Running Roughshod

Words Dave Tolnai
Date Jul 12, 2016

Hey Uncle Dave,

As per usual, I spent my morning poring over various mountain bike websites, watching the latest and greatest videos.  This morning was especially exciting as a few sites featured a new short film from *redacted* called *redacted*.  As you previously mentioned, *redacted* is *redacted*, and he begins the film by saying *redacted* before proceeding to unleash all manner of mayhem and glory.

BUT…

We have a problem.  In many parts of the world, mountain bikers are fighting a mostly losing battle over trails access.  IMBA and the STC are (finally) working together to show how responsible and sustainable our sport can be, and a single freeride video goes and throws that image out the window.  If I were someone like the Skull Saboteur, I’d just point to *redacted*’s new video as evidence of our reckless disregard for nature.

Clearly not every rider rips freeride (or any type of ride) like *redacted*, but his videos, and those like it do inspire us.  All it takes is one or two copycats, kids who spy a sick off trail line, or someone who just doesn’t know better.  Their actions could have significant ramifications for all the rest of us in this amazing sport.

Now I’m looking forward to the next big freeride videos like ‘Where The Trail Ends 2’, as much as anyone, but I’m concerned.  What is the role for freeride in the future of mountain biking, if it is so clearly at odds with the overall struggle to ride that we face?

Sorry for shit disturbing


Dear Sauce:

I wrote an answer to your question.  And then we all talked about it.  And we realized that it might be counterproductive to call out a particular rider or video.  There’s something kind of sketchy going on in nearly every video ever created that involves somebody riding a bike down a hill made of dirt.  Maybe it takes place on an unsanctioned trail.  Maybe it shows somebody schralping the shit out of a berm.  Or maybe it shows somebody running over trees in the wilderness somewhere (ahem).  If we scapegoat this particular video we might convince ourselves that this is an isolated problem.  So, apologies for the censorship of your letter and of the answer, but I’d like to speak about this in more general terms.  And I’m too lazy to re-write the whole thing.  And we should all probably start getting used to more and more censorship as we careen towards Donald Trump’s America.  So on with the subtly altered answer.
We will start by explaining the situation with a little more detail.  First, here is a link to the video that is referred to *link redacted*.  In it, *redacted* spends some time bombing his way through the remnants of a *redacted* while doing his best to *redacted*.  I have no idea how the camera shots keep up with him on his totally random and un-staged line choices, but they manage somehow.  The end result is a unique video that allows us to waste a few minutes at work while helping *redacted* move a few *redacted*.  Everybody wins.

I did not have the benefit of viewing this video before I read your letter so I’m not sure how I would have reacted without your outside influence on my opinion.  But with your thoughts in the back of my head as I watched, I couldn’t help but agree with you.

And I can already hear the critics (or the critics of the critics, in this case).  I get that this video largely takes place amongst *redacted*, and it’s hard to worry about the impacts of a single set of bike tires in the shadow of so much devastation.  Within a few weeks of filming you would probably be hard pressed to find much, if any, evidence that anything took place.

But…Still…We have what amounts to a video of a mountain biker running over *redacted* in order to move product for a giant conglomerate with a somewhat shady history of questionable business practices and giving a shit about people.  This is far from the most egregious example of filming being done with little to no regard for the environment or surroundings.  But if this is what we get when a professional film crew is working in an official capacity on what is basically a glorified commercial, why are we surprised when some yokels go out and do something far worse which results in lasting damage?  Why does “progression” require noticeable impacts on the environment?  We’ve become a sport that thinks nothing of carving huge lines across picturesque landscapes in the name of “sick edits” and nobody really seems to think anything of it.

So, I think you are right to raise your hand and ask the question. Is this okay? Is it acceptable to build or do whatever you want, wherever you want, just because you’re shooting a bike video?  Where’s the line and when is it crossed?  We’ve always been a band of renegades, but maybe our sport is large enough now that we can’t necessarily do whatever the hell we want?  I’m not pretending to have the answers to these questions.  I’m not even really all that sure what to think about it.  I just know that sometimes when I watch these videos some of these thoughts float through my mind.

I think a fair place to start would be with videos like this, where a professional rider and film company are creating content specifically for a sponsor.  Personally, I want to support companies that take trail access seriously, and any company that claims to do so should be able to answer questions about the impacts of their riders during the creation of promotional material.  This could easily be tacked on to the credits.  Was it a sanctioned trail?  Did it take place on public or private property?  Was there any remediation done?  Did the company contribute to trail maintenance in the area?  If these aren’t the people to set an example for the rest of us, who is?

Sorry,
Uncle Dave


Got a good question for Uncle Dave? You could win a great prize – like these Raceface Atlas Pedals.

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Comments

nat-brown
0
Nat Brown  - July 13, 2016, 9:25 a.m.

Nice to see a more substantial issue discussed here again. Uncle Dave does a good job of these.

Most of the comments here seem focussed on the message being communicated, to governments and the broader public, and how it doesn't effectively represent most of MTB. Fair enough and I'd say that there's a crisis of miscommunication broadly affecting society, but what about the actions themselves? I might not trash trails and the environment much, but how many do? Representative of us all or not, it's a problem when folks trash stuff. How prevalent is this? And what about defining reasonable expectations around this.

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slimshady76
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Luix  - July 13, 2016, 9:20 a.m.

This isn't solely a MTB specific situation. As an example: I come from a small town, where skateboarding wasn't really developed. I started it back in the 80s along with maybe other 10 guys, after watching a couple of films and taking a trip to a bigger town to buy the equipment. Then when I turned 18 I moved out, left the board behind and started biking.
A few years ago I went back to my hometown and found out the younger son of a friend got stung by the skateboarding bug, so I started chatting with him about it. He told me the hardest part of it all for him and his friends was replacing the decks since they were breaking too fast. I asked him how did they managed to break so many decks so fast, and then he told me they used to cheer when someone pulled a new trick by banging the decks against the street/curb. When I asked him where did they get that from, he showed me some videos where all the pros did it.
Taking into account those youngsters didn't understand English, so they merely tried to copy what they saw in those videos, one can surely understand how rookies get pushed into imitating what most videos show as "cool" or "rad" (is that word still a thing?).

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slimshady76
0
Luix  - July 12, 2016, 6:25 p.m.

I posted something to this article early in the morning and Disqus decided It was spam. Could you guys look into It?

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pete@nsmb.com
0
Pete Roggeman  - July 13, 2016, 9:17 a.m.

Hey Luix,
There's no real way for us to see what comments Disqus doesn't let through. Since you comment here often, that's quite strange. Might have been a string of words that you used that confused the matrix.

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slimshady76
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Luix  - July 13, 2016, 9:19 a.m.

Thanks Pete, I kinda figured out that would be the outcome. I'll try to post my comment again and see if it makes thru this time.

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extraspecialandbitter
0
ExtraSpecialandBitter  - July 12, 2016, 5:55 p.m.

It's not only mountain biking… Just look at this irresponsible hiker destroying nature!

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qduffy
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qduffy  - July 12, 2016, 7:36 p.m.

Great. 1000fps ballsack. Thanks technology.

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dj
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DJ  - July 12, 2016, 9:55 p.m.

that is some ghey euro tripe if i ever did see i tell you what….

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penney-isme
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Penney Isme  - July 16, 2016, 10:01 p.m.

lol , This is bad for all the runners who just want to go out for a run in a nice park.. or go for a run to get some milk for the fam.. I see street closures in the near future if this keeps up.. And somebody shoot that deer .. We wouldn't want premature hoodoo's..

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JulieT
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ashroadadam1 .  - July 12, 2016, 11:29 a.m.

All that wreckless horse-chasing is going to bring PETA down on us and MTB will be outlawed!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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walleater
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walleater  - July 12, 2016, 8:50 p.m.

Half of me hopes that this will happen ha ha…. That scene was pretty childish.

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andy-eunson
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Andy Eunson  - July 12, 2016, 11:05 a.m.

Agreed. Riders doing cuties and other wiggly stuff make us all look like rapers of the land to non riders. To my eyes the superfluous stuff looks a little contrived. I like to riders going just as fast but smooth. I think it is harder to ride fast and clean. Like skier that side slips and slides his skis down a run. Who cares. Anyone can do that. Do it with clean carves, ride it with clean lines and little skidded turns. That impresses me.

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david-mills
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David Mills  - July 12, 2016, 8:24 a.m.

As someone who regularly works with municipal and provincial governments on trail projects, I know the rippin' and schralpin' that goes on in MTB videos has had a negative effect on some decision makers. Insurance risk management types are likely chilled to the bone watching mountain bikers huck their meat and ride lines that look like they need a belay station. Google "mountain bike jump" and you're going to get to a edbul ampag crash reel fairly quickly. It might sell bikes and body armour, but it does not help us get new trails and bike parks built.

We riders know that the videos/ads don't represent reality for 99% of us, but a non-riding government worker assessing the risk of a couple of pump tracks or the potential impact of a green climbing trail doesn't necessarily know this. Or maybe they do know, but want an excuse to refuse the project. In any event, much of the available imagery featuring mountain biking makes it look far more gnarly than it actually is. The perceived risk doesn't do us any favours when it comes to getting projects approved.

I don't know what the answer is. More mountain bikers in government? Actually, that would totally help, but until it happens, maybe we should make a Sweet Edit that highlights moderate speeds, stopping and saying friendly things to passing hikers, and paying a trail building org's GL insurance premiums on time. No VOD, but it might help get us more trail to ride.

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nat-brown
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Nat Brown  - July 13, 2016, 9:59 a.m.

The acceptable standard for understanding in governments is typically far too low. That's a big part of the problem. Do some real research FFS.

Self-interest is another major problem, and one that I don't think would be really solved by putting more riders in government. How many decisions are made because it will perpetuate their power? How many people in government have a big picture plan that is 30 years is scope? How about 300?

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erasmus
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Erasmus  - July 12, 2016, 6:28 a.m.

Hi Uncle Dave!
Thanks so much for answering my question. I really hope I haven't started a war over this, but as a trail builder with trail built in government areas (with permission) I've been worrying about where we can and can't ride lately and whats to come.
I also think redacting things was the right decision, because it wasn't my intent to attack a single company, or rider or type of terrain, but rather raise the question of some of the side effects of our sport and how that's viewed by other people.
I certainly don't have any answers to this question myself, but I'd like to hear other peoples thoughts. So thank you so much.

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skyler
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Skyler  - July 12, 2016, 1:50 p.m.

I would take your question one step further, Erasmus. First, I think there is an important distinction between "gravity riding", where all the literal physical work (i.e. going uphill) is done by motor - truck, chairlift, or helicopter - and the sport of mountain biking that people would like to do in Wilderness Areas and elsewhere - a self-propelled version of a similar sport.

Mountain bike media is completely focused on DH racing, and events like Rampage and Crankworx. These are motor sports. Motors get the riders up the mountain so they can blow sh*t up and carve trenches in a landscape on the way down. If that what the public thinks that's the definition of mountain biking, no wonder there is resistance to increasing trail access. Should normal mountain bikers, who want to pedal on quiet, durable singletrack, try to distance their version of the sport from the motorized version?

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uncle duke  - July 12, 2016, 6:06 a.m.

redacted = lame sauce 100

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cam@nsmb.com
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Cam McRae  - July 12, 2016, 7:34 a.m.

Or maybe it was just the right call - as the letter writer himself attests.

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cooper
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Cooper Quinn  - July 12, 2016, 10:25 a.m.

A) It'll take 10 seconds to figure out what video sparked all this, if you're curious.
B) As Dave points out… its a wider issue than one video.

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dj
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DJ  - July 13, 2016, 6:16 p.m.

can tell, wot is the offending vid.

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uncle duke  - July 13, 2016, 6:14 a.m.

my comments are getting deleted here..

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