Last night was the welcome time change to daylight savings and I need to take a little break from the ski related posts to pay tribute to the guy who gets us all through the winter of mountain biking here in Westen Pa. Bob Bannon( aka The Lord of Lumens, Bush Barber Bob Bannon) is the king of lighting for mountain biking. Whether you want his home made lighting systems or you have an existing system that needs revamped, Bob is the undisputed king of lighting for winter mountain biking. For the uninitiated, the trails can be ridden here is Western Pa for most of the winter if you are willing to ride at night and join Bob on his weekly adventures through all the trails here. Like the postman who does not miss his appointed rounds, neither snow, sleet, rain or dead of night will keep Bob and his merry band of winter mountain bikers from riding their beloved trails.
Bob is also highly involved in maintaining trails here thus the moniker “Bush Barber.” He singlehandedly posts rides throughout the year not only in the evenings but on the weekends as well. If anyone deserves an award for his enthusiasm in support of the off road cycling crowd it surely is the Lord of Lumens. People love Bob. They like to ride with him because of his infectious energy and his knowledge of the local trail systems. If there are any techincal issues, he is the first to assist even though he advertises that if you ride with him, be ready to ride and make sure your bike is ready to ride. Nonetheless, he always is there to help and especially in the dark of the winter with his accumen on lighting.
The first time I met Bob I was a brand new mountain biker. I had a lot of experience riding a road bike but one day, I had the opportunity to buy a mountain bike which was pretty primitive in the mid eighties. Shocks were non existant at the time and cantilever brakes, rigid forks and fat tires were the norm. I managed to somehow hook up with Bob, Larry Freugh, Mike Louder, and Nick Milan on a ride in Riverview Park in the city. I had no experience and these guys were very experienced motorcross riders who were also avid mountain bikers. To my great surprise, these guys took off like a shot and even though my fitness level was good, my skills were sketchy and I can remember Bob fishing me out of some bushes below the trail upside down and my wheels still turning above me. They all chuckled as Bob helped me out and I continued the ride bruised and battered but not out for the count. Bob was very encouraging as he still is today. In those days, a lot of the rides took place in city parks with a stop at the Penn Brewery. When you are hot, tired and using the lights to navigate city park trails as well as old railroad bridges, the stop at the brewery was welcome not only to wet your whistle but to regroup and get your mojo back. I can remember many nights pounding up Federal Street, a monster of a steep hill on the Northside of Pittsburgh, with a Penn Brewery buzz and a heart rate of 180BPM thinking to myself,” this can’t be good.” But I managed to always hang on and eventually through riding with Bob, John O’Toole and the boys, I became a better rider. “The Old Men” as they are called are great teachers and Bob was always the ring leader.
I have done a lot of mountain bike riding since then and those adventures will be the subject of future posts but suffice to say for the moment that I am always grateful to Bob for getting me started. I was running the trails in the snow the other day when I came upon Bob and his pal Dr. Jack riding with their studded mountain bike tires. These guys have had a heck of a winter riding through all the weather and smiling the whole way. Bob’s infectious smile and his enthusiastic demeanor make him a welcome sight on even the coldest, bleakest snowiest day in Western Pa. If you ever need motivation, you need only to acquaint yourself with the Lord of Lumens and your days of coming home from work and sitting on the couch with a beer are over. Oh, you will drink that beer but only after you have earned it by riding in the icy, cold, winter nights with your mountain bike lights blazing the trails. Thank you Bob from all the mountain bikers in our area. We are truly indebted to you and love riding with you. Thanks for reading.