Category Archives: Learning to instruct

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

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:

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:

I’m now an IMBA ICP Level 2 MTB instructor

I took the IMBA Instructor Certification Program (ICP) Level 2 course last weekend. It was 3+ days of intense instruction, practice teaching, and testing.

IMBA ICP

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.

Thick Skull Mountain Bike Skills: a new venture for the Mountain Bike Geezer

For those of you on my email list, it’s not news that I’ve launched my new venture, Thick Skull Mountain Bike Skills.

But it’s time I announced it for the rest of you who visit this site regularly or occasionally.

Thick Skull Mountain Bike Skills - home page

See my blog post on Thick Skull for details on the venture.

I’ve also set up a Thick Skull Mountain Bike Skills Twitter feed (@ThickSkullMTB) and a Thick Skull Mountain Bike Skills Facebook page.

I’ll still be posting here regularly on the Mountain Bike Geezer blog. But anything to do with skills or learning to ride I’ll either post on the Thick Skull MTB blog or provide more details about it in my revamped email newsletter.  Continue reading Thick Skull Mountain Bike Skills: a new venture for the Mountain Bike Geezer

IMBA’s Level 1 Instructor Certification Program: intense, fun, valuable

If I could only use one word to describe my experience as a student in IMBA’s Level 1  Instructor Certification Program (ICP) course over the weekend, it would be ‘intense.’

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:

ICP Level 1 course materialsEnclosed 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.

Jake Carsten and Kat Sweet at Valley Bike and Ski Lebanon Hills MTB park, west trail head Mike Holme, Kat Sweet, Jake Carsten

Continue reading IMBA’s Level 1 Instructor Certification Program: intense, fun, valuable