Thursday, April 30, 2015

Challenge vs. "fun"

Watch the video, and note how stoked Marc Beaumont is to rip the tires off an XC bike with a seat up his ass.

Have you ever noticed that good bike riders like Marc welcome a challenge, and enjoy riding undergunned bikes on technical terrain? Like "how small of a bike can I get away with?" "How sketchy can I get in this turn?" "How fast can I ride this piece of junk?" "How fast can I go on a horrible dorky tall-seat XC bike with halfway road bike tires?"

Have you ever noticed that the average mountain bike buyer views this whole question from exactly the opposite perspective?

Every plus-sized bike purchaser agreed "I love fat bikes, they go so slow that I can't crash and the tires are so big I can't feel any bumps at all."

We also call these people "typical Avalanche suspension customers."

Tuesday, April 28, 2015


Behold, the end of the universe:

"But don't worry, A-Line diehards, you'll still be able to ride it just as fast as you ever did, but what you'll find is new shapes, better flow, and jump shapes you've never imagined before."

Here's some free advice: when someone in a position of authority starts their message with "don't worry," start worrying. The video goes on:

"For those just making their way into the A-Line skill set, what it's going to offer is jumps with a friendlier shape, so you'll be able to hit the jump and have a better sightline, you'll be able to keep the speed on the trail so that everything flows through for everyone."

That kind of makes sense I guess. A-Line is pretty advanced, what with all the big jumps and high speed, so wouldn't it be cool if you could have a similar "A-Line style" trail experience, only at lower speeds and with lower consequences?

Oh... wait. I guess that already exists. Never mind.

Here's what I got out of this new video:
  1. A-Line is getting dumbed down.
  2. There will be even more jamokes on Aline now (jamoke roughly translates to "Joey" for the Canadians in attendance).
  3. This is the end of everything that is good and holy.

It's officially time to burn your bike, reject society, and move out to the hills to eat squirrels, reprocess your urine, and live off the grid. Picture Gary Busey from Black Sheep. Do that.

Riders have progressed. Bikes have progressed. Between the hugely increased capabilities of the modern mountain bike and the general progression of our sport, the average trail bike rider is capable of enormously more than anyone could have imagined 15 years ago when A-Line was built. Watch a video from the original Red Bull Rampage in 2001. Trail riders in Bellingham are hitting drops and gaps bigger than that on weekdays after work on 125mm bikes now. Everyone is riding bigger and faster than they ever have.

What that means is that, if any changes should be made to A-Line year to year, obviously the direction should be bigger and scarier to keep up with modern riders. And for as long as A-Line has been a trail, that's been the management principle. Bigger gaps, faster berms, more hang time, and by default, higher consequences every single year. And people loved it. In years prior, there was this crazy thing called a "filter" at the top to keep jamokes out. A drop, a jump, any sort of mandatory pucker moment to weed out the riders who really shouldn't be on A-Line. If you can't handle a three foot drop, probably 25 foot table tops at 20 mph isn't your jam. Seems to make sense, right?

As A-Line got bigger, faster, and scarier, Crank It Up was introduced. Instead of dumbing down A-Line, a dumber, slower, smaller version of A-Line was introduced as an alternative. The fast people got to keep their fun playground, and the slow people got their own mini-sandbox version of the same trail. Everyone wins.

In this regard Whistler and A-Line have been the last bastion of reasonable thought.  While A-Line kept getting bigger, the rest of the world was handing out participation medals to everyone in the little league tournament, dumbing down your local trails, and keeping the Oregon speed limit at 65 mph. Try getting a new bike park opened in the Western U.S. Hahahahaha!!! I kid, I kid, obviously that's impossible, because, you know, fish and stuff.

These salmon died on the banks of the Sandy River shortly after the Forest Service met with Timberline Bike Park in 2010 to discuss a potential bike park.

Until now, the management principle at Whistler was to give the fast people what they wanted (more hangtime, more gnar, more speed, and more steep), provide a wide variety of trails for riders of every skill level, put in place basic filters and guidelines to keep slow people off gnarly trails, and then step back and let people make their own decisions. If you rode A-Line as a jamoke, you probably broke your collarbone on the first tabletop or got yelled at as somebody passed you in a berm. Good. Kill yourself.

And you know what happened with all that freedom? Big smiles, lots of hospital trips, and billions of dollars in revenue. And that's a tradeoff we've tended to be okay with.

Make no mistake, there is a cost to freedom. Someone from our local riding community died this past summer riding a big rock slab in Whistler. It's a tragedy, it's a huge loss to the Hood River community and to his family, and it's regrettable, but I didn't hear anyone suggest that Whistler close all their rock slabs or make them flatter. It's the risk we choose when we go ride, and Matt was a longtime advanced rider who knew what he was doing.

I don't know what made Whistler Bike Park change their guiding principles. Maybe it was lawyers, maybe it was IMBA, or maybe it was a calculated revenue-grab by evil new management looking to cater to the mediocre. Maybe it was Matt Klee's death. Who knows.

A rare picture of the weekly Whistler Trail Crew Meeting.

My hunch is that the "no's" won the day. No's always win. You know when you and a bunch of friends want to go out to lunch, and you're all proposing different restaurants, and that one friend that no one likes vetoes whatever suggestion you come up with? "No, I don't feel like Mexican, it's too greasy," "No, I don't feel like a sandwich, too much gluten." "No, I don't feel like...[insert literally any suggestion you can come up with] because [insert ridiculously choosy reason]."

But because you're all a bunch of pussies, you don't do the right thing and beat the shit out of "no guy" until he either stops hanging out with you or learns to eat a $5 cheeseburger and like it. No, you suck it up and try to reason with "no guy," until you realize thirty minutes later you're going to spend $30 again on sushi and hate yourself. All you wanted was a cheeseburger, and now you're eating cold rice with imitation crab at $6 a plate. Tea is $3? Really?

The "no guy" always wants freaking sushi. Because $30 for lunch seems reasonable.

In the video, the trail crew bro justifies the trail "improvements" on A-Line by saying "you'll be able to keep the speed on the trail so that everything flows through for everyone." Wait... what?

A-Line clearly isn't for everyone. It's for advanced riders. If you're not an advanced rider, either stay off A-Line or kill yourself. Everyone knows that. Everyone except for "no guy."

You're almost never going to see the "build us bigger jumps please" contingent orchestrating a letter-writing campaign to the boss at WBP, holding a candlelight vigil for bigger jumps, or chaining themselves to excavators until they get bigger gaps on A-Line. Most people realize that their preferences are just that: preferences, subject to compromise in any group decision making process. We can't always have our way, so unless we see some fundamental violation of human dignity we're not typically going to be a pain in the ass.

"No guy" on the other hand? He can hang in there for the long haul, because in his eyes everything is a fundamental violation of someone's rights, and he can never be wrong. "No guy" is constitutionally incapable of acknowledging the validity of other people's preferences. "No guy" has staying power, coming from a deep, abiding sense of self-righteousness. Chaining himself to excavators is right in "no guy's" wheelhouse, but normally "no guy" doesn't have to go to that extreme. Normally he just repeats the commonly understood costs of a policy until those costs seem intolerable, and then he proposes an alternative policy and pretends there are no associated costs. Think "Mothers Against Drunk Driving" but for trail building. Sort of like IMBA. Works nine times out of ten.

"No guy" is the worst, and once this behavior is learned, it will never go away. This is why you should beat the shit out of the next guy who suggests sushi for lunch.

Soap in a sock: because you care about A-Line.

No matter the cause of Whistler's philosophical reversal, it's a sad day for mountain biking and the official end of an era. Apparently Whistler Bike Park has reached peak gnar, and we can expect the bike park to get slowly dumbed down from here. 

Instead of remembering and building on what made it great, Whistler Bike Park will now be catering to the existing skills of the mediocre instead of inspiring them to improve to the level of the great.

If I die riding my bike because I hit a tree, please don't automatically cut that tree out. If I die overshooting a jump, please don't remove that jump. If I didn't want to hit the jump, I wouldn't have.

Keep sending it. Robot out.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Bob Stenson

"Your bike sounds like a shopping cart." Bob on point at 1:48 in the video.

Today's topic:

I'm as shocked as you are. Discuss.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

First comment guy

Sometimes I hope that every Final Destination death will be visited upon "First comment guy" simultaneously in an agonizing symphony of pain and suffering, but then I realize that if there is some greater evil at play here, like the hand of fate in the Final Destination movies, first comment guy is probably part of Lord Evil's evil plan. And if that's the case, then Lord Evil is probably keeping first comment guy alive for his special evil purposes. Maybe first comment guy isn't just protected by evil, he's also powered by it, like in old timey zombie movies when you cut a zombie to pieces and its hand still crawls after you trying to kill you. Like even if I could find first comment guy and kill him by my hand, his hand would still claw its way out of the grave and find its way to a computer and still type "first comment" on all my posts.

But then I think that first comment guy is like the crummy older brother of Lord Evil, who everyone knew was never as talented as Lord Evil, but even in Evil Land they're all too nice to say anything so they keep pretending like first comment guy isn't a disappointment and they give him little semi-evil tasks to do, like posting first comment on TEAM ROBOT. And Lord Evil doesn't so much protect him for a special evil purpose as he sort of begrudgingly acquiesces eternal evil powers to first comment guy, and they all agree to play this little game of pretend where they don't acknowledge that typing "first" on all my TEAM ROBOT posts isn't the moral equivalent of planning some sweeping sinister earth-shattering evil plan.

Basically first comment guy is the Dan Atherton to Lord Evil's Gee.

TEAM ROBOT lost their edge, Post #3

Yo man, what's up with Greg Minnaar's accent, man? You know like are you British, or are you from New Zealand? I can't tell man, where you from, you know? It's like crazy, man.

TEAM ROBOT lost their edge, post #2

What's up with Intense frames? Why so many welds? Most frames don't have so many welds, and I've seen a lot of frames.

Got the new bike dialed in for the NW Cup

Haha just kidding.

This has been "TEAM ROBOT has officially lost its edge, post #1." Look forward to more soon.

Gone Girl/Made Man

Sorry I've been gone for so long from the site. I've been doing fun things and riding my bike for the last week, so I haven't had the same hate-filled ramblings to pour out on you as usual. For the last week I've been genuinely happy and really thankful for my opportunities. Feeling blessed. This is also a great opportunity to thank my sponsors for supporting me and helping me to experience Sea Otter.


No just kidding, Sea Otter was horrible, it was an industry dog and pony show that was somehow worse than usual, and I've been so busy wading through the seemingly endless sea of otter shit that I haven't had time for my true calling: complaining on the internet.

Unfortunately I'm still wading through the sea of otter shit, filing expense reports, sending follow up "great to see you" emails, and doing the last round of Sea Otter race report/begging for more #freeshitbro sponsor emails.

I don't have time to post anything new or original for the site, so humor me as I cash in on the IP of other people who did contribute original thoughts during the last week while I've been gone. At the Huffington Post they don't call this "stealing other people's material," they call it "content aggregating."

Best comments of the last week:

"I think you've forgotten one important reason for freeride flicking: it signifies ownership of a dank loam stash. How else is everyone going to know that you have made/found a trail with tons of dead leaves and shit on it if you don't spray it all over for the camera?"

"He doesn't claim to be fast nor does he challenge any racers to join the next hucking contest.

So probably not good at racing but pretty decent at hucking while little Sponsel sucks at both."

True story.

"Gwin just peaked for the season."

"Did you and nsmb discover what 'click bait' is at the exact same time?"


"To watch the BUILDER premiere, bro.

My bro told me the way those dudes mined nugz in that movie is like... next level. Could you imagine just you, your bros, a 6 pack, a truck, and a trail dog named "schralp" out defining your own space in some epic zone? Cuz like, trails to me are like an artistic expression. You get to leave your stamp on nature with a shovel and then all that's left is surfing the epic brown pow in the golden hour. 

#partywave #blessed 

I have $20 that says the movie will be at least 78% b-roll and slow-mo."

As for Adam's predictions on b-roll and slow-mo: yes and yes. The universe owes you $20.

"Because , even though you don't know it, you have become exactly what you made fun of years ago...... you charlie, are a corporate bitch. Swallow the gravy charlie, swallow the gravy."
-The Truth

It's funny cause it's true.

"To wear your new FSA windbreaker."
-Lazy Hemp

A lot of people are excited about me calling out and then beating Lopes at Downhill Domination. Well, beating is generous, destroying is more accurate. I was done about five minutes before he was, and I was so bored I helped coach him the rest of the way down Mount Middule. I all but T-Bag tantalized him.

But only Lazy Hemp picked up on the biggest victory here: my FSA windbreaker. That little detail will evade most people outside the industry, but people in the know will understand the massive and unspoken significance of that single article of clothing. A windbreaker means you've arrived as a genuine, bona fide corporate shill. They don't just give windbreakers away, you have to earn that stuff. T-shirts and hats are easy come, easy go. Socks are a dime a dozen.

Above those three staples of #freeshitbro apparel- t-shirts, hats, and socks- and you're getting into sponsor-suck-up Jedi Knight territory. Anyone who's tried to get a sweatshirt out of a company knows how hard it really is out there. A windbreaker? That sort of clothing freebie takes years and years of patient selling out. I've been on Gravity for years now, getting paid to ride no less, before I ever saw a windbreaker. It's only once you commit your riding, free time, integrity, and dignity for the next decade that you get something as big time as a windbreaker. A company isn't going to commit that level of apparel to a rider unless they own that rider for life. And by the way, it's not just a windbreaker, it's waterproof and breathable. That's like a unicorn, you don't see that sort of quality everyday in freebie swag. It's borderline mythical.

You know the scene in Goodfellas where Tommy's gonna be a made man, where the mob is bringing him in officially and he's gonna be one of the Goodfellas, but then when he goes into the meeting the guy comes from behind the door and blows his brains out and you know they're going to bury him in a building foundation somewhere in East Jersey, but instead of showing his corpse getting thrown into a car or concrete pour, Scorcese closes the shot with just the pool of blood silently pouring out from his popped watermelon of a skull?

It's like that, except instead of getting tricked and shot in the brain, I got what I exactly what I asked for: a windbreaker and business cards. And instead of dying I entered an eternal purgatory of talking to consumers and media people in the hot sun while skipping lunch and pretending to enjoy the conversation. And instead of blood pouring out of Tommy's skull, it's any hope I had of getting a fun ride in sometime in the next few days slowly and silently draining from my soul during Sea Otter.

Why else do you think I was wearing a windbreaker on an 80 degree day in California? I was that stoked. I'm bona fide industry now. I'm a made man. It's awesome.

And with that said, you should totally check out my recent @ridegravity van check on VitalMTB. #blessed

My Gravity logo placement makes Lopes look like an amateur. Approaching Nascar level. Need to get a photo incentive in my contract, because that one photo alone could keep gas in the Waambulance for a month.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Won the battle, the war continues

Freedom may have won the race for Gwin, but Bruni still has the points lead after being guarded safely down home soil by the power of the dark lord of baguettes and berets during quali's.

Good vs. Evil.

Die freehuckers, die.

What do these two videos have in common?

Video 1:

Video #2:

A lot.

Two freehucker types, both on downhill bikes, both riding in and around Santa Cruz, CA.

Both riders are experiencing a recent Post Office diaspora (but only one of them had the nerve to actually say "Post Office RIP" in their video description), both are trying to look fast, and both of them aren't.

Both videos have over 40,000 views, and both videos have received almost universal praise. Until now.

Here are some other things both those videos have in common: both videos sucked and if I have to watch another freehucker trying to look fast on a downhill bike the ROBOT APOCALYPSE will begin immediately. You're not fast, and throwing your bike all over the place in a desperate attempt to show how much work you're doing does not impress me.

Wigglin'. The freehuckers solution to looking fast on film.

I can't tell whether all the excessive motion is either:

A) an authentic, honest, and unmodified outpouring of your limited bike skill, and this is actually what it looks like when you try to go fast, or

B) this is a blatant and cynical attempt to milk it for video, and by moving around erratically, squaring off turns, and throwing up dirt at every moment you're trying to convince the viewer that you're. Going. So. Fast.

Who knows? Maybe you protested over and over again to the corporate heads who demand you skid, freeride flick, and square off your way to millions of youtube views so they can line their pockets and light their cigars with the countless wads of cash that come flowing in every time they release another pander-to-the-masses freeride flick video. Maybe you said no so many times, maybe they were wearing you down and this is the one time you finally gave in to the corporate big wigs. Maybe the money was so big, or maybe your mom's in the hospital and things have been so tight lately, and you've started a family of your own and you're thinking of them now and maybe it was all too much and you couldn't keep saying no forever.

This is who I imagine at SRAM HQ calling the shots on small market video decisions.

Either way, my initial response is one of madness and pity.

Madness because the resultant riding that I have to suffer through in the name of quality web journalism pains not just my mind but also my soul. After every ISIS beheading or terrorist attack, journalists the world over are motivated by duty to watch these horrific videos through, start to finish. This is what it's like a ROBOT HQ every time a freehucker posts a go-fast-DH-bike video.

Pity because if someone had just taken these kids to a few races they might have learned something. I weep for the future, and I can only imagine with hope what would happen if more freehuckers went to races and learned to ride a bike. I think back to the time Geoff Gulevich showed up to a NW Cup in Port Angeles and got smoked in the sport category. I bet that was a learning experience for Geoff. [Editor's note: this Geoff Gulevich story is unconfirmed race lore. Readers, please contribute with any conflicting or supporting first-hand experience or knowledge).

I don't like Ben Furbee as a person and I wish him all the worst things in life, but I drove down to Sea Otter with him and we've been riding together, and he comes to mind as a fantastic cyclist and counterpoint to the freehuckers. His riding is actually boring to watch because he has such good bike control:

I also think of Sam Hill and Loic Bruni, who are both so dialed on a bike they almost never look like they're doing anything. Sam has been the darling of every dimly lit race fan for the last decade, but that's because he always goes inside on turns. Whether or not he looks like he's in complete control and whether or not his physical motions are measured and boring, if you go inside on loose turns the people will love you.

Sure his upper body was probably so relaxed in this turn that it looked more like a run to the corner store for milk than a pre-race World Cup practice run, but soft focus on the rider with his foot off and a foreground full of roost and BLAMMO! The sheeple eat it up.

Racing is good for you, and it's good for the sport. Please race your bike. Racing will teach you many, many useful lessons that will serve you and your riding for the rest of your life, but if it teaches you nothing else, it will teach you humility.

When you show up to the start gate after a long winter of freeride flicking your way to internet stardom, you will learn exactly how fast you aren't. I don't know who you are as you read this, but I already know you suck at riding a bike. You don't believe me or you think I'm just some arrogant prick, but please start racing so you can see that I'm right. Hey, guess what? I suck too, just ask anyone who reads this site or knows me personally.

Most working dads who show up to the NW Cup ride faster than either one of those goons from the freeride flick videos. Maybe after a thorough ass kicking at the races they'll learn to brake a little earlier, relax, and let their tires roll through the turn. It's called carrying speed. Try it some time, it's great.

Joey knows how to carry speed, and now he gets paid to fly around the world and live the dream. All thanks to racing.

In a related story, anecdotal and scientific evidence indicates that kids who participate in multiple sports during high school develop a broader and deeper athletic skill set than those students who choose to specialize in one sport. In other words, racing as a kid will lead to better freehucking. Here's an article which covers the scientific side of this story:

Don't like reading? Here's a quick graph from that article that captures the multisport demographics of Urban Meyers miraculous come-from-behind National Championship college football team that just about covers the anecdotal evidence:

Multiple sports as a kid = better.

Ask Brian Foster how racing affected his freehucking:

Or Mike Aitken. Or Andreu. Or Cam Zink. Or Martin Soderstrom. Or pretty much anyone who doesn't suck.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

So hopeful and optimistic

Completed this short film about the Mountain of the Rogue Trail System after two trips down to Southern Oregon, 9 hours...
Posted by Steven Mortinson on Tuesday, April 7, 2015

"The uphill route is three miles, the downhill route is six."

That's like when someone says "you're going to love this downhill trail, dude. It's only a fifteen minute pedal up but it's like a ten minute rip down. It's sick."

They have no idea.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Kill List

These guys want to be the BROastal Crew so bad it hurts:

In a related story, Urge is running a banner ad right now featuring Damien Spaghetti-O's taken in "Leogang Germany:"

It's part one in an online series. Next up "Mont Sainte Anne America" and "Cairns New Zealand."

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Speed wins

French? Yes.
Older than time? Yes.
Lots of hugging and maybe some crying? Yes and yes.

But he still went three times faster than you ever have.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

April Fools

We still hate you.

Funny/not funny

This is an April Fool's joke, and is not funny:

This is not an April Fool's joke, and it is funny:


Commencal releases spy shots of rebadged Bulls DH bike.

Industry insiders confirm that it's not April fool's joke, also confirm that while both shock linkages operate on same principles, they are different enough to not be exactly the same.

Bonus points if you noticed the backwards offset headset in the video:

A picture says a thousand words

Yes, this roundly and objectively awful riding photo was part of an actual article. On the front page. It perfectly captures TEAM ROBOT's thoughts on the average fat bike user.