Wednesday, August 26, 2015



Jason McRoy died 20 years ago yesterday. Steve Peat counts him among the most influential riders in his life, and the inspiration for Steve to chase the mountain bike dream, paving the way for British downhillers for decades to come. I was six years old at the time and don't remember any of this, but from what I hear he was a total badass.

My only original thought to contribute is that, 20 years later, this is still what people picture in their heads when you mention mountain bikes.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Your ambassador of Kwan

Here are the top five things I'm not doing right now to monetize my riding, but these are tips for all pro riders everywhere. If you aren't living by these five tips, you're pretty much pissing away money.

1. Ride for IXS.

Sorry Stik, it's been great. We've had some good years, I've always loved the TLD look and fit, love the company, the history, the other riders, everything really, but real talk: what have you done for me lately? I've got bills to pay, mouth to feed, and I can't be paying rent with jerseys and gear bags. Money talks.

Did you see that Cedric is running the new IXS helmet? That can't be cheap, and if you're a random pro reading this, trust me: you want a piece of that action.

Cedric thinking about the new garage he has to build for all the new toys he's gonna buy with the IXS money.

And it's not just Cedric. IXS' sponsored rider list is longer than the ingredients list for Cheetos:

I don't want to do it, but these IXS guys are spending money like it's going out of style. Cedric, Berrecloth, the Athertons, Hans and Richie- these are not cheap riders, and we all know they aren't busting down the doors at IXS HQ because the new helmet looks so good.

The IXS train is chugging along at full steam, with a whole team of engineers shoveling cash into the engine as fast as they can. This is a train you don't want to miss.

2. Lower the bar. No, I mean waaaaaay lower.

Aaron Chase knows how to hustle:

Riding Bikes with Aaron Chase from Halley O'Brien on Vimeo.

That video was horrible. Unwatchably bad, but sponsors love that stuff, and it will probably get shown on Good Morning America or something and get 50 times more views than every video I've ever made. It's sort of like how Trump is getting five times more media coverage than all the other presidential candidates, Republican and Democrat, combined.

He'll do any town hall, BBQ cook-off, local whogivesashit radio call-in show, shake any hand, and say anything to get air time, and it works. Is it good media coverage? Who cares. Trump doesn't, and neither does Aaron Chase. If the Pivot fat bike video didn't convince you of that, nothing will.

If you want to make the real scrill, there can be no product, no video, no poorly-written script that is beneath you. You can't make house payments with standards and dignity.

Let's make it happen.

3. Really, just pick any Euro brand.

You know when the USSR broke up, and everyone in Russia and the Ukraine went crazy for blue jeans? Wrangler and Levi's both posted their all-time highest sales numbers in '91 because Sergei, Alexi, and Misha couldn't get enough. For the new, democratic Russia, freed from decades of repressive authoritarian rule, blue jeans were like apple pie, John Wayne, and the star spangled banner rolled up in one.

That's what it's like as a North-American pro rider approaching a Euro company. The reason I still think "Germans love David Hasselhoff" is funny is because it's true. Of course when I say "Germans," I really mean "Euros," and when I say "David Hasselhoff," I mean "any english-speaking rider from the continent of North America." Tomato, /Tə'ma:təʊ/.

Sure, IXS is Swiss, POC is Swedish, Mavic is French, and Lazer helmets are Belgian, but they're all distinctly Euro. I assume they all share the same industrial designers, who in my brain are also the design team that brought us Gary Oldman's hair piece in Fifth Element.

The other thing those four brands have in common is that they want to legitimize their products in Europe with a real, bona fide english-speaking American or Canadian freedom loving cowboy badass.

Are you from the wrong side of the tracks in Providence, Rhode Island? Doesn't matter, you're John freaking Wayne in Europe. From some depressed mining town in interior BC? No worries, you might as well be Grizzly Adams himself.

Tell me with a straight face this helmet looks good:

And yet, right now in August of 2015, I guarantee you Lazer helmets is looking to drop five figures on a North American racer for next season to help them pass off this reject storm trooper helmet to eager European customers. You could be that guy. Here's the model:

Make weird product ====> Give American rider [you] money ====> Make millions in Europe.

Racing makes you good. Video parts make you famous. Weird Euro sponsors make you rich.

4. Embrace "EPIC."

People don't want to hear about reality. At all. Reality is the crushing burden most mountain bike consumers carry on their backs all day long at their unsatisfying jobs, and then come home to every night with their unsuccessful and(or) failed relationships. Mountain biking is supposed to be a glamorized dream world, a fantastical escape, not a sober look in the mirror.

No one wants to hear that life as a pro mountain biker is boring most of the time. That travel to exotic, far-flung locations takes a long time, most of it is really boring, and half the time you feel like shit when you get there. That the food in Europe, or most places where bike events occur, sucks. That most pro riders spend more time on planes, trains, van rides, and email than on their bikes.

If Thanksgiving every year feels like a long weekend in the seventh level of Dante's Inferno, I've got bad news: you've already experienced days four through whenever on any MTB team media trip. Trust me, it's a familiar vibe.

The last thing any MTB consumer wants to hear is that mountain biking requires hard work and assertiveness, patience towards other people and the vagaries of life, a conscious choice to maximize the talent you were given while working on your shortcomings, and a constant, undying hope for the future, because that sounds a lot like the same qualities that create success in real life. If MTB consumers possessed any of those qualities, then they wouldn't need to escape their shitty lives with mountain bike media.

This escape comes in the form of spoon fed travel fantasy, mixed with a small dose of action sports and a heaping helping of feel-good bro-brah inclusive millenial triumphalism. In other words, MTB consumers want EPIC.

Your job as a pro mountain biker is to give consumers the EPIC they crave, even if the process of "capturing the EPICness" feels like entering your own personal hell.

Trying to capture the EPICness.

Mountain bike consumers want to be lied to. They want to be sold a fantasy world that doesn't exist. In fact, that's literally the storyline of the biggest MTB movie of the last five years. Seriously, they didn't even try to hide it, the name of the movie is "UnReal." Reality is unpredictable and uncomfortable, so stop trying to tell it like it is.

New years resolution: start selling #thisEPIClife

5. Roost.

If you want to make it anywhere in the mountain bike industry, you'd better get your shovel ready and start piling up the dust, because roost is your one-way ticket to the big leagues. Out of last months 31 POD selections on Pinkbike, these four are basically the same picture.

Might as well be dolla bills they spraying.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The real news

The biggest news from Val di Sole so far is that Wet Screams are finally available in 650b:

Another day, another stolen Sven photo.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The truth

I only make fun of people because I'm jealous of their success.

Monday, August 17, 2015


I was rewatching the Speed Kings 2009 World Cup bonus section for the hundredth time today, and I realized that even in 2009 Gee Atherton still possessed traces of a personality. That personality is long gone by now, but it's interesting to look back to study the slow and steady dissolution of a human being before our eyes.

Hey, imagine working with the guy.

A veritable barrel of laughs.

So as Gee went from fun-loving grom to incomprehensible but enthusiastic competitor, from serious guy to Lord Bummer, and as he ultimately inherited his current form- Darth Bummer- TEAM ROBOT was there watching. So step back in time with us and reminisce as we recall the various eras of Atherton:

Lesser humans would expect THE ROBOTS to accept Gee as one of our own, but while his personality screams robot his lowly flesh and blood belie his true identity: a cyborg. In ROBOT circles cyborgs are nothing more than a dirty half breed, not worthy of the ROBOT title.

That Darth Vader guy may be more machine than man, but he's all pussy in the eyes of THE ROBOTS. Remember his conflict of conscience at the end of Jedi, when he backs out of killing his son and betrays the evil mastermind? Exactly. Typical human stuff, catching feelings and shit.

Original source material:

SPEED KINGS BONUS // WORLD CUP 2009 a Mountain Biking video by scottmarshall

At 12:15 you can see breathtaking though brief evidence of humanity.

Great moments in I told you so

"No way, I don't need to switch to tubeless."

-Bob Stenson                                           

Printing money

Rotwild, Adidas, Continental and now Mercedes. Which just goes to prove my theory: Germans love David Hasselhoff.

No one outside the industry thinks mountain bikes are cool

But at least our sport isn't rollerblading. Or rollerblades on snow:

Tuesday, August 11, 2015


Disclaimer: the cyclist in the crash lived, and despite horrific injuries was "alert and stable Saturday evening" according to ABC News. So that means jokes are cool. In the case of fatalities the rule is 20 years then you're good. JFK jokes for instance, totally fair game.

While everyone was sharing this video and debating the finer points of support vehicle logistics, what no one mentioned was how awesome roadies aren't at descending.

Forget the guy who goes to the hospital, he's just a symptom of a much larger condition, and by no means the only rider out of control. Almost every rider comes in hot, straight, and late. At first I gave them the benefit of the doubt. This turn probably comes out of nowhere, maybe after a blind bend in the road, right?

Look at the video again: right off the bat you see four roadies in a row riding inside the double yellow and coming in hot like Fort Lauderdale in July, aka no hope or prayer of making the turn. They all predictably blow through the turn, brake through, and exit with zero speed. After four unique interpretations of "oh shit," the next guy into the corner is some random support vehicle driver, and in terms of descending IQ he looks like Sam Hill compared to the roadies he's supposed to deliver wheels and water bottles to.


Roadie guy: moments away from blowing the double yellow and his multiple car-length lead.
Driver guy: dialed.

Roadie guy: about to blow across another road stripe, not even halfway through the corner.
Driver guy: looking to apex 20 feet inside of roadie guy.

Roadie guy: finally discovered the concept of turning.
Driver guy: passing fools.

Roadie guy: literally just noticed that driver guy is pulling him.
Driver guy: Gone.

Let's compare and contrast that with heli-trip crash guy moments before impact. Yikes:

Even more yikes:

For sure that guy was going to the hospital, car impact or not. Maybe next year the support driver that knew how to turn can give out descending lessons for all the racers prior to the event. Maybe they can follow him down a few descents and learn his lines and braking points. Throw some cones in and call it a clinic.

Let's put this in context, too. The guys we're watching in this video are not Lance or Alberto or Peter. This isn't le Tour, it isn't even Amgen. These are the domestic pros racing the Tour of Utah who just got their doors blown off in the climb. Maybe if they push it on the descent they can make up the huge gap between them and the guys who actually make a living on their bikes.

Basically, they're the roadie equivalent of me. They just got smoked, again, they're way off the back now, and they're hoping that a double dose of trying harder might dig them out of the hole they're in.

Spoiler alert: it won't.