state of the mountain bike nation

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i got an email today from USA Cycling. i’ve qualified to race the US MTB National Championships. Never mind, now, that i’ve raced my mt bike once this year, and got my ass handed to me. i’m semi-pro, baby, and anything goes. they want pack fodder. gotta make the start line look big.

The US MTB Nats are in Mt. Snow, VT this year. July sumpin-or-other. Shit! i better buy my ticket RIGHT NOW. ‘Cause my sponsors are gonna FREAK if i take my cash for travel and expenses and go to Mexico like i did last year.

Hang on, hang on. i was a serious mountain bike racer – i even did the NORBA “circuit” for a couple of years, and flew from Missoula, MT to Mount Snow. i know the ropes. and i’m still paying down the debt.

Does USA Cycling really think that i’m just gonna go run out and buy a ticket and plunk down the registration fee?? With what? the $$ i got from selling body parts? after the race, i can be interviewed by Sherwen himself.
Sherwen: “Sullivan, looked like you weren’t on form today…”
Me: “Well Paul, i had the lungs and the legs, but the descents were tricky – see, i sold my cataracts to get here, and my technique’s been a little sloppy since…but thanks to my MAVERICK American fork [camera pans to maverick fork, retail $799] i still finished in the top ten…”

WTF?? I could win the thing outright, going away, and no one would bat an eye.

Seriously, my bro Andy Schultz, a fellow expat Montanan, has taken two top 10’s at the NORBA series this year. Pro style. He’s the real deal. And why does he get in VeloNews? B/c Fred Dreier got wind that he was sleeping in his car at the races. It’s a JETTA, for god’s sake, and he had his bike in there with him, i bet. and Andy’s the future of NORBA racing.

And the semi-pros are supposed to show up in VT? To win a medal, and you gotta pay for your jersey?

It’s hard times to be a mountain biker these days. I was at Sea Otter for the OLN televised aerial coverage of the XC. I was at the landing when then-13 yr old Kyle Streit stuck his seatgrab with the left foot on the right pedal- by accident. I watched him make a living for himself, right there. That year the Deer Valley NORBA had film coverage and trail-side billboards IN THE WOODS. you’re riding along, and suddenly you’re on the outskirts of an athlete’s Vegas. Gatorade. OLN. Chevy Trucks. etc.

The next year there wasn’t even prize money for the pros.

At least now there’s the BC Bike Race. Which will only set me back US$1,645.66 (yeah i converted it) plus some lodging and airfare. and i have to get a partner with the same interests, cause it’s one of these two-person deals. that’s a relief. i’ll do that once i save up to fix the Headshok on my Caddy-dale.

Maybe i’ll be at Mt Snow. Or maybe i’ll just go for a ride in Flagstaff.

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About the sullied cycologist

"measures, daily, just how quickly we are destroying our atmosphere. thinks riding bikes might just help this problem. tapes his middle finger to the handlebar (unsuccessfully represses rage). mountainbikes in lycra. Tomac did it. he does it. he's not Tomac." Missoula, Montana, USA

12 Replies to “state of the mountain bike nation”

  1. just rode with a girl today that is going to that BC bike race,
    man looks fun.. but shit thats hella cash.. poor ass like me
    do that.. LOL

    rock on!

  2. the demise of fun mountain bike racing, so, so long ago … you think that has anything to do with the shit times in the upper tier of racing?

    Remember when races were cheap? When everybody had some fun? When just showing up and getting muddy, dusty and spent and then drunk was 90% of the game?

    So it was this great, beautiful, fun downscale game that served tens of thousands. What did they do? They upscaled it.

    Oh and by the way. don’t worry about Park City and Deer Valley, basically it’s been bulldozed and backhoed and plumbed, heated driveways and every other energy consumptive and generous portions of hate nature behavior you can think of.

    The ski in / ski out condos, and the strip mine haul roads that they call “ski runs” have that place looking like the factory sprawl in Guangzhou. They’ve knocked down so many trees that the trees can’t maintain coolness / dampness in a forest as they should and the remainder are basically dying.

    You cannot find continuous trail anywhere at Deer Valley anymore. It’s all chopped to pieces, leads directly between houses, and is cut into little tiny sections by roads, often gated ones.

    Let’s all cheer the rich, they’re doing such a good job of destroying the planet.

  3. Big Jonny,
    what a small world it is, I used to know Andy Schultz. back when I used to live in Idaho.

  4. This is exactly why I have almost completely stopped attending USA Cycling sanctioned events.

    I’m only 22 and I can “remember the good olde days.” Modern racing is a pathetic remembrance of what the sport used to be about.

  5. Junebug – jonny didn’t write this – i did. Did you race the WIM’s?

    park city is one sad example of a western town. but the race was cool – high elevation, good switchbacks, long climbs. lots of things got upscale in mountain biking – including the mountain bikes.

    As much as i love the fancy eye candy that are mountain bikes these days, i long for the cheaper, simpler steel stumpjumper with Bio-pace and toeclips.

  6. yeah I raced WIMs and some collegiate road racing for Univ.Idaho, 2001-2005.

  7. not in Moscow anymore. I’m working and going to school in St.Cloud, MN. MN is my homestate. I’m still riding/racing, mostly road these days.

  8. An interesting comment from an email got me thinking i need to clarify:

    First off: Andy’s the car-sleeper – not Sam – Sam’s got the full hookup with Subaru Gary-Fisher. He’s got a team SUV, team gear, team hotel, team flights, team this team that. life’s good if you’re Sam – and life’s fun if you’re Andy. Neither of those guys would EVER complain about what they do – and i don’t want to bring the world down on Andy. He’s the nicest kid i’ve ever met, hands down. he uses the blog at; he just took second at a Mountain States race an paid for his trip, rode some bitchin singletrack, and loved the whole thing. He rides for Bear-Naked Cannondale, and they do what they can. it’s not their fault they can’t pay his full ride. they would if they could. the big $$ just isn’t behind the racing, b/c racing doesn’t attract the audience it used to.

    It’s not the fault of companies that racing is the way it is; it isn’t USA cycling’s fault either. It’s the result of the success of the X Games, Mountain Dew Tour, Red Bull Rampage, Playstation, Lance A and the Road Racing hegemony (see comment by Junebug; likely that’s where the prize $$ and sponsorship is, at least that’s the way it is for me), and the shift from fast to fun: trailbikes. people stopped competing, the race numbers went down, and so promoters had to raise prices. As the numbers fell, sponsors pulled out, and racers got less for their efforts. Racers got burned out, etc. That’s the way i see it.

    The efforts of companies like X-fusion, Kenda, Sigma Sport, and other industry stalwarts are keeping mtb racing alive. thanks to them, we even HAVE a national series. it’s just a joke for many of us to try to travel around the continent when there’s nothing in it for us but the story. The stories are good, but eventually some of us want a life that our lady-friends can relate to.

  9. True people aren’t racing like they used to, and yes due to, XGames, Red Bull Rampage, etc; it attracts a different personality. I have encountered people who are getting into cycling, but not racing. A majority of these are kids who want to live in a world of rad. I recently met someone who won’t race because ‘it’s too hard’.