A few days ago Craig asked me what bike I was wanting to race next year, a topic I am always keen on discussing, and had been milling over myself on the interweb just the day before. "You know, I am thinking about racing a Stumpjumper." Not exactly what he was thinking I would say but none the less he listened as I told of the merits of bikes with loads of travel that only weigh what my hardtails did 10 years ago.
So yesterday he alerted me of this cool interweb contest of sorts to choose the members of the first ever assembled Stumpjumper Trail Crew, This looks right up my ally, so here I am officially throwing my name in the hat and making my case why I belong as one of the 8 founding members.
They are looking for avid mountain bikers who ride a lot. A lot is a fairly relaitve phrase, but I do not believe their are any circles of mountain bikers that would not consider the amount that I ride as a lot. A little snapshot of the past three days has my tally of miles aboard 4 inches of travel and tires wider than 2 inches as firmly over 150. In the greater picture I have consistently been logging miles in dirt for the last 15 years of my life, I have taken the wonderful opportunity to ride dirt pedal bikes in every corner of the country, on all manner of terrain, both riding and racing. I am an avid mountain biker that rides a lot.
They want people who can tell a good story. That will be a little harder for me to quantify. But I do have a few stories in my bag that sound good around a campfire. Do you want to hear about the time Amber and I were four wheel drifting corners in a deluge of rain to get down to the Mah Da Hey trail in North Dakota, only to discover the next day we were on a knifes edge ridge with death plummets on either side. Or the time I was racing in Steamboat Springs in a 24 hour race and got blown of my bike by lightning. I like my story of my first 12 hour race in Nebraska, Amber, Her Dad, and I-with a collection of crappy lights, a half a loaf of bread, some peanut butter. I also like the story about my Dad and I sleeping in the airport in Vancouver. I have a nice little tale of riding on the Navajo Reservation and coming across people living at in the middle of NOWHERE offering me food and tea. There are plenty of stories from my first 27 years of life, there should be many more to come, and I feel I am pretty decent at telling them.
Now it does look like I may be a little more racer boy than they are looking for here in this group, and I will never claim to be otherwise. Even though my legs are not shaved and I log a lot more hours on fat tires than skinny I believe in racing. At its most basic level it is an all out trail ride with good friends, the more complex element involves combining your values with long term projections, making a plan and then laying your soul on the line to see what your made of(that all can be a frightening prospect, and may never overcome). I believe I have a balance between the different sides of racing, and the MTB industry would do well to take a cue from myself and my many racing mates on how to throw down and still keep our world attractive to the outsiders looking in.
I also fit right in on the trail care side if the coin. My father and I initially created the trails that have mutated into Lake Wilson's supreme dream ribbon. Myself and my trail partner Bob Behrens scratched in a network of trails along the Arkansas River in Great Bend, KS. And now that I am in Kansas City I have put many hours into the beginning of the masterpiece that will be Swope Park. There is absolutely nothing that gets my crank turning like Swope Park-the future is so exciting for the miles and miles of steep rocky root infested trails that will be smack in the heart of Kansas City, Missouri.
Specialized wants riders that can lead group rides. I think I am well qualified in that regard. Currently I lead 3 rides a week for Spin Pizza, and every weekend we do not race put together a small band of rangers to assault either Landahl or Swope. I also guided in this cool little mountain biking location called Moab, Utah for 6 months. This is a duty I can perform at a high proficiency level.
Specialized wants riders that respect and our respected by their mountain biking peers. I know how hard I have worked so that I can feel I have my place in our greater mountain bike community. Anyone who I witness take the time and make the effort to really live out what they love in bikes is a friend of mine. I can not speak for everyone out there but I believe they feel the same of me. If that is true of you reading this I would appreciate you leaving a note in the comments for me to prove this to Specialized's Stumpjumper Trail Crew assembly team.
There is my pitch, I will hope for the best, which is hands loose on the bars, elbows bent, hips floating over the saddle, left foot leading, bike leaning subtly inside, eyeing the outside bank in the bench, that should give you just enough time to straighten it up to bump jump the root garden just ahead.