Start Here: Breakin’ the Law


By Joe Parkin
Photo by John Gibson

The week began with a stern yet polite letter from a gentleman who was hoping that our editorial staff could somehow convince the circulation department to cease delivery of our magazine to his incarcerated son. Bike, it seems, contains pictures of naked men and scantily clad women, and this kind of content is completely inappropriate and strictly forbidden in at least one of our country’s prisons.

I scratched my head and stared at the ceiling for a while before realizing he was referring to Race Face’s Brett Tippie Sasquatch ad. Fair enough, that much man skin presented to a prison inmate is downright cruel and inhumane. As for
the scantily clad women, I am left scratching my head.

And then there was a stern, yet polite, email from the Bureau of Land Management regarding the River Recon story that ran in our July 2012 issue. According to the note, the riding depicted in the article had taken place on trails that were not open for mountain biking and, as such, was illegal. What’s more, one of the photos shows the main characters riding in a Wilderness Study Area. Simply strapping a bike to your back and walking through a Wil-derness Area is illegal—riding through one is subject to extremely severe penalties.

We felt like we’d stepped in it. We’re a small staff, but we pride ourselves in taking care of every last detail, even when that means neglecting our mountain bikes in favor of the magazine.

But in this case, we came up short.

It’s safe to say that the majority of people reading, writing, taking pictures for, or advertising in this magazine started riding bikes at an early age. That first two-wheeled trip opened our hearts and minds to a glorious taste of freedom that we still can’t seem to live without. Certainly, even those of us who are fortunate enough to experience the latest and greatest equipment, even those of us who have made a living racing bicycles, even those of us who are sometimes jaded by our own passing notions that we have been around
this game too long can relate to the simple pleasure of riding—and we can remember those first innocent bicycle rides of our childhood.

When you look back at all of those rides with your friends, wouldn’t you describe them as being innocent in nature? While you were riding, were you hurting anyone? Call me naive or ignorant, but I still find the act of riding a bike to be an innocent—and harmless—endeavor.

But this perspective of mountain biking isn’t universally accepted: There are places we simply cannot go with our mountain bikes. Many of our numbers work tirelessly with government agencies in the hope of opening existing trails and creating new ones—and celebrating an illegal ride within our pages puts that work at risk. As much as we at Bike like to celebrate the punk-rock nature of our sport, there are times when we all need to color within the lines and stay on the proper side of the police tape.

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