Less than 48 hours before the third annual Lake Champlain Poker Run in Burlington, Vt., I rode my rented mountain bike off a bridge. I’d never ridden one of those long wooden bridges above the forest floor—the kind you see in those cool mountain biking videos—much less one made slick by intermittent rain. One moment I was the master of the bridge, the next I was the troll who dwells beneath it.
Founded just for fun by a few locals three years ago, the Lake Champlain Poker Run is on its way to becoming one of the Northeast’s coolest boating events. Photo by Tim Sharkey copyright Sharkey Images.
The drop to the forest floor wasn’t big, three feet at most, and I was able to land it without crashing. But clipping back into the pedals and getting going again on that slippery sucker was tricky. It took more than one try and, near the end of the bridge, I slid off again in front of my guides for the day, Brian Hoar, one of the organizers of the Lake Champlain Poker Run, and Randy Ploof, his beast-of-a-rider buddy.
So what the hell does a delightfully sketchy mountain bike ride have to do with covering a poker run in the Northeast?
Everything. I came to Burlington to experience and capture an event I’d never covered before. I came for an adventure and mountain biking—my hobby—through the Vermont woods, which were filled with slippery rocks and even slipperier tree roots unlike the trails in and around my Northern California home, two days before the poker run fit the new-experience bill
After the ride, Hoar looked at my filthy mountain bike shoes and laughed. “I don’t know how you’re even going to get those home,” he said.
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