11 February, 2015
King of the Hammers happened again. It tends to do that. What is this fest of the Hammers you refer to? Many skinny spandex attired spinning their legs to no end, groveling over watts, cadence, and Strava times in an effort to be the King of the Hammers?
More like this crowd:
Ahhh yes, my people. The man pointing had a homemade public urination shower curtain type device so he could continue drinking, relieve himself, and not miss out on precious spectating.
Here's what it is:
Aha, instead of watts, KOMs, and cadence, we're talking crawl ratios, displacement, and coil-overs. A very different world. About as far as you can get from pedal driven mountain biking. But if you love suspension, tires, line choice, and getting out there, then it's a splendid place to drown in the unabashed power and full on shamelessness of it all.
Of course Kali was there too. We(e) mountain bikers need safety in numbers when in the presence of real Americans. Plus, Kali actually makes moto gear too, makes it, you know, kinda sorta ok they showed up.
But there was more to it than walking the pits and cooing aloud with delight at how much I'd want to own a beautiful Fox Bronco. Strangely, they didn't want to trade a mountain bike for it, not even one of my less clapped ones. There was serious crawling to be viewed, mischief to be enjoyed.
King of the Hammers is very unique. It combines all-out desert high speed full-on baja style racing with unbelievably serious rock crawling. Competitors blast throw the desert, seething with adrenaline, then have to near stop, gear down, very gratingly and meticulously choose and crawl their way up seemingly impossible rock faces. It's a 165 mile course that has a 14 hour cutoff. There's even an Everyman Class with unmodified rigs. Racers grind into the night scaling and scrambling huge dark boulders, plunging through the desert at 100+ miles per hour. It is crazy.
Things can get mighty jammed up (yes, like Kristin Wiig says in The Californians)and people start winching - nope, not whining. Sometimes, it's a winch train as seen above at Jackhammer.
So, we get inspired and we take to the desert:
If this is crypto, I am sorry. If this isn't crypto, I am still sorry.
There is almost nothing more fun that drifting a big, heavy truck through dirt and sand. Choosing lines, diving down washes, seeing berms and attempting to use them, it almost feels like the fun had mountain biking. You see the big boys do it, then you wanna drive like the big boys which goes great until this happens:
"Nothing to see here folks," says soon to be Deputy Byrom. Somehow this guy is to be race director at The Dirty Sanchez Enduro. Upholding the law and championing something referred to as The Dirty Sanchez? Only this man can achieve that.
It isn't Hammers if Ron of Bicycling Magazine isn't futzing with his rear suspension. Last year it was self-ejecting springs. This year, bottom outs needing shims... or something like that... something only a green Sierra can viewed in the bottom right can fix. I can't talk, I owe Ron big time, he knowingly held my hand and walked me through a section of rocks I shouldn't have strayed into.
This is what happens after a day of inspiration and heeding the "It's totally mellow, duuuude" advice mistakenly. Fortunately, things tend to work out.
And that's just it, raging horsepower, beautiful rigs, not pedaling, gaining even more respect for something seemingly on the polar opposite end of the spectrum from mountain biking (though both camps seem to love their Fox Shox,) watching real Americans, real shenanigans, real crawling, real bonfires, real RVs... a whole lot of real. Here's to even more real, be it pedaled or powered!