Dirt. Rock. Wheels. Flow.

Elements of Perfection: Dirt from Whistler Blackcomb on Vimeo.

DIRT

An infinite collection of tiny rocks and decomposed plant matter. You clog my lungs and grit my teeth. You scratch my goggles and stain my clothes. But you also stain my soul. So thank you. Thank you for letting me ride all over you. For being forgiving while I learn whips. For two-wheel drifts and big, fat skids. For providing soft ground between stone and wood. For flowy lines and sculpted berms. For the scars on my shins. For the impressions in my memory. For bringing together others just like me to worship you in this kick-ass place. At once, you are everything to me, but just another small part of the best bike park in the world.  Mike Berard

When you read a piece of copy and it shimmers and ripples and vibrates like a living thing, you know the writer was able to tap into a really true place. My colleague at Origin Design and Communications, Mike Berard, worked on the Whistler Mountain Bike Park summer 2011 campaign, which is rolling out now with this first lovely piece, an homage to dirt (which mostly, I eat. So, hear, hear. Thank you dirt.)

In the lead up to bike season, I’ve been obsessing over flow, chatting to some of the best trail builders in Whistler and Squamish to discover the parallels between that elusive flow state that a creative person is always questing for, and the flowy ride I hope for when I log off and pedal away from the computer.

Big Red Ted Tempany, the wizard behind Squamish’s Half Nelson trail, is about to finish the second phase of rebuilding Lower Pseudo Pseuga. (Support the trialbulding work in Squamish by picking up a SORCA 2011 Trail Pass, an awesome grassroots initiative.)

We touched base recently about “flow” and how to engineer it, as a trailbuilder, so that more riders will experience it. Here’s what he had to say.

Flow is something I first heard about many years ago while getting tips from friends who were trying to help me ride better.  Flow like water, they would say. Ironically all you had to do was follow the path of the falling water down the fall line sections of trail.  In my opinion old school fall line trails really do not have flow, but it is the rider that actually has the ability to flow.  A really  good rider on an expensive bike can seem to make any trail flow.  I try to build trails that allow the water to flow directly across the trail, not down the trail.  This serves two purposes, it keeps the dirt on the trail where it belongs and allows to rider to get off the brakes.  Both extend the  life span of the trail. Now we have a trail that can be  ridden without braking all the time, now the rider can allow the  bike to flow with the trail.  A trail built with this in mind has the potential to turn a passenger into pilot – no longer skidding out of control holding on for dear life.  I try to build trails that are hard to go fast not hard to go slow down.  I try to reward experienced riders with new challenges that are only apparent with higher speeds down the  trail.  Less experienced riders still can have enjoyment on the same trail as they also can roll and dip without hard  braking and shifting.  I guess a good flowing trail to me  doesn’t require a full suspension, gravity dropper seatpost, 21 gears and 8 inch rotors.  A well designed trail can be ridden on a very basic bike.  It doesn’t require a $5000  investment to get you down the trail.  This allows Mtbing to be more accessable to everyone.  Ted Tempany 

So this is me, heading out for an afternoon ride, with a love for dirt in my heart and Bruce Lee on my shoulder.  “Be water, my friend.” Love dirt. Be water. (And buy a trail pass!)

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