Thought I would send the weekly post a little early due to Thanksgiving. Speaking of which, I am thankful for people like Bob Bannon, the Lord of Lumens, for his friendship and being the glue to the local mountain bike community. I am waiting for ski season but will still ride until it becomes a muddy, icy mess on the trails. So last Saturday it was 18 degrees and I put out the message about the ride and only Bob, and a new young guy named Matt, and I showed up in the Family Dollar parking lot. Our mission was to ride the fast and flowy trails of Deer Lakes Park here in Allegheny County in Western Pa. Now Bob, being the Pied Piper of all mountain bikers here in the burg, was happy to show the new guy around. Matt is a nice kid but really, I have socks older than him and Bannon is older than I am by a few years. So it was Matt and the old guys heading out on the trails. In true Bannon fashion, Bob makes the ride enjoyable because he describes where we are going to ride, what to look for by way of obstacles, and what trail maintenance he has done on the trails to make them flowy and enjoyable. He puts a lot of volunteer time in and enthusiastically sends out weekly messages about rides in the area, where to meet, and when. Getting back to the frigid ride, we were bundled up and as Bob went through his routine, we both noticed that Matt had a nice bike and was riding in running shoes. Being the inquisitive guy that I am, I started asking him about where he was from. Turns out he went to IUP and spent some time in forestry in the wilderness of Northern California. Tough kid, good rider, but running shoes have to go. Bob and I both gave Matt some advice about the virtues of clipless pedals and shoes. The kid took it in stride and I think we may have made an impact because I think he sees the value and will get those items shortly.
As the ride progressed, Bob and I were impressed at Matt’s fitness and his riding ability despite the handicap of running shoes. He also rode with no gloves. Amazing!!! 18 degrees!! We came across a guy we know from riding who was walking his dogs. As I handed him my camera to take some pictures of the frozen trio, the big dog climbed up on me and barked in my face and the ratty little dog bit my shin. I don’t have much luck with dogs. I tell people that dogs like me………I taste like chicken. You can have dogs, but that is another blog post followup. We had lots of tales for Matt about local riding and riding in the west. Matt met us through an organization called Meet Up. http://www.meetup.com. Bob’s posting of weekly rides is on their web site and Matt hit it right when he had the opportunity to ride with Bob.
The freezing rain started falling at the end of the Deer Lakes ride and as we ventured out into the parking lot, I gave some more advice to Matt to get back on the grass because the pavement was slick. Too late. Matt was down and I was a little late with more advice that would have enhanced his experience. Bob and I were happy to have Matt that day. We both like the opportunity to get people enthused about mountain bike riding and never miss an opportunity to “pay it forward” like people did for us back in the day. Bob pays it forward big time every week……every day. Good guy. Lots of people like to ride with Bob.
An additional payoff was when I was tipped off at the OTB Thursday night ride that we would be stopping at the Deer Creek Diner for their famous pancakes after our ride on Saturday. Matt was all in, and we changed clothes and gingerly made our way our of the park on the glazed roadways to the diner in Russleton,Pa- right around the corner. The coffee was hot and good, the service was very friendly, and the pancakes………….well…………..have a look. Amazing!!! I bring my own Vermont maple syrup when I have a chance to prepare like this outing and it is the only syrup that would do justice to these colossal cakes. Matt had the chance to experience Grade A fancy syrup and Bob and I relished the morning knowing that we had given Matt a good ride, a good breakfast, and as a grand finale- Bob wrote down the exact specs for Matt to purchase a light so he could ride with our group on the trails after dark. I hope that Matt reports back to” Meet Up” that he had a good experience with two knowledgeable, fun old codgers who showed him a beautiful trail system, fed him well, and gave him valuable lighting options.
Really- this is what mountain biking or skiing is all about. Sharing knowledge, enthusiasm, planning, and general frivolity in a relaxed environment. Good exercise with the hopes that guys like Matt pay it forward some day soon. The more riders the better the riding. So, pay something forward. Help out a new guy. Share your experience and knowledge with someone. I have done that and now all the people I have taught are killing me out on the trails. Go figure. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving. We all have a lot to be thankful for- health, happiness, and friends like Bob.