Bicycling's illustrated maintenance manual by Jim Langley

By Jim Langley

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The peak was a volcanic plug that had thrust out of the earth millions of years ago, shedding a mantle of talus as Triumph 37 it cooled. Dad and Kenny Dickens used to hike up Porfrey and ski down, and one day they realized that all the loose rock could be quarried. Dad and Kenny brought in a third partner, a geologist from Reno, and they started lining up the necessary permits. They negotiated rights with the Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and Triumph Mineral Co. and put in a new road.

Sophie’s dad was the first dead body I ever saw. He died of an asthma attack, and there was an open casket at the funeral home. I’ll never forget looking down at his face, Willie Nelson’s “Blue Skies” playing in the background. Winter arrived in October and left in May and presented my gang with a whole new set of recreational options. We’d make snowmen and dig igloos and forts. We’d go hooky-bobbing, hanging onto the fenders of cars and letting the drivers haul us down the street while we tried to stand upright.

In the early 1990s, Triumph was declared a public health hazard. The Environmental Protection Agency considered making the old mine a Superfund Site, and many of Triumph’s residents have had their blood tested for lead. By the early ’90s, I was one of the country’s most promising young ski racers, and in 1993 some local environmental activists, eager to make 28 Picabo Street me a toxic-hazard poster girl, urged me to say that playing in the black sand had given me lead poisoning. I refused. It’s not in my nature to worry about something that I can’t control.

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