August 16, 2002 Features & Images » Feature Story

Feature - Growing pains 

Downhill mountain biking; an evolution not without protest.

Page 4 of 4

And there shouldn’t be any controversy in Austria as the Union Cycling International reportedly approved Dumaresq’s race license to compete in professional sport last March. Under Canadian law, Dumaresq has also been able to change her birth certificate to female.

Hutsebaut said as of last week the Canadian Cycling Association hadn’t received any official complaints from other team members regarding Dumaresq’s inclusion.

The world championships in Austria will continue the evolution of downhill mountain biking. While it hasn’t been an evolution without protest at the philosophical, mechanical and racing levels, there is no doubt it’s here to stay. Extreme technical mountain biking videos, such as the Kranked series, have fuelled the popularity of the sport to current and future generations and to both sexes.

"There’s a lot of nice clothes to wear, helmets to buy and really nice bikes to get on," says Barrett. "It’s like the hot rods of the ’70s and muscle cars. People are sitting there looking at each other’s bikes and going, ‘phoar!’"

All this translates into plenty of business for those involved in the bike trade. Team rider Manus Coyle estimates a 10 to 15 per cent annual growth in sales and customer base at Tantalus Bike Shop since he started working there in 1996. Barrett and fellow bike technician Rob Vasarins have also seen the market in an upward spiral and are banking on it continuing, having launched their own custom wheel building company, Devil’s Choice, for rims that can handle the pounding of downhill.

So if you are still in the old school frame of mind for mountain biking, visualize this scenario to bring you up to speed: A blue-sky day, a bunch of friends, a helicopter drop on the top of Goat Ridge at Britannia near Squamish, followed by six hours of riding down through 6,000 vertical feet. The trail is called Disneyland, and to the new breed of hardcore downhill riders, it’s the ultimate mountain bike playground.

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