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.
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. Late last night, this was posted to the Ride-the-Rockies Trail Reports Facebook Page:
Merlin Barbed Wire Update/Request – RCMP
We have been asked by the RCMP to pass this along:
Anyone who was using the trail network, particularly the area around and including Merlin View on Wednesday, July 5th, to please contact Cst Amy Lahoda @ 403-851-8000 (Cochrane Detachment). Amy would like to speak with anyone who used the trail at any point during the day, regardless if you saw anything suspicious or not.
Stay tuned–we’ll report back when we hear an official word from the authorities.