Monday, March 23, 2009

Powerline Jam w/ LifeCycle, Kona, Downhill Coalition

Gilad's helmet, featuring Leonardo. Sticker reads: "IF YOU SEE THIS IT MEANS I PASSED YOU"

I always knew some folks like to ride bikes in the woods, but aside from a whole-hearted but half-baked attempt at cyclocross last fall, I have basically zero dirt experience. So it was a ton of fun to venture out into the woods yesterday and see what all this squishy-bike business was all about.

Kona brought a fleet of demo bikes for riders to test. Their friendly rep, Jimmy, is standing to the right of Gilad Gozlan, LifeCycle's co-owner and a former professional downhill rider.

Several riders are members of Downhill Coalition and did a lot to make the event happen.
Without taking our names, driver's licenses, or collateral of any kind, Jimmy gave me and my roommate about $8,000 of Deluxe-trim Kona products and told us to get 'em good and dirty. Garrett took a Stinky, and I saddled a Coilair.

We rode up a few hills to find the start of the course. We decided to do an easy pre-ride and dropped our gear at the tent. I left my crash-proof helmet cam, which I would come to regret. After about a minute of creeping down some insanely steep, rocky descents that, in my experience, neither people nor bikes had any business descending, we somehow left the course and got hopelessly lost.

For about two hours, Garrett and I rode up and down hills, over rocks, and through mud, puddles, streams, and more mud. At one point, we arrived at a clearing and decided to turn around. We rode/hiked for at least 30 minutes, only to discover the same clearing from the opposite side. But we got to know our bikes. Garrett was doing big, scary jumps on the Stinky, which was, as he described it, "a fucking tank." But he had a hard time keeping up on the many climbs, as my Coilair was lighter, with more gears, and a sweet semi-lockable rear suspension Kona calls "magic link." This was great for me, as I have crappy feet and really don't like getting off-bike.

So we got to know the bikes, a great workout, and a good coat of mud on our faces. Really, getting lost was the best possible scenario, as we didn't really have the experience to compete on the downhill course. My only regret is I don't have any photos or video to show for it.

Anyway, by the time we found the course again, the competition was halfway over, and we were a little cold, somewhat tired, and very thirsty. Luckily, there was a fire, music, food and beer back at the course start. So we called it a day and gave Jimmy his bikes back.

Check out that spatula: although Park makes a tool-inspired barbecue set, this is a genuine BBT-7

Tasty beer.

Someone broke a chain on the course and had to "Fred-Flintstone" the rest of his way down, before depositing the offending chain here, where it served to transform this keg photo into a bike-related keg photo.

Water bottles made OK cups. Note Mike Seager's mountain-unicycle in the background. He really rode it down the course.

After joking around with the other riders, a few beers, and a burger, we went home to wash up. All in all, a great first visit through the looking glass to the dirty, bouncy side of bike-riding. Thanks again to everybody there for being a good sport and showing us a good time!

PS: Check the Downhill Coalition post for their pictures that actually feature people on bikes.

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