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Here’s why I’m psyched for Beta, Pocket Outdoor Media’s new MTB site

Fred Dreier is happy to welcome Nicole Formosa and the Beta mountain bike crew to the Pocket Outdoor Media family.

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In the winter of 2005 I stood in a muddy field in the Texas Hill Country, feverishly taking notes as mountain bike racer Geoff Kabush explained the origins of his mulleted, jorts-clad alter-ego, Deaner. It was my first assignment as VeloNews’ mountain bike reporter. And while I was armed with curiosity and some newspaper experience, I kept hidden one very important truth about myself.

I knew nothing about mountain biking, and I was a terrible, awful, no-good very bad mountain biker. Kabush didn’t seem to care.

Five years later, as I prepared to leave VeloNews, I published my final story: A first-person feature about riding Canada’s seven-day BC Bike Race. In that span of time not only did the mountain bike community educate me on the storylines, culture, and technology shaping the sport — they also taught me how to ride a mountain bike.

I learned how to pilot a downhill rig courtesy of Ross Milan, Chris Conroy, and the Yeti Cycles crew. Andreas Hestler taught me how to roll over a ladder bridge without crashing (dude, stop looking down!). The community took me in, taught me the ropes, and sent me out into the world as a lifelong convert.

The author completed the 2009 BC Bike Race after receiving some valuable advice from Dre… “Stop crashing so much Fred!” Photo: BC Bike Race

These memories have come rushing back to me this week as we at Pocket Outdoor Media have prepared to launch our newest site, Beta, a home for all things mountain biking: culture, gear, technique, and of course bike tests. Mountain biking is back at Pocket Outdoor Media, and I am so proud and excited that our Beta colleagues can offer us storytelling, video, and photography to anyone who is interested in piloting a mountain bike along a trail, be you a hardcore rider or a clumsy dork like myself.

I suggest you check out the welcome letter written by Beta’s editor Nicole Formosa. And please take a peek at some of the other super cool stuff they’ve produced for their launch, such as this photo gallery of riding through wildfire areas in Santa Cruz Mountains, this profile of rider Anita Naidu, and Kristin Butcher’s latest column.

As many of you remember, mountain-bike racing often graced the pages of VeloNews, with stars like Missiy Giove and Ned Overend gracing the cover on a regular basis. I believe I was the final full-time mountain-bike reporter for VeloNews, and after my departure in 2009 the sport slowly shrunk from the magazine and website.

We love mountain biking, and we still attend races like the Epic Rides series and Leadville 100, and we still cover those men and women who are making waves in the endurance side of the sport’s competitive landscape. We’ve even done a mountain bike review or two in the recent past.

Here’s Betsy, killing it at Leadville. Photo: Brad Kaminski |

But the launch of Beta brings an entirely different level of expertise to Pocket — one that we’ve never truly had at VeloNews. Here’s why: Nicole Formosa and her team were the former editorial team at BIKE magazine, that much-loved glossy publication that was at the forefront of mountain biking culture for decades. They are the experts, and they’ve been geeking out over the best places to ride — and the best bikes to ride — for a long time.

Alas, BIKE shuttered late last year. Lucky for us, Formosa and her squad found a home at Pocket Outdoor Media, and now, we at VeloNews have mountain biking back in our lives in a very big way.

Yep, it’s going to be a lot of fun, and you can expect to read some cool mountain bike stuff from Beta on our site from time to time. We will definitely point you all toward the fun projects they’re up to over there — expect thrilling drone footage and first-person tales of riding in the best locations. Be forewarned: We may goof off with each other from time to time. We may swing, and we may miss. We only hope that you come along for the ride. Everyone is welcome, and you won’t regret it.

As for Geoff Kabush — it’s 16 years since that muddy morning in Texas, and he’s still crushing it.

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