Anyway, here goes…The Dirksen Derby has been on my “shred to do” list for the last 8 years now. It never works out that i can make it, as it always runs during the time that we are at a sales meeting or we are showing key retailers new goods in our showroom. The kids made it down two years ago and both the boys did well, while I was confined to the house because I wasn’t doing that well. This years timing of the event was no different than in the past but somehow it all worked out and we pulled it off.
Thursday morning I got to the office nice an early to get ready for a showing with one of our biggest accounts. Following me talking at them for a straight two hours and them seemingly interested, I came out of the showroom to find Mac, Dave Graves and Chris Wilmoth waiting in my office ready to get on the road to Bend OR. Off we jetted at 1PM and just barely made it out of dodge without hitting the dreaded Seattle, Tacoma, Olympia and Portland traffic. This was a good sign as this trip should be 6 hours but can easily take 9 plus hours. Milo didn’t make the trip because he’s still recovering from a skateboard injury. Contusions of the knee is what he has and 6 months or so is what they say it takes to make things right. I could tell Mac was wishing the Milo was with us as then he would of had some entertainment he could relate too during the trip vs.the shop talk banter that happened between Graves, Wilmoth and I the entire time. Hopefully he learned something about how the lights stay on at the house and the bills get paid, but…I don’t really think he did.
Friday morning we got to Bachelor and even though the hill hadn’t seen snow in weeks, it was fun as shit to ride. The grooming is impeccable, the temps were perfect and the sun was out. I ran into Robbie Morrow in the parking lot and we ended up spinning laps all morning. Actually I followed him putting on a trench digging clinic on his circa 1998 Morrow Blaze snowboard that hadn’t been waxed since it left the factory.
The Derby boasted two courses, a red and green one. The green one was technically easier than the turny ass red one, but on Friday you could practice on both. Luckily for me, Tom Burt was there and he let me train his ass thru both courses on Friday, a half or dozen times or so. On our last rip thru, he asked to follow me and when we got to the finish, he was so far up my ass I had to hand him a Kleenex. “Uh Johan, you don’t get points for all those extra turns you're throwing down thru the run you know.” Thanks Tom.
Saturday was the qualifiers and you got one run to qualify. Do or die, pick your poison and strategy as they took the top 50% from each course in your age group. My group were the older and wiser, which was the 50 and over. There were 18 or so of us in denial thinking we still knew what was up. I was late to the gate as I watched Mac get down with out a problem so I ended up choosing the green run because so many dudes had gone down the red one. The proved to be a good choice as I was the last man to qualify from the green side. Mac got in as well, and rightfully so as he was the defending champion of this event in his age class. In fact almost all of us from WA that made it down there for this event made it in the finals, Jason and Wyatt Cline, Chad and Cali Carlson, Matteo and Izzy, we were all in the big show.
The runs were 40 or so seconds long and it felt like riding mountain bikes at Whistler. Bermed and fun, not super stressful like the LBS at Baker is. Maybe its because there’s a cause associated with this event that pulls the stress level out of this thing, but it honestly felt like riding around with a bunch of your bro’s an every once in a while chucking in a rip thru the race course. Josh DIrkson takes the proceeds from this event and donates them to adaptive ski and snowboard programs as well as to a young buck Tyler Eklund who got paralyzed snowboarding 9 years ago.
Sunday was go time. Kids and old men got to go down the course first. The winners format was your time from each course and the lowest combined time was dubbed champ. This left little room for mistakes even though for the most part, the runs weren't throwing me grief. I made my way to the gate and once again there was a line up for the red course, when we all knew we had to run the green as well. I thought to myself, fuck it, lets get this shit show over with and rolled right up to the green start. 40 seconds later I was thru the finish line looking around for someone that might have cheered me on, seen me go or would have given me some sort of assurance that I looked good. But know one acknowledged me, so off I rode down to the lift alone.
I buckled in at the top of the lift to make my way down to the red course and rode right into the gate. Starter looks at me and says “bib number?” 145. “Ok, well let it rip then.” I was still panting from the 40 second effort that happened a mere 10 minutes earlier and told him to give me a second as I was Older and Wiser, not Younger and Dumber. Run two went as well as run one, I made it thru without falling. I gave my efforts thru the courses a B+ as by no means was I getting an honors award for my turning but I was definitely better than average.
That night the awards were handed out and well, the WA contingent faired pretty damn good. Matteo won his class, Cali won hers, Wyatt broke his collar bone so his brother Owen raced as him and got 4th, right behind Mac who got 3rd. Izzy got 3rd in pro women and well my B+ was just good enough to squeak in for a 3rd as well.
Standing on the podium next to me in 2nd place was a dude that I had met earlier that day, Pat Malendoski. I joked that we were both Pollacks and on stage the two of us hi 5’d as we had that in common. But I knew I knew his name from somewhere and Googled him when I got home. Come to find out that Pat was battling brain cancer the same time I was going thru my shit show and there we were, two “Older and Wiser”, or better yet “Risen from the Dead” and were standing next to each other on the podium grinning knowing what it meant to each of us just to be at the event, let alone be on the podium.
Cheers Josh Dirkson and crew for putting together one hell of a fun event that does good thru the act of shred. Thank you also to AK, Preston and Dawn from Crab Grab for the Golden Ticket getting my ass in the event.