WARNING!!! from TEAM ROBOT

Behold, the end of the universe:

“But don’t worry, A-Line diehards, you’ll still be able to ride it just as fast as you ever did, but what you’ll find is new shapes, better flow, and jump shapes you’ve never imagined before.”

Here’s some free advice: when someone in a position of authority starts their message with “don’t worry,” start worrying. The video goes on:

“For those just making their way into the A-Line skill set, what it’s going to offer is jumps with a friendlier shape, so you’ll be able to hit the jump and have a better sightline, you’ll be able to keep the speed on the trail so that everything flows through for everyone.”

That kind of makes sense I guess. A-Line is pretty advanced, what with all the big jumps and high speed, so wouldn’t it be cool if you could have a similar “A-Line style” trail experience, only at lower speeds and with lower consequences?

Oh… wait. I guess that already exists. Never mind.

Here’s what I got out of this new video:

  1. A-Line is getting dumbed down.
  2. There will be even more jamokes on Aline now (jamoke roughly translates to “Joey” for the Canadians in attendance).
  3. This is the end of everything that is good and holy.
It’s officially time to burn your bike, reject society, and move out to the hills to eat squirrels, reprocess your urine, and live off the grid. Picture Gary Busey from Black Sheep. Do that.
Riders have progressed. Bikes have progressed. Between the hugely increased capabilities of the modern mountain bike and the general progression of our sport, the average trail bike rider is capable of enormously more than anyone could have imagined 15 years ago when A-Line was built. Watch a video from the original Red Bull Rampage in 2001. Trail riders in Bellingham are hitting drops and gaps bigger than that on weekdays after work on 125mm bikes now. Everyone is riding bigger and faster than they ever have.
What that means is that, if any changes should be made to A-Line year to year, obviously the direction should be bigger and scarier to keep up with modern riders. And for as long as A-Line has been a trail, that’s been the management principle. Bigger gaps, faster berms, more hang time, and by default, higher consequences every single year. And people loved it. In years prior, there was this crazy thing called a “filter” at the top to keep jamokes out. A drop, a jump, any sort of mandatory pucker moment to weed out the riders who really shouldn’t be on A-Line. If you can’t handle a three foot drop, probably 25 foot table tops at 20 mph isn’t your jam. Seems to make sense, right?
As A-Line got bigger, faster, and scarier, Crank It Up was introduced. Instead of dumbing down A-Line, a dumber, slower, smaller version of A-Line was introduced as an alternative. The fast people got to keep their fun playground, and the slow people got their own mini-sandbox version of the same trail. Everyone wins.
In this regard Whistler and A-Line have been the last bastion of reasonable thought.  While A-Line kept getting bigger, the rest of the world was handing out participation medals to everyone in the little league tournament, dumbing down your local trails, and keeping the Oregon speed limit at 65 mph. Try getting a new bike park opened in the Western U.S. Hahahahaha!!! I kid, I kid, obviously that’s impossible, because, you know, fish and stuff.
These salmon died on the banks of the Sandy River shortly after the Forest Service met with Timberline Bike Park in 2010 to discuss a potential bike park.
Until now, the management principle at Whistler was to give the fast people what they wanted (more hangtime, more gnar, more speed, and more steep), provide a wide variety of trails for riders of every skill level, put in place basic filters and guidelines to keep slow people off gnarly trails, and then step back and let people make their own decisions. If you rode A-Line as a jamoke, you probably broke your collarbone on the first tabletop or got yelled at as somebody passed you in a berm. Good. Kill yourself.
And you know what happened with all that freedom? Big smiles, lots of hospital trips, and billions of dollars in revenue. And that’s a tradeoff we’ve tended to be okay with.
Make no mistake, there is a cost to freedom. Someone from our local riding community died this past summer riding a big rock slab in Whistler. It’s a tragedy, it’s a huge loss to the Hood River community and to his family, and it’s regrettable, but I didn’t hear anyone suggest that Whistler close all their rock slabs or make them flatter. It’s the risk we choose when we go ride, and Matt was a longtime advanced rider who knew what he was doing.
I don’t know what made Whistler Bike Park change their guiding principles. Maybe it was lawyers, maybe it was IMBA, or maybe it was a calculated revenue-grab by evil new management looking to cater to the mediocre. Maybe it was Matt Klee’s death. Who knows.

A rare picture of the weekly Whistler Trail Crew Meeting.

My hunch is that the “no’s” won the day. No’s always win. You know when you and a bunch of friends want to go out to lunch, and you’re all proposing different restaurants, and that one friend that no one likes vetoes whatever suggestion you come up with? “No, I don’t feel like Mexican, it’s too greasy,” “No, I don’t feel like a sandwich, too much gluten.” “No, I don’t feel like…[insert literally any suggestion you can come up with] because [insert ridiculously choosy reason].”

But because you’re all a bunch of pussies, you don’t do the right thing and beat the shit out of “no guy” until he either stops hanging out with you or learns to eat a $5 cheeseburger and like it. No, you suck it up and try to reason with “no guy,” until you realize thirty minutes later you’re going to spend $30 again on sushi and hate yourself. All you wanted was a cheeseburger, and now you’re eating cold rice with imitation crab at $6 a plate. Tea is $3? Really?

The “no guy” always wants freaking sushi. Because $30 for lunch seems reasonable.

In the video, the trail crew bro justifies the trail “improvements” on A-Line by saying “you’ll be able to keep the speed on the trail so that everything flows through for everyone.” Wait… what?
A-Line clearly isn’t for everyone. It’s for advanced riders. If you’re not an advanced rider, either stay off A-Line or kill yourself. Everyone knows that. Everyone except for “no guy.”

You’re almost never going to see the “build us bigger jumps please” contingent orchestrating a letter-writing campaign to the boss at WBP, holding a candlelight vigil for bigger jumps, or chaining themselves to excavators until they get bigger gaps on A-Line. Most people realize that their preferences are just that: preferences, subject to compromise in any group decision making process. We can’t always have our way, so unless we see some fundamental violation of human dignity we’re not typically going to be a pain in the ass.
“No guy” on the other hand? He can hang in there for the long haul, because in his eyes everything is a fundamental violation of someone’s rights, and he can never be wrong. “No guy” is constitutionally incapable of acknowledging the validity of other people’s preferences. “No guy” has staying power, coming from a deep, abiding sense of self-righteousness. Chaining himself to excavators is right in “no guy’s” wheelhouse, but normally “no guy” doesn’t have to go to that extreme. Normally he just repeats the commonly understood costs of a policy until those costs seem intolerable, and then he proposes an alternative policy and pretends there are no associated costs. Think “Mothers Against Drunk Driving” but for trail building. Sort of like IMBA. Works nine times out of ten.

“No guy” is the worst, and once this behavior is learned, it will never go away. This is why you should beat the shit out of the next guy who suggests sushi for lunch.

Soap in a sock: because you care about A-Line.
No matter the cause of Whistler’s philosophical reversal, it’s a sad day for mountain biking and the official end of an era. Apparently Whistler Bike Park has reached peak gnar, and we can expect the bike park to get slowly dumbed down from here. 
Instead of remembering and building on what made it great, Whistler Bike Park will now be catering to the existing skills of the mediocre instead of inspiring them to improve to the level of the great.
If I die riding my bike because I hit a tree, please don’t automatically cut that tree out. If I die overshooting a jump, please don’t remove that jump. If I didn’t want to hit the jump, I wouldn’t have.

Keep sending it. Robot out.

34 thoughts on “WARNING!!! from TEAM ROBOT

  1. rumor has it the bean counters and lawyers were one more lawsuit away from shutting it all down. crank it up sucked anyway.

  2. I'd rather die running into a tree rather than having a heart attack at a board meeting.

  3. fuck that 50 foot wide dirt highway shit. give me the narrow, the rutted out babyhead filled rooty ass off camber gnur any day of the week. oh, and eff paying to ride too. PRICKS.

  4. Charlie……… is that the socking Santa stood over your bed and beat you with in the middle of the night, last Christmas Eve ?? I think he must have chose Grinch Green just to make a point

  5. Uh oh. The whole thing about reshaping lips could conceivably be a good thing, but that bit at the end where he said bikes have evolved with bigger wheels, and it's time for the trails to evolve with them….that doesn't sound promising.

    One way to find out…

  6. What a load of whining bitches.
    Just get out and ride real trails rather than manicured bike parks.

  7. No kidding, nobody has even seen it yet. They are just rounding the jumps off by making them higher in the middle so it isn't so bad if you case them. Doesn't mean they will be any smaller.

    I guarantee you nobody from Bellingham is hitting 40 foot drops on 125mm bikes.

  8. I know MADD is bullshit but after digging around that “activist facts” site, it reeks to high heaven

  9. A-line is just getting back the it use to be… A fuckin flow trail… not a downhill course for riders that are scared of technical sections… 😉

  10. Yeah, only problem is when you go to scrub then your front tyre or pedal might rub in the dirt a smidge.

  11. “A Line diehards”

    I wonder what the most times its been ridden by someone in one day?
    Who has ridden it the most times since its built?
    Though maybe some of the Canadian locals might know.

  12. I haven't ridden the bike park since 2003. Before Garbo was put in. Am I missing something?

  13. A-Line has also seen some major work with an improved start, wider trail profile and modernized jump shapes. With some progressive new machines we have been able to move dirt more efficiently, filter out rocks from the trail surface and create shapes we could not have made five years ago. The result is a new A-Line with better sightlines, jumps that can accommodate a broad range of speeds, and berms that will make for better cornering while shedding water more effectively. We have also upgraded all of the drainage to better handle major weather events and speed up opening on heavy snow years. For diehard A-Line fans, the character of the trail remains the same and if you liked the shapes and sizes of the overpass jump and supertable we added in the past two years then fear not, the trail will be as fun as ever!As we count down the final days until opening, I feel much like I would imagine a fashion designer feels when they are about to launch their new summer line. You work countless hours through the winter planning and designing a new look and then sit back and watch as the lights dim and the line goes out on the runway. I’m sure some will like the hip new lines and some prefer the old familiar fit of classic worn-in denim, either way when the lights come up on May 2nd we will be in the lineup as you parade down the runway. Thanks for making us look good. See you in the lineup, BF.

  14. Have news for you Charlie. Your complaints are being filed under dirtbags sleeping in a van by the river G for Garbage. As low ARPU (average return per user) users of the WBP your needs are supplanted by the much higher margin higher ARPU metrosexual sushi eaters who bounce off the top of every tabletop.

    Until you can demonstrate a much higher spend rate per customer by doing simple things like buying gloves, enduro carbon wheels, and Boost bullshit your rantings will be given the consideration they deserve.

    Yours truly,

    Happy WB.TO shareholder cashing dividend payments

  15. With all due respect Charlie, I don't think Whistler is the place for you and I am not trying to be condescending here. Last year you griped about the trails used for the Whistler EWS, they were awkward, you didn't “get” them. Now, you are griping about a jump trail in the bike park being dumbed down. It seems like none of the trails up here make you happy.

  16. I hope they make Crabapple Hits more accessible with 'better sightlines' and maybe make them 15' shorter so I can go home and tell everybody I ripped them everyday and didn't even get hurt.

    If they could take all of those rocks out of Goat Gully, that would be cool too.

  17. The irony is that CUI is already a dumbed down version of the original, which was meant to be a stepping stone to a-line etc. A year or two after they introduced the trail, though, they did a massive de-tune and added the rounded profile to all of the jumps-
    a)to make the trail “safer”
    but mostly
    b) to segregate riders by making the trail less attractive to air-mongers
    But that didn't work, as many intermediates just moved to a-line as CUI was now boring. Now they are possibly detuning a-line. If they had left CUI as it was none of this would be necessary, and now they are having to fix their own problem that they created.

    There has been a gradual diminishment of air and gnar features, (too many to list). Such has been the case since Finestone took over. The trend will likely continue.

    Going back to WBP after all these years is a bit like seeing that hot, tight punk rock princess you fucked in high school. Now she's older, had several kids, a bit dried and stretched out, bleached hair, makeup, jewlery and a face job and boob job. You still will fuck her, but not quite the same as before.

  18. FOR THE LOVE OF CHRIST, I JUST HOPE THEY FIX THE FUCKING GLC DROP. HOW IS THAT NOT FIRST ON THE LIST OF PEICE OF SHIT FEATURES THAT NEEDS RESHAPING.

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