Words by Brice Minnigh
Photos by Anthony Smith
Demonstrating the central theme of this year's defining mountain-bike film, Strength in Numbers, a sellout crowd of rowdy mountain bikers turned out for the movie's Southern California premiere at the historic La Paloma Theatre in the legendary surf town of Encinitas.
True to the tradition of surf-film premieres at La Paloma, the cinema walls echoed with hoots and hollers as the exuberant crowd of mountain bikers watched some of the sport's biggest heroes once again raise the progression bar even higher.
And in the pauses between film segments, the silence was invariably filled with the popping of beer-can tops—another longstanding ritual of La Paloma, which is widely known as the preferred venue for surf-movie premieres but has only recently begun showing mountain-bike films.
Filling the theater to capacity, the spirited group of San Diego locals showed that there is more solidarity to the regional mountain-bike community than is commonly perceived. Though mountain biking is huge in San Diego and Orange County, the broader riding community is generally viewed as being fragmented.
"In San Diego, it can be difficult to get mountain bikers together," said Scott Armstrong, a founding member of the San Diego Mountain Biking Association's Progressive Riders Organization, which hosted the screening along with local apparel maker iMountainBike. "Our intent has always been just to get people together. We feel that if we can get riders together we can get a lot more done. This was an investment in San Diego's mountain-bike community."
Last night's solid turnout—and the enthusiasm of the attendees—seemed to illustrate the driving point behind Strength in Numbers, a film calling for greater unity between mountain bikers worldwide. The movie, the latest by Anthill Films—a group formerly known as The Collective—had its initial showing last month during the Sea Otter Classic in Monterey, California, and has since been on a global tour, drawing sellout crowds every stop of the way. By the time the tour ends, Strength in Numbers will have been screened at more than 100 cities around the world.
The proceeds from ticket sales went to cover the SDMBA PRO and iMountainBike's costs of renting out the theater and promoting the screening. After factoring in all the ticket sales, the organizers estimate that they will have broken even. For more information on the SDMBA, a group of more than 500 mountain bikers dedicated to advocacy and trail maintenance in San Diego County, visit www.sdmba.com. The website for the SDMBA’s Progressive Riders Organization is pro.sdmba.com.
Check out the Strength in Numbers trailer: