CAPSMTB – Creating a European Professional Standard for MTB Instructor-Guides

What is the CAPSMTB project?

This page deals mainly with the Erasmus+ funded portion of the project, delivered over 2017-2018, where the EO-MTBing instructor-guide standard was rolled out in its first five European Countries. Please note that the project is still moving forwards into 2019 with delivery in new partner countries such that we are on schedule to have the EO-MTBing standard actively employed in over 15 European countries by 2022. If you would like to know more, please read the information presented here and get in touch with any questions.

The project is to Create a European Professional Standard for MTB instructor-guides (CAPS-MTB) in Europe. It needed a snappy acronym for the European Commission funding which helped to ensure the project’s delivery across Europe during 2017/2018. The project is aimed both at:

  • countries/organisations who already have instructor-guide training programs and
  • countries/organisations who do not yet have a training program, but would like to develop one quickly and to the highest standards.

Who is involved?

The Erasmus+ project partners were IMBA Europe, Swiss Cycling, the MCF (France), POMBA (Poland), Slovenian Cycling and the NTFU (Netherlands). Outwith the Erasmus+ funded project, we have also since been joined by Skiskolenes Bransjeforbund (SBF, Norway) and the Association of British Mountain Bike Guides (ABMG) and Denmark. At present this leaves 8 national organisations with 7 other organisations also (at time of writing) in the process of joining the scheme so that continued growth is assured in 2019 and beyond.

What does the project do?

Create a minimum European training and evaluation standard for MTB instructor-guides. The standard has already been agreed and involves 360 hours of taught learning and 200 hours of professional experience. Each member organisation continues to provide their own training schemes which, at the top level, meet the EO-MTBing standard. Successful students will then be able to access a final European practical exam. The central final practical exam will be organised once a year (usually in autumn) at varying locations in Europe. Individual nations will also organise their own final exams, open to international students and overseen by an international evaluator.

What won’t the project do?

The project will not replace existing national training schemes. It’s purpose is to ensure that all these schemes meet the same standards of training and evaluation, regardless of which country a student has trained in.

I represent an MTB guide training organisation, how do we join? 

If your Federation/Group wish to formally join the project, all you need to do is contact us and we will then continue the dialogue from there.

I am an individual MTB instructor-guide, how do I join? 

This depends on which scenario you are in:

  1. You are from a country with an existing training system already affiliated to the EO-MTBing standard: Easy! Just join the organisation, complete their training + evaluations and at the end you will be able to apply for your EO-MTBing license. Even if you are from a different system within the country you will find they are able to help you.
  2. You are from a country with an existing training system/s but none of them are yet affiliated to EO-MTBing: Simple – phone, email and shout at your training organisation that they need to join EO-MTBing and become part of the future of MTB instructor-guiding.
  3. You are from a country with no existing MTB instructor-guide training system: You must first re-group other MTB instructor-guides from your country and begin to create a new training organisation. We can then help you to create a world-class instructor-guide program using our ‘train the trainer’ course program. In just 1-2 years you could be training instructor-guides to the world’s highest standard in your own country. The next Train the Trainer courses are provisionally planned to begin during autumn 2019. You can however join the project right away and begin working with us on your system before the TtT courses start.

How is Quality Assurance implemented?

All the way through the scheme. Beginning with the initial process of either adapting an existing training scheme to meet the training standard or helping a country to create their own scheme according to the standard. The whole process is created and overseen by an expert panel who represent the greatest source of knowledge and experience on the profession currently working together in the world.

A program of regular exchanges and co-delivery of training courses/evaluations between member organisations ensures not only quality assurance but also the sharing of good working practice throughout Europe.

Finally, a shared European practical exam is the final stage in ensuring even quality assurance between all the member organisations, resulting in a European licence which will re-define the profession in the years to come.

What are the benefits?

To the mountain biking public:

  • higher standards from your MTB instructor-guide, wherever you may be in Europe
  • consistent standards from your MTB instructor-guide, wherever you may be in Europe
  • total clarity – you will know for sure whether your MTB instructor-guide is qualified to the highest level
  • peace of mind – no more ‘lucky dip’ in finding a good instructor-guide, just top level professional instruction and guiding every single time

To individual MTB instructor-guides:

  • professional recognition – this is where your life’s passion stops being a hobby and instead becomes a career
  • increased work opportunities – once the profession is recognised, work opportunities will massively increase as regularly using an instructor-guide becomes the norm rather than the exception.
  • increased security – with an established profession, documented working practices and a panel of experts to provide assistance in any court issues, you won’t ever be alone.
  • increased mobility – work throughout member nations all over Europe
  • increased collaboration – direct access to a huge network of colleagues. Want to plan a trip in Slovenia? Easy, with your new network of European colleagues.
  • more friends! – meet and work with other dedicated professionals all over Europe.

A working example: 

The French have used their national qualification (the BPJEPS), alongside a professional body (the MCF) to create a domestic industry which employs 800 instructor-guides and has an annual turnover of €30 million, working with schools, clubs, recreational bikers and tourists. Expanded to a European scale, this figure would be €330 million. The potential is there to go much farther, with mountain bike guide-instructors working in every village, town, city, MTB centre, bike park and school, just as with sports like tennis, golf and football.

Creating a truly European standard is the key first step on the road towards this professionalised future for mountain biking.

How did the Erasmus+ project progress?

The project implementation followed a series of phases. There was frequent overlap between the phases but for the sake of clarity they can be summarised largely chronologically as follows:

1. Establishing the CAPSMTB standard.
During this phase the CAPSMTB European training standard for mountain bike instructor-guides itself was ratified at 361 hours of training with 200 hours of internship for a total of 561 hours study. At the same time, the delivering body for the CAPSMTB project was formed in the form of the European Organisation of Mountain Bike Instructor-Guides (EO-MTBing).

2. Delivering the CAPSMTB standard.
The standard was then delivered to two ‘types’ of project partner country:
a. those with pre-exisiting instructor-guide training schemes, as was the case with France, Slovenia and Switzerland
b. those without pre-exisitng schemes, as was the case with Holland and Poland.
In the case of the former, a benchmarking process was followed by which their existing scheme and its contents were mapped into the CAPSMTB standard. Any content or training hours that were missing could then either be included into existing courses or grouped together to form a new top level CAPSMTB course within that partner country.
In the case of the latter, a group of the most experienced professionals from the partner country passed through the CAPSMTB Train the Trainer (TtT) program to give them the skills necessary to deliver the very best training courses. At the same time they were assisted in constructing their national training system according to the CAPSMTB standard.

3. Quality assurance of this implementation.
Quality assurance also initially differed depending on whether there was a pre-exisiting scheme in place in the project partner country or not. In the case of France, Switzerland and Slovenia, 1-2 EO-MTBing tutors oversaw the delivery of a CAPSMTB level instructor-guide training course in these countries. In the case of Holland and Poland, the plan was for an EO-MTBing tutor to co-deliver (more involved than overseeing) an instructor-guide training course according to the CAPSMTB standard. This was possible for the Dutch partners, for whom the course itself was actually co-delivered in France due to the limited mountain terrain in Holland. In the case of the Polish partners, they started delivering their basic level courses on target during the project period but wished to spend more time delivering at this level before inviting an EO-MTBing tutor to co-deliver one of their top level courses. This is scheduled for spring 2019, just after the project period.
Overall quality assurance was then harmonised between the two types of countries with the delivery of the first ever joint European final evaluation for mountain bike instructor-guides in October 2018.

4. Dissemination of the project results.
Dissemination was ongoing throughout the project and was coordinated by project partners the International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA) Europe, initially via their own website and that of the project, leading to continued dissemination through all the channels available to the project partners (websites, news updates, social media, national conferences). The project was also presented and publicised at the two annual IMBA Europe summits in 2017 and 2018. Post project dissemination is focussing on editorial features in bike and outdoor oriented magazines and websites, to ensure the largest possible public outreach.

5. Project management and ongoing evaluations ran throughout. These are discussed in the report and summarised on the results platform.

How was the project being funded?

The project was funded in part by the European Commission Erasmus+ program but mostly by the member organisations themselves and the hard work of volunteers from each country.

How is the project funded in 2019 and beyond?

By the members of the project 

What investment of time/money is required from member states/organisations?

Travelling: The entire project group meets twice a year to discuss progress so far and to plan future work. The first meeting will usually be timed to coincide with the IMBA Europe spring conference in order to minimise extra travelling. The second meeting is hosted in turn by the various member organisations.

Work: The project work is carried out by smaller working groups of 3-4 members, who meet or video-conference every 2 months and continue working between these meetings. 

Funding: Aside from the need to travel and the time commitment from anyone who joins a working group (this is not obligatory) the financial commitments required to be a partner are outlined below. Before committing to becoming a key partner, it is possible to be a supporting member. Both options are open to all federations, training schemes, unions and non-profit mountain biking organisations/user groups.

Partners are the active members of the project. They will fit one of two profiles:

1. Existing guide training organisation: In this case they will have been benchmarked against the EO-MTBing standard, will possibly have created an extra training course to make their students reach the EO-MTBing level, and now any of their guides qualifying to the top level can apply for their EO-MTBing European Licence (via the exam). The initial membership cost is 2000€.

2. Organisations/countries who do not yet have an instructor-guide training program: In this case we will use the standard EO-MTBing training content to help the country develop their own top-level MTB instructor-guide program. The initial membership fee is 2000€. After this, costs will vary depending on how much assistance the country requires from EO-MTBing to set up their training courses.

Supporting Members will perform a more passive role. There is no fee. We will keep you updated on all of our news and invite you to our annual open meeting during the IMBA Europe summit to discuss the progress and direction of the project.


Come and help shape the future of professional mountain bike instruction and guiding!


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