The B-Side: It's About the Riding, Not the Soft Tissue

I have never really considered that being a girl has anything to do with writing. I think that growing up without running water and electricity, being chased by whales, and that one time I hit my head really, really hard, has had more of an impact on what I have to say, than the fact that I sometimes get free drinks in bars. 

In the past year there has been a shift, and a bigger focus is being placed on women in mountain biking. Awesome, right? The problem was that a bunch of people, really-great-not-sexist-at-all people, had a vague notion that women needed to be represented better or more or just. . . something in our media. They identified a void, but the solution wasn’t quite there yet. Being that I have the prerequisite ‘soft tissue’ the request was put to me a few times to provide ‘women specific content’. 

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The B-Side: Sidelined

When, as a mom and a wife, Marilee decided that she needed something just for herself, she found mountain biking. It provided her with an identity outside of the home. As Marilee fell in love with riding, she introduced her then four year-old son Jake to it. The pair rode a loop of hills, roots, rocks, and berms year round – even in the snow. It helped them form a close and unique mother-son bond, a strong relationship that would help them survive the break up of their family and would continue to span many years and many bikes. Three years ago, after a failed shoulder surgery, Marilee discovered that she would never ride again and is now assessing what a life without bikes means to her. 

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The B-Side: Death and Tacos

I spent much of last year with my head deep in bikes. I rode bikes, photographed races, organized the BC Bike Race, and wrote a column for Bike Mag; it was an amazing year where a biblical 

Crankwor and an Apocalypse Now-esque Red Bull Rampage, on behalf of Pinkbike, were just two of the many highlights. Over the years, my social circle has become very two-wheel oriented; when I was not out riding with friends, I was making plans to go, or meeting new people with the same passion. Mountain biking has slowly infiltrated every part of my life, even to the extent that my work and personal time blend together around events, parties and contracts. But then suddenly, it was all gone. 

It would be three months before I finally pulled my bike out of storage and started to think about my new column with Pinkbike again; now 90 days overdue. The only problem? I would not know if I liked riding bikes anymore. 

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The Bakery: My Road to Rampage

My road to Rampage started in Moab when I drunkenly arranged to become a stowaway in the Fox van. For more than six hours on the Monday before the event I stared out the window as the terrain changed like channels with scenes from “Indiana Jones” to the sand people from “Star Wars.” Each time the van braked, I expected to see a cartoon roadrunner being chased down by a coyote. I focused on being a good passenger, tried not to think about how much I had to pee and giggled quietly as we passed through Beaver, Utah.

The Bakery: My Mom's New Bike

At the beginning of the summer my mom asked me to help her pick out a new bike. Currently she has a sweet pink cruiser that was meant to be a typical mom bike; I thought that maybe she would add a basket and ride it to the fruit stand down the beach from her Mexican villa on Sundays. Nope.

Averaging about 12 miles a day, my mom has spent three years turning her cruiser into a mean performance machine. Every year when I visit something else has been changed; the seat has gotten wider and skinnier, harder and softer, taller and lower and at one point exploded into a multitude of parts, probably an expression of protest over its many adjustments.

The Bakery: Off the Bike at Outerbike

When I arrived to the Outerbike site to help set up at sunrise on Friday morning, there were already eager riders waiting in line, a full two hours before the gates would open. This event is to middle-age men what Miley Bieber is to pre-teens or Neal Diamond impersonators to lonely women in Vegas. They are groupies, fans, enthusiasts and bike nerds. Every fall, the fine folks at Western Spirit build a bike industry version of Burning Man in the desert just outside of Moab, and mountain bikers from all over make the pilgrimage to ride the newest, best and weirdest bikes on the market.

The Bakery: Chasing Waterfalls with Team Gong-Show

Everyone has a friend like Jessica; whenever you are together chaos and adventure ensue. One minute you are meeting up for a drink and the next thing you know you are passed out on an inflatable dolphin in Mexico. There is a reason why Jessica and I do not hang out all that often: self-preservation. We ran into each other at a barbeque last week and today we crossed the finish line at the Tour de Victoria in the little-known-because-it-does-not-exist category of “Fixed Fifty.” Our victory came with Chuck Taylors so full of water that fish could have lived in them and two fixed gear bikes that didn’t quite fit in. Saying that we were unprepared for this epic event would be an understatement.

The Bakery: Season of Change

When the last downhill race of the season happened this past weekend, as a community, we were saddened. We felt the immediate void of anticipation for the next event. Practice and training suddenly took on much longer-term goals and the memories of the good times shared would have to suffice for the long winter months. Especially lost and forlorn were the racers’ parents, while they too look forward to the next season, they also feel the time slipping away. After another season spent driving their kids from race to race, investing time, money and moral support, it was over. And it might never be the same again.

The Bakery: Evictions and Heli Drops…Turning 40 as a Mountain Biker

Kelli was 23 when she started mountain biking, 26 when she started racing and 40 when we hit the road to celebrate her milestone birthday with a few days of riding that included a heli-drop and an unplanned campsite eviction. A lot can change in seventeen years and as someone who works in the bike industry (Kelli and her husband run a mountain bike tour and instruction company) her identity is strongly tied to riding. Priorities change throughout our lives and, at points, bikes often end up collecting dust in the garage, waiting for years when work isn’t so busy or the kids are ‘old enough.’ But when it is as entwined in our lives as it is in Kelli’s, giving it up is not an option. Changing our perspectives is.

The Bakery: My Date with Rob Warner

Photo: Paris Gore

Rob Warner is a legend whose World Cup commentary is as worthy of your attention as the racing itself, Seriously, when was the last time you heard an announcer state, “He’s all over the place like a monkey dry-humping a football!”? When I found out that Warner was in Whistler for Crankworx, I had to get an interview with him.

Naturally, I followed the standard journalistic protocol for such matters, which is to say I propositioned him in the line-up for a bar. Like a creepy groupie violating a restraining order, I blurted out, “You’re Rob Warner! Will you go on a date with me?”

Surprisingly, that approach didn’t work as well as I’d hoped. Two nights later, with some solid work from two wingmen (apparently I can’t even pick-up for a fake date on my own), I got Rob to agree to an interview over dinner with me.

The Bakery: Meat Pies and Meatheads… A DH Race Weekend

A DH race weekend is a magical world, the kind of place you find if you stumble through the back of a wardrobe or fall down a rabbit hole. Only the Cheshire cat would be wearing a pajama suit and Alice would be manically adjusting her tire pressure. Men run around in women’s clothing, scale buildings naked and drop their pants on course like baboons in heat. The scene is a bit like a redneck uncle; there is a lot of drinking, swearing, and punch lines that make you cringe. Regular life is game-off and conversation alternates from hot girls, to meat pies, to race lines – women, food and going fast.

The Bakery: Community

Bamfield is not a city. It is more of a small town or village. You can not pass through it to go anywhere and you are lucky to arrive there, over the logging road, with your car intact. This is where I grew up. It is where I learned the value of being a part of a community. Our commonality was our location and, as a result, we also shared the desire to survive the winters of isolation, power outages and harsh west coast storms. Some of us are drawn to Bamfield, some driven to it. Some long for a simpler existence, some are social outcasts, others are retired, or entrepreneurs, and still others have been there for many generations; the reasons that their families originally called it home, long since forgotten.

We form a motley and mismatched extended family. All ages, ethnicities, denominations, opinions (of which there are many), and abilities exist within our community and because of that we function and we have identity. I grew up learning from people I may never otherwise have had the opportunity to meet and I enjoyed a sense of safety that came from many caring eyes, which was great unless you were trying to get into the community hall dance underage.

The Bakery: Hangry

Hypoglycemia goes by a few different names; ‘hitting the wall’ conjures up images of men running marathons in headbands and short shorts circa 1982 and ‘bonking’ makes me think of people in spandex slumped over their handlebars trying to remember where they went wrong with their carb intake from the night before. Neither of these two descriptions are what I experience. I get ‘hangry’.

Hangry is described on the Internet as ‘a state of anger caused by lack of food; hunger causing a negative change in emotional state.’ Well ‘a negative change in emotional state’ may be an understatement. I have shredded my share of purple pants while attempting to throw my bike in a hulk-like rage. At best, when my blood sugar drops, I sever all communication and focus the energy I have left, drawn from the depths of my glycogen stores, to find food. I communicate only in grunts, head nods and spontaneous tears until I am fed. I, all but, foam at the mouth.

The Bakery: Inside Our Travelling Circus

Whenever a racer shakes my hand and compliments our professional event, I have to stop myself from gesturing over my shoulder and asking, "but didn't you see the bearded woman over there?" Yes, we have the ultimate singletrack, which goes without saying, but it's the band of misfits that create our traveling circus who make each year a unique experience. We don't offer our crew any cue cards or give them 'smile' signs while they are making your foot long sandwiches. The BC Bike Race brand is personality and people; it’s about who owns a chicken suit, plays the drums or cooks the best bacon. Even our trails represent the personalities of the people who design them.