Night riding was just getting popular back in the early 90's and Advantage Cycles was on it........
Riding was getting to be a more consistent part of my life now and certainly riding with others was part of that. I wasn't, and still am not, real reliant on having to have other folks to ride with, usually due to my whacked out schedule and lack of local friends that are really into riding over the years. (Although lately this has been changing) But back then, riding with others was new to me, and was a big part of my riding at that time.
The folks at Advantage were way into riding off road, which was my preference, and they wanted to ride all the time. In light of this, they were in to night riding long before I had gotten there. Advantage had several light sets on sale and to help foster sales they set up Tuesday Night rides with Vista Light sets that you could rent for the night, or just use if you knew the right people. This helped sell a lot of Vista light sets, but it also got a lot of people into night riding and riding in general. The fact that we almost always hit Toad's Bar and Grill afterwards probably helped that along!
A side story here: It is interesting that Toad's was the choice when "Mainly Lou's" was right near the shop. Well, I came to find out that Tom and a few of the shop rats were not going into Mainly Lou's because it was a "fern bar". I didn't "get it" at first, but later on I came to understand that they meant it was a place where the local homosexual crowd hung out. Well, having been around plenty of homosexual folks in my jewelry days, I thought they were being just silly. In fact, in later years, Mainly Lou's became the preferred bar to hang out in, but Toad's has, and still does attract the lions share of cyclists. (Of course, Mainly Lou's demise a few years ago helped!)
Anyway, here we were doing weekly night rides with these hideously under-candle powered lead acid battery halogen lights, flying through some really twisty trails in the State Park, which just a year or so before had been ticketing riders for riding there. Now that the State was turning the other way, the riding, and the trail building, was taking off at a fervent pace. The lights, being what they were, helped us get into plenty of crashes. New trails helped with the crashing, since we weren't familiar with all of them yet. We had a ton of laughs, and plenty of good times.
I recall one particular ride where I was leading the group and had a rider in hot pursuit on my tail, forcing me to go harder and harder. I figured I could lose him in the really twisty turns, but he was sticking like glue. I upped the ante again, made a bit of a gap, and then....WHAM!
My front wheel washed out, and I flew off my bike to the outside of the turn trying to save it. When I landed, I hit a small sapling with my sternum, snapping it off near the base of it, and I fell with my full weight on the stump. Needless to say, I was out of breath, and motionless. The guy on my tail saw the incident in his dim lights, and to his eyes it looked like the stump had gone into my chest. He immediately jumped off his bike, leaped over to where I lay, wrapped his arms around my chest from behind and clean and jerked my entire dead body weight up to where I was standing on my feet in two seconds. Adrenaline will do that to you!
Well, I was as surprised as he was, and after I could gasp, and he understood that I wasn't impaled, we were all able to settle down and laugh, but that was a pretty tense moment there. Good times!
Night riding at Geo Wyth was and still is pretty fun, but a little back round on the park is tied into bike shops here. That is some pretty interesting history.
Next Week: Rogue Trails and Rebel Riders