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Enming Liu, VOA reporter, attacks Slickrock with an anvil
(well, a bunch of camera gear) on his back. That's Derek in
the background.

Bruce and Derek become...
Famous in China

 Shooting for Voice of America's "Cultural Odyssey" Program
     by Bruce Argyle

I was contacted by Voice of America about being on-camera for a Chinese-language report on mountain biking. It would be broadcast in northern China and Taiwan. So I thought, Hey, that could be an interesting excuse to go to Moab.

Why me? Well, they selected me because I'm photogenic, an awesome rider, fearless, and was willing to spend three days biking in Moab at my own expense. And I have that awesome-looking UMB race team jersey.
Day 1: Monday October 6, 2008. Filming some stuff nobody cares about.
Enming Liu, a VOA reporter based in Washington DC, flew out to do the filming. On Monday morning he took footage in Alta View Hospital's ER: Here's Dr A walking down the hall of the ER. Here's Dr A scowling at a chart. Now he's scowling at some x-rays. Then we went to my house, where Jackie demanded to have her 15 seconds of cute little hyperactive doggie fame. More footage in my basement office showing how I put together trail maps, photos and ride descriptions. And trail videos.
Monday evening I hooked up with fellow UMB racer Derek Ransom and we drove to Moab -- two sleek Cannondale carbon Rush bikes on the hitch rack. Team jerseys and shorts packed. Ready to look awesome; hoping I could ride awesome. I had no doubts about Derek. But I worried he'd make ME look pathetic by comparison.

Key to photos:
Blue helmet, slim and strong = Derek
Black helmet, haggard and slow = Bruce

Enming sets the camera on the tripod to catch Derek grunting
up "Cogs to Spare." We both made it, of course.

We hit the Greenwell, which it turns out is newly remodeled and newly more expensive. No, VOA wasn't paying our bills. Well, except for the Burger King sandwich Enming treated us to. We were starving and our wallets were in my car high above Porcupine Rim.
A postcard version of the VOA story...

The host starts the segment.
Cue cheesy music.
We enter the hospital to find
the Doc pretending to work...
and pretending to look at
x-rays and patient records.
What's Chinese for
yada yada yada?
At home, we find faithful
dog Jackie.
The Mad Scientist brags
about his web site...
with trails, repair info, races,
cool videos, and other stuff!
Blather blather website
biking blah blah blah.
Day 2: Tuesday October 7. The Slickrock Trail!
Tuesday morning at 9 am, we hit the Slickrock Trail. As he geared up, Derek got a bit of camera face time telling what he liked about the Slickrock Trail. Enming stuffed his big high-res camera, plus tripod, plus handlebar mount and a smaller camera into a huge backpack. He turned out to be a pretty decent rider, but he'd never done anything like Utah's slickrock playground before. And that pack was a killer.

We filmed a few climbs and found a ledge to jump off. We got some cruising footage and some views. We stopped so he could do an interview with me sitting on the Navajo sandstone with the La Sals in the background. I said some very impressive things, but you'll have to take my word on that unless you can understand Mandarin Chinese.

And now we're at the world
famous Slickrock Trail!
Taking a look around, we
find Bruce looking cool.
Derek tells why Slickrock
is world famous. 
We watch Bruce and Derek
ride over the sandstone...
and they hit the slope and
begin climbing...
while the camera zooms in to
find Derek outracing Bruce.
Bruce blathers on about the
Navajo sandstone.
Who cares? Back to riding
as Bruce takes the lead.
Enming interviewed several other riders on the trail. Not one person was from Utah. Germany, yes. Wyoming, yes. Texas, yes. Cool stuff. Our reporter was suffering serious leg-death by the time we got to the top of Cogs to Spare, so he headed back while Derek and I completed the loop. We caught him about 1/2 mile from the divide and rode back together.

The filming took most of the day, since we were stopping to film every quarter mile and doing many of the stunts and climbs three times so Enming could get different angles. And sometimes we were just riding around in circles, playing on the rock, waiting for our reporter to catch up. I had 16 miles on the odometer.

Bruce gets down the ledges
without broken bones.
And Derek gets some airtime
off a ledge. Awesome!
We interview a rider from
and his riding partner. The
writing says "Hot biker."
And it's back to tackling the
mighty slopes of Slickrock.
But let's talk some more
about mountain biking...
and grunt up some hills, more
hills, and even more hills...
then look at the views  only
Utah can offer. End part 1.

Our reporter gets rid of the big backpack and does the Rim
with a mini-cam. Pretty good riding for his first Utah trip!

Day 3: Wednesday October 8, 2008. Porcupine!
On our second day of riding, we hit the Porcupine Singletrack and Porcupine Rim. We drove past the LPS trailhead, going a bit further up Sand Flats Road so we could catch some nice technical stuff. Wisely, this time Enming left the big gear behind and packed only the mini-cam.

Derek and I both did a few ledge drops. The biggest looks to be 4 vertical feet to where the front wheel touched down. The run-in was actually a little uphill, so I didn't have much speed to clear the lip safely. But I nailed that sucker by leading off with my ample nose then throwing the bike forward. I got in a nice wheelie drop, too. Not big vertical, but it felt good. It goes by way too fast on the video. Especially the YouTube version. That's why the Krank videos use slow-mo.
Our host says Bruce and
Derek are cute. Or something.
The second segment starts
with a close-up of Derek's leg.
Bruce is boring even in
Chinese. Get to the riding!
And we're off! Love that
Porcupine Singletrack!
Bruce finds a drop that looks
a lot bigger from the top.
We look at the vistas of
Castle Valley...
and flirt with the cliff edges
as we enjoy the October air.
Derek does the drop and
makes it look slick.

We ran into a group from Calgary Canada just before the big plunge on LPS. They had the body armor and crash helmets and the big-hit DH bikes. But they weren't ready to drop that one. Too bad. It would have been some fun video. Of course, there was no way an old brittle untalented wannabe like me was going to try it, camera or no camera. So, there's some nice footage of us slinking down the cliff with our bikes on our shoulders. Better a live chicken than a dead duck.

Derek broke his eggbeater pedal early in the ride, so he was basically balancing his shoe on a slippery bolt. But he still hit the rocks like a madman. I was impressed. He took a little skin off his leg, just to get more camera time I suspect.

Bruce launches a little ledge
and 30 feet later...
makes this cute little uphill
drop off a sandstone lip.
Meanwhile, Derek has busted
his eggbeater. No clicking in!
Ledges ledges ledges.
This trail is awesome!
We show what we're made of
(brains) by not riding this.
Finally on the official Rim.
More air opportunities!
Flying rock = bent derailleur,
bent spokes. Ride on.
Cactus below the kneecap.
Each spot has 10 needles.

On one of those long straight stretches of Porcupine, a four-inch rock bounced up from the front tire, hit my foot and bounced inward landing on the chain. Then it caught between the blade spokes of my pricey Mavic SLR, made 1/2 rotation and slammed into the derailleur (carbon SRAM X-0, in case you're adding pennies here). Bent derailleur, bent hanger, bent spokes. Spent a few minutes manhandling pieces until the bike worked again. Not great shifting, but we're going downhill, aren't we?

Now I noticed my knee was full of cactus needles. You know, those itty bitty ones that come in a cluster and look like a shaving brush? No idea how they got there. Just adds to the adventure.

On the way down, we met a guy who was hiking his bike out after breaking his collarbone. He'd stuffed his arm into the straps of his Camelbak to make a sling. He gave a great, pale-lipped interview for the camera. Mountain bikers are tough.

Bruce hikes the wheel up
onto a ledge.
We meet a guy with a broken
collarbone. Long walk.
Derek rears up like a stallion
as he comes over the lip...
while Bruce just throws the
bike down the mountain.
Cheesy Music.
Chinese Writing.
Fade out...
And our video warriors head
down to the Colorado.
Bruce talks about how
very awesome we both are.
And Derek agrees.
We rock.
The end.

Our reporter had lots of good footage, so he changed his plan. Instead of just one segment, he'd split the story in two. Part one aired December 5, two months after our Moab adventure, featuring the introduction stuff and Slickrock Trail footage. Part two was broadcast on December 12. It used the footage of Porcupine to show another side of mountain biking. While I don't understand Chinese, there's definitely a sense that the second episode is more about the danger and difficulty.

The second show wraps up with me and Derek talking about what a great time we had: busted up our expensive bikes, drew a bit of blood and embedded some cactus, wore out our muscles, but we came off the mountain with pedals turning. And that's a great trip.

Some day Lance Armstrong will go to China. And they'll gather around and say, "You're from America? Oh, do you know Bruce and Derek?"

Watch the show?
         YouTube:   Episode One (skip over the first minute...) story = 8 minutes
         YouTube:   Episode Two (skip forward two minutes...) story = 6 minutes
         YouTube:   Short English-language story (3 minutes) based on episode one
    Downloads of the pre-broadcast stories:
Part 1 - Intro plus Slickrock 160x120 (31 MB) - Pt 1 in 320x240 (88 MB)
                  Part 2 - Porcupine Rim 160x120
(26 MB) - Pt 2 in 320x240 (80 MB)