|Rider Profile - Sean Tetrault||
I am proud to present to all the much anticipated, at least by me, Mr. T interview. If you have been involved in Humboldt cycling for any amount of time I am positive that you have crossed paths with the charismatic, bright, and good natured co-owner of Revolution Bicycle and Repair, Sean Tetrault. Sean is a Humboldt native. He has ruled the gravity crowd for years with benovolence, discretion and grace. His time will be looked back upon as golden years, when the trails were burly, the riders honorable, and the cause just. Sean is as humble as they come, never one to point the finger, his insight now is wise and reserved. I was not feeling particularly prepared or articulate the night I interviewed him, so blame me for not dragging out the dirt. In my defense I was rendered nearly harmless by my admiration for Sean and deep interest in the, seemingly uninteresting, details of his life. His story is as true and honest as they come. Blessed with incredible speed, T is only held back by his genuine good nature and unbiased assesment of the world around him. As we sat down in a precious time slot, Sean was able to drown out the pitter patter of several little feet, which often gave way to tears and cacouphonies of destruction. I continue to be amazed by the balance that Sean wields in his life, wether he sees it or not, and though his circumstances and understanding have changed dramatically from when we first meet, he has not lost the energetic adventurer that he is at heart. Pleae enjoy the thoughts of one who has been there, done that, and continues to push the local cycling community to new levels. His wife K.K. summed it up quite well saying "Sean only flings mud on the trail".
"Frozen Peas, The Secret To Speed" Sean T. 1-16-2005
J: "Alright, vitals; date of birth, height, weight, point of origin."
T: "uh, pressure... Sean Tetrault, let me think about my birthdate... 7-9-74, overweight, underpaid, underskilled, from Mad River Hospital."
J: Don't you write your own checks, couldn't you do somethin about being under paid?
T: The profitability in the bike industry isn't... well let's say it isn't the oil industry.
J: There are perks though, can you tell us about any?"
T: Well, being your won boss you can usually schedule some time off, like go skiing... there is always work when you want to schedule in a ride though.
J: When were you introduced to Mountain Biking?
T: Wow, well ised to ride BMX bikes in 6th grade, or even earlier, through Seqoyah park on all the little rutted and rooty trails. Seventh grade my dad gave me an old beat down mountain bike that was a few years out of date, and that's what i rode pretty much from then on. Broke that, broke another one, well wore them out riding behind Eureka, Winship, out on the Mckay track. Eventually once it got dry we started shuttling Jacoby Creek. First time I rode Jacoby Creek was on a rigid Stump Jumper, sometime like '89.
J: When were you introduced to mountain biking competitively?
T: When I started working at Henderson (Center Bicycles), me and Matt (Snyder) started racing downhill together. '96 was our first race.
J: Where was that and how did it go down?
T: Oh good lord, now that is searching back, back in time. Was it Oroville? Yeah I think Oroville.
J: Just an itch you had to scratch?
T: Matt was coming off BMX racing and I like to go fast and downhill was kinda just coming on, and we were both just like 'that sounds rad', so we did it jumped on. We both did pretty good, we were both right there, neck and neck at the top of the sport class. And then just started racing. We were always, right out of the box, not on full rigs or anything like that, I was on a Super-V with Headshock. Matt was on a Marin with a '96 Judy. And we were neck and neck at the front of the class, we didn't win but we were right there, and that got us all stoked. We just kept going, doin' it. Granted we raced small races but I was stoked to never finish out of the top ten, until like 2000 when i went to the nationals I got thirteenth. That was my one national I've ever done.
J: What was your feeling on that? Was there anticipation?
T: It was cool all around. When I got there though it was the year the Big Bear course was all fire road, they took out the famed rock jump that you see in all the pictures. It was the first year they had some big environmental fracus and had to re route it totally. So I got there and the course wasn't at all what I thought it was going to be. It was fun, it was fast. Technically the course was cheese, but the scale of the jumps were huge, so I was like 'damn gnarly national course'.
J: As the biggest race you had been too, was it a let down?
T: I was really bummed on the course i didn't really like it that much. The whole scene and process of a race that big, not that it's overwhelming, has you sitting in line for a long time, you don't get that many runs. You can go to North Star (at Tahoe) and make yourself beat in like four hours, and then still ride for four more just because.
J: When did you make your first trip to North Star?
T: Matt and I went in like 98' or '99 i think.
J: What were you riding at that point?
T: I was riding a rigid Marin aluminum hardtail with a judy XL, four inch triple clamp on the front.
J: And that didnn't discourage you from going back?
T: The only thing that Matt and I couldn't ride was the waterfall on the Karpeil trail. I remember Matt and I were blitzing the trail and passed some guys who were standing there, with a foes and something else, we were ripping by and heard 'em yell 'damn those dudes are on hardtails!' I cracked my frame, toasted the rear wheel, dented the downtube, made it two thirds of the way down the waterfall and putzed. Everything else on the mountain we nailed it, I'd like to say it was smooth but it wasn't, it was fun.
J: Do you think spending time on smaller bikes helped you when you got a rig later on? Or the the flimsy equipment hold you back?
T: I don't think it held me back, i always go as fast as I am compfortable going. Once I got a rig i think I went faster on hardtails. With a rig you pick different lines and you pick up speed, then you get back on a hardtail and you start thinking 'well why can't I hit that line on this' and you do it. That was my experience personally. So I would say that the rig made me faster.
J: You've always told me that a big part of your drive in competition was not necesarily to beat the next guy, but just that you like going fast. Aside from your love of speed, what other attributes do you bring to a race course?
T: I try and be consistent, if I ride and I feel comfortable I might try to push a few things, but i try to ride it like I ride in practice. I believe in the 'slow down to go fast'. I'm not like a throw it all down, willing to crash, kinda guy. I'd rather stay upright. I may not corner quite as hot as some guys, but I pedal my ass off, I can hold speed in a straight line no sweat. Technical stuff, just try and be smooth, totally concentrate on flow, and just flow.
J: You started riding motocycles before you raced mountain bikes, how did street bikes play into mountain biking?
T: The biggest advantage from that is putting on the brakes. Riding the hell out of the front brake, come in super hot, ride the front brake, pitch it into a corner. I would say that is the only real advantage on a mountain bike. Started to ride dirt bikes recently, that transfers into drifting corners, high speed corners. Beyond that it is tough to say.
J: What are you more likely to be riding when you are 80, a street bike or a mountain bike?
T: My joints make that a pretty obvious answer, when I'm 80 I'll be on a street bike. I'll have a mountain bike and a dirt bike and a street bike still, the one that will gather the least dust when I'm 80 will be the street bike.
J: Since you had your first child (Finnegan) how has your view on riding changed? Obviously you are not able to concentrate on competing as much, what does it mean to you now as opposed to what it did five years ago?
T: For me now it's more about, when i go I want to ride, more then it ever was. Going to races was fine, but I had a lot more time to go ride as well. So now it's like going to a race is an involved process, there's practice, there's intensity, and just the fact that you don't get to ride until you are tired. You might get tired there, but you don't ride the whole time, you do a lot of shuttling, there's a lot of standing around time. Now with my limited time, if i go ride I WANT TO RIDE, and ride for some time, some solid hours. It's effected my riding, in that, I less look for races and more look for fun rides where I can go put in hours. As few and far between as they may be. Time is more precious. Given the choice between say going and racing at Sea Otter, I'll save my time off and go do a summer trip to North Star or hopefully Whistler again, and ride until I can't ride anymore
J: Tell us about your trip to Whistler last summer. You were there for Kona demo days, about a week?
T: No I wish, we got like three solid days in, that place is unbelievable, so sweet. It definitely changed my perspective on how built obstacles could be. I already had some idea about how things like jumps should be, in terms of sketch factor, I'm not comfortable with real lippy jumps. At Whistler I saw how they built everything and I was just 'perfect'. Totally suited the direction I like to go, I felt real comfortable there. It was fun.
J: I recall a few years ago the Freshwater Bigfoot course, that you had put a lot of time into, basically got obliterated. Obviously you don't have the time that you once did to dig, what is your feeling on local land access and keeping trails versus them being destroyed.
T: It definitely makes it hard to invest a lot in a course that may or may not make it through a season. But there are people trying to push through trail access. There's a guy locally named Rocky, his last name escapes me, who is totally into trail access and he is on a mission dealing with The (Arcata) Cummunity Forest. There is some hope for some legal aggressive trails there, there is no reason it can't be done, IMBA's got freakin a bible on trail building that covers all that stuff. In terms of it actually happening we just gotta make the connection with somebody in charge of the forest who is willing to allow it. Then I'd be up there digging all the time.
J: Is that the most promising avenue that you've seen lately?
T: That or private owners granting permission for people to build on their property. Which is rad as long as that doesn't go sour.
J: As a bicycle shop owner, one would think you are pretty in tune with the local riding scene, what changes have you witnessed in the local scene since you moved to Revolution?
T: The Hoopa thing has come on big time, I dunno that is a tough one to answer, any scene is always in flux. There's people that are moving in and out of it and back into it, it's hard to say. A lot of the elements are still there, folks wind up on different paths doing different things. To me the scene feels as it has the same potential as when I started riding, it is still a pretty small core group. The numbers haven't necesarily gone up a lot, a few more people, but Humboldt is just a tough place to have downhill bikes, you gotta shuttle.
J: Do you think riders are more or less unified then they once were?
T: That's a tough one. I am pretty busy with family at this point, 1.5 kids along, so I don't get all the riding time I got before. Before it was easy to make a few phone calls from the shop and all of a sudden you got a little ride happening prety quick, bam done. As far as me personally seeing a lot of action, I don't see as much so it is hard for me to judge. I don't see as many people leaving from the shop in big group, as I used to, but I see lots of people still riding.
J: You mentioned Hoopa, what potential have you seen there, what would you say needs to be done?
T: Oh killer potential. What needs to be done? I don't know that you could do anything that is not being done already. They're pretty into it, they're out there a lot. Patrick and those guys (T.R.P.) are definitely putting in time. You're out there, Hank's (Matheson) out there, once Brian's (Hapgood) shoulder gets better he'll be back out there, so it's happening out there. In terms of what could be better, I dunno, it's tough to say. Hoopa is beautiful, but it definitely has a rough element out there, that's just the territory. Just gotta be able to put up with an occasional sketchy incident when you are riding out there, that is about it really.
J: In terms of your own promotion, I've heard talk that you are cyclo-cross race soon, what's in the works with that?
T: Super secret.
J: Super secret, that's all?
T: Uh huh.
J: Do you have any current goals of where you would like your riding to progress to?
T: I wanna jump more, but I am such a fruit whip when it comes to jumping that I want to jump on very particular jumps. I despise lips. basically my view on mountain bike jumps is that it should be a sweet freakin moto cross jump, almost the same scale. There is no reason you should have a four foot gap with a three-four foot lip and tranisition of less then a foot. Your front wheel is off the jump before your rear wheel has even gotten to the bottom of the transition, it is just gonna throw you over the fron, it is just ridiculous. Should be just sweet perfect launch ramp from hell, the bigger the better. of course it is getting to the point where I prefer table tops, do or die gaps aren't really my taste. Having gone through a broken neck already and a broken collarbone, it is not exactly super fun. That's my take on lips. When it is a big perfect smooth lip, like what was up at Whistler, granted they have Bobcats and shit like that so it makes it easy. Tough to do when you are one guy with a shovel. Smooth, big, I like that. I wish I had some property, then I'd build some and everybody could come play. Maybe someday.
J: What is your take on local event promotion and keeping individuals interested in participating in such events?
T: The stomach churn, prime example. The race is totally sweet, tons of people show up, it's got a good soul feeling to it, it's a straight benefit. Not that I am against people making money promoting races, I think that is a totally valid and worthwhile thing to do. Part of the beauty of Stomach Cross is that it is a straight charitable event and the feeling on it has always been the same. Come out have fun, ride hard, all your friends are there, drink a beer or two, just enjoy it. I think when there are too many events in the cycling calendar it dilutes it. Unfortunately I think that with a relatively small rider base like we have here, if we get too many different events it means that somebody goes to one event and they can't go to the next event. Everybody has a limited amount of time off, so quality over quantity is the way to go promoting races and events. We're considering throwing our own race into the mix so maybe I am being a bit hypocritical in tha regard, but we are going to focus on just doing one special thing. Hopefully people dig it and it goes off, a similar counterpart to the stomach churn, we'll see. Starting small, focusing on quality, and scheduling it in a way which makes it available to a lot of people.
J: There are usually greater numbers for cross country, cyclocross, and road events then for gravity events. What is something that could be done about that?
T: Maybe introduce a Super D the day before a cross country race. That's about my only thought, the average cross country rider just isn't into downhill and they see what downhill is now. If they are up on cycling technology at all, they read a magazine or a website, downhill bike looks like a motocross bike it's just a fact. A cross country rider doesn't want anything to do with that, they don't want the body armor, they want to climb, they want to feel the burn. I think the Super D is a bit of brilliance really, because it is a hybrid, a half step in between pure downhill and cross country.
J: As you mention, downhill bikes are basically motorcycles without the motors. You started out on something much more basic, what changes have you seen in the level of riding that is attainable now and do you think it is getting the respect that it deserves?
T: Oh man, technology, it has gone so far. Respect, I think yeah there is a lot more respect. When downhill first started I can't even begin to describe the type of assanine behavior that surrounded the cross country versus downhill mess. Being somebody who just pure pedals period, having people throw a bunch of shit at you because you are a downhiller is just lame. The fact is I like to ride a bike and riding aggresively downhill suits my style, it still has pedals and two wheels. That has all pretty much gone by the way side. There still is, and will be for awhile, a lingering bit of that bull shit. Same as skiing versus snowboarding, nobody gives a shit now, but when it first came on there are always the haters. In terms of technology and where it is going, I think that is helping gain respect because it is trickling down, anybody who is tech savy sees that. Equipment is just getting better and better. Dampening is getting more complex, responsive, designs are becoming more sturdy and relatively simplified, it's good.
J: In terms of full suspension bikes, for a while it seemed like complex linkages were going to be the answer for more efficient rides. Now with shock technology advancing a lot of people are falling back on single pivots like a basic motocross bike. Where do you think the epitome is going to be found?
T: I think that bikes that use the VPP design or designs similar to that, being that they have some linkage but it is fairly simple are going to be the ideal for bikes. Single pivot and a shock, there's an application there that will never go away. Well designed, well placed, with the technology in today's rear shocks it works great. As far as where designs are going it is hard to say, it has evolved a lot in the past few years. Motorcycles went from five inches of travel to fourteen inches of travel and back down. Downhill bikes are taking a similar path at an accelerated rate. It is hard to say, today's bikes are pretty damn sweet though. If you can't go fast on them you're broken.
J: What is your fondest racing memory or best result?
T: One of my fondest memories was winning the overall, granted it was just the sport class, series at Hollister. I had won a few of the races and I was first or second in the points, sport class whatever, who cares. Matt and I were both talking about going expert, I decided to stay sport for a couple more races to stay in the same class and see if I could win it and Matt went expert. I stayed sport for the next two races, won the overall series which was sweet, got a lot of blue ribbons out of that. After that, I dunno, races are always fun, it's always good. I was pretty happy with my finish at the nationals. I was struggling with my bike. I blew a rear shock I blew a pivot linkage, was riding a piece of crap bike. It looked sweet but didn't work sweet. I was happy with that finish. Winning Tish Tang (Tangle) was fun, that was probably one of my favorites, ripping Tish Tang. Railed it on a hardtail and getting a time that was within seconds of my suspension run, was pretty stoked on that. What's been the most fun lately? Mass starts. Loving the mass starts.
J: We need a recap on the Chinese Downhill (Pirate Ride #3). Can you give a summary of the exciting moments in that race?
T: Jared I gave you the race! No, you can't pu that in there, through my own assanine behavior. It was a blast, i love the Lemans start, just like a cyclocross race, it is totally fun, running to the bike, it's just goofy and retarted, it's what it's all about just having fun. Mass start is just fun period, going off the line it's a huge rush everybody is right there, you're dicing. Trying to get out front, if you get close to the front you can stay within sight of the leaders and try to close in on them. I was able to do that at the last race. It stacked up Jared, Shady Shane and me. I got around Shane at some point and started closing in on Jared. I made a pass on him but I just wasn't holding the same speed he was, I made a pass on a pedal section and I wasn't holding the same cornering speed so he got me back. I was right on his wheel, staying pretty close to him. Through the 'Y' trees I closed in on him a little bit, he blew a corner after that and I got right on his wheel again. Stuck on his wheel, we hit the fire road and he had gained a bit of a gap on me. Closed it back down on the fire road, was getting right up on him, and then I went 'Steeper Then All' and he went the fire road. I don't know what I was fucking thinking I should've just stuck on his wheel and seen if I could get him somewhere, but there it is. You've got to hit the brakes so much for Steeper Then All, even if you are going fast it is going to take more time. Whatever, that's how it is. I was just in such the habit of riding that trail in a particular way that it just felt more comfortable to head for Steeper Then All.
J: You came off Steeper Then All and where did you run into Robbie (Rhall)?
T: I came off Steeper Then All and I didn't see Robbie, Robbie wasn't there. Then I hit the next section, a steep funky chute through some brush, got off line through there, hit a small tree and went over the bars. Got my shit back together and dropped out the last steep chute and Robbie and I almost ran into each other right there. He was going downhill so he had momentum and he just kept going, I turned around and followed him down, that's basically it. It was eventful, probably would have been different if I'd actually stuck on Jared rather then taken some fruity alternate route, but whatever. It is what it is, it was a blast. Definitely not a smart race, but it was about having fun.
J: With the success that you found on the regional amateur circuit, did you ever give any thought to upgrading beyond that?
T: Yeah, right around the point I was considering maybe going semi-pro, which would have been, more then anything, so I could race for dollars at local events, basically at that point wound up becoming part of Revolution and shortly there after a baby. Basically ran out of opportunity to focus on that, I chose to focus on buisness and family instead for the time being.
J: Revolution has a local history of being pretty involved in the bicycling scene, and having fast riders work there. What would you like to see happen in terms of the buisnesses support of local riding?
T: On top of what we already do, in terms of trying to support local events as much as we can, that kinda comes back to local events quality over quantity. If there were fewer events it would be easier to increase our presence, instead of just attaching dollars to it and not being there. Last year for the Arcata criterium I rode the pace bike, a motorcycle, and it was a blast being part of that event. That sort of thing is really fun, to be part of an event like that. In terms of the gravity stuff it would be nice if Jake (Todd) and I could make every race but that is not necessarily realistic. Unfortunately Jake works for us and is a valuable employee, that for me and Justin to have any time off we must have him work sometimes though it doesn't always work out for his racing, it sucks. When events are on Sundays, Justin Graves, it works out really well, sorry Matt Snyder.
Moto : Fun
Juicing : Carrots.. I don't know that's obscure, that's freakin obscure
Life Cycle : First I pictured an exercise bike, then I thought of the bike shop down the street
GSR : Almost a GSXR but not nearly the same. Gallioto Speed Research, Crap Crap!
Steve Peat : Coolest DH'er ever
Simpson (the timeber company) : Stingy on the passes
Cross Gender Racing : Always a laugh
Finnegan : Most beautiful thing ever
Fear Inhibitors : Crock of shit
U.C.I. : Unorganized Crap Interface
Jib : Gay, oh wait sorry that's not PC
Buckaroo Bonzai : The Man
Humboldt Weather : Sketchy
Neck Brace : I'd Rather Forget
Mobbing : I'm at a loss
Drift : Controlled and proper mobbing
Pirate : Dope