Ed. Note: It Sounded Like A Good Idea is a new semi-regular column by Olympic track racer Bobby Lea and endurance mountain bike racer Ian ‘Big DiRtY’ Mullins who have teamed up with plans to race Cape Epic, Breck Epic and Leadville next year. But, this isn’t just another story about some guys going to some race. It’s going to go much deeper and possibly become more polarizing to you, the reader, because of its honest look at some difficult subjects. Read on and find out why…
Words by Ian ‘Big DiRtY’ Mullins
In the first installment of this column we met my brother from most-likely-a-different-mother-we-just-haven’t matched DNA-kits-yet, Bobby Lea. In this second episode, I’ll be introducing myself, Ian ‘Big DiRtY’ Mullins with a short essay about something we all know: Love.
I’ve been in Love a couple times. No intended shade to anyone I’ve said those magic three words to, but being in Love with the bike is my most longstanding relationship. Loving the bike has been so good to me. However occasionally she’s been abusive and every blue moon she can just be down right vindictive. I’ve often found myself asking why I Love the bike like I do after all she’s put me through. I do Love her though. Always will.
Just like an ill fated relationship I’m sure many of you have experienced, often my bouts of ardor with the bike, and the subsequent fall out from said bouts, leave me saying “… well it seemed a good idea at the time…”.
I am a pleasure delaying enjoyer of self inflicted pain with an addictive personality. When asked to sum up why I do the long, grueling mountain bike races I do, I shy away from the above description and usually just say that I’m, “just a little bit crazy”. But crazy is what being in Love is. Queen from Patsy Cline to Jay Z’s wife have written songs about being crazy in Love and the euphoric hysteria that rides shotgun in Love’s Impala. So racing a bike in the woods for 6,12,24 straight hours may seem crazy to you, but try to put the action done in the context of someone who is really in Love. We’ve all found ourselves doing something completely ridiculous for the one(s) we love regardless of the opinion of others. That best summarizes my Love with the bike: ridiculous and crazy but idgaf what anyone else thinks about it. Love isn’t meant to be on your own terms all the time.
I don’t consider this Love affair to be polyamorous even though my bike Love is spread out over six bikes currently. Since we are already going there, I also can have a seemingly healthy parallel relationship with a human lady friend while being in Love with the bike. I just consider my special lady and the bike (plural form of noun) to be sister wives but without the fucked up Mormon shit about putting on magic Oakley Mumbo Sweep glasses and reading a buried tablet God wrote that says you get your own planet when you die so it’s OK to enslave 13 year old girls in arranged marriages (if anyone in lock-up with Warren Jeffs is reading this and shanks him with a sharpened tooth brush in the kidney I’ll make sure your commissary account has unlimited ramen noodles, soap and Parliament cigs for the remainder of your iron vacation bid. Sidebar: DirtRag does not condone violence especially inter-inmate violence at supermax prisons.
What about the bike am I so in love with? That feeling I get when both wheels leave the ground, that metallic taste during hard efforts, the buzz you feel after finishing a long ride, the joy of building up a new bike, the feeling of freedom you get on a long decent, the feeling of pure agony you get on a long climb, the sound of the cassettes in all my wheels, the smell of chain degreaser, the smell of chain lube, the smell of new tires, the smell of old tires, the smell of embrocation, the sting when you accidentally touch your eyes after applying said embrocation, sitting your bike by the TV and just looking at your bike when the TV is on not able to look away from its beauty even when Love and Hip Hop Atlanta is on VH1…
Love has made me do some crazy shit. Love has driven me to the point of emotional, mental and physical break down. Love hasn’t always been healthy for me. Love did its best to try and murk me more than once. But Love is a two way street. Every time I invested in Love, she invested back in me.
So that is what I’ll continue doing until further notice: investing time and effort into the Love of the bike. Hopefully you all will be along for the ride too as Bobby Lea and I prepare for some major mountain bike races as a team and open discussions on many topics near to our hearts with you using Dirt Rag magazine as a conduit. Hop on our wheels and let’s ride. You might Love it.
About our primary characters
Bobby Lea is 33 years old and a recently-retired professional road and track racer. His resume includes a bronze medal at the World Championships in 2015, 3 Olympic Teams (’08, ’12, ’16) and 30 National Titles. After over a decade in a highly-regimented environment where there is seemingly one goal, and success is defined by others, he is looking to rediscover riding for the pure love of it. He spent a career searching for the perfect ride on the perfect day. Now he is going back to his roots and learning a new way to define the perfect ride. On a mountain bike.
This seemingly feel-good story isn’t all puppy dogs and unicorns. In 2015 Lea had a positive drug test for trace amounts of noroxycodone, the metabolite of Oxycodone. The year that was supposed to be the capstone to a long and successful career was thrown into jeopardy as his entire career was on the line. Instead of doing battle on the track and focusing on the Olympics he had to fight in conference rooms just for a chance to toe the starting line again.
Post-retirement and post-Olympics he is working his way through a new set of challenges. Join him for the ride as he rediscovers an old love of the sport while learning a new discipline, and join the conversation as he candidly talks about issues pro cycling doesn’t like to talk about. Follow the adventure here at dirtragmag.com and on his social media: Twitter: @Blea_1 Instagram: @Blea505
Ian ‘Big DiRtY’ Mullins is a Seattle based elite ultra-endurance mountain bike racer aboard Jamis Bikes and races for Floyd’s of Leadville, a medical cannabis brand owned by former pro Floyd Landis. Growing up in Ohio and inspired by long distance pioneers like John Stamstad, Mullins racing consists primarily of 24hr solos and 100milers proving that having some screws loose can be a good thing.
Advocating for education and understanding surrounding drug use in sport is a personal quest Mullins is undertaking after experiencing addiction himself. Teaming up with Olympian Bobby Lea and DirtRag, Mullins hopes to spark conversation about many things using the bike as the common denominator among us all. Lurk on Big DiRtY’s socials and smash that like tab if a makes you giggle… Twitter: @bigdirtyian Instagram: @bigdirtyworldtour “