MTB scheme popularity forces name change

SMBLA becomes MBLA; 7,000th candidate registers with the initiative
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SMBLA becomes MBLA; 7,000th candidate registers with the initiative

Scottish Cycling has rebranded its Mountain Bike Leaders Award (MBLA) following its increasing popularity across the nation.

Formerly the Scottish Mountain Bike Leaders Award, the scheme launched in 1997, seeing a 58 per cent average annual increase in registrations. At present there are over 4,000 qualified tutors trained under the scheme, 56 accredited MBLA outlets and over 300 courses delivered across the UK every year.

The scheme is reportedly the only governing body MTB leadership qualification in existence, designed to provide a framework and qualification for Leaders to deliver mountain biking as safe and enjoyable.

MBLA committee chairman Jim Riach said: “SMBLA originated from the need to develop a ‘proper qualification’ for the delivery of mountain biking, which was becoming an increasingly popular activity in outdoor centres and among youth groups. With that, however, came more incidents, and SAPOE (Scottish Advisory Panel in Outdoor Education) approached me to pull together an outline programme.


“Since 1997, the growth in the scheme has been exponential. We now have a full suite of courses with Trail Cycle Leader, Mountain Bike Leader at the core and being complemented by the Expedition, Night Riding and Winter Riding modules which support those operating in different environmental, seasonal or time of day activities.

Riach: “The scheme owes much to the goodwill and expertise of the original group and all of those who have since given freely of their time and knowledge. We have now reached a time to reflect and refocus and to take the scheme forward to new highs as a widely recognised and professional qualification.”

According to the Scottish Mountain Biking Development Consortium, 11.8 million people own a mountain bike, with around a tenth of those regularly cycling off-road.

Find out more here.

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