El Jeffe Spanks 'Em On Phil's
Alpine Rides Again
Phil's Trail, Oregon
Elevation: 4,100 Feet
Working at Alpine Internet Solutions offers some great perks. One of them is virtually everyone who works there has a love of the outdoors and a touch of extreme sports. It's like we can smell it when we sniff each other's butts first thing every morning. We did finally get a woman to tacitly agree to grace us with her presence, which has improved our cleanliness and personal hygiene a tad. We hadn't done anything as a group since the Curb Job Express last fall and we knew the time was due. El Jeffe, the Ambassador of All Things Fun (invariably ending with Beer), decided to put the trip together.
Personally, I hadn't ever been mountain biking before. Everyone in Bend, Oregon seems to mountain bike and I had always been rather intrigued by it. I didn't have any preconceptions about biking other than I knew it was going to make my dirt button more tender than a ten hour visit with an over-zealous and extremely thorough Turkish Customs agent. I remembered the bike patrolling I had done with the State Police and how those days on the bike could make you unbelievably sore.
Phil's Trail is a decently famous mountain biking system of single and double track trails through a classic high desert forest of Ponderosa Pines, Junipers, sparse manzanita and sage. During the middle of the summer, it's hot, but the both other ends of summer, and fall and spring are as fantastic as it gets. This year had been filled with rain and very low temperatures and summer seemed to come very late, or at least it felt late. El Jeffe asked anyone who wanted to go to get geared up after work and to follow him out Skyliners Road to the beginning of the trail system.
I don't have anything against sport fashion, but bikers have to have the worst fashion sense of all sports...and that is saying something. Rock climbers took the freak road in the 80's and early 90's with a cross-dressing lycra-fest of epic proportion, but mountain bikers and road bikers have taken that fashion statement, oiled it up with salad dressing and dropped it into a kiddy pool filled with tapiocca pudding and a bevy of french midgets. I just don't get it! Seriously. Why the lycra? Is regular clothing that much of a wind drag? I think the colors create more wind drag than the actual clothing. I told El Jeffe if he ever catches me in anything even close to what I see most of them wearing, he has to kick my ass. He chuckles at this, but I know, deep down, Jeffe likes the lycra and the hot pinks. I bet he has a pair of neon green lycra panties that he cuddles up in late at night. Not that I am saying I have pictures or anything, but I could sell some at the right price.
We left work and drove out to the trails early in on a Tuesday evening in the middle of June. Diamond Jim, El Jeffe, the Asbestos Kid and a friend of the flameless one all met at the Phil's Trailhead just off Skyliners south of town. One of my bosses had stepped out of the biking trip and lent me the Purple Beast to use. It was the steel the Devil himself would have ridden into the bowels of hell with a black scarf and a newspaper boy's bell on the front right of the handle bars. And the Devil would have been proud on the Beast. I was just stoked to have a free ride. El Jeffe had given it the once over earlier, kicking the tires and putting his ear to the tines. He said she was sea-worthy but I shouldn't push her too hard, the dilithium crystals could blow at the wrong time.
We hit the trail in good fashion, each of us trying to find some pace that would stay with the other people. Being my first trip, I hit the middle. I found out quickly why people loved doing this. It was like riding your bike when you are a kid all over again. It brought back the memories of riding my Huffy Pro V red and yellow kicker at the Cinnamon Trails in Eugene, Oregon in grade school. You don't ride so much as swoop in between tightly packed trees on a single dirt track trying to keep pace while going up or down hill.
The main group was doing its best not to look like a bunch of pussies, something the Asbestos Kid didn't quite pull off. He doesn't bike on the trails much, but he has done a lot of tricking on the bike. He has a nice bike and he comes prepared. He had on the helmet, gloves, the shirt which takes your sweat and directs it in two running rivulets down your sides, shin guards and thigh pads. It was like the Red Headed Road Warrior...who can't catch on fire. I felt decidedly under-equipped, and the way I couldn't catch my breath even on the slightest of sustained inclines, I was a bit out of shape.
A few miles from the trailhead we reached the Fire Chicken. In Bend, they love to install round-abouts instead of intersections. The Fire Chicken is a round-about sitting in the middle of the forest. Ladened with beads and painted with love, the Fire Chicken gives the right kind of character to the trail. We went down Phil's and caught took Voodoo Canyon down to the terrain park.
The terrain park was built with COTA. It is absolutely cool as hell. We all tackled the terrain park, hitting the large drops and tables. I think I caught a half inch of air off a major hit, but it might have been less. I kept hearing Napoleon Dynamite in my inner ear,
"Dang! You got shocks, pegs - lucky! You ever take it off any sweet jumps?"
My jumps were very similar to Napoleon's.
Also, we decided we are going to push for a beer named after El Jeffe. We are going to use the face below on the beer and call it Jeffe's Heffeweisen, or Jeffe's Heffe.