Mountain biking instructor certifications: IMBA ICP Level 2 vs PMBI Level 1

This spring I’ve gotten certified as both an IMBA ICP Level 2 and PMBI Level 1 mountain bike instructor (blog posts with photos here and here).  The competing certifications are similar in that they’re designed to equip one with the ability to instruct beginner and intermediate-level riders in basic skills. (IMBA’s ICP Level 1 is a Ride Guide course; PMBI’s Ride Guide course doesn’t use a Level number.)

PMBI Level 1 IMBA ICP Level 2

I wasn’t planning to take either one this spring as IMBA wasn’t offering a Level 2 course locally and PMBI’s Level 1 course at Spirit Mountain in Duluth sold out quickly.   But I got lucky.

Jeff Milbauer, owner of nearby Valley Bike & Ski,  had contracted privately with IMBA to offer the course to some of his staff/instructors. When one had to drop out, he contacted me and I took the spot.  And then PMBI added a second course/instructor to their Spirit Mountain Level 1 weekend and I snapped up one of those openings.

My rationale for taking PMBI Level 1 having just completed IMBA ICP Level 2 two weeks prior?

  • Proximity: Duluth is only 3 hours away and I wasn’t confident that PMBI would offer the course nearby again anytime soon
  • Terrain: the IMBA Level 2 course was held at nearby Buck Hill in Burnsville, MN and neither its new mountain biking runs nor its new skills park was open yet. Spirit Mountain is a mountain bike mecca with lift access
  • Weather: it poured nearly the entire weekend for the IMBA course. I was hoping I’d get lucky for the PMBI course in Duluth
  • Collegiality: I wanted to be able to team up with fellow instructors. With everyone passing, there were 8 IMBA Level 2 instructors in the state of Minnesota.  The two courses at Spirit Mountain would mean there could be up to 14 additional PMBI instructors in the region
  • Curiosity: I’m a blogger and I was naturally curious to know first-hand what the differences were between the two competing certifications
  • Future professional development: I figured that having a foundation with both certifications would give me better options for pursuing their more advanced certification levels
  • Marketing advantage: I’d likely be the only mtb instructor in the Upper Midwest region with both certifications.

Continue reading Mountain biking instructor certifications: IMBA ICP Level 2 vs PMBI Level 1

Video: learning to jump from Phil Kmetz, part 1

 

See Phil Kmetz’s blog post titled How To Jump A Mountain Bike

 

 

Adding some instruction to a weekly youth group mtb ride

I’m co-leading CROCT’s Monday night youth group ride again this summer.  And now that I’ve got my MTB instructor certifications (IMBA ICP Level 2 and PMBI Level 1), I’m planning to add a little group instruction each week at the start of the ride.

At our first session, we did a quick braking assessment and I was surprised to see how much trouble the kids (approximate ages 6-13) had trying to come to a stop between a set of cones on a gentle slope.

For an assessment of their ability to select a gear for climbing, we had them pick their own ‘Goldilocks’ route up a grassy slope — not too easy, not too hard.  Unsurprisingly, many of the kids were clueless about how to shift to an easier gear to get up the slope.

So in the coming weeks, we’ll add some instruction, drills and games that incorporate braking and gear choice.  Some photos from week 1:

Admiral Rockbar gets an extension: Piedmont remains atop the heap of Minnesota’s technical trails

If you like difficult technical riding, the COGGS Piedmont trail in Duluth is Minnesota’s Crème De La Crème and one of many reasons that Duluth is an IMBA Gold-level Ride Center, one of 6 in the world. Here’s a 2015 map of Piedmont:

Map of Piedmont, 2015

I’d heard rumors earlier this year that one of Piedmont’s X segments, Admiral Rockbar, was extended recently to include some rock drops and a long rocky uphill.

I was at Spirit Mountain last weekend for the PMBI Level 1 instructor course (more on that to come) and I was eager to ride Rockbar before I left town. I saw COGGS Board Member and Ride Coordinator Dave Cizmas there and when I asked him about it, he told me he’d helped on the planning and route selection for the extension and that he’d managed to clean the uphill once. I was even more intrigued.

But with the heavy rain on Sunday, all COGGS trails were still closed. on Tuesday morning. I texted Dave and he said he thought Rockbar would be fine to ride, as long as I didn’t ride anything else at Piedmont.  When I saw COGGS Board Member/Fundraising Coordinator Pam Schmitt at Duluth Coffee Company on Tuesday morning she ‘deputized’ me to go have a look at it since other COGGS crew members were unavailable to check it out. I felt honored. A reconnaissance mission!

I parked in the small lot along Haines Rd where there’s quick access to the Admiral Rockbar segment without having to ride the other portions of Piedmont that were too wet to ride.

The dirt portions of Rockbar were damp but hard-packed. The rocks were somewhat slippery from the mist and heavy fog. I sent Pam a text that I thought Admiral was fine to ride.

Since I was by myself and the rocks were moist, I decided to hike-a-bike down the tricky downhill section along the Haines Rd cliff (for which I won a Camelbak Enduro Hydration pack last year, details here):

Admiral Rockbar

I also carried my bike down the biggest of the new drops:

Admiral Rockbar

No cajones? Not so much in the spring. More so in late fall when I have all winter to heal.

I concentrated instead on the uphill portion of the new extension. I spent about an hour sessioning its three tricky spots:

Continue reading Admiral Rockbar gets an extension: Piedmont remains atop the heap of Minnesota’s technical trails

I’m now a PMBI Level 1 MTB instructor

I took another MTB instructor certification course over the weekend, the Professional Mountain Bike Instructor Association (PMBI) Level 1 course. It was held at Spirit Mountain in Duluth, MN.

PMBI

Photos of our two groups (10 women, 4 men – we all passed) and the excellent instructors, Luc and Ross:

Video: Getting over a logpile with an uphill approach

Another view of it:

MTB skills, instruction, & advocacy