Saturday, December 18, 2010

Disaster (Narrowly) Averted, Again

The bonfire was laid, most of the provisions were staged, and the trail to the firepit was lit by kerosene torches that KO had thoughtfully placed every 20' along the treacherous 25° downhill section. Four years worth of experience were paying off with a smooth running operation. Who would have thought that near disaster would strike before we even saddled up for the opening event?

Site of the Near Disaster
KO was shuttling some last minute supplies to the bonfire site. He was on a 4WD ATV pulling a toboggan loaded with firewood, propane, and kerosene. The downhill section was tricky, and the toboggan clipped one of the torches, dumping about a quart of burning kerosene into the dry underbrush. We fought the spreading fire valiantly, trying to stomp it out with our feet and then to smother it with the toboggan. Luckily, and to KO's credit, have had included a fire extinguisher in the load of combustibles and was able to extinguish the fire before it become a headline.

Kirk's Colorful Custom Light Setup
With disaster averted, we hooked up a couple of loaner lights and KO rigged his custom light setup. Eleven riders shoved off in the 25° temps for the obligatory loop down the Struble, up the Quarry Trail, and back down Blue Trail for the mad dash "home" to the comfort of the beer and bonfire. One rider defied physics by riding in shorts and two left-hand fingerless gloves. While we had no "mechanicals" we did have one "electrical" (a dead light) through a nasty section of railroad ties, which resulted in a front wheel twisting 90° and sending one rider flying after jamming him in the stomach with the bar end. That's basically a punch in the stomach, followed by a body slam onto the frozen ground, all in total darkness.

8' Bonfire
We completed the circuit and were greeted by DC on our return (he had a busy day). We ignited the fire (flames estimated at 8' high), commenced aggressive rehydration, began devouring the pot of piping hot chili that MR had lovingly prepared the night before, and then settled in around the bonfire.

I know a lot of people were there to see the much ballyhooed fire jumping contest, but it never got off the ground. It's always a challenge to find someone to kickoff that particular competition, and with AS out and MR retiring early, we were utterly lost.  But this is an industrious lot, and it did not take long to find a new mind-numbingly-stupid activity to fill the void. It had something to do with improvised fireworks, and it culminated in a glowing mortar fragment bouncing off JR's chest, leaving his eyes as big as saucers and a neat (and no doubt hard to explain to the wife) burn hole in his sweater. Luckily we closed that chapter before anyone got seriously disfigured.

MM Entry
MR Entry
SM Entry (burning)
Of course, in addition to the adolescent behavior traditionally exhibited at this event, we enjoy more cerebral pursuits. Like the best beer presentation. This year's entries were well executed and covered a lot of ground:
  • Entry #1 - Jenna's ample cousin Delila (beer in hand thanks to KO and a roll of duct tape) was strong in the category of "anatomical curiosities." The cerebral element came to play when the disoriented group realized the only reliable way to find your way is to "check which way the feet are pointing."  Everyone agreed this was a profound and useful insight,
  • Entry #2 - A festive comic-book themed beer rack was a welcome G-rated counter balance to entry #1. 
  • Entry #3 - the combination porta-potty/beer cooler complete with cup holder, DBDC monogrammed toilet paper, magazine rack, baby-wipe dispenser, and mountain bike tire accent on the movable lid.  
If the competition were based on points alone, entry #3 would have won hands down, but alas the "must burn" requirement was not met by either of the last two entries, so the title was awarded, on a technicality, to Entry #1.

The remainder of the evening (and morning) were consumed primarily by bike porn (guys gushing over TH's long travel fork), KO's uselessly frozen elastomer fork, and the occasional exploding (frozen) beer. Temperature at this point had dipped to 15°. We reluctantly threw in the towel around 3:00am.

Thanks to everyone who braved the elements last night, and especially to MR for the most awesome chili, to MM, SM, and MR for their competitive and creative spirit, to KO for letting us trash his back yard, and to everyone else for riding bikes in this stupid cold weather, and making the event memorable.


"We all get it in the end"
     - unknown


  1. A simple newbie blunder - not burning my presentation! Very sneaky of SM to tape a bottle onto Delila's hand (thus qualifying her as a presentation, correct?) then quietly toss her onto the fire late in the evening! Well I'll bring the presentation back next year - can't promise it will be clean - and we'll all watch it "burn baby burn"!

  2. Oh, and kudos to all who brought this together - especially CD the Master Blogger, MR the Master Chili Chef, and KO the Master Fire Marshall. Well done, count on me being a repeat offender next year!

  3. A little history on the rules. Year one DC brought a pail of Rolling Rocks. His wife set him up with it, she bought into the "beer exchange" angle. So not to be out done, SM brought the beer in his wife's Longerberger basket ($$). In the "heat" of the moment, we burned the basket and a tradition was born. So it's not an arbitrary rule, it is grounded in a proud tradition!