There are a lot of reasons why we ride. Probably the least of those is exercise (especially for you shuttle-obsessed DHers ... cough). We ride to get outdoors, to clear our heads of cluttered work schedules, to see and experience new sights and vistas, to connect with our community of other riders, and so story goes on. We also flit in and out of these reasons as well. However, what we cherish the most are the memories. These stories of adventures are what we keep us coming back to. Sometimes they are photo-worthy epic adventures while other times they are comical and embarrassing. We all can recall funny happenings out on the trail.
Years ago while I was a mountain biking guide in Arizona on one of our mountain biking excursions, a good-looking middle-aged dude from the UK came out on a ride with us. He was stud-like, buff, and ripped. I’ll call him “Pecks” for this story. Since destination spas attract more women than men, he had found a great fishing pond. Our group of bikers for the ride that day consisted of him and about six other middle-aged females. Since it was summer, even though we road early in the morning, Pecks thought it would be a brilliant idea to ride shirtless. Who could not resist a glistening muscled man mountain biking through the desert with the early morning sun peering over the Samaniego Ridge casting his torso in a golden hue? The ladies followed him like a group of hens following a rooster in a barnyard.
But Pecks wasn’t a good mountain biker (mind you, this was all XC stuff). Since it was an easy-level mountain bike ride, we didn’t venture onto nasty or gnarly technical trails. While we rode cactus-hugging singletrack trails, it was a relatively flat and rolling trail. On that day, I was the tail guide, and so I didn’t get a close-up view on what transpired. Pecks was up front (of course) riding right on the tail of the lead (female) guide. When we came to a fork in the trail, she went left. Pecks didn’t go left or right. He went straight. But there wasn’t a trail there. In a last-minute effort to save himself, Pecks gripped both sets of brakes like he was holding on for dear life. The good news is, the bike stopped. The bad news? Pecks became a human projectile.
He landed, head-over-heels, smack dab into a large patch of prickly pear cactus. Shirtless and buff, Pecks was literally covered with hundreds of cactus spines. The thing about prickly pears is that they have both large spines, which are painful, but they are also covered with hundreds of small hair-like ones. These are small and as fine as hair, but painful and irritating. With tweezers in hand, the other guide and I spent the next half hour-plus picking cactus spines out of Pecks as he shook from the pain. We got most of them out, at least enough for him to ride back to the resort.
I remember well the first time I ran into prickly pear. It was late June and it was hotter than blazes at the peak of the Sonoran Desert summer before monsoon season. Another guide and I decided to take a run down a famous local trail called the Chutes after leading hikes and bike rides all morning. By the time we reached the top before our maddening descent, we were exhausted and on the verge of heat stroke. As a result, our motor skills were suspect. We hit a technical section, and I was floundering around and not focused. In the process of riding past a patch of prickly pear in a narrow chute, I tipped over into it. My whole right leg was covered with hundreds of these nasty hair-like cactus spines.
I stopped and attempted to pluck them out. The problem was that for every cactus spine I plucked out, I also grabbed a good two to three leg hairs. Ouch! After five minutes, I gave up, biked back to the resort, and headed home. It was on the drive home, with my leg full of cactus spines, that I decided to shave both my legs. (It would’ve been awkward if I only shaved one.) I had never done anything so cavalier before. I didn’t tell my wife, nor did I really have any idea what to do. All I know was that I grabbed her Venus razor and start hacking away.
I didn’t even bother plucking out those cactus spines; I just shaved away. Now, I’m not a Sasquatch, but it was more involved than I had imagined. I felt like an adventurer or explorer in a pith helmet hacking my way through a jungle with a machete. I dulled the blade rather quickly, but kept on going. I didn’t know I needed to take a pair of clippers first to my legs and then use a razor. After about an hour, I was done ... a bald Sasquatch. Chewbacca without leg hair. It was a funny sight to behold, all pink and bald. Over the next several days, I learned first-hand about the effects of razor burn, as I had these red welts all over. Nonetheless, I was clean-shaven.
Ok, now your turn. What's your story?
Words by Sean Benesh, Loam Coffee Founder and Brand Manager