Seth’s Bike Hacks, one of the most popular YouTube channels, recently produced a video about Bentonville, AR and its many trails. It was a great way to spotlight Bentonville, AR and urban mountain biking.
There is a lot to love in the video, if you haven’t seen it yet, watch it below.
It’s a good first introduction into many of the reasons urban mountain biking is a positive for cities. It covers the tourism angle, making your city more attractive to potential employers or employees and providing fun for the whole family. There is much to love about this video.
It might not be the best video to show the general public if you want to get your first urban mountain biking trail. Why? Because of a very important statement that Gary Vernon says in the opening part of his interview:
If you look back in 2006 when the first few miles of Slaughter Pen were built, it was a cross country course. You know you aren’t going to make a double black diamond as your gateway trail. It was almost like a progression with the community as we built trail... let the riders advance and the city to kind of let cities get used to that. Then we started progressing in the size of the jumps.
Coller Park is many things. But it’s not the trail that can be called a “gateway trail”. It’s exactly the type of trail a city grows into. So, while Seth’s Bike Hacks has a splendid job of talking about the positives of urban mountain biking, the trail that is being used as the background and filler video for that discussion is exactly that the type of trail that can prevent mountain biking access.
In other words: that trail is exactly the “scary” mountain biking that people are afraid of, imagining mountain bikers running over elderly citizens. If you look at any of the editorials from anti-mountain bikers, what do they focus on? Well, it’s a split between ecological fear-mongering and safety concerns. Over time, the ecological fear-mongering has dropped down, mostly because of the history that mountain bikers have put forward. It’s hard to argue that mountain biking will wreck a park if a place like the Knoxville Urban Wilderness exists. However, the supposed safety aspect has increased. Groups and persons seeking to prevent urban mountain biking access in various places around the country have harped on the “speeding bikes” mantra. Guess what Seth’s Bike Hacks video shows in abundance: speeding bikes jumping over huge constructed jumps.
Let’s be clear about this: there is nothing wrong with that. But that isn’t a thing that can be done as the first project. There needs to be a learning process here: for the mountain bikers, for the city and for the public. That requires starting with trails that are very much “wheels on the ground” and similar to hiking trails, that is cross country style trails, and working up. Remember, Bentonville started in 2006 with Slaughter Pens, a great trail, but one very much a “wheels on the ground” experience. It wasn’t until 11 years later that Coller began construction.
As much as Seth’s Bike Hacks got it right, it might actually backfire if that is the video you use to show off what urban mountain biking could be. You also don’t need to go to Bentonville to learn how to do urban mountain biking. Knobbies in the Neighborhood can come to you and your city. All the information on how to do urban mountain biking would be available to your mountain biking club, your city staff and the public. If you have been inspired by Seth’s Bike Hacks video and want to do this in your city, contact us today and find out how to make a success of mountain biking in your local park.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.