10 May 2014

Run What Ya Brung

Way back when, when I was just a kid, we did lots of cool stuff with my dad.

Before we were old enough to ride our own motorcycles, my dad would take all of us, me, my two little brothers and himself, all over the Prescott National Forest riding four-abreast on his putt-putt 1960-something Honda Trail 90, to see extinguished forest fires, explore abandoned rail-beds, count ladybugs at the Potato Patch, drop rocks down deep-dark mine-shafts, crawl cautiously into abandoned adits, and swim in lakes or secret deep pockets only we knew of along the Rich Gulch creek.  We didn't wear helmets in those days, heck no!  But the Honda wasn't geared to go over about 20 miles an hour.  

We sure had a great time!

On Saturdays when we weren't at our cabin near Prescott, he'd often take us out to the desert to shoot guns or launch model rockets.  Sometimes both!

Now and then, we'd drive out past the orange groves and the cotton fields on the Pima Indian reservation to the Beeline Dragway so we could watch Big Daddy Don Garlits race his dragster, or privateers race their Camaros and Corvettes in the Run What Ya Brung races 

Once we even got to watch Evel Knievel jump a bunch of cars and trucks.  And he made it, too, ramp to ramp, no terrible crash!  No kidding.  How many times did that happen?

Almost never, I think.  

I always marvel when I find a discarded pedal-reflector way out in the woods on some remote trail, like the one I rode past this afternoon up on the AZ Trail.  I can't help but imagine the person who was riding the bike that shed this small plastic piece... probably something super-heavy from Walmart or Target, seat too low; the guy riding it is wearing denim shorts and sneakers, no helmet or gloves, a sweaty T-shirt, grinning from ear-to-ear... up to the point when his pedal, the one he was dragging at the bottom of its stroke, came down hard enough on a rock to dislodge one of the plastic reflectors on his flat, nylon pedals and, likewise, at least momentarily, to displace his smile, replacing it with a look of confusion and panic.

You see these folks out in the woods now and then, they're always in way over their head on the wrong bike, nevertheless sometimes, somehow, they're still having a ball, loving both the woods and the ride.

I'm always stoked to see them, especially when they're smiling, despite my concern for their well-being and the liability they present.  Because I know, some of them are going to get bitten by the bug and they are going change, metamorphose, fledge one day soon into real mountain bikers.

I've seen it happen many times before.  That first ride on a big, awkward, major-turd of a Walmart bike is sometimes all it takes.  After that ride there can be no turning back.  No matter the crappy bike and the lack of gear.  Bam!  You get it.  You're a mountain biker.

Others, well, they aren't so fortunate, because this ride goes terribly wrong.  There are no epiphanies, no moments of revelation.  Just hatred.  And resentment.  A commitment to Never Again.

These will not become mountain bikers.

But for those who will, the bike did not matter.  Not at all.  They run what they brung.  And it made sense.  There was an audible click. It was good.  

Real good!

There's beauty in that.

May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. -- Ed Abbey