This Halloween, do what the Tahoe Area Mountain Biking Association does; get into costume and get out on your bike.
Editor’s Note: The Angry Singlespeeder is a collection of mercurial musings from contributing editor Kurt Gensheimer. In no way do his maniacal diatribes about all things bike oriented represent the opinions of Mtbr, RoadBikeReview, or any of their employees, contractors, janitorial staff, family members, household pets, or any other creature, living or dead. You can submit questions or comments to Kurt at firstname.lastname@example.org. And make sure to check out Kurt’s previous columns.
It’s 2.5 miles to the finish line, I’m two PBRs and one shot of Evan Williams deep, there’s a convict in an orange jump suit lined up behind me, I’m wearing a disco ball helmet, its dark out and I’m wearing sunglasses. Hit it.
Not even thirty seconds into my half-inebriated and Halloween-costumed charge down the famed Corral Trail in South Lake Tahoe, I came to a few realizations.
1) I’ve never ridden Corral Trail in my life and its pitch black
2) My lights weren’t secured tight enough and are now pointing downward
3) My front tire is at least five psi underinflated
4) The man in orange is less than a minute behind charging like Rosco P. Coltrane
5) I am wearing a helmet with two pounds of reflective glass on it
Before I could even say “maybe I should slow down” my carcass was going ASS over teakettle off a three-foot drop that wasn’t negotiated in time. I hit the ground unscathed, but my trusty Tranny wheezed a bit of air from the front tire upon impact. Damn. Now I’m 10 psi underinflated. My only mission for the night was to not crash, but that mission was doomed to failure from the word “ENDURO™”.
Not wanting to get overtaken by the orange-clad inmate whose light I could faintly see zooming towards me through the pine trees above, in a frenzied panic, I straightened my cockeyed handlebars, readjusted my lights and dusted off my new Betabrand DiscoLab duds.
A skeleton with an eye patch, a pirate hat and some colorful Mardi Gras beads hung suspended from nearby tree, staring at me with skeletal indifference. I jumped back on the bike and resumed the failed mission.
Corral opened up from a techy, rocky start to a fully bomber, wide-open downhill with big tabletops, berms and warp speeds. I was making up ground, bypassing the tabletops, keeping the weight off my underinflated front tire and charging where I could in the pedal sections.
Where’s Waldo? I could have sworn I saw two of him on the side of Corral wearing a full-face helmet. I looked back in disbelief just as I hit the very last section of sandy whoops and went whoops myself, crashing headlong into a field of pine needles. At least it was a nice, soft, cushiony fall. Doubly failed mission.
Dusting off my disco duds once again, I jumped out onto the road and saw the orange jumpsuit closing fast. Thoroughly crashed, crooked and crapulous with my number plate half fallen off, I wheezed across the line barely holding off the inmate. It was a hollow victory though. Actually it wasn’t even a victory. The inmate waxed me by 40 seconds. So did two other guys.
Although riding the legendary Corral Trail at night in costume was a first for me, it was just another entertaining evening for the fun-loving folks of Tahoe Area Mountain Biking Association (TAMBA). As one of the earliest mountain bike advocacy groups in the country, TAMBA was originally founded nearly 25 years ago, growing to nearly 1,500 members by 1996. But by 2004, for various reasons, TAMBA had all but vanished.
In 2010 a new crew of enthusiastic mountain bikers met with a local IMBA representative and re-established the organization. The enthusiasm of TAMBA and their work on the Corral Trail has been magnetic, recently being selected as finalist for “flow trails” in the $100,000 Bell Build Grant sponsored in part by IMBA. Their work spans all over the Tahoe and Truckee Meadows region, fostering great working relationships with land managers and National Forest Service personnel.