JOHN DAY - The wind rushes past the rider's ears as the bike begins to gather speed on its way down the mountain toward the ramp. As the tires make contact with the jump, the rider is lifted into the air. For a split second, the adrenaline rushes through the rider's veins, his heart begins to pump ever faster. Suddenly, the bike is grabbed by gravity and brought back to earth with a dull thud, and the rider is again earthbound, looking for the next jump.
Some people use mountain bikes for transportation, some for recreation. J.T. Sohr and Randy Dowdy, two local bikers, ride for the thrill of going off a big jump.
Sohr, who graduated this year from Grant Union High School, has been mountain biking for about five years. He rides a full-suspension Giant Warp DS1, which he purchased last summer.
Sohr is sponsored locally by Pepsi-Cola 7Up of Grant County, and has participated in four semiprofessional races.
Sohr once considered opening a bike shop called Sohr Knees, and produces his own home videos of his biking expeditions under the name "Sohr Knees Productions."
Mountain biking isn't all fun and games. You can't participate in a sport like this without wrecking once in a while. Sohr's worst crash came two weeks after he purchased his new bike.
"I was riding down my hill, and I hit a rock," Sohr said. That crash ended with him having to get his front shocks and rims replaced, not a cheap repair on a bike that cost him $1,800.
Sohr's favorite riding spot in Grant County is either up at his house, where he has spent many hours developing a trail on the hill where he lives, or the Princess Trail, near Boulder Butte.
Dowdy and Sohr returned June 18 from a 10-day trip to Utah. Sohr's favorite place to ride, so far, is in Black Dunes, Utah, near Hanksville; although, the best ride that he has ever had came in Red Canyon, Utah.
"Mountain biking can be a lot of fun if you do it safely and follow the rules," Sohr said. "Always wear your helmet."
Sohr has had several crashes in which he has hit his head, and always wears a helmet in case that should happen again.
Dowdy's favorite place to ride in Grant County is in East Bench.
Dowdy's favorite out-of-county riding location is Gooseberry Mesa, Utah, where he did a lot of riding this summer.
Dowdy has had one serious crash.
"It just so happened to be at my house," Dowdy said. "I was attempting a fairly large drop, but on my way to the ramp, I pedaled and my foot slipped off, causing me to go off the jump footless."
A drop is a type of jump in which the ramp is placed over an embankment so that the rider literally drops to the ground.
He landed on his back, leaving a three-inch deep imprint in the soft dirt.
"When I landed on my back," Dowdy said, "it hurt."
Dowdy rides a full-suspension KHS Witchdoctor, which he purchased recently.
His biggest jump came when he was in Utah.
"It was in the Black Dunes," he said.
Mountain biking isn't for everyone. For J.T. Sohr and Randy Dowdy, who are always looking for that adrenaline-pumping thrill, it seems to be a perfect fit.