Enthusiast Group launches YourMTB.com

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Tuesday, May 16, 2006
By Yokota Fritz

Boulder, CO -- If you're passionate about mountain biking, the Internet affords an opportunity to share that passion with like-minded others. If you have tales to tell about your rides and races; if you shoot lots of great photos on the trail and would enjoy sharing them with fellow enthusiasts; if you wear a helmet camera when you ride ... then there's a new online home for you.

YourMTB.com, the debut adventure-sports website from the Enthusiast Group, is a new online community where mountain bikers share their stories, advice, news, photos (and at a future date, trail reviews and videos). The website, which just opened to public use during its beta period, is based on the concept of "citizen media" -- which simply means that mountain bikers themselves are the authors of much of the content on YourMTB.com.

"Sports enthusiasts have compelling stories and images to share, but they typically are under-covered by traditional media," says Steve Outing, founder and publisher of YourMTB.com and the Enthusiast Group. "Only the stars of any sport get media attention. But everyday athletes and sports participants deserve coverage, too. They should have a media outlet of their own. That's what YourMTB.com and future Enthusiast Group sites are about."

YourMTB.com isn't all user-submitted content, however. Serving as head cheerleader -- encouraging and helping mountain bikers share their stories and images -- is Enthusiast-in-Chief Walker Thompson, 29, a Durango, Colorado-based semi-pro, sponsored mountain bike racer. Thompson leads by example, writing a blog on his mountain biking life (As the Chainring Turns), producing a weekly MTB podcast, shooting photos and video of his biking adventures (including recently being bitten by a dog on one of his rides!), and answering website visitors' questions in an Ask Walker forum.

YourMTB.com is about audience participation and interaction. Every piece of content posted to the site allows visitors and users to comment and discuss, and they can share anything they wish, as long as it's on the topic of mountain biking. They can ask questions and get expert answers from Thompson as well as get advice from other YourMTB.com users. "This is not like your traditional mountain biking magazine or website," says Outing, who is a well known interactive media expert and columnist (and an avid mountain biker). "This is about bikers sharing their passions with each other. It's two-way dialog, not traditional one-way, we-tell-you-how publishing."

The site routinely runs contests and promotions, rewarding the best adventure tales and photos, for example, with biking-related prizes provided by sponsors. Outing says the site is looking at other ways for users who submit material to the site to be rewarded, and those will be rolled out as the site proceeds toward a commercial launch. Use of the site is completely free to its users.

About the Enthusiast Group

The Boulder, Colorado-based company was founded in early 2006 by Outing and Derek Scruggs, an experienced Internet entrepreneur, with the goal of creating a network of citizen-media-based websites serving adventure and participant sports. YourMTB.com is the first site published by the company to open to the public.

In early summer, additional websites on climbing and running, based on the same citizen-media model, will be launched in beta mode. YourClimbing.com will be the company's second site; professional climber and writer Katie Brown will be its enthusiast-in-chief. Brown, 25, was ranked as the world's best competitive female climber several years ago before retiring from competition. She currently is a climbing ambassador for Patagonia and regularly writes for climbing magazines. An enthusiast-in-chief for YourRunning.com has not yet been named. Sites covering additional adventure and participant sports are planned for roll-out later this year, and the company is seeking editors.

The Enthusiast Group is funded by a group of 11 investors, including Omidyar Network (a mission-based investment group founded by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar), DB Medialab (the new-media arm of Norwegian national newspaper Dagbladet), and Brad Feld.

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