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Back to our regularly(hah!) scheduled blog-cast.
(yes, apparently VH1 plays Slayer now)
This weekend is the first race of the Pro Gravity Tour- the first legitimate national DH race series in 5 years. Race one is in Port Angeles, Washington. The Second race is at Plattekill. Holding a UCI categorized race full of some of the top racers in the world at the mountain that might as well be the Wailing Wall of US downhill is pretty mind blowing if you remember the early days of racing at Plattekill. Cross a Slayer show with an even larger orgy of violence and destruction, and you have the Platty parking lot in the early part of the last decade. My friend Dan’s mom wouldn’t let him ride there because she thought the parking lot was paved in Cocaine- I know I didn’t dare ride there for a solid 2 years after I started racing downhill, as the reputation of the mountain, and it’s parking lot was hella intimidating.
Those fears were unfounded. No matter how much perceived chaos there may be in the parking lot, once you get onto the track there is no room for fucking around. These days Plattekill has the best race scene in ‘merica, and the most dedicated volunteer trailbuilders and race co-coordinators you will find anywhere in the world. It’s still a morass of anti-social antics and unbridled hedonism, but passion and dedication for the scene has always been the organizing factor there.
I doubt I’ll be the only teary sap when the kids I grew up coaching and racing with load onto the lift for one of the biggest races of their lives at the mountain that weaned them. In my mind, and in the minds of hundreds of people across the country, Platty IS downhill.
This weekend is the annual trail work/ride for free weekend. I can’t be there, but if anyone who reads this has the weekend free, it might be the most important and fulfilling weekend of your life. It’s our scene. It’s our race. It’s Downhill as it’s always needed to be. The best grassroots venues, with the most passion promoting the best races in the country. Support the Scene!
I spend a solid 13 years NOT racing downhill, but I’ve always been a fellow traveler. The first real expeiences I had that formed my mtb racing career was breaking my collarbone at my first DS race, and having Missy Giove bunny hop my head at my first DH race. The same race where my best friend and traveling companion ended up in a North Georgia hospital for two weeks with blown out lungs and a few broken bones. Thus began his slide away from bike rider to Codeine abuser.
That first shot at DH was my first time riding a bike down a hill, I’m pretty sure. Things were different then;
Across the parking lot, i heard the same voice, rougher and louder, coming from a Jeep on the other side of the parking lot.
It was 2004, and the nazi-fucking shithole was Helen, Ga, round one of the 1994 Norba nationals series.
I’d done my first mountainbike race 6 months prior. I hated my fucking life. We’d just moved to Hilton Head from southern Maine. I was really smart, a total dick and angry as hell. I starting racing after I’d moved away from where the riding was. On purpose. I just wanted to get the fuck off of that turf covered sandbar, avoid my classmates and do something interesting.
Helen was the 2nd”real” race I’d ever been to. My first “real” race was a dual slalom race up in Elijay the previous fall where I snapped my collarbone on my first run.
I was skinny, riddled with acne. The textbook only-child, terribly bad at throwing balls through hoops and more experienced talking to “my parents colleagues” than kids. In 5th grade I’d been a guest singer with the American Boys choir. I’d read every single thing I could find on the US space program, and was kicked out of class for arguing about the improper nomenclature he used to describe a “microgravity environment”. I could run a 4:45 mile though.
I craved suffering at that point in my life. Pins, walls, fire- I just wanted it to feel and see the hurt.
When I finally slipped on my assos-slimed Giordanas (Shimano on the side and a leather chamios) and made it across the parking lot i found myself peering sheepishly into a trailer full of bikes and mud.
What I saw was a group of skinny guys and a chick and a couple of round guys with shaved heads, nose rings, Cargo Shorts, calf tattoos and canvas Vans Oldskools with the Real California made Wafflesole. They were all about 10 years older than me, and they wanted to know if I wanted any candy.