So let's see if I can claw my way out.
Here's Part I.
Here's Part II.
Today will constitute Part III, and after that I will never, ever speak of this trip again.
So where was I? Oh, right, heading down that hill for the millionth time:
Once again I walked, because it was broad daylight, and because I planned to check out some of the IMBA Summit action, after which I was ostensibly supposed to give some sort of talk--or, as the schedule put it:
4:45-6 Bike Snob NYC hosts a lively recap of the day's discussions (plennary, with beverages for all guests)
Which would of course get all the attendees psyched up for the next item on the agenda:
Dinner on your own
"Dude, like sooo stoked for dinner on my own!," a lot of people wearing baggy mountain bike shorts could be heard exclaiming.
Wherever there are bike events there are tents, and under those tents you will find products. Here's the Honey Stinger tent:
Notice how the woman working the tent is shielding her face, which is how people typically react to me:
Actually, she's probably just adjusting her glasses, but I always assume everything's about me.
Anyway, you probably know Honey Stinger for their famous waffles, which are quite tasty. In fact, you could easily mistake them for a regular snack--that is until the bloating and flatulence common to all energy foods kicks in and you realize you've been had.
Oh, here are a couple of disembodied hands:
One is wielding a toothpick, and the other is probing a plate of orange globules.
I am a photojournalist.
Here's another tent shielding representatives of the "World's Only Underground Mountain Bike Park" from the deadly rays of the sun:
(Underground mountain bikers don't "do" sun.)
The acronym for "World's Only Underground Mountain Bike Park" could almost be "WOMB," which would be cool, so if they moved the park to the surface of the earth they'd at least be one letter closer, as the acronym would then be "WOMBP." Of course, then they'd have a hard time defending the bold claim that they're the "World's Only Mountain Bike Park." As it is, even claiming they're the world's only underground mountain bike park is a stretch, because when it snows I like to ride my mountain bike on the subway tracks, so you could say I invented the concept.*
*[Disclaimer: this is a lie. Riding a bicycle on the subway tracks will result in death by high voltage, steel wheels, and hungry rats, probably in that order.]
Here's the "Pow! E-Rice" tent:
"Pow! E-Rice" is a fried rice-like ride fuel for mountain bikers that comes in a cardboard Chinese-style takeout container. Flavors include "Shreddin' Shrimp," "Pump Track Pork," and "Non-Alliterative Chicken."
You can also eat the chopsticks.
So what's the difference between roadies and mountain bikers? Sure, they dress differently and they ride different bikes, but it goes much deeper than that. Consider the fact that mountain bikers must use tools to maintain the trails on which they ride, whereas roadies don't do anything to help anybody, and are merely tools themselves:
Granted, I don't do crap by way of trail-building or maintenance, but that's going to change when I finally take delivery of the Sutter 300 Bull-Doze-O-Matic I ordered:
What can I say? It was an impulse buy.
Central Park's about to get some sweet new mountain bike trails, and I'm sure the Parks Department won't mind at all.
Another difference between roadies and mountain bikers is that roadies motorpace behind Vespas, whereas mountain bikers fire up motorcycles and drag barbed metal hammocks behind them:
The way this works is if you injure yourself out on the trail the rescue worker throws you on this thing and drags you to the hospital.
Here's another kid making with the radness at an age when plenty of other children still don't even know how to ride:
And here's the demo bike area:
Alas, I did not sample the latest in inverted fork technology:
Though I did attempt to borrow an e-bike, since e-bikes and trail access was one of the main issues at this year's summit.
Sadly, they were all gone:
Though after browsing the demo area I did go to the e-bike "Flashpoint Discussion" session:
E-bikes and Trail Access: Electric-assist bicycles are a fast-growing category. This discussion will examine the evolving management strategies and best practices for e-bikes on natural surface trails. Facilitated by IMBA Communications Director Mark Eller; panelists include IMBA Executive Director Mike Van Abel; NICA Executive Director and Recreation Planning Consultant, Austin McInery; Randy Neufeld, SRAM; Larry Pizzi, Currie Technologies; Samuel Benedict, Specialized Bicycles.
With some exceptions, I think it's probably a pretty bad idea to allow electric-assist mountain bikes on trails, though by far the most memorable part of the session was when the guy from Specialized concocted an elaborate metaphor involving a cyborg horse in order to make a point about e-bikes I was entirely unable to discern.
So remember: when Specialized introduces an S-Works line of equestrian supplies and crabon robo-horses, you read about it here first.
From the e-bike session I then hopped into the fat bike session taking place next door:
Fat Bikes and Trail Access: Considered a fad just a few years ago, fat bikes have emerged as a meaningful trend in bicycling with application to winter sports, sand sports and backcountry travel. The go-everywhere capability of fat bikes has inspired discussions about how to best manage their use at Nordic facilities, multi-use trails and public beaches. Facilitated by IMBA Upper Midwest Region Director Hansi Johnson. Invited speakers include Gary Sjoquist, QBP/Salsa; Andy Williams, Grand Targhee Resort; Candy Fletcher, Marquetter County Convention and Visitors Bureau Recreation Marketing Director.
Oddly, it was 40 degrees colder in the fat bike room, there was the sound of howling wind, and everyone had crew cuts and talked like "Fargo:"
The one thing I took away from this session is that fat bikers spend an insane amount of time grooming snowy trails in order to make them rideable, which surprised me, because I thought the whole point of fat bikes was that you could ride them anywhere. Honestly, if you have to drive around all day on a snowmobile before you can even think of going for a ride then it hardly seems worth it. Plus, while all the fat bikers are out doing that, who the hell is at home shoveling the walk?
Surly should come out with a new fat bike and call it the "Divorce Attorney."
Then from the fat bike session I headed over to the Bar Mitzvah tent:
Where I participated in the lamest session of all:
Here's a picture of me making "air quotes" before a nonplussed crowd:
Someone commented recently that all the men at the IMBA World Summit appear to be bald, but I have no idea what they're talking about.
I also deny all rumors that IMBA is merely a front for the Hair Club® For Men.
The next morning was supposed to see the start of the so-called "Epic Ride." However, it had rained hard all night, and when I peeled back the curtains the sky looked like this:
Judging from the condition of the hot tub area, I assumed sending a hundred or so people out into the mountains would be a bad call:
Sure enough, out of concern for the well-being of both the riders and the trails, IMBA cancelled the "epic," and so three of us went for a road ride instead:
I never got closer than this to my riding partners:
And as soon as the road went up I didn't see them at all:
Once again, Moots were kind enough to lend me a suitable bicycle:
Actually, it was a lot more than suitable:
In fact, I'd strongly recommend never riding this bicycle unless you're prepared to buy it, because that's exactly what you'll want to do:
After the ride, there wasn't much left to do but let the Lycra dry and count the hours before my departure time:
Thanks very much to IMBA, Moots, and everyone who came to the summit.
--Wildcat Rock Machine