AND HOPE IN THE AIR

Bike (USA) - - Start - PHOTO: CRAIG WOLFROM

but surely never to be the same, and if it’s a wet win­ter, the dev­as­ta­tion will get ex­po­nen­tially worse. While mourn­ing the loss of trails seems friv­o­lous when some lost their homes, the de­struc­tion nev­er­the­less leaves a void that will be dif­fi­cult to fill. And we are hardly alone. Wash­ing­ton and Bri­tish Co­lum­bia had their worst fire sea­sons on record this year, and Colorado was on track to do the same. Coun­tries in Scan­di­navia and Eastern Europe that rarely con­tend with drought and wild­fires, ig­nited this year. I write these words from Whistler, Bri­tish Co­lum­bia, where a thick blan­ket of smoke hangs in the val­ley, burn­ing eyes and lungs, and cast­ing a dark shadow over moun­tain bik­ing’s ul­ti­mate utopia.

Sum­mer fires used to be a po­ten­tial threat, now they seem to be a given. The cli­mate is clearly chang­ing, and it’s hap­pen­ing fast. But what does a global cri­sis have to do with this magazine— one that’s sup­posed to be an es­cape from life’s hard­ships? Ev­ery­thing and noth­ing at all.

The re­al­iza­tion that the places we count on to con­nect with our cho­sen sport are so vul­ner­a­ble makes the de­sire to ex­pe­ri­ence those soul-feed­ing stashes of sin­gle­track more ur­gent than ever. In five years, or even one year, the land­scape could be dras­ti­cally different, with trails we’ve long taken for granted lost for­ever. If there was ever a time to band to­gether as moun­tain bik­ers, it is now. To that end, this is­sue con­tains one of the most im­por­tant sto­ries we’ve printed all year, a metic­u­lously re­searched piece ex­am­in­ing the re­cent pit­falls of the In­ter­na­tional Moun­tain Bi­cy­cling As­so­ci­a­tion and where the ad­vo­cacy or­ga­ni­za­tion goes from here. Writer Devon O’Neil re­ports in “A Cause for Ques­tion” on page 46.

In times that feel hope­less, we need our he­roes to in­spire us to keep mov­ing for­ward. He­roes like Sam Hill, whose ster­ling 15-year ca­reer—arc­ing from DH World Cham­pion to En­duro World Se­ries leader—has made the quiet Aussie one of moun­tain bik­ing’s most leg­endary rac­ers. Editor-at-Large Brice Min­nigh delves into the man be­hind the medals in “The Enigma” on page 30.

Finally, we hope to de­liver a dose of light­ness in the form of our an­nual Dream Builds fea­ture on page 60. Fancy bikes may ap­pear triv­ial in try­ing times, but when the weight of the world seems over­whelm­ing, there’s lit­tle that can’t be cured by ogling sleek frames and shiny parts and, of course, plot­ting your next big ride.

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