*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 30, 2007

Stephen Gleasner - Appleton, ME

He was near the source. This tattooed stranger. His road-hardened face told the story of sunsets and breakdowns. Underpass rainstorms. Bombing through the desert late at night to avoid the sun. He worked on his bike, a big hardtail chopper. Suicide shifter. Not made by a TV personality, and he wasn’t a CPA or a surgeon. He built it himself. It was immaculate. He was not. “What’s your mission?” He asked handing me the heavy air cleaner cover that reflected a distorted world. The sun, his face, mine, all in a brilliant chrome flash. I was a 10 years old kid, fresh from the suburbs on a national parks tour with my parents. He saw a person, not a little kid. It was a vote of confidence. That question got its barbs me. I am 45 now, with two kids. It has been a long time since a mission has ripped me from the cocoon of day to day living. My Mission: Canada to Mexico by mountain bike through the mountains of the Great Divide in the summer of ‘08. Self supported. Thirty days is the allotted time. Thirty days is what came flying out of my mouth. That is what I told my wife it would take, when she came down to find me with Great Divide maps covering in the dining room table. It was 3 am. “You’re serious about this aren’t you?” Now I wonder at the foolishness of it, averaging 80 miles a day for 2,500 miles, off road, in the mountains, loaded with enough stuff to survive. No days off. Total immersion. A total of 200,000 feet of elevation gain. That’s five times the elevation of Mt. Everest. This former racer is biting off a lot to chew. Cool Hand Luke eating fifty eggs come to mind. Friends whisper, “midlife crisis”. The idea of one lunar cycle dedicated to something other than going to the office, continuing education, or rehab. It is just not done. I think this trip beats a red convertible in the driveway. It’s a simple plan. It has my eyes open. My rides are different now. Each ride this summer is puzzle piece of the ‘08 mission. I am looking for a moment. One Zen buzz. That moment is somewhere, out there on the trail, between Canada and Mexico, buried in those thirty days. This trip will be a new fulcrum for my life. When I am done, I will tell the story. Words on paper. A story for publication. An Article , maybe a book. Get some other middle-aged guy to grit his teeth, throw the remote out the window, and pull his dusty bike out of the garage. June of ’08 will find me on a trail that spans our country through some of its most remote areas. Paper directions tell the way. Maps. But the soul of those places remain secret. Maps don’t show the shape of my shadow on the ground as I climb the day’s last slope in the low light, looking for a place to hide out till dawn. Fresh bear shit in the trail. Grizzly country. Maps don’t tell of night and its unclear borders. Noises outside the tent in the dark, how morning, and he promise of camp coffee, is far away. The flashlight beam shows the trail as a wiggly colored line. Mexico is many miles away. The path is full of things I can’t hope to find on the map. Things about this land. Things about me I don’t know yet.