“Man, isn’t this embarrassing?” the mountain biker said as he pushed his bike up the steep hill to where I was already leaning over my bike, sucking air. I thought he was referring to being with me this far into the race.
“I lost my water bottle,” I said, making conversation by way of commiseration. I gulped some air to continue, but before I could he reached into his second cage and grabbed a spare water bottle. “Here. Take this.”
We were about three quarters of the way through today’s Race at the Reactor mountain bike race at Harris Lake, and while it wasn’t deathly hot like it was at last month’s Huck-A-Buck at Lake Crabtree (100 degrees), it was warm and humid. I’d ridden about 50 minutes without water and was hurting. I discovered the bottle was missing about five miles into the race, when I reached down for a drink and got air instead. Dang!
It was a two-lap race and I’d be passing the pit area in about 10 minutes; I could stop and grab another bottle. But I was pretty sure I knew where mine had jumped ship — about halfway through the first lap when I’d gone off-trail trying to pass the guy who was now offering me his spare water bottle. Under the illusion I could still register a respectable finish (I didn’t, ending up 5th out of 7 in the Sport Class 2 50+ category) I blew through the pit and soon regretted it. I thankfully grabbed the proffered bottle and took note of the irony: it was a Happy Fun Racing bottle, just like the one I had jettisoned. Then I realized who my benefactor was: Mr. Happy Fun himself, Pat Lundergan, who with Chris Pappas are the pedaling force behind Happy Fun Racing and the Huck-A-Buck, which is sponsored by HFR. The Huck-A-Buck epitomizes what mountain biking racing is about: Riding hard and, because few things in life beat riding a bike through the woods, making the most of every second you’re in the saddle. Even if that means running the risk of crossing the finish a tad parched because you bailed out a fellow rider.
“Toss the the bottle at the end of the race,” Pat said. “I’ve got a million of ‘em.” With that, he clipped into his single speed and disappeared over a drop.
Go here for results for Race at the Reactor.
Photo: When he’s not saving parched riders on the trail, Pat Lundergan helps organize and MCs the Huck-A-Buck mountain bike race at Lake Crabtree.