A Winter Garden of Friends

Jun. 01, 2001 By Greg Lonero

Over the years I have spent in Colorado I have come across many groups of riders. Some of the encounters have developed into good friendships though most of the friendships would end up being seasonal and limited to the weekend rides. Over time I have weeded through several of these groups to come up with a core group of friends that I would not trade for anything. There are several things I enjoy about our gang. The first is the personality traits, all ?A types.? Everyone excels in their profession. The second is the iron that is unloaded at the trailhead. Not one machine is stock and the changes throughout the year are constant and costly, or is it constantly costly? And lastly, these guys are the wildest and most hysterical guys to be around. Nothing is sacred and you better have thick skin.

With my winter now officially over... thanks to an ogre at work shaking a drum stick at me with one hand and washing it down with a jelly donut in the other, while terminating my employment, I ended my season April 9, 2001. This was 60 days earlier than last year. Yikes! So, before I begin my summer routine, and the countdown till next winter, I thought I would reflect and share with you one of this year?s adventures.

It was mid November, and we all had candles burning in a vigilant prayer for the centuries worst blizzard. We were hoping for a storm that would knock power out, paralyze the city then the freeze water pipes of every extreme, green, hypocrite eco-nut that drives an SUV and hates snowmobiles. Then, finally dumping so much snow that huge avalanches would come barreling down from the mountains, covering Denver and 1/3 of the western plains in a sea of snow. But it never happened and we were stuck with a weekly squirt of 3 or 4 inches of crap snow. And finally after a 4 week delay in waiting for the snow, we headed for the hills for our first ride.

The first couple rides we were confined to trails because of the lack of snow. Then as the jet-stream changed so did the frequency of good mountain snows and were we ready for them. Usually after a large snowfall we attempt to ride in areas that are flatter in terrain, reducing the risk of avalanches. Amazing to think collectively we have enough brain cells that this is the only sane thought that flashes through our adrenaline pumped brains and bodies prior to the weekend.

It was early December and we got our first big dumping. Over 2 feet of fresh powder and we decided to go to Church Park. A flat area loaded with large meadows. We unloaded the sleds and headed into the back country. For this trip there were six of us. We were about 3 hours into our ride when we decided to stop and take one of our usual breathers and refreshing the body from dehydration. As we?re doing the usual badgering, one of the riders, Shawn, decides to take a health break, and being among his friends decides that he can do his business right next to his sled. The problem is that right next to his sled is Jimmy McCann?s sled, and perched high on the seatt of Jimmy?s sled is Jimmy, standing on the seat like a vulture in a tree waiting to destroy his pray. Because of Jimmy?s towering posture atop his seat, he caught all of our attention at once, and as if on cue, he launches himself from his sled, over Shawn?s sled and knocks Shawn into the snow, still in the middle of his health break. Not only was that the most cold hearted thing I ever saw, poor Shawn wet himself and got the real chilli willi.

We were laughing so hard we could barely hold ourselves upright. Its moments like that which keep me going through the summer. I had not doubt our laughter could be heard into the next valley.

The tales to tell of the group are endless. The laughter is continuous and the ends to which we go to get a rise out of the other is limitless. I can honestly say that most folks I know have no idea what it is like to hang with a bunch of guys that know how to live life and love life to its fullest. It is truly an amazing group. The ages go from guys in their 30?s to those in their 50?s and on any given day, the gene pool freezes over and you get a chance to see some of the wackiest practical jokes, greatest cornice jumping and hill climbs that money can buy. God I love this sport.


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