The Trail Snob: We Are the 99%

Now, before you get upset and fire off some poorly constructed, anti welfare state, I-don’t-want-free-health-care-because-they-have-it-in-France rant in the comments section, realize that this 99% refers to all of us who aren’t professional athletes. To be a certified member of the 1% in question requires you are the equivalent of a World Cup-level mountain biker, a Top 32 World Championship Tour-level surfer, or a World Championship FIA Formula 1 Driver. These athletes are at the Top of the Pops, and use equipment so specialized that mere mortals like us—and even the guys racing in the Pro category at your local race—couldn’t handle it.

Case in point:

Downhill bikes are the F1 cars of our sport. These purpose-built race rigs are so optimized, with 63-degree head tube angles, 48-inch wheelbases, and seven-speed 10-24T cassettes, that they couldn’t be ridden uphill longer than a hundred yards, and only on a gentle slope. Point them towards the bottom of the hill, however, and they just want to go faster and faster. At “pro speed,” every little bump is magnified into a wrist-shocking bash, and real obstacles become shoulder-shattering bottom-outs. In order to go as fast as these bikes want to go, pros run their suspension set-up stiff and fast, as different from your bike as pickles and ice cream. Thus, if you were to jump on Adam Brayton’s sled and attempt to lay down a time worthy of the Hot Seat, here’s what would happen:

A pro-level bike won’t work unless you are traveling at pro-level speeds, and you know what? You can’t go that fast. I know because otherwise this would be you instead of Gee and Rachel Atherton standing on the top spots of the Men’s and Women’s podiums in Cairns, Australia.

In the same way that an average surfer couldn’t even paddle into a wave on John John’s board, let alone nail a ten-foot alley oop:

There is no way your Hyundai skills earned from daily commutes on the 405 will translate onto the Marina Bay Street Circuit. Thus, the next time a tree jumps in front of Adam Brayton and his bike ends up in your hands, walk it down the hill, especially if you’ve had a beer or four.