Last year about this time I was just coming off of a month and a half hiatus from the bike. I had chrondomalacia of the patella (that’s a big word for ouch my knee hurts) which forced me to take some time off. Sometimes we take our health for advantage. I remember telling Kristin “I just want to take a shower and watch dirt flow down the drain.”
I started back up riding at a very easy pace and when I would go on group rides I would always be sucking wind in the back. I had a couple weeks under me and then the spring gathering in Pisgah was here. I had never been to a gathering or met anyone at one of the gatherings before but I wanted to go so I could meet more like minded people.
I had just recently joined MTBR and I figured “What’s the worse that could happen when you incorporate bikes and beer?” Kristin and I weren’t able to make it Friday night, we showed up around 10:00 Saturday morning. When we arrived, we quickly set up the tent and I noticed that there were two cats getting ready to ride. Everyone else was already gone on rides for the day. I rode over and asked if they would mind me riding with them. One of them said “We are going to the top of Farlow and we don’t really know where we are going.” I said “perfect just give me a minute.”
I made sure Kristin had everything she needed for a relaxing afternoon; (unbeknown to me that I had forgotten the bicardi part of her bicardi and cokes) I suited up and rode over to make my introductions. The two guys introduced themselves as Rich and Josh, another independent rider Drew, joined us.
As we started our ride, I noticed that Rich and Josh were riding fully rigid single speeds. I didn’t even realize that people did that in Pisgah. I figured it spelled out death for sure. Drew was on a single speed as well but he had a fork. I was on my Gary Fisher Cake.
As we were headed out, I remember Drew making the comment “So you just show up, set up the tent and tell your girlfriend that your going biking all day? That is your girlfriend right?” I said “Yes, she is cool.”
A couple lungs later and probably 9 or 10 hours of wait time for Rich and Josh, we were at the top of the “gnarliest” bike legit downhill in all of Pisgah. I rode down the first wall of rock and had to bail before the “big stuff.” I watched as both Josh and Rich negotiated moves that I would have thought impossible on a rigid bike. I remember specifically Rich cleaning a super steep section that blew my mind and my front brake trying to negotiate the top half, more or less the bottom half. I walked down spitting dirt saying “Crap, you friggin cleaned that didn’t you?”
After the weekend was over, I was staring at Jeremy’s site, wondering if I was going to try any races for the 2006 season when I noticed a link he had on his site at that point in time. It said “TeamDicky” and I remembered a few people calling Rich that name. So I clicked the link and there was a picture of Josh coming down Farlow.
I started posting my rides on MTBR just to see if I could get anyone to ride with me in the mountains. At first, no one paid my threads any attention. After a while, people started jumping in on the rides and I was meeting new people all the time. We had so many people show up for my birthday ride last November that I couldn’t even figure out who was riding with us and who was just there to ride.
Fast forward to a year later and now I have met so many good people through my initiatives and biking. We are headed to the Gathering this year knowing a laundry list of people and I can’t wait. Things have gotten so out of control that my own link is on Jeremy’s site, he even has a picture up of Eric that I snapped while he was coming down Sinkhole in Wilson’s creek.
It is pretty cool to think about, how strong our inter-web of mountain bike crazies is. So now, here I sit typing for a BLOG entry of my very own and I actually have readers and people that look to my site for valued (ok not really valued) information and a few moments of sanity during busy work weeks. I enjoy everyone's comments and feedback as this is a great tool for outing my creativity that I have every now and then.
I write this just to remind everyone of how lucky we are to be healthy, have a great area to mountain bike in and all of the wonderful people you get to meet on the trails. So remember this spring and summer while you are riding, smile and be courteous to your fellow trail users, sometime soon, they might be your friend.
So in the end I say thanks, thanks to everyone for putting time and effort in on the gatherings and being so kind to those who we have never met before. Thanks to those who have shown me a new form of mountain biking. Thanks to everyone that I have met along the way and everyone I am going to meet. We all hold an awesomely unique position to aspire to do more in a world where laziness seems to be increasingly overwhelming.