy association's vision."
That's a bummer to hear from someone who's in a position to affect policy. These trail building associations are in a position to legitimately fight for good trail for everyone, not just blues and greens for beginners. Of course we all want trails for beginners and intermediates. I don't think anyone is saying there should be no green or blue trails. But:
UNTIL LEGITIMATE TRAIL ADVOCACY ASSOCIATIONS BEGIN PUSHING FOR ADVANCED TRAILS THAT PEOPLE COULD ACTUALLY MAYBE SORT OF KIND OF GET HURT ON ONCE IN A WHILE, WE DO NOT HAVE A MATURE SPORT.
Let me break this down for you:
Relatively speaking, it's really easy to get a land manager to approve benchcut, low-grade, traversing trails that have no rocks, roots, jumps, or anything interesting or dangerous about them and are guaranteed to drain all the time in any weather with absolutely zero maintenance ever. In fact, there is nothing easier to get approved in the world of mountain biking advocacy. That is what we would call "the minimum" that a mountain bike advocacy group would consider a success, because anything less than FBS would not be a trail, it would be a road.
This is really cool looking. And it's in the mountains. And yet,
this is not what we would call "mountain biking."
Unless you push hard and negotiate for what I'm going to call Tough Scary Shit (TSS for short, advocacy groups love buzzwords and acronyms), then we'll never know what land managers would be willing to do. If all you ever ask for is Flat Boring Shit (FBS), and you roll over and accept any offer to build FBS without any pushback, requests, or exploration into the possibility of building TSS, then:
Tough Scary Shit will never get built at public riding areas.
Ever. And trail advocacy groups are kind of okay with this status quo.
I'm going to borrow some points from Wikihow's article "How to Negotiate." But just to be clear, this whole "negotiating" thing is not a new idea. To prove that this is not a new idea, I'm going to include a picture of some old dead guys from a really long time ago shaking hands over the Treaty of Ghent:
Because it's a treaty negotiation, I'm going to assume "negotiating" was involved.
You can tell there are two parties involved because their clothes look different.
1. Decide on your break-even point.
"In financial terms, this is the lowest amount or cheapest price you will accept in the deal. In non-financial terms, this is the "worst-case scenario" you are willing to accept before walking away from the negotiating table. Not knowing your break-even point can leave you accepting a deal that is not in your best interest."
2. Know what you're worth.
"Is what you're offering hard to come by, or is it a dime a dozen? If what you have is rare or noteworthy, you have the better bargaining position. A hostage negotiator, for example, isn't offering anything special, and needs the hostages more than the abductor needs the hostages. In order to compensate for these deficiencies, the negotiator must be good at making small concessions seem big, and turn emotional promises into valuable weapons. A rare gem vendor, on the other hand, has something that is rarely found in the world. This puts her in excellent position to extract extra value from the people she's negotiating with."
3. Don't feel rushed.
"Don't underestimate your ability to negotiate for what you want by simply outlasting someone else. What often happens in negotiations is that people get tired and accept a position that they wouldn't ordinarily accept because they're tired of negotiating. If you can outlast someone by staying at the table longer, chances are you'll get more of what you want."
4. Be ready to walk away.
"You know what your break-even point is, and you know if that's not what you're getting. Be willing to walk out the door if that's the case. You might find that the other party will call you back, but you should feel happy with your efforts if they don't."
5. Depending on the situation, open extreme.
"Starting high is important because you'll most likely be negotiated to a lower level. Don't be scared to make an outrageous request. You never know — you might get it! And what's the worst that could happen? Remember that this is business, and if they don't like your offer, they can always counter-offer. If you don't take advantage of them, remember that they'll take advantage of you.
"If you give something away "for free," you're implicitly telling the other person that you think your bargaining position is weak. Smart bargainers will smell blood and swarm you like sharks in water."
7. Ask for something's that's valuable to you but doesn't cost them much.
"Having both parties feel like they're on the winning side of the negotiation is a good thing. And contrary to popular perception, negotiation doesn't have to be a zero-sum game. If you're smart, you can get creative with what you ask for."
If your local Sadvocacy group has helped build or develop ten mountain bike riding areas, and zero of those ten riding areas has advanced trails, that is nothing less than a total defeat at the bargaining table and it doesn't leave much room for positive interpretations. There is a short list of explanations:
1. The Sadvocacy group is run by complete amateurs and could not bargain milk out of a cow.
2. The Sadvocacy group doesn't care about your desire for advanced trails and will never bargain for your interests.
3. The Sadvocacy group believes that they have no bargaining position whatsoever, and thus must accept whatever scraps they receive at the table.
Snowboarders have terrain parks that send people to the hospital every single day.
Motocross racers have the most unsustainable tracks ever. And it's awesome. Tracks keep getting built.
If you don't ask high, you'll always receive low.