It's time for another trip down memory lane in honor of Pinkbike's 20th anniversary. For this edition, we're traveling to 2006, the year Sam Hill won World Champs in Rotorua, Tracy Moseley took home the women's DH World Cup overall, and Roam was on repeat in shops around the globe.
State of the Sport
The freeride movement was still going strong in 2006, although the quest for higher and sketchier wooden stunts was beginning to taper off. Instead, trails with manicured jumps, berms, and drops with proper landings were appearing in the woods of British Columbia, an evolutionary step away from the original 'old school' style of trails. There were still plenty of burly moves hidden away among the cedars, but speed and flow were superseding the slower, more trials-like maneuvers from the early days of freeriding.
Pinkbike's core audience was still comprised of freeriders, downhill, and dirt jumpers during this era, but more and more riders were beginning to dabble in 'all-mountain' riding, a term that was no doubt dreamed up by a clever marketer in an office somewhere, but ended up being an accurate way to describe a growing segment of the sport. Cross-country riders were starting to look for more technical options, and the big bike crowd was starting to look for trails that were engaging, but maybe not quite as death-defying as hucking over a train or riding a telephone pole-high skinny, which led to a new breed of bikes beginning to hit the market.The Bikes
The lines weren't quite as blurry between bike categories back in 2006, but changes were afoot. Heavy, clunky freeride machines were being replaced by slightly lighter options that were easier to pedal to the top of a descent, and bikes like the Santa Cruz Nomad, Specialized SX Trail, and Iron Horse 7 Point were gaining popularity. Transition's Bottlerocket also deserves a mention – that shorter travel steed was ideal for those jump-filled trails that were popping up like mushrooms in the woods of the Pacific Northwest, and it made many riders think twice about how much travel they actually needed.
Carbon bikes existed in 2006, but they were mainly full-on cross-country machines; the prevalence of carbon for high-end bikes in all categories was still a little way down the road, 29ers were still in their awkward infancy, and 27.5” wheels were years away from their mainstream debut, although 2006 was the year Kirt Pacenti convinced Panaracer to make him a batch of 27.5” tires. Clutch-equipped derailleurs and wide-range cassettes were still distant daydreams, and even dropper posts hadn't gained mainstream acceptance yet.
In the downhill world, all eyes were on the Iron Horse Sunday, which had debuted the year before. Sam Hill's success between the tape made that bike an especially hot commodity - it was the bike to have for DH racers with podium dreams (it's still one of my favorite DH bikes of all time). The Yeti 303 is also noteworthy - it used a rail system to manipulate the rear wheel patch, a precursor to the Yeti's current Switch Infinity design.Moving Pictures
VHS tapes had almost entirely disappeared by 2006, replaced by DVDs, but it would still be a number of years before full-length films were replaced by the sub-15-minute online 'shredits' that prevail today. Highlights included Roam
, the highly anticipated follow-up to The Collective
, New World Disorder VII
, and Earthed 3
. Oh, and don't forget about Collectively Kranking Up the Disorder
from Pist-n-Broke Productions.
Season 4 of the Drop-In series also debuted, which was filmed in New Zealand and featured the antics of Darren Berrecloth, Nathan Greenwod, Shawn Denny, and Randy Spangler among others. STUND also premiered in 2006, which chronicled Mike Kinrade and Steve Romaniuk's freeriding adventures across BC and beyond.Competition
Red Bull Rampage was still on hiatus due to liability concerns in 2006, which meant that all eyes were on Whistler's Crankworx slopestyle event to see what the sport's top riders could throw down. Paul Bas won the year before, followed by Darren Berrecloth who astounded onlookers with a massive 360 over a road gap. It was Cam Zink who ended up taking the win in 2006, with a run that included a backflip one-foot X-up, with Cam McCaul in second and Kyle Strait in third.
Sam Hill made headlines in 2018 for taking home the Enduro World Series overall title, but back in 2006 he was still on a tear in the downhill world aboard his Iron Horse Sunday. Wins at Fort William and Schladming were enough to put the 21-year-old in second place behind Steve Peat for the DH World Cup overall, and a victory at Rotorua earned him the World Champion title, his first in the elite division.
Another former Enduro World Series champion was at the top of the game in the downhill world back in 2006 – Tracey Moseley. She won three races to clinch the World Cup overall title that year and finished second at World Champs behind Sabrina Jonnier.
In the XC arena, Julien Absalon (who announced his retirement earlier at the beginning of the 2018 season) won the World Cup overall, with Christoph Sauser in second place, results that were repeated at World Champs. Although Gunn-Rita Dahle won three World Cup races to Marie-Helene Prémont's two, when the points were tallied it was Prémont who took the overall title, although Gunn-Rita Dahle did take home the rainbow jersey at World Champs.
These days, four-cross is on life support, but it was alive and well back in 2006, and it was Jill Kintner and Michal Prokop who were at the top of the results sheet for both the overall title and World Championships.