Super Grassroots rider Ryan Gardner Wins a Fast Paced Group Ride

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Beacon Hill defending fast group ride winner Jay Memmelaar Photo: Jamie Lee

There are not many places that I would rather be than the Northeast in fall. Ripping dusty, dry, laps in California had me feeling pretty homesick for good friends, brightly colored leaves, and trails filled with big ass rocks and roots. These ideas were playing through my head for a few weeks before I was reminded that it was also Beacon Mega Avalanche season. If you have not heard of the Beacon Mega, I’m not surprised. It’s a small community rac…. Errr “fast paced group ride” devised by Anthony Coneski, an absolute shredder (on his Process 153) and one of my oldest friends. The ride starts at the top of Mt Beacon, the mountain that taught me to ride, with about 50 friends. Well technically, the ride starts the night before with a raging costume dance party complete with a solid DJ set from Jon Miles of Peoples Bicycle, the local Kona shop.

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Photo: Rosie Edreira

Anyway, for those who survive the night (which is not everyone, Coneski himself was taken out in an unfortunate dancing accident) the format is mass start with all riders’ hands touching the fire tower, and bikes located about 50 yards away. At the signal the mad dash is on. People sprint to their bikes over slickrock and boulders. The lucky few get out in front early, the rest get caught in the jumble of riders all jockeying for position, and anything goes. The route sends riders down boulder fields covered with orange and yellow leaves, tires go flat, blocks are made, carnage happens. After making it through the gamut of Mt. Beacon, riders are dumped onto a road and given free reign over the route to the finish. The result is a mass of riders sprinting through parks, backyards, and down main streets as they find their way to Bank Square Coffee House where they need to finish a beer before their time stops. Riders employ a variety of strategery, some sprinting hard to the finish, others drafting and keeping their heart rates low for the beer chug. Getting passed on the beer chug is the ultimate demoralizer.

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Photo: Rosie Edreira

The whole event is exactly what mountain biking should be. It’s a bunch of good friends, riding at least a little over their heads, and heckling the shit out of each other, all for bragging rights for the year and nothing more. If you ever get a chance to attend an event like this, you need to. Or better yet, get one started yourself! As for me I am beyond stoked to know this killer group of people. I had a rad run trading the lead with my racing mentor Jason Memmelaar (stealing all his lines) before putting in just enough space on the road to take the King of Beacon title (thank you CX). As an added bonus I got to share the victory with repeat Queen of Beacon and amazing friend, Kendra Wheeler!

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Photo: Rosie Edreira

Opening Photo of King and Queen of Beacon. Photo: Brittany Mustakas