We could have waited another year and a half to start re-running the infamous Sh*tbike Challenge. March 2018 marks 10 years since the Softride first graced the pages of Bike, but celebrating an eight-and-a-half year anniversary just seems, well, quite a bit shittier. So, without further ado, here is Sh*tbike Challenge, Part II–straight from our May 2008 issue.
My groin was sore, my vision blurring and to make matters worse, I had been ditched by my Bike magazine teammates. They were out savoring Moab’s world-class slickrock, cruising classic trails like Porcupine Rim and Jackson’s while I, the lowly intern, was racing a booger of a bike at the 24 Hours of Moab.
“Oh yeah,” they told me. “We’ll be back before you finish your first lap.”
When I finished my first 15-mile lap, I returned to an empty campsite. The race was supposed to be a team effort–camaraderie, solidarity, group-unity type stuff. We’d prove to the naysayers that you don’t need a wonder-bike to have a good time. We were going to race our ghetto rig around the clock. We were going to prove how tough we were.
But when the reality of racing a 1998 beater for 24 hours sunk in, my teammates abandoned me in a valley of sand and rock. With no one else around I pushed through and rode a second lap. Every time I hit a bump, the fork threw me backward and the flexy carbon “seatpost” bucked me in the crotch.
After about 30 miles, I felt lethargic and unmotivated. It was getting dark. My so–called teammates had reappeared and were hanging around the campsite, eating and having a good time. None had any intention of even touching the Softride.
I had planned on riding another lap, but it was dark and cold, and I was tired. Why should I go back out now? I was beaten. That’s when I saw a small fi nger pointing at my bike. “Hey,” said a little girl on a tricycle. “That guy’s on a dorky bike!”
Her Lycra-clad parents began to laugh uncontrollably. At that point my ego fizzled to nothing. She was right, of course. I smiled and thought, what the hell. One more lap might not be so bad. I set out with strong intentions and planned to ride through the night. Then my light system died and I finished my last lap in the dark.
If I can offer any advice to the next Sh*tbike rider, it’s this: Be prepared to ride long distances alone. Like a leper, this bike will draw stares, but people will eventually run from it. I did too. After that last lap, I stashed the bike behind our tent and joined my teammates around the campfire.