Friday, July 10, 2009

Film celebrates the joy of the descent

'Freedom Riders' to be screened twice tonight in Ketchum

Express Staff Writer

The mountain bike film "Freedom Riders" reveals the joy and passion of downhill trail riding. Photo by

Mountain biking enthusiasts, get ready to support your hobby, passion and lifestyle with a screening of "Freedom Riders" a high-definition film by KGB Productions and Gravnetic, based in Jackson, Wyo.

"Freedom Riders" will be shown at 6:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Saturday July 11, at Forest Service Park in Ketchum. The film presents footage of single-track riding through Teton Pass, Wyo., and other mountain areas, and reveals how a group of dedicated mountain bike riders worked with the U.S. Forest Service to establish "free ride" bike trails.

"A free rider is someone who rides everything," said event organizer Julian Tyo. "Riding downhill has lots of playful aspects and there are measures to follow for preparation, safety and fun riding."

Some nine years ago, illegal trails were being built on Teton Pass by a group of renegade bikers. The U.S. Forest Service and other officials did not become aware of the illegal trails until a hiker got lost on one of them and Teton County Search and Rescue crews couldn't find him.


Trees were dropped on the illegal trails, making them impassable by bike. Eventually, a handful of the riders who built the illegal trails stepped forward to the Forest Service and admitted their wrongdoing. Over the last few years, the Forest Service and riders have forged a partnership to jointly build legal trails on Teton Pass. With this alliance, in 2007 came the construction of the first ever downhill-specific mountain bike trail on U.S. Forest Service land.

Tyo said similar opportunities might be available in the Ketchum-Sun Valley area.

"We are promoting awareness for the free-ride community," he said. "We want to try and take a pulse of the community and demonstrate it to Sun Valley Co. We can create and enhance summer lift opportunities on Baldy with the U.S. Forest Service and Sun Valley Co."

The film also chronicles the broader evolution of free-ride biking, which started in the 1970s with industry icons such as Tom Richey and Gary Fisher. In addition, it covers illegal trail building in other parts of the country such as North Carolina, Colorado and Marin County, Calif.

"We have a different environment than Jackson Hole," Tyo said. "They have created a big scene with six to eight guys building trails and working with the U.S. Forest Service. I have no idea if there is an interest in creating trails like this on Baldy or Galena Pass, but I wanted to put something out there and see what happens."

Tickets cost $10. The event is presented by Scott USA and the Wood River Bicycle Coalition.

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