Bicycling (South Africa)
HE OVERCAME THE STUPIDEST ODDS
IT WAS EARLY in mountain biking’s heyday, when the pro racing crowd got serious and the punk bike contingent was determined to ‘keep it real’ with beer-infused shenanigans. Robert Ives was part of the Amigos, a team of singlespeeders who raced in cut-off orange jumpsuits. They fit his self-described ‘Smokey and the Bandit outlaw persona’: “If you want me to do something, just tell me I can’t, because then I will.” At the 1998 Sea Otter Classic, after a full day of throwing back beers and dirt jumping a trashed, 12-inch-wheel BMX bike, his good friend ‘Loud Ass’ told him he couldn’t possibly take that thing and finish the 60km pro XC race the next day. The notoriously hilly course took the top pros two hours; but Ives bet he’d do it in under four. Loud Ass, riding his full-size singlespeed on course with Ives, knew he was in trouble when Ives beat him up the first major climb and then rode every descent. The crowd loved it. “Fans were screaming, and trying to hand me beers over the fence,” says Ives. “At one point we were muscling through deep sand and the pros came blazing through, lapping us. I heard ‘WTF?!’ in every language that day.” The race finished on the Laguna Seca racetrack, and Ives turned onto the pavement, where a dozen friends were waiting for him. “I’d finished in 3:48, and for me, that was like winning the Tour de France right there.” And in his own preposterous way, he had proven something to himself and to the audience: there's more than one way to win a race.