Kent Huffman's Long-Lost Story
One day in 2013 a set of Nathan Rennie's old kit turned up out of the blue...
A little while ago a parcel turned up out of the blue addressed to the Dirt staff. Normally when something comes through the doors of the Dirt office it is (a) expected (but often surprising) and (b) addressed directly to a member of staff, this was neither of the above. For that reason the package lay unopened for quite some time, its rediscovery only coming when the overflow of bike parts, muddy shoes and travel memorabilia that is Deputy Editor Steve Jones’ work area had its annual full cleanse.
Within the box was a rather special gift along with Kent's story... (Photo by Alex Boyce.)
A piece of mountain bike history was almost lost to the Dirt Office Black Hole but thankfully our Teaboy’s OCD tidiness uncovered one of the finest gifts to have entered our premises to date: a soiled jersey and shorts. This was notably special as the items in question once belonged to none other than ex-Santa Cruz Syndicate rider and all-round beast Nathan Rennie and came complete with almost inexplicable in-joke arse branding.
The sender, a certain Kent Huffman, hailed from the good old US of A, and the letter he had put together had us all laughing by word one. It served as a brief but comical history of Kent’s life in mountain biking and a reiteration of the sport's friendly nature. Kent doesn’t mince his words but if one thing in particular is made clear from this letter it’s his passion for mountain biking and its down-to-earth characters.
These fine words just had to be shared with the Big Wide World. So here you go folks, read and learn:
I live in South Florida, a thousand miles from the nearest mountain. There are a few abandoned rock quarries where we have been allowed to build trails, so I am accustomed to riding steep, rocky shit. Short, but nasty, like certain bare-knuckle boxers I know who haunt the less fashionable environs of Manchester. (Wade Simmons once showed-up at my home trail for a photo shoot with some journo’s from some cheesy bike mag.)
As often as possible, I go anywhere I can that has any kind of chair lift or shuttle going to the top of anything taller than a shyte-heap. I have been fortunate enough to ride Snowshoe, Diablo/Mountain Creek, Highland, Bromont, and that ungrateful bitch, Bootleg Canyon.
Shortly after purchasing my first Cannondale M-400 in 1993 or 1994, I started looking for something to read. I found loads of terrible crap, with lame photos, horrible writing, and an incessant stream of mindless drivel like: “Sixteen Ways to Adjust Your Front Derailleur".
When I stumbled across DIRT, I knew I had found a home. I have been a faithful reader for years. Long ago you featured a short note on those daft fuckers down in Croydon who were producing STOPADOODLEDOO. I got to know them a bit and ride with one of them a few times. I even sent one of my girlfriends to abuse in the shrubbery at Aston Hill. More to the point, your magazine opened my eyes to downhill/ freeride/slopestyle, and thereby changed my life. So, good on ya’.
Sitting on the converted school bus they use for uplift my first time at Snowshoe, I recognized the grimy fucker across from me as Carlin Dunne. I shadowed him for a run or two and saw what somebody who really knows how to ride looked like up close. Shortly after that, I ran across a wild chick on an Intense with a broken chain. She claimed to be Missy. When I challenged her, she pulled-up her jersey and showed me the tattoo in the middle of her back. I fixed her chain and gave her a ride to the top in the minivan we were using to shuttle after Butterbean stopped running the school bus late in the day. The next morning Missy showed up with April Lawyer, so I got to ride with that lot for the next two days.
I was at Snowshoe for the Monster Park event that got rained-out on Sunday. When they ran the finals on Monday, all the tourists had gone home, and there were more riders than spectators. The tape came down, and I got to hang-out and shoot the shit with Claw, Vanderham, McCaul, Boyko and all the rest.
Shit fell in place for me to be able to go to Mont Saint Anne once and Wyndham twice to see the big boys (and girls) ride. Chatted with Rachel. Rode up the chairlift with Ratboy for his final run, discussing the fact that Brosnan looked like he was fucking 12 years old. When Josh started to introduce me to Danny Hart, Danny seemed astonished that I knew who he was. I said: “Jesus Christ, you little fucker, you are going to be the King soon", and I was right.
Nodded to Gee and got a nod back. Smiled at Peaty and got a smile back. Exchanged French vulgarities with Warner. The Santa Cruz mechanic, Doug told me they had gotten Minnaar’s V-10 down to 34 pounds, race ready. Had dinner with Mitch Delfs’ mom and dad. Tried to convince your boy Baltic that you should have someone pushing his bike up to the base of the lift for him.
Spent a couple of hours in a bar with Semenuk shortly after he won the Rampage, but was still too young to drink legally. I asked him what he did with his prize money. He said he traded in his pick-up for a new Subaru WRX, and still had enough cash left over for a tits roof rack. I advised him to dump his girlfriend, which I see he did.
When my trail bitch broke his hand at Highland, and we were trying to figure out how to deal with that, Aaron Chase walked-up and helped us get shit squared away. After the ambulance dust settled, he said, “If you don’t have anyone else here to ride with, do you wanna ride with me?" I didn’t even know what to say, and I am a loquacious fucker. I wanted to say: “Do you fucking understand that I have been watching you in videos for years, and you are some kind of minor deity to me?", but I just smiled and said: “My daughter has a crush on you." Ace said: “Is she chubby? It seems like it is always chubby chicks who get a crush on me." I had some fun riding with that fucker that day. I probably would not have done any of that shit if not for you kitty-cats, so thank you.
OK, enough nostalgic recall. I normally buy DIRT at a bookseller called Barnes & Noble, because it stocks DIRT and reasonably good coffee, it is brimming with high-maintenance blondes, and it is two blocks from my house. Some greed-head corporate tools just closed the store. The other two Barnes & Nobles in my town are fucking miles away and do not stock DIRT or high-maintenance blondes. So, I no longer have a supplier.
What I do have is the enclosed jersey and moto pants which I got from the Big Man. I was going to frame them and display them on the Wall of Shame in my garage, but I decided that was too gay, even for me. So, I am sending this gear to you under the assumption that it may not be too gay for you to frame and put up in your office, or otherwise dispose of as you see fit. I am informed that the P.F. patch on the arse of the shorts is a last minute inside joke by the Troy Lee boys based on the fact that the Big Man was seen leaving the bar, and later confirmed to be breaking hotel room furniture with a Botero-esque girl the night before the previous World Cup event.
This gesture is really only a manipulative ploy to get you to put me on your subscription list for free for a month or two, as I can no longer buy your scurrilous product near my house, and I am much too hip to subscribe online. At the least, please send me the issue with the Missy interview, as that seems to be the point at which my supply stopped. Keep up the good work. Thanks for everything.
Your friend- KENT
If you have a piece of mountain biking history and a story to rival Kent's, feel free to send it over to us here at Dirt...