Written by Andy Jansky ([email protected])
MISSION COMPLETE – In one of NWTA’s longest-standing traditions, we successfully completed the Veterans Day Ride 2021 at Silver Falls State Park. Some thought canceling would be a good idea given the “atmospheric river” pounding the area, but it was nothing for those who have served in the military. Turns out it was a sunny warm day, and the perfectly constructed trails by SATA shed water and were mud-free. Thank you, SATA.
After a thorough safety briefing, equipment check, and introduction by rank (years of mtb experience), the large flotilla started the ride. As part of this multi-force exercise, one person decided to trail run the route. Several new recruits also joined us mountain biking, including a son and his dad.
Proudly festooning the Coast Guard seal, Amand led the ascent on Catamount with Susan, and everyone fell into place. After a few training loops on Newt loop, it was determined everyone had working bikes and a balanced ability to continue. The ride progressed well until the first minor setback when the youngest rider tried to climb a rock obstacle and took a minor tumble. The first scraped knee is a right of passage into mountain biking, and he was ready to shake it off and continue, but they decided it was best to stay closer to the basecamp and finish their ride at their own pace.
The remaining group continued the climb all the while, trying to catch the jackrabbit ladies contingent. A few times during the ride, the word “sand-bag” was discussed as maybe everyone was not truthful in their experience.
Reaching the top as a group, we were surprised to see our trail runner friend enjoying a snack. What? How did that happen? Never passed us, left after us, and went there before us? It turns out he was a submariner; he disappeared, went deep, and would not tell us how he got there before us unseen. It is still a mystery as he could not disclose any details, but it is good to know we have folks that roll (run) like that looking out for us.
The ride down from the top of Catamount is all downhill, except for the up parts, and while not a race there may have been some competitive hooting and bunny hopping. Again the sandbagger was in the lead, proudly representing the Coast Guard.
The next phase of the operation started back at basecamp; the support crew got into full swing with BBQ brats, snacks, and beverages provided by our best Brat cooking team Ted Dodd and Andy Crump, who have cooked more hot dogs for NWTA than any other person. It was fun hearing people talk about their past service and stories and getting to know some new friends in the warm sun. In fact, it was warm and sunny the entire event, until it wasn’t. Some clouds rolled in, and the temp dropped 20 degrees, signaling the end of our summer in November. Some parting gifts were given to the Veterans present, and with that, the 2021 ride was in the books.
You do not need to be a Veteran to participate in the ride, and I bet you probably know one or two and may not even know it. So mark your calendar for next year.