Sunday, June 22, 2014

apology feigning serious inquiry

George Babbitt has a new column where he blames rogue trailbuilding for the growing anti-MTB sentiment.

George can't see what his own activity has done to cause the anti-MTB sentiment.  But then, why would he look at himself that way?  He's George Babbitt!  Boosting is his essence, and his driving value, and his whole existence.

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When you "grow the sport" by enticing people to participate when they weren't already going to become riders by individual drives alone, you create a whole mess of Fad Followers who haven't devoted themselves to riding.  They buy expensive shit, which is what Babbitt really likes and why he works as he does.  The more expensive shit we see coursing through the waters of commerce, the happier Babbitt is.  This is why his writing is always boosting.  This is why his criticism is always tepid and for the most part, distraction under pretense of objectivity.

"Grow the sport" faddists get expensive new bikes that they don't know how to ride. These expensive bikes have great suspension and handling circa 2014 (as compared to the pre-boom era that existed a scant decade ago), which means faddists haul ass at speeds well above where they can brake effectively and sufficiently avoid collisions and other trail mishaps.

The faddists come careening down hills thinking descenders have the right of way.  Of course they do, right?  MOUNTAIN DEW, BRAH!  EXTREME!  explains one of the perspectives thinking this way.  STRAVA RECORD IN THE MAKING, BRO!  explains another.  Rookie ignorance is the underlying cause.  Rookie was boosted into the sport with the puff-ups offered by Babbitt and his boys at stinkbike.  And by the jr high school-level "informed commentary" you can find at VitalMTB.  And by the Trinkets-R-Us! discussions found at NSMB.

With so many faddites riding well over their heads, bad trail encounters are bound to happen, and with so many people operating under the Spoiled Fucking Brat mindset that grows out of Every Child A Precious Unique Snowflake perspective, the wrongdoers can't even imagine they are riding like assholes.

But they are.  Straightening chicanes, widening trails into tracks, shortcutting wherever the trail might slow them down or make them feel less than Godlike.  Removing rocks & roots because that's what bikepark is!

All of this has been sold to Internet Viewers of MTB Related Content during the past decade of boomtime, and it's really ramped up in the past 3-4 years to the point that now, if you observe any of what I've just said, you're accused of being "elitist" (as if that really means anything useful or adds anything useful to analyzing the problems) and told that you need to help "grow the sport".

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On top of what I've just said we have the general pitch now offered by all MTB Babbitts -- that everything should be "flowy" or otherwise resembling a BMX ish layout proceeding down a hill; that everything should be groomed; that everyone should feel immediately gratified despite rookie status; that nobody should ever work on improving their skills.

Because, y'know, that way nobody would buy expensive shit.  OOPS.  There goes Babbitt's badass industry insider job.

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I'm sorry, Richard Cunningham, but you're far more to blame for what's happening now than any rogue trailbuilder.

15 comments:

CliffsNotes said...

George F. Babbitt, the novel's main character, is described by the 1930 Nobel Prize committee as "the ideal of an American popular hero of the middle-class. The relativity of business morals as well as private rules of conduct is for him an accepted article of faith, and without hesitation he considers it God's purpose that man should work, increase his income, and enjoy modern improvements."

http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/literature/laureates/1930/press.html

the reason commentariat said...

George Babbitt sounds like a hero, not a satire. I bet that Sinclair Lewis guy was a stark raving Marxist. Who else, what other kind of character, would criticize the obvious Holy Capitalist Trinity of Hard Work - Increased Income - Enjoy Modern Improvements?

the reason commentariat said...

How else are we going to colonize space and bring that Star Trek vision into reality sooner, rather than --as Redweld obviously would have it-- never?

How else are we going to become cybernetic organisms who live forever in a human/computer hybridized eternity?

pinkbike bro said...

You just don't get it. You really don't get it.

We need to grow the sport. I have only 2 hours a week to ride. I don't have as much free time as you loser unemployed "critics" and I can't spend time putting in miles and building my skills. When I go ride, I need to feel heroic and my ego needs big validation. The bike industry has responded to people like me, not people like you. Grow up. Get over it.

When I spent $10k at my LBS this March, I helped the economy in ways your "critical" observations never could understand. You'd have everyone riding fully rigid bikes with rim brakes. And probably drop bars. Get a clue.

stuckinsidemyonlineidentity said...

When I do my monthly bike ride, I am always questioning my tire choice and wondering whether I should have got a different fork, or frame, or seatpost, or saddle, or handlebar, or grips, or maybe even brakes. I went to 1x10 because I couldn't get used to that stupid front derailleur, I broke 4 chains and bent a front derailleur cage on one of my monthly rides (which got broken into 5 different 15 minute intervals thanks to the broken chains and bent derailleur cage), and never looked back. The industry is solving problems riders like me experience regularly, and apparently you think you're some kind of badass who doesn't have these problems the rest of us have. What an elitist. I'm putting you on ignore.

Ennis Emby said...

I tried to fix some of the obvious trailbuilder mistakes at my local trail network. I found corners that nobody possibly could handle, rocks that stopped me in my tracks, roots that deflected my tires dangerously off-course, ruts that forced me into a line I didn't want to ride at that speed without a full suit of armor and a fullface. The obvious solution is to make the trail easy so nobody gets hurt. We have wives and children to provide for. We can't be laid up and unable to work. We can't get injured riding some hard-core elitist trail that has impossible features.

Cunningham is right. Trails are built by rogue elitists who don't want to grow the sport responsibly, with safe trails that my 6 year old can ride on his first time trail riding.

Priscilla Houle-Eaton said...

Think of the children. Do you want your child dying of a broken neck while you're out enjoying some quality time as a family on the local trails?

Of course you don't. Trails should resemble sidewalks or other paved bike paths. That's bicycle riding. It's not supposed to be some death-defying feat available only to that 0.001% of humanity who have an active death wish.

Gomer Hamfist said...

I agree with stuckinside. Those front derailleurs make no sense to me at all. Of course I drive an automatic transmission car, and always have. And I always throw it into Drive while I have the engine at 2500rpm or higher. Why are u-joints so fragile?

Stross Jonkers, M.D. said...

Listen, my children are going to be the next Jackson Goldstone and if I'm not yet ready to move us to Whistler, then I'm going to insist that Whistler be recreated where I live now. I'm already providing a Mountain Lifestyle for my family.

As soon as I can convince that lamentable ski "resort" called Snowbowl to add faster high capacity chairs and 10 new groomer machines, I'll have completed my Personal Social Agenda for Community Change which Betters Everyone's Mountain Lifestyle.

You don't understand the pressure there is on us professionals to raise burly outdoor hero sons here in Missoula. All of us professionals are competing through our children.

I may try slackcountry skiing next year, if I can feel safe that Search & Rescue will cover me if I should get lost or hungry.

Flatland R. Nimrod, J.D. said...

I got a set of DPS Wailers this year, Stross. With Dynafit Beasts. It's a badass setup. Make sure you get whatever boot Hoji uses.

In Missoula, the best Outdoor Lifestyler is the one with the most expensive gear. Of course some of those crusty old dirtbags at Snowbowl will tell you they ski just fine on some crappy Rossignol, but in my opinion you have to be on DPS, Praxis or ON3P if you want to score maximum Mountain Lifestyle points.

Whenever I'm talking at a cocktail party to another Missoula professional, I am careful to remember that recent outdoor gear purchases are what distinguish us Missoula Professionals from the reactionary scum who don't even know what Audi's latest AWD smells like as you climb into it after a long day spent talking to your buds on Lavelle about how you're gonna slay Jeni Bowl as soon as it gets enough coverage.

blister gear review fan said...

I wouldn't ski at Snowbowl or live in Missoula unless I could build a 10k+ sq ft new home in upper Grant Creek. I don't understand why we can't build houses on the upper part of Snowbowl Road. Of course, the closer you are to Snowbowl, the further you are from Missoula International Airport. Do you want to do most your driving between airport and fourth home, or between fourth home and resort? These are the questions that plague us at blister, and it's why we haven't talked about what runs at Snowbowl we would ski if we were reviewing the ON3P Caylor.

finnrambo@pinkbike said...

The problem is erosion and how to deal with it so BC Parks or whatever land owner is convinced you're not hurting the environment. Some people use rock armouring which works but makes the trail less than fun, the newer method is gold dirt and drainage which works but the trails are still torn up after rain. The method that doesn't work is telling people to "not ride in the rain" or to "avoid using big bikes on this trail" very few people will follow those rules (the "don't shit where you eat" rule isn't followed by people, I don't know why) and big bikes aren't the sole cause of erosion, people using hardtails or bikes with decreased traction and idiot riders cause erosion just the same.

Chet Redweld said...

"The problem is erosion."

Really? What do you know about ecosystem biology, finnrambo? Enough to know the problem is what you allege? Or are you just regurgitating what land managers use as their excuse for bikeparking whatever trails they deem allowable?

If erosion is the problem, then how about a comparative analysis where all sorts of trail users and their use get analyzed from the perspective of erosion. But more importantly, how about some demonstrative evidence of the erosion doing some harm?

How about where erosion is cited as the thing to avoid, thus no new trails and no existing trails getting maintained? Yet, then at the same time, the same land manager approves and builds a big new parking lot (huge soil disturbance, huge erosion magnitudes worse than any trail construction if that built by intelligent and low-impact standards) covered by a big patch of asphalt (nice petroleum into the sensitive ecosystem, eh?) and now the number of users is quadrupled?

That's NOT worse than theoretical erosion?

You really do have the wisdom to speak on erosion, eh?

tucsondh66@pinkbike said...

The way I see it most forests I've seen trails in ( at least in the south west) are in unhealthy over grown forests. Forest are not supposed to be so dense with trees and its the same reason so many fire fighters die each year. Trails are like pre built fire lines they can provide fire fighters a way out and help slow the spread. If you don't ride a trial in couple years the forest will take her back anyway!

Chet Redweld said...

So you're saying that forests don't manage themselves well, and become overgrown unless humans intervene?

Seems you're as ecologically and scientifically mistaken as finnrambo.

Forests don't need humans to "fix" them.