This is a story of remembering, reminiscing, rejoicing, and dirt rock and roll.
TURN THE STEREO UP!
D Pike on the Maah Daah Hey Trail
Rolled out to Boulder, CO this past weekend with H-wood, K-wood, and Crossmax for our pal David Pike’s memorial, a celebration, a reminder, a rejoinder, an affirmation of life and love for our fallen friend.
The temperature is well below 0° for our 9pm departure. Hollywood is driving all night long, Minneapolis to Boulder, in our rental mini van, four people, four bikes in a straight rock and roll onslaught, serenaded by satellite radio stations Ozzy’s Boneyard and Hairball Nation. Driving at night makes the miles seemingly roll faster, a nocturnal illusion punctuated with stops at Kum & Go, and Dunkin’ Donuts.
By sunrise, we’re ensconced at Grannie’s Diner in Ft. Lupton, CO for early morning juevos rancheros, breakfast burritos, and biscuits & gravy. Don’t forget the ‘Horse Sauce,’ -Tabasco™ bottles wrapped in Denver Bronco livery. Wash it down with a chocolate milkshake. By 9:15 am we’re strolling into the Farm, a Boulder dispensary. Hollywood declares, “I’m like a kid in a candy store!”
Post-Farm we drop in on Steve Porsborg*, at his North Boulder studio which will be ground zero for the weekend’s celebration. Hugs, handshakes, and hi-fives abound as we hatch a plan for a dirt ride to stretch our legs and minds after the all-night transfer.
*Porsborg is a Boulder OG, a true zen master with the kind soul of an artist. He’s also a total badass, and a mountain bike mentor to me. I first met Porsborg in 1985 when he left our home state of North Dakota via his mountain bike, headed for Colorado. He would go on to be an early product tester for RockShox, and competed in the 1990 UCI Mountain Bike World Championship in Durango. I first met Dave working together at The Alternative Bike & Board in Minneapolis in the early 1990’s. Dave later migrated to Boulder in the mid ’90’s. Naturally he gravitated to Full Cycle on the hill, the coolest Boulder shop around, and at that time run by Porsborg. In July of 2001 we all ended up riding together in Medora, ND on the nascent Maah Daah Hey trail. Our group of 12 shuttled out to ride a loop near Devil’s Pass. Once back to the shuttle, Porsborg, Pike, and I decided we would ride back to town on a new section, recently flagged. Confidently we rode off in the direction of the faint trail. It soon became evident that the poorly marked trail was barely burned in, the high-desert scrub looking the same all the way to the horizon. I was working for Surly Bikes at the time, and suppose I considered myself something of a hot-shit single speeder. But Pike was the only hardman on a single this day, and Porsborg definitely had experience on his side. I was the weak link. We pedaled on, joking out loud: “Maah Daah ‘Hey, Where’s the Trail?” We ate all our food, but when we ran out of water, with the sun setting, it was no longer very funny. At one point there was an orange rind on the trail. Each of us saw it, and would later admit to independently thinking, “hey, maybe I could eat that.” We lurched on into the dusk, both of them offering hollow encouragement. Miraculously, we came upon a scoria road, and could see the dull glow of Medora in the distance. When we finally rolled into camp, we looked pale and sunken as cadavers. I was catatonic for nearly 45 minutes before I had the strength to eat. Pike and Porsborg saved me that day.
the boys are hurting after getting lost on “Maah Daah Hey, Where’s the Trail?”
A quick jaunt up Boulder Canyon has us at the Betasso Link trail. Like the sign says, it’s steep, and it’s loose, a 3 mile singletrack connector leading up to the Betasso Trail.
The lower half is kind of greasy with mud, and some segments are still covered in a mix of snow and ice, so it’s an ad-hoc hike-a-bike mixed with some chugging singletrack up to the top. Nearing the Betasso trailhead it turns much muddier, so we decide on a sunshine-soaked siesta on the side of the mountain before Hollywood attempts (and succeeds) a Pete Rose OTB dismount on the return, stabbing his palms with some toxic thorns. A mini-leatherman extracts the offenders, and we’re off on the fast descent hootin’ back to the van.
Next stop, Vecchio’s Boulder, a temple of cycling culture and curmudgeonly chutzpah in the form of one Jim Potter, proprietor. I most assuredly am pulling your leg because not only are Jim and his crüe welcoming, but they also have beer in the fridge for the weekly Friday evening happy hour. People come and go, most making offerings of Coors Banquet™ Beer. Potter shows off the rare Salsa El Kaboing frame:
“Shit Better Not Happen”
By now the reality of an all-night drive, plus bike rides, plus beer, plus little-to-no-sleep sends us in search of roast beef sandwiches and our hotel. Power naps ensue. Mission accomplished and we’re off again to “Stereo” Steve Silberman’s house for a small gathering of friends of Pike. More hugs, handshakes, and tears are shed. Stereo offers delicious San Pellegrino margaritas and we are grateful. Cycling truly is the common thread that throughout the years has drawn us all together. So it’s not too big of a stretch that part-time Boulder resident, consummate nice guy, and 1988 Giro d’Italia champion Andy Hampsten (also from North Dakota, natch) is present. Still, Hollywood and myself do our best to keep our inner-fanboy in check, Another margarita and then we’re off, back to the hotel.
Saturday morning rise and shine. Ok, let’s be honest here: wake and bake. But the Boulder sun is actually shining, and temps are decidedly mild and un-Minneapolis. Cross & I walk a few blocks for coffee at Amante and to check out Boulder Cycle Sport. Yesterday I drank not one, but two milkshakes, so today, I opt for a kombucha to accompany my doppio. Sitting a few tables away in the cafe, I notice my second American Grand Tour winner in as many days, 2013 Vuelta winner Chris Horner. Only in Boulder. I laugh to myself and tell Cross that if Lemond showed up it would be the holy trinity of American bike racing. But we’ve got to boogie because in addition to tonight’s celebration there’s an urban assault ride at 2pm, and with Porsborg as captain, it’s not to be missed. We roll out eight riders deep, skirt the Foothills Trail, run into none other than Andy Hampsten, (again.) This time I cannot pass up the opportunity for a shot with these North Dakota Legends.
(L)Steve Porsborg: OG NoDak hardman. Rode in the 1990 Durango MTB World Championship.
(R)Andy Hampsten: 1988 Giro d’Italia winner.
We bid Hampsten adieu and crack onward, a mix of harried, short dirtcuts, unscrupulous upward paved ascents to Chataqua.
And a short hike up to a beautiful overlook to salute D. Pike.
Fittingly we drop by Full Cycle to pay our respects, before returning to the hotel ahead of tonight’s memorial.
Stories poured forth from many friends this night. From Boulder, Minneapolis, and beyond. Tales of road trips, racing, rock and roll, dirt-biking, mountain biking, motorheadin’, 4-wheelin’, ferrets, firing guns, and having fun. Dave Pike was loved by many, of that there is no doubt. R.I.P. Dirt Rock N’ Roller.