29(er) Questions: Mitch Ropelato

Apr 3, 2014
by Dan Severson  
 
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Mitch Ropelato Interview images by Dan Severson

What have you been up to lately? How has the off-season been treating you?
Off season has been good, just hanging with the Benedict household, putting in motos every weekend, keeping up on my fitness and getting the bikes all dialed so we go into this season prepared and ready to go. Ya know, the usual stuff.

Mitch Ropelato Interview images by Dan Severson

How did your weekend out at Fontana, Ca. go? How serious do you take the race out there?
It was a decent weekend out there. Some rain rolled in just in time for race day which gave the course a nice water down. And if you've ever been to Fontana, you'd know that that made the day a whole lot better. I take it pretty seriously; even if it's not the most ideal race course, it's still a race.

Mitch Ropelato Interview images by Dan Severson

Your victory on the 29er last year at the Pro GRT in Fontana and seeding time in Pietermaritzburg, caused a major uproar on the web. What is your take on all the drama?
Did it ever! I was not expecting that. I like it though, it gets everyone fired up on the sport and gets them talking about it which I think is good; whether they're saying good things or bad things doesn't matter as long as they're talking about it. The more people we get talking about it, the more sport grows and that's what it's all about. At the end of the day though, wheel size doesn't matter. All I want to do is go have fun on my bicycle as I'm sure everyone else does too. I'm not having fun unless I'm going fast and the 29er allows me to go as fast as I want, so that's why I choose to ride it!

Is it a true DH course if you can ride it on a 29er?
Of course it is, you could ride a 29er down Val Di Sole or any of the tracks on the World Cup circuit if you wanted to. I'm not saying it would be the most enjoyable at some, but you could do it. That's why each race we have different setups on our bikes. Some races it's a couple of clicks or valving on the suspension, others it's shorter travel and bigger wheels. So it doesn't mean that it's not a true DH course; it just means you're running whichever setup you think is the fastest.

Mitch Ropelato Interview images by Dan Severson

What tracks do you plan on riding it on this year?
Right now the plan is to go back to South Africa on the 29er and mulligan my run from last year. See if we can get some redemption.

How is your race schedule this year? Anything new going on?
This year is shaping up to be a good one. I'll be doing my first full World Cup season so that will be pretty exciting.

What event do you look forward to most?
We always have this race at our local mountain in Utah which is a blast to go to. So I'm always excited for that race. As always though, I'm excited for all the events we'll go to this year. They're all good fun.

Mitch Ropelato Interview images by Dan Severson

How was your experience at the Taxco Urban DH race last year? How was the course and crowds?
Oh man, that race was a ton of fun. Monster Energy does amazing work with that event every year, and each year the crowds get bigger and crazier than the last and so does the course. Always excited to go to that one.

Mitch Ropelato Interview images by Dan Severson

Do you see yourself doing more of those races, or is the risk level too high?
I think my one-a-year will do for now. I might regret saying this, but I feel like those races are as gnarly as Rampage. I mean getting down those Rampage courses isn't too bad once you get the hang of it. Now winning Rampage on the other hand is where you ride that fine line between exploding yourself and riding off into the sunset like a boss. That's also how those urban courses feel at speed, except when you hit the ground, you're hitting cobble stone.

You are known primarily as a DH racer, but you seem to enjoy all types of riding. Do you have a favorite type of terrain, or bike preference for everyday fun?
I think for everyday fun I gotta go with my stumpy 29er, it's by far the most fun and playful bike in my collection. As for terrain, ideally I'd like it to be loam goodness, but I'm down for anything if it's going downhill.

Mitch Ropelato Interview images by Dan Severson

If you could have your own event to do anything you want, (ex. Bearclaw Invitational) what would it be like?
Well my favorite event ever was this one that SRAM and Sol Vista crew put on called the "Triple Dip". You do three runs on three different trails and one of them is chainless. They combine all your times to figure out the winner. As a twist though your mechanic gets timed on pit stops in-between runs and they add that time to your overall time.

How is the riding in Utah, where you live?
I would say that the riding in Utah is some of the best riding in the world. I feel like I've ridden on a lot of amazing terrain and it doesn't get much better than what we have to ride in the summertime in Utah.

Mitch Ropelato Interview images by Dan Severson

Let's talk a bit about your part in "Arrival". How did you get involved in that?
Well Specialized called me up one day and asked me if I had any interest in being a part of the new Coastal Crew film. I said, "Heck yes! Where do I sign up?" They then put me in touch with Norbs, and the rest is rock 'n' roll history.

What was the filming process like?
It's actually a pretty chill process. Usually we just found a section of trail or a jump that we thought would look sick, then we sessioned it until we got a "nug" shot or until my legs couldn't take the hiking anymore.

Mitch Ropelato Interview images by Dan Severson

Which segment in the film is your favorite?
Gotta say Kenny Smith's part. Mostly because I saw some of the stuff he rode in person and it scared me looking at it, so watching him ride it was pretty amazing. Mad props!

If you're up in the club with your lady, is it okay to get another girls number?
Call me a bit old school but I'm going to have to say "NO" on that one.

Did Norbs ever get robbed while out on the town partying?
Not that I know of. I think he learned his lesson after competing at Rampage.

So, are you an official member of the Coastal Crew now?
I'm not sure I think you gotta live on the sunshine coast to be legit right?

Mitch Ropelato Interview images by Dan Severson

Let's do a couple simple questions to wrap this up...
Who's got the best whip?

That one's hard, too many dudes with sick whips nowadays. Scrub whip goes to Eliot Jackson hands down. And I think Brendan Fairclough's whips are pretty freaking sick.

Mitch Ropelato Interview images by Dan Severson

Favorite trail in Whistler?
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think there are only two trails at Whistler. Crank it up and A-Line.

One word to describe Rampage?
Bonedeath.

Rampage MVP…
I think that title goes to Cam Zink for flipping that drop at Rampage. Gave DGAF a whole new meaning that day!

Mitch Ropelato Interview images by Dan Severson

Best & worst thing about Fontana?
The best thing is the turn out. So many people show up and I think that's pretty cool. The worst thing is sprinting the wall during a race run.

Which do you prefer: Race kit or jeans and tee?
Race Kit

Song that's got you hooked?
Rap God - Eminem

Mitch Ropelato Interview images by Dan Severson

Favorite meal?
French Toast from Coco's. I'd never turn that down.

Coffee or tea?
Tea

Best travel buddy?
Brad Benedict

Last good quote you heard...
"If at first you don't succeed, try, try again" Edward Hickson

Mitch Ropelato Interview images by Dan Severson

Thanks goes out to...
The list is too long... I want to thank Mom & Dad, The Benedict Household, Blair Akerland, Specialized, Monster Energy, SRAM, Troy Lee Designs, Renthal, Cafe Rio, Bingham Cyclery, The Bike Shoppe, and Friends & Family. Thanks for all the support!
Must Read This Week

71 Comments

  • + 68
 Cool article, we need more of this stuff!
[Reply]
  • + 33
 I would have to say his scrub/whips in "Arrival" were pretty freakin' sick. He also seems like a pretty rad dude
  • + 0
 His Nac Nac in Arrival
  • + 1
 a goodfella
[Reply]
  • + 25
 Cool kid. Best answer to the idiotic wheel size debate ever. Ride what you think is fun and makes you fast. Luv it.
  • - 16
 I had the opposite reaction. Right after that he said, I like going fast and the 29'er lets me go fastest. Obvious advertising and side-picking there.
  • + 7
 @VTwintips, could not be further from the truth. I worked at Specialized and have talked to Ropo personally, he 100% loves riding his 29er
  • - 12
 Another view is that Mitch "needs"a 29er to go fast. Other people, like Graves don't, in fact, Mitch shares this need with scores of newby riders too. I hope he wins at PMB though - the internet will go Chernobyl.
  • + 5
 @headshot- I've known Mitch for a long time....trust me, he can go fast on anything from a 20" BMX bike to a 29" XC bike, the kid is just FAST!
  • + 2
 @VTwintips, Isn't that obvious as that's the one he's riding?
  • + 2
 Mitch likes his E29, Graves likes his 26er and both rip. Stop with the moronic wheel size debate.
  • + 4
 @ GOrtho I think that is a good take away from the interview. Here is a guy with a choice of any equipment riding a 29er for 'certain' tracks. He has the most fun on big wheels (ie goes faster) at certain tracks, and maybe something smaller at others. How any supposedly serious mtber doesn't understand that it is a matter of preference and situation continues to baffle me. When you smugly exclaim "naw dude you can only shred and have fun on 26" or say "awww yeah dude 29ers are totally like only for newbs and people who cant go fast on the wheel I rock" you sound like a closed-minded douche who is afraid of change and having choices. Props to Mitch for showing it can be done on any size...and by getting it done I mean "having fun".
[Reply]
  • + 23
 I would totally ride a DH 29er.
  • + 2
 Check this out; Lenz Sport PBJ looks ridiculous www.lenzsport.com/detail.php?prodID=15
  • + 3
 although im not a fan, i would LOVE to see this thing raced at UCI WC events just to see how fast it could be ridden: www.pinkbike.com/news/Prototype-29-DH-Bike-From-KHS-2014.html
  • + 1
 that PBJ has been around for a few years now.. I saw it in Crested Butte in 2010 or 2011 i think..
  • + 1
 Yeah I rode one a few years ago, really strange bike
  • + 1
 its interesting to see how different pbj and the khs bikes are. The khs looks so slack and the pbj looks tall and steep.
  • + 1
 Yeah partially due to when the bikes were designed the PBJ is from around 09 or 10 and the KHS is a modern prototype. Old 29ers always had steep angles it was what we used to do when 68 degrees was slack for a 26er 29ers are slower handling so a 70 degree HT is about the same a 68 on a 26er, now we find slow stable handling desirable. Also Lenz used this bike as a 29er freerider, (yes that was a thing) sort of like a Niner WFO.
  • + 2
 Sorry, but that LenzSport is NOTHING like the 9er WFO. That LenzSport bike looks like a freeride bike from 2001 with big wheels. The new Intense Carbine 29 looks awfully sick though.
[Reply]
  • + 18
 .... That's why each race we have different setups on our bikes. Some races it's a couple of clicks or valving on the suspension, others it's shorter travel and bigger wheels. So it doesn't mean that it's not a true DH course; it just means you're running whichever setup you think is the fastest...
Pinkbike jerks need to take note of that statement.
  • + 2
 Preach it, brother.
[Reply]
  • + 7
 "At the end of the day though, wheel size doesn't matter. All I want to do is go have fun on my bicycle as I'm sure everyone else does too."
[Reply]
  • + 5
 Probably one of my favorite riders. Had the pleasure of running into him and Brad Benedict one day in Santa Cruz and they talked to me like we were best friends. It was pretty rad. Would love to see Ropo get some top 10s this year, especially on that enduro 29er at south africa
[Reply]
  • + 7
 Amazingly talented rider. Can't wait to see him tear it up on the E29 at PMB and shut up all the kids who don't get why these bikes are so quick.
[Reply]
  • + 6
 I really enjoy riding with mitch when I get a chance, super pinned and a funny laid back dude. good luck this year dawgie! kill it
[Reply]
  • + 4
 Mitch does a damn good job at coming off as a really level-headed and cool dude. Last year I remember waiting in the lift line at Canyons and admiring the all black Stumpy 29er in front of me, and took note on the name of the rider's jersey. A few months later I saw that name again here on Pinkbike and was pretty excited to find out a local rider I've seen out on the trails was competing at such a high level. It was fun keeping up with him for all of like 2 corners at Canyons, haha
[Reply]
  • + 3
 Favorite trail in whistler? "Correct me if I'm wrong but I think there are only two trails at Whistler. Crank it up and A-Line."
Haha
[Reply]
  • + 5
 I can't stop listening to rap god either.
[Reply]
  • + 4
 Mitch whip-a-loto is good people. We need more guys like that every where.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Best part of arrival ? awesome he said Kenny Smith, I though it was such bullshit that he got the credits and the kids juggling got more time. Kenny Smith is legit as shit !
[Reply]
  • + 4
 Interesting opinion about wheel sizes
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Is hard for me to see those young riders shred on 29ers. It makes me feel like when i found out how ild that facebook kid zuckerberg is. As much as i try i am stills miles away compared to what they accomplished
[Reply]
  • + 2
 Ride what you like. Don't ride some wheel just because it is or isn't fashionable.
[Reply]
  • + 3
 Yeah UTAH!!!!! Bountiful fur Daaaaaaaaaayyyyyyyyyyyyyzzzz!!!!
[Reply]
  • + 3
 Coffee or tea?
Tea

Thanks goes out to...
......Cafe Rio.......
  • + 7
 Cafe Rio is a mexican food place here in utah
  • + 1
 ..aah!. I supposed it was a coffee brand. Anyway his answers look honest despite the obsession Specialized has for big wheels.
[Reply]
  • + 2
 We all no that 29er are faster the more you ride it the faster you get_____o^o_____O^O_____
[Reply]
  • + 0
 Top photo: brah you need to work on your devil horns. Wink Just saying. But this guy looks like an amazing rider, best of luck to him.
[Reply]
  • + 2
 YEHAA!!! Shout-out to Utah!!!
[Reply]
  • + 2
 Great interview. Good questions. Would love to see more stuff like this.
[Reply]
  • + 2
 I love it when good people succeed.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 29er enduro and downhill! Prototypes for DH are on the way.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Any idea what model his goggles are?
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Best scrub whip would go to you after seeing arrival . JESUS !!
[Reply]
  • + 1
 That photo of him smashing that berm is nice. Looks almost bottomed out.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 nice, seems like a really down to earth guy. Cheers!
[Reply]
  • + 1
 hahah this made me chuckle
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Seems like a really cool cat..
[Reply]
  • + 1
 That lower chain guide attached to the chainstay is pretty sweet
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Your killing it Mitch
[Reply]
  • + 0
 Cool article, but what the heck is "MVP" and "DGAF"?
  • + 2
 Most Valuable Player?
Don't Give A f*ck?
  • + 1
 Thank you! Wink
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Rap God, I'm hooked too.
[Reply]
  • - 2
 Bitch Ropelato
[Reply]
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