From Darkness To Light

11 May 2014

‘Freeride Defender’ tshirts for sale. Defend freeride features, shuttling and the word

Posted by Adam Howell

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Freeride mountain bike culture in Durango is under attack and needs defenders–especially on the City of Durango’s open space lands.

One freeride defender thirt conceived of and designed by Austin Hatala and blogger Adam Howell.

One freeride defender thirt conceived of and designed by Austin Hatala and blogger Adam Howell.

Right now, if anyone wants to build an approved freeride mountain bike feature on city lands–be it a jump, a drop, a berm or a log ride–you have to get permission from city officials. Only problem is that they won’t give permission for these types of activities, much less provide a public process for approving them. Unless, that is, you work through Trails 2000 or Trails 2000 agrees with your project enough to make it happen.

Instead, what Durango’s Parks and Recreation Director Cathy Metz does, is she has city park rangers go out and destroy unapproved features that are constructed on city-owned lands, thereby giving the sport and culture little chance of existing in the public sphere. By public, I mean a process where all proposals are given an equal chance of approval, not just the ones pitched by a single group or individual that has political power.

As an example, freeride projects  such as those suggested by this blogger and others go ignored, cast aside by the city and Trails 2000, and the city’s destruction continues.

This destructive, exclusive process leaves little for freeride advocates to do except go out and rebuild these features after they’ve been destroyed, while keeping their existence privy to an underground culture. This secrecy, neither helps nor progresses the sport of freeride.

While many freeride features that city officials destroy are rebuilt immediately, it would be more productive to get the city to agree with a public approval process for building that is open and fair to all–not just Trails 2000.

Nobody should have a monopoly on freeride trails/features construction, yet I will continue to pitch ideas through Trails 2000 and the city.

Meanwhile, hateful citizens of Durango have been caught sabotaging the landings and take offs of freeride jumps on city-owned lands, suggesting a savage minority malice towards the sport in general.

This is the context of where our ‘Freeride Defender’ and ‘Freeride Friendly’ tshirts were conceived of and designed by Austin Hatala and I–in an environment where freeride features are under attack and the best chance for survival is to defend the sport through simple messaging involving two words and an image.

This screenshot was taken from Velorution Cycles' website on May 9, 2014.

This screenshot was taken from Velorution Cycles’ website on May 9, 2014.

Secondly, the concept of shuttling is under attack by the owner of local bike shop Velorution Cycles. Owner Joey Earnst is proud to publicly attack the concept of shuttling, something that downhill freeriders use to help sustain the sport’s existence.

In order for the concept of gravity riding to exist with downhill bikes that are suitable for hucking big jumps and drops in places such as Log Chutes, we need to support and *defend* the concept of shuttling these bikes with vehicles.

We still don’t have lift-served freeride trails at DMR or Chapman Hill, and the proximity of their creation is tenuous at best. We’ve got to defend freeride by defending shuttling.

Thirdly, the word ‘freeride’ is under attack by Trails 2000 and politically correct trendies who see riders who pick their own lines, skid, or huck as unsustainable threats to public lands and other trail users.

It is in this context of freeride being attacked in a trifecta of different ways that this blogger will defend freeride and encourage others to do so, as well, under the messaging of ‘Freeride Defender’ and ‘Freeride Friendly’.

For those that agree, thank you for supporting the defense of a public, not privatized, freeride mountain bike culture.

IMG_1629IMG_1630Freeride Defender Ladder Drop Tshirt

The culture of freeride mountain bike culture is under attack on public lands in Durango, Colorado. Public officials and haters are destroying jumps, sabotaging natural occurring ledges, and environmentally-friendly freeride features. Some are even going as far as trying to eliminate the word ‘freeride’ from the mountain biking vocabulary.

If you wear this tshirt, you probably support the right of freeride mountain bike culture to be allowed to legally exist on public lands–the berms, jumps, drops, rollers, rocky outcroppings and log rides.

Conceived of by Adam Howell and designed by Austin Hatala.


























Freeride Defender With Full-Face Knight’s Helmet

IMG_1631When the culture of freeride mountain biking is assaulted by a few discriminatory people in your community, what are you going to do? Roll over and play dead, or stick up for what you believe in and develop the sport for the future?

I hope that you’d want to become a freeride defender and realize the relevance of mixing the design of a knight’s helmet with that of a full-face downhill helmet.

Helmet conceived of and designed by Austin Hatala.

































Freeride Friendly Wallride Tshirt

IMG_1634 IMG_1637Having big banking turns to ride up on with your bike is an attribute of a successful freeride feature. Around here, it would be freeride friendly, while showing support for freeride mountain bike culture.



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6 Responses to “‘Freeride Defender’ tshirts for sale. Defend freeride features, shuttling and the word”

  1. Oh, Adam. “Under attack” are a couple of pretty strong words to describe normal BS bureaucracy with a governing body, and especially VC’s playful shirts for people with a sense of humor that aligns with ours. For the record – I agree completely with the idea that Durango could use some more technically interesting trails, and that what we do have is way too often “sanitized” by (most often) rouge individuals who tear up stuff that makes the trails fun. Last year, when some yahoo was out jackhammering rocks in Sailing Hawks to create new lines around all the hard stuff – or removing the obstacles completely – who went in to attempt a “rewilding” of the trail? We did. Velorution Cycles did, and we partnered with T2000 for a workday to show community solidarity. How well it worked is for everyone else to ride and decide, but there are areas that are still considerably better than before we re-constructed them.

    Don’t conflate my dislike of driving bikes around (which we all do to some extent, I just think it’s often excessive) with an “attack” on or “hatred” of so-called freeride culture. You’ve got this habit of couching every little thing in the most extreme terms possible, and that’s not helpful or honest for anyone. You want people to support more technical, advanced riding in our community? Don’t make pretend enemies out of everyone who doesn’t think exactly like you. We’ll all get along much better, and then we might get something done.

    I have no problem with bigger bikes. I have no problem with aggressive downhill riding, or jumps, built features, etc. I have no problem with pushing for more advanced trails in town.

    I do have a problem with people pretending that some trails are one-way (an incident or two from last year comes to mind – someone “training” for the BME on Crites was complaining about accidents with people riding uphill – on an easy two-way, open trail).

    I do have a problem with “enduro” (whatever that means) when the way it manifests in our community is the BME coming in and wrecking one of our most advanced trails, Raiders Ridge – trail sanitation via so-called advanced DH riders? That’s irony.

    I think MOST shuttling is unnecessary and silly (after all, when one spends $4-5k on an enduro bike made specifically for up AND down, why only use it half the time? As I’ve said, true DH bikes are a different story). I made a goofy shirt for people who think in the same vein (and the response has been positive). You think freeride is under attack. You made a shirt for people who think the same. What’s the difference? Lighten up, my friend. This ain’t no war zone. Enjoy the ride!


    Joey Ernst

  2. Joey, I do appreciate the reconstruction of a challenging rocky outcrop next to a bouldering area that someone had sabotaged up in Sailing Hawks. Thank you for rebuilding that with T2K.

    On another trail, there is a war going on up in the Sailing Hawks/Dalla Mountain Park area between freeriders and city officials. Both city officials and freeride haters are sabotaging natural ledge drops, and jumps, with the features being rebuilt shortly thereafter.

    It’s obviously a conflict of cultures.

    Why is the city wasting our taxpayer dollars with this destruction that gets fixed by freeriders almost immediately afterwards? I pay taxes here and I don’t see why some primitive, low-impact, environmentally-friendly trail features cannot coexist with everything else that’s up there.

    As for shuttling, if it wasn’t for riding big bikes on Log Chutes, Haflin Creek and Vallecito, the speeds and air times wouldn’t be nearly as enjoyable. While most of the riding I do is with an all-mountain trail bike, I support shuttle riding all the way when I have buds to ride the big bikes with.

    Some don’t have downhill/freeride bikes yet and they can join in on the shuttle rides to see what’s possible on a long-travel bike before they invest. They need that companionship, mentoring and encouragement to evolve into the ability to express themselves in the air or up on some features.

    As for Raiders Ridge, I’d say that any time you have 250 aggressive riders bombard a trail at high speeds and then leave the next day, you can expect that some features are going to get smoothed out.

    I have asked for permission to build jumps on Raiders Ridge and was turned down by the city and ignored by T2K. I will ask again, and if there’s a feature that you want to build up there, you should ask, too.


    Adam Howell

  3. ‘Sanitation’ would be the word that I’d use to describe your reference to normal BS bureaucracy that the city and freeride haters’ employ in the destruction of freeride features on public lands.

    Is destruction that results in reckless endangering a pacifist action on part of those freeride haters, then? I think not. It’s an attack plain and simple.


    Adam Howell

  4. Agreed on most of what you’ve said here. I have no problem with the various newer advanced jump and ledge lines in the Sailing Hawks area (there’s also some more primitive advanced singletrack up in there that’s under attempted eradication, and as a huge fan of that trail I’m not happy about that!). You certainly won’t find me up there, or anywhere, tearing anything out – unless it’s a new easy line around an established trail obstacle. Keep singletrack single, right?

    I get the shuttling thing in those circumstances, as I’ve said. I’ve worked two MTB World Championships and many World Cups, and a true DH bike is obviously not designed to go uphill. And I definitely understand the companionship factor, my friends and I always have fun together on rides or road trips. It’s just seeing people drive their XC bikes across town to the Gulch, or all-mountain bikes to somewhere as close as Junction Creek, that seems excessive. And that’s an opinion, not a decree!

    Raiders – unfortunately, it wasn’t just from race day. As soon as it became public knowledge that one stage was going to be along Raiders, it got way more traffic than ever before, and got purposefully “worked” for race speed at the expense of its fun technicality. Lines around stuff, rocks stacked or moved out of the way, trees cut or removed to make things easier. I’m all for trails for all skill levels – but we don’t have many trails like Raiders, and I’d prefer if it was just left well enough alone.

    As I’d figured, we have more in common than you might think. I’d appreciate you taking what I say or do one piece at a time in its intended meaning, and not applying a blanket philosophy to me without knowing what I’m about and why. I’ll extend the same courtesy to you, as with anyone! Keep the rubber side down.


    Joey Ernst

  5. Freeride mtn biking is under attack as seen by the phsyical actions of government employees and individuals who destroy features that bring much joy to those who ride them. Those vc shirts also don’t help with acceptance of a popular type of riding bikes. But I think its great that some people have the body type and mentality to ride their bike everywhere. I don’t. Devinchi makes some of the best dh and dare I say enduro bikes, why sell those bikes when you don’t support that style of riding? The overall snotty attitudes at vc has turned me off from going there.
    As far as sanition, that issue has been blown out of proportion by a loud minority who wants to make trails less enjoyable for the majority of users. I’ve been biking raiders ridge and the hawks for 15 years and I think the trails are riding better and are more fun than ever! I love tech but I love flow as well and most of the trail modifactions I’ve seen makes the trails flow better. I have xc racer friends who still are scared of raiders and walk a good portion of the trail.
    I have friend who boulders at the hawks a lot. Some guy came up to him with aggressive attitude and asked if he’d seen people working on the trail. He said no, but he had seen the trails get a lot wider since more bikes were up there. People just ride around the hard parts making the trails a unsightly, erosion prone road. Mtn biking around there just wasn’t practical or fun back in the day for 90 % of riders. But yes, i agree that we shouldn’t allow all of our tech trails to be made easy. But if i see a big loose death cookie, im kicking off the trail. You want more tech and rugged riding? Go off trail! Ride all of sweet desert and mountain terrain we got, its fun and limitless.


    freeride defender

  6. Places like Raiders Ridge have no shortage of technical features for those interested.

    Kicking a loose death cookie off of the trail is a minor trail modification to make it flow faster compared to stacking rocks to give riders a challenge in climbing up on an entire rock outcropping where you are forced to commit to the route or eat serious shit by falling a long ways off of your bike.

    My point being that most of the rock stacking that I see going on up on Raiders is done to create a more challenging route involving big slabs of sandstone, as opposed to just staying on the single track dirt.

    I guess there probably is some rock stacking going on up there to make the trail smoother in places, but i would by no means consider it to be ‘smooth’ by any stretch of the definition.


    Adam Howell

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