Words by Kristen Gross

Before spending Thanksgiving feasting with friends and family, mountain bikers everywhere know it's a good idea to get ahead of the gluttony. Social feeds are filled with the morning's "Turkey Trots," "Turkey Rides," and "Cranksgivings." And in North County, San Diego, there is the Turkey Hump. Dreamed up by friends Erik DeKold and Kurt Gensheimer (a.k.a. The Angry Singlespeeder), the Hump just finished its fifth year, and it was bigger than ever.

"It started because Kurt was talking about some ride up in the San Francisco Bay area that gathered a thousand people," said DeKold. "Every Thanksgiving morning, they'd ride this crazy climb and have a party at the top, so I said, 'Let's do it.'"

Photo: Kristen Gross

Photo: Kristen Gross

He was talking about the Los Gatos Turkey Ride, which includes a 2,200-foot climb over just seven miles. In North County, the crazy climb is the famous Frank's Peak, and to get to the party, riders crank out about 2,300 feet of elevation.

“My cover was talking about how cool it would be to make our own version of the Turkey Day Ride in Los Gatos,” said Gensheimer. “But really, I was just looking for a good excuse to drink beer at eight in the morning.”

In its first year, eight Turkey-Hump riders made the trip carrying beer and a pie to the top before heading their separate ways to get back to family and feasting. "By the next year, we grew to 15," continues DeKold. "But it was still just our friends, and friends of friends; the following year, lots of people we didn't know showed up."

This Thanksgiving, 64 riders met at the fountain in San Elijo Hills at the crack of 7:30 a.m., welcoming each other with high fives, hugs, big smiles, and chocolate-covered espresso beans, courtesy of Campagnolo's Marty Kozicki. Once the "Passionate Pilgrim," Will Schellenger arrived, the group took a quick photo and then headed for Frank's. Most of the riders were rocking the Turkey Hump V kit, made by Canari where DeKold works as Brand Manager.

Rob Fischer Photo

Photo: Rob Fischer

Canari is generously donating 40 percent of the proceeds from kit sales to a local charity, Palomar Health Foundation's Child Abuse Program. To help the cause, DeKold created a Facebook group to drum up orders and the kits were ready in advance. Last year, jersey sales raised $500. In 2014, with proceeds from kits as well as donations, DeKold is confident they'll be dropping off over $1,500.

The 64 riders this year included local shredders, enthusiasts, pro racers, visitors and industry stalwarts, all united by a common cause, and the love of mountain biking. On the way up, they talked about what they were thankful for; everything from a well-timed energy gel, to beautiful trails open for all, and friends to ride them with. They shared stories from the past year, and planned when they'd get out to ride together again.

Photo: Kristen Gross

Photo: Kristen Gross

Once at the top, packs opened and a full Thanksgiving spread appeared, including all the fixings like turkey meatballs, corn bread, sweet potatoes, rolls, cupcakes, a spiral-cut ham, and every kind of whiskey—not to mention plenty of IPA. There were a few words by local rider Jack Guenther to remind the gathered throngs that being able to pedal a mountain bike up a big hill, surrounded by friends and like-minded people while basking in nature and beautiful weather makes us very lucky.

As everyone had their fill of feast and refreshments, the crowd slowly disappeared. Some people bombed down, while others were just bombed. But all were merry, and home in time to get the bird in the oven.