IMBA’s Instructor Certification Program (ICP) has transitioned to the Bike Instructor Certification Program (BICP) and is no longer part of IMBA. It’s still led by Shaums March, but under a new non-profit organization. They’ve also reconfigured their courses/certifications with new pricing to: Ride Leader, Level 1, Level 2, Level 1-2 Combo, Level 3. And they’ve added recertification, prep, and refresher courses, too. Their new logo:
I’ve not updated the links or information in the blog post below.
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.
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:
Here are a few photos of my fellow colleagues (we all passed) and our terrific instructor, Mike Holme. It happened at Buck Hill Ski & Snowboard Area which graciously donated the use of their facilities for the course, including some indoor space for riding every time it poured.
The feeling of intensity began building several days prior when a packet arrived in the mail with the 80-page Level 1 Ride Guide. It included the instructions:
Enclosed is your ICP course manual along with a pre-test for your upcoming certification event. Please complete this open book test and bring the completed pages with you to the course along with your manual.
Pre-test? I was a little bit annoyed. WTF is this, high school? But as I did my homework, I noticed a degree of seriousness kick in as I realized that I wanted to not only perform well and get whatever passing grade was needed but that I really wanted to learn this stuff. Time to put on your big boy pants, I told myself.