*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

Monday, July 16, 2007

Jennifer W. - Gallup, NM

These are not the animals I’m supposed to fear running into on a trail! Bears, mountain lions, coyotes, dogs, wolves, squirrels (ok, well, maybe not squirrels – unless they get stuck in your spokes as they try to get from one side of the trail to the other and end up pitching you off of your bike. I've heard of this happening. Why did the squirrel cross the trail? Because he was nuts.). Those are the animals you can fear running into. But these? I’m at a halt. Do I pass? Do I yell? What do I do? This situation is totally ruining the flow of this trail. Up until this point I was rolling away on high desert singletrack in the hills by Gallup, New Mexico. My trail of choice is called Quaking Aspen. I had just zipped down a section of trail that flows from a small pond and through some tricky technical sections where I have almost flown heaven bound off of my bike on several occasions, but always leaves me wanting to come back for more to find the perfect line, when I ran into this guy. No one would believe this is so close to the dry, dusty desert town of Gallup. The trail swoops past green mountain fields, cuts through groves of aspens, brushes junipers and tunnels up and down rocky sections. A few days ago, I had encountered a few lumps of these animals lounging about in the afternoon heat beside the trail as I pedaled by wishing the water was cooler in my water bottle, but always wishing the trail would never end as it flowed under my tires and through the aspens. Evidence of them is all over the trails. I should have seen this coming. They obviously enjoy this trail as much as I do. Another great aspect of this trail is that despite having flowing descents, tricky rocky sections, fantastic views and leaving a grin on my face every time, I’ve only ever seen a handful of riders out here. I almost always have the trail to myself. I’m able to pick my speed and sing to the trees if I so please. And, most of the time, I do. In fact, I was singing along to some tunes in my head and enjoying how the unparalleled blue skies of Northern New Mexico contrasted with the red dirt of the singletrack when I viewed through the field ahead, a cow. Yes, the animal that I’m afraid of is a cow. This trail winds around grazing land in the Zuni Mountains and at one point I actually had to lift my bike over a barbed wire fence (Oh, watch those tires! Careful, careful!) that keeps cows separate from each other, but apparently not separate from the trail! At first I thought I would just yell “Cow up! Biker back” and be able to scare them to the side. That is until one actually stopped, turned and stared me down in a 2001 l’Alpe d’Huez Lance Armstrong to Jan Ulrich style. I guess I’m Jan. But I’m not going to chase this guy. Wow. Those are some big horns there, Mr. Bull. Out for a stroll with the Mrs. and your calves today? Yikes. Hmmm….maybe I’ll give them some time, take a seat by the trail and consult the guide a little more. Trail description for Quaking Aspen: Trail Use: Bikers, hikers, and some cattle. Some? What? Did I pick the one day when they are on the trail? Well, he’s off the trail now. But now he’s staring me down. I think I’ll start talking to them. I just want to get back to the smooth single track! Oh, Mr. Bull, please let me pass! I’m a vegetarian! I don’t even eat your kind. But he sure looks like he would love to run me over. I didn’t come to this trail for a reenactment of the running of the bulls. That’s half the globe away in Pamplona. Can somebody please tell that bull about that? Ok, munching on my energy bar now. Sure, it’s only a nine-mile loop, but it offers everything from smooth flowy trail to rocky sections that will make you think twice about the line you pick, and I now find myself with a convenient opportunity for a snack break . All in a day on the Quaking Aspen Trail. What’s this? He appears to be gone. Quick! On to the bike. Full speed ahead. Ahhh…there it is. Nice. Smooth. Flowing. Northern New Mexican single track. Under the blue sky and above the red dirt. And too soon, I’m back at my car.