Wednesday, January 9, 2013

I miss Port Angeles

I grew up in Port Angeles, Washington and cut my teeth on mountain bike riding there. Before there were huge national level races on Dry Hill, it was a old beat down riding spot that was only accessible if you wanted to climb to the top and earn your turns. Back in the day (1998-2001) Dry Hill, the Joyce DH course, and multiple dirt jump spots in and around PA provided me with all of the adrenaline fueled riding I could ever ask for. Before there was that weird 4 cross course near the parking lot (which I helped build) there was an old dual slalom course that I rode at least 4 days a week. I would routinely ride up, do 4-6 laps on the dual slalom course, then do 1 lap on the old white knuckle downhill course. On the way home I would stop by Lincoln Park on the westside and hit some dirt jumps for an hour or so before returning home. Yes, I rode dirt jumps on a 26 inch bike before there were even such things as dirt jump specific 26 inch bikes. These were the days!

Coming from a small town, I figured other cities that are way bigger (like Olympia) probably had WAY more opportunity for rad advanced trails and huge communities of progressive riders who wanted to build big jumps and technical trails and understood the passion I myself felt about mountain biking and riding progression in general. Little did I know, in 1998, PA would be far ahead of a big city like Olympia in 2013, progression wise. Me and my friends, who were intermediate riders at best in the late 90's, were riding trails far advanced from anything we have here locally. This is not about bragging, but about the major difference and perspective in technical skill levels. What is thought of as a "gap" on the LLMT would have not even been considered as anything technically difficult on any trail we rode back in 1998! Even though bike technology is far advanced from where it was when I started riding, it doesn't seem to have helped progression in certain major riding cities (like Oly), and I ask why?? What is holding us back here?? Is it the DNR and their restrictions on trail building? Is it the fact that everyone here is afraid of progression? Does Oly just not know how to ride?? I just can't figure it out, so please if you are reading this, sign up for a google account and reply to this post and answer this question. Why is this community so far back on the progression scale compared to pretty much any other city in Washington? I really need to know so I can decide if this is somewhere worth spending time working on trails and helping in developing some sort of advanced network of trails for like minded riders. Or do I need to give up and just start building illegal trails and continue riding by myself and dreaming of a day when this community finally evolves?

(This post excludes riders in the Oly Dirt community)

My friend Casey in 2001. Yes, all of us boosted this jump on our hardtails like it was nothing. This is DNR land and it's 10X bigger than anything on the LLMT!!


  1. great points matt, thank you for holding it down!

  2. You done said it good, Matt. WTMotherFucker. I miss Bellingham.

  3. But really to me it sounds like the real issue is make up of our local DNR board. If we could get some representation on the actualy board by people who ride (and not 9ers) then I think that oly would be more on par with other venues in the PNW

  4. Yeah, I think that's part of it. But, if we had a riding community that was passionate about building and riding 'progressive' trails, down to their very core, things would just start falling into place. The problem lies in the lack of momentum. I think we need to think outside of FOCF and put together a coalition that wants something new and that has the momentum and enthusiasm FOCF did when it first started. Or completely new leadership of FOCF? Or a new branch of FOCF? Like John said, there is a kettle brewing right now but there seems to be no clear direction to move in. I was hoping other people in the community would read this and reply.

  5. Paid positions in FOCF?? Seems to be working for Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance.

  6. I've thought often about this. I think it is a culture issue and a lack of qualified leadership.

    Olympia has historically had a strong road/xc influence and in the past, the true few gravity oriented riders I don't think have possessed the personalities and communication skills to really make something lasting happen here - in regards to rider community building and land manager relationship building.

    I am glad to see DNR not being used as a scapegoat here. Matt was dead on about it not being them. Anyone local using Big Bad DNR as an excuse for a lack of momentum for advanced trails in the area has either been misinformed, listened to too much Fish Tale Group Think, or needs an excuse for their incompetence, inability to communicate and lack of patience.

    Cohesion in the community and leadership is what is missing.

    FOCF has and is certainly a great force for MTB good in this area. FOCF has done and does do a lot make sure MTB in Capitol Forest is focused on good deeds and positive relationships. That being said, the group is largely made of XC riders - which there is absolutely nothing wrong with - I like heading out in to the woods with the intention of a long ride and hopefully getting a little lost as much as anyone. But this group does not best represent these interests we are talking about here. The leadership has also been in position for a long time - which is good for consistency - but not so good for fresh perspectives and new momentum.

    I hope you stick it out Matt, as well as anyone else who is interested in advanced riding trails in the area. I could see a coalition of these interests getting together and being really effective. The timing right now seems to be good too, there is a lot of talk in separate corners. These people all need to be brought together at the same table.

    I think a separate group focused on advanced riding opportunities, with the support of FOCF, CBC, EMBA, South Sound Bike Park, Team Ben and Mary, The Rock Candy Trail Pirates, The Evergreen Big Ballers, Sub BH Builder(s), The Ghost of Trey Clay etc would be the way to go. Staying independent and primarily focused on this mission with some qualified people leading would work.

    Matt, you should consider putting together a meeting. I think you would be surprised by the interest level.

    Thanks for posting this

    And as far as action on the ground currently goes, the "tuning up" of LLMT is a good place to let the shovel meet the dirt. I'll be out there Sunday

  7. I wrote a really long response to this, but then I realized that like a good college student I've been enjoying my friday night a little too much, and nothing I typed made any sense. Whoops. Ill see you out there sunday, when are you headed out?
    Ill try responding again in the morning.

  8. Let's meet out there between 9 and 10? Work then ride. Jim, can you spare a wheelbarrow for the cause?

  9. 9-10 ish sounds good. I'll bring a wheelbarrow, and a chainsaw.

    I just had my mind blown, a little. I've been calling it wheelbarrel the last thirty seven. I'm not sure how I feel about having my spelling corrected by someone from PA, but there it is. Unbelievable.

    More -

  10. Hi, I'm Morgan, moved here in 2012 at the end of August from Boston. I know I've met Matt and Cam at some of the Super D events. What's up guys?

    Been thinking about this a lot lately.

    For Boston the riding scene there was pretty solid as Matt describes in PA. Until 2008 we had four six packs within walking distance of Fenway Park. That was my home for my entire college career.

    When they were torn down we built a slalom track and another six pack within riding distance of the old jumps.

    Our community was strong due to the college teams in Boston. NU Cycling, Wentworth, BC, BU... we had a veritable army. Add to that a massive BMX presence and you have a recipe for some fun.

    What made our advanced trail efforts take flight was in a large part the community, but even more so was how easy our build locations were to access. Hardly any of us had cars, but we were riding these spots year round, multiple days a week since they were so close.

    Until Neil Siviy hit his head this summer, we were riding his friend Ryan's jumps down in Rochester, but that was a hike! Haven't kept in touch with Ryan so haven't ridden jumps in a while.

    Olympia has a lot of distractions (Amazing ST, skiing, surfing, climbing) and they all have awesome communities built up around them.

    I would really love the opportunity to get involved with a group of riders who talk about chain guides and dirt lips instead of randonneuring and fillet brazed touring frames. (Not that there's anything wrong with those things...)


  11. thanks morgan for being of such strong mind and dedicated talent and for such good input! This is where the fruit meets the fire, our apples need to be caramelized and our riding dreams need to be realized... as jim said "a separate group focused on advanced riding opportunities" seems to be in order