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"You could be a kid for as long as you want when you play baseball." - Cal Ripken, Jr.



The facts and figures behind Mitch Ropelato’s last-minute bid for the King of Crankworx crown are staggering. But beyond the measurement of gate drops and vertical feet of descending, the number of high-fives and blasted berms, or even his Crankworx hair bleaching, you’ve got one solid common denominator—fun on a bicycle.

Yeah, ‘Fun on a bicycle’ sounds like an anemic primary-school physical-exercise campaign, or something you’d see on a bike company poster from the late 1800s. And when you hear a professional athlete say the word fun — as in, “I’m just trying to have fun out there” — you usually wonder if they should’ve practiced something, anything, more intelligent to say. You wonder if the scared witless, nervous tick of talking about fun actually fools them because it sure doesn’t fool you. Or you want to slash their tires because, while you’re formatting another column in a spreadsheet, they are “just out here having fun, dude.

Images of Mitch Ropelato for SRAM feature.

Images of Mitch Ropelato for SRAM feature.

 during the 2016 Whistler Crankworx
Images of Mitch Ropelato for SRAM feature.

 during the 2016 Whistler Crankworx


There are, however, riders who truly, simply, live for the act of riding itself. These riders forever pedal with the same professional innocence as a preschooler who’s just unlocked the magic of two wheels. For these riders, fun is not prepared speech or a marketing blurb, but rather one of life’s necessities. Like air, water, food.

These riders spend the bulk of their time thinking about the next ride — how to be better, or faster, or stronger, or more stylish. Mitch Ropelato is one of these riders. The difference between the rest of us and Mitch is that he is already better, faster, stronger and more stylish. Mitch is a near-perfect combination of kid and adult: wide-eyed yet mostly pragmatic, honest and oh so good at his craft.


Images of Mitch Ropelato for SRAM feature.

 during the 2016 Whistler Crankworx
 during the 2016 Whistler Crankworx

 during the 2016 Whistler Crankworx


This Utah native thought it might be a good idea to chase the three-round 2016 King of Crankworx title, but injury conspired against him. No matter, Mitch would double down and chase the whole damn thing at Crankworx Whistler.

He got much of it right, and some of it wrong. He positively ruled the Ultimate Pump Track Challenge Powered by RockShox, but crashed and burned in the Garbo DH. His style was sublime in the Whip Off Worlds but his line selection got him booted from the Dual Slalom. No matter. The magic of Mitch is found in so many moments of fun. Just fun. Nothing else.


Images of Mitch Ropelato for SRAM feature.

Images of Mitch Ropelato for SRAM feature.

 during the 2016 Whistler Crankworx
 during the 2016 Whistler Crankworx

 during the 2016 Whistler Crankworx

 during the 2016 Whistler Crankworx

 during the 2016 Whistler Crankworx

 during the 2016 Whistler Crankworx
 during the 2016 Whistler Crankworx

 during the 2016 Whistler Crankworx


You probably can’t ride just like Mitch. And it doesn’t matter. Not to him. And it shouldn’t to you. You can be a kid as long as you want, and be like Mitch when you remember to have fun. Fun on a bicycle.

Here’s a high five. Wish you were here.



Video by: Mind Spark Cinema / @mindspark
Photos by: Adrian Marcoux / @amarcouxphotos & Sven Martin
Words by: Joe Parkin

sram.com / @SramMedia




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68 Comments

  • + 62
 How the hell does his face stay so calm and unphased in all the action shots of him RACING. I look like a dog with its head out the window, tongue sticking out and god knows where im looking most of the time.
  • + 39
 That might explain in part why he is better than us.
  • + 7
 haha I love your poetry metalhead!
  • + 51
 one of the most underrated riders right now so he deserves to have the spotlight sick photography and awesome riding so keep up the good work
  • + 3
 Negative props to me but he is definitely not underrated rider, for eg. there is some talents in downhill scene which can not afford to race overseas because lack of sponsors and for me that kind of riders are underrated. He is just the super rad guy who loves shredding bicycles
  • - 1
 @AdamOdh: +1

Mitch is actually fairly equitably rated...he is a great brand representative and seems like an overall nice guy, but his results are what they are, and quite frankly he doesn't appear to have much of a future in racing.

That said, as a brand ambassador, I think he's carved out a position for himself in the bike industry which will provide him with a healthy career.
  • + 15
 Don't ruin the fun analyzing it boys. He's making a living on two wheels like so many people dream of doing.
  • + 1
 @bhd13: you're right!
  • + 3
 @nvranka: whatdya mean? Did you see his results at US nationals? He might not want to/be suited for WC DH, but a rider who does what he does, even just on a national level, certainly has a future in racing, IMO.
  • + 1
 @trialsracer: This^ only possible in USA. Still no hating mitch - only want to say that word "underrated" was inappropriate for me
  • + 43
 Take note kiddies. Simply being a nice guy and a great ambassador to the sport and the brands you represent will get you far. Mitch and Curtis Keene are great examples of this.
  • + 14
 They are also both fast af
  • + 30
 Thank you Mitch for being you.
  • + 22
 Way to stay rad, Mitch!
  • + 15
 As you can tell in the video, and key to success is MILLIONS of high fives!
  • + 11
 After I went to a Better Rides clinic, I realized that Mitch learned all his skills from Gene Hamilton too. This gave me the inspiration to use the skills I learned to push myself to what is possible. Every time I see him ride, it inspires me to go ride, and that's why Mitch is my absolute favorite rider.
  • + 10
 i wish he'd podiumed at World's on the 29er with his bottle cage and all...
  • + 0
 SC needs to make a Hightower LT first...
  • + 6
 We have known the Rope family since he was a 10 novie racing bmx. It's been an absolute pleasure knowing the family and seeing hard work pay off for him. Plus, he's never changed, always a positive attitude and time for everybody.
  • + 6
 I had an unforgettable experience riding local trails with him, and I had no idea who he was until I saw a sticker on his bike back in the lot. I saw some amazing riding that day and what a friendly guy!
  • + 8
 If seizures are fun, then that video just gave me the time of my life...
  • + 1
 Yeah, forced-franticness of editing gave camerawork the feel of Blair-Witchy visual convulsions. It's a shame: 30% fewer cuts & they actually might have conveyed something coherent.
  • + 7
 Editing that POV footage must have taken AGES!
  • + 2
 totally worth it. its hard to make a POV video interesting. Obviously Mitch, the editor and a week packed of events made it possible. Such a rad style of this guy. Still remember his corner speed at the 4X WCs like if it was yesterday!
  • + 3
 Mitch is rad. I've ridden with him a few times. I'm a weekend warrior that has no chance in hell to keep up with him, but he still always waits for us slow guys to regroup and hang out on the rides. The coolest thing is how humble he is and how nice he is to everybody.
  • + 3
 Can someone remind me of the details of his run in the dual slalom? Did he miss a gate? It sure would be nice to see him competing regularly in the "big show" (UCI DHI) again ; he's got so much style...
  • + 6
 So...is he gna be on syndicate or what?
  • + 4
 God damn this kid can ride anything! So impressive. Keep up the good work Mitch!
  • + 4
 Looked up to Mitch for years now, he deserves a lot more recognition than he currently gets!
  • + 4
 We all need to be a little more like Mitch. High five, have fun, live life.
  • + 1
 man not watched the vid to this yet but from the article that i just read i can understand what mitch says about fun on a bike hell yer dude high five and big respect bro, i still remember watching the redouble joyride the first time you where in it and you is still sick bra peach Smile
  • + 4
 Made that girls day at the start
  • + 4
 NO BAD DAYS disposition personified in this vid edit. DIrtchurner likes!
  • + 3
 This just gave me serious Crankworx withdrawals. Thanks for ruining my Tuesday Pinkbike. Oh and stay rad Mitch.
  • + 3
 One of the best combination of photos, write up and rider I've seen. Good stuff, that whip picture is poster worthy.
  • + 2
 Met Mitch on the chairlift at MTB Nats last year. Very nice guy, good to see his success.
  • + 2
 Does chainless riding become a new hit or am I missing something? Great video, looks like a lot of fun!
  • + 2
 They had to take the chains off for the pump track challenge.
  • + 1
 @Dano98: Ohh... really. I didn't know that.. I am such a bushman!Smile Thanks for information. But anyway I am not a fan of this kind of a competition.
  • + 3
 Ropo's Whistler segment in "Arrival" is still one of my favorites.
  • + 3
 Mich IS THE MAN !!!!! You rock bro Smile
  • + 3
 tons of work edit, awesome !
  • + 2
 Pretty inspirational. Such a good role model for our wonderful sport.
  • + 2
 Now I'm dizzy from watching that helmet cam video!
  • + 1
 one of the coolest edit I have seen. and one of the greatest rider. all that made those over 4 minutes very enjoyable!!!
  • + 1
 First watched saw ride when he was about 14, absolutely knew that kid was on his way to the top.
  • + 2
 I remember doing indoor bmx races on my mtn bike a few winters. He was about 10 years old and whipping most of our arses on a huge trek full suspension bike. I was probably 26 years old at the time. He was snapping most of us out of the gate, and throwing big whips in our face over the tables. That kid has had mad skills for a long damn time. I remember seeing him killing the rest of his class in the bmx races without even trying. Sometimes he'd just pump through everything, then turn on the gas near the end if someone started to reel him in. It was seriously amazing to see a kid at his level when he was so young.
  • + 2
 heck yes mitch! your our boy. from Utah! keep killing it whoot whoot!
  • + 3
 Rope a dope
  • + 3
 That whip!!!
  • + 2
 great write up by Joe Parkin. He's honed his craft as well.
  • + 1
 Keeping MTB fun is what inspires future riders, so for that you can take a high five sir!
  • + 2
 The chill is strong with mitch
  • + 1
 Why is he no longer sponsored by Specialized?
  • + 3
 he rides for the SRAM/TLD team
  • + 1
 have to wonder if they blew their athlete budget once they signed Vergier and Bruni...?
  • + 1
 And suddenly Brosnan came to him and said "Fun is not enough, bruh."
  • + 1
 The nice guys are so much easier to cheer for!
  • + 1
 Keepin the high five alive!!! Atta boy Mitch!!
  • + 1
 Thats someone I would like to session laps with, then grab a beer
  • + 1
 anyone know what the music in the video was?
  • + 1
 Still trying to find out. Its really bugging me!
  • + 1
 Mitch is always fast. He knows how to commit. Loved the video.
  • + 1
 Rock Shox start gate...no chain
  • + 1
 SO SICK! That's video was seriously awesome, got me so pumped to go ride!
  • + 1
 @krismag117 basically just Cole in 7 or 8 years.
  • + 1
 great riding, great guy.
  • + 1
 4:19 vid sram? noice.

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