After 8 years away, I finally moved back to Arizona. I spent a bunch of traveling, did some time in Asheville, NC and created some really cool shit in Western Colorado. Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in, and I couldn’t be more thrilled. It’s damn good to be home.
I’ve spent the past five months settling into my new house, getting caught up with all the fantastic people here that I have missed so much, and trying to ride as much as possible. I haven’t participated in a lot of official events since I have left the desert and I don’t plan to any time soon. But I have been enjoying shop/social rides and some of the more “unsanctioned” races.
One such unsanctioned gathering I did recently is an underground tradition. I was so excited to hear that it was still happening that I actually moved some pretty important plans around in order to participate. To top it all off, it was on a new trail that has popped up in the time I was gone. What better way to see a new trail than with a bunch of likeminded dipshits on a Saturday afternoon. The “race” is a casual affair. The entry fee is one 6-pack of decent beer. The course has short laps, but the overall distance is usually just long enough to hurt a little. You can stop for some beers in between laps, quit after one or two…whatever, it’s just a damn good time in the desert with friends.
We all got to the start line and involuntarily sorted ourselves into groups from fast to beginners to party riders. It always amuses me how that shakes out so fast, even before we start riding. I was bullshitting with my buddy Princess and made note that one of the fast guys on a gravel bike (at a mountain bike race) was so amped up that his leg was shaking like he washed down a handful of Aderol with 10 cups of coffee. Eventually, Amigo Dave said GO! and we all set off for our ride. That first lap I was having a blast. Going quick enough to feel good about myself but still riding with friends and chatting a bit. The trail system, although not technical at all, was quite beautiful. Mountain views, wild flowers, and cactus galore. At 8am with a slight hangover, it was almost emotional. I’d definitely ride there again.
I finished the first lap, stuck around a little too long at the timing tent drinking a Tecate, then set off for lap two (of 5). I get about 10 minutes into my lap when all of the sudden I hear somebody frantically yelling at me from a ways back. “First place! I need to Pass! I’m coming up fast and I NEED to pass!” Geeze, dude. Guess you didn’t pick up the vibe when your entry fee was a 6-pack. Now, I wasn’t in a very good place to be passed. There were sharp desert plants all around and I’m not about to catch a flat or a yucca to the shin for some racer boy. “I’m in first place I need to pass!” I look over my shoulder and it was old shakey leg from the start line with his road bike. I congratulate him on his accomplishments and tell him he can get by at the next safe spot on the trail. I thought that was fair, and let homey on his way about twenty seconds later. Now we were on a bit of a climb and I could see quite a few riders ahead of me getting passed by the same guy. I eventually caught up to a few and we chatted about the guy making overzealous passes and generally bumming people out. I thought about it for the rest of my lap. Should I say something to the guy? I’m no letter writing, protest the race Karen over here. But this is a party ride with beer stops not a World Cup. Nobody is getting sponsored after this ride. The scouts are not in the stands…
Second and third place passed me and they were as nice as can be. Cool as cucumbers. When I completed the lap and started talking about it with a few other folks, they also had a similar experience with the rider. Well, I guess I’ll bring it up the next time I see him. I started making the script inside my head. I will never tell another human how to live but I feel like I could probably make nice suggestions. After seeing how pumped he was at the start line, he is probably having a really good time out there going fast. I’m not here to get in the way of anybody’s good time.
“Hey, friend. You are bumming people out by making some aggressive passes. Do you think maybe you could just turn it down a notch and try to pass a little better? That’s all, just try to be better.”
I ran it past the peanut gallery assembled and they all thought it was fair. Nobody told me not to do it. When the guy came by I flagged him down. He didn’t want to stop, so as he passed me, I yelled “You need to stop there is an emergency!” He slowed down to almost a track stand and said
“Whats the emergency?”
“Dude! We need you to try and make better passes”
“Yeah! You are being a DICK”
Then he rode off for more laps. Well, so much for that script. My dumb ass just reverted to pure ignorance and I said the quiet parts out loud. I don’t know what happened. Where was that well thought out, logical statement I had been practicing in my head? Then it hit me, by calling him a dick, I’m now the dick! Goddamnit. Ain’t hypocrisy a bitch. I genuinely feel bad for whatever negative effect my words had on that guy’s day. I am in no way qualified to be the morality police in any situation, let alone in a cross country mountain bike race. But seeing other people get bummed turned on a weird switch inside me. So I said something…and it came out all wrong.
I doubt that gentleman will ever read this. Does anyone read blogs, let alone DC anymore? But if he does, I owe him a few beers and a high 5.by