This story / incident is lore from a bygone age, perhaps even as far back as seven years ago, according to radio-carbon dating. It’s old news to the tribe of humans that does these things. Even the natives in the surrounding hills are beginning to tire of singing songs about it. With this said, the fables may not have percolated to those outside of this culture.

During the ‘Burnin Epoch’, which would occur in the fall of each year, before the extinction event, the wooded campground at Council Bluff Lake would swell with migratory humans bringing over a million-dollars worth of bicycles with them. Along with this most precious cargo, were ample amounts of firewood, hay bales for a stage, wooden pallets (for later), kegs of beer (also for later) and competitive aspirations.

This was a twelve-hour mountain bike race on a beautiful, rugged, thirteen-mile trail circling around the multi-tentacled lake. It took the very best about an hour to complete a lap. Most people took a fare bit more.

While some people raced solo, the standard was three-member relay teams in categories like “Fast”, “Wicked Fast” and “Fast in the Past”. “Coed” was always the category for me. I like women, why not? Coed was as hard fought and serious as any. From year to year, I observed that these teams shared similarities with that of the mating habits of the Emperor Penguin. They were very *tri-mogamous* during each season, but between seasons, all bets were off. This year, I was on the team of Mary Piper; my future wife; Jeff Sona and myself.

Tradition provides for the slow accumulation of little golden nuggets of pride that people battle over, winner of the first lap being one of them. I decided to make a run for this one, this year. It’s a lot like the Tour de France, without the money, or fame, or merchandise deals, or sobriety.   But other than that… Yah.

The race starts with a couple hundred yard run to our bicycles, complete with smoke bombs and loudspeakers blaring,

‘Ride of the Valkyries’ (Worth a listen for ‘memory lane’)

After battling for forty minutes, Bob Arnold and I were alone together in the lead. This is a pretty normal place for Bob to be, but rarer for me at a race of this caliber. Now I’ve raced against Bob many times. Though I was having an awful lot of fun on this part of the trail, I knew that my chances of besting Bob up the last big climb was remote, very, remote.

The crash:  (I’ll let Bob tell his side first)

OK, short story, short. David and I were rolling out the first lap of Burnin many years ago. That bridge is slick as shit early in the AM. I wiped out, taking out that well-crafted safety 2×4 and ending up in the creek. David Frei kept pedaling by as he yelled from about 100 yards up the trail “You OK?”. He had no intention of stopping, we were racing. I cannot cross that bridge without ever thinking of that battle with him!

Now, my take:

The defense would like to call it’s first witness… Will David Frei please take the stand.” Yup, yup, that’s me, what’s up dudes? How’s it hangin?… “so on the morning of Burnin,, you witnessed Bob Arnold careening along at breakneck speed with little regards to life nor limb?” Oh yah, we were totally shredding it dude, it was sick! “And as you were safely riding along behind, did you say anything to The Bob?” Why yes, yes I did. “and what might you have said?” I said Bob, watch the bridge! “And then what happened?” Well somehow, his bike stayed on the bridge, but Bob ended up checking out the ditch below, he got up right away, but didn’t appear to be as happy as he had been a minute before. I asked, Bob, are you OK? “and what was his response?” Well, I heard ‘Yah, ah’, and then some mumbling about this or that as he was slowly making his way out of the ditch. *** But seriously, you’re an awesome guy to race with Bob fun as heck and crazy hard to beat. I miss seeing you as much as I used to.


The post-race party has a gradual, rolling start, as the teammates who know that they won’t have to go out again , into the dark, can get a head start on those beer kegs. By the time that the last relay leg of riders come in, ‘happy’ teammates, with a head start, are cheering and throwing on the wooden pallets.

From this point forward, there’s a whole plethora of additional stories, but that’s a big subject and could go on for quite a while. Besides, my eyeballs are getting tired of typing. (For those who may ask, this was not the underwear year. That was earlier: Fifteen Minutes Of Infamy)

Any takers?

The End?