"I won a pair of shoes once. Other than that I've never won a thing until this sweepstakes," says Mike Shannon, straddling a brand new team-issue Kona Entourage bike. Mike is addressing a small group of riders gathered around him at the base of the Whistler Bike Park. It's Crankworx time and the lift lines are getting formidable. Fortunately Mike is getting the complete VIP experience--he's flanked by photographers and two downhill world cup pros--and bypasses the crowds in the priority "athlete" lane. Everywhere he goes, people want to know, "Who is this regular-looking guy riding a team bike, doing laps with the pros and getting photographed every step of the way?"
Mike Shannon is a 40-year-old, father of four from Bellingham, Washington. He's been an avid mountain bike rider for years, and juggles trail time with family responsibilities and law enforcement with the Bellingham Police Department. Three months ago, Mike entered a sweepstakes held by Easton Cycling for a chance to win a team-issue Kona Entourage, an all-expensed-paid trip to the Whistler Bike Park and a day riding with star freerider Graham Agassiz. As luck would have it, Mike's name was picked at random and his mountain bike life was changed forever.
Mike was waiting for that here's the catch moment, but discovered that it was indeed the trip of a lifetime. "It took us a couple of months to confirm the details of the trip, and I swear, every time I spoke to the guys at Easton it just got better and better," he says. " I asked about lodging and they said that I had four nights covered at the Bear Back Biking Lodge. I asked about getting a t-shirt and they said, 'oh, yeah, we want to set you up with a Giro Remedy helmet and a few pairs of Giro gloves, what size are you?' Four days of lift passes? Not a problem. Fancy dinners in the Whistler Village? Of course."
Now this police officer is doing laps with Mitch Delfs and Connor Fearon. The Kona team riders look to Mike to lead the way. "What trail you want to ride on this lap, Mike?" It's really something to see. With every jump on Crank it Up and A-Line, the Kona riders are bar-to-bar with Mike, hooting, hollering and pushing their new buddy to go faster and jump further. "The sweetest was seeing those guys sky the jumps on Crabapple Hits," Mike says. "Witnessing that kind of talent in person is incredible."
Of course the star treatment carried from the trails to the village: Mike watched the Teva Best Trick contest from the shaded comforts of the Pinkbike lounge; attended the Deep Summer Photo contest with the crew from Anthill Films and dined at Trattoria di Umberto with Graham Agassiz (Aggy was unfortunately on crutches and couldn't join Mike on the trail.). At every turn, Mike met more of his heroes. "I can't believe how friendly these guys are," he says. "So far, I've met the Kona team, Wade Simmons, Brett Tippie, Greg Herbold, Eric Porter. Those guys are legends and they're all so cool!"
Back at the lift line Easton Cycling's brand manager, Dain Zaffke, introduces Mike to the editors of Bike Magazine. Dain explains that the sweepstakes was completely random. "This sort of contest is always a little tense," Dain says. "You never know if the winner will appreciate the prizes, or just turn around and put them on eBay." At that very moment, Mike's attention drifts from the conversation and he seems completely enthralled by his new ride. "I just can't imagine someone winning a bike like this and selling it," Mike says. "I'm going to cherish this bike for years to come."