UCLA Group Ride - 1/9/1999|
I got a call from Steve at 9 am Saturday morning, saying that Ryan Leech and Jeff Lenosky are gonna be riding at Redondo Beach later, so of course I got my butt out of bed and tossed the bike in the car, picked up Steve and went down. About half an hour after we got there, we see the Norco team van with 3 stock bikes up on the roof rack come into the parking lot.
We were all introduced to the men themselves... Ryan Leech, Jeff Lenosky, and Reed Merschat. Ryan is awesome! He's really nice, humble, unbelievably funny, and unbelievable to watch ride. Jeff is a screwball, never serious, and seeing him bunnyhop onto stuff and do big gaps is just plain sick. Reed is the most talkative one, and a very good rider, to boot. This guy named Garen Becker was riding with them, he's also cool, and can pull of some big moves.
We started riding around Ruby's restaurant and worked our way north along the shore. There was a wheelchair ramp with rails on both sides. Jeff did it a couple of times on film, which was sick... A wheelbase gap off of a rail.. no biggie to him. He sidehopped up to the bar (with a 90 degree twist of course), gapped to the other rail, and landed flat and soft (on purpose). Even on the jetty, Ryan and Jeff make it look so easy, going from boulder to boulder. Near the end, coming back on the jetty, Ryan tried to do this huge up onto a boulder, but couldn't quite keep his composure, so then Jeff went at it and did it, and then Ryan went again and got it, too. What's really cool is to see how they challenge eachother. I think their riding styles complement eachother well.
I recommended, of course, that we ride at UCLA, since both Ryan and Jeff like urban stuff a lot more than natural stuff. There was some initial concern about getting kicked off campus by police, but I cleared that up as being something very unlikely on a Saturday right before school was going to start up, since there aren't very many people around.
After a lunch at Subway, which Jeff complained about, we drove in formation up to UCLA. On the freeway, Jeff drove for like a minute or more with his right wheels on the bumps inbetween lanes! He's just a nut... When we got there, we unloaded our bikes, Jon took the handicap spot, I had permit parking (hey I do go to school here...), and I went with Ryan in the van to get a $5 parking permit (which reminds me, parking at the lot at Redondo Beach was $8!! which Ryan and I were bitching about).
Here comes the fun stuff: Jeff road this flat 1.5 inch wide flat rail for about 25 feet and then up the rail (for three stairs) and lands in the bushes and hops out no problem. Jeff also did a sidehop up to both wheels onto a waist-high wall by the parking lot. Ryan did it too, but went to his pedal and then up. Once up there, Ryan attempted to gap to the handicap rail (same kind as the one Jeff rode straight). First time, he was a little short on distance and landed on his feet in the middle. Second time, he got far enough, but his tire slipped on the rail, and he fell in between the rail and the next rail, knocking his watch off his wrist somehow. He was ok (it was a HARD fall, it came out on film, I'm pretty sure it's gonna be in the next Revolution vid...), just shaken up pretty good.
We went up past Powell and over to some trees, which to my amazement, Jeff and Ryan rode up. Ryan made it all the way first, actually going up and over to a branch and then side-hopped off (6 foot drop to grass). It's gotta be in the video, it's just so unbelievable looking. We went to the fountain at the Quad (Royce and Powell), and they did the whole fountain section (not very hard), and even rode on the wall overlooking the Jan (sp?) steps, which has these weird sphere concrete things at a couple points, which Ryan did without even touching his bashring.
The ride ended when it started getting dark around 4:30 and Reed couldn't film anymore. We all went back down to the parking lot and talked for about 20 minutes. They might come back and do some more filming at UCLA. I hope so! There's a lot more cool stuff that they haven't even seen.
I took Garen's bike with me to my dorm room, so he could compete the next day with us at the local Fontana event. Steve slept over in my absent roomate's bed, and the next morning we picked up Garen (around 8:30 AM) from the Super 8 hotel in Ceritos they were all staying at (Ryan and Reed in one bed, Jeff in the other), and went to Fontana (this is technically a different story now, but oh well...).
Now guess who was at Fontana? Sean Miller! There was also this French UCI rider (ranked 6th), who kicked Sean's butt in stock (2 dabs the whole day), and was really nice. (He might come ride UCLA on one of the Tuesday rides...). Well, this is funny, the French rider just now called me on the phone, asking for Daisuke! He called the wrong number, but he remembered me and we chatted for a while (the nicest guy!). He probably won't be able to make it to a UCLA ride (too late for him), but he's gonna be at the next Fontana event on January 24th. Ha ha ha, I can't believe he just called as I was writing about him.
Oh, not that you care, but I got 2nd in Sport Mod, beating Pedro and Chris, but losing to Zak (he's so good at natural stuff!). I was really ecstatic, because I improved so much during the competition (first loop I 5'd every section, but by the last loop I got a bunch of 3's (4's)).
A while after the competition, Sean Miller (on his Monty stock) and Garen tried to bunnyhop to bashguard into the downhill truck (about 52 inches high!). Garen made it up finally, but Sean never did. Amazing... All in all a trials weekend I will never forget!