Vanity Dies with the Season
Call Me Joey
The banter has been on point. At times vicious, absolutely hilarious, a bit raunchy, 100% friendly, and totally relentless. Pretty much standard for a parade of mountain bikers climbing single track in the pitch black sporting overachieving flashlights. The rain's just starting up but no one's expecting a deluge so the pace is brisk and jovial.
By the time we reach our Tuesday night destination we've been pedalling for an hour and a half. Pads are pulled out, a pump feeds a tubeless tire that's hangry for sealant, and I unpack my chin bar and quietly pop it on my helmet.
That's when the sh*t show actually starts.
I don't need a mirror, the impression I'm leaving is reflected in the eyes of my comrades; the stubble on my upper lip, the chin bar, eyes squinting straight into someone's lamp. Oh, and of course I have removed the visor from my lid. If Matt & Jason were recasting I Only Ride Park I'd have a solid shot at the role of 'Joey' - Squidlid included.
Nope, I didn't break my visor off in a crash. I removed it for a small improvement in helmet light performance on the trail. Yep. Nerd. And, I'm certainly not toggling the peak on-and-off all winter so when a daytime ride warrants the chin bar I'm going footloose and visor free.
I love it. The rain picks up but we're too busy laughing to head down the trail. A beer has come out of someone's pack and it's going to be at least three minutes of abuse before we drop in. I start thinking about all the subtle gear changes that happen this time of year and the suddenly-silent evangelists trying to get away with them.
I see you hip-pack guy. I see you but, strangely, I don't hear you. A mere two weeks ago you were singing the praises of that little black strapless number that is perfect for every occasion but here you are sporting a mid-sized Camelbak complete with a rain cover.
What's stuffed in there? An extra jacket and gloves? Maybe some bonus food. Hopefully a light, as we'll be finishing close-enough to dusk. Maybe a reflective blanket, a flask, and a couple of single-use heat packs in case we need to spend a bromantic night snuggled up in the woods.
I don't ask. I imagine him halfway out the door when the zipper pops open spewing his fanny-packings all over the floor. Or the well-endowed multi-tool puncturing the hydration bladder that somehow stays in place with only a cranked down waist belt.
And now you're standing with I-never-wear-gloves guy who is sporting a fresh set of 100% Briskers debating which front fender option looks the least stupid.
Something witty comes to mind and I'm in the process of forming a sentence when a rider comes around the bend and shouts "nice lid Drew, where's the best place on Upper Oil Can to bust out a backflip?" Before I can release my snide reply, my all-too-fashion-conscious and currently heavily-gloved friend replies, "give the guy a break, everyone gets an off-season pass."
And that about sums it up, my über-aware Enduro-Brah mountain bike fashionista friend. If I can rock shants and a visor-less full face and walk away unscathed, you're probably safe to pack some extra clothes, keep your water source out of the dog sh*t, and be able to feel your brake levers.
There will be plenty of time to rock the smallest stash pouches, gnarliest naked meat hooks, latest colourways, and the largest bucket balconies when the mercury rises and the sun comes out.