Privateer Issue 16
Things are a little different in issue 16.
We sent Editor Andy Waterman and photographer Daniel Sharp to California to catch up with the state that gave us mountain biking and to find out where the sport sits in 2013. One writer, one photographer, and one huge state to explore in 148 pages.
It was a good end to a long day plotting and scheming, drinking and dreaming (California dreamin); just watching the sun set over the hum and hustle of San Franciscos 11 mystic hills from a taco joint across the bay in Sausalito.
Half drunk on a mix of Mexican beer and intercontinental jet lag, Portland Dan - who was to photograph all this - and I sat eulogising the times we just knew we were going to have driving and riding round this notoriously crazed state for the next three weeks. Nowhere was as good as the places wed go to, the trails wed ride; nobody as great as the people wed meet; no tales as tasty as the ones wed take back with us when it was all over.
The odds were in our favour on all that. California has been important to mountain biking from day one and, whether you know it or not, it means as much in 2013 as it did in 1983. More, perhaps. This was the state that, through a mix of hippy entrepreneurship and anti-establishment libertarianism, helped establish what we now know as the sport of mountain biking. Even though there were comparable cliques doing something similar elsewhere at the same time, those people werent able to market the off-road riding thing, worldwide, the way the Californians did.
Was it all marketing? A lot of it perhaps, but without a broad-minded audience ready to follow the Pied Pipers - Kelly, Fisher, Cunningham, Phelan, Breeze et al - it would all have come to naught. Thats the thing about Californians: they’ve got the will, time and money to give these things a try. And what started on the west coast soon spread like wildfire as pioneers like Specializeds Mike Sinyard took the missionary message of the Fat Tire Flyer around the world on a Stumpjumper.
And so in 2013 California is home to some of the most influential brands on the planet (Specialized, Oakley, Strava, Fox and Santa Cruz to name a few); to some of the most influential people in mountain biking (Aaron Gwin, Rob Roskopp, Brian Lopes and Hans Rey all live in the Golden State); and to some of the sports most important events old and new (like the Sea Otter, and High School mountain biking). To bring it down to the garage level, the chances are that, no matter where you live, theres a product on your bike that was designed in California. Probably two.
So we had crossed the Atlantic to visit the people, places and brands, ride the trails and get to the bones of what California means to mountain biking right now. In three weeks we would only be able to scratch the surface, but Portland Dan and I had a plan and the plan looked good: start in San Francisco, work our way north through Marin County up to Chico, then down through Sacramento to Santa Cruz, before the big drive south to Laguna, to end up off the coast on the island of Catalina.
The excitement grew as the beer flowed and the sun fled into the night. We were eager to get started. First ride: over the Golden Gate to the fabulous white city of San Francisco.