On our regular Saturday blast we came across three young blokes in a ute with XC bikes but with full face helmets doing the DH car shuttle thing, drive up hill ride down, drive up hill ride down, driv……..
I certainly don’t have a problem with Downhill or car shuttles, I love DH silliness as much as anyone, its just that there aren’t any tracks in Wagga that in all honesty could be called a DH track, heaps of fantastic ST but no real DH track. The track they were riding on is a nice, short, not so techy bit of singletrack often referred to as the ‘Downhill track’, basically because it goes downhill all the way, and the guy who built it ran some races on it a few years ago.
They were amazed that we were obviously doing heaps of riding but not on the track they were on. When I pointed out that there’s an absolute maze of great tracks down to the west, but you have to pedal, they looked aghast, “we don’t like pedalling man were downhillers”
If these guys were at Bulli, or Thredbo or Mt Beauty etc no problem. But there’s just something about people taking on the apparel of DH doodness then riding a bit of ST and believing they are some sort of extreme elite that really gets my dander up.
What really pissed me off was the way they rode. They seemed able to bomb fast in a straight line but their cornering really made me cringe; grabbing a hand full of brake in berms and switchbacks then sliding the back around, out of control, tearing the track up at the same time. In the four corners I saw them attempt before I rode past them, one of them came off twice and just managed to hold it together the in the other two. I wondered if he believes that coming of your off your bike increases your DH cred.
Apart from them tearing up the track, why did they annoy me? is it because that by believing that they must live the DH image they are limiting the range and type of riding they are doing?
Is it because of some misconception that to be a good rider is to go downhill as fast as possible but without any thought about technique?
Is it because of an image thing that says Downhill=COOOOOL – XC/Trail Riding=uncool?
Is it because of some perceived division that says in MTB you must inhabit one camp and there shall be no crossing over from DH to trail riding?
Is it because they are too lazy to search out something new and challenging?
The irony is of course, if they ditched the image thing, did a bit of pedalling and worked on their technique they’d find all these shit hot tracks to ride and the buzz they’d get would be far far greater than just sliding around the same old short piece of track over and over again.
It worries me that there might be heaps of young riders out there with this same attitude, it can’t be good.
When it comes down to it, it really isn’t my problem, except the tearing the shit out of the track bit, so why am I annoyed?
A counter point offered by Tim Chadd
I would like to briefly comment on Martin Zweep’s rant.
I agree that the division between DH and XC is not a good thing. These young riders you spoke of who said “we don’t pedal man, we’re downhillers” might need to have a quick check of what downhilling is all about.
Their downhill heroes must have a very high level of fitness to be competitive at Elite competitions. The the top Australian DH riders do a heap of XC and …(shock horror)… ROAD RIDING, to maintain and improve their fitness.
During the RAW NRG Australian MTB Championships in Thredbo this year, many of the top DH riders could be seen riding their XC bikes on training rides during the days leading up to the race.
You can not be a good downhiller without a good level of fitness.
The problem I had with what Martin did when he came across these downhill hopeful’s was, that instead of helping to close the divide between XC and DH, he bagged them (the riders).
What would have been the best thing to do would be to offer to show these guys the great trails he knew about. He may even have shown them some cornering and braking skills along the way.
How easy would it have been, to turn a confrontation into what could have been a great way to make new riding buddies, and support and encourage up and comers.
It has recently been noted that the reason Australian mountain biking talent runs so deep is because the top riders are so approachable. You can go to a DH or XC race and ask a top rider for a tip on how to corner better, or how brake more effectively. If the top riders is Australia (who we all know, are also some of the top riders in the world) have time to chat, help and ride with up and comers, so does everyone.
There is no need for the gap between XC and DH. Dh riders must do some XC to keep fit and to practise on a wider range of terrain. Just like XC riders like to do some DH to help cut down lap times or be able to ride more sections of a trail with out dismounting.
If we all help each other, and encourage each other we will avoid mountain biking getting a reputation for being a snobby sport or activity.
Just get out and ride.