Monday, November 23, 2009

Swope Park is like Crack...

I can't get enough of Swope. I loose weight and can't sleep. I have to have more and more. I am addicted. Swope is a drug and my dealer's name is Travis.
Travis and I go way High school, Rock Climbing, Trouble and general teenage shenanigans. When I decided to take a little bit of time off from climbing to let some tendon injuries heal, it was Travis who starting pushing the drug of mountain biking on me. He was a wrench at the LBS and becoming quite the rider. I remember riding with him back in the day, say early 90's at Shawnee Mission park when the trails were all fall line death runs. I thought re-kindling our childhood friendship by him re-introducing me to the scene was quite appropriate.
Travis tuned my '92 Stumpjumper and hauled me out to BURP. I had so much fun and was instantly addicted. THIS was the key to passing the time of not climbing and would fill my otherwise boring life here in the flatlands with a local sport. After a week or two, Travis convinced me to convert my ride onto a single speed. I was in love. The simplicity of the ride was priceless. Like my roots of minimalist back country travel and climbing practices, one-gear was perfect for me. I could focus solely on the ride, and not the bike; never dealing with failing shifters, the clank of a floppy chain, or the thoughts of extra gear failing. I was sold.
Travis would continually teach me about how to build and keep my rig dialed. He'd tell me about bike parts and what made one better than the other. He taught me that weight was not important, that it was all about the ride with friends and that what mattered about the bike was that it worked without fail. He has been a true friend and valuable mentor to my mountain biking career, and I have him to thank for everything I know in that regard.
So back to Swope...Travis and I had planned to meet for my first ride in a week or so, as I have been wallowing in the misery of loosing my job, as well as my first ride on the new Gunnar Fixie. I have to say that Swope is not where I would recommend cutting your teeth on a fixed gear, but I felt the need to do the rapid-huevos-growth technique and go for it. Like one of my favorite quotes states ' A life lived in fear is a life half-lived'. This ride was a much needed release of stress and it rejuvenated my soul.
Travis' pal joined the ride as well as my bro Dave. I'll insert my excuse for a slow ride here, I was running a 32/16 gearing, which at 2 to 1 is a real bitch at Swope, to say the least, and I got my a$$ handed to me for sure.
We did a typical lap counter-clockwise and had a great time. Dave's EBB would slip every mile and he'd have to stop, tighten it and re-install his chain. This was good for me because it made me feel faster since he'd end up way behind...but he'd always catch-up. Fast bastard! It was just a good ol' time.
Travis has hands down put in more hours building trail at Swope than anyone else, period. He takes great pride in the trails and can ride them blindfolded, backwards with one hand. He took us all over for a tour of the unfinished Phase 3 trails. Man, The work and quality of the trail is amazing! Scott and Craig were out working, build these incredibly involved crib walls. Just mind-blowing work! I was amazed and very thankful to those guys, spearheading the trail building. THANKS GUYS!!!

So we head back to the cars and in doing so, spun a lap on the phase 1 trail. If you have been to Swope you have probably seen the tree across the ravine that is pictured here. Travis made short work (not once but twice) of this "Highball Skinny" and I was fortunate enough to catch the shot with my phone. Just to clarify the photo, this tree is a good bone-breaking heaght off-the-deck, and Travis is clipped into his pedals and riding a fully rigid fixed gear. All I can say is "what better mentor to have" than my pal, the Trail Asshole!

Thanks Travis for opening my eyes to the would of "Having Fun, Riding Bikes".

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