By Lukas Brinkerhoff
“It’s the car that kills the punk.” – Propagandhi
It’s sometime after 8 pm on a Saturday night. There are four of us slowly and almost begrudgingly getting the bikes ready. It’s not that we don’t want to ride our bikes, it’s more that we don’t want to have to put down the beer for a half hour or so to make it to the venue. Nonetheless, we do and sooner than we remember, we are rolling, mostly coasting. The plan was to ride the 10 miles down to the Cutthroat Racing Beer Bash stopping on the way to pick up the rest of our crew. Jamon Whitehead was wearing his, now signature, Peewee suit that he had recently repurposed for warmer riding (aka cutting it down to shorts and sleeveless). Somewhere I have a fedora that I think will go nicely with my cutoff mechanic’s shirt. And both of the ladies are wearing dresses. We pedal on.
We found the rest of the crew doing what we had been, drinking beers on the porch. Their bikes were ready waiting on the front lawn, one mixta frame and a cruiser style tandem. Our cohorts consisted of a recently broken rider who, not wanting to drive a four-wheeled coffin, would be ferried to the bash on the back of the tandem, and another couple. One thing was for sure, we were not doing what the majority of the people in the city our age were doing that night.
So how old are you guys?
I was pedaling by myself on my single speed and had found that perfect cadence that lulls you into your thoughts and despite the effort being made, you are almost asleep at the handlebar. I was feeling pretty good about myself and for one reason or another my thoughts turned to my age. I thought to myself, “Self, things couldn’t get any better. You have a great wife, an awesome job and you’re only 27.” I continued to pedal.
Unfortunately, I’ve always been pretty good at math. As my thoughts rattled on toward something else completely random, the logical side of my brain kicked in and started calculating the last thought I had. “You were born in that year and it’s now this year. Hey stupid, you’re not 27.” It’s been a bit since that fateful spring day. I have finally drank enough beers to get that math side of my brain to shut off a little quicker. I’ve been 27 ever since.
Our gang of misfits arrived at the party after coasting/pedaling the 10 miles to get there. It was to no surprise that the crowd consisted of a lot of other 27 year olds. There was some giant truck out front where dudes were peddling cuzies that were really just repurposed socks. Most importantly, there were no cars that I can remember in the parking lot, just a ton of bikes leaning up against the fence, chained to poles and more or less everywhere.
The unusual suspects were all there. The faces that our southern side of the states sees consistently during the early spring. Physics Brian handed us our pint glass complete with Mooseknuckler Cycling Alliance stickers. Rod Pathbiker was there. The K Nuts, some single speed world champion guy amongst countless others that were met and forgotten thanks to the, well, Cutthroat. Some wind sprint challenges were had in the parking lot.
As the party proceeded, plans began to come out as to where the ride would be the next day. Jamon had something big planned (big by my standards, not his). The word began circulating and the stoke was raised. We were to meet in Park City for a jaunt on some sweet single track, sometime in the morning.
The party started to wind down. The bikes that had been locked up and or just leaned against the fence began to disappear. We said our goodbyes to those still loitering and found our bikes where we had left them. It was now time for that 10 miles ride back uphill to our starting point. But first, dinner. We had acquired a few more comrades to our gang and made our way to some Mexican restaurant in the middle of town. It was probably the time of the night and the beer, but that was the best egg, potato, rice and beans, save the cheese, burrito I’ve ever had.
Once back at headquarters, there are some other 27 year olds chilling on the porch with a 12 pack and waiting for us to return. They quickly distribute a can into every hand and the evening’s shenanigans are repeated for their pleasure. And then we all fall asleep anxiously awaiting the coming ride and the dawn that will arrive well before we are ready.
The ride planned was Armstrong to Pinecone to Crest to Ambush and then pavement back to the cars. This would be my third attempt at making it to the Wasatch Crest Trail. The first two had ended due to time constraints which happens when you are as slow as I.
The group gathered and we slowly made our way onto the ribbon of single track that was to lead us to our destination. We started to climb. We climbed some more. The trees closed in. The people that had crowded the lower portions of the trail disappeared and soon it was just us, the pedals and the trail. The faster portion of the group, everyone but myself and my wife, disappeared. I kept pedaling sweat dripping down my face overwhelming the pads in my helmet’s ability to absorb it. And then we broke free of the trees and the mountains appeared before us. The peaks were sharp and beautiful in only the high mountains can be. We regrouped grabbing a bite to eat and rehydrating.
And then it was all the way back down with hooting and hollering and brakes squealing from heat, the bouncing of Jamon’s baskets, stopping to pick up the beer cans that came loose.
It’s cliché to say, but you are only as old as you feel. I’ve been 27 for a long time simply because I kept riding my bike. It’s true that the car kills the punk. It makes us old, responsible and kind of boring. Stay young, my friends.
Ride more. Drive less.
Lukas Brinkerhoff blogs about mountain biking and life at mooseknuckleralliance.org.