Repack 35th Anniversary Gathering
Repack 35, Breezer #1, and the time CK challenged me to a DH race.
Every year on the anniversary of the first 'official' Repack race, luminaries, locals, and those in the know make the pilgrimage to the top of Repack to honor and celebrate. Some years have bigger turn outs than others. Repack 30 was modest, but a really cool experience. Repack 35 was big. One of those gatherings that started out with the usual suspects, but started gathering steam.
Several of my VRC buddies and I would be in attendance. We knew the greats like Joe Breeze and Alan Bonds would be there. Billy Savage came up from SoCal. Other old school locals with Mark V, Chris I, Fairfax Pat, Jer, Owen Mulholland (RIP) etc were all going to be there. This year, the rangers would be there. Allow me to digress and I'll tell you why.
Back in 2011 before Facebook took over as the most common means for vintage mountain bike discussion, the primary home for us was the MTBR VRC (and Retrobike). Earlier in October several of us were at the Fairfax Fat Tire Festival. We were on an Otis Guy lead group ride. I was on my 1985 drop bar Otis Guy MTB. Charlie Kelly was also in attendance on that ride upon his modern Gary Fisher. On the main downhill, I passed a struggling CK on my vintage mtb (while carrying my buddies huge ass messenger bag no less). Through a later discussion on the forums, Charlie was lamenting those of us who ride vintage mountain bikes (as he is wont to do). I made a quip that I was faster than he was on an old bike. It didn't sit well with CK.
An excuse and a challenge in one sitting! Needless to say, this sparked lots of discussion in our little vintage mountain bike community. Enough chatter that the local rangers who occasionally used bike forums to monitor mtb activity caught wind of the growing number of people to be in attendance and the gauntlet of a downhill race being thrown down.
The day arrived and my buddies and I met at the default Java Hut in town. Caught up with Joe Breeze, a few others, and made our way to the bottom of Repack for the climb up. As we were headed towards the trailhead, we came across Alan Bonds and Billy Savage gearing up. Up we went. Let me just say, that riding Repack in the 'up' direction is a grind, but doing it with buddies and the likes of Joe, Alan, and Billy...that alone is cool as hell.
We made the 45+ min climb and met up with the larger group at the top. Lots of time to socialize and fawn over bikes. The rangers were at the top to make sure we were staying out of trouble. They were kind and engaging. Joe brought Wendy Cragg's Breezer Series I. He was gracious enough to let us pedal it around at the top. How many people get to say they've seen in person, let alone thrown a leg over a Breezer Series I!?
After social hour, we began to make our way to the start of Repack. I was on my 1995 WTB Phoenix and set up next to CK on his modern Gary Fisher for the shove off. Scott S in our VRC group was on his klunker with GoPro running to document the bomb down Repack. The footage of the downhill run is a delight. Off the bat, our buddy Rich N takes a standing still tumble. One of the kindest people, killer mechanic...but possibly the most accident prone person I know. So his fall was very on brand.
We head off down the hill. I let CK take the lead and I follow at an easy pace. Nothing to get us in trouble with the rangers. We start picking our way through people and as much as I tried to let CK move along, we were getting past the upper pedal portion of Repack and it was time to get to it. Scott and I passed just about everyone and as we gained time on the lead group, Chris I on his ProCruiser (who fancies himself fast down a hill) grabbed a bunch of brake and almost caused a pile up on an off camber bend. As we all had to slow way down, Scott took an outside line and the lead. Scott has a lot of bike handling skill and he could have ran the rest of the run untouched, but did me a solid and let me pass so we could film the rest of the run. I had a few chain drop moments on the way down, but needless to say no one else caught us that day.
The video footage of the event to enjoy here:
My good friend Hollister dropped down the hill a head of time and fired off some legendary photos in Camera Corner. All smiles as we walked away from the group.
At the time, Strava was new. So with a slow mass start and phoning it in at the top, it was good for a 5:28 and was 7 seconds off the top time (I'm way down the list now!). Not bad for a bike made in 1995. And hell, Scott was on a full period Klunker!
The ride itself, the people, the bikes...it was a day to remember. The challenge ended up rather anti-climatic. But that didn't mean there weren't excuses. They don't work as well when there's video proof to the contrary. I was right next to CK and we were talking to each other. Not sure what newbies he was referring to. And we didn't seem to have the same trouble moving through the group to the front. Weird.
Our VRC group gathered at the bottom as everyone made their way down. Billy S and Jer H laid it down in Camera Corner, but otherwise no casualties on the day. We rode off the mountain and back into the neighborhood.
As fate would have it, there was one more truly special moment ahead for us. Joe Breeze was in our group of riders headed towards town. He asked us if we wanted to swing by his place to check out Breezer #1 before it was sent off to the Smithsonian. Lots to unpack here. 1. Hanging out with Joe Breeze after having just bombed Repack with a bunch of rad people. 2. Being invited to Joe's home. 3. Setting foot IN Joe's garage. 4. Seeing a history changing Breezer #1 in all it's perfection before shipment to the Smithsonian. Again, Joe was absolutely gracious and candid in explaining the details before us. Truly an unforgettable moment.
So there you have it. The story of Repack 35. Just one of those days where all you could do is pinch yourself to make sure it was real. So absolutely fortunate to live where we do and have these significantly important people not only present, but making themselves accessible and open to sharing their stories and (maybe unbeknownst to them) making unforgettable stories for us.
Various Photos here with photo credit to Hollister, Pat R, and myself.