Tony cracks a joke about the smoke while Ryan tries to concentrate and Jim’s parked in the landing zone
Tony prepares to gap while the crew watches in anticipation

I am quite lucky, not only because there are a bunch of other trials riders near me, but also because the guys in the local group of riders make the group ride vibe unbeatable. Riding with any single person in the crew is fun. But when we reach a “critical mass” of riders, the chemistry soon manifests with the result being lots of joking around to complement the riding.

Due to schedule issues – and of course the Bentonville Bike Fest – I hadn’t ridden with the group in probably a month. I’d ridden a couple weeks with just Mike in order to practice for the North American Trials Championship before traveling to Bentonville, but the rest of the crew rode on different days (and I had schedule conflicts). So I was glad that my schedule let me ride this past week, and that the weather held out.

Well… it didn’t rain anyway. But the recent forest fires in Canada resulted in nearly a week of hazy, smokey skies. For days the smoke set in like fog, leaving a faint acrid odor, like that of a campfire that has been doused with a bucket of water. Not exactly the most conducive atmosphere (literally!) for either being outside or exerting yourself – or both. But whatever, we wanted to ride!

Since it was overcast (and smoky) with a chance of rain in the forecast, we chose Colonel Ledyard Park, since it dries out more quickly and has stuff you can ride more easily when it’s wet. Oddly enough, as the ride progressed, the smoke actually dissipated noticeably, the sun appeared brighter, and patches of blue sky appeared.

Jim battles a wobbly rock; meanwhile, Tony is lying down on the job

As usual with this group, the joking around started almost immediately: witty commentary, self-deprecating humor, good-natured ribbing, and just general silliness. I tried to capture that vibe in this video to the extent that I could – there’s nothing like actually being there of course – so make sure you watch with the sound turned up.

And that actually reminds me. If you ride trials and plan to be in Southeastern Connecticut, reach out if you’d like to join us in a group ride. It’s always a good time, and we love having guests join us. Of course it’s also an opportunity to be featured in one of our videos as well!


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