I once told someone I could tell how I was doing mentally by my last mountain bike ride. If I’d taken an aerobic ride on fire roads — one where I could go relatively fast without paying much attention, one where I could let my mind drift — I was doing pretty good. I was still doing pretty good if the ride was half fire roads, half more aggressive, aggression-relieving singletrack. If the ride was all singletrack, all aggressive, all manic, all fast, well, then the bike was saving me $100 an hour on a leather couch.
Get religion at a Fat Tire Festival, howl at the coast. It’s all happening this weekend.
Saturday, we salute the Fat Tire. If you’re already familiar with the Church of the Fat Tire, we need only say that Saturday is something of our high holy day here in the Triangle. If you’re not already among the faithful, the 5th Annual TORC Fat Tire Festival is a great way to explore a different branch of exercise ecclesiology: mountain biking.
Spence March has long been concerned over whether his kids are getting enough exercise. Four years ago, he enrolled them in a running program. And being a good dad and realizing that kids pay more attention if you practice what you preach, he enrolled with them. It was a good experience for all, but March wasn’t content to let it be a one-time event.
Steve uttered an annoyed grunt and pulled off the trail. “My seat,” he said. “It slipped.” Instinctively, I pulled over to take a look. He gave me a funny a look, gave the seat a quick shove, and hopped back on. Moments later, another annoyed grunt, followed by another trailside stop. “I need to get out my wrench.” Again, I pulled over and stopped.
The kids were doing the math, and the numbers weren’t coming up in Ben’s favor.
It was Sunday morning, around 9:30, and the fact that these 15-year-olds were able to do math at all was impressive. For most of the past 24 hours they’d been racing their mountain bikes at the appropriately named Dark Mountain near Wilkesboro, site of the 10th Annual Burn 24 Hour Challenge, a mountain bike race that began at noon Saturday and ran, straight through, until noon Sunday. During the past 12 1/2 hours, one of the 15-year-olds had thrown up twice during her middle-of-the-night shift-in-the saddle. One had severe stomach cramps early on after finishing a 7.4-mile lap on the hilly foothills course. One kept falling asleep in a camp chair and had to be awoken, for the third time, less than 10 minutes before his last lap. Yet at 9:30, working on maybe three hours sleep per person, their brains were working away.