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5 Questions with Mountain Bike Rockstars: "Tres" Denk, DE

They aren’t famous or sponsored, but they’re people you should know about because they’re making mountain biking better for everyone, and we think they’re rad.

NAME: Jerome George Denk, III
NICKNAME: Tres (for three). Pronounced "Trez"
MEMBER OF: President, Eastern Shore IMBA (Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay)
ALTER EGO: Owner of Independent Tattoo in Ocean City, MD, tattoo artist for 17 years.

1. How did you get into mountain biking?

I was living at the beach in Ocean City, MD, when the first mountain bikes came out, and I bought one because it was like a beach cruiser but with gears. The handlebars and stem were all one piece. In 1988, some guys that were snowboarders moved in next door to spend the summer surfing. We soon became friends and after the summer, we all went to Cumberland, MD, and they took me for a ride. Well, the bike came back all busted up, but I'd had the time of my life! I complained to the bike shop owner about the bike's performance, but he just said the only remedy for all the broken parts was to stop riding. I stayed with riding and stopped complaining about the broken parts!

2. What’s the most rewarding thing you’ve done as a mountain bike volunteer?

Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day!

3. What keeps you coming back and helping out in your free time?

Providing the opportunity to ride free of vehicular interaction. I love mountain biking because I can escape the world and bond with the earth. For a while, though, I avoided volunteering until I met my fellow mountain bikers here at the beach. We all would say, "I wish someone would build some trails at home" returning from trips to ride elsewhere. Around that time, IMBA reached out to various mountain bike groups in the region, and we were lucky to stumble across Frank Maguire at a local event. We had no choice but to pursue forming our club, especially with the governor of Maryland proclaiming our trails as second to none.

4. Describe your favorite bike and why you love(d) it.

My favorite at the moment is an early-1990s Burley tandem. My kids dig it because I can take them to school and pick them up from the bus stop.

5. Tell us your most memorable ride story.

One time, I drove 2.5 hours with 10 other dudes to get to Patapsco Valley State Park in Maryland. Later in the ride, I bunny-hopped right onto a rake someone had left behind; I think it was a trap! We tried packing the trashed tire with leaves and grass. Then, my buddy who was riding a single-speed earth cruiser had his pedal just fall off. He only had the spindle sticking out, and still beat most of us out of the woods!

WORDS OF WISDOM: Build everything all at once. It's hard and sometimes stressful, but requests take a long time to process. And I tell every parent to build a "victory lap" around their yard. The trail should start at the bike shed door.

What Frank Maguire, IMBA Mid-Atlantic Region Director, has to say: The best thing Tres did when he became the president of ESIMBA is realize what his specialities were not, and did an amazing job of empowering people who were really good at certain things. Plus, he is a tattoo artist.

PHOTO: Marty Denk

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