Thursday, December 17, 2009



"You Have Crazy Ideas, I Agree." - Colin Rooter


There seems to be a surplus of wild-directionless race promoter energy bouncing around in this post-IWCII void. Some of this energy has been directed toward digging up facts about Massachusetts races from the past. Things like EFTA's Wrentham State Forest race (allegedly quite hard, which is what I would have imagined). And The Boston Cup races held in Needham Town Forest. This with the idea that someone (not mentioning any urls) might be attempting to put on a mountain bike race.

You can't just Google these things. These races were held pre-internet, pre-blogging, to find stuff out about these races you have to actually talk to people (and of course by "talk" I mean email them). Right now I have an email thread going with a half dozen people, trying to put together the pieces. In ten or twenty years mountain bike racers will be able to park their hover cars, hover inside their geodesic dome homes with their hover shoes, sit down in their hover office chairs, and look up races from the early part of the millennium with ease. Thanks in large part to jabbering imbeciles like me and my blogging buddies. I have never thought about what a service I am doing for posterity.

Wow, I feel good about myself. I am going to pour myself another cup of coffee.

Something I'm contemplating right now (see me up there contemplating?) is how to make mountain bike races more like Cross races, but in a good way. Not in a "let's ride around a schoolyard in circles way." There has to be a happy medium between that and, as Mr. Myerson puts it, "riding around in the woods by [yourself]." There has to be a way to make it more spectator friendly without making it a Short Track course (which is exponentially lamer than a Cross course).

I mean, I like riding mountain bikes, I ride them all the time, I do it by choice, and I don't suck too too horribly at it, therefore I enjoy most mountain bike races. Even the hard-tarded ones like EFTA's Glocester Grind and Treasure Valley Rally. Mountain bike races can be so hard that beginners wind up walking more than riding...and that's no fun for anyone. I'm not sure what the answer is to that problem. The thing about a cross course is: anyone can ride it. Their ability level just determines how fast they do it. And they probably aren't going to die trying.

I've always thought that it's incredibly funny that Mt. Snow has a beginner race at all. There is no beginner way down that mountain. There isn't really a beginner way up either. It's a massive suckfest even if you kind of know what you're doing.

The problem with most good mountain bike races is, however good they might be for the riders, they have almost zero spectator appeal. Most mountain bike races are like that, even the stupid ski area ones. Is there a way to get spectators out to the more interesting parts of the course? Is there a way to show them what's going on in the less accessible parts of the course? I have no answers today, I'm just asking questions, thinking out loud here.

And trailing off about this subject here...


Below is a video of Adam "Da Spyder" Snyder hopping the barriers at the verge NBX race a couple weekends back. It was a hard approach but he pulled the hops out of his ass and got it done. I'm pretty sure you could slip the kid a Ruffie, blindfold him, spin him around in circles until, he was dizzy and vomiting, point him in the general direction of a barrier — and he'd hop it.

If you listen "carefully" you can hear some mega-douche shouting encouragement at Adam.

Why do I call him "Da Spyder?" Well a few months back, out at SSWC09 Durango, I ran into Adam at a bar. He was with his posse of "Durangutans," I threw up my arm shouting "Adam, my man!" He gave me a hand to neck, cut it out type motion. Then covering his mouth halfway with his hand he said, "Dude, be cool, everyone out here knows me as Da Spyder." I started to laugh, but my laughter ended abruptly and painfully as I found myself in mid-flight, head aimed right at the corner of a wooden table. The next thing I recall is a hand grabbing me by the throat and lifting me off the floor, out of a thick pool of my own blood. Through his gritted teeth he spat "I SAID, out here, people call me Da Spyder! Got that?" "Sir! Yes Mr. Da Spyder sir!" "Do you work at Panera bread ass face?" "Sir! No Mr. Da Spyder sir!" "Then what in the wild wild world of animals are you making sir sandwiches for?!"

And that is why I call him Da Spyder.

Adam "Da Spyder" Snyder Verge NBX Barrier Hop 2009 from thom parsons on Vimeo.

14 comments:

zencycle said...

"Most mountain bike races are like that, even the stupid ski area ones"

I'm glad I'm not the only one that thinks ski area races are stupid

when you said you were contemplating I immediately though of this

Jeffro Herriachi said...

For regular XC events, or even multi lap enduro's, I feel the future is urban style courses. Such as in Philly, Richmond, or the old and sweet Jack Rabbit Run. Tight twisty courses, lots of view points, PA and music heard from most sites on the course; food, beer, crack, broken glass, smog..access to large populations along with the oportunity for non-participants to check us out. Why not?

Colin R said...

I like Jeffro's style. Anyone got a venue that meets that criteria near Boston? Minus the crack if necessary.

Big Bikes said...

The simple fact about the ski area races is that they are virtually the only place in a rural environment where there's the infrastructure to support an event. You have to work pretty hard to get around that.

I remember reading something,not sure who said it, perhaps someone involved in the US Cup Pro XCT stuff, that mountain biking has to come to city parks. At the time I thought that was so frickin' lame, but it might be part of the answer.

The guys at NYCMTB have that Highbridge race IN Manhattan. It is sick. But again, infrastructure. Don't know if it has that much room to grow (sort of like my silly little race).

Thanks for the input.

-t

rick is! said...

Maine Sport in Rockport ME has a sweet race that happens on a 10 acre parcel of property that the store owns. It's a swoopy, bermy, tighty, twisty good time and it's about as spectator friendly as I've seen a real mountain bike race be. Spectators (if there were any at least) could plant themselves in one spot and only have to walk a few steps to slap your ass 4-5 times per lap.

It can be done but it can't be on an epic type course.

Lynne said...

thom. if you are talking about the early 90's Treadhead Classic in wrentham - i was part of the club that promoted these races and still hang with the other key people that were part of the race promo. good times. lmello211@gmail.com

Cary said...

Snoodle Is the bombshit.

CB2 said...

Not a short course, but shorter, like a Houffalize, where laps are in the 20 minute range on a serpentine course. With a ski resort, if it wasn't such a priority to get as close to the top as possible and maybe drop down to the base or close to it, with a figure 8 type of course it might work better.

matt said...

why fight it... just race cross.

zencycle said...

Blogger Colin R said...
"Anyone got a venue that meets that criteria near Boston? Minus the crack if necessary."

Lawrence, MA - I've toyed with the idea of putting on a race there for a while. The have a new high school that I think would make a good venue. You'll have to put disclaimers in the waivers about loss/damage of personal property though (not kidding). I was thinking of calling it "Urban Assault"

G-ride said...

there used to be a great race in a park in Claremont, maybe, back in the early 90s. Twisty rooty and a huge tree you had to ride under. Where the hell was that. I really think it was Claremont (NH).

G-ride said...

UVM has a decent setup for an MTB race. They did a cross race there once, on campus, and did not even use the woods out back.

Races on college campuses are a slam dunk for good times.

G-ride said...

And lastly, the old Catamount eastern cup was a short, fun course with decent spectator access. Way better than their cross course.

solobreak said...

I think I might have a Treadhead t-shirt around here someplace, unless it was used to wipe chains and then thrown away. That was fun but not what you're looking for. The race started in the parking lot of a forklift dealership...

Lynn Woods was exactly what you describe but all the "hard core" mountain bikers ridiculed it as a "roadie course" because it had climbs and was wide enough for passing and real racing.

Fight for the Forest in Freetown was another old days race that did quite well with spectators.

Surf and Dirt in Orleans? was probably the best of them all, swoopy fun roller coaster course that twisted around a fairly small area and everyone loved it, beginner, expert, road, and MTB bong hitters alike. Don't know what happened to it.

To my knowledge nobody has ever tried to promote a race at Blue Hills but the Houghton's area would be perfect. Problem is the same as any other urban park. You can't just take it over and displace other park users and in most cases you would need more marshalls than a road race just to keep the peace. That leaves private land. Not too much of that sitting vacant in urban areas. But if anyone can do this it's you and Rooter...