Links to the big MTB party.
I post this every year, because it happens every year. And the report is the same every year because the same stuff pretty much happens, with minor variations of who got hurt and what got broke.
Rather than describe the events myself, I just want to post links to the local discussion site for the photos and talk of the ride.
The bare bones are that long ago in the misty past an annual ride was established on an easy to remember date, Thanksgiving Day, which is the fourth Thursday in November, and everyone gets the day off and eats too much. Turkey is the traditional menu.
It became the Appetite Seminar, the most popular MTB ride in Northern California. Some years it has drawn a thousand riders, but this year a combination of threatening weather and the dilutiion factor of a Thanksgiving Day ride taking place in virtually every OTHER MTB hotbed cut us down to 700-800.
When people hear these numbers and consider that they are all riders vying for the same foot-wide track, they say, "I don't care to ride with that many people."
Most of the time that's true, but this thing has a gravity that suspends natural mountain bike law. It is the first Critical Mass ride, as far as I know.
Around 1978 my race promotions on Repack started to include posters by my cartoonist roommate, Pete Barrett. It was no trouble to draw up a cheap poster for the Thanksgiving Day ride, for the pool of a few dozen riders who might want to go. It was my "promotion" in the sense that I called attention to it, but it didn't require any leadership. Everyone knew the route, and no one cared when or if you finished. Find some of your friends and ride with them.
So for three years I put out posters for the ride, and it grew each year, because now there were extremely cool bikes to do it on, and now I had a good reason to promote an event that publicized the bikes I was selling. I basked in the fact that for a lot of people the starting time was whenever I got on my bike.
1982, and now there are a hundred mountain bikers swirling like starlings in the main street of town, because the ride has exponentially outgrown the minuscule carpark that served as a starting point for the much smaller original rides, and everyone is waiting for me to get on my bike and lead the way up the hill. Enter the local constabulary, who see curiously controlled chaos, a bunch of smart molecules in motion. They ask the obvious question, "Who's in charge here?"
It was an epiphany moment. Looking around I could see that sure, I was responsible,
for the gathering taking place, but, "in charge" would be a stretch. Every one of the riders had his or her agenda and it was different from mine. I helped the police out.
"I don't know."
And while they stoped riders at random and cleared the streets with announcements over the ludspeakers, I retreated to the back of the little parking lot, where there is an alley that leads to a little foot path that is a shortcut to a back street that will get me out of there and on the ride and leave the whole mess to sort itself out. I gave the heads up to a couple fof my friends who caught my drift and we hit the alley and nailed the shortcut and as I sailed into the clear on the little back street I looked back and saw...
About a hundred and fifty riders. Who had evaporated from the streets right in front of the police as if they had suddenly been sucked down a vortex. This almost magical cycling vanishing act established in my mind that no one ever needed to direct this event again, that if I never mentioned it again it was still going to be a tradition here forever. So I retired from promoting it and now I'm just one of the gang, although I never have to buy my own beer if you know what I mean.
Other local celebs who never miss the ride are Gary Fisher, Joe Breeze, Scot Nicol, Jacquie Phelan, and Steve Gravenites. I saw Bob Buckley, owner of Marin Bikes, having a beer with Gary Fisher after the ride, and Charlie Cunningham even made a rare appearance on the streets that day. Gary and I rode together, which is something we used to do a lot more than we do now, but it brings back the reason we did it then. I'm on his 2008 bike, which he handed over when he upgraded to the new model year.
But enough about me, the purpose of this post is to try to break from my repetitive narrations and direct your attention to some of the other riders' thoughts and photos. As you will read and see, the size of the crowd is no deterrent to MTB fun. Now there are a number of sponsors volunteering time and effort to drag refreshments to key junctures.
Here is the MTBR post ride chat
, with lots of photos. Photo quality varies from camera phone to magazine print. I see that at least one rider got a photo of a flock of real turkeys, which are common in these hills.
This slide show
is from a local activist who runs the Tamarancho private singletrack system. He never saw a local retro cycling celeb he didn't get a photo of. Ahem.
Here's the retro angle. A guy rode his 1982 Stumpy
. It barely survived.
Here's a blog post
A nice slide show