Posted July 12, 2004
Slop and superstars in Whistler

I've been riding in the mud and enjoying the cool people who come here to play.

Whistler's rejuvenating mud bath
Today the sun is shining and the bluebird of happiness is singing, but on Friday and Saturday rain pelted the new Garbanzo trails. No Joke and Original Sin are steep, rough and technical in the dry. In the wet, they're all that plus slippery as hell.

When a tire rolls into a wet rock or root, it deflects in random ways. So before every random tangle, every slimy stone you have to weight then unweight. A mile of trail entails a thousand micro bunny hops, all the while letting your bike wriggle and writhe beneath you. From behind it looks impossible, wheels following oblique objects until they strike dirt, feet following pedals, shoulders leaning, asses jiving. It's a full body activity, and it requires total focus, not to mention aggression.

Late Saturday we rode the lift up into the clouds and a stiff rain. As the dirt gets wetter and wetter, the sticky soup turns to self-cleaning broth. You still slip on the roots and rocks, but at least you can see them, and at least your tires stay clean.

On the last run, I found that perfect blend of lightness and confidence. My bike slid all over the place, but I stayed clipped in. I unweighted for every slick object, and I pumped the back sides for free speed. The trail looked outrageous -- black muck glommed onto random roots and clung to vertical rocks -- but I charged with utmost aggression. It felt amazing.

No Joke emerged from the woods onto a ski slope. The clouds hovered at our heads, and the sun shone in the valley below. I could feel our altitude and the enormity of the scene, yet I knew this was a ride of details. Back to the roots. Weight, unweight, slip, slide, pop and hop through the glop.

It didn't rain Sunday. The mud congealed into dinosaur poop. It caked the tires, it offered no traction and it covered every rideable surface. This was a completely different scene: Way harder, just like the day before, only more so. Still, we had some fantastic, ludicrous, stupefying runs.

Today I'll let my muscles heal and the dirt dry. Tomorrow the trails will be smoother, faster and more flowy. And so will I. I feel like a new rider. If I can charge in that crazy muck, I can charge anywhere.

Random meeting: Glen Plake
We were hanging around after Mongolian BBQ, just chatting with a ski film maker, and this guy comes walking up. White hair with red tips hung from his baseball cap, and he had the snappy movement and bristly build of an athlete.

"Hi, my name is Glen," he said, and a diamond shone from his left front tooth. Glen as in Glen Plake, legendary hot dog skier, mohawk wearer and all-around funhog.

He lives on a big piece of land near Fallon, Nevada. He has a lake, on which he skis slalom almost every day. He has a motocross track, on which he rides moto almost every day. He, of course, skis all the time in Tahoe or Mammoth or, like now, in Whistler. He's been goofing around and filming up on the glacier.

A fifteen minute chat revealed the exceptional coolness of this 40-year-old and exposed his views on a number of important topics:

Motocross: He just bought his first four-stroke motocrosser, a Honda CR250F, which he loves. "It rides like a 125, only you don't have to shift. A two-stroke is faster if you have the technical skills, but a four-stroke is faster for me." Glen is helping to preserve the Mammoth outdoor motocross track, which has lost it forest service permit after 29 years, hopefully as a destination resort for moto heads. Can you imagine driving out from Ohio to ride some sweet moto with the mohawked

Mountain biking: "I tried it for the first time up here a couple weeks ago, on one of the beginner runs. The first thing I did was go for the clutch and grab a handful of front brake. Forget about it."

Fashion: "Dayglow colors are coming back. My new ski boat isn't quite dayglow green, but it's right there." He pointed to my orange Fate jacket and said, "That's on the line."

Living: "It's a good life."

Amen, brother.

Here's a good story about Glen Plake.
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