Words: Joe Parkin Photos: Adrian Marcoux
If you’re Russell Finsterwald, and collecting your paycheck involves lining up alongside a hundred or so of the world’s fastest riders and pushing your heart to its rev-limiter for a couple of hours, then pre-dawn wakeup calls and shredding a bit of asphalt—as long as there’s a dirt payoff—is part of the job description.
If you’re Chris Dewar, however, and your living involves ensuring that peoples’ homes and businesses are properly wired to power their televisions and toaster ovens, then there’s really no reason to sip your coffee at anything but a leisurely pace—especially when the pool is set at just the perfect temperature.
The meeting point was the mile-high mountain town of Idyllwild, California, which is only two-and-a-half-hour drive from downtown Los Angeles, yet feels a century or more removed from the hustle of the big city. Even rolling into Idyllwild after a morning of sitting poolside in Palm Springs (a good hour by car or a short few hours of pedalling at Russell Finsterwald pace), this quiet little place offers enough culture shock to be noticeable.
Located in the San Jacinto Mountains, Idyllwild attracted the attention of prospectors and miners in the wake of the California Gold Rush. Ranchers drove cattle and sheep here. Its massive pine trees have seen some logging, but ever since roads and cars made travel to Idyllwild easy, it has been a retreat for artists, actors, musicians, campers, hikers—and mountain bikers.
Ultimately though, the modes by which Dewar and Finsty rolled into town and the area’s history had little to do with the mission: riding mountain bikes in the Southern California dirt. When they found their first section of singletrack, weekday job descriptions became irrelevant and the goal was to milk the day for every last minute of light. Because when the sun dipped below the mountains and into the Pacific, there was only one thing left to do…get back to the pool.