By: Ryan LaBar
It had been too long, really, since my last signature spiral of comedic poor luck that strikes while traveling. In fact, it had been over a year of smooth flying since my last episode (falling asleep at the gate and missing my flight in Vancouver, BC).
I'd looked forward to the Trestle All-Mountain Enduro since Ross Schnell brought it up to me earlier in the year. In my mind, it was an event that could play into my strengths of sitting for long periods of time in front of a desk—in reality however, I'm sure that's not the case.
Just two days before the event, Commencal dropped off its new Meta AM, and I figured that would be the perfect bike for the Enduro—and a perfect way to break in the new test bike.
After a long night of swapping parts, boxing the bike and catching up on writing, I was set to fly out on a bit over three hours of sleep.
I arrived at my usual preflight time at Orange County's famously lax John Wayne airport and seemed to confuse the gate attendant with my bike box.
After a generous bike fee, I was immediately thrown into an unusually long security checkpoint line. Once the TSA set me free to roam about the airport, I hastily made my way to the gate, catching the end of the boarding process.
I was supposed to have a one hour layover in Salt Lake City before arriving in Denver at noon—six hours before the first stage of the enduro, and a two-plus hour drive to Winter Park (accounting for the traffic on I-70).
Arriving at my connection gate, I saw that the flight was delayed an hour. I checked on the upgrade list, as I'm a frequent flyer, walked to get a sandwich, and called my friend who was driving me from Denver to Winter Park to let him know I'd be an hour late.
After eating half of my dried-out sandwich, I saw my name on the cleared list for an upgrade. I was flying first class. Things were looking up. I was stoked.
Ten minutes later, I saw the woman across from me and, over the Red Fang track blaring from my iPod, hear her yell, "Canceled?"
Before I knew it, a long line of confused and upset people formed in front of the gate desk.
The person attending the gate announced that she was sorry, and the airline was sorry, and there was some help phones a few gates down to get us sorted if we didn't want to wait in the line.
I walked to the help phones, talked to an agent who said all flights to Denver were booked solid until 8:00 PM, but that he could get me on stand by for a flight leaving in half an hour. I crossed my fingers and scurried across the airport to my new gate.
By some luck, I managed to get onto that flight at the last minute. I called my ride explaining I'd be getting in at 2:30 PM.
On arrival I made my way quickly to baggage claim. No bags.
After a long communication struggle between the lone baggage services employee and some hateful creatures from the 909, I was finally able to plea my case with only three hours before the event. I told them to keep my bags until my return, as they couldn't get it to me before Sunday. I was going to rent a bike.
We arrived in Winter Park six minutes before check in and registration closed. Once I received my number plate, I sprinted to the rental shop where I was set up with a Kona CoilAir.
I padded up, pulled the chain off the bike, and jumped into the lift line where we were warned of possible lightening storms.
It had started to rain. After a slow, cold, soaking chairlift ride to the top, I made my way into lodge for warmth. My spirits immediately lifted upon seeing some familiar faces and feeling the collective excitement the riders had for this event.
My race run wasn't great. I didn't know the course or the bike. But the trails were ultra fun—frequently transitioning between fast and flowy to burly and rocky.
And while at the bottom of the track, covered in mud, waiting for my friends to finish their runs, I received a phone call saying my bike was on its way, and would be dropped off that night. Things were good.