*A trip for two to sunny Las Vegas, entry to 2007's Interbike and the chance to ogle all the new cycling goodies slated to hit the shelves in 2008*

*A 2008 Mission 3, Diamondback’s versatile all-mountain machine. Nimble, efficient and stable, the Mission 3 features Shimano’s new Deore XT components, including the Shadow rear derailleur and high power disc brakes.*

*15 minutes of fame in a Diamondback ad that will appear in Dirt Rag featuring the winner on their new Mission 3.*

*Swag from Dirt Rag, Diamondback, Fox Racing Shox, Rockshox, Shimano and WTB. *

To enter, simply go to diamondback.com and click on the “What’s Your Mission?” button to submit your all-mountain inspiring description and photo.

You will also find the fine print there, too, but here’s some to get you started: No purchase necessary to enter or win. One entry per person. Void where prohibited by law. Contest submissions will be accepted from May 1 through August 1, 2007. Entrant must both author their description and take the photo submitted

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Curtis B. - Weatherford, TX

The Hermosa Feat It was a long drive from Texas. It seemed even longer because I needed my fix. This was part family vacation part mountain biking trip for me and we had driven hundreds of miles over two days to get here. While in the car I began to get that antsy feeling from sitting still too long and would start daydreaming of dirt moving fast under my wheels while hearing that “pssst” sound of a fine tuned fork in action. I love that sound. I wanted to sweat and feel my legs burn. I wanted to long for the end of a ride due to exhaustion. I was ready. I didn’t bring my bike so after arriving in Durango I set off to the local bike shop to check out my options. While there I went through the conundrum of deciding which bike to rent and then opted for a Diamondback hardtail which gave me a lighter ride that was equipped with disc brakes and a good component set. It also looked nice and sturdy. When we finally arrived at the trailhead I got out of the car to unload my bike and could see the doubletrack slowly curve out of sight next to the creek. The air was crisp and I could hear the faint sound of water rushing over rocks in the distance. Green mountains folded upwards on both sides of the meadow. It was a perfect summer day to ride in Colorado. Huge butterflies had been clamoring around in my stomach all morning, and they really went wild during the twenty-minute dirt road drive from Durango Mountain resort to the trailhead. The occasional “bear warning” sign made me even more nervous. And since my wife wasn’t a bike rider I would be riding this one alone. It’s not that I mind riding alone. Sometimes I actually prefer it because it allows me to think and to soak up my surroundings. It also awakens my sense of adventure by knowing that I’m on my own without someone to bail me out of a mechanical failure, forcing me out of my comfort zone. But on this day I was in unknown territory. It was also bear territory, and I fear the bear. And it wasn’t just fear of the predator or the mechanical failure that had my pulse racing. It was also the excitement. I had anticipated this ride for some time after my research on the Hermosa Creek Trail. The descriptions “most classic trail in Colorado” and “Epic ride” fueled my anticipation, which gave me more to wonder about during the drive from Texas. I said goodbye to my wife and daughter with an “I love you and hope to see you again” look in my eye. I planned to meet them at the other end-25 miles down wilderness lane. With a serious amount adrenaline now pumping into my veins I hopped into the saddle and pushed off into the unknown. I wasn’t one hundred yards into the trail when two four wheelers zipped around me. This was a multi-use trail, allowing bikes, hikers, horses and to my surprise, four wheelers. But soon I was out of the meadow and engulfed into the mountains. And as the trail began to narrow and wind around, I wondered what had happened to the four wheelers, knowing that they couldn’t fit on the trail that had become tighter singletrack. I was relieved to know that I wouldn’t be dealing with exhaust and noise again during my epic ride. But then suddenly remembered that it was just me out here by myself and of course, the bears. This kicked my adrenaline into high gear, helping me to set a nice swift pace. As the mountains swallowed up the trail, it began a gradual descent. This gradual descent then became the perfect downhill. Just steep enough to fly downhill fast and long but not over the top “what am I doing here”crazy. It was perfect. About the time my arms felt like they were going to fall off from gripping on the bars, I would get a climb. And it was always a good one. I had always heard about great “roller coaster” trails. I think this trail could be classified as one of those. Now, one of the best things about riding a new trail is having no idea what’s coming up next. This trail was a master at keeping me wondering about what lay around the bend. There was something new and interesting at every turn. Swift downhill sections with roots and rocks followed by unexpected tight switchback climbs, creek crossings, and perfect bench cut singletrack along the side of a mountain with the visibility just far enough ahead to wonder what was next. I rode fast and furious, making the occasional noise or talking out loud so as to scare off the bears. Well, it made me feel better anyway. I just knew that I would come flying around the corner and come face to face with a surprised brown hairy creature with huge paws and long claws. Then what would I do? You hear just enough about what to do in a bear encounter to become more confused. Do you ride like hell in the opposite direction? Drop to the ground and play dead? I’ve heard of deadly endings to both scenarios but since I live in Texas, the thought of crossing paths with a bear while riding is never a concern. So I decided that if I did have an encounter I would just end up doing what you’re not supposed to do-climb a tree. Trying not to think about it I started concentrating more on my ride. But it wasn’t long before I got the sudden sense that I wasn’t alone on the trail. I heard rustling up ahead and could see slight movement but couldn’t distinguish any features. Fortunately, as I got closer I could see that it looked like wheels instead of big feet. What a relief! Bikers. I was probably two hours into the ride before encountering my first of only a few mountain bikers that I would see during the whole ride. I stopped to chat with the couple who were riding in the opposite direction. They assured me that there were no brown hairy beasts on the trail up ahead. At this I began to relax. After another 30 minutes or so of racing down hills and meandering, things began to change a bit. Let me just say that the last third of the trail consisted of some of the more challenging climbs I have ever encountered. They weren’t just steep. I think the word “relentless” came to mind. I’m sure you know the feeling. Your legs have been pumping up long switchback climbs. The burn starts, and the downhill never comes, so you continue to climb. But these are the moments that create a sense of accomplishment. So I pushed on, all the while being amazed at the variety, not only of the trail features but of the scenery as well. When the reviews said “classic ride” they were right. It met all my expectations. Getting to fly down hills on perfect rolling singletrack and then having my butt handed to me on the switchback climbs was even further enhanced by the surroundings of the beautiful San Juan National Forest in Colorado. I was also impressed with my ride. The bike was proving to be a good choice. It felt stiff and confident. It also climbed like a goat and had great breaking action. As I struggled up one of the long climbs a family on horseback passed me. I had almost forgotten that the trail was a multi-use trail and was surprised at how much I welcomed the existence of the equine companionship. In a state of exhaustion and delirium I wished for a moment that I was on top of one of the horses, letting it’s muscular hind legs do the work on the climb. But after a much needed break I came to my senses and cranked on up the hill. It wasn’t long before I began to see signs of a possible trailhead in my future. A couple of hikers and a biker made their way in the opposite direction and the trees began to thin out a bit. This was a sign that something man made could be up ahead and it was a good thing because my legs were beginning to tell me that enough was enough. My water supply was nearing it’s end and my only gue pack had long since been consumed as had my peanut butter sandwich. Before I knew it the trail was opening up into a national park. The trail review had recommended allowing three to five hours for this one-way trek. I had done it in three hours. No mechanical failure, no crash and no bear attack. Success. Almost on cue, a light rain began to fall through the tall pines. I took shelter to wait and within minutes caught a glimpse of a familiar car driving down the forest road towards me. This was a welcome sight indeed. This day I learned the elements that make up a great ride and the reason I do it. They are: the anticipation of the unknown, the unexpected trail variations, and the realization that bears are not around every corner. And last but not least is the end of the ride, which includes a relief to sore legs, a cold beer, and a lasting sense of accomplishment.

Article by Curtis B. , Weatherford, Texas