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Is VitalMTB and It's Advertisers Killing Our Sport?

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1/2/2010 9:43 AM
Edited Date/Time: 4/21/2016 10:18 AM

Seems the 'Grassroots' debate amongst all 5 Vital members died off. Probably, due in part to my douchebaggery. Oh well.

I got the impression, in so many words, from the Vital admin that piped in right out of the box and those employees of this sites' advertisers that sponsorships for those who are anything but 'pros' are bad not only for racing, but for LBS and the industry as a whole.

So assuming all of that or a close variation of what I've just e-speculated is correct, consider this:

We'll call these the Pros:
1. Vitalmtb provides above par race, product, competition, etc... coverage as compared to just about any other mtb website out there.
2. The writing, content and volume of coverage-again is well above anything else out there.
3. Vitalmtb provides and excellent forum to discuss the sport, explore ideas-and put up with dicks like myself.

We'll call these the Cons:
1. Vitalmtb accepts advertising dollars and displays ads from businesses who provide and promote 'Grassroots Sponsorships' to those like the '35 year old Cat3 racer who only race a couple times a year'. Some ads are even direct advertisements of said 'grassroots deals.'
2. Vitalmtb accepts advertising dollars and displays ads from businesses who are primarily online e-tailers.
3. Vitalmtb publishes detailed reviews of products that are up for grabs in 'grassroots sponsorships' or even sold directly to the customer from the manufacturer.

So. If we're all 'core here and play the 'support the LBS' card. How do you answer the cons which, IMO, take away from the LBS and thus 'the sport'?

Is it just business and way of life? Certainly, but then how do you respond to those in these forums who are supplying and accepting the advertising dollars? Conflict of interest? Definitely. Does it matter, probably not. And how do you respond to those LBS guys out there playing by the rules? I don't recall ever seeing an advertisement on this website for a non-online, brick and morter only store. Why is that?

And what do you say to the Cat3 racers who can maybe only afford to race a couple times a year or just can't get mom up early enough to drive them an hour away to race? Are they not as worthy as anyone else? Do you think that without that 35 year old's entry fee from time to time that your race series will survive. Or does it not matter because they're not 'Pro' or work at a shop?

And what the f#ck is a 'pro' anyway? The football player making $30million a year who ends up in jail after he beats his wife? Or is it the Pro mountain biker DH racer/freerider ending up in Shimano Dual Control shifter ads with their two fingers held up in the 'peace sign' promoting a product they never used, never will and then end up on YouTube taking a hammer to that product while it's held in a vice? Or is it the pro posting on web forums that if you're a beginner trying to figure this whole mess out that you are deserving of nothing?

I would venture to say that you'll find a lot more passion out there amongst the rank and file Joe Schmo Cat 3 or recreational riders than you will with any business transaction website or store. A business is a business and advertising is just advertising. You may have 'passion' for it or feel you're somehow doing it for the greater good, but at the end of the day its still a simple business transaction.

So having said that, I think that if it's the stance of VITALMTB and some of its advertisers employess that Grassroots programs are bad for the sport, hurting their business (pretty odd thing to say) and ruining racing, then they should cease accepting advertising dollars and pull ads from every company or business that has anything to do with those types of deals. Seems it would eleviate any conflict of interest issues.

Flame on....

Sorry in advance for the gramatical errors, including the title of the thread. My coffee hasn't entirely kicked in yet this am. And keep in mind that this is just a debate topic. My stance falls somewhere on both sides of the coin.


Suck All You Want. I'll Make More.

1/2/2010 12:09 PM

Ryan, I sure like you. I hope I haven't offended you in any way. I'm usually up for a healthy debate but just to lazy to post. For some reason this one I decided to get involved in. Like I said before, I totally agree with you. My opinion is obviously skewed as my job relies on selling online. I am going to backtrack a bit here, and say that I sure hope more 35 year old Cat III racers start showing up. It probably wouldn't hurt if a few less "Pro's" showed up as well. I use the word "Pro" loosely. Maybe that is what I should have used as a reference to my Joe Schmo racer that isn't doing the sport any good. Like the guy at Brian Head that I had a scuffle with after he crossed the finish line and launched his bike into the crowd. My wife had some words for him, and when he called her a bitch I nearly ripped his head off. I wouldn't care if he never raced again.


Job -
Bike - SuperCo Charger

1/2/2010 1:36 PM
Edited Date/Time: 4/21/2016 10:18 AM

". . . And how do you respond to those LBS guys out there playing by the rules? I don't recall ever seeing an advertisement on this website for a non-online, brick and morter only store. Why is that? . . ." - I Am Jack's Wet Dream

Why don't you see many local bike shops advertising online? That's simple. It would be like advertising for a corner hot dog stand in another state's newspaper. The dollars are much better spent elsewhere, like sponsoring the 2AM street-side after party of the local pub crawl. Now if your hot dog stand is keen to the 21st century, accepts phone orders or has a webstore, and can mail those hot dogs, then by all means it makes sense to advertise online on the world's biggest and best websites that apply specifically to the hot dog market.

1/2/2010 2:34 PM
Edited Date/Time: 4/21/2016 10:18 AM

Von, there was no offense taken on my part at all. I think you made a valid point/example and I just happened to use it as I think there are some people and companies out there who may feel that way about the casual racer. In particular, I would venture to lump the likes of USA Cycling into that boat. I do complain a lot, but I do so because I feel I'm fairly passionate about cycling. Granted, I can't show up at a race and crush everyone with my eyes closed like you're able to.

bturman, thanks for responding. I am curious as to what your answer is to some of the other examples I listed-just for sake of debate? I totally agree with you as it doesn't make any monetary sense for a little shop anywhere to advertise on Vitalmtb or even MTBR. But does the likes of Vital and other similar websites support or hurt or help the sport (given the examples I posted as talking points) and why or why not?

And for the sake of clarity, I like this site and the content it offers up. I also appreciate what some of the advertisers do for the sport. This is just a debate and a place to throw ideas back and forth. I am just throwing out the perspective of a person who doesn't work in the cycling industry, is a recreational and mediocre CAT1 racer and a consumer-as much as that pains me to write that.


Suck All You Want. I'll Make More.

1/2/2010 2:59 PM

wait... what?

where in that other thread did anyone say that only "pros" deserve sponsorship? I wasn't taking notes but I don't remember hearing anything even close to that in the grassroots thread.

in reply to your "cons" though:

1- it is my opinion that the 35 year old cat 3 guy who only races a few times a year can be just as effective at promoting a company as a world cup pro- at least on some local level. your level of racing should be a component of what you receive in sponsorship but by no means should it ever be the only factor. A 35 year old no body guy can do just as much local promotion and face to face promotion of a brand in their own community as any "real pro" and if that cat three old guy wants to put in that much effort then he is deserving of some kind of help in return for what he is doing to help the sport and certain companies' images.

what i disagree with is how that help may be extended to him. if it is offered in a blanketing mass email from the manufacturer then it means nothing. if it is relayed to him through a local shop that knows the man for who he is and the work that he does, then that is a justified "sponsorship" of some one non-pro (but who acts in a "professional" manner).

2- see other thread about web dealers and my stance on how they can easily be accommodated in the marketplace in competition with local shops as well as local shops' adaptations to developments in technology to keep their business moving in new directions.

3- Vital reviews are not allowed to be about goods that are available in grassroots deals? Hmm... okay? I don't think that I have read in any reviews posted on here so far that you should "bypass your stupid old passe local shop and shoot an email right over to company X asking for the coupon code to get yourself a "grassroots" pricing on this fine product 'cus they will just give that coupon code right up. Post it on forums when you get it back because it will save their email servers the bandwidth needed to barf out auto-replies to all your bros."

This is all a bigger issue than just "grassroots" sponsorships killing the sport. It's a combination of shops getting lazy and resisting change, companies subverting their dealers, and customers who want it all but can't really afford it. No one party is to blame for any of this and no one can really be blamed for the conditions that have lead to this current state. But it will take all parties involved to work together a little bit better to change the perception on the way things maybe ought to be and to set things up a little better for long term health in the industry.


1/2/2010 4:50 PM
Edited Date/Time: 4/21/2016 10:18 AM

Hmmm....well I almost went with the 'Is USA Cycling hurting our sport?' thread instead as I've seen some heated debates on that topic elsewhere, but that seemed a bit played out but could also be thrown into the mix. Reason it came to mind is that I came across yet another reminder email to pony up another $60 for 2010. I'm not certain how I feel about doing so and weighing my options if I do or don't.

My other topic, which will surely follow "Is I Am Jacks Wet Dream killing our sport?" I have a laundry list of terrorist comparisons and how I am the devil's incarnation and the sole cause of the current economic crisis.

I don't know how many of those who visit this site read Mountain Flyer magazine, but I have to say that publication and its format is where things should be headed. I'm not talking about the content/reviews per se. But rather the advertising and spirit of the magazine. For those who don't have any idea what I'm talking about, the Mountain Flyer is a glossy Rocky Mountain regional magazine that's published quarterly. It's usually packed with most of the regional races: XC, DH, Super D, 24-hour, 'Cross, Road, 100 Milers, Pump Track jams, what have you. Like Bike Mag, Dirt Mag UK, MB Fiction (Action) and the rest, it's smattered with a few bike and component reviews. However, what sets it apart and creates that cycling community 'feel' IMO, is that the advertising is primarily local bike shops, independant frame builders, micro brewers and the like. There's no JensonUSA 2 page spreads. It's not littered with photo's of pros, but includes a fair amount of Sport and Beginner racer full page, full color and professionally done photos with great text explanations of whos racing, where and what happened.

Call me lame, not cool or whatever. But if you want see a what I consider a sustainable cycling community, that magazine embodies that spirit. I do feel a bit hypocritical writing that as I do buy from the likes of JensonUSA as was mentioned before. However, having experienced and mulled over a lot of things mentioned in this and the other Grassroots thread over the past year it is something I'm aware of and am slowly trying to change up. The frame I built up today right after submitting this thread came directly from a small, 2 man company. The owners daughter has cancer and to keep his business going he's had to outsource half his frames to Taiwan and the other to Lynskey to be built so he can spend time with her rather than welding. In return he plants a tree for every frame sold and in appreciation sends out a bunch of schwag along with the frame. Sure I had to wait about a month, but I feel it was worth it.

Where am I going with this? Don't know, something about spirit but I got lost in my pizza. Just rambling on in my senility.

Ramble on.


Suck All You Want. I'll Make More.

1/2/2010 7:03 PM

see, this is why the forums are good. discussion and exchanging of ideas.

jack, since i'm the only employee for vital that participated in the other grassroots thread, i want to make it clear that my reply (which is an opinion only) stated the "give away product cheap or free, no questions asked" programs are the ones hurting the sport.

the original poster also referred to those programs for the discussion, not just sponsorship in general.

i'm DEFINITELY stoked when companies sponsor riders and build relationships with those riders. when sponsorship is personal and there is accountability between both parties involved, i believe that HELPS our sport. i guess these types of programs could be called a grassroots program, so maybe there was confusion.

as for advertisers, ANYONE is welcome to inquire about advertising on Vital MTB. there is no discrimination there. the LBS/non-mailorder shop can even have success through our geo-targeted campaigns. if you're a shop in SLC, you can make sure only viewers in SLC see the ads.

Vital reaches anyone with a computer, across the world and we showcase non-pro, member content (photos and videos) on a regular basis. if the quality of the content is good, regardless of who's riding, it will get air time.

the local rider is just as important as the podium pro rider. we're a community on two wheels.

keep the great discussions coming! i want the Vital forums to be a place where anything can be talked about.


1/2/2010 11:23 PM

the LBS/non-mailorder shop can even have success through our geo-targeted campaigns. if you're a shop in SLC, you can make sure only viewers in SLC see the ads.

So rad! Welcome to the tens. Another reason why Vital rocks.

1/3/2010 7:46 AM
Edited Date/Time: 10/4/2011 5:10 PM

Didnt you get the memo? VitalMTB is a cover to destroy the local bike shop and eventually the industry. Spomer's goal is to spread his hatred of everything two-wheeled to the world through his evil plan to kill all bike shops and run the industry out of business


1/4/2010 5:38 PM
Edited Date/Time: 4/21/2016 10:18 AM


Thanks for chiming in. And I think that's an excellent idea. Here's another thought:

I've bagged on our Utah State DH Race series a bit, which includes traditional DH, Super D and now a Trail Bike DH class. When I started competing in 2006, mainly doing Super D and a DH event here and there, there was a healthy bit of competition. Since then, it's gone to where I'm the lone racer in my age/class-and I'm not the only one in this situation. I've prodded and heckled friends into racing only to have them show up and race alone. Not only once here and there, but a the majority of races. It's lame, a waste of time and money and pointless to walk away with a First Place medal.

So why is it this way? There is ZERO advertising. No one knows there's a Utah State DH race series except the 50 or so people who've been doing it for a while. Word of mouth is great, but there's not a lot of mouths out there talking about this. An obscure link on a sponsors website and some race entry forms sitting on the counter of a lone bike shop isn't going to draw in competition.

We have a fairly decent monthly 'magazine' called Cycling Utah that is riddled with XC, Roadie, 24 Hour and 'Cross race notices and color photo race coverage. Surprisingly, I cannot recall ever seeing an advertisement for the Utah State DH Race Series in that journal. Even on a fairly big forum that is MTBR, there is no discussion other than my fuzzy interpretation of what is supposed to happen with absolutely ZERO help or input from those who are putting the race on-and I know they post frequently on those forums.

It doesn't take much to throw up a notice or even respond to the BS someone like myself is laying out which may or may not be correct. And why isn't the promoter using that free forum to let the masses know? I can understand advertising in the likes of Cycling Utah costs money, but it doesn't take much time, energy or dollars to throw a Thread up here or on MTBR.

Yeah, I sound really bitter about all of this and I am as a competitor. If I'm the only person posting race info on mtb web forums and pushing friends to show up at empty events, there's a point where I stop participating. And I know I'm not the only one, because I hear the complaints at every race.

Last year I raced two events and then gave up and used a lame injury as an excuse to stop going. The first race it was myself and the owner of Go-Ride in a mixed Cat1/Pro class-two people! That was it. The CAT 1 and PRO class consisted of 2 racers, granted it was a new race format but no one knew about it. Next event I was the lone CAT 1 Super D racer. Rather than putting me in with some other younger, faster riders or with the 52 year old guy (who's actually faster than I) who also raced against himself, I pedalled along thinking what a f#cking joke it was.

Needless to say I have no intention on renewing my USA Cycling license again ($60), then dishing out another $30-$40 along with another $20 for a lift pass to race against myself yet another year. If I don't change my mind that's another participant no longer contributing.

Instead this is what I put together this weekend: a 16 mile Enduro DH race on a trail network myself and about 9 others sat over topo maps early last summer figuring out how to link it all up and shuttled all summer long and thus became all fat from. We have it mapped, GPS'd and it sits at a sweet 2000ft of descending with only 700ft of climbing-we dubbed it the Humdinger.
I emailed out a flyer on Sunday and so far I have 4 people committed and are completely stoked. Even if that or half of those people show up, I'm sitting better than I have been with a USA Cycling sanctioned event-plus I could win another $5.00 or more rather than watching the lone pro racer get handed a check for beating himself-seriously. And instead of some lame ass USACycling tiny plastic logo medal for 'winning' a State Championship, we're pulling our collective cashed out bike parts together and creating some super nice trophies. Plus, it seems like everyone so far has requested that beer be involved at some point during the 16 miles. No sponsors. No BS, other than that which we chose to create. Just like the old school BMX races we'd do as kids racing for dibs on the $.99 Tony's pizza sitting in the freezer. That's something to actually get stoked about.

There, that was more advertising than you'll ever find about our state dh race series.

Oh, what a flyer to announce a race? What a novel concept (sarcasm).



Suck All You Want. I'll Make More.

1/4/2010 9:15 PM
Edited Date/Time: 10/4/2011 5:10 PM

damn IAJWD you write a lot, LOL!

regarding your disappointment in your state race series getting coverage/advertising, i can only guess, but usually the marketing pieces are the responsibility of the race promoter. find out who is responsible for putting on the series and ask them how you can help get the word out. i'm sure they have a lot on their plate and they probably have little to no budget for advertising. maybe you can be the online voice for them in forums to spread the word, ya know?


1/4/2010 10:27 PM

Re: Utah DH Series

My perspective is a bit different from Jack's WD.

This was the wettest year ever for the Utah DH Series, but I competed in all except 2 races (one weekend, two races in Wyoming). My memory is a little suspect, but it seems like we had well over 100 racers most of the time (DH, TB, Super D combined). Not bad considering the current economic conditions. I wasn't too excited to clean/grease my bearings (again) after the third wet race, but it was worth it.

Yeah, there aren't too many racers in Super D. Maybe it's lack of promotion or lack of interest. I'm there for DH and I'd rather get fun laps in when I'm not racing instead of doing Super D. Just my preference. There are a lot of younger riders that have started coming out, and I hope they come back this year. Some "regulars" dropped off a bit for various reasons; hopefully they're fully stoked for this year. I know I am.

I think the Trail Bike category will get even bigger. It's a way for someone that has a "do-it-all" bike to see what gravity racing is like. If they like it, maybe they will buy a dedicated DH bike. My brother got into DH with a $500 used clunker and he was hooked. Last year he dropped close to 5k (at a LBS thank you very much) on his new bike and gear.

Perception is reality, and I prefer my reality to Jack's WD.


1/6/2010 3:19 PM
Edited Date/Time: 4/21/2016 10:18 AM

sspomer wrote:

damn IAJWD you write a lot, LOL!

regarding your disappointment in your state race series getting coverage/advertising, i can ...more

sspomer, in so many words that what I was doing-alone.
Problem was that what little info I was given was either incorrect or changed without any notice. That lead to a bit of confusion on the forum. Example that comes to mind, although not that important in the grand scheme, was that the Trail Bike Class was supposed to be a two run format and was changed to a single run. No one had any idea until race day. You know, whatever.

Snipa, I realize that some events could pull 100 riders or even more. I'm certain Bountiful could have drawn the 150 racer limit had it not been raining-I know I was planning on that event but like yourself, was getting tired of the mud. But my (fuzzy) memory seems to recall that a large portion of those fall into the 19-29 Beginner/Sport classes. Which is great. But you can't discount the sentiments of someone who's been showing up at these events since 2006 and having no competition at 90% of the races, regardless of the event. I'm still paying an entry fee just like everyone else.

My frustration lies simply that I hear griping from the promotor and the series sponsors about lack of turn out, when there is literally no advertising. It's one thing for a participant to complain and not do anything, it's another from those with money and time invested. I hold little to no cred on any of these forums and like I mentioned I'm far down the food chain of info to be the one posting this stuff online. sspomer mentioned costs, I don't think it costs anything to post up a Thread about an upcoming race. But it would probably help if it came from someone who knew a bit more about what they were putting on rather than from some bitter old guy not in the know.

I get the impression this is going over most people's heads and that's fine. I'm done. I'm sure I burned some bridges. Whatever. 100 people at a race is great. Have fun with that.


Suck All You Want. I'll Make More.

1/6/2010 6:16 PM

Wet Dream, I haven't read everything you've posted because I'm lazy and a little buzzed so maybe I missed it, but I am wondering if you have tried to get involved with your local series in an official capacity? If you don't feel like the races are adequately promoted, you could offer to spread the word on the web and in your local mag as a media liason. You seem passionate about racing and are clearly willing to put in the time and effort to make things happen.

As for vital killing mountain biking, well, this site has kept me stoked while I'm couch bound due to a broken hand. It gives riders a place to share info and promote themselves to sponsors in a non-sponsorhouse setting. It provides some pretty damn sick racing and comp coverage which, imho, creates more interest in WC racing that will trickle down to the local level. I think as time goes on the positive effect of this website on mountain biking will only grow.


1/7/2010 8:08 AM
Edited Date/Time: 10/4/2011 5:10 PM

I personally have quite dealing with most LBS. The main reason... removal of the human element. So sick and tired of LBS attitude. Most in my area always act like they are doing you a favor just by being open for business. I spend on average between 7k-10k a year trying to maintain 2 dh bikes, 2 trail bikes and my wife's road bike. Most of the time I don't even ask for a discount from my LBS and I still get lip for wanting something special ordered. Get a clue. If you don't have what I want or need I will make you order it. If I have to wait two+ weeks just for you to order it so you can come up with a large enough order just so you can save $20 on shipping I WILL go somewhere else. GOD DAMN I WILL GIVE YOU THE $20 JUST GET IT HERE BY THE WEEKEND!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It's sites like this that guide me to the good deals, and what e-shops are good to deal with. Grassroots is where it's at these days. Many of the DH/FR companies WILL NEVER sell enough volume to a LBS to stay in business. So they have to offer some sort of direct grassroots deal to get the volume they need. Let's face it most LBS have the same attitude about DH/FR that most ski shops had about snowboarding. "It's a fad that will just die off".


1/7/2010 9:47 AM

Ok, for the last week or so I have been following this, A lot of you are bitching about your IBD, Well it just so happens we are a IBD. I don't know what shops you all deal with,And that is unfortunate, I think you just haven't dealt with the right shop yet. Here at Chainline we go out of our way to help our 2 wheel friends out. we have closed the store to hand deliver parts to people at highland MTN 15 min each way.( WHY ) because we strive for the best customer service.And want people to keep having fun, We have a pic up and delivery service for our local customers to make it easy for them if they choose or need. And we repair bikes here.( Imagin that ) we try to do everything in house with the exception of recharging rear shocks with nitrogen. We believe that service is key here and that is what separate's us from the rest. Most of our parts are a day out or 4 at most. When the sun is out people want to ride and if they cant , because they are waiting for parts, ( It's not good) and if parts are not available or cannot be in at a certain time frame we have striped bikes to keep people going. ( AGAIN COSTUMER SERVICE ) .
As far as the FR/DH/DJ thing that is what we are into here and with almost 30 years of riding racing and wrenching I know what I want out of my shop and what my costumers expectations are.When other shop's employee's are bringing there bike's here for service I guess that tells me we are doing something right and will continue to do what we are doing. And with that being said.Go out and have some fun go and ride your bike .
Eric, owner of Chainline cycles


1/7/2010 9:56 AM

Wow, I am sorry your LBS isn't solid. We have some great LBS's in Colorado. Grassroots Cycles in Grand Junction and the Fix in Boulder immediately come to mind. If they dont have it, they will get it and get it quick. They have the product knowledge to recommend parts, fix it quickly and be nice and quick.


1/7/2010 3:37 PM

Chainline cycles wrote:

Ok, for the last week or so I have been following this, A lot of you are bitching about your IBD, Well it just so happens we ...more

WOW! Now that is old school service with a smile. Funny but the shop that I have to travel to 30 miles away is a dealer for the brand of bikes I push. They sold out while the dealer right down the street had quite q few left at the end of the year. That just goes to show that supporting local talent sells bikes.


1/9/2010 12:35 AM

Yeh with my LBS i can walk in and say what is wrong and they can pre much tell me whats needed and what not. or i say i want new hubs and they will ask what i wanna run as such and suggest parts and order them with in 3 days.

Also i can make a phone call and they will order it and i don't even need a deposit. The owners a dick head cause he doesn't get the idea that loyalty doesn't come in the form of selling everything to the riders that he doesn't likes discipline and expect them to pay more then we would if we were roadies.

It probably helps i can ride the local skatepark and when i go and get lunch which is 300m away i can ride past the shop and when their shift is over they come ride with me. the will also fix my shit at the park enough for me to get away with that days sesh until we go 2 the shop next.

also I have been riding with most of the employees since i started and we can go dig and they will talk parts with me whilst that is happening.


1/22/2010 4:34 PM

sofa king slow wrote:

Wet Dream, I haven't read everything you've posted because I'm lazy and a little buzzed so maybe I missed it, but I am ...more

sofa king,

In no way would I want to take on a job like that.

A. I don't have the time due to a full time 'real' job.
B. I did a short stint in retail and I imagine it would be too close to that experience (having to deal with whiney b!tches like myself, etc...) I'm not envious of any promoter.

I am holding my own race this year, by invitation, 'alley cat'/underground style so to speak. I think I posted it up on another one of my crying threads. It's the type of event I've always wanted to do, but that we just don't have here in Utard.

16 miles long, 2000 ft of descending with a short climb thrown in to keep one honest. Point to Point. It'll be held when everyone can get up in the mountains to participate. Winner takes all. I even put together actual trophies. A friend of mine who works at a local micro-brewery has offered to put up some beer to boot. It's only January, but it's coming along.

Non-finalized photo of the trophies. They're done now and look really good, went crazy with the glitter as the Bedazzeler was broken:


Course profile:


Invitation (the name was changed from 'Classic' to 'Invitational'...whatever):




Suck All You Want. I'll Make More.