The 2017 RKP Awards, Part II

The 2017 RKP Awards, Part II

The If You Didn’t Suck We’d Have No Fun Imperial Throne: Gravity. When I think about the possibility of living someplace with all the elevation variance of a bowling alley I realize how much my personal enjoyment of cycling owes to the effect gravity exerts over me as I go from low to high and then, more enjoyably, back down again. Of course, gravity’s costar in this little production is the magnificent folding and undulating of the North American plate here in California. After all, Fred Astaire needed Ginger Rogers, McCartney needed Lennon and Willow Creek would be a lot less interesting without the weak force.

The Thanks But No Thanks Sweaty Handshake: IMBA. In coming out against the Human Powered Travel in Wilderness Act, IMBA went from being that guy at the party who stays at the shindig exactly until its time to clean up to the guy who goes full Keith Moon on the contents of your home. I considered calling this the “With Friends Like This Faked High Five” but I can’t seem to find anyone willing to call IMBA’s leadership friendly to mountain bikers. This is achingly sad as I hold Dave Wiens in especially high regard. He has given back to the sport in a way no other rider of his generation has. That IMBA could lose the plot so thoroughly defies comprehension.

The On-Call Technology Embroidered Baseball Cap: Scott Sports’ TwinLoc gets this one. I’ve ridden a bunch of different mountain bikes this year. I’ve reviewed some, but many were encountered in circumstances too unfamiliar for me to feel like I had their measure. In each circumstance my ride was always prefaced with, “You’re going to be impressed with how well it pedals.” Yawn. What impresses me is being able to be on exactly the right bike for the terrain I’m on. Locking out the rear suspension on a smooth singletrack climb gives you a level of efficiency that every suspension system on the planet envies. And having a short-travel bike on flat but bumpy terrain is Boy Scout helpful. Yet nothing stokes me like opening up the suspension and having unconstrained travel for the trip down. Why that system isn’t better respected is as hard to understand as the flat earth bunch.

The Everyone Could Use One Platinum Crown: It took a while to reach the market, but FSA finally got their subcompact crank into production and even offer it at multiple price points. For riding road bikes on unpaved roads it’s the best thing to come along since the 40mm tire.

The Welcome Home Bearhug of Awesomeness: Jim Cummins and LeLan Dains get this for not just putting on the single most legendary gravel event on the planet, one that has done everything necessary to earn its many accolades, but for making Dirty Kanza a true opportunity for Maslowian Self-Actualization, capital S, capital A. The thing is, Cummins, Dains and a handful of other people from the event’s inner circle stand at the end of the finishing chute and personally greet each and every finisher. It’s a flavor of accountability that is perfect in its sweetness, yet is savory the best post-ride beer ever. Nothing makes the experience more real than being validated at the very moment you finish.

The That Was So Yummy I’ll Have Another Gold Tooth: The good folks at GU Energy have taken an increasingly creative (and zany) approach to introducing new flavors of gels in their lineup. Sure, they’ve got standbys like Mandarin Orange and Vanilla Bean, but more recently they have indulged those urges that turn up at midnight as you’re watching Jaws for the 36th time and even though you know Quint is about to get it, you take a spoon to the leftover cake frosting in the refrigerator. I mean, unless you’ve lived moments like that, you don’t come up with flavors like Toasted Marshmallow, Campfire S’Mores, Cola and my ultimate fave, Salted Caramel. Srsly, no one else has made not bonking more enjoyable.

The Holy Cow Biblical Deluge of Generosity: That goes to the readers of RKP. I put out the request for cycling gear in the wake of the North Bay wildfires with all the nervousness of a teen boy asking a girl to prom for the first time. I didn’t know what to expect and a “no” would have crushed me. Instead, to continue the metaphor, the nicest girl in class told me I was cute and gave me a kiss. I’ve relished the opportunity to tell people, “No, seriously, you should take more.” And I’ve been more than humbled when someone has pulled me close and given me a hug as their eyes well up. My life was turned upside down for weeks. I encounter reminders of the fires daily. And yet, I know that I got off easy. In acknowledging how disorienting the fire was I chart that against what it must be like to lose your home. Not just all your bikes and assorted gear, but family photos, the majority of your clothing, your library, family heirlooms. All of it reduced to ash. Wrestling with the insurance companies has sucked, but when they visit me the clothing you kids sent they get a welcome reprieve from filling out forms and running numbers. Thank you.

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  1. Marc

    Nice stuff. But I’ll have to disagree with you on the issue of IMBA and the Human Powered Travel in Wilderness Act. While generally I’m all for expansion of off-road riding opportunities, in this case there’s a bigger issue: the sponsors of the act are trying to co-opt the mountain bike community in its fight to open wilderness to mechanized — and eventually motorized — devices. They’re trying to use IMBA to legitimize their attack on the very concept of protecting wilderness areas. Check here: Mike Lee and Orrin Hatch are not friends of the environment.

    1. Author

      Marc, this has been put down time and again. This is not a Trojan horse. There’s nothing in the legislation that could be used to gain motorized access. Hatch and Lee didn’t go to STC looking for support for a pet project; STC found sponsors for the proposed legislation, and unfortunately, right now the only politicians willing to support it seem to be from one side of the aisle; it would benefit from bipartisan support. I encourage you to read the proposed legislation for yourself; it is but nine pages long.

    2. Nik

      Indeed, mountain bikes on dirt roads in wilderness areas are going to be used to release chemtrails of mind-altering substances, to ensure that people don’t notice that the earth is FLAT ! Just read up on the CIA’s MKULTRA project, it’s more of the same. Lee and Hatch would have gotten away with it if it wasn’t for you meddling kids !

  2. Les.B

    This would probably a small factor, but if MTBs are allowed you can be sure that there will be bikes with hidden motors on the trails.

  3. Steve

    I ride off-road 100+ times per year, and backpack into wilderness maybe twice. I much prefer to walk without bicycles (or horses!) “sharing” the trail with me. We still need wilderness with as little technology as possible, especially technology that degrade other’s experiences.
    Thank you IMBA.

  4. Jonathan

    Nice to hear there’s at least one ride out there following the Trail Running formula. Most trail races have the race director at the finish personally high fiving/hugging every finisher. It’s one of the great things about the sport.

  5. Stehen Mulford

    I agree with Steve’s comments from earlier today. I’m an avid cyclist, including single track MTB riding. I also enjoy hiking solo and with my wife. Whether I’m on a bike or in hiking shoes, my experience of multi-use trails through the years has been marginal at best. Unfortunately, there are more than a few mountain bikers who seemingly can’t be bothered to slow down a bit and yield the trail when it might be called for. Even the most diligently watchful and courteous of mountain bike riders can’t help but force hikers off the trail occasionally. Horse riders often seem to have a healthier sense of entitlement than many bikers do. I’m glad that wilderness areas will still be off limits to mountain bikes. I wish they were off limits to horses as well.

  6. Pat O’Brien

    Has anyone talked to the BLM or Forest Service about this? Both are severely underfunded, have a tremendous amount of deferred maintenance on facilities and infrastructure, are understaffed, and are overly reliant on volunteers. I doubt if either agency could complete the review required in the bill in the two year time frame. Our local Forest Service is being forced to consider day use fees for areas suppported mostly by volunteers and providing no services other than a pit toilet. Lee and Hatch are famous for taking special interest money and delivering legislative results. An example is legislation for the supplement industry. This bill stinks of the same quick strike to get donations. I would prefer to see both agenciesspend their limited time and funds on maintaining existing trails open to bicycles, human powered bicycles.

    1. Author

      I know that here in Sonoma County and in some other locations around the country the only user groups who regularly volunteer to do trail maintenance are mountain bikers. If mountain bikers are completely locked out of an area, they cease to be a population that can be counted on to help with trail maintenance. But I think such a discussion is a distraction. Lee and Hatch have voted for many pieces of legislation I personally detest, but they’ve also voted for things I agree with. Part of the problem of our ultra-polarized political landscape is this knee-jerk reaction to Lee and Hatch that assumes if they are for it, it must be bad. I really wish people would just read the damn legislation.

  7. Pat O'Brien

    Hi Padraig. I did read the bill in its entirety. My next step is to talk to the local FS and BLM folks that I know and see what they think. They are especially reliant on volunteers, mountain bike clubs and the NICA team members, to keep our local single track maintained, as you stated above. Here in the Coronado National Forest, they have just completed a Forest Service road and trail maintenance review, and they are closing some roads and a few trails because of low use and budget restraints. When I read the bill, the 2 year limit struck me as an unfair and unfunded mandate that Hatch and Lee knew the FS and BLM couldn’t meet. If I come up with anything that supports my fear of Lee and Hatch pulling a fast one, or vice versa, I will send you an email with the details. I simply don’t trust those two, especially Hatch, as far as I could throw them.

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