The Cycle Works/Giant demo, ready to go Friday afternoon. Photo: CQ
After more than six months of planning, the 2009 Big Wheeled Ballyhoo went off this past weekend at Potter's Pasture near Brady, Nebraska. And well, it was going to be an awesome event... It started out really good. Friday was killer... I wish I'd have been able to get there earlier than I did, which was at about 4:30pm, but the realities of securing the raffle items, packing everything in Laura's Subaru (which used to seem much roomier) and getting out to Brady, which with multiple construction zones, was more than 3 hours away, it got late quick.
Getting the check-in started Friday afternoon. It was still about 50 degrees at this point... Photo: DJ, The Biking FoolsWhen I got out there, things were already hummin'... Folks were arriving and already hitting the trails. Sweet! We got the registration set up and started checking riders in, and then I went to set my tent up. At this point, the night ride was about to get started, so I figured, "what the hay, I'll go ahead and hit it."
The ride before the night ride I went on. Photo: DJ, The Biking FoolsKyle and I took off at dusk with about a group of a dozen folks that came in from all over the country... It was super cool. It still blows my mind to think that in the group we had riders from Oregon, Colorado, Minnesota, Iowa and Nebraska representing. It wasn't just a bunch of locals... Despite the threatening weather, riders traveled in from all over to participate in the Ballyhoo! I feel a huge debt of gratitude to guys like Cory Heintz, who rode for almost three weeks to Colorado, then drove the rest of the way with friends to participate in the Ballyhoo. That's cool.
The lineup of super sweet Giant XtC demo bikes waits for action Friday afternoon at the Cycle Works trailer. Photo: CQ
Butch Johnson from Cycle Works was there, leadin' the charge on one of the sweet new Giant XtC 29er demo bikes, along with the guys from Minnesota on their Trek 69er singlespeeds, running 32/17, if memory serves. Holy COW that's tall gearing, gentlemen! No wonder they were literally flying up the climbs. They left me in the dust on the first climbs, but as the pace moderated a bit, I was able to get back onto the bus.
But as we crested the first climb, we saw the first of what would end up being many snowflakes that weekend. It added a cool, surreal element to the ride that anyone whose been on a snowstorm night ride will immediately relate to. And as we met up with Chad Quigley, who'd had light issues earlier and had to link up with us, we started down Hornitos, one of Potter's Pasture's premier descents. It was rippin'... And little did I know, it'd be the best descent I'd get all weekend.
A few moments later we rolled into camp to the hoots and hollers of about 25-30 folks gathered around the bonfire listening to banjo music. That was a cool way to end the ride!
Our friend Steve Potter was there. He's the Man behind Potter's Pasture. And if you ask him about it, he'll humbly state that he's "merely the caretaker of the land for a while," but I think we're really fortunate to have somebody that's willing to share his amazing natural resource with us, simply for us to enjoy. We are the lucky ones and we all owe Steve Potter a huge THANK YOU, even though this year, despite our best laid plans, the best part of the Big Wheeled Ballyhoo went unrealized due to the 6-9 inches of snow that fell over the entire area.
The Man, Steve Potter, takes a few moments to chat up Matt Fuller and Wes Trout from Lincoln. Wes brought out his two wheel-drive Christini that he recently scored for a song off of eBay. Steve Potter took the bike and promptly rode to the top of the steepest climb in the Pasture, proving that is was possible to ride, just not exactly pleasurable or fast. Having both wheels driven was pretty sweet in the sketchy snow too... Talk about a specialist bike! Photo: CQ
Honestly, we were fortunate we weren't 20 miles west in North Platte. They got 17 inches of snow... So in retrospect, we should be thankful for what we didn't get! But that said, it's hard to feel lucky when six months of planning are largely nullified by an act of nature that is completely out of your control. That just sucked.
My camp, Saturday morning... apparently before I got up. Photo: CQ
On Saturday morning, I awoke in a pitch black tent, only to realize I was waking up more than an hour late (and a half hour into the start of the breakfast). The snow had piled so high on my tent that it blocked out all the light, and I was so bundled up in my sleeping bag, apparently I didn't hear my iPod that was set as my alarm clock. Whoops!!
Visions of breakfast. Todd and DJ -- The Biking Fools
So I quickly got dressed and got outside to find that our pancake guy wasn't going to show (even though his super pancake cooker was hooked up and ready to go), so we were left to cook pancakes in Paul Brasby's camper, two at a time. In fact, Paul was already hooked up and cookin'. What a stud. Since folks were getting up slowly, somehow the cooking pace worked out with a little patience on the participants' parts (which we were extremely grateful for -- thank you very much!).
Kris and Butch finish packing the Cycle Works trailer before hitting the snowy road Saturday morning. Photo: LlamaWith everyone fed, Kris and Butch from Cycle Works decided to pull up the stakes and head for Lincoln. Since there weren't going to be any demo rides going out, there wasn't really any reason for them to stick around, so they took off. After a quick powwow with Chad, Kyle and Paul, we decided it'd be best to hold the raffle for the Sette Razzo 29 and Misfit Dissent framesets, Oakley Frogskins sunglasses, Red Bull DVDs and Dairy Queen gift certificates at noon Saturday instead of noon Sunday, so that folks could go ahead and hit the road themselves if they wanted. So we went ahead and did it...
The winners... Kelly Klein (left) is the winner of the Sette Razzo 29 frame, while Bob Wieck (right) is the winner of the Misfit Cycles Dissent frame. Photo: DJ, The Biking FoolsWhile most of the folks filtered out of the pasture progressively following the raffle drawing, a hardcore group of folks stayed around, which eventually dwindled down to about six overnight campers. Little did we know, all of us would be treated to an awesome campfire grill-cooked dinner by our good buddies, Wes Trout and Matt Fuller, including some of the best burgers I've had in an awfully long time. Thanks guys! That was exactly what the doctor ordered!
Sunday morning came, and with it the realization that we had to reconnect with the society we'd willingly unplugged from two days earlier. In many ways, we didn't mind that we hadn't ridden our bikes. It was still an incredible experience... To spend a weekend camping among the creatures in the woods is an amazing gift, and is something not enough people take the time to do in today's plugged-in, Internet-age society.
I appreciate the gift Steve Potter has given us in the ability to visit and enjoy his incredible Nebraska singetrack paradise, and I hope you too will someday find the peace and sheer joy that hides within that magnificent piece of land.
We were fortunate to have several great sponsors that stepped up in support of the 2009 Big Wheeled Ballyhoo, all of which remained steadfast in their support throughout the weather-related fiasco. These included Cycle Sport of North Platte, who sponsored the port-a-potties. That was clearly a major sponsorship, and Patty was a early and pivotal supporter of the Big Wheeled Ballyhoo. Thank you to Patty and Cycle Sport!
Brent "Butch" Johnson and Kris Sonderup of Cycle Works in Lincoln were on the scene at the Ballyhoo with a trailer full of Giant XtC 29er demo bikes for folks to try out. Cycle Works and Giant were also co-sponsors of the Saturday morning pancake breakfast, which didn't quite turn out as we'd planned. That said, the food pantry in North Platte received a donation of the supplies we didn't end up using, which will go to feed families in need, and that's a good thing. Thanks again to Butch, Kris, Cycle Works and Giant Bicycles for their support of the Big Wheeled Ballyhoo!
The elated winner of the Oakley 4-legged Frogskins. Photo: CQ
Rob Versteegth at Oakley has been providing me with support for the past couple of seasons and the limited-edition 4-Legged Oakley Frogskins we gave away were the direct result of my relationship with him. It's at moments like this, when I'm typing paragraphs like these last few, that I feel so fortunate... Because this is where I realize that I have a lot of really, really good friends. And Rob is one of them. Anyone who knows me well knows I am absolutely fastidious about my eyewear, and Oakley sunglasses are the eyewear I've chosen to wear, whether I'm paying for it or not, since 1989, no ifs, ands or buts. So to be able to give the gift of Oakley eyewear is something I was especially proud to be able to do at the Ballyhoo.
PricePoint stepped in and donated one of their incredible Sette Razzo 29er frames for the raffle, as well as tubes, patch kits and tire levers for the rides. It was a really cool thing to do and the frame was much nicer than I expected it to be -- I have to admit. We were all dumbfounded by the sweet welds, cool features and insanely low price. But ultimately, we just all wished we were the ones that won it... But that honor went to Kelly Klein. It'll be his first 29er... Perfect. Thanks again PricePoint!
Thanks to my good friend Jason Boucher at Salsa Cycles for providing one of their incredible Fargo framesets for planned Fargo Ride leader and ultra-honch endurance racer, Corey Godfrey to ride. He never had the opportunity to use the bike for its intended purpose, so we're going to look for a future opportunity to hook up with the folks from Salsa and do a Fargo ride that'll show off both the Fargo's and Cornbread's formidable and diverse talents. He's already writing about racing 'cross on the Fargo, which if I recall, isn't exactly what it's designed for... But that said, I bet he still makes it go really fast on a 'cross course! These two guys are two more of those friends, like Rob Versteegth, that I'm just so fortunate to be able to call friends. Thanks to both Jason and Cornbread, and to Salsa Cycles for their friendship and support of the 2009 Big Wheeled Ballyhoo! You guys really are the best.
Taylor "Surly" Weichman, who works at Red Bull's NE ad agency, hooked us up with several cases of Red Bull's new Cola, as well as a bunch of Red Bull Rampage DVDs that we gave away during the raffle. That Red Bull Cola is AMAZING! If you're a cola fan and you haven't tried it yet, you owe it to yourself to pick one up. In fact, the most impressive thing you can do is to take a look at the ingredient list and notice how real the ingredients are... Strong and natural, just like they say it is... Thank you Taylor!
Thank you also to the folks at the Dairy Queen in Brady. They donated several gift certificates for Ballyhoo participants to win in the raffle.
Finally, thank you to everyone involved in the planning and execution of the 2009 Big Wheeled Ballyhoo, including Matt Bergen, Paul Brasby, Matt Gersib, Guitar Ted, Chad Quigley and Kyle Vincent. Regardless of the hand Mother Nature dealt us, we made the best we could of the situation and those in attendance appreciated the effort. It was a worthy undertaking and I'm proud to have been a part of it. Thanks again.