In Bike magazine’s November issue Grimy Handshake column, Mike Ferrentino let slip his suspicion of a secret IMBA hit squad:
Which brings us to the questionable act of poaching trails—the riding of mountain bikes on trails that are clearly designated as off-limits to bicycles. For the sake of this column, let’s just stick with the act of poaching on public land, since that is morally much more neutral than an act of trespass across somebody else’s private property (and we’re not even going to get into the greater Chief Seattle-inspired notion that land ownership itself is questionable).
I will go on record here, and probably have the IMBA hit squads come to snuff me out for it, but I believe that poaching trails is a necessary and, relatively speaking, harmless act of civil disobedience. If nobody ever poached a single trail, we mountain bikers, the Johnny-come-last group of outdoor recreation seekers, would slowly and quietly be shunted out of the vast majority of public lands. And if every one of us obeyed the law, nobody would ever complain about it happening.
It seems Ferrentino’s words had some impact, as IMBA sent out this press release today:
IMBA Press Release
For Immediate Release
Its cover blown by Bike magazine editor-at-large Mike Ferrentino in his recent column, “Poacher’s Paradox,” the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) today officially acknowledged the existence of a clandestine “hit squad,” as Ferrentino phrased it.
“Actually, the program carries the internal title ‘Black Diamond,’ said Executive Director Mike Van Abel. “IMBA has long been accused of playing nice — I hope people now realize that we know how to crack the whip too.”
IMBA’s cloak-and-dagger unit has long been the source of legend in mountain bike circles. Poachers who ride trails closed to bikes can now confirm that they have more to fear than locally based enforcement by Officer Friendly and Ranger Rick — IMBA operatives in ninja dress might appear at any moment to flick copies of Trail Solutions between their spokes.
As for Ferrentino’s suggestion that IMBA might attempt to to “snuff him out,” Van Abel and other IMBA staff will offer no comment.