Secret Agents Ride Bikes Too

24 hours in Old Pueblo pops up in the desert near Oracle and operates as a Mecca for bicycle enthusiasts all over.  Within a period of 24 hours, the desert landscape blossoms with RV’s of every size and shape.  In this temporary bicycle utopia, people do not walk, that is unless their bike has a flat tire.  People know you by your bike more than by your name.  When you meet somebody, you try to subtly check out their bike, looking it up and down as you talk to them.  In short, it is a bicycle party.

We wandered around from campsite to RV supersite and hung out with folks from all over.  Some people were there to seriously compete, but most of the people were there really just to have a good time, ride some laps and meet good people.  Our home was at Hobo camp with the eccentric crowd from

Flagstaff, right above the town’s Pay-N-Take trailer where coffee and brew flowed freely. 

We were hoping to snag a spot in the race, and ride legitimately on the trails.  But had no luck.  We spent a good amount of our time volunteering to help get the race in order.  Dug holes, put up fences, constructed tents, etc.  They gave us lots of free food, but the race director, Todd would not let us into the race. 

Since we had gotten there 3-4 days before the race, there was plenty of time to ride the trails without having to share with hundreds of other racers.  The trail was very smooth and flowy, without any serious technical sections, except for one drop at the end of the 15 mile loop.  A steep rock face with a small drop at the end, then multiple boulders to dodge on the flats below.  Easy enough in the daytime with plenty of sleep, but potentially difficult at night or after 24 hours of riding.

Sean was riding some laps a day before the race, and went down the rock face smoothly enough, until he hit one of the boulders.  He would have probably just pedaled right over it but his head tube completely snapped off and sent him rolling across the ground in front of hundreds of onlookers.  His Dean Titanium frame saw its last mile.

Within a matter of minutes, Scooby, from Fetish cycles hooked Sean up with a Fetish frame for only 50 bucks and the Fetish mechanic was building it up from the broken Dean.  In about two hours Sean was back on his bike riding again.

We really couldn’t have been having a better time at the race, unless we got a spot in the race.  We watched the chaos of the lemonds start with a couple hundred bikers running to get their bikes.   Our friend Fuzzy, who won the Single Swizzle in an absurdly inhuman time frame, was won of the first guys out.  Bryce from AZ bikes out of

Flagstaff calmly walked towards a beautiful Coconino Cycles cruiser that is proudly displayed in the Pay-N-Take.  With a great big smile he got on and pedaled his way toward the single-track horizon.

And then I noticed Goat chattin’ up with a couple who claimed they were freelance journalists there to cover the race.  They were regular pedestrians without bikes, which should have given us concern, with hindsight.  However, we were just so elated to be at this huge bike party, we didn’t think twice.

 “We are here to cover the race, and saw your bikes, thought there must be a good story,� Todd, the “journalist� said.  His hair was cut short and he was wearing trendy department store clothes.. 

Goat entertained his comment with a brief summary of our trip, “We rode them all the way from

Alaska.�

 “Can I get a picture of the three of you?� He asked, looking around for the Sean. 

“I’m just a freelance journalist, don’t work for any specific newspaper, but would shop around and find a good paper.�

Sean came over for the quick photo and was about to walk away, against the wishes of our “benevolent� media source.  He wanted another photo.

Somewhat paranoid about the media folks writing inaccurate and misleading articles, I wanted to know a little more about his intentions, “Who are you thinking about sending….�

I was interrupted by Todd and his lady friend pulling out their necklace badges.   They started reading out our names, including our middle names, and handing us a 20 page pamphlet of paper titled, “The United States of America vs. Jacob Thompson�

We stood there dumbly as he explained that we were given a summons to show up in federal court in 4 days.  And he wanted to know if we had any questions.

 “Wow. So is this usual for you guys to go undercover and track people down for riding their bikes?�  I asked incredulously.

 “Eh.. well. No.. not really.  We usually only deal with felony cases.�  He replied, as he looked over at his female co-worker who seemed un-amused by our humor.         

 They wanted to make sure we would make it to Flagstaff, “We can store your bikes and give you a ride to the greyhound station.�

My field of vision seemed temporarily shattered, like the sky had cracked and tumbled into pieces.  All I could see were these two federal narks standing in front of me with the rest of the world blurring away.  I tried to reserve my frustrations, “These bikes are everything we own, you could probably understand that you’re about the last person on earth right now that I would trust with my bike.  Hmm.  Why don’t you give us a ride up to Flagstaff?�

 “That’s not part of my jurisdiction.  I am only supposed to deliver the summons, offer to take you to the greyhound station and store your bikes.� He said in a robotic tone as if he had pressed play on a government tape.

 “Wow.  That’s swell.   So you want us to bike back a couple hundred miles up hill to

Flagstaff?�  I asked.

 “Yep.  If that’s what it takes.� He replied.

 “Well it was real swell meeting you.  I hope you have a real nice day.� I said while clenching my teeth “you gonna stick around to enjoy the race?�

Mission accomplished.  Our secret agent friends vanished into the crowds.