Is it just me, or are there heaps and heaps more North Shore lines cropping up in the forests o’ the nation? Thin wooden bridges, ramps drop-offs – basically built challenges popping up in the strangest places.
I’m scratching my head over this for a couple of reasons. One is that riding much of it demands a commitment that I can’t quite muster. I’ll happily admit that I’m not much of a Free Ridin’ Dood – for me the mountain bikin’ experience is all about hangin’ outside and going somewhere.
Don’t even begin to tar me as a wowser though. I’ve been delighted, through work, to plant my butt at the bottom of some of the biggest doubles you could imagine and watch the top crew on the planet throw down some damn impressive moves!! That’s been at big comps – and there’s always been a heap of safety around. Think about the Red Bull, when Shaums March tride to dig a big hole in the Jindabyne dirt – there were medical people all over him straight away.
It’s not quite the same as coming across something new in the middle of the bush and then regretting having a go at it as you wait for the rescue helicopter.
Again, don’t get me wrong. It’s elemental to the sport that we ride stuff that is not boring and flat. There is certainly a place for this stuff in the mountain bike thing we do. It’s the natural extension to technical singletrack. But please, if you’re involved in building this stuff, think very very hard about the implications of what you’re doing.
Last weekend we came across someone’s handy tie-wire and pallet work in a bit of roadside scrub a few hundred meters from some houses. It pissed me off. Let me tell you why.
Firstly, they’d used a heap of star-pickets to stabilize the construction. The resulting structure was solid as, but the way it was built was a disaster waiting to happen. The unprotected star-picket heads were outside the structure – just waiting to rip someone’s face open.
That’s fucking appalling. Regardless of what you think you are doing when you make something like this – if it’s not on private property you are making it for anyone to ride. That includes the local 9 year old, who doesn’t see risk, just a chance to emulate that guy on NWD3 – or perhaps the chance for a free ride to the local emergency ward – or worse. As the builder, you have a duty of care to your fellow riders to make it as safe as possible. Bugger the law, it’s just the right thing to do.
Beyond that, think about what stuff like this does to our public profile. As mountain biking moves through it’s third decade – and more mountain bikers move into positions that can help influence opinion, our prospects are improving. For example, there are a heap of mountain bikers in NSW State Forests – and they’re dancing into the future hand in hand with this very website.
But when Dr and Mrs Letter-Writer see a bunch of kids nailing timber to trees out the back of their million dollar mansion, guess what? They aren’t seeing sik lines and gnarly drops. They’re seeing the moral decay of civilization as we know it! And they won’t be afraid to yell about it to the local powers.
So if you’re humping an old pallet into the bush to bust out a bita North Shore action – go hard – but think twice about how and where you’re doing it! Trust me, about the last thing you want to do is have one of your mates bugger themselves up because of some crap mistake you made.
And if you come across a bit of burly construction deep in the bush, think before you take it on. Ask yourself the same questions you should each time you turn your wheels down the hill and toss it in the big ring. How much could this hurt if it all goes pear-shaped? How will I deal with it? Is there someone close who can help out? Don’t look to me for these answers, cause at the end of the day the only person who is ultimately responsible for your actions on a bike – is you.
Admin note: This was an article dug up from our unpublished archives. The original author is unknown but if you’re they, ping me…. I’ll know if it was you or not.