Author: Adam Bratton
Read Time: 4 mins
We just wrapped the 2nd year of the Rocky River Shiver: A Hellacious Mtn Bike Event and I couldn’t be more stoked for where this event is heading! The hills, heat, and hecklers were out in full force, yet again, making for a day of exhaustion and carnage! Here is a little inside scoop on how the battle played out from the RD's (Race Director) perspective.
If you haven’t heard or experienced firsthand, the Rocky River Trails are unanimously known as the most difficult and technical trails in the Charlotte area. They were also hand built by the one and only Mr. Steve Kiker. It was and is still with great sadness that we received word that Mr. Kiker had passed away just 15 days from this year’s event. This was clearly a tough situation for all involved. Steve has been instrumental in building, expanding, and maintaining not only Rocky River Trails, but also other Charlotte area classics like Sherman Branch and Poplar Tent amongst others. He was loved and admired by the entire Charlotte Mountain Bike community. We got confirmation from the family roughly week out from the event that the event would go on and that “He would want it that way”. It was time to mobilize the troops and celebrate Steve’s life by riding bikes!
Event emails and social media posts were crafted and sent to inform pre-registered riders and the general public about the news and that they had better come ready to ride and honor Steve! The outpouring of community support was nothing short of amazing. Sunday, August 7th couldn’t come soon enough!
I drove out to the trails to drop supplies and mark the course the day before. Steve’s presence was felt. The energy was building. The heat was also rising and after 1 lap (14+ miles) I was trashed. The next day was going to be a knock down, drag out battle for anyone who dared to roll their wheel to the start line.
The aggressively early alarm clock always shocks my senses on event day and gets the adrenaline coursing through my sleepy veins. I quickly jammed some oatmeal and coffee down my gullet. It was time to get to work! I’ll spare you the boring details of setting all the event preparations up (you can ready a little bit more about this in last year’s Rocky River Shiver Journal Entry) but I know I wasn’t the only one getting goosebumps as the start time creeped closer.
Brave warriors started to arrive at the battlefield with their armor and weapons in tow. They signed their names to the Rocky River Shiver event poster that would be presented to Steve’s family. They discussed and attempted to finalize their strategy with fellow soldiers. They lined up to face 3 laps of the stirring monster that lay ahead. After a moment of silence, a moment of noise, and words from Steve’s son Josh, these bad asses charged into the forest and attacked the trails with aggression. The trails attacked back. The twisty, turny, and technical trails would wear down each combatant. The overwhelming humidity and heat quickly thinned out the field. The desire to stop and slurp a post-race beer or to join hecklers in their “Dad” theme antics was too much for some to overcome.
In the initial development of the Shiver, I estimated that there would be a roughly 50% DNF (Did Not Finish) rate. Early on, I shared this thought with Steve and in his ever humble and mind mannered approach, he simply nodded as a small smirk shown across his face. He loved the difficulty of his trails, and he knew that it would push people to their limit. In 2022 a mere 46% of the participants completed all 3 laps. I know for sure that the smirk appeared again.
I am clearly biased, but the legitimacy, authenticity, and intimacy are what makes this event so special. It is not beginner friendly. Nor is it for the faint of heart. It is for those that seek to push themselves beyond any previous threshold. It is for those that are ready to dip their toe into the next pedal stroke of their riding journey. It is for the Mtn Bike community to come out and heckle, celebrate, and be a part of something meaningful.
After only its second year, it’s clear that the entire experience wound up together keeps drawing people back. 1, 2, or all 3 laps, there is a palpable sense of accomplishment of even taking on this significant effort. Along with other prizes, custom handlebar antlers (made by our beneficiary Trips for Kids / The ReCyclery whom we proudly raised over $1000 for!) were given to the top Male/Female. The $500+ cash purse was dispersed to all finishers (many who graciously donated their winnings back to the Kiker Family) but the DNFers were also treated to their own prize wheel of goodies, swag and gift cards from Sierra Nevada, Trek of Charlotte, Recover, Goodr, GearSmith and of course Human Powered Movement. Full disclosure, some also won a simple bag of Rocky River rocks for their efforts … there it is, Steve’s smirk just showed up again. A homebrewed, hand bottled, and hand labeled “Shiver Golden Ale” was provided to each participant. This event has all the signs of something meaningful, unique, and impactful.
Planning each of these aspects is arduous, and highly labor intensive. I simply could not do this without the support of the sponsors, partners, and volunteers … you all know who you are, thank you again!
The good news is that even with the months of endless planning, the last-minute adjustment that are inevitable, and the shear exhaustion that takes over everyone involved, I have a sneaky feeling that thoughts of Shiver 2023 are already swirling around in the head of many. I can also guarantee that there’s a little smirk that is proudly popping up on someone’s face as you read these words.
See you next year, you bad ass trail warrior! We will ride for Steve once again!
Journal - The Battle and Smirk of the Rocky River Shiver
Human Powered Journal
Writings and musings of an active lifestyle
Adam Bratton is the Founder and Head Enabler at Human Powered Movement.
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