Words and Photos by Danielle Baker
There comes a moment in everyone’s lives when you realize you are an adult. Calling home from a truck stop in Vegas because the bank has suspended your debit card for suspicious use (your use) at a strip club is not that moment.
This was how I started my last stint of rig life; winning.
I’d made a quick deal with Sombrio while at Interbike to hitch a ride in their rig. The Sombrio rig is traveling around setting up at events ranging from Crankworx to the Moab Ho-Down and everything along the way. Exactly what was said, I’m not sure, but it went something like this “You guys have a margarita machine and empty seats. I have a camera.” I found out after we left that the margarita machine was only a rental.
The stretch of highway from Las Vegas to San Francisco is where every zombie apocalypse movie was filmed, or at least where the inspiration came from. We passed abandoned houses, schools, warehouses, and amusement parks. We were convinced more than once that we were looking at the abandoned water park from Altered Route (https://vimeo.com/43044223). . . but it never was.
Leaving Vegas I had one big regret; I still hadn’t seen a wild donkey. I’m hopeful for this next trip. I’m going to catch one and name it Frank.
I arrived in San Francisco feeling healthy and hydrated; this is the last time I’d feel that way. Our three days there sort of blended into one long day. We had a solid day of burritos, moustaches, and bar hopping, followed by more burritos, more moustaches, bike shops, Boombotix, baseball, 80’s surf movies, dumpster churros and truck stop dance parties. The photos from these days fall into two distinct categories:
1. Things we talk about.
2. Things we don’t.
North Star at Tahoe
Next we headed to North Star at Tahoe for the Tara Llanes Classic , an event that is important to our biking community and close to our hearts. Every year since Tara crashed during a 4X race and became paralyzed there has been a Tara Llanes Classic. The event raises money for spinal cord research, injury recovery centers, and financial grants for athletes recovering from life altering injuries. This event is something that is important for all of us and we felt very lucky to be involved with it.
After an unexpected mini vacation that included killing it at the local karaoke bar, some golf and a little dirt pumptrack action in Truckee, the boys set up the pumptrack at mid mountain. Sombrio hosted two events; Pumpin’ for Dolla Dolla Bills with CCN (www.ccnbikes.com) and the Industry Cup.
If leaving the desert felt like we were finally safe from a zombie apocalypse, then entering Winnemucka felt like we’d just signed on to the be victims of a 70’s B horror movie. Winnemucka started with massive plates of meat and ended with a meth-head haircut.
Partly out of responsibility and partly out of fear for Winnemucka after dark, I stayed at the rig to work while the boys went to find the brothel we’d seen from the highway (thankfully it was closed. . . yes, brothels do close). Around two in the morning I dutifully sent a text to the boys to make sure they were all right, I had plenty of imagination for what could happen to them in this town. I had about thirty seconds of relief when they staggered through the door, almost instantly I was yanked out of bed by my ankle and had a beer thrust into my hand. I went outside to find Joe-Jay who was having a disagreement with the triple rum and cokes he’d been drinking. It was a proud moment when he took the time between dry heaves to make a pass at me.
The morning passed in a blur of Irish influenced Bryan Adams serenades, shirtless men, broken glasses, and (thankfully) eventually snoring.
It might have been the raging hangover that Steiner was battling or the fact that he was desperate, but something possessed him to get his hair cut the next morning. He didn’t have to go far, only across the street from the truck stop and right next to the giant meat plate place. He came back to the rig with his hair sticking up in random places and bangs flattened to his forehead. Unable to take his eyes off his reflection in the rig mirror he told us about the hairdresser who talked openly about her meth use with friends while cutting his hair. He punctuated the story every so often with a “look what she’s done!”
From then on Winnemucca became a curse word for us. When something didn’t go right, we didn’t feel right or sometimes out of nowhere when we’d have a memory of our time there, we would just look down, shake our heads and say ‘fuckin’ Winnemucca’ under our breath.
I haven’t been to Burning Man yet, but it felt like we were there when we started setting up in the middle of the desert outside of Moab. We might have been missing a few other necessities for it to truly be Burning Man (I kept my shirt on) but we were building something big in the heat with loud music. Putting the track together is a repetitive accomplishment that kept bringing our rig family together and winning us new friends.
Outerbike, run by Western Spirit, allows all the keeners to test out the best of next year’s bikes. An estimated 700 people lined up each day for the gates to open, running to vendor booths to get the right bike in the right size. It was like middle age women at a Neil Diamond concert (or at least like me at a Neil Diamond concert, with less panty throwing).
I left Moab with a quick stop back in Vegas to ride the rollercoaster before flying back to Vancouver. Leaving behind my rig family and all the good times was a lot harder than I’d anticipated and while part of me (and all of my mom) was just glad I’d survived those few weeks on the road, I really couldn’t wait to go back. Now it starts all over again, Rig Life in San Fran! The last time I left San Francisco I was full of inspiration and love for their bike culture. . . and had a stomachache from unknowingly eating dumpster churros outside of the Giants’ game.