I’ve always had trouble with the freeride flicks, with the overly serious music, editing, and pretty much everything involved with the Canadian Freeride Nouveau school. And by Canadian Freeride Nouveau, I mean everything after Wade, Thomas, Robbie, or even Steve Romaniuk. I’m referring to your standard Coastal Crews, your Doerflings and Jarrett Moores, and their ilk. And of course these guys:
To review, Canadian Freeride circa 1999:
Canadian Freeride Nouveau, 2014:
Why all the epic bro brah bad music, why all the fist bumping and mean mugging? Why so many muscle shirts and tank tops? Freeride flicks are just an extension of all of this muscle-y, jock-y, epic, bro brah prove-how-cool-you-are BS, but what’s the root cause? There’s a strange but familiar aesthetic running through all the elements of Canadian Freeride Nouveau, but I couldn’t put my finger on it until today when I watched this culminating ballad of freeride flicks, this full flowering of bro, the denouement of a decade or so of slow painful progression towards the new freeride:
And here it is: mountain biking is cool in Canada. Of course it’s not the single coolest thing to do, but it’s also not the lamest. Let me frame it this way: unlike all of America, in large swathes of BC and Alberta mountain biking isn’t relegated to the losers who sucked at all the other sports. In Canada peers will be impressed. Girls will take notice. A young, budding male in Canada could look at his Dad and say “I want to ride mountain bikes,” and his dad won’t have to choke down disappointment and put down the baseball glove in his hand that he was hoping to use to play catch with his firstborn son to lie through gritted teeth as his wife forces him to say “whatever you want to do.”
This one factor, let’s call it the “cool factor” if you will, completely changes the demography of mountain biking in America vs. Canada.
See, in America we have Football, Basketball, and Baseball. “The big three.” Those three sports consume the attention of 90% of America’s meathead jock high school quarterback population. And even if the big three miss out on a meathead jock type, then we still have lesser meathead sports like Lacrosse or Water Polo to scoop up the remnants.
It’s not quite football, but you can still imagine this guy beating up someone who’s small or different.
If you’re from the U.S. and you ride mountain bikes, I already know you were the last one to get picked for every game of basketball in gym class. Sure, maybe you were captain of the soccer team, but that wasn’t even considered a real sport in America until maybe five years ago, and only on the West Coast at that. Basically if you ride mountain bikes in America you’ve known your place in the heirarchy of testosterone for a long, long time, and here’s a hint: it’s not near the top.
Future American Downhill National Champ.
But our friends up North aren’t so lucky. Yes they have hockey in Canada, and that goes a long way towards occupying the interests of meatheads, but it’s just one sport, so it doesn’t have the power to cull them all into one place. There will be meatheads left out. Where do all the other bro’s go?
Those bro’s found mountain biking.
It doesn’t help that Dylan Forbes even looks like Ben Affleck’s wingman from Dazed and Confused:
James Doerfling looks like he’s trying to model for J.Crew. Except for Bingelli or Lopes, that wouldn’t even occur to an American mountain bike racer. We’ve all been too busy endlessly practicing turns and hiking runs to make up for the total failure that we amounted to in traditional sports and to prove to our dad’s that “see we’re good at something” for the last 14 years.
In America, Tanner would be a defensive nose tackle on the varsity squad, would beat up his brother Dan who will later become Poet Laureate of the UN and a Nobel Peace Prize winner, and would wreck his dad’s Nissan senior year after the big game, and we’d never hear about him again because he’d be a mid-level sales guy at Bob Lanphere’s Beaverton Honda for the rest of his life.
In Canada Tanner would pick up a used Demo 8 off Pinkbike sophomore year of High School, learn ugly unturndowns and hucker backflips, and eventually become the fourth member of the Coastal Crew so we can hear him yell “sick” or “send it Norbs” ten times per video for the rest of eternity.