Thursday, September 06, 2012

Summertime Rolled...

Wow. Amazing how time flies, eh?

Since Memorial Day weekend, I have spent almost every weekend at a bike park on the east coast. Seven Springs, Snowshoe, Mountain Creek, Highland, Burke Mountain got two visits from me and the RockShox Ride Experience. Kingdom had their Bike and Brew, Snowshoe had Blues and Brews, Highland had the Claymore, Seven Springs did Memorial Day mid-mountain fireworks, Mountain Creek opened their bag jump... What an amazing summer!

I have always enjoyed going down hill on a bike. It's what has kept me on a bike for 20 years now. Getting to spend all summer riding bike parks was an amazing experience. Sure I've done 6 foot drops before but not a few hundred times. Sure I've done some gap jumps and tabletops but not 60 in a single run and not 20 feet long. Sure I've ridden on flat pedals but not all summer long. Throw me into anything on a bike and I'll smile and hoot the whole way down!

We all have trails that are etched into our mind. Luckily, I added Hellion, Powerline, ProDH, Cat's Paw, 007, EC, Knight Slayer, CLR, Lincoln Logs, Lo Pan, Tempest, Dominion, Secret Stache and quite a few others.

I spent more time hanging around, working on bikes and getting to know riders than I did riding. One thing that I can say for sure is that the trail crews at these mountains are some of the most talented, creative, caring and hard-working people I have ever met. They challenges and experiences they provide for riders are at the leading edge of the sport. Whether it's old-skool DH, progression or flow trails, these guys and gals have to work with serious resource constraints to create dirt and lumber trails that will help beginners learn and keep experts coming back for more. By definition, their job should be impossible but each trail system offers wonderful trails, stunts and lines. It's so amazing to get to know these people. I have learned that each builder shares so much of themselves over a beer and through their trail. I thank you all so very much for your time, hospitality and hard work.

I also got to meet some amazing riders. These are the people who spend all summer cruising around to bike parks to simply ride. Some families, some guys, some women... Riders who were so excited to see RockShox at THEIR local trails. Some people I ran into at different parks on different weekends. Everyone was more than happy to show me their favorite trails and almost everyone asked me why I wasn't wearing any armor...

Two pro riders in particular stand out: Martin Soderstrom and Thomas Genon. Martin was quick to show up at the van at Claymore at Highland. He had a great smile and introduced himself which is good because I would have had no clue who he was and I barely recognized the name. We got him sorted out with some headset drama and he was very appreciative. He came back later with his friend Thom and asked if we could help him out. He broke a bike and needed help building a new one. Everyone else on-site was too busy but I was lucky to have had three locals and three guys up from Seven Springs to help out, leaving me time to work on his bike. We got TG sorted out and both guys were very grateful. I'll never forget Martin introducing Thom to me. Wide eyed with a slight rearward head tilt he said, 'This is Thomas. This kid is an amazing rider. We need to help him out.' Thomas was almost embarrassed.

Due to a change in my travel schedule, I was going to be around on Labor Day weekend. It's no secret that you could find me in and around Harrisonburg that weekend for the previous eight years. I was very excited (and scared) that I would now be around and able to line up at the SM100 for my ninth consecutive attempt. My dad had just gotten out of surgery and was recovering which was another potential hitch. It was amazing that he recovered so quickly. I was so unprepared for the SM100 this year and so stressed out from the previous weeks with dad's situation. I knew that his recovery would be difficult and that I had to man up to finish this suffer-fest. And then it rained for an hour... I was very fortunate to finish this year.

As I wrap up this season of 'local' travel, the long stretches of highway still leaking out of my brain, I prepare for the last season of RockShox Ride Experience 2012. Las Vegas for Interbike, Park City for a few weeks, Grand Junction/Fruita and Moab before heading back to RockShox HQ in Colorado Springs.

My estimate for mileage for this year's travel? 18k miles...

I am a very lucky guy to have such a great family. It wasn't easy for me to be away so much and the best weekends were the ones where Susan and the kids could come along. I was around most of the summer and we got some good pump track, pool, river, hiking and water park time in. The good news is that my kids actually miss me and recognize me when I come home.

Thanks honey. I know it's been hard. I love you and I thank you.


At 7:34 AM, Blogger landbeck said...

Mike! Your acerbic tone is missed in the Procurement Mothership!


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