Interview – Big Drop Bob
I thought it would be cool to do some interviews with some of the main characters on Ohio’s downhill scene. So I’ll start things off with Bob Bevard, the man behind Horn’s Hill.
Bob, you’re a pretty legendary figure in downhill circles around here. Tell us a bit about yourself – what’s your background?
I raced dirt bikes for about twelve years but quit doing so in my mid-thirties. A former student of mine presuaded me to try mountain biking. I was skeptical that it would be much fun. That was 16 years ago. Did cross country for 11 years before the lure of downhill grabbed my attention five years ago. It’s very much like the excitement of racing motorcycles. I still do cross country and road biking.
They call you Big Drop Bob, how did that name come about?
When I got my first DH bike, I was horrible at dropping. I built a drop in my back yard that was adjustable. That winter when I was in Arizona riding, I did a very big drop and my buddy filmed it. It was crazy big for my skill level at the time, but I was successful. I showed the footage to Mark VanMeter (the originator of Chainsmoke downhill website) and he nicknamed me Big Drop Bob as my name on his website. I still like dropping.
You’re one of the main men behind Ohio’s most successful new gravity scene at Horns Hill, can you give us a brief history of Horns?
Horn’s is unique. I went up there on two different occasions thinking cross country trails, but the terrain was too steep. The second time, I had just begun riding downhill and I realized that it would be great for downhill. I tried contacting the city about building there, but there was big political battle going on over that park at the time.
I rented a mini-excuvator and built a couple berms and table tops in my woods, but I don’t have a huge amount of vertical. I said at the time, “this is just my prototype for building dh trails at Horn’s Hill.” People laughed…”yeah right.”
A year later, the parks director went to the Bike Doctor looking for someone to build mountain biking trails there. Sean knew that I was interested in building there so he called me. How it all came together is actually pretty amazing. Dave Huff wasn’t even riding bikes, but he happened to be coming over to visit his motorcycle buddy right when he and I were walking Horn’s to get ideas about building there. Huff told me he could run an excuvator and he’d be willing to help since he wasn’t working at the time. He wasn’t just blowing smoke! He put in amazing number of hours up there with me building trails, just for the fun of it. And then he got the bug…. Anyway, thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours have gone into building Horn’s. It’s amazing how much time and money have been donated to make it all work out. Thanks to everyone!
So what does 2011 hold for Horns?
We made some nice improvements last year. Trail four is coming together nicely and trail three got some big re-works. We were able to raise about $600 last year (actually rather disappointing) so we don’t have the money to do anything extensive. We will probably just stick with improving and maintaining what’s there. There is still the need to make a sustainable erosion control design for where trail one and two converge at the end and I’m sure Rick will be improving trail four some more.
Do you have any personal goals for 2011?
I turn 60 in three months. It’s a little like when the odometer on your car rolls over. You have to wonder whether to go for another hundred thousand or trade it in on a new one. I feel that I could do downhill another ten years, the good Lord willing, or I could back it down a notch and not race as much as last year (13 races). Either way, I’ll keep riding road, cross country and some downhill. I benched 235 at the end of my pyramid two days ago so my strength is still decent. I guess I’m still trying to figure this one out. I love having a reason to stay in shape and downhill sure provides that.
What about the gravity scene in Ohio, do you have any ideas to progress things and make it grow?
I think location and sustainability are the keys. You have to have a location that is close to a fairly large population. That’s one of the Keys to Horn’s. The paved access road is also key. Mohican is awesome because it has natural downhill. Rock requires no maintenance where slopestyle requires a considerable amount of maintenance. Always having some easy trails is important. When I’m in Phoenix I downhill on South Mountain. It is awesome downhill and the city is the fifth largest in the U.S. yet it’s a very small group that rides it. I think it’s too challenging for many people. We have a tendency to always go bigger and more challenging, but we have to remember the beginners and intermediate riders. We need to combine fun days with some light competition.
I’d personally like to thank Bob for the time and commitment he has to promoting our sport through events like the Ohio Gravity Fest and especially for his work at Horn’s. Thanks Bob!