So its been awhile since i’ve done one of these, but last night I came across something in a dusty copy of Singletrack Magazine that made sense and added a little post script to one particular controversial column I wrote a while back.So the piece appeared in Dirt Magazine in issue 82 which would of come out around December 2008 and was titled ‘Lets spit some passion’.
Read the bloody piece for yourself and you can wrongly make up your mind about what I was trying to say. Thats what alot of readers of Dirt Magazine did. Seriously, Dirt Mag has always been the more ‘core’ and ‘alternative’ magazine out there. Something that reads more like a punk song than any other magazine, but somewhere along the lines the readership lost their soul, humour and their balls.
I’m not saying I put across my point very succinctly but no one seemed to get it at all.
I wrote it after a week of trail maintenance, a week spent lovingly trying to get some old trails into a better condition and to stop them constantly running off the hill with every rainfall. During that week I had two encounters with mountain bikers who refused to help out even one bit and this made me realise maybe mountain biking is becoming the domain of bloody middle class, middle aged fuckwits who will never put anything back into mountain biking other than spending it up on a new wanky “XC” bike to go on the back of their wanky BMW when they go ride pre-fab trail centres.
In the article I wanted to shake the awake into the core spirited mountain bikers and make them realise we are in danger of loosing the soul in biking if we don’t start educating, or fighting, the tide of wankers who are pouring the life out of mountain biking. Seems I was misguided because that month most of the middle aged wankers I was talking about had bought a copy of Dirt, mistaking it for a copy of What MTB or MBR magazine.
I will briefly describe for you the two instances that occurred that week that got me so wound up I had to rub out an anger wank all over the pages of Dirt.
The first was whilst doing some drainage and armouring work on Skippers Canyon, an almost 150 year old gold mining trail that has been reappropriated by MTBs over the years and is a popular trail for locals as well as for visitors in the area. There was 3 of us working when some Tony and his gym instructor wife comes skidding up to us, tuts, dismounts, then without saying a single word just start trying to step on and over us as we work. I put my tool down (and realign my jaw that has hit the ground) and give them a friendly “hello, hows your day?”. They look at me as if they have just seen me for the first time, shrug and keep pushing through. I can tell they aren’t foreign from the store stickers on the bikes so I cancel idea that maybe they are just foreigners with limited English. I tell them that there is more necessary trail work going on down the trail so be careful and the dude turns to me and says “I bet you get paid well for this”. Ah money! Of course, that figures, it’s his language. I tell him that I get paid nothing for this and we are just bikers putting back into the trails that we enjoy and I follow it up by asking him who often he rides this particular trail and he says that most weekends he likes to try get a lap in on it. I ask him whether he would mind just spending five minutes collecting rocks so I can make the drainage I was working on. Just five minutes, nothing much, but five minutes of his and his wives time would save 15 minutes of my time, and seeing as i’m not getting paid it would be great to get this done asap so I can go ride, go home, or go do some paid work elsewhere so I can eat this week. His wife snorts as if i’m kidding and the dude says “I’m sorry we are here to ride, goodbye” and then, all cocky with shoulders back, just continues to step over us and ride off down the trail. His wife follows but doesn’t even have the courtesy to say goodbye and for one brutal moment I think about chasing her and impaling her yoga clad buttocks on my fire rake.
Then two days later whilst doing some realigning and drainage work on Skyline Hill trails we were approached by some German dude. The kind of dude that comes over all friendly, then starts explaining to you what you are doing, why you are doing it and how he would do it, but when offered the chance to join in on the end of a spade starts making excuses and fucks off. He was a local and rides the hill most weekends.
So basically I don’t want sound like those salty old trails dogs that go on and on and on about ‘no dig, no ride’, but I just think that people need to be reminded to put something back once in awhile.
But the thing is most new people to mountain biking seem to be the kind of people that take mountain biking as just another activity, and if they aren’t mountain biking then they would just be playing squash, or tennis, or fucking golf.
I got a ton of letters of complaint for that article. People accused me of being some communist utopianist, of being out of touch, and a wannabe skateboarder (just because I make a mention of skateboarding not loosing its core principles even if it has become more mainstream than tattoos). Oh well, looks like you guys missed my point. Sorry i’ll memo you next time i’m gonna say something that might offend the common party line.
Anyway, I had quite a number of sleepless nights during the fall out of this until I just figured that it was time to move on and go back to writing columns that just made people feel happy and nice about life and made them forget about questioning or critiquing the status quo (I think the next column was about what the next years funky fashions and trends might be). I had learnt to forget about that column until last night when I was reading an old copy of Singletrack Magazine (The magazine for the trying-hard-not-to-be-trendy bearded weirdos) and the Outro had the below..
That says it all. MOUNTAIN BIKING IS GOLF as confirmed by the exact kind of magazine that the exact kind of gits I tried to warn people about read once they have biked for more than 12 months. It was a moment of triumph seeing that. It was like some other person had felt the same thing and had to say it. Difference being they said it far more concisely and digestible than I had managed to do so.
Don’t me wrong, I don’t hate Singletrack magazine. There is occasionally a really good article in there, problem is you have to sift through the pages of bearded masturbatory handbuilt singlespeed/hardtail/weirdo nonesense. Learn to ride instead of smugly proclaiming from behind your beards the benefits of some garage built plain gauged farm gate.
Shit that still sounds bitchy. I’m trying not to be. At least Singletrack magazine is NOWHERE NEAR as monumentally full of shit as MBR magazine. Seriously those dickheads really thought they deserved a HBCUTTHECOURSE ‘Lopes wants to sue me’ T-shirt. Come on, they deserve a page of cutthroat abuse on that site just for putting out a magazine each month which is basically a city folks excuse to get invites to all the industry cock sucking events. Oh, and they are selling our passion to BMW owners who would rather drink a Latte than pick up a tool.
MBR is one of those awful magazines that sells product rather than lifestyle. Yeah, yeah, yeah I know what you are thinking, we need to sell product so that things move forward, but here’s a revelation for you, once the shine has gone from peoples products, the dust settled into cracks, and the paint worn thin then what is it that keeps people riding bikes? It’s the fun of it. The experience of it. The lifestyle. So instead of selling some awful product that you know doesn’t work, get people hooked on living the lifestyle of riding bikes. Once you have done this then the products will sell (I hate saying things as crass as that but i’m trying to get my point across to the idiots who persist on perverting biking into simply a consumerist enterprise).
So full of hate tonight. If Danny Milner ever reads this, I just want to say that I think your a good dude just stuck doing an ass fucking soul sucking kind of job. Maybe next time we can go ride.
So here’s the full article for you to read now. If you don’t get it, or should I say if you think you get it then leave your fluffy kitten thoughts and opinions in the comments section. Apologies for the grammar. So fucking bad. Also note the comment about 29ers in the second paragraph, this was a whole year before I was actually united with my brother from another mother, THE TALLBOY.
Despite what The Lady says I’m mature enough to admit when I’m wrong. It’s just that sometimes it takes a while for me to admit it.
So this month I want to start by saying I have been wrong all along about 24s and 29ers, about guys who ‘street’ ride mountain bikers and skateparkers on big bikes, about huckers and pinners. I have come to realise that it doesn’t matter what you ride, it really doesn’t matter what you do, and it doesn’t matter where you ride. I apologise for attempting to put up barriers between bikers. In the end we are all just kids playing games on our toys. A bunch of grown ups that can’t grow up. A group of bike crazed nerds, geeks, and bores.
Mountain biking has far bigger problems than in-fighting, segregation, and bikie bigotry perpetrated by opinionated gobshite loud mouths like myself. I think there are bigger problems and concerns. For example some of mountain bikings biggest problems are…
That very few people look outside of mountain biking and what they know for inspiration and if they do they just steal and copycat;
How there’s little idea of how mountain biking should locate itself within the greater realm of popular culture;
How mountain bikings biggest problem and maybe biggest opportunity is in its only self divisions (sub cultures within a sub culture of a culture) how we have ‘XC’ riders controlling sections of the market and industry which have a bearing over the ‘freeride’ sub genre and vice versa. We have importers, reps, marketeers, accountants, and bike shop employees who have no respect or knowledge of the other side. It seems there is very little cohesion and just a melting pot of contradictory motives;
Or maybe that the problem with mountain biking is that it is not a ‘subculture’ of substance because it has little or no culture or any real value to the outside world (i.e. mountain biking is not ‘cool’ enough to effect and change or inspire wider culture) and it only means something to its existing followers.
Do you get my drift? Maybe? Well lets go on brief excursion into hyperbolic bollocks with the devil as our advocate…
Think about it, what music has come from mountain biking, what art has come from mountain biking, what fashions have come from mountain biking, what wider trends have come from mountain biking?
Think about snowboarding as an example. You know snowboarding, and I’m sure you could answer yes and give examples to all those questions because snowboarding has meant something on a wider realm of popular culture.
BMX likewise; skating likewise; surfing likewise; mountain biking…Nope.
These fellow childs games have ended up having a huge impact upon popular culture. Have a think. Think about how these toy games have impacted wider culture outside of the immediate realm of their micro culture.
Mountain biking has only followed, begged, borrowed, and stolen from other inspirations. Where do the fashions, trends, music, and art come from? All the above inspirations. Nothing homegrown. Look at what we wear most of the time, TLD pyjama suits are just Motocross spin offs, and the tight jean trend came from BMX. Yeah yeah yeah, I know we got companies that make great riding gear that is functional and ‘stylish’ but it doesn’t translate to other action sports and certainly not to wider culture.
We (mountain bikers) mean jack shit. We are nothing. If mountain biking disappeared tomorrow the only people to notice would be mountain bikers.
But if skateboarding was going to be outlawed and removed from history all together their would be an uprising so powerful and a resistance so potent that The Hegemony would bow down and flip flop on its own decision. This would happen not because there are a gargantuan number of skateboarders but that those that skateboard have the passion for it pulsing through their veins, it is their life, and it has become culturally significant.
But who are mountain bikers, or at least where is the dollar in mountain biking? Well if you look at any catalogue or speak to any marketer then it’s in the middle of the road. The approaching middle age middle class reasonably affluent. The ones to whom mountain biking is a Sunday trail ride after the Sunday papers and before they have lunch with the Anderson-Hammets from number 45. They are the mincers, the part-timers, the uninvested, the take it or leave its. The only thing these people have invested in the sport is the couple grand they spent for their mid travel trail machine last season at some big box store for outdoor sports. If they didn’t mountain bike (which they barely do if you count up the fortnightly ride at the trail centre) then they would be doing another sport that affords them “the chance to be outdoors, keep a bit fit, enjoy nature”.
These people are the death of our sport because they invest nothing back in it. There is no passion, no spunk, and no lifestyle. They don’t spend there every waking moment living for their passion. They don’t create, they don’t give back, they just take. They don’t give anything back to biking other than their occasional spending on a new pair of spandex short liners, a Gore-Tex rain jacket (as if that will ever be needed) and yearly membership to their local club (because money is always the answer, especially if it means they can pay off their conscience for not turning up to trail maintenance days).
They don’t see mountain biking as having any value other than what it gives them. Of course they don’t give back, they don’t have the time to because they have decent professional salaried jobs, children that require childcare and college funds, they have wine and cheese evenings, they go on annual family ski trips to Val D’isere, they drive reasonable five door mid level executive cars and they probably think that new Scott looks like the answer to them getting over that technical gravel section after the car park in the New Forest. Their mere presence washes down and dilutes the teeth rottingly sweet concentrate that is mountain biking.
They are the selfish, the closed minded, the dull, the bland, and they are bringing down mountain biking, because marketeers see these bastards as their prime target audience. And why? Because half the bloody marketeers are these people – middle age, middle class moderately affluent – or they live next door to them and see them occasionally wheel a bicycle out of their double garage so they can go for a leisurely spin around the local woods whilst they walk the dog and they hear them say “oh I do so much enjoy going for a mountain bike ride” but if you or I heard them we could translate their empty words for meaning “it may as well be a road bike” or “last year I was really into jogging” or “I only do this because I’m too lazy and weak to do a real sport and I can get away with saying I’m a mountain biker because even mountain bikers don’t know what mountain biking is”.
There is no ‘edge’ or bite in mountain biking. It’s like a Sunday school club where there is no cussing or unbuttoned cuffs. Mountain biking doesn’t seem to flow through the veins for all too many ‘mountain bikers’. It doesn’t define who a person is and decide on the wider life choices of that person. For too many it’s just a fucking ‘past-time’, a ‘hobby’, and a spot of recreation.
To these people I say fuck off! Go back to the squash hall or grow some balls.
To anyone who this relates to, then lets get mountain biking moving. Lets stop pretending, stop copying catting, and start putting a bit of passion, spit, blood and semen into it. Create, produce, control and tell the fookers to go get fooked.
Or I could be wrong. Ultimately there is no right way of mountain biking (or biking) for that matter…just maybe that there are ways that are more wrong than others.