2012: There’s never been a more exciting year to be part of mountain biking, with industry and rider enthusiasm ducking the fallout of economic negativity in favour of, well… just riding bikes.
2012 has been a veritable bike frenzy and we’ve all been part of it one way or another -as someone dishing out some trail love to a new pair of forks, as a spectator at one of the insane displays of bike-mentalness that have dotted the globe, or as a racer lining up alongside big name pros as part of the unstoppable tsunami that is enduro racing.
2012 saw the different threads of our sport pulling mainstream attention while also pushing the previously perceived boundaries of each discipline to new limits. Crankworx unleashed a new level of creativity both from the riders and notably the organisers, the latter seeing the potential for new spectator-titillating events such as the Dual Speed & Style. Creativity is the buzzword and it’s been copied and pasted into every event’s mission statement like autofill gone beserk. You don’t have to look much further than the Rampage to see this in action, with incredulous lines being sculpted out of the Utah dirt, but elsewhere the ongoing rise of city gravity races such as the Taxco in Mexico, or Condor in Bolivia, or even the UK’s Corn Races and Cobble Wobble are taking creativity to new pastures.
Here’s rider Chris Van Dine showing how creative you can be in a Mexican town…
While it’s hard to hit the internet nowadays without your Quicktime plug-in being swamped by shallow-focus DSLR movies or endless headcam clips of everyone and their mates, the real-movie scene got upped a notch with the long anticipated release of two 2012 blinders: Anthill Film’s Strength In Numbers (following their From the Inside Out) and Freeride Entertainment’s Where The Trail Ends. Both combine travel and real adventure, are mindblowingly shot, but manage to keep seperation in directorial style, locations and riding. WTTE’s incredible Contour moments are as close as we’re gonna get to being in the rider’s seat while they push the boundaries of what’s ridable, while for most SIN captured the essence of, well… just going riding. We cornered SIN main rider, Matt Hunter, for an original EpicTV interview in November.
Here’s a quick peek at what life looks like if you can 360 off a cliff in Mongolia…
Okay, so WTTE had Red Bull cash behind its action but adventure has been a big part of 2012. The Rocky Mountain team hit Patagonia while Czech rider Richard Gasperotti steered his own van towards Mongolia on a 6-week odyssey, earning him an appreciation of van-living and my nomination as EpicTV Adventurer Of The Year.
And this month the first mountain bike expedition to the South Pole began. Eric Larsen is currently out there solo, aboard a fat-tyred Surly probably wishing he’d gone and gotten the new SRAM XXI gear set up.
SRAM aren’t alone in pushing things further in the tech side and no doubt it’s fair to say that how we ride today is largely enabled by the innovations that these companies work out. Heady times. The independent approach to product development might yield solution-finding results to many, but represents a headache to parts of the industry and consumers already awash with ‘new standards’. But that’s progress. We wouldn’t be riding suspension if some bloke hadn’t decided to try making it. 2012 is the year we’ve seen an in-between wheel size too.The jury is still out it seems on the merits of the new 650b wheel size, but commitment is already there in other camps.
Wheel sizes, wheel schmizes! Product-of-the-year goes to the dropper seatpost we reckon. Now finally sorted and reliable they are the one thing that is probably changing riding enjoyment, or riding styles, or both, for the majority of us regular riders. And nowhere will you see more droppers than at an enduro event. In 2012 this race format really came home to roost, with the announcement of a new official Enduro World Series for next year. EpicTV pinned down ex-World DH Champ and enduro-racer Tracy Moseley for her take on it all in in EpicTV Womens Weekly no.11 while we nailed DH’er Rachel Atherton for her views on everything else in EpicTV interview in September.
Aaron Gwin delivered a World Cup DH slaying, again, Greg Minnaar nailed the title at the DH World Champs, and lycra became acceptable again when 30 Olympic riders lapped a field in England. But most head turning was maybe trials rider Martyn Ashton’s take on how best to ride the Tour de France winning bike.
Going on this kind of year, we can only assume 2013 is going to be insane. Bring it on!
In the meantime, to fill your holidays with (almost) endless HD bike porn, go to epictv.com/Sport/mountain-biking/173053