It was back in 2003 or so, I had my new GT Avalanche and my friend Pete had his new Rockhopper. We were getting tired of riding the same old trails in town and wanted to venture out a bit so headed to the trails of "Barker's Bush" in Paris. It was a small area with lots of winding interconnected trails that where looked after by the long since defunct Brantford Cyclepath Bicycle Club, who also hosted an annual 8 hour endurance race there.
We arrived in the early evening and set out into the trails. Our pace was quick as we wanted to jam in as many kilometers as possible before dark and we weaved beautifully through the twisty overgrown singletrack. It wasn't long before we reached the far end of the trails and made a steep decent to the Nith River that had our early model disc brakes working hard a squealing loudly. I swear that I could hear water hiss and boil off my rotors in the little stream crossing near the end.
After a short break we decided to begin our ride back, the sun was setting and the forest was already starting to get dark. Along our way back we spotted a section of trail we missed the first time through and decided we had enough time to squeeze it in. I went in first, Pete was right on my rear wheel. After a few minutes of twisting and turning I realized that Pete has vanished. I had likely went through an intersection and he took an alternate route, not able to see me too well in the darkness that was setting in.
"Damn" I though to myself, "I'd better turn back and find him". I didn't want him or I lost in the woods at night. We had no lights or any sort and it would make for tough route finding back to the car. I headed back in the direction I came from, moving fast as to catch up with him.
Everything was going smoothly until 'it' happened. I rounded a corner and in a split second was able to make out a figure of a rider on a bike headed right for me in the dark. I slammed the brakes and turned to the right trying to avoid disaster. The bike stopped quickly but the mass of my body wanted to keep going and sent me over the bars and into the bushes, just narrowly escaping a collision with the other rider. I jumped back up to my feet and checked myself for injuries. I was ok.
"Are you alright?" Pete asked.
"Yeah I'm good." I replied. At least I had found Pete.
"Oh shit..... your bike." Pete's eyes lit up with half concern, half comedy.
"Faaaaaaaawk!" I picked my bike up off the ground. The front wheel was folded over and looked like something that had been driven over by a car. I started walking out, bike on my shoulder, back to the parking lot. The darkness had set in so Pete walked along with me.
Back at the car we had a good laugh over my misfortune. I had never destroyed a wheel so completely in one shot. It was a new record of sorts for me. I posed for a photo op with one of those old disposable cameras so I could document the moment. I felt like a hunter having a picture taken while standing over his prey. A few more laughs and we loaded the car for home.
The next day I headed into Brantford Cyclepath for a new wheel. I brought along the old one just to show the guys in the shop. I walked in the door, holding my kill in my hand with a smile on my face when Stu said something that I've heard many times since.
"There's no fixing that........ You break the most unusual stuff".
It was a good laugh, and I've broken tons of shit since.
The Bric...._ mountain biker, road rider, heavyweight gear abuser. Built like a brick sh*thouse. No bike is safe.