Freeriders, like running backs, have short career spans. Whether it’s age, injury, or maturity, eventually they transition into a new career, or they’re forced to retire. That transition can be graceful - the athlete focusses on trail videos and photo shoots - or depressing - they’re pushed out of a job by younger, hungrier, riders with limitless talent and a fresh set of knees. The end is inevitable: we’ll never see a 50 year old winning Red Bull Rampage (with the possible exception of Cam Zink).
| I was part of a group that went exploring to some very remote big mountain lines 15 years ago, we filmed deep in the Purcell mountain range (with Byron Grey, who now owns the bike shop in Invermere BC, Darren Butler owner of Endless Biking, and Jeremy Grant of Freeride Entertainment). At the time, the bike community didn't know how to make sense of it and it was even discredited to some degree. To us it was free riding not 'freeriding.' Now these kind of lines are sought after and you see everyone out searching the globe for it. I can't help but think that we have helped spark that movement.|
Mike Kinrade has been a professional rider since 2000. During that time he’s finished 4th, 5th, 8th, and 9th, at Rampage, appeared in numerous films including the Kranked series and Where the Trail Ends, as well as created, produced, and rode for the Stund series. Kinrade is a pioneer of big mountain riding and one of the most influential freeriders in mountain bike history.
Kinrade grew up in Nelson British Columbia, surrounded by a crew of riders like Robbie Bourdon and Joe Schwartz, riders who would go on to become stars in their own right through riding in the New World Disorder series. You can imagine how friendly rivalries would develop as they strove to outdo the others each season. Bigger roof drops, steeper chutes, and taller and narrower skinnies were the order of the day. Kinrade is 33 years old now and lives with his fiance Robyn in Nelson. He has a dry sense of humour and a businesslike manner, he’s constantly engaged in trail work, and the management of time and people. Kinrade is no longer a full time freerider. Although he still rides professionally for a number of sponsors, his day job title is ‘Head of Mountain Bike Operations’ at Retallack Lodge. Retallack is a legendary cat skiing nirvana and is typically sold out of rooms one full year in advance, during the winter. The Retallack job is part of a pioneering effort organized by Kinrade, Riley McIntosh, Phil Pinfold, and Chris MacNamara (the Retallack braintrust) to see if a cat ski lodge style of business can work for mountain bike tourism. Kinrade has helped design and build the lodge’s trails and sculpt the experience for clients. It includes a heli drop for riders which is face-meltingly awesome.
Our shuttle vehicle while filming was a Mitsubishi Delica (the Delica moniker coming from a contraction of delivery car). Thankfully, clients aren’t subjected to rides in the Del because this one was a decrepit example of the species. The Delica’s ride quality was reminiscent of a lumpy mattress, or one of those Big Box Store bikes with strictly ornamental suspension. The four wheel drive worked... occasionally. However, the Delica was an integral part of our shoot and carried us to the top of Reco Peak successfully each day. After wrapping our final sunset shoot, the Delica died and we were forced to coast down the logging road without power steering or proper braking. Kinrade piloted us safely down the hill until we ran out of momentum and had to be towed back to the lodge.
| My whole mission for this segment was to get lost for four days in the backcountry and document the search for... well I wasn't sure what we were going to get. That's the point of getting lost. Eh? |
Kinrade is still confident on the big mountain lines which made him famous, but these days he’s more interested in making the sport safe, fun, and accessible for those who don’t have Rampage-podium aspirations. He’s spent hundreds of hours working on new community trails for the city of Nelson, and many more in the alpine of Retallack working on the next evolution of mountain bike tourism. Kinrade has countless first descents to his name etched into the mountains of BC and Argentina (he does semi-annual trips to South America with photographer John Wellburn). He no longer feels the need to risk his life for a video segment, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t forgotten the simple joy of riding a bike.
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