*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

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Michael K. - Martinez, CA

Mt. Diablo. Some 3,800 feet of dirt and granite, towering above the Bay Area. My mission: climbing it, stroke by stroke up Mitchell Canyon trail, walled with tight switchbacks, loose terrain, rocks and rain ruts. Concentration is paramount as my brain buzzes with the same thoughts every time I take on this trail: relax, focus on breathing, keep the front end straight, my rear firmly planted and spin, spin, spin! On a winter day, the cool Northern California air keeps my body and brain invigorated. On a 90-degree summer day, I battle the sweat that drips off my forehead, mixes with sunscreen and rolls into my eyes. I fight to ignore the stinging and feel relief when I pass under a shady tree. Mentally, I divide Mitchell Canyon into three stages. The first stage is steep, winding and slippery. It’s the loose, sandy gravel stuff that washes down from the mountain and makes the rear wheel slip if you don’t carefully plant yourself. The second stage is littered with rain ruts and baseball size rocks, but not as steep. The third and final stage is less steep and smoother – except for the final 300 yards. I have been riding up Mitchell Canyon for five years and consider myself a good hill climber, but the final 300 yards still stump me, both physically and mentally. From a photo or a biker’s vantage point, it looks like an ordinary final stretch of fire road to the ridgeline. Despite my conditioning and concentration, though, this final climb kicks me every time. I always make a point to wave and say hello to hikers during my climbs; we need to protect our sport’s image! But never have I been able to wave and say hello as I pedal past people on this final ascent. One look to the side or one hand off the bars would send me off the trail. The final 300 yards of Mitchell Canyon trail is steep, bumpy and tricky on the eyes. The grade is gradual at first, then it slams you like a wall of dirt. My breathing is fast, heavy and deep as I use my body to balance my bike. My cranks are spinning, spinning and I’m almost there. I’m thinking I’ve got to make this final 50 yards, just like I’ve done so many times before. Knowing a break in focus will mean spinning off into the bushes, I fight the urge to wonder why this final stretch always seems so difficult. The breathing gets heavier, the cranks keep spinning, my forearms are low and my back flat. As I reach the ridge, that special feeling rushes through me – that feeling of conquering a mountain, a physical, technical and mechanical feat. I have proven myself to myself once again, and now it’s time for the payoff: a long twisting downhill with tight single track, steep descents and a half-dozen or so stream crossings. First, though, I must have a seat on the ridge and take in the view of the place where I started a few thousand feet below.