Alex Sinanan by Deniz Merdano3.jpg
SHORE RIDER PROFILE

Getting to Know You: Alex Sinanan

Words Pete Roggeman
Photos Deniz Merdano
Date Feb 25, 2021
Reading time

We're trying to do more here at NSMB to address the lack of racial diversity and representation in mountain biking. In our second such article, Alex Sinanan was kind enough to share his experience and thoughts on diversity in mountain biking as a rider on the North Shore.


Hey everyone. I'm Alex Sinanan. Long time reader and commenter but first time contributor to NSMB. I'm a long term deep bike nerd. I grew up in Toronto where I first was exposed to high end bike culture in the early 90s. I attended UVIC so I could ride more and eventually get a job so I could buy more bike stuff. I first met Andrew Major at UVIC. I was a shop grom back in the day in Toronto and worked at FanatykCo in Whistler for a few years towards the end of my university career. I've been based in Vancouver for nearly 20 years now.

Like Andrew Major I like weird esoteric stuff. I've had around 30 high-end bikes in my life. I have an insatiable curiosity for unusual gear and I love running odd equipment experiments. I'm 6'6" so most parts don't really work for me so I have to do my own R&D. It's a hassle but it gives me a really deep understanding of how things work because I usually have to go back to first principles to understand why stuff is made the way it is so that I can find something that will actually work for me.

I worked as a PMP-certified IT project manager for 15 years but 5 years ago I founded Navas Lab Apparel which is what I do full-time now. Navas is a men's apparel company focused on slim athletic fit, tall options, and sustainable production. All of our products are made here in Vancouver and most of them using Canadian materials as well. Navas sets out to solve something that's a problem for me personally (fit!) but also to address some of the things I see wrong in the world that we could be handling better (outsourcing to third world countries/ labour ethics, fast/ disposable fashion, textile waste from processing and production, etc). The company is named after my cat. I mean, why not?

Becoming an entrepreneur and starting my own business has been very challenging but it was the only alternative I could see to grinding it out in an office for someone else. It felt like the cost of living was outrunning my ability to earn more money in a corporate setting so taking decisive action was the only real option. I've only seen 35 of the world's 195 countries so I'm going to need a lot more time off!

Oh, and some of my favourite rides are:
No Quarter to Bookwus to Expresso (Mt Fromme - North Vancouver)
IMBY climb to Manhandler and Three Little Pigs then Eastbound and Down to Hammertime (Eagle Mtn - Coquitlam)
Stonebridge climb to Rockwork Orange and Korova Milkbar then back to High Society (Westside Flank - Whistler)

Alex Sinanan by Deniz Merdano11.jpg

NSMB - Do you remember the first time you had a negative experience that was racially motivated? Can you tell me about that?

Oh sure. I remember being the only not-white kid at summer camp and after-school activities like Beavers and Scouts and being called all of your favourite racial slurs by white kids. They were just ignorant kids who presumably learned that stuff at home. It wasn't until much later that I really processed how hurtful that was. Those slurs seeded a deep distrust in the cultural claim that we are all the same and equal. The news these days isn't doing much to prove me wrong.

NSMB - Has something like that ever happened in the mountain biking sphere?

Not in a really overt way. I can get some raised eyebrows if I go into a store not wearing riding gear. I've been a bike nerd for longer than most young shop guys have been alive so it often comes as a surprise to them that the brown guy isn't just there for a city bike. On one hand, I'm amused by their surprise that I have an encyclopedic knowledge of mountain bike esoterica and riding culture but on the other hand, I'm deeply disappointed. This is Vancouver. It should be assumed that we're all bike nerds.

Alex Sinanan by Deniz Merdano9.jpg

Many of us have noticed that mountain biking is dominated by Straight, white, able-bodied males. Why do you think that is? Is it changing?
I happened to grow up in TO in a nice neighbourhood, my parents had good jobs and we lived adjacent to the Don Valley (a huge park system that bisects North Toronto). It was pure luck that a shop in the neighbourhood was one of the first in Canada to sell high-end mountain bikes in the 80s and 90s (Cycle Logic in North Toronto sold Moots, Pace, Proflex, Mountain Goat, Ibis, Magura, etc). I was hooked on this stuff immediately. Back then there was about as much media representation of PoC as there is now and it didn't matter. I loved bikes. I loved riding.

And that was enough. But I came from a very privileged place with parents who could afford to indulge my passion, a local shop with a welcoming community and some good spots to ride. In a more urban environment with different means I probably would have gravitated to some other non-team activity. Who knows? Maybe in another life where I wasn't 6'6" I'd be a skateboarder or riding BMX. There is a much deeper representation of PoC in those activities.

I don't know why the cultural makeup of mountain biking isn't keeping pace with the growth of the sport. The gear and culture has evolved to a place where there are lots of inviting entry points into the sport for all kinds of users (just look at the uptick in kids and women out on the trails!). But that doesn't seem to be as true for PoC. The crust bike/bikepacking scene (like on theradavist.com) seems to reflect a much broader representation of gender identity but I don't know why.


On one hand, I'm amused by their surprise that I have an encyclopedic knowledge of mountain bike esoterica and riding culture but on the other hand, I'm deeply disappointed. This is Vancouver. It should be assumed that we're all bike nerds.
Alex Sinanan by Deniz Merdano5.jpg

Are the barriers put up by those of us who participate now? Those who hold the most influence?

Good question. I've been at this for so long that I wouldn't be dissuaded by anyone's explicit or implicit efforts. Maybe the lack of role models would be a more powerful detractor to a younger or more impressionable person. There are plenty of incredible female pro riders and thanks to a concerted effort over recent years to showcase them the trickle-down effect is clear to see. Look at a Squamish parking area or the base of the WBP on a summer weekend: women of all ages are riding hard. Women charging hard in mountain bike media is reflected in the culture. But that is barely happening for PoC. How many pro PoC riders can you name? When was the last time you saw a video edit from a PoC?

Are there any bright spots you've noticed? Is anything positive happening at all?

Women! There are so many more women out there riding hard than ever before. Women I know who were previously intimidated by the sport are starting to join in. I think it's a combination of better fitting more versatile bikes, better clothing (in less condescending colour options), more community support and a wider range of trails for new riders to progress on. Trailforks and public signage help a lot too.

Better bikes and equipment have really opened the door for new people to join the sport, combined with the remarkable array of clubs, courses and clinics available. Getting women and kids involved proved to be a great way to grow the sport. It's just a matter of time for everyone else.

Alex Sinanan by Deniz Merdano6.jpg

Is there a situation as a mountain biker where you feel discrimination based on gender, sexual orientation or race is particularly egregious?

I'm 6'6" so I complain about the challenges of bike fit a lot but I have a great bike now so I'm happy. Size-specific chainstays and steeper seat angles are finally here. It's nice to see a few companies realizing that bikes at these prices should be optimized for each size rather than just M-L and everyone else having to make do.

But to your actual question: to encounter a big brown guy on a huge bike can be an intimidating sight. It would be easy to interpret some of the interactions I've had as racially motivated but if I saw me coming down the trail at speed I'd be caught off guard as well. We are all stewards of the sport so I do my best to be extra friendly and courteous to anyone I encounter on the trail. I do feel like I have to go out of my way to make non-racialized trail users comfortable, as if the burden of proof is on me to prove that I'm harmless and I deserve to be there. Since there are so few PoC out on the trails I need their interactions with me to be positive.

Alex Sinanan by Deniz Merdano7.jpg


We want to thank Alex for agreeing to answer some questions and sharing some of his experiences with us. This is the second of many profiles and stories we plan to publish about BIPOC members of our riding community and, yes, we are also working on doing more to highlight the experiences, achievements, and stories of women and members of the LGBTQ riding community as well. We want all riders (and future riders) to feel welcome and embraced, but we acknowledge the need to do more than we have in the past to help you be seen and heard. We're working hard on that, but we'd love to hear from you if you have a story to tell, or if you know someone whose story you think would be interesting to our readers. Please feel free to reach out to us with suggestions: pete at nsmb.com, or cam at nsmb.com are great places to start, but you can also contact us via DM on our social channels if that's more your style.

If you haven't yet read last week's interview with Sanesh Iyer, we'd love it if you did. And we welcome your comments below, but please keep it civil. We will be actively moderating the discussion and eliminating hateful or intolerant posts. Please keep an open mind and treat this as an opportunity to learn something - it's certainly working out that way for us.

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Comments

ham-bobet
+7 Paul Stuart Pete Roggeman Rick M meloroast Craig Wu Cooper Quinn Cr4w
hambobet  - Feb. 25, 2021, 6:01 a.m.

Thanks for sharing Alex! Interesting point about PoC within skateboarding, vs MTB, but also vice-versa is the lack of representation of women in skateboarding vs Mtb - it's starting to change now, but as a relative newbie to MTB, I was immediately impressed with the level of coverage and standard of females partaking in the sport. Hopefully both sports balance out their respective diversity issues soon - and in the meantime, this is an awesome video of the progress skateboarding is finally making (LGBQT focussed but a great watch none the less!)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kqD4xfNwd6k

Reply

gdharries
+7 Paul Stuart Pete Roggeman Andrew Major Rick M meloroast goose8 Cooper Quinn
Geof Harries  - Feb. 25, 2021, 6:05 a.m.

Thanks for sharing your story, Alex.

As a middle-aged white male I need to do my part to ensure people who don't look like me are not only accepted, but welcomed in cycling. This continues to be a challenge if you're not shown the way (speaking of role models).

That said, I am in awe of the positive changes that have been happening in our sport as of late, as Alex highlights. But, we can do so much more!

Also, It feels shallow but as a fellow big guy I'd sure like to see a bike check.

Reply

mrbrett
+3 Rick M meloroast goose8
mrbrett  - Feb. 25, 2021, 6:57 a.m.

Excellent series, thanks for sharing.

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cooperquinn
+3 meloroast Pete Roggeman Sanesh Iyer
Cooper Quinn  - Feb. 25, 2021, 8:05 a.m.

Thanks Alex - good to hear your perspective here. More voices is more better. And thanks to NSMB for continuing to host these conversations; they give me lots to think on. Hopefully these resonate with other folks as well. 

Alex, as an aside, I wonder as a man of your stature... do you have any strong feelings on ESTA?

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cooperquinn
+7 Sanesh Iyer meloroast Velocipedestrian Niels Pete Roggeman Cr4w Andrew Major
Cooper Quinn  - Feb. 25, 2021, 11:13 a.m.

As an add on, and anecdote. 

The first time I met Alex was after a mutual acquaintance said we'd get along, and that he was a tattooed brown guy. 

A couple weeks later, I see a tattooed brown guy on Old Buck. "You must be Alex." And it was! 

Meanwhile, at mountain bike events my partner of 10+ years will call my cell, unable to find me, because I look like 99% of people there. 

Alex's experience is very different. Its worth thinking about why that is, and listening to other perspectives like his.

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meloroast
+7 Sanesh Iyer Cooper Quinn Velocipedestrian Pete Roggeman Grif Cr4w Andrew Major
meloroast  - Feb. 25, 2021, 11:22 a.m.

Haha classic. I passed a mom and her little shredder girl going up Mtn Hwy last year and she said "Oh we just saw your doc this weekend! You're so great!" 

She mistook me for Brooklyn Bell. I mean, look, i'm honoured...but they didn't mistake me for her because of my riding skills! 

It's fine, it happens, this isn't my first rodeo. But ya, feelings.

Reply

enduroExpert78
+3 Pete Roggeman meloroast Mark
Rick M  - Feb. 25, 2021, 8:09 a.m.

I've been dedicating time and energy to understanding the struggles BIPOC people are facing everyday as I have been ignorant too long. Reading these stories encourages me to continue reaching out to gain not just awareness, but to learn to change my perspective so I can motivate others to do the same.

Reply

deleted_user_8375
+3 Cooper Quinn Cr4w meloroast
[user profile deleted]  - Feb. 25, 2021, 8:13 a.m.

This comment has been removed.

meloroast
+8 Pete Roggeman Cooper Quinn Sanesh Iyer goose8 Sweaman2 Cr4w Karin Grubb Andrew Major
meloroast  - Feb. 25, 2021, 8:24 a.m.

Another great profile thanks Alex!
This particular sentence is good food for thought: "Since there are so few PoC out on the trails I need their interactions with me to be positive."

I'm not sure people understand what this means for the person taking on this responsibility...it means you have to be "on" and smiling and welcoming! A defacto ambassador for your race instead of just enjoying your ride. I think this is especially true for black men who are notoriously profiled and stereotyped.
I'm sure some will say Alex doesn't HAVE to take on that responsibility but it's pretty loaded and complex position to find one self in when you are a minority and that minority group tends to have some negative stereotypes associated with it. When there is little representation, there is an inherent responsibility, whether you like it or not, to counter those stereotypes. I'm not saying this is bad... being a nice, positive person is great. But having to think about how people view you as you live your life is tiring and a bit of a mind f*ck tbh. 

Thanks NSMB for just putting different perspectives out there. But I'd also love to see this direction merge into articles where the focus isn't explicitly about race/sex etc. e.g., given Alex's experience and gear-nerd status, i'd love to see him contribute to those types of articles in the Andrew Major style (assuming he'd be interested). 

Thanks again! I'm now going to force myself not to read the comments...

Reply

pete@nsmb.com
+5 meloroast Sanesh Iyer Andrew Major goose8 Cr4w
Pete Roggeman  - Feb. 25, 2021, 8:39 a.m.

Good thoughts, meloroast. And yes, we will absolutely be focusing future articles from and about dudes (edit: not just dudes, also women) like Alex not simply on experiences and issues but on editorial, gear, reviews, and other work. I'm sure Greg isn't the only one who'd like to know more about Alex's Geometron, and we're also hoping to check out some of Navas Lab Apparel's clothing in the future.

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meloroast
0
meloroast  - Feb. 25, 2021, 8:50 a.m.

This comment has been removed.

meloroast
+2 Pete Roggeman Sanesh Iyer
meloroast  - Feb. 25, 2021, 8:58 a.m.

Good to hear Pete! I know for me it's important to feel like I have something to contribute beyond my skin colour and gonads (things I had no control over). Doesn't diminish the need to talk about those experiences, but it's just a part of it.

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pete@nsmb.com
+2 Sanesh Iyer meloroast
Pete Roggeman  - Feb. 25, 2021, 9:01 a.m.

Thanks for saying so and rest assured we realize that, too!

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craw
+9 Cooper Quinn JVP Poz Pete Roggeman Mammal AJ Barlas Andrew Major Niels meloroast
Cr4w  - Feb. 25, 2021, 11:32 a.m.

I'm sure you guys have mostly figured out that I'm Alex. I'm open to writing/sharing/covering more. This was fun to explore.

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cooperquinn
+3 Cr4w Andrew Major meloroast
Cooper Quinn  - Feb. 25, 2021, 12:09 p.m.

DO A BIKE CHECK ON YOUR WHOLE FLEET NEXT.

JVP
+1 meloroast
JVP  - Feb. 25, 2021, 12:41 p.m.

Hadn't figured it out (because I'm dense?). It's cool seeing regular commenters featured!

Poz
+1 Andrew Major
Poz  - Feb. 25, 2021, 1:34 p.m.

I figured it out based on your strong comments on taller riders. Then I saw you had a geometrion with a helm in the photo and clued it together. I ended up getting an MK2 helm based partly on your feedback actually.

deleted_user_8375
-2 Grif meloroast
[user profile deleted]  - Feb. 25, 2021, 12:11 p.m.

This comment has been removed.

cooperquinn
+2 Cr4w meloroast
Cooper Quinn  - Feb. 25, 2021, 1:27 p.m.

"i probably pay more attention to the person's bike, dress and look of general athleticism than anything else."

I'm definitely not scolding, but this sounds like a list of things you do judge people on, even if just internally. And, its things that new riders, or economically disadvantaged riders, may not have dialed. 

Just food for thought.

Reply

deleted_user_8375
-1 Dustin Meyer
[user profile deleted]  - Feb. 25, 2021, 2:30 p.m.

This comment has been removed.

craw
+7 Niels Velocipedestrian meloroast Dustin Meyer Cooper Quinn Sanesh Iyer Poz
Cr4w  - Feb. 25, 2021, 4:31 p.m.

If you've never been "other" in a situation it might be hard to understand why it feels necessary to placate your surroundings the way I described.

Reply

Distrakted
+2 Cooper Quinn Pete Roggeman
Distrakted  - Feb. 25, 2021, 9:19 p.m.

You nailed it. Myself being part of the LGBTQ community, I know the feeling.

syncro
0
Mark  - Feb. 26, 2021, 7:40 p.m.

James I think it's good that you're willing to express your doubts  and concerns - so you shouldn't be scolded for it. Like Cr4w say below, it's hard to appreciate when you aren't "othered" or aren't part of the dominant group in society. In terms of Alex taking on responsibility, I think a lot of that comes down to how people make both conscious and unconscious associations when they have an experience and how their previously established biases affect those associations.

As a simple example consider someone who makes their first visit to a fairly unique ethnic restaurant that is their first interaction with that type of food. If their experience is good they will be more likely to consider that type of food as being good and be interested in eating it again. However, if their experience is not good they may be more likely to consider that type of food as not good and not be interested in eating it again. The problem is that they are making a judgement of an entire style of food based on one unique interaction that has many variables that determines whether the food was good. Their single and unique experience from that one occasion should not serve as a reference to that type of food in general.

In a similar manner, Alex has to consider how his interactions with people on the trail may influence their future perceptions with people that look like him. The fact that he is an imposing figure due to his physical size only heightens that consideration. He has to take greater consideration for his actions simply because he is unique and people are more likely to associate their experience with him due to his physical uniqueness rather than his whole identity as a person.

Reply

Poz
+5 Pete Roggeman meloroast goose8 Craig Wu Velocipedestrian
Poz  - Feb. 25, 2021, 8:36 a.m.

Another reason I’ve frequented this site since the early days, articles like this. 

Thanks for sharing Alex. Well written and insightful. Agreed an article on your gear nerd status would be good - you’ve always chimed in on the forum with some useful insights for some of us taller guys that don’t fit the typical mould of this industry.

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sanesh-iyer
+6 Pete Roggeman goose8 meloroast Cr4w Doug M. Deniz Merdano
Sanesh Iyer  - Feb. 25, 2021, 9:49 a.m.

Thanks for sharing Alex! 

I too, would love to see a bike check on that Geometron and hear some stories about what has and hasn't worked for you. I remember your gear always looking well ridden when you came into the shop. I'd also be super down to know what's in your backpack. You don't see people carrying whistles much these days, and we really all should be.

Reply

craw
+5 Deniz Merdano Pete Roggeman Andrew Major meloroast Sanesh Iyer
Cr4w  - Feb. 25, 2021, 11:37 a.m.

Totally. I prefer to ride with a pack - I find I drink way more water that way. My Osprey Raptor 14 pack is so comfortable that no other option has even come close for short rides or long. It's super light even compared to much small packs so may as well have the extra room. Overstuffing a waist pack doesn't make any sense to me.

TBH I don't carry that much in it. Water, a tube, a Oneup pump/tool/baconstabber and a first aid kit (in particular a triangle bandage and a SAM splint - which together cover a huge range of injuries). When Mark Wood had his big fall while riding alone he said one thing he'd change moving forward was to keep his phone in his front shorts pocket so he could reach it at all times. Same with the whistle.

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AndrewMajor
+1 Poz
Andrew Major  - Feb. 25, 2021, 5:50 p.m.

One of the things I love about my Chase Protector vest is the front cellphone chest pocket. I also love how the back protector separates my back from my sh*t.

Interesting point on the water. I was pretty good at emptying my bottles until I started wearing a full face all the time. Now I don’t drink enough and putting water back on my back with a hose would probably fix that.

Great work on the interview too!

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DanL
0
DanL  - Feb. 26, 2021, 8:38 a.m.

Same here, I'm considering a hockey tube add on for the waterbottles

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sanesh-iyer
0
Sanesh Iyer  - Feb. 26, 2021, 10:44 p.m.

Awesome! That makes sense about the water. I usually carry a bottle and both iodine and aquatabs. On long rides I'll fill it a couple times. The iodine is great for sanitizing water quickly to flush out bigger gashes. 

Front pocket phone is a must. I'm going to reconsider my whistle carrying... I'd like to figure out a good way to do it packless but still on me. Maybe it's just an elastic wrist or upper arm strap.

That's commitment carrying a Sam splint on every ride. If you're wearing a pack may as well (and it should be a good enough reason to wear a pack). When I was guiding or now when I'm doing gnarlier days where I wear a pack that's there for sure. I've used my pump and gorrilla tape to splint a couple injuries with good success but... Well it's not ideal. Do you carry abdominal pads as well? I usually have 2 or 3 on me. I find their my most used item. Pretty flexible item. 

One of the reasons I prefer fall and spring riding is the massive pockets on my jacket make packless way easier. Maybe it's time I consider a riding vest again.

Reply

jgb1
+1 sept-huit
jgb1  - Feb. 28, 2021, 8:44 a.m.

I do quite a lot of work with various races (on-course medical) pre-covid, and would be happy to share with you (or anyone) what I deem to be essential carry items from a medical perspective.  However, it would seem to me, based on your comments, you've got a decent handle on it.

More importantly, these articles have been a refreshing change from the usual mtb content. Rider perspectives, especially in the areas or race and representation, help all of us become more aware of the struggles our brothers and sisters face daily - and hopefully we can lend our voices/actions to making everyone feel more included.

We all have a part to play  - lets continue to strive for more inclusion.

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denomerdano
+5 Pete Roggeman Cooper Quinn goose8 Cr4w meloroast
Deniz Merdano  - Feb. 25, 2021, 10:06 a.m.

What we missed out on was a photo of Alex and I together with our bikes.

I'm 5'9" on a good day.

I'm glad you managed to take that geometron around the switchback and taking the time to ride with me! 

"Not bad for a human" 

Love the shirt too...

Reply

craw
+5 Deniz Merdano Pete Roggeman Mammal AJ Barlas Andrew Major
Cr4w  - Feb. 25, 2021, 11:38 a.m.

Representatives from Longbikeistan have a duty to make all switchbacks or suffer eternal shame.

Reply

theaeriopagite
+6 Sanesh Iyer Pete Roggeman Mammal Deniz Merdano Cr4w meloroast
theaeriopagite  - Feb. 25, 2021, 11:29 a.m.

Can confirm, Alex shreds and has always had really cool boutique rides

Mount Doug, Victoria circa 2000

Reply

theaeriopagite
0
theaeriopagite  - Feb. 25, 2021, 11:32 a.m.

Hmm, photo link doesn’t appear to work :(

Reply

niels@nsmb.com
+2 Cooper Quinn theaeriopagite
Niels  - Feb. 25, 2021, 1:42 p.m.

I fixed the photo

Reply

xy9ine
+1 Deniz Merdano
Perry Schebel  - Feb. 25, 2021, 3:15 p.m.

mount doug beach drop? doug was my nearly daily loop back in my uvic days.

Reply

pete@nsmb.com
+1 Deniz Merdano
Pete Roggeman  - Feb. 25, 2021, 2:11 p.m.

There are so many cool and interesting things going on in that photo...Roach pants! Giro Switchblade (?), the Super T...also based on where Alex's eyes are pointed, I'd say he's carrying speed into that drop, not just plopping it.

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mammal
+1 Deniz Merdano
Mammal  - Feb. 25, 2021, 2:31 p.m.

Black stanchion Super T?? What the heck?

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AJ_Barlas
+2 Andrew Major Mammal
AJ Barlas  - Feb. 25, 2021, 3:58 p.m.

Looks like a Stratos!?

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craw
+4 Pete Roggeman Andrew Major Mammal AJ Barlas
Cr4w  - Feb. 25, 2021, 4:05 p.m.

It was a Stratos MX6. Shortly after this photo was taken they sent me some prototype crowns to try which sheared clean off on a 5' static wheelie drop. That broken fork also killed the Switchblade helmet pictured above when I hit the ground with my face. That was the last time I had anything to do with Stratos. Maybe 2001?

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pete@nsmb.com
0
Pete Roggeman  - Feb. 25, 2021, 4:20 p.m.

Oh, good eye. I was looking at the graphics on the lowers which, when combined with the silver, looked like Marz livery from about 2002.

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craw
0
Cr4w  - Feb. 25, 2021, 4:02 p.m.

RFX!!

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sticko
0
sticko  - Feb. 25, 2021, 2:48 p.m.

In other news, I was staring at, what I think was, your bike today in LVB. That thing looks pretty sweet and your 6'6" stature makes much sense of what I was looking at! That thing is a beast.

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werewolflotion
+4 Cr4w Pete Roggeman Niels hardtailhersh
werewolflotion  - Feb. 25, 2021, 3:35 p.m.

Thanks for sharing your experiences and perspective. I hope to see more of these articles in the future and it sounds like I will. I enjoy rider profiles in general, but especially from your unknown locals who love the sport and lead interesting lives and even more so from the underrepresented.

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pete@nsmb.com
+5 Cr4w Andrew Major Mammal AJ Barlas Sanesh Iyer
Pete Roggeman  - Feb. 25, 2021, 4:24 p.m.

Way, way, WAY back in time (2001, 2, and 3, maybe a little later) we had a series called 'Bros not Pros' which profiled local personalities. We're long overdue to bring back something along those lines (ah yeah, with a new title).

Oh, don't worry, in our infinite wisdom, we also dedicated some online column-inches to the female riders of the time with the unfortunately named 'Chicks not Dicks' (yeah, that was a long time ago and we regret that). Anyway, main point is that now there are infinitely more interesting and varied people riding bikes here on the shore and in other areas close by, and that means lots of opportunities for good content about people and their relationship with bikes, riding, trails, etc.

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Distrakted
+5 AJ Barlas Cooper Quinn Pete Roggeman hardtailhersh sept-huit
Distrakted  - Feb. 25, 2021, 9:12 p.m.

Hats off to NSMB for this content. I feel like the users here have a higher level of social and emotional intelligence than I have encountered on other MTB sites. For example, about a year ago another popular site posted a video of a bunch of White riders dressed in dreadlock wigs and stereotypical "Rasta" clothing riding in South Africa of all places. I made a comment suggesting that everyone step back and look of the optics of what was depicted in the video. Holy crap, users freaked out and downvoted everything I commented on for like two months, not that I give two $hits. I wasn't personally hurt but I was disappointed that this sport is filled with racist xenophobic people.

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hardtailhersh
+3 Pete Roggeman Sanesh Iyer sept-huit
hardtailhersh  - Feb. 26, 2021, 6:39 p.m.

i love these poc articles thank u nsmb.

with another beautiful article of "getting to know you" comes the face-slapping realism provided by bigoted rock-dwellers that put a shame to the mountain bike community by bringing their stupid racist voice to remind us that there are still people that take pride in going out of their way to belittle and inconvenience other human beings. 

Sincerely,

A local brown shit-skinned terrorist mountain biker, inherently instilling fear into fragile bigoted minds by just existing.

ps: i shouldn't be faster than you on my hardtail, don't be racist AND slow.. with your 7,000 dollar science bike.

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eh-cee
+3 hardtailhersh sept-huit Pete Roggeman
eh-cee  - March 1, 2021, 10:59 p.m.

Thank you for these articles. I am a serial lurker on these sites and normally stay quiet, but I do want to say that these conversations can encourage us to create a space in our minds to think about some of the inherent biases we might have, and help create a shift in the community to become more inclusive.

Alex’s experience of “non overt” racism is what tipped me to write, because as an Chinese-Canadian that lives on the north shore and frequents the local trails, I have unfortunately had similar experiences on the trail - one as recently as this past weekend. The most recent interaction began with a scan of my bike, the outfit (typical mtb attire), and then my face. At this point I smiled and said hello, but my greeting was met with a skeptical raised eyebrow a look away, as if to avoid the situation. This person wasn’t the socially awkward type as he seemed perfectly capable of carrying a conversation with his buddy. But it made me think, “huh” for a moment. I was truly baffled about this interaction. I wasn’t sure what to make of it at first, and for all I know It could be that I’m a bit more sensitive about the topic given the coverage it has been getting lately. Regardless, I have noticed a shift - however empirical my data might be.

To me, Alex’s interview highlights one very important thing: that he’s just a normal (albeit a giant) human being with ambitions and experiences just like the rest of us. Growing up surrounded by these racial biases (or in his case, having slurs hurled at you in your youth) can be an isolating experience and can put up invisible barriers to all sorts of things including mountain biking. I do have to admit that some of these barriers are cultural - mountain biking wasn’t even on the radar to my family until I got an interest in it from a friend. However, entering a sport that is culturally less diverse than something like soccer can be a challenge especially if your life experiences have already shaped you to expect a less than desirable outcome. 

The forces at play that may prevent a newcomer of a visible minority into the sport are invisible. For those who didn’t grow up in those shoes, it’s easy to forget that this thing that we do and love isn’t actually all that accessible to begin with. Whether it’s racial, financial, cultural, or however you want to spin it - mountain biking is a very privileged activity. I often take mountain biking for granted, and 99.99999% of my interactions with trail homies have been absolutely amazing and positive, but given this focus on diversity, and my more recent experience here on the North Shore - it’s a great opportunity to create some mental space to be more empathetic towards the more diverse riders in our little community.

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tripsforkidsvancouver
+1 Pete Roggeman
tripsforkidsvancouver  - March 2, 2021, 1:10 p.m.

Thank you Alex! First post under this identify but this is Andre from Trips for Kids Vancouver Society a.k.a. the guy keeping Vancouver's original youth MTB charity barely alive all these years. I need people to help keep TFK going and we're looking to expand and diversify the board in 2020. It is currently basically me and Jamie Houssian (from the Collective Films).

I've been doing the local fiver races for what - 6 years and have always been conscious that participants are perhaps 90% white even in multicultural Vancouver. I've looked at TFKV's stats and since 2001, we have taken over 4000 Vancouver youth with barriers mountain biking FOR FREE roughly split 36% white, 33% Aisan/MESA, 18% First Nations, 8% Latin American, 4% black. Our stats are not exact, we don't ask participants, but the message is clear - TFK has been diversifying the trails since 2001!

Anyways - if 2020 has impacted you please reach out with how you can help as I have bitten off more than I can chew and have another idea to spearhead a much needed VORCA (think SORCA/WORCA but to keep access for bikes to Stanley Park and Pacific Spirit Park in Vancouver).

PM me, spread the word, we can connect by email!

P.S. I'm 6"3 and lanky and definitely gonna support Navas. Thank you Alex!

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Vikb
+1 Pete Roggeman
Vik Banerjee  - March 4, 2021, 7:29 a.m.

Thanks for another article about folks who are not represented in mainstream MTB media much. It's well worth the effort to diversify how we represent the MTB community to the world. Especially if we want more people from different parts of society to participate in our sport. Actually seeing yourself represented on a MTB website [occasionally] is a huge step for a lot segments in society and leads to people feeling like I can do that as well and I would be welcomed. 

I've read some negative comments online about bike related websites and social media channels that are putting some focus on diversity and I think it's funny/sad because even with some good faith efforts from folks like NSMB....mountain biking media is still 90% fit white dudes on bikes and 8.5% fit white ladies on bikes. It's crazy how fragile people's worldviews are when increasing diversity a fraction makes people feel scared/vulnerable enough they have to lash out.

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tripsforkidsvancouver
0
tripsforkidsvancouver  - March 4, 2021, 7:44 a.m.

Vik - as a "white dude" growing up in Vancouver attending schools with 50% Asian/MESA populations and half of my childhood Vancouver friends in mixed marriages with mixed kids I couldn't agree more! Cycling scene in general including road and CX does not reflect Metro Vancouver. I've always thought a big part of it is cultural too and it is generally the second generation Canadians who grew up here who are getting into outdoor sports and they don't have the benefit of outdoorsy parents pushing them into outdoor activities. That is different than the lack-of-representation point of course but food for thought.

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