It's all well and good until somebody gets hurt, and I was fully aware that that someone might be me. While I'm an experienced road and track racer, many of my friends will tell you I'm pretty lame on the mountain bike. I didn't grow up on BMX. The gravel driveway in front of our rural Indiana home was as off-road as it got for my apple-green stingray and me.
It was with some trepidation - and excitement - that I attended the Rebound Cross Clinic coached by the venerable Bart Bowen. I arrived with the hope that Bart would be able to teach even me how to swing my leg over the saddle and dismount my bike while it was moving. As a trackie who has had her feet duct-taped to her pedals, I was stuck on this simple point. If I left with only that knowledge, it would be a success.
I was struggling to remount, and before I could figure that out, we moved on to the barriers. I was truly intimidated. "Preparation," says Bowen. He scared the shit out of us by telling us he's seen racers wait too long to dismount properly and hit the barriers. He then awed us into a dead silence as he rode toward the barriers at a pretty good clip, seamlessly dismounted, leaped over them like an antelope in red Lycra and remounted.
Approaching the barriers, I was able to dismount and heft my old school hard-tail over the barriers, but I couldn't remount with any momentum. During one of these photo ops, meaning I was at a dead stop, I was suddenly sacked from behind. By Kevin. All six-foot-plus of him. His chainring dug into my calf and left a snake bite. Ouch.
Bloody and sore, I came home with the satisfaction of having learned how to dismount, and a desire to learn more. There are two more clinics on September 21 and 28, at 5:30 p.m. at Rebound's Westside location. Cost is $10 per clinic.
This is Thrilla
Cyclocross continues to gain popularity in Bend as riders of all ages and abilities are attending clinics and races. Almost 200 racers showed up to last week's Thrilla Cross Race to redline themselves for over 45 minutes. The course in Northwest Crossing is new this year, and features a longer lap with multiple sections of barriers, tight corners and a steep run-up.
Everyone from adolescents to old-timers, and neophytes to national champions, showed up to race in perfect conditions. Last week's rain had rendered the course a tacky, fast track, and the weather was cool and comfortable for racers and spectators.
National champ Ryan Trebon, who won the first Thrilla, crashed out of last week's race when he clipped a barrier. Although he'll soon be hitting the road to compete in the U.S. Grand Prix Series, he enjoys the races in Bend. "I think it's important to help support the local cycling scene," says Trebon. "And it's fun."
If you haven't seen a cross race, Thrilla provides a great opportunity to watch this wild form of bike racing. There are three more Thrilla races on the schedule, Thursday evenings at 6 p.m. next to Summit High School, September 16, 23 and 30.
Full-Face Helmet, Anyone?
If you're the kind of mountain biker who lives to descend, you're in luck. The Bend Super D, on Sunday, September 19, will give racers the chance to run eight miles of Funner and lower Storm King at white-knuckle speeds against the clock. Free shuttles will take racers and spectators up the hill for practice runs, racing and cheering.
Live music, lunch by Parilla Grill and an after-party at 10 Barrel will add to the festivities. There's a field limit of 150 racers, and for more information on registering, go to www.bendsuperd.com.
My Mom Voice
Sometimes it goes without saying, but the need to reiterate the simplest of polite behaviors requires repetition it seems. My children need to be reminded consistently to say "please" and "thank you," and to "talk with an inside voice, please!" So I suppose our trail-riding adults are no different in that they are just overgrown kids who need to be gently reminded to follow a few simple rules of trail etiquette. I am not an expert mountain biker, and am a rather an off-season trail user, but that is perhaps why the bad behavior is more apparent to me.
It is amazing to observe how many riders do not yield the right-of-way to the uphill cyclist. To add insult to injury, many ride off the trail so they won't disturb their downhill rhythm mojo. Very uncool, bad for the trails and unflattering to the mountain biking population. For more guidance on how to be a responsible trail user, hit the COTA website.
Michelle Bazemore is the mother of two mini cyclists, a freelance writer and an amateur competitive cyclist for Sunnyside Sports.