I had the pleasure of meeting so many people on this trip, and there was one guy I was especially psyched to meet: Mr. Paul Chetwynd.
I think it’s a well known fact that Paul has played a big role in introducing mountainbiking into Japan. As a fast rider, and for the pure bike lover aura, he has been an influential figure in the Japanese scene for about two decades now. I myself have been riding MTB for over 20 years, and have kind of known him for a long time. I also saw him everywhere when I was touring around the downhill circuit. And finally, I formally met him and talked to him this time around.
As we talked, it was revealed to me that he was one of the first guys to build bike trails in BC, Canada about a quarter century ago, which later became the phenomenon in the global MTB scene in the last decade. I was lucky to ride there as early as in 1999, but there had been a solid history that made it happen. Paul is my hero for doing that, and he is a real trail blazer as these words stand. He also runs the Japanese distributor of Cove Bikes, a North Shore-bred brand that I fell in love with as well.
I was flattered to find out that Paul sort of knew me as, for one thing, the guy who first introduced Norco MTBs from Canada, and for the other, the crazy downhill rider who put some motocross bike fork on a mountain bike years ago. I’d like to talk about this in detail later, but it was when downhill MTBs were equipped with single-crown forks and rim brakes.
What really impressed me in his talk was that he could ride faster and jump bigger now despite the age thanks to the evolution of mountain bikes. Bikes are wings for the riders. Mechanism and materials exist and keep evolving in order to make things possible for the users. It seemed like the high point in this trip that I was reminded of that.