Paul Andrews

Posts Tagged ‘hans rey’

How Danny MacAskill got famous

In Mountain Biking, Videos on December 29, 2009 at 8:43 am

For cycling fans, the New York Timesprofile on trials wunderkind Danny MacAskill is more reiterative than informative. We’ve known about the Scottish phenom for months. One point in particular needs clarifying, though.

The article attributes MacAskill’s celebrity to YouTube. While YouTube assuredly played a role in elevating MacAskill from a $9-an-hour bike mechanic to a (potentially) six-figure international icon, crediting YouTube for his transformation is like crediting photography for making Marilyn Monroe famous. The images were important. But a lot more was going on.

The way MacAskill became “known” is a telling case study of the ever-richer, ever-expanding information ecosystem of the Web. And by way of examination it also reveals in a microcosm why newspapers are in such dire straits, and there is nothing they can do to improve their lot, no matter how much career journalists like myself might wish it otherwise.

YouTube certainly made a key contribution to MacAskill’s notoriety. Once his seminal video was posted, the germ was in place. But YouTube is a vast wasteland of flickering pixels. In the Darwinian infrastructure of the Web, entire species of very good videos lie stillborn. MacAskill was just another lad with a few tricks till a Twitterer discovered him.

As a bike blogger, I keep a Twitter feed made up entirely of bike tweeters. There are a lot of them out there, the most famous being the Man Himself, Lance Armstrong. The most famous road cyclist, that is. The most famous mountain biker Tweeter — the category that Danny MacAskill more naturally falls under — may very well be a Laguna Beach-by-way-of-Kenzingen, Germany trials rider by the name of Hans Rey.

Not coincidentally, Hans Rey is, like Danny MacAskill, a trials rider. In fact, whatever heights MacAskill eventually attains, there’s a good chance that within cycling circles he’ll never match Rey’s august stature. A born self-promoter, Rey was making bike-trick videos before MacAskill got his first bike. So inventive and flamboyant was Rey that his full appellation became “Hans No Way Rey,” as in, there’s no way you can pull that one off!

Rey doesn’t tweet a lot, so when he does, the cycling world pays attention. On April 20, 2009, he posted a comment, “Dam check this out,” and link on a “whole new level” for trials riding. The link was Danny MacAskill’s original video, posted just hours earlier.

Hans Rey twitter feed

Hans Rey's original tweet on Danny MacAskill

(I couldn’t find Lance’s original tweet about MacAskill but recall it being somewhat later. A Web search suggests it was in May.)

Once the King had given MacAskill his Midas blessing, a Twitternado erupted. Within hours, nay minutes, retweets began flying around the Web. Suddenly MacAskill’s YouTube views began pinning the servers. Gradually (in Internet time, anyway, meaning by the next day) bloggers got into the act. Then email lists, public and private.

And, finally, aeons later, a newspaper.

YouTube was the source, yes. But in the multi-layered ecosystem of the Web, the source is merely the soil. What made MacAskill famous was the forest of referrals, planted by Hans Rey.

When newspapers ruled the earth, they were both the source and the referrer. They enjoyed a wondrous monopoly over how information was purveyed and received.

Today the Internet has not only bifurcated those roles, it has partitioned them further among numerous players — YouTube, blogs, social networks, email, IM, and on and on. Newspapers are hanging on as one of the players, but their role is irreversibly waning. After all, in the new online order of things, the Internet is the newspaper.

In “covering” the Danny MacAskill story, The Times links to Lance Armstrong, a MacAskill video, still photos and various other pointers. Tellingly, and most ironically, a key progenitor of not only the phenomenon but the art form as well, Hans No Way Rey, was not even mentioned.

Velo Vidyo: Some tasty bits from YouTube

In Mountain Biking, Videos on November 18, 2009 at 10:49 pm

MTBR’s Top Ten YouTube MTB vids:

My faves of the list:

Chris Duncan showing how to jump, good stuff. He’s right about the elbows.

The Klunkerz clip.

No. 1 is the much viewed Danny MacAskill urban trials clip. The others are mostly flash and crash.

Somehow the list missed my No. 1, the Hans Rey/Steve Pete Irish Pub to Pub rideabout, featuring the Cliffs of Death.

But for videos that we everyday mountain bikers with our good but unextreme skillz can relate to, you can’t beat the Pete Fagerlin gallery — especially the soundtracks.

PinkBike has the CBC video of the sad story of Sam Brown.

Daily Roundup: Goldbiker, Iron Horse redux, Hans ‘n Peaty defy belief

In Daily Roundup, Mountain Biking, Videos on March 24, 2009 at 5:36 pm
Do not try this at home

Do not try this at home

Bike Rumor: GT’s golden bike is missing! This is gonna be a tough sell even on eBay. Quite the bling, but it’ll show back up in a day or two.



Iron Horse on the comeback trail? Bicycle Retailer reports that nine former employees of the bankrupt bike giant have decided to start their own operation. Headed by Jeff Bruno, East Coast Cycle Supply formed Feb. 1 and is talking to the likes of Tony Ellsworth for licensing. Watch for ’em!

You have to love Hans Rey and Steve Peat sneaking out for a bit of the ol’ poach. Environmental Graffiti calls it the most terrifying mountain bike trail on earth. No arguments, although you have to wonder what those two would do with the “DISMOUNT NOW! THREE RIDERS HAVE DIED HERE” section of Portal/Poison Spider in Moab.