Selfie - Jumping into the water
Uncle Dave went to Croatia, and you're not going to like it - Part 1

Drunk on Press Junket Lemonade

Words Dave Tolnai
Photos Dave Tolnai
Date Sep 18, 2018

As I plunged into this project, things got longer and longer as I got more defensive. In the end, like a 15-legged table, it didn't seem like something that would stand if I chopped any one section away. Instead, I've broken this in to 3 partially digestible chunks that will roll out on some sort of unpredictable schedule over the next few days. My one request is that before you dust off your yellin'-at-some-guy-on-the-Internet pants (you will probably have to), please wait until after you've consumed all 3 parts. I'd hate for you to get all riled up only to discover that you're even more riled up after part 3. Rather than getting all worked up twice, it's probably better to save it all up. And just remember...I'm as unhappy as you are about having to talk about all this stuff! Life is much easier if you can just tuck yourself away in a corner and ignore what everybody else is doing.

I was riding the high from my Wyoming trip, thinking about possible ways to do more things like that when the call rolled in from Cam:

Do you want to go to Croatia for a week to ride bikes with Specialized?

I mean…is that even a question? I started to get pretty excited. Then I read further:

There’s a bit of a catch.

There’s always a catch. But this was a real doozy of a catch.

 There are junkets, and then there are junkets

And this was a JUNKET. My time on this trip left me feeling rosy and excited. It doesn’t take too many days of people responding positively to your every question or request, or deluxe meals accompanied by vast quantities of booze, or hob-nobbing with pros and titans of industry, to make you feel better about yourself than you probably should.

Even though I don’t go on these things very often, I have a habit of returning from them only to make broad, sweeping statements on the state of the world. So it’s quite possible that everything you read from here on in is tainted by my ass-kicking, high-level, lap-of-luxury cycling experience. If I could spend the rest of my life doing nothing but these sorts of trips, I would die a very happy man, so it’s very possible that a few days of careening through Croatian villages, or diving into crystal clear seas, or not having to worry about a damn thing has guided my opinion somewhat. A cynic will write off anything positive that I have to say here as the words of a sellout. But this feels incredibly pessimistic, even to me. I mean, surely one little trip wouldn't be enough to convince me that the Specialized Crotch BusterTM nut kicking machine (women's version to follow once a name is finalized) is the greatest invention in the history of cycling? I firmly and honestly believe that the new texture of the testicle scraping pad is really going to transform your riding!

But at the same time...this is how it works, right? There's a reason why Specialized pumps hundreds of thousands of dollars into flying journalists across the world to ride their latest product. While their enthusiasm seems genuine and their motives for continually pushing the product envelope feel relatively pure, they are hoping that some of that junket magic rubs off on their product. But as I return to riding my old bike down my old trails, I struggle to trust some of the opinions that I formed during this event. And I was there! What on earth are you going to think? So some of my enthusiasm needs to be checked and a few of my opinions need to be re-evaluated, and you probably need to take some of this with a tiny little dose of salt. Just know that most of the criticisms you are about to hurl in my direction have probably already crossed my own mind, using worse language and more hurtful themes.

The truth is that I probably would have been just as happy on this trip if it had absolutely nothing to do with bikes. And we'd probably all head home a bit happier today if this was nothing more than a perusal of my vacation photos. So let's do that for a minute or two.

Selfie - Jumping into the water

This is it. Croatia in a nutshell. Find a chunk of ocean and jump into it from the installed swimming infrastructure.

Huh. That wasn't so bad, was it? Maybe this is going to go fine? Keep your eyes peeled for Part 2.

Trending on NSMB


+10 Velocipedestrian AJ Barlas Todd Hellinga chachmonkey Mammal Endur-Bro Skooks Tim Coleman grambo wizardB
earle.b  - Sept. 17, 2018, 11:07 p.m.

Motorized bicycle. Let's start with calling it what it is.

0 Niels Merwinn Todd Hellinga wizardB
Cam McRae  - Sept. 18, 2018, 9:03 a.m.

Motorized makes sense for bikes with motors but shouldn't we distinguish between fossil fuel burners and zero emission (at point of use) bikes? Or would you be okay with approving gas burning bikes wherever e-bikes can go?


+6 Niels Todd Hellinga Andrew Major Cooper Quinn Endur-Bro Skooks grambo wizardB
earle.b  - Sept. 18, 2018, 9:24 a.m.

It needs a special designation. I agree it's not a full blown motorcycle, but it's also not a regular bike. 

There are many current trail systems that are only open to mountain biking because of a non-motorized designation. 

Each trail network should be evaluated on a case by case basis.


+1 wizardB
Merwinn  - Sept. 18, 2018, 9:59 a.m.

A few high school kids ride those bolt-on ICE beaters around my neck of the woods. Not sure whether they like the feel of the always-pinned 0.25 HP throttle, or the screaming popcorn fart noise more. Either way, I don't care for them, especially at 1:30 AM.


+6 Niels Velocipedestrian Todd Hellinga Tim Coleman wizardB ZigaK
Cooper Quinn  - Sept. 18, 2018, 10:15 a.m.

It makes sense to manage ebikes as most places with ebike legislation and policy are - as a separate user group. 

  • They're not mountain bikes. 

  • They're not dirt bikes. 

  • They're ebikes. 

We're also seeing the rise of electric dirt bikes - using energy storage mechanisms (ie gas vs battery) as a way of defining ebikes isn't a great one. Carefully, legally, defining ebikes as their own group is important. Once formally defined, they can be managed just like every single other user group - "you can go here, but not here". Same as mountain bikes. And horses. And hikers. And 4x4s. 

So to answer your question; no, we shouldn't distinguish between fossil fuel burners and non. We need to use different criteria.


+4 Cooper Quinn grambo wizardB ZigaK
Tim Coleman  - Sept. 18, 2018, 12:59 p.m.

Agreed, and to add in Merwinn's point, classification by just power output doesn't work either. Because 0.25 HP screaming popcorn fart noise bikes going up GSM is a different beast than a quiet ebike.


+4 Cooper Quinn grambo Mammal wizardB
Sweaman2  - Sept. 18, 2018, 1:06 p.m.

I think this is the issue I have with E-bikes currently.  The manufacturers are really selling them without acknowledging the potential access issues and that grates. 

I met a Devinchi industry group (Devinchi truck at the trailhead; all on Devinchi bikes) taking E-bikes up Lord of the Squirrels during Crankworx who said "it's okay we've turned the motors off today" (they clearly hadn't as well as they were really moving along in a way someone pedalling 45+lb of bike wouldn't be). 

They rode right past a sign saying "no motorized traffic" and the argument made was that it was about concerns with pollution into the watershed so no issue with Ebikes.  Taking that to its logical conclusion electric dirt bikes would be fine on LoTS......

As an example Alberta parks have clearly decreed that E-bikes are motorized but local sellers in Calgary probably won't tell you that when you buy one and enforcement is tricky.  Only the most on the ball CO will be able to spot the difference so perhaps it'll be easier just to ban bikes? OK I'm talking worst case scenario but it's there.......


Question: Can I use my E-Bike in provincial parks?


E-bikes (aka “power bicycle” defined by the Alberta Traffic Safety Act, or “power-assisted bicycle” by Transport Canada) are not permitted on non-motorized trails.

Unless the trail signs in a park authorize the use of motorized vehicles, e-bikes / power bicycles cannot be used on the trails (only on the roadway/parking areas). The exception to this is that power bicycles may be used in most Natural Areas (unless the access signs or trail signs prohibit the use of motorized vehicles).

Alberta Parks may designate trails or trail segments for e-bikes/power-assisted bicycles in the future.

Alberta Transportation provides the following resources that clarify the use of power bicycles on roadways:


+5 Mammal wizardB RBWebb ZigaK Andrew Major
grambo  - Sept. 18, 2018, 1:43 p.m.

I've read about that Devinci incident in a few places, thanks if you were the person that saw it and spoke up. Fuck those dipshits for their willful ignorance and jeopardizing the hard work by WORCA and all stake holders involved in the Sproatt alpine projects over the past few years. Cross Devinci off the list I guess.

Mammal  - Sept. 18, 2018, 2:36 p.m.

I also read about those guys as well. The idea that they were being so brazen, at a time when all eyes are on Whistler pisses me right off. Heard they were from the US, but again, that's just TrailForks comment hearsay.

Maybe someone with a bit more insight into WORCA can help me with this one. I was up there the following weekend, and we ran into two guys on trail motos (street legal, fat tires) who disappeared pretty quick up Into the Mystic. At the top, they were chilling at the junction of ITTM and On The Rocks, talking to folks with their clip-boards out. Can anyone confirm if WORCA uses motos for easy access up there while the trails are open?  I didn't open my fat mouth when I went past, because I assumed there were part of the Org, but it seems like a bit of a contradiction that could potentially open a can of worms when it comes to people who already don't feel like heeding the WORCA rules (Devinci A-Holes).

Perry Schebel  - Sept. 18, 2018, 2:07 p.m.

This comment has been removed.

+2 Todd Hellinga Cooper Quinn
Dave Tolnai  - Sept. 18, 2018, 5:03 p.m.

This is perfect, Cooper.  This is kind of what I tried to say a few months ago, just with far less words.  It starts with definition and categorization.


Mark  - Sept. 23, 2018, 8:27 a.m.

I recall that idea (managing ebikes as opposed to outright bans) being suggested in the past and most on the nay side of the argument laughed and shit all over the idea. A lot still do.


Zapp  - Sept. 18, 2018, 1:17 p.m.

I feel like this is a good opportunity to bring the distinction in engineering and science into common usage. Where, with the exception of rocket motors, if it burns fuel it's an engine; if it's hydraulic or electric it's a motor.


+1 Zapp
Cooper Quinn  - Sept. 18, 2018, 1:32 p.m.

I thought about bringing this up, but decided it was just going to distract. But, yes, that also jumped out at me.

An ebike has a motor. Anything with internal combustion prolly has an engine. 

Also, if the fireban is off, can I strap rocket motors to my bike? Old Buck seems extra steep these days!


+3 Cam McRae Niels Mammal
Sweaman2  - Sept. 18, 2018, 1:45 p.m.

It's pretty clear from other mtb sites what "the catch" was going to be in this case.  I applaud NSMB for taking a different approach to other sites and at least providing evidence of reflection.


+5 Todd Hellinga Mammal ZigaK Zapp Derek Baker
Dave Tolnai  - Sept. 18, 2018, 5:04 p.m.'s my fault for not exactly nailing the timing.

And self doubt is about the only thing that I do really well.  I mean...pretty well...I'm not, like, the best at it or anything.  Maybe.

Zapp  - Sept. 19, 2018, 6:13 a.m.

If you can't strap model rocket engines to your seatstays is life even worth living?


yahs  - Sept. 18, 2018, 5:33 p.m.

I see your point Cam, but why does the bike industry giants get to decide what is trail friendly motorized and what isn't? They get to put their ebikes on trail but another company making gas assisted bikes are shut out? More crap for the land mangers to deal with no?

Another senario: Up on the trails.....It's OK for me to be here, my "Pendelec" is assisted, you have a ebike with a throttle, you have to go home. Have fun trying to police that.... The Land managers are going to lump everyone together and we could be losing trail networks.

In 5 years the tech will be that much better, people will barely be pedaling at all for hours. The line between bicycle and moto will be so blurred. 

Hey can't wait to rip up GSM at 30km per hour, gunna be so sick.

Cam McRae  - Sept. 18, 2018, 11:25 p.m.

Throttles should be off the table imho. At least in areas that aren't open to motorcycles.


+1 Cam McRae
Perry Schebel  - Sept. 18, 2018, 11:50 a.m.

i like where you're going with this, dave; a refreshing bit of insight. i like to think that those of us with day jobs outside the industry are more insulated from bias, and that we're relatively objective beings, but it's no surprise that opportunities like this have the potential to influence. looking forward to reading the next installments.


kekoa  - Sept. 18, 2018, 12:42 p.m.

I'm looking forward to this. My life has meaning!


Poz  - Sept. 18, 2018, 4:01 p.m.

I am quiet happy to have Uncle Dave be the one to write these upcoming articles. Going to be a pretty good series methinks.


Kos  - Sept. 19, 2018, 7:15 a.m.

Dave, it is clear from your writing that participation in these press junkets is having a negative impact on your sense of self-worth.

I'll take one for the team, and replace you on the next one.

And if it happens to be a European KTM dirt bike junket, so much the better, because throttles!


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