He is the unsung hero of the day, shuttling everyone back up to the top. Little do you know he sometimes hates your guts. Read this to find out why.
Yippee kay yay, here we go. Another day filled with driving up and down and up and down.
Sounds easy right? Turns out, nothing is ever easy if you look at it long enough.
The idea is simple. The guide makes a plan for the day, we meet the group at a bunch of selected spots and shuttle them up to the top. We kick the day off at 9am. Grab the van, make sure there’s fuel in the tank and hook the trailer up. So far, so good.
Next up is loading up the bikes. No matter how good the trailer is made, there is always some giant with a XXL bike out there that barely fits or of course the opposite; a tiny XS sized frame with some #26AiNtDeAd wheels. Out come the strappy straps to cinch them down. Wouldn’t want to be known as that shuttle driver that lost two bikes.
First thing in the morning, there is always a lovely feel of chaos. One half of the group is dressed, fed, caffeinated and ready to rumble. The other half is finishing breakfast, taking a number two or giving their bike a full service. Why would you do this in the morning? Well after yesterday's ride he was knackered and preferred beers over doing what's right.
Not a problem at all to make everyone wait in the morning.
I always like to do a quick check if everyone has their lunch, helmet, gloves and backpack. This usually pinpoints that one guy that forgot any or all of the above before we drive off.
It’s standard protocol that the guide rides shotgun. That way he can let me know all the changes in the planning he has planned for the day. Not that this matters, as I am sure the plan will change from this change of plan.
Sometimes, one of the riders squeezes in the front. Even when there are seats in the back. Carsickness is nothing to mess with, so when this happens I switch to my ‘Finnish Rally driver’ mode on the way up until he turns pale. Then back off, as I don’t want last night's dinner all over the dashboard.
Unloading the top is another story. Everyone usually bursts out of the van, taking in the views and fumbling with their kit before they switch to selfie / instabanger mode. Everything for the ‘gram! I’ll occupy myself with unloading the bikes in the meantime. With no one paying attention, the bikes soon get scattered all over the place, blocking parking spots.
As I close all the doors of the van (somehow people think they close automatically?!) and plan to make my way down, there is always a bike positioned right in front of the van, or leaning against the trailer. One day I will not spot it, and accidentally run over their pride and joy that's perfectly placed in front of my wheels.
Next up is my favorite bit of the day. I swoosh down the hill while blasting my favorite tunes towards the meeting point. Judging by the high levels of my ‘punter-o-meter’ it will take them a good time before they’re down, if no one stacks it that is.
Fortunately for me, there is always one rider that went for too many layers. You have no idea how much I love having that sweat drenched thermo layer hanging over the back seat in the van reeking of ferrets pubic hair.
At the end of the day people tend to doze off on the way back. This is the key moment to bring out the classics on the soundsystem. NoFX, Rancid and some good old 90’s Eurohouse to bring back the mood. Or not.
Arriving back at the starting point, it’s always great to see everyone rush off to the beer fridge. No worries I’ll take your bike off the trailer. No need to take your bag out of the van either, or that sweat soaked shirt. It’s totally fine to leave the energy bar wrappers and banana peels squeezed in between the seats too.
In all fairness, I can’t complain about my job really. At the end of the day, I enable people to have the time of their lives. Due to me, they skip the climbing 8000m of vertical to reach some of the worlds best singletrack. I might be growling every now and then, but I sure love doing what I do.