Behind This Post
Stories from the Trail is a blog series focused on capturing and retelling special moments from our Trail Rides program. We will highlight lessons learned, unexpected discoveries, and moments of pure joy our program youth experience on the trail. These stories convey a variety of perspectives including those of our dedicated ride leaders, volunteers, and youth.
Experiencing Trail Magic
By Adam Smith, Trail Rides Program Manager
There’s a thing called Trail Magic. Anyone who’s spent enough time on the trail knows about it or has experienced it themselves. It’s something that thru-hikers of the great, long distance trails of North America like the Appalachian, Pacific-Crest and Continental Divide Trail talk about and revere. It happens when you least expect it and often when you most need it. Perhaps you’re running out of food, and a stranger offers you a PB&J right when you couldn’t take a step further. Or maybe, you get a flat tire and find an extra tube accidentally dropped on the trail by a former passer-by. Perhaps you take a wrong turn and stumble on a new vista point that takes your breath away. Though it’s most often referenced in the thru-hiking community, it happens to mountain bikers, too. This phenomenon transpired on a recent trail ride with the Canal Welcome Center.
As we rounded the bend in the trail, there they were: GIANT. Dozens of branded bicycles lined in rows, waiting to be ridden by lucky trail patrons. The kids were instantly buzzing. We rode up, and the friendly staff quickly came over to greet us. “Hi, we’re Trips for Kids Marin,” we said. “Can we look around?” “Absolutely,” one of Giant Bicycles representative responded. “Let me go get John.” The kids dispersed and started ogling the brand new bikes on display at the Giant Bicycles demo days at China Camp State Park.
John Munhall is the Product Development Manager at Giant Bicycles and an enormous Trips for Kids supporter. It just so happened that we were about to reach out to him to place an order for bikes to replenish our fleet, and here he was, smack in the middle of our ride in the woods. We introduced ourselves and talked about Trips for Kids a bit before John said, “Hey, hold on a minute, I want the kids to meet someone…”
Now, it isn’t every day that you take a group of young men on their first mountain bike ride and come across a small bike festival in the woods being thrown by one of your biggest industry supporters AND get to meet a professional, Olympic mountain bike racer. But it happened, and it was an experience the young men will never forget.
Adam Craig is a professional cyclist sponsored by Giant who’s raced just about everything on two wheels and dirt imaginable, including competing in the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing in Cross Country representing team USA. He’s also a five-time National Champion. (He’s good. Really good…) But what was most impressive about Adam was how much he loved getting to meet and talk with the young men on our ride. They, in turn, were equally impressed watching him bunny hop a bike around in a circle, ride a wheelie and getting to talk with him in person.
John emerged from the Giant trailer with brand new water bottles and handed them to each youth. Adam eagerly signed them while he talked to each of them individually. In how many other sports do you get the chance to casually hang out with Olympic athletes while they put on their own little private exhibition for you and give you autographed gear? Not many. But that’s mountain biking. Mountain biking is like that. It’s a sport where you might see an Olympian out riding the same trail you’re on or see them at a bike festival. And if you happen to have a group of underserved youth with you, who happen to be on their very first mountain bike ride, well, that’s what we would call trail magic.
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