My heart sank as I read the list of trails burned: Upper Section of Los Pinos, All of Yeager Mesa Trail, Upper part of Bell Ridge, Upper Holy Jim.
These have been home to many members of Bike's staff over the years, where we tested bikes, worked on trails or escaped the din of a corner of the country that has always felt a bit foreign to mountain folks—true backcountry-esque singletrack striking distance from the office. The trails weaving through the canyons are wild and remote, steep and loose, and include ridgetop traverses and fall-line descents. And they were gone, victims of a fire that scorched 22,000 acres in a matter of days. Not entirely gone, of course, 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, written by Devon O'Neil.
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.”
Trans-Provence is heralded as the true testament of blind, raw power and enduring technical prowess in a world otherwise peppered with practice runs. Yet founder Ash Smith called a mandatory timeout following 2017’s termination. Writer Andrew Findlay delves into the past and future of the realest enduro.
Finally, we hope to deliver a dose of lightness in the form of our annual Dream Builds feature. 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.