Remember the cartoon horse El Kabong, Quick Draw McGraw’s Zorro-esque alter ego who swings in on a rope and smashes villains with his guitar? That's what came to mind when I first laid eyes on the Softride as it sat there sporting a fresh Moab-red pinstriped dirt suit and a 24-hour necktie—damn, some poor fool just got El Kabonged for 24 hours! In comparison, my assignment was looking less painful: Take the Sh*tbike to Minneapolis, and ride in the Homey Fall Fest.
Once in town, it was time to give the bike a Minneapolis Mafia tune-up by jettisoning the gears and adding a Singleator, then hitting the town for a little pub crawling. I have to say, the Softride may have found its true calling that night, floating me from pub to pub on a booze-and-beam suspended cloud.
The Homey Fall Fest is a celebration of beer, bikes and fall. By noon things got rolling, with a lot of costumes and plenty of cross-dressers in the crowd. The Sh*tbike handled beautifully and I think it was starting to feel good about itself—for the first time in its life, probably, it wasn't the shittiest bike at the party. Then we hit dirt. And the Sh*tbike lost its sh*t.
You can adapt to the bounce and sway on smooth terrain, but trying to stay upright over rocks and roots is an exercise in sadomasochism. My floundering drew skepticism and brought attention to the beam bike. "Didn't Geno and Bob Roll make a lovechild on one of those things?" asked Hurl Everstone from Cars-R-Coffins, noting that local shop owner Gene Oberpriller and Bob Roll both raced for Softride at points in their careers. Adding insult to injury, artist Steve Smith jabbed,"I've seen Simon ride a lot of things well but never a whale dick so proficiently."
I had taken a break from the beating the Sh*tbike was handing me when someone initiated the call for feats of strength. I hid, but was found by photographer Kelly Mac who goaded me into riding. Feat #1 was to ride up a rocky, very wet and slippery creek. I didn't make it. But pro bull riders only have to stay on for 8 seconds, so I'm claiming my 15-second romp as a victory.
Eventually, the homebrews gave way to PBRs, the fires got bigger, the Sh*tbike somehow got plastered with stickers, and we eventually pedaled out of the dark woods and into the city, where once again the bike floated me home, a bruised thigh and sore ass the only reminders of my duel with El Kabong.