Thursday, February 27, 2014

I just figured it out

So I was looking up images of this guy:

Henrik Harlaut is a natural segue into making fun of Swedish people, skiing, white guys with dreadlocks, the Olympics, etc, but in all of my researching I ran into a previously unknown illuminating fact:

Nine Knights was originally a ski thing.

Doesn't that make way more sense? I remember when, out of nowhere, we started seeing a bunch of Euros building wooden jumps out of castle parts back in 2011, and for some reason nine guys were going to ride there. It was the weirdest promotional contest ever. Was it even a contest? Was it a video shoot? Was it a jam? What was it?

No one knew, we just knew it was called "Nine Knights" and that the promoters liked mega hucks, poorly-armored castles, and alliteration.

I thought something was lost in translation and hoped that maybe this whole "Nine Knights" idea made more sense to the continental Euros that dreamt it up. I could tell right away that we freedom loving Americans were never the target demographic, but I still couldn't get what the deal was.

When I found out it was just a summer-ization of a winter sports event, it explained so much. Because that process (ski or snowboard culture overlaid on mountain biking) has never made sense. Examples:

Anything from the New World Disorder series.

Pretty much anyone from interior B.C.

Short socks, high tops, and an arm band- really dude?


Rampage. Sure, it seems normal now, but look back and tell me that early Rampage stuff wasn't a sad and confused bastardization of freeski and snowboard contests.


The tragic term "brown pow" and the constant need to show "brown pow slashes, bro."

Mountain bikes in the X-Games.

Related: Freeride flicks.

Chilling, bro.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Still one of the worst looking products in mountain biking

And yet, I keep seeing these horrendous moon boots showing up all over the internet and local events. With enough aggressive marketing and enough riders wearing it, will I start to think it looks cool?

Probably. That approach has consistently worked on me before.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Team ReviewBot

I think we might end up renaming Team Robot. We used to do commentary on all things bike related. Trails, bikes, journalism, racing, media, and the end of all humanity, etc, but it seems like all we're going to be doing for the next six months is just telling you why shitty mountain bike videos suck.

If you make a 30+ minute video, it should probably have a title. That seems reasonable. Arrival, Earthed, Kranked, New World Disorder, no one's going to get mad about naming a video that's approaching feature-length, especially when it's obvious that significant money went into its production. Need is a strong word, but apt: if you have a 30 minute video, you probably need a title.

I hate everything about this video, but I'm actually okay with their title.

If you make a 6 or 7 minute video, the bar's a little higher. Your video probably still needs a title, so I know why the hell I should waste 1/7508571th of my lifetime watching it. But unless we're talking about some serious production value or a significant, discernible narrative arc, there's no reason for your title to be anything less than self-explanatory:

"How to corner with Brendan Fairclough."
"Geoff Gulevich shreds the Swiss Alps."
"Some interior BC kid in a striped graphic v-neck and a D3 with no goggles does weird turn bar invert things and crashes a bunch of times trying to corkflip a drop."

Those are all great names for seven minute videos. I know what I'm getting into before I watch it, I can get a little excited, but I also know I'm not getting into some weird, heavy, emotion-laden journey through the struggles and vagaries of life. I don't want to have to emotionally prepare to watch "Breaking Bad" here, I just want to watch bike riding. Maybe some guy talks for 30 seconds about bike riding, and that's fine.

If Brandon Semenuk and Trek spend $500,000 building a mini-slopestyle course on top of the Sears Tower in Chicago, they've earned the right to use some vague, semi-witty one word title if they want. "Brandon Semeuk: Towering." There is a chance that I'll actually remember watching that video 20 minutes from now.

If everyone knows that Cedric Gracia broke his femur, then had to rehab, train, and condition his way back to World Cup shape so he could retire on his own terms at the Vallnord World Cup in 2013, and your video clearly shows that arc using film clips spanning the last 10 years, then game on: use a cheesy one word title like "Cedric Gracia: Determination."

But if you make a 2 minute, 25 second video of you hitting some jumps in your homies backyard and then you land one good trick all sketchball at the very end, you cannot look me straight in the face and tell me you're going to title your video:

"Griffin Paul: Redemption."

Oh, you suffered one of the most common sports injuries, and then you were fine after the prescribed recovery time? And no one knows who you are? Cool.

In the same vein, check out KHS phoning it in and 100% cashing in on the goodwill from Logan's injury story:

Return of Binggeli - More Mountain Bike Videos

No inspiring words, no tales of struggle, no explanation as to how he's back riding downhill FOUR months after breaking his femur. Really, no effort put into this video whatsoever. Other than two clips at the beginning and a title, this is just a standard mediocre riding video. You already know what the poorly conceived story arc for the video is, but here's the behind the scenes look at the making of this video:

1. On Monday, the video guy and(or) Quintan realize that Logan's going to be in Laguna on Tuesday, and they should probably film something.

2. Monday night Q and the video guy have a five minute brainstorming session about which trail to film, while watching Rob and Big reruns and eating take-out Chinese food. Telonics has been shot to death, but it looks better on film. PG looks pretty boring, but it's less recognizable, hopefully giving the video a less tired look. Also, the Athertons, Brendan Fairclough, and lots of other people who podium at World Cups have filmed at Telonics, with some of the best video guys in the game. If you shoot on PG, there won't be any point of comparison to show how much slower Logan is, or how horrible the KHS video guy is. PG it is.

3. Logan's plane lands at 11:45 on Tuesday. Q builds his bike up for him. Logan snapchats with Kevin for three hours, and instagrams his new bike build with 21 different hashtags. #KHS #soulrider #brobra #whoarewestillsponsoredby @cytosport @hayesbrakes @spank @rebelliousstatusclothing

4. Q finishes building the bike at 5. Load up the car, drive to tacos. Logan hashtags #tacos.

5. Film for an hour in Laguna.

6. On the drive back Logan plugs in his iPod, and everyone agrees Fallout Boy would be sick for the video. Logan takes a photo of the sunset while listening to Fallout Boy and realizes this, bro, is what life is all about, hashtag #epic.

7. All three of them go out that night in designer jeans and their "going out" shirts. Absolutely no one gets laid.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

I… just don't… understand

First off, what is that music? If you had slow mo shots of Brook MacDonald heli-choptering onto the top of some fog-covered craggy New Zealand peak and then contemplating his life and existence before dropping in on the gnarliest, rockiest downhill ever, then maybe you could get away with that sort of epic bro-bra song.

Like, I don't know, this:

Seriously, try listening to the Reece Wallace music while watching the Brook video. Still a horrifically overproduced video, but at least the horrifically overproduced song is a better fit.

But no, you're just going kinda fast, in slow-ish conditions, on a one day hike-a-bike filming session at your local trails. You're not reinventing mountain biking here, bro. No, you're just freeride flicking your way up a few spots on the KILL LIST:

For comparison, here's another video of about the same length, featuring a guy riding the same frame in a similar way. I think the quality of riding in this next video is pretty good, making it a good point of comparison. Count how many free ride flicks you see in this next video:

Monday, February 10, 2014

Name that Earthed Segment

Which movie, which race?

Pro Ho #1

Anyone who knows me knows that I am completely incapable of objectivity when it comes to brands like TLD, Shimano, and Maxxis. They are the greatest ever, there is no other helmet or tire or set of brakes I would want to run, and all mistakes or sins are ignored, forgotten, or rationalized.

Of course, I ride for these companies, so you could point out that I am not objective by nature of my sponsorship. But that's putting the cart before the horse. It's true that I get support from these companies, no denying that, but long before I got #freeshitbro, I paid full retail to ride these companies parts, tires, and gear by choice.

No, objectivity went out the window a long time ago, probably 10 years ago now. As soon as I started following downhill, I concluded that Sam Hill, Jared Graves, and Nathan Rennie were complete badass riders, and they all rode TLD. Thus I rode TLD. Today, even as I was typing this out, I found out that Sam Hill might be on Royal next year, and I needed to be alone to grieve for awhile. I still don't know what to do with that fact:

The world might be ending?

Sam Hill rode TLD, so I rode TLD. I got my first D2 in 2007, and I raced in that thing for 3 years. It was so much better fitting and better looking than the Giro Radmax I had before it, that there really was no comparison. That original D2 saw Fontana (twice, for some reason), Snowmass, Deer Valley, Angelfire, the birth of Port Angeles into the racing hub it is now, and Skibowl and Willamette Pass about a million times. A lot of good memories in that helmet. Sure, it probably wasn't safe by year 3 (or year two for that matter), but what was I going to do, buy another Giro? Come on.

2007-2009: Gold D2 Composite. Amazing. Hooked for life.

2007: the Mountain Cycle days.

2008: First legit race bike, the '08 Giant Glory with real, bonafide Fox suspension front and rear. Compression damping!

2009: Year 2 on the Glory. By race #3 at PA (pictured), the bike was, how you say, "le clapped."

2010-2011: America edition D2 composite. Originally a Steve Peat paintjob, local paint wizard Danny Swan ( made my dream helmet, complete with my name in gold leaf, a golden, glorious eagle, and "freedom isn't free."

2010: rode for Evil, and for the first time I actually rode like I knew what I was doing. The beginning of good things. A really fun year.

2011, rode for Transition, drove across the country with Lars Sternberg, failed to qualify at a World Cup race for the first time, and won a NW Cup. Party on.

2012: I rode a Kali helmet. Bummer.

2013: D3 Carbon, Team Red.  AKA the Luke Strobel helmet, AKA I am Pro Ho #1.

Seriously, how freaking pro do I look now? I look awesome. In other news, I got Sam Hill to sign those shoes at Sea Otter the week before this picture was taken, so that's a definite bonus. He was so bummed out when he was signing them.


Like a teenage girl waiting for the Beatles at Yankee Stadium or Justin Bieber at your local NBA arena or pick your age-appropriate cultural reference, every year I wait with baited breath for the new TLD stuff to drop.


And every year when I finally see the new line, every year this is the question: What's the best looking stuff that I  *don't think* everyone else is going to buy?

Because there's stuff that everyone else is going to buy. That's a fact. Like rabid pack animals, people instantly pick the slowest gazelle, or the lowest hanging fruit if you will, and buy that. There's some stuff that just looks good from any angle, online or in the store, and that's what everyone else is going to buy. If you bought any one of those kits or helmets, you found out very quickly that:

A) you look awesome, and

B) everyone else bought the same shit as you

If you bought any of these fine products, you were borderline bummed when you found out everyone and their brother bought them, too:

No, buying TLD gear is an art. You don't want to pick the obvious stuff, but you also don't want to pick the weird stuff either. And yes, there's weird stuff. Every year there's one helmet that's just covered in snakes or lightning bolts or it's all bright neon fluorescent green with eyeballs all over it, and you don't want to be that guy. Someone's going to be "that guy," and it's not going to be you. No, there's a sweet spot between too obvious and too out there, and picking that sweet spot, threading that needle, it takes work.

Yes, I've spent this much time thinking about outfits and color schemes. Ask Pro Rider Kyle Thomas if you doubt the validity of any of this, he had to be my teammate for two years. He lived this.

Well, with that said, the new 2014 helmets are out. Let the games begin:

Moto gear's up on the TLD site, too. Bike gear drops soon:

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Cody Johnson, killing it for Team Dad Factory Racing


After the success and publicity of their Jade, Diamond, and Emerald forks and shock, DVO Suspension announced today that they will continue to name their new suspension units after female strippers from Simi Valley's Girlz Girlz Girlz Gentleman's Club.

When reached for comment, DVO team rider Cedric Gracia had this to say about the names: "Yes."

Thursday, February 6, 2014

In the ongoing case against Canada

Seriously, these are some of the worst looking bikes ever made. Am I the only person seeing this?

"Oh, but that's an '09 Delirium, Charlie. The new ones are better."

Here's a pretty modern, sleek looking 2013 Knolly build, with reasonable parts in a tasteful all black scheme with a few subtle green accents. Tell me, in your heart of hearts, what's the worst looking part of this bike. Honestly:

I'll give you a hint:

You know, the part that Knolly's responsible for.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Dirt is amazing

Yes, this is in Canada. And yes, Luke Fulton (pictured) has made a career out of bad shoulder buzzers. And yes, these two amazing berms lead into a dead straight trick jump set at the bottom of the hill.

But let's come together here and recognize the common good that we can all celebrate: dirt is amazing, and hips going into berms are the shit.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Buzzfeed is killing people from the inside out

Buzzfeed is the death of comedy, just like Huffington Post is the death of journalism. The world is worse for their existence.

Half-baked listicals that rely on the audience to share the editorial positions of the writer are the internet equivalent of a good-old fashioned witch burning.

Buzzfeed knows that you already like "X," so it then showers you with images, quotes, and semi-punchlines that show "X" in the most positive light possible to engage nostalgia and solidify group-think. Buzzfeed will never challenge its viewers ever. Okay, maybe Buzzfeed will challenge viewers to double-down on their existing beliefs or preferences by overwhelming them with one-sided arguments in favor of the beliefs or preferences they already hold. AKA Buzzfeed will never challenge its viewers.

They're the internet version of Larry the Cable guy, targeted at college-educated millennials. If you see someone reading Buzzfeed, tell them they are killing comedy. Comedy should:
  • ask new questions
  • challenge preexisting notions
  • reconsider your positions
  • ponder the complexity of things
  • be uncomfortable

The funniest comedians are the ones who can make you laugh about things you think you shouldn't be laughing about. Laughing about funerals, disease, oppression, and pain, is actually pretty triumphant and powerful stuff. It moves you to a new place, or at least begins a journey to a place that you would have never gone to on your own.

Real comedy challenges your preexisting thoughts on all subjects. Subjects like:

The power of words:

The environment:




Comedy is the last bastion of free speech today. Comedians can, for the most part, argue whatever position they want, challenge any norm, and step over any taboo.

Comedians take the greatest thinkers in philosophy, literature, science, religion, and art, and translate the distillate of the great works of mankind into a form that we can ponder and grapple with ourselves. In 60 minutes or less.

It forces you to think. It forces you to feel. It forces you to change. It forces you to grow.

This is Buzzfeed: