Just back from a lunch session at our awesome dirt jumps. In less than thirty minutes I managed some lap time at the pump track, and got the adrenaline flowing on the beginner line. My 40 year old back disapproves almost as much as my atrophied voice of maturity doubts my judgment, but my 18 year old alter ego loves me even though he thinks I am a sissy for staying on the beginner line. “Go bigger”, he eggs me on, “It’s easy, just don’t case the front wheel”. Sounds easy, and reminds me of the conversations I’ve had with the local middle school kids that rip the pro line on decrepit Wal-Mart bmx bikes. They clean the expert line and then ask me why I’m not, ” You have that awesome bike”, they say, ” Man if I had that I’d be ripping that shit”. What ever ego I had was shattered that day by a 12 year old gromling in a school of gromlings….like fish, or piranhas, once they smell blood there is no hope. And by the way my bike is a cobbled together machine, built from the last remaining parts of several ground down mountain bikes, but to these kids it is a Porsche. They don’t even wear helmets. The little rats. Luckily, I love rats.
Not to long ago fellow mechanic and cycling Maestro, Tyson Swasey organized a session at the jumps. Lots of folks showed up and threw down. The middle school kids were there killing it. Monty aka “Pit Boss” was down there between the jump lines taking photos of the riders young and old. Wendy our resident pro gave out tips and helmets, earning street cred in the eyes of the rat-gromling-rippers. I have personally noticed an increase in boys with helmets on at the jumps since then. It was evening, the perfect temperature, the cliffs were glowing red. We all were encouraging and giving praise when radness happened. I graduated from the beginner line that evening and cleaned the intermediate. I had reached a goal and shared in the general all around stoke. At the end of that line the kids were there cheering me on. “Feels good doesn’t it”, one of them said to me in a wise and knowing manner. I couldn’t have agreed more and as I pedaled back to the top of the lines I realized there is a time and a place for everything, including ignoring the, “what if I kill myself”, and letting the kid inside reign supreme, after all the jumps are no country for old men.