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CRAFTS N CRANKS
O N E O F T H E M O S T F U N B I K E R A C E S E V E R
O n July 28, I got the opportunity to participate in one of the most fun mountain biking events I’ve been a part of in a long time: the Crafts N Cranks annual Bike & Brew fest in Big Bear, California. It’s a three-day festival celebrating the incredible mountain biking community, with endurance races, three different levels of cross-country races, and a huge downhill race in which professional downhillers scream down the course as fast as gravity will let them. Each discipline requires a different bike, a different build, and a different temperament. And of course, glutton for punishment that I’ve become over the past few years, I was there for the 45-mile endurance course. I took a young local friend of mine who wanted to try racing for the first time. The entire trip, we were talking smack to each other, placing toothless bets on whether the young buck or old dog would end up winning. He told me that, after he finished the race, he’d wait for me by the car while I finished. Well, he was halfway right. When I completed the race, there he was hanging out by the car, but it wasn’t because he had finished before me — it was because his newbie body had given out about three-quarters of the way through. Hey, it happens to the best of us, and especially when you’re a rookie. But of course, once we figured out he was okay, I resumed the trash talk immediately. I’ll admit it was a tough race, though. At an elevation of around 8,810 feet, you could practically feel the lactic acid as it built up in your muscles, your body too sluggish to get the oxygen in fast enough. On top of that, there were a ton of technical sections throughout the course, pushing my skills to the limit. Luckily, in the lead-up to the race, I’d been working a lot on my core strength, doing planks, butterfly kicks,
bridges — anything to work on my lower back and my stomach. I’m confident it helped me keep up and not shut down like my buddy did. I finished in fifth place out of nine, but I hit a personal best, finally beating out another friend who’s
been kicking my butt since 2013.
Fresh off the race, I had a big ear-to-ear grin on my face. I looked to my left and noticed the guy next to me in his car was
sporting the same goofy smile. “Have you noticed,” he asked me, “there isn’t one person who isn’t smiling at this event?” I looked around, thought about it a little, and realized he was right. Whether they were competitors finishing up another brutal race or people just hanging around sipping beer, everyone was in a chipper mood. It may be hard to imagine that a festival celebrating the limits of human endurance would bring more smiles than you’d see at Disneyland, but that’s what I saw that day. Call us mountain bikers crazy, but we know how to have a good time.
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