Putting on my big boys pants

If you haven’t noticed yet, I talk nicer when I’m not on the ROBOT blog.


Here’s what it sounds like when I try to act professional:

“The biggest game changer in our sport will be whether or not we can change the prevailing attitudes of trail advocacy and build legal trails that aren’t boring and monotonous. If current trail building trends don’t change, mountain biking will be horrible in ten years.

Apparently five years ago there was a meeting that I wasn’t invited to where all the MTB advocacy groups on the planet agreed that every new trail that gets built from now until the end of time needs to be have a ten percent average grade or less, be built by machines, paved from one side to the other with crushed gravel, pavers, or embedded rock, bench cut into sidehills, and the only acceptable form of turn is a 180 degree switchback or a massive berm. It also must built to withstand one thousand years of bike tires, rain, snow, sleet, flooding, explosions, stray plane crashes, plagues, and the zombie apocalypse, all without needing any from of maintenance whatsoever.

There was also a second meeting where they decided that anyone who didn’t agree with the trail concepts from the first meeting should be labeled as ”just a hater,” ”anti-growth,” or ”close-minded,” and to be ostracized and kept a safe distance away from any legal trail building. Any trails that didn’t fit the general precepts from the first meeting would be labeled as ”unsustainable” or ”dangerous” and must be closed down or rerouted. I’ve seen this pattern occur over and over again across the U.S., but also in Canada, the UK, and even in the Alps, and it’s resulted in two separate worlds of mountain biking: the world of legal, boring, legitimate trail building, and the world of fun, steep, fast illegal trail building. Thanks to the seemingly irreconcilable differences between both groups, these two worlds grow farther and farther apart every year.

Of course there are examples of legal trails that don’t suck. Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance in Seattle, Washington, is building a pretty incredible (and totally legal) downhill trail on their flagship riding area, Tiger Mountain, just fifteen minutes from downtown Seattle. The guys at Momentum Trail Concepts in Colorado are doing a great job. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management is probably the most enlightened federal land management agency in the U.S., and they’ve done an increasingly good job of offering mountain bike opportunities that aren’t horrible. It’s possible to balance land managers concerns while building a challenging trail for someone with a skill level exceeding ”Fisher Price: My First Bike Ride.” So why do these positive examples have to be the exception, not the rule?

The challenge facing mountain biking is twofold: will advanced riders speak up and define what we want our trails to look like, and will legitimate trail advocacy groups choose to listen? The answer to those two questions will do more to shape the mountain bike industry ten years from now than any product, rider, or event ever could.”

First off it’s galling to be asked about “game changers.” What I should have said is “the biggest game-changer in the next  ten years will be when THE ROBOTS have killed off every human that uses terms like ‘game changer’ and made the world a better, less human, more robotic place.” But I didn’t say that.

Second, did you see how I tried to wrap it up with positive examples of model behavior? Pussy.

Between talking nice, being positive, and my switch to enduro racing, it’s pretty clear whatever downhill racer was still in me is dead now. Seb Kemp asked me “If in ten years you find yourself on the board of IMBA, will you kill yourself?”

Seb, if in ten years you find me on the board of IMBA, I will already be dead.

22 thoughts on “Putting on my big boys pants

  1. Skiers have it so much better than us as far as diversity of terrain…. except that they are quickly running out of snow.

    You are right though, the solution is to bitch about mediocre, flat rails. More trail bikes with 64º-65º head angles for the steeps will be a sign of progression.

  2. You at first came off as douche-baggy hipster-ironic with that stupid picture. You then came off as butt-hurt no one invited me but I know more than anyone pity. Followed by unsophisticated passive aggressive snark. You then almost pulled it together, but, as usual, ended with your impertinent elitist tone.

  3. It's weird to think that bike tech/geo has become increasingly more sophisticated and “aggressive-riding-oriented”, yet the trails are now becoming worse, and much less
    “aggressive-riding-oriented”… #Illuminati

  4. The robot sold out, he is now a human. He wants advertising revenue, he wants to tell us how many websites he features on, he wants wants to tell us he is important enough for his opinion and he gave it in great detail. He has an ego, he is a human.

    I am a robot, therefore I have no identity; ergo, I am anonymous.

  5. I don't know who took that photo, but they could have, at least, used a photo of you where you don't look like you've been up tweaking for the past 5 days………….


  6. You should have gone with the part about robots killing everybody that uses the term “game changer”

    As far as skiing terrain….nope, their terrain sucks. Everything is a white paved stripe of lame, except for a tiny area of jumps to “session” after you wait for 20 pre teens to jib. There's moguls, but those suck too. Overall, except for some of the high bowl terrain, skiers have been on paved trails for a long time.

  7. More hating on ski trails: I forgot about all the “SLOW” and “NO JUMPING” signs. Might as well just outlaw fun.

  8. I hate how obsessed all the pb groms are with YT and the “game cahnger” direct to consumer model. like specialized or anybody else cares…

  9. This argument has more to do with the local riding and outdoors culture's influence on the legitimate trails that do get built.

    Examples –

    SW BC – Trails of all levels, legit scary shit mixed in with XC cruising. The riding culture there is more advanced outdoorsy skier/climber/super jock types. Real deal risk averse, talented mountain athletes. Mtb trails suited to them and their families.

    Bend OR – Retired endurance athletes. Lots of flow. Lots and lots of XC flow. The SoCal migration is coming. Stay tuned for change.

    Tiger Mt. – This was a perfect storm that was spearheaded by an insider within the land management block up there. EMBA just happened to be in the right place at the right time to take the credit.

    Sandy Ridge – See Tiger Mt.

    Dry Hill – Port Angeles logger types. Drink hard ride hard. Throw fists and throw dual crowns. Of course raw, brutal DH happened. As well as a couple of key people within the land management block and outside of. Cascadia couldn't have been more lucky for this catalytic mix to have occurred.

    Capitol Forest – Miles of mixed use XC trails. Local bike group and riding scene mostly XC weekend warrior government worker types looking for a safe and predictable trail bicycle riding experience. Like a good state job, mediocre skill level culture reigns.

    Hood River – Moto trails gone wild. Braaap!

    Yacolt – Local MTB scene driven by downhillers. Gravity trails happened. Again, a few key people within the land management block and outside of.

    Galbraith – Close proximity to SW BC and Mt Baker Ski/Board culture. See SW BC.

    Leavenworth – Old school XC haven. Shit is changing fast, for the better. Why? Real deal outdoor mountain culture is moving in. See SW BC.

    So. Not all places suck and get dumbed down. Most places are influenced by the riding culture in their area. When advanced opportunities do occur, it is usually driven by the local riding culture or a few catalyst type people with vision and drive for something MORE. Or, if you are unlucky enough to not have a strong riding community or culture in your area, IMBA or local Bike Club gets called in and they bring their paving machine and build you some all skill level accessible mountain bicycle riding trails.

    Our sport needs to grow. Just not at the expense of challenge, risk and the development of skill that leads to mind-body relation development and the resulting personal and communal enlightenment. For some this occurs on a blue run, for others on a double black – our riding society needs both.

    Go ride your bike in the dirt, fast.

  10. ^ So your take is that IMBA is a figurative mold that grows on any potential trail system when the locals aren't able to wrest control, build rogue shit or cut their own deal with land management?

    I kind of see IMBA as more of a cancer. Unchecked growth that eventually ends in death.

  11. You focus on image and style, when the message is what matters. The message was spot-on. Sorry about the spot-on cliche, I'm sure you were offended.

  12. They can go straight down at a steep grade at most parks. DH'ers can only dream of that at most parks.

  13. out side some huge leaps of logic you missed used Risk Aversion. from the wiki: The reluctance of a person to accept a bargain with an uncertain payoff rather than another bargain with a more certain, but possibly lower, expected payoff.

    so I will assume you mean risk tolerance. but that ends in a chicken or the egg spiral.


  14. Who cares if they care, it is taking over. Sorry bike shop employees, your prospect for a wage is looking less and less likely with every direct sales bike co that emerges. They are emerging like flowers in the spring.

  15. Not a huge leap in logic. A huge blunder in mind/finger/keyboard flow. Risk tolerance. My editor was off yesterday. My apologies.

  16. See my other comment below. Yes, you can haul ass straight down a steep run, but if the resort fun police see you, they take your pass.

  17. Nice Tshirt Charlie. What has Felt accomplished to earn those WC stripes?

  18. Well, if the enduro thing doesn't work out, there's always male modeling…

  19. i bought a dirt bike. its harder, more physically demanding, and 100x scarier.

    its also cheaper.

    spend 7-8000 on a new mx or trail bike and it'll last 10+ years. good luck with that at a bike shop.

    i am buying shittier and shittier mountain bikes because the value just ain't there! x9 1×10 fuck everything

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