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Story Time: How I Almost Died In Bethlehem, Twice!

bmx trails dirt jumping dirtjumping

Not only did I almost die twice in Bethlehem, I almost died twice in a matter of seconds! Let me give you a little background first before I get into how I managed that feat.

It wasn’t long after I originally found Posh that I began making regular pilgrimages up to the trails mecca that was the Lehigh Valley. I say “was” because though two of the best sets of trails in the world still reside there, it’s nothing like it was back in late 90s when there were literally over a dozen sets of thriving trails the area. It was absolutely mind blowing, and still kind of is now that I’m thinking back on it!

Anyway, myself and the crew of dudes I rode with back then were lucky enough to be welcomed into the scene, and we tried to make it up there as often as we could. We even got to crash at the infamous Superdome! That’s a whole nother story though! So being as none of us drank back then, we would inevitably end up riding around downtown Bethlehem at night after riding trails all day. This was more or less to look at the whatever college girls were left around during the summer and to see what mischief we could stir up.

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Now, I’m No Marketing Genius…

So last night I sat down and did something I haven’t done in a good ten years. I read a magazine straight through cover to cover. I amongst a slew of other people have been anxiously waiting to get our hands on the new issue of Dig which is an all trails issue, well kind of. So since it was still going to be a bit before it hit the newsstands, I decided to download it on my iPad. This was a first for me and honestly I kind of liked it. That’s a whole different topic though.

The first thing that caught my attention as I swiped to the first page was a shoe ad with Bruno Hoffman doing a rail ride. I thought to myself that that was kind of weird, but oh well. Next page swipe, hmm an ad for a Devon Smillie signature frame. Dude’s definitely not known for riding trails, and that frame is definitely geared for street. Interesting advertising choices for an all trails issue. At this point I was wondering to myself if it was indeed an all trails issue or was it just going to be an issue heavy on trails content. Next swipe, ok the table of contents with a picture of a bunch of dudes sitting around at Posh. Well everything listed here is all related to trails, so this is indeed an all trails issue. So then I move onto the next page, and what greets me? An Animal add with Lino Gonzalez grinding around a curved rail! Ok WTF! Maybe none of the advertisers got the memo that this was going to be a “Trails Issue”?

I’ll spare you the breakdown on every single ad that I came across as I made my way though the magazine. Lets just say this. Of the 16 ads in Dig issue 98, only 2 of them had anything to do with trails, or even dirt for that matter. One being an ad for United‘s Indirect Tyre, and one for Chain Reaction with Benny Hennon spinning a jump in Malta. Every other ad was either for completely non-trails related things (ie pegs, street frames, skateparks) or featured non-trails riders riding street or park. Seriously there were two ads for pegs in there! What sense does that even make? That’s like Dockers putting up a billboard in the middle of the hood.

Now, I’m no marketing genius or financial guru but to me there’s some serious problems here. Lately all you hear about pertaining to the BMX industry is how times are tough, budgets are tight, and everyone is cutting back. Now to me that would mean companies need to spend their money more wisely. So is running an ad for a set of pegs or a street frame in a magazine issue completely devoted to trails a smart way to spend money? I’d have to say that’s a negative. So either this BMX budget crisis is completely fabricated and companies have tons of expendable capitol to throw away on ads that will fall on blind eyes, or there’s something else at work here.

Enter my conspiracy theory. All these non-trails related ads are there to try to subliminally influence us trail riders to convert to disciplines of riding that are more profitable to companies. You know ones where people actually replace their bikes and parts more than every 5-10 years.

In all seriousness though, I absolutely loved Dig’s latest “Trail Issue” but I was definitely let down by the content of the ads in it. This would have been a great opportunity for companies to showcase the trail riders they support or the products they make that are geared towards trails. Now I know that some companies have multi-issue advertising agreements already in place, and maybe they are companies that don’t make trails related stuff or support any trails riders. I get that. You know, what are they going to do? I mean if I were the owner, or TM, or whatever I’d tell one of the street rats to take off the pegs, throw on some brakes, and get ready to huck yourself over a jump cause we have an ad to shoot. But that’s just me, and really what do I know?

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Story Time: The Poopkin

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m quite fond of a good prank. Every year when Halloween rolls around I’m reminded of quite possibly the greatest prank that I’ve ever had the pleasure of being involved in. The year was 1996 and I was a junior in high school. There were only a handful of guys who rode BMX in my school so those were the dudes that I hung out with the most. At the time only one person in the group had a car and he quickly became the chauffeur for our little band of BMX bandits.

A few days before Halloween rolled around that year it was decided that Curtis (the dude with the car, or should I say truck) would drive us to different neighborhoods so that we could maximize our candy yield. This decision happened during a talk at the lunch table and during it someone brought up the fact that sometimes people would just leave plastic pumpkins filled with candy on their steps with a note that said “please take one.” We thought that since we would have a car close by we could just take the whole damn pumpkin and truly load up with as much candy as possible. Seems like a sound plan right? Well this is about where the wheels of our twisted adolescent minds really started spinning. What if instead of just stealing a pumpkin full of candy, we replaced it with something better. What could possibly be better than a pumpkin full of candy you ask? How about a pumpkin full of poop with a thin veneer of candy covering the poop! It would also have a “please take one” note attached to it. This way if a kid abided by the note they would be in the clear. Only the greediest of kids would reach the “surprise” we had waiting for them under the candy.

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Holy Shit It’s Our 1000th Post!

Today was a weird day. I was expecting to go about my normal routine of work then digging, but that didn’t quite happen. Instead I decided to take a day off from the trails to go ride around the city with some friends from out of town. It was nice to do something a little different because I’ve had pretty much the same routine going on for the past few months. If it weren’t for my trip to California back in March I would have been able to count the number of times I’ve ridden my bike this year on one hand. Between family, work, CYDI, and trying to get the trails going there hasn’t been much time to think about riding. It’s funny how things change as you get older. Ten years ago I would have gone out of my mind if I went more than two days without riding. Fast forward to now and I rarely even think about my bike most days. That seems pretty weird considering a good chunk of my day is spent looking at bike videos and building stuff to ride. It’s been an uphill battle to get the trails going this year. We took on some pretty big projects that we probably shouldn’t have considering the lack of manpower these days. Somehow even with fewer people than ever we managed to build a whole new section. I’m not going to lie, it was mad stressful and I definitely had a meltdown or two, but that shit is all stacked up and ready to be dialed. Today’s little deviation from the normal program really gave me a chance to think about things and realize what we were able to accomplish and how close we are to reaping the rewards of all the hard work. With a little luck we should be able to have our opening day later this week. For the first time in months I’m actually feeling good about the trails rather than being stressed out on the amount of projects that need to be finished. It seems like a strange coincidence that when I hopped on the computer tonight I noticed that the post count for the site was at 999. CYDI is kind of like the trails in that it is one big ongoing project. As soon as I get one thing dialed with it I’ll have an idea on something else to change or something new to add. We are about a month and a half away from the one year anniversary of site. It’s absolutely crazy to me that in less than a year myself and now Tom Arkus have found 1000 trail related things to post on here. Anyone who says that trails are dead can go fuck themselves! Trails are far from dead, and if anything they are seeing a revival. There are younger riders like the Gnarnia Crew who are riding and building their own trails, legendary spots have become legal, and the trail community as a whole just seems to be a lot tighter. On top of that, I’m still finding pics and footage of trails that I’ve never seen before, even after almost a whole year of searching the internet for anything trails related! I know I’m kind of rambling at this point, but I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’m psyched on where things are. My trails are about to start running, trail season here on the East Coast is about to be in full swing, and this little project that is Can You Dig It is still going strong. Thanks to everyone who checks out the site and everyone putting in work behind a shovel. Here’s to another 1000 post!

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The Water Catcher

Trails live and die by water, and one of the most important jobs at any set of trails is how you manage it. Whether that be planning out drainage, tarping the jumps, or in this case gathering and storing water. I’ve seen more than a few sets of trails fall into disrepair and eventually be abandoned due to a lack of water. Finding a spot close to some kind of water source was one of the main goals when we started our spot three years ago. We eventually found a spot close to a river and got to building. It quickly became apparent that though the river was relatively close it wasn’t exactly ideal to get water from. The first problem was that we could only get water during high tide. It was more of an inconvenience than a problem, and was remedied with an Iphone app that sent tide alerts. The main problem was that making those runs down to the river exposed us to the eyes of people in the neighborhood. We do our best to keep the trails hidden, and dudes walking into the woods carrying buckets of water definitely wasn’t helping that. Luckily we discovered a water source right in the middle of the trails and haven’t had to go out to the river since. Before we discovered that water source we were doing everything we could to try and collect any rain water we could. If we knew it was going to rain we would leave the buckets out in the open with the hope of catching a little extra water. It worked but it never really added up to too much.

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Story Time: How I Found Posh & Drexelbrook

Last week we had an incident where the google aerial view and coordinates of our trails were posted on Facebook by some cyclocross guys. Our trails aren’t exactly top secret or anything but we do try to limit who all knows their location. Mainly it’s to not raise the attention of anyone living in the surrounding neighborhood. See our trails are located in what you might call the hood. The last thing we need is a bunch of ghetto kids realizing that there are large mounds of dirt for them to run up and down on just blocks away from their houses. For that reason we purposely made the main entrance to the trails well out of site of the neighborhood. While posting the aerial view and coordinates may have given people the trails location, it didn’t give the location of the entrance to use as to not attract attention. That was my main problem with the whole deal. Luckily for them I’ve mellowed out as I’ve gotten older. Rather than going to their houses and cutting their bikes in half, I calmly explained to them why posting that kind of info was a no no. They took it down so everything was all good. The senario did get me thinking about how much things have changed over the years with regards to finding trails. In particular I got to thinking about how I found Posh and Drexelbrook. Now days social media and google make it relatively easy to find your way to new trails, but let’s rewind back to when things were quite a bit different.

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Holy Shit It’s Our 500th Post

So the other day I noticed that we were creeping up on our 500th post. I’m kind of blown away honestly! If you told me back in July that in just five months we would be making our 500th post I would have looked at you like you had an upside down face. I knew there was a lot of great trails related content out there that wasn’t being posted on other sites but I had no idea just how much. Some of the edits that have come out recently have been damn near mind blowing. What’s incredible is that this is just the beginning. In just a few months we have the Vinyl and Compression DVDs to look forward to, and BF-IT is dropping any day now. All the crazy spots we’ve seen in edits are just going to get wilder as people get into winter digging mode. Riding trails will probably never overtake street as far as popularity goes but that’s perfectly fine by me. The guys working 40+ hours a week who still find time to put a shovel in the ground and create their idea of BMX are the people that matter to me and the ones that I want to hang out with. I don’t want to ramble on for too long, the main point of this is that I’m psyched! Since starting Can You Dig It I’ve seen some rad spots, met some great people from all over the world, and even gotten to ride some new places. This is just the beginning though! Look for there to be a lot more original content on the site in the future including stories, interviews, edits, reviews, and even some top secret collabos. Also in a few weeks we’ll be launching an online store with products of our own as well as trails related goodies from around the world. Probably the biggest news though is our partnership with The Union. Don’t worry though as nothing is going to change other than the addition of a few ads and some layout tweaks. I’ve admired Kurt’s work for years, so when he approached me about bringing Can You Dig It under The Union’s wing it was a no brainer. The partnership will not only allow us to reach more people, but will also enable us to work with some new folks to dial in fresh content. So yeah, thanks to everybody that’s been checking the site for this first 500! Keep building and hopefully I’ll see you in the woods next season!

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Indoor Pump Tracks, Mentally Challenged Workers, and My First Trails

The first real trails I ever built were at an abandoned gravel pit in Maryland. I guess there was a good bit of sandy clay they had to move before getting to the rocks they were after because there were two humongous piles of it just down the road from the pit. Slowly but surely we carved out lines through the piles and the Clinton Trails were born. Well actually we originally called them Melwood to throw people off as to where they really were because that was the name of the next town over. Plus it was kind of funny because Melwood was also the name of a local store that was staffed by special needs workers who for some reason were required to wear Pro-tec helmets when they rode the bus to work. We used to drive to the trails acting “challenged” and rocking our Pro-tecs to mess with people. I’ve gone way off track here, but this pic of a pump track built inside a shed reminded me of those days. There was an equipment shed just like that at the gravel pit that we would always talk about trying to build jumps in. It never happened because our winters were never that bad and the trails actually ran better in the winter due to the sandy dirt. It would have been bad ass though if we had actually pulled it off. Good to see that someone went for it and created a spot to get them through winter. Shape’s team rider Bruno Abiven is one of the guys behind the build and it certainly looks like he’ll be reaping the rewards from it all winter.

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The Things People Ride

That bad boy above is Bob Haro’s newest project the Ikonix SX1. I don’t know much about it or really care, but it did get me thinking about some of the wild shit I’ve seen people show up at trails with. Thanks to BMXmuseum I was able to find examples of all of them! Follow with me on this journey of things that have made me wonder what the hell people were thinking when they decided to ride these beast.

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Numero Uno

I spotted this on Groove Merchants awhile ago and it really took me back.  I can’t think of a more fitting first post then one about the place that really started it all for me.  I can still vividly remember the feeling I got the first time I walked up the hill from the parking lot and laid eyes on this place. Sure I’d been riding for quite awhile before then and had even built what I thought were trails behind my grandparents house.  This was something so different though it may as well have been another planet.  A giant field situated next to an equally giant water tower with countless jumps laid out one right after the next.  Apparently I had been grossly misinformed as to what trails were because the disorderly assortment of jumps I had been calling trails looked nothing like what I was seeing.  Still in a state of shock as to what laid before me I looked to my right and saw what seemed like as many kids sitting on top of the starting hill as there were jumps at the place.  I probably stood there for a good 10 minutes just taking everything in.  The amount of jumps, the number of locals, and the effortless style they possessed was almost too much for to my 15 year old brain to process.  The place even had its own local pro!  That’s Robbie Miranda spinning that dub in the picture above.  He may have still been racing in the expert class at the time the pic was taken, but to myself and anyone else that got to witness him ride that place he may as well have been Mat Hoffman.  Over the next few years this place that would come to be known as Capital Trails would become my home away from home and establish the love for trails I still have to this day.