Aug 15, 2002

Live Better, Ride Whiting

I do a lot of my mid-week training in Lake Forest at the baggy shorts, full-suspension haven known as Whiting Ranch. Once or twice a week I ride there because it's, in my humble opinion, the best ride within a 50-mile radius. The approximate 8-mile loop starts out on a relatively flat two-track, which crosses two streams (with water even) before working its way into a single-track trail void of any ascents.

Before long the one-way trail winds itself to the base of Mustard Hill. From there you have two choices. (A) Turn left and do Extra Credit, a short uphill followed by a fun plunge to Mustard Rd. or (B) Skip Extra Credit and just head straight up Mustard Rd. to the top. Both options end up at the summit, which is known as Four Corners.

Four Corners is a popular resting spot and on Wednesdays you can't swing a dead cat without hitting some guy or girl riding an Intense or a GT I-drive and wearing a hydration pack large enough to take on an Everest expedition. By no means do you need a full-suspension bike at Whiting, but because FS bikes are all the craze right now, the place is crawling with them, literally. I'd estimate that 70% of the people that ride Whiting on Wednesdays ONLY ride on Wednesdays and that's why they bob, bonk and walk their way to the top of Mustard Hill even though it's not much of a climb. They need to suffer less with their bank account and more with their bike. If half of them would trade their 32-pound $2000 FS bike in for a cheaper 28-pound hard tail they'd ride Mustard with a lot less effort and they'd have enough money left over to buy some Lycra. (At least they're out riding, Denise reminds me. And she's right)

Anyway, my point is this - Whiting is an awesome place to ride whether you ride everyday or just once a week. Mustard Hill is the only climb of note and even then, it's short. All other trails flow like a rollercoaster under a canopy of trees and if you're a single guy (Aaron, Trevor & Nathan!) there are plenty of female mountain bikers and trail runners strutting their stuff and wearing sports bras. That should be reason enough for you to come out and ride!

My Reason for Hating the Word "Swag"

Thursday during a phone conversation with Aaron I was complaining all about the Motorcyclist Magazine awards dinner I had to attend that night at the Oakley headquarters in Foothill Ranch. Knowing how much I hate that type of stuff, Aaron replied, "You love all that shmoozing and I bet you'll get some swag out if it." He also knows I hate the word "swag."

During a trip to Monterey for the Sea Otter - he, Terry, Denise and myself all had a conversation about swag. Someone (I'm not pointing fingers) was excited about strolling through the vendor area to score some swag. As I cringed Denise broke the news, informing them that I hated the word "swag" and the whole concept behind it. So, throughout the rest of the trip Terry and Aaron kept telling me how they were hoping to get some swag here or find some swag there (it should be noted that Terry got no swag from the GT booth). It was swag this and swag that - the whole damn weekend.

Let me back up. There are a few reasons why I hate swag. I like free stuff. Who doesn't? But when you work in the motorcycle industry and you're at an event and every loud mouth from the street comes up with his hand out - it kind of gets old. I remember when stickers and posters were enough. Not anymore. Now they want free non-paper, non-adhesive products like hats, goggles, t-shirts and jackets. I don't mind giving out stuff to kids or even promotional-type items like key chains, foam fingers and a frisbee here and there. It's when the drunk guy in the pits at a Supercross race wants the hat off my head or the shirt off my back - give me a break. That's just plain greedy. Everybody expects something for nothing. (The irony is, I currently work in PR)

Back to the present. Aaron and I discussed the correct spelling of the word "swag" and we finally established its correct spelling (as you've seen it throughout this posting). I hung up the phone and just for the hell of it reached for my 1978 New Edition Pocket Oxford Dictionary and was delighted to find the following on page 919:

swag n. (Representation of) ornamental festoon of flowers

I'm willing to bet that if every motorcycle-jersey wearing drunk sporting a mullet - knew that the noun "swag" really was a festoon of flowers - he probably wouldn't be walking around the pits anymore with his hands cupped together like he was begging for change outside a 7-11. So, quit talking about swag! Refer to it in the old fashion sense, as in "give-aways" or "prizes" or "hand-outs" and be happy with a sticker!

And by the way, for those of you who were wondering, a festoon is a chain of flowers or ribbons hung in a curve between two points. How nice. Maybe if I'm lucky I'll get a festoon of something as a parting gift from Oakley and Motorcyclist Magazine.

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