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Scotland: Global Superstar

The 2005 IMBA Report Card has given Scotland an A grade for “outstanding mountain biking and successful bicycle advocacy”. Scotland has also been awarded the accolade of Global Superstar, taking over from British Columbia.

This is the seventh annual IMBA report, using input from the international MTB advocacy organisation’s network of reps, online polling from members and staff evaluations to assess the riding opportunities and advocacy strength in the US, Canada and other countries with a significant IMBA presence – England, Scotland and Wales are in there by virtue of IMBA-UK, although inexplicably Northern Ireland doesn’t get a mention. And if there’s any bit of the UK that needs a helping hand with MTB access, it’s NI…

On Scotland, IMBA says: “Last year, IMBA’s online poll named Scotland the People’s Choice. In 2005, the Scots go one better by knocking British Columbia off the Global Superstar pedestal. (Sure, BC is still one of the best places on the planet to ride, but unapproved trails are a ticking timebomb.) Scotland features the government-sponsored Seven Stanes Project – riding centers with outstanding trails – and the brilliant scenery and demanding trails of the Scottish Highlands. The Glentress center attracted 250,000 visitors last year, according to Forestry Commission Scotland, which prompted the agency to purchase new land. With mountain bike tourism on the rise and increasing numbers of trails being built, we expect Scotland to stay near the top of the international scorecard for years to come.”

England and Wales both scored a B. Wales was described as experiencing a rise in bike tourism, while problems with funding for trail repairs was a negative point. “Access [is] slowly increasing” in England, apparently, but the presence of many thousands of miles of footpaths that you can’t ride on was a negative point. The UK as a whole (or nearly a whole) gets a B+, with an “increasing number of affiliated clubs” but requiring “more individual members”.

Every time this report comes out we always find it makes slightly odd reading. That’s largely because IMBA’s approach is driven by the prevailing access conditions in the US where it originated, and a bit because it’s always odd reading things about the place you live written by people who don’t live there. In the States, improving MTB access is largely a matter of persuading land managers to either allow riding on existing trails or to permit the building of new ones, and that has to happen pretty much on a park-by-park basis. Here we have the benefit of a legal right to ride on thousands of miles of trails, but that never seems to count for much – the way to score high on the IMBA report card is to get more trails built. To read the comments on England you’d think that there was virtually nowhere to ride, which clearly isn’t the case.

Blunt instrument it may be, but as things develop internationally we’re sure that the Report Card will become more refined. And Scotland’s top grade is still a great achievement…

Read the full report at And you can help the UK with its need for more individual members by heading over to


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