Interview with Luis "Mutis" Mutilva
If you rode enough trails in northern Spain & southern France the name Luis "Mutis" Mutilva sounds familiar to you. A guy with a smile on his face and always holding a shovel!
Recently he lost his local trails (Totem Trails) and his second home (Lost Trails). Nonetheless, he managed to keep a smile on his face, and always with a positive attitude he started a new project (Benur Trails), and almost like a tradition, the first thing he built was a pizza oven.
With Mutis we talked about how to be positive after losing a spot, how to take care of yourself (health), and most importantly, to keep a smile on your face!
-Mutis, what's up? first of all, I would like to how are you and your family doing under this Covid-19 pandemic?
What's up Gabo? Not too bad, I'm doing good. Not long ago I've been dealing with back problems, this situation made me react and I starting taking more care of myself. I started stretching frequently and, I'm feeling good so yes, I'm good.
My family is doing well even though my uncle from New Jersey passed away due to Covid-19. He was old but, you know. Sucks anyway. Apart from that all good, I've got a place to dig and normal stuff. Waiting for the summer and working to get the jumps dialed as the totemic gods' command.
-I'm sorry about that. Even if he was old someone passing away always sucks. Condolences to you and your family!
I heard that you were dealing with back problems, that's something quite common among trail diggers. What actually happened and what are you doing to get better?
Thanks Gabo! Bufff! What happened to me! More than 5 years digging non-stop spending all of my time between my job and the trails ... Years ago, I was digging late after afternoon, often digging alone , under the sun on a very crowded place very close to Pamplona , I used to cross the city on a fixe-bike with a shovel attached to the toptube, it was not a very good idea, since the spot was very exposed and small, in fact, we had no straight jumps there and although in the end, I had express permission from the owner of the place, I had to leave because my tools and traps were stolen often and there was pretty much no shade! That's when I started totem! Again very often digging alone!
And those 5 years stacking totem without stopping drinking beers. well, you can imagine...
-That sounds like a real trail dude! And where are you digging now? And another question that I consider very important, how do you stay motivated digging alone so often? Perhaps in other parts of the world, it is a little less common, but here in Europe we have many trail spots with only one local doing the work.
Now we dig at Benur Trails, a new legal trail located in Ororbia a town near Pamplona, here we've got a better situation! We have hoses and water intakes. We've got permission from the local council, in fact, they buy us tools and tarps. They even signed us a special document to be able to dig during the lockdown and we just got a dude helping us out, his name is David Lerin. The guy is a very solid dirty dog.
The name Benur Trails, is a diminutive of Benito Urdanoz, the name of a famous local cyclist (from the times when bikes had metal rods instead of cables, for the brakes)
Motivation while digging alone? It's simple, it's just the price you have to pay if you want some good jumps, you should start stacking them or summer will come and they won't be there, the city council is not going to build them for you, years ago in my old spot "thewindlessholetrails" was called it hahaha. There were no trees, stacking alone under the infamous Spanish sun... wow! That sucked! I was always salty thinking to shit on fucking dry-guys! But after a while I stopped torturing myself, I learned from Istebe that if you're drunk I would dig in a good mood and I started to watch other diggers and learned that it is not helpful to get angry, it is better to accept what it is. Once JR Galtier told me that you can enjoy digging time as much as riding when I understood that, everything changed! God! Those moments are self-motivating!!!
-Wise words! In the end, we just want to have a smile on our faces. Perhaps the biggest step comes when you learn to enjoy digging and not seeing it only as a burden. To do so it is important to build more things that help you to feel comfortable at the trails. You are one of the first people I saw building a pizza oven in the trails. Where did that idea come from?
The first time I saw one I was in Madrid, in "Meijen" that's how the locals called that spot. There was a handmade oven made by Andrea Paci another English digger.
When I saw the oven at Brockham Trails I fall in love! made out of local clay and with cracks due to the really high percentage of clay, so I decided to build one in Totem Trails. That is how I made the first in Totem, at the end we had built 3 of them!
We grill often at the trails so, why not backing Pizzas too? (Laughing)
Regarding the digging thing, yes, digging is a hard job but when you are about to finish a landing that costs you sweat and tears, you forget about everything. The time and difficulties and you only focus on finishing whatever you're building that day! You dig faster! There is more motivation, that's when you enjoy the most. It is also good to enjoy the environment, the forest! It's cool to build some comfy stuff, but once I heard that the more comfort you have the less you work. Hahaha and I think that's true!
Everyone wants to eat good pizza and enjoy it! me too! Stacking big piles of dirt is not easy, you don't enjoy lifting them as much as you suffer the physical effort but when they are well done, the reward is huge, it cannot be paid with money!
the important thing is to keep a smile on your face and that's the way we do it! Hahaha
-Very true what you say about work and how to enjoy it. The way to stack, suffer sometimes, and then enjoy. There is a phrase that I think can be applied in this context: when you really want something, you find a way to it, when not, you find an excuse!
About that, how did you find the motivation to start digging a new spot so quickly after the Totem Trails loss? Have you ever thought about stopping digging due to lack of help or motivation?
It is necessary to want something better than what the city council will do (Skateparks, etc), in fact when I found out that I could no longer dig in Totem Trails, I cried!
5 years of hard work screwed up! The paradise I've built about o be a piece of dirty shit, but when I found a new place recently been born on the other side of the city. I had to keep going so, I did. This was a proposal that the Ororbia council had accepted and I'm digging there now.
But as always, nobody wanted to start digging except for me and David Lerin. When I first heard about the Benur Trails projects, I thought about giving a hand there doing something cool where I could ride from time to time while being a Totem local. Considering that it is not far from my house was a good idea. But when Totem disappeared I cried!
After that, I had no other option, now the place had to be this one. Benur Trails, we have there a hose and legal permission to dig! They don't move me out anymore! This would actually be the 4 place where I dig as a local.
-It is very hard. What bothers me the most is the lack of empathy from people to someone who has worked hard to build a set of trails. Building it as a sanctuary!
I love the strength you transmit Mutis!, I have always picked up the shovel again, but sometimes I needed longer to come back. I am very impressed with you, how quickly you got up under the circumstances!
Where else have you dug as a local?
Before Totem I dug two more places, in both there was already something abandoned by the locals. Not big jumps but perfect for evolving, and better to have fun, having fun, that's what I've done the most recently!
I have already said (I think) the most important thing is to keep a smile on your face, so I had always worked on mine, in both places, there were jumps before I arrived, but in the second we did not use any of the old jumps, sculpting my own line taking advantage of a very important slope to prepare a great first jump fall, and then continue with the ne line.
This second spot was called Argawindlessholetrails, There wasn't a single straight jump!
(Watch the video published prior to the interview about these trails)
-A life dedicated to the trails! That is a good life!
It helps you keep a smile on your face and that is the most important thing.
-Why do you think there are so many spots in Europe with only one or two locals? It is something that does not seem to happen or at least less frequently in other countries/continents.
I'm not sure. In Spain, at least that's what is close to me and I can talk about it, there are several spots with a single digger.
Sometimes I think "maybe I'm wrong" that the dude only sees the part of hard work, the stacking large pyramids and digging large holes, people believe that it is a very long process and suffering is the norm. They do not realize what you can find in the forest, what you share with friends digging having good times at the trails, it's much more than just digging! You get more in touch with nature and make excursions to the mountains too...
People are satisfied with what the city council does for them, but that's just the easy way. Trails life is something else.
I remember once you said, when I found BMX, the BMXers were like family, we were not many people so, whenever you saw someone with a bmx bicycle, you would lose your mind to meet him asap! Now bmx got so huge that barely happens anymore, it only happens with trails people.
Ridding street or parks, many people look at you to see who you are and the way you ride before deciding whether to talk to you or not, I am glad that I am within a minority that maintains a more familiar or brotherly feeling!
-To me, the truth is that there are many people who cannot appreciate the pleasure you get when you ride something you've built with your own hands. It's easier to go to the skatepark and complain whenever you feel it's shit or that it's not good enough!
Do you think there is a solution to this or we do not need to bring more people to the trails scene?
Well, I don't know if there is any solution to dryguys. If they don't want to help to dig in winter, they must understand we don't want to help them ride in summer. Of course, it would be nice if more people helped! I'd love that.
There would be better trails, more jumps, and so on, but I don't feel like forcing people to come and dig if they don't want to. I want real people, if they pile up, they do it because they want. Let them do it because they want better and bigger jumps, that is the reason why I do it myself and surely the vast majority of diggers... We do not want anybody forced to dig at the trails, we want friends who are there willingly because do you think you'd laugh with somebody you're forcing to work? If that person doesn't feel like being there, won't laugh or won't joke around while it's doing something that doesn't want to do. I don't go to the woods to suffer, I don't want anyone suffering there, I want people having a good time, smiling and making others smile, sharing smiles and beers.
-Exactly! You can't say it more clear than that. In the end, all we do is keep laughing and enjoying ourselves!
To finish I'm really curious about something, last year one of the first things you built at Benur Trails was a pizza oven and you wanted to do a welcoming party on your 42 birthday with 42 pizzas, but Covid-19 did not let you! Will you do it this year with 43 pizzas?
This year we have to make pizzas for my birthday, of course, we will do it! However, due to crazy Covid-19 Spanish restrictions, it seems like that it can only be celebrated with Belgian German, Czech and Navarrese, in banana republic we called country! (laughs)
(Spain has banned travel between its regions and people residing in those territories cannot travel. However, allows the arrival of people from other countries)
Smiling is the most important thing, of course! And of course that just bring more good vibes.
-I'm very happy to hear that! I'm very happy to be able to share this time with you! Anything else you want to add?
Over the years I've learned that's easier to fall down when you try a trick. Without an incomplete trick, usually, it's hard to crash. Now I'm 42, I've dedicated myself to enjoying flowing on my bike, or what some people call steez, which is the same, flow.
If flow is an adjective we use to describe liquids or gases with a continuous movement. If we remove them, what do we have?
We only have a motion of movement, which keeps the momentum and its speed. When you do a trick a no-hand (for example) you can't describe it the same way, because you are adding something and you lose the meaning of the word. I believe, flowing on your bike is the way you land, as when a liquid or gas goes through a closed circuit, it does not lose speed after turning at a ninety-degree angle.
Land with the front wheel first, and the back wheel follows.
That's all I can say.