14 April 2017

The many trials of M. Vandeman

I dredged up one of my old signature files from the 1990s recently, while searching through archived alt.mountain-bike Usenet threads. Always liked this one, felt it was worth preservation:

Looking around this old online group, I was fascinated to find Mike Vandeman still posting daily vitriol to the forum about the dangers and destructiveness of mountain biking. After all these years, alt.mountain-bike looks to have become his solitary domain, a forgotten corner of the Internet that he's somehow become entrapped within, a kind of cartoon criminal imprisoned within the Phantom Zone, which has become nothing more than his very own bleak solitary repository of hate going on for page after page, amounting to literally hundreds of posts bearing his now-infamous name and a simple note: 0 views.

A denizen of Usenet forums just as I was back in the day, Vandeman was then, and remains to this day, an aggressive and combative hater of all things mountain-bike. From the very beginning of our sport, Vandeman took it upon himself, seemingly as his mission in life, to descend with great expedience through nearly all of Dante's Nine Circles of Hell (at the very least, he easily swept up avarice, wrath, violence, fraud and betrayl with his unmitigated rage) when it came to propagating and publicizing his myriad negative views and opinions of off-road cyclists on numerous digital forums and print publications, often in terribly pugnacious ways. 

 Vandeman engaged vociferously and condescendingly with anyone who tried to debate him and commonly wrote long, contentious, purportedly factual posts about how much of an assault mountain bikers were on the environment and on the experience of other trail users, too. He prided himself on knowing far more about these issues than anyone else and commonly touted his Ph.D as evidence of his elevated intellect. To my knowledge, over the course of many, many years standing in opposition to mountain bikers, Vandeman never admitted defeat, never stood down, never failed to submit yet another long, curmudgeonly reply to a given argument. There was no winning in a debate against Mike Vandeman's bloviations. He never conceded, never relented, until his victims wandered away, exhausted and befuddled.

Vandeman was put on trial in Oakland in February 2011 for multiple counts of assault and battery against a group of mountain bikers that he encountered using restricted trails near his home in northern California. 

At the conclusion of his jury trial he was found guilty of several of the charges against him. 

In April 2011 Vandeman was sentenced to serve thirty days on a county sheriff's fieldwork team. Since he had already spent eight days in a jail cell prior to his arraignment, he performed just 22 days of community service for his crimes.

I don't miss Mike Vandeman. 

But I do kinda miss Usenet, even though it's not a place I've visited in forever. I spent a lot of time there when I first got goin' on the info-superhighway, back in the '90s. These days, my compulsion to foist my opinion/opposition/advice onto the mostly nameless-and-faceless, is generally satisfied by my occasional participation in various forums at mtbr.com.  I try really hard not to be a troll.

May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. -- Ed Abbey