Photo: Stelios Psaroudakis’s GoFundMe page.

Recent reports of a mountain biker being clotheslined by a booby trap consisting of barbed wire strung across a popular mountain bike trail in West Bragg Creek, Alberta, are being met with suspicion by local Alberta mountain bikers online. The story has gone viral, reported in news outlets around the world–most notably CBC News in Canada, with over 27,000 social shares of the article–yet suspicions are still mounting. Most of the suspicion surrounds the GoFundMe page that the rider created for a supposedly stolen Specialized Stumpjumper FSR. The Stumpjumper in question is a 2008 model, and the rider, Stelios Psaroudakis, is attempting to raise $8,000 for its replacement.

Photo:Stelios Psaroudakis

According to local online commenters (if there’s ever a sentence that says “take this with a grain of salt,” that’s it), Psaroudakis has previously posted scammy GoFundMe pages, in the car community and for the release of his dog from the pound. Also, quoting his bike value at $8,000 is extremely dubious. While it’s tough to pinpoint the exact model level of this FSR from the low resolution photo above, to hit $8,000 you’d need to buy the top-tier S-Works Stumpjumper FSR… of the current model year. Since we know that new mountain bikes lose about 45% of their value after year one, there’s no way his 2008 bike is worth this amount of money.

While Bicycle Bluebook doesn’t have every model of the 2008 Specialized Stumpjumper FSR listed, the closest I could find listed an original MSRP of $4,600 and an excellent bicycle condition value of just over $1,000. Even giving him the benefit of the doubt that his bicycle cost $8,000 back in 2008, current market value would only be $1,700 at the very best, based on the depreciation of other Stumpjumper FSR models.

Now, whether or not his bike is actually worth $8,000 seems to be a minor point–Psaroudakis could have indeed still hit a barbed wire booby trap, and simply be taking advantage of the situation. But locals are skeptical of those claims as well.

Mutatothegreat is a Redditor who claims to be a local mountain biker. He posted this skeptical comment in a Reddit thread just yesterday:

Upon hearing of the event last week, my initial reaction was some skepticism. My plan was to hold off for more details and then, as his story began to unfold, my reaction moved more towards extreme skepticism.

As a rider who frequents the area, it is highly unlikely that things happened how he claims, where he claims. And if, in fact, this did happen – the additional details around the story are extremely fishy.

  • Victim claims the event happened on what is easily the most busy trail in the area. This particular section of trail can see hundreds of riders on even a slow day. It regularly gets backed up with traffic and should be renamed Merlin Queue. But somehow a wire got up sometime after 8 on a purpose-built bike trail not immediately accessible via any parking area. No other riders encountered these people.
  • It’s reported the wire was something like half-way down the downhill return of the trail (it’s a self-contained loop). That’d put our folks about 6 km, give or take, from the parking lot, at which point they hiked out with a single bike along the two busiest trails. No other riders encountered these people.
  • And like most people who have just been given the ol’ Hulkamania, these guys took the time to take down the wire, dispose of it (?!?!), and leave a bike behind before walking the 6km out of the trail network to the parking lot.
  • Oh wait, but the parking lot was shut down that day and W Bragg Creek Road was blocked off at (I believe) the entrance cattle gates? So may as well add some extra distance there.

The basic details of the story don’t really jive with anyone familiar with the area. I mean, you want to give the guy the benefit of the doubt, but then he spams his $8000 gofundme to replace his $800 bike all over Facebook, only talks to police after they get involved because of the media reports, and has a history of making sketchy gofundme campaigns (what a weird thing to have any ‘history’ of…).

I dunno. Maybe the dude had a run in with one of the grazing allotment fences in the area and saw an opportunity to make a profit off of an outraged biking community? Who knows. Hopefully we learn more, one way or another. Unfortunately these types of stories usually get reported before details emerge, garnish precious outrage, and then disappear before any resolution.

The Ride-the-Rockies Trail Reports: Calgary and Area Mountain Bikers Facebook Page is alive with this debate too. Due to the ongoing investigation by the authorities, the trail is now believed to be the Merlin trail in West Bragg Creek, as mentioned by mutatothegreat above. With the incredible technology that is Strava, locals were able to deduce that, at a minimum, seven different mountain bikers rode that trail between 7pm and 9pm that same evening–check out the Strava Flyby here. So far, Psaroudakis is the only person to have claimed to see a barbed wire fence, and in fact, no other riders have yet come forward corroborating Psaroudakis’s mere presence on this trail at this time.

Admittedly it can be easy for keyboard warriors to present disdain for a report such as this, but as the evidence mounts the likelihood that this is a true report appears to diminish. The authorities also continue to investigate the issue.

Update at 9:25am MDT on Tuesday, July 25, 2017:

Alberta’s “Barbed Liar” Charged with Fraud, Mischief – Remains Defiant

# Comments

  • l3eaudacious

    I had the same suspicion as the Reddit post, his story seems to be aimed at pulling strings. Dog in backpack, booby trap, stolen bike no one wants. Barbed wire is picture perfect for his neck, height + bike combo. While he states he was standing on a corner? Who isn’t kissing their back tire on merlin with their butt cheeks?

    They also had the presence of mind to remove the barbed wire with no tools, while he’s bleeding from the neck. Followed by a 30+ minute hike back to the car. While leaving a bike that can be used to support himself like a crutch?

    The queue part is the nail in the coffin for me. Merlin has ton’s of traffic, and also is a gathering spot at the Bragging Rights/Merlin/Reconnect intersection and bragging rights is the only direct-route exit and entry. No one saw them? No one reported anything?

  • JohnathanReno

    Lover Merlin, been riding the loop for two years. Have to say though, this guys claim absolutely reeks of BS from every possible angle. Just my opinion, but I think it’s either a self-inflicted injury or he injured himself elsewhere and just made up the part about being clothes lined by barbed wire and having his $8k bike stolen to get increased exposure for a GoFundMe, which he’s not a stranger to, as he had another GoFundMe for something else just last month.

  • James Heilman

    The neck injury in the photo does not confirm a laceration. There are no sutures, there is no blood. The two pictures on the gofundme also do not line up (with one having an extra line). Did the extra line get washed away or added later?

  • BrentYYC

    I concur with the previous comments, and will add one more. There’s no way in Hell that a rider coming across an abandoned bike on Merlin View would steal it. If somebody did go to the effort to bring it out the six or so kilometers it would take, they would post a notice at the trailhead or get in touch with the owner after he was identified in the media. That’s the Canadian way, and that’s how we ‘roll’ here in Calgary. There certainly aren’t a bunch of thieves roaming the trails. I found a driver’s licence on the trail a couple of seasons ago, and spent a couple of hours searching out the owner, as would most people around here.

  • Rider51

    I’d sure like to know more about this too. Certainly before I up and accuse someone. But I think what stood out to me most was what BrentYYC noted. I’ve been to Alberta many times and I’d be completely shocked if someone walked off with someone’s bike like this. The area is so ridiculously safe you could probably leave an $8,000 mtb there even and I can’t still see another rider stealing it, or anyone who came across it taking it either. This type of honor in the community there is so infectious, even visiting foreigners from unsafe cities adopt the same creed almost instantaneously.

  • MaxwellD

    Traps on trails is a concern, and It has been a problem in the past, for example, Steaks in the ground at trails near me. But when I read this article, and found out how much this trail is ridden, and how popular it is, it seems a little skeptical that miraculously he was the only one that hit the booby trap out of hundreds that ride these trails every day.

    Also, that bike, I can tell you, is not worth any more that 1,000-1,500… My brother had one very similar and I don’t even think he attempted to selling it because of what I hassle it would have been. There is no way that he needs 8,000 to replace, unless he is really looking to upgrade! 🙂

    I really do dream of a world where we can take a man by his first word and not have to be so watchful and skeptical! Honesty is the best policy, and there is no point or benefit in trying to get more out of something than you are qualified for, you will be found out.

  • Mark Stewart

    Got to ride “Merlin” and “Bragging Rights” earlier this spring, both absolutely awesome trails, a must ride if you’re ever in that area!

  • kcoat

    No way this happened as described. I started riding in this area when i was 16 almost 25 years ago now. I have never heard of this happening anywhere around here. Also this trail is way to busy for that. I agree with the other comments the biking community is extremely nice and friendly in alberta and to have that many people see nothing, no way. He easily would have half a dozen people come across him and help him however they could.

  • tcat001

    What makes the whole thing questionable to me is the picture of the wound. As a practicing veterinarian for 35 years I’ve had the opportunity to suture innumerable barbed wire wounds. I can tell you that on a wound that long you will encounter a barb and it will leave a jagged gaping rip. After seeing what it does to a cow or horse whose hides, after all, we use for shoes and baseballs I cringe to think what would happen to the tender neck skin of a human who hit on a bike. If it happened as he described I think he would be more concerned with surviving the injury than replacing his bike.

  • BrentYYC

    If you haven’t heard, Stelios (aka Stelianos) has been charged by police (RCMP) with fraud and public mischief. The local MTB community called it right, right from the start.

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