Flashback: Canaan 199something
I can not recall the exact year, but I am sure I have a glow in the dark Frisbee (excuse me....flying disc, not the registered trademarked product Frisbee from Whamo) that tells the year. Without the glow-in-the-dark Frisbee I can still estimate...it was before Snowshoe, I was not on a Clydesdale team, and although the industry had them...I had no idea what suspension or clipless pedal were. Part of this was ignorance, part was economics, and another part was just poor old stubbornness.
Concepts of training were as foreign as homework was to me in school. People cheered rigid as I rode rocky, rooted, off camber trails on a 19 inch Bianchi grizzly. I did not know that "rigid rules" as I did not know the comparision. My bike fit was so small that it was easier to abandon as I flew over the handlebars or got tossed to the side. I am not sure how, but somehow a few friends talked me into this madness of my first 24 hour mountainbike relay. Sure I had raced before....but with a 10 watt headlamp on my helmet! That was a whole nother level....thank goodness for the Cateye battery operated handlebar mounted light for backup! That is almost enough light to shine on your foot so you can tie your shoe...but you better know where your foot is to point it there, cause that is not really enough light for anything more serious. Candles in hurricane lamps would be a sufficient surrogate. At this race we learned friendship and camaraderie, and not just with our own team, but with the other racers and with the spectators.
My lap times were vague, but such things were vague in my mind across the board back then. I battled my spirit and I battled my will, what I did not have in experience/training I made up for in heart. And a little luck flavored with some pigheadedness....crashing at high speed into trees was just something I had accepted as part of mountainbiking....there was no other way to go fast for me. Braking power was too weak to do anything but decelerate. And if you doubt me, think this discs kick v-brakes ass, but the v-brake kicked the cantis ass twice. So as great as cantis are over sidepull.....it ain't much. But in some ways that was to the rider's advantage...the rider was commited and the rider had momentum. If you were going down....better hang on....cause there is no stopping you! well, nothing to stop you other than the tree directly in front of you.
On a late morning lap as the sun was coming over the horizon there was a mist in the air....my lap was coming to a close and so was my contribution to the race or maybe I had one more lap, but the specifics are vague. Excitement ran through me as the night was behind me and so was this lap. It was the last off camber loose rock downhill. I had hike-a-biked a short section of rocks that suited a trials rider better than an unseasoned racer with a Clydesdale build. But not too far into the rock garden my bike was off my shoulder and I was lifting my leg over the saddle. Then marching up the hillside I saw a man dragging his bike up the hill, without covering the trail he was working his way to the top. With closer inspection I could see a bugle in his pack, I recalled seeing him the night prior...he had invited himself to play with the band that was playing some jam band country/blues cover type stuff. He worked it and he worked it right in. So I asked as I mounted my bike, "so bugler can you play me a tune" and he paused, rested his bike and pulled out the bugle, which could have been a trumpet but the memory of this is also too faded to remember. Perhaps he worked the keys or just moistened up the mouthpiece again specifics are vague. This gave me enough time to mount my bike, put my foot into my toe clip, access the trail ahead, and begin peddling. My energy of the morning was being given a turbo boost bugler style. Then just as I started to think I was cool...WHAM!!!!!.....slam on the loose rocks. The music stopped, my bugler or perhaps trumpeter pulled his brass instrument from his face and spoke, "well, are you going to ride? I am not playing for free." With that added inspiration I was back on the bike, foot was in the toe strap, and I was peddling. The music grew fainter and fainter, my smile grew larger and larger, the light got brighter and brighter as I rode out of the woods into the START/FINISH pitt with REVELRY taking me all the way there! The power of his music gave me the added push to rock and roll through the last miles of the course with the greatest of ease.