Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Uh Oh….the 2009 AZ mountain bike race series starts in 17 days. I haven’t tossed a leg over a top tube except for a handful of times over the last six weeks and counting. Got my mind on my snowboard and my snowboard on my mind – what can I say? This is the thing that sucks about our AZ series – it’s geared (no pun intended) towards Phoenix and Tucson residents. They train their asses off Oct through December and are ready to rip in January. Us northern boys…….we pretty much get our behinds kicked until May and then kick the flatlanders to the curb for the final race of the series in Flagstaff in early June.

I don't have any pipedreams for the 2009 series. I'll be in a very competitive singlespeed category where the top 10 guys are consistently fast. Maybe by May I'll be near the top 5, so I'll put that out there so there's some accountability - and a reason to ride an indoor trainer in January. By July, I'll bring my A-game to Wisconsin for a 24 hour duo with Ace. Ain't goin' home without hardware. No how, no way even if we're pukin' up Accelerade at 6am. Then it's off to Big Steve's cabin (did I clear that with you yet Steve?) for a few days of legs-up chillin.

Left the house @ 5:15am, and as far as I know, the only other person on the road then is Big Steve. ‘Cept instead of driving to work, I was headed for a hike up the Bowl. The hike was tough today because I felt worthless and weak, but I made it up by 7am and took another 15 minutes to traverse the upper bowl in search of fresh powder. It didn’t look good – Strapped on the board and headed down. Other than about a 400 yard section, everything was pretty tracked out and crusty. Once I got to the groomed slopes the snow was nice so I just carved fast turns until I ran out of snow at the parking lot. We get more snow this weekend, so I’ll try and get back up on Sunday morning.

Me, D, & Lyza are all headed down to the 10:00pm ‘pinecone’ drop @ 10:00pm tonight. They do an early drop for kids. To be honest with you, that’s about as late as I want to stay up. Be safe everyone…Don’t be Sir Charles tonight.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

“Chris, I’m gonna be honest witcha’”

What the hell is it with this lead in to no less than maybe 20 conversations I had last week? Sure, a guy from Philly probably was responsible for 10 of those lead in’s, but this little “I’ll be honest with you” thing is becoming a farce. When people say it now, I kind of crack a smile and I had one guy say “did I say something funny?” I wanted to tell him, in fact my gut was burning to tell him what I thought was funny, but I didn’t – he was a guest.

I now assume that everything somebody tells me that doesn’t start with “I’ll be honest with you” is a lie. And guess what – that’s a pretty accurate statement. Especially in this business. Christmas Holiday complaints include:

· My skylight is leaking like a river!
To be honest witcha, you couldn’t fill a pitcher of water from it over 48 hours
· All of the heaters in my house don’t work!
To be honest witcha, it’s already 80 degrees but my kids want to wear new shorts
· We’re out of hot water – this is unacceptable!
To be honest witcha, we snuck 4 kids into the house and the hot water is gone
· The Lions are the worst franchise and team in the history of pro sports!
True, that is all too True, Fisher…..

I mean, aside from the anomaly above, how am I supposed to believe anybody anymore? I can't wait for January so we can get through the holidays and "this wretched year".

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

So I'm hiking up the slopes at the crack of smack AM and it takes me a full hour to catch two guys on skis who were skinning up to telemark down. I worked way too hard in my effort to catch them on foot - only 30 yards from the summit mind you - but I'm glad I did. After a few introductions at the top, I come to find out that one of the guys is a hand surgeon -and he happens to be Dr. Durham, who fixed my wrist back in 1997. Small world.

His expertise has allowed me to continue riding mountain bikes after a bad crash - pain free. I LOVE this guy.

Turns out he's already skinned up 8 times this winter.....damn, the mountain was only ready to ski down maybe 13 days ago. So tell me this, he makes bank, has a family, does complicated hand surgery and finds time to spend over 16 hours on the mountain over the last couple of weeks? How do I get me one of those jobs? Oh yeah - have natural talent, apply myself at an early age, and have a goal of what I want to do with my life. Whoops! I blew that one. Guess I better start working on that soon. I've barely made the time to get up the mountain twice and my job ain't 1/10th as complicated as his. Good on ya Dr. Durham. I love you, man.

The lifts were still
Trees dusted white
Moon above
White clouds below
The sun creeps up
but not enough
It's dawn
It's cold
Layin' down first track
Powder in the trees
Up to my knees
I'll be back
Merry Christmas from Flagstaff, Arizona
CB, DB, and Lyza B

Monday, December 22, 2008

My 41st B-day came and went last week like everything else in life – fast. It was a good day capped with cards, cash, and a coupla’ gifts from the girls. Lyza B got me a new pair of sunglasses that I had bought for myself on E-Bay, and D hooked me up with some nice new skivvies. Ellen managed to get my birthday card signed by a dubious list of B-list celebs like Swayze, Kip Winger, Brett Favre, Floyd Landis, Mariah Carey, Erykah Badu, Kid Rock, and A-listers Al Pacino and Keanu Reeves. It was a hilarious card that probably took her a while to assemble – thanks Sheck!

My planned hike up and down in the powder didn’t happen last Wednesday. Too many snowdays, and getting behind at work forced me to skip that attempt. However, we’re getting another 7-10 inches tonight and you can bet that I’ll be at the base of the resort at 5:45am (thank you Subaru). I did manage to hike up on opening day - Saturday morning - to the base of the upper bowl (11,500 feet) and was rewarded with some nice corduroy groomers to get those first choppy turns out of my system. Half way down I was feelin’ groovy and throwing down some deep carves until I got cocky, caught an edge, and went down like a sixer in a trailer park. Ouch – that one hurt. Dusted the snow off and continued on with more respect for the lower half of the run. Based on the tracks, I was the second person down that morning.

Yesterday, out of internal angst, I tried snowshoe ‘running’ last night having spent most of the day Christmas shopping and doing stuff around the house. It was a good workout, but not one that I could see myself getting into. It feels like a slogging death march, and there’s no high speed reward when you come downhill. D would laugh if I even suggested that I ‘ran’ in snowshoes because she knows how much I have gotten away from running except if a neighbor kid is talking trash – then I’ll giddyup and whoop his ass.

41? Just a number baby. So long as I’m still winning snowball fights, playing video games with my girl, and acting immature I’m in a good place.

Friday, December 19, 2008

3 Snowdays and a 2 hour delay

What a week. 24" of snow, Lyza is out of school for three days, plus a 10am start this morning. I can recall a few back to back snowdays in Minnesota growing up, but we never had a trifecta. Let's just say I'm a little behind at work, but, I should be able to make it up this weekend.

Have you seen this?

Snowbowl opens tomorrow with a 50+ inch base, yeah baby, game on. Time to put the mountain bike on ice.

From Bill Simmons: If I had told you in June that Brett Favre would make the Pro Bowl as a Jet and Aaron Rodgers would lead the Pack to a 5-9 record, including an 0-6 mark in games decided by four points or fewer, you would have responded, "And this was followed by Packers fans rioting all over Wisconsin, setting off cheese curd fires, littering the streets with dark beer and hanging themselves with XXXXXL replica Favre jerseys, right?" Nope. Not even close.

Monday, December 15, 2008

My own worst enemy

OK – starting at 12:00pm today, the National Weather Service is saying that we should expect 15-30 inches of snow in 24 hours, plus another 2-4 through Thursday. I drove the Subaru today, and left the rear wheel drive old fashioned car in the driveway as it would never make it back up the hill.

I missed the group of dudes who were headed to Sedona at 9:00am….so 1:15pm on Saturday afternoon and I am out the door. 32x19 so I have a little extra spin for this late season climbing finale, plenty of gear/layers, and unknowingly, a Camelback full of dogwater. Never start a ride with dogwater. I filled up a 110oz reservoir for this estimated 3.5 hour fun fest that hadn’t been filled in months – and it must have had some dust and funk in it because the water had this nasty, semi-solid, backflow sorta taste. D noticed it first when I crossed her path on her way back down from a trail run.

She had furiously chucked her water bottle at a dog she was running with to stop it from running back to the car. The stubborn old dog made a beeline for the prison fence about 3 miles into a run, but got caught by Warden Hard Ass D. She said “I wasn’t going to let this little shit wreck my run”. 8 miles was the plan…that dog hadn’t run 8 miles in a looooong time. At 5’ 3” D appears slight in stature, but don’t f*ck with her workouts. That dog learned her lesson. The owner had a 50/50 horrified – smiling look on her face when told of the incident, but was cool about it – I think.

Anyway, D took a sip of my water since hers was gone, and just about spit it out. Dogwater. I’ve tasted nastier water before, but only from the City of Phoenix faucets. Anyway – onward. The climb from my house to the top of Sunset Trail is about 8 miles, and about 1,800 feet. Once at the top, it was a snowstorm with around 2” of snow on the ground and more coming down. Traction was still fabu, but it was getting’ cold so I plummeted back down to 7,000 feet to the North side of Mt. Elden where the snow turned to flurries but it wasn’t sticking. Singletrack, sand, singletrack, rocks, and not a soul out there… was a great section of trail. The last part of the ride really took me down though. Two-track jeep road into a steady 30mph wind with some bigger gusts. I was standing and pushing that gear as hard as I cold at what felt like 4mph.

Almost exactly 3 and ½ hours later I rolled home and the euphoric feeling of a great ride was quickly washed over by dehydration, and exposure to the wind/cold. I had maybe downed 30-40 ounces max of that crapwater, a bar and a gel. Muscle aches, headache, and just a general “I feel like shit” kicked in. Plus my hot tub was about 5 degrees below optimal because I cleaned it earlier in the day….major white guy problems going on. The prescription for this was filled at Casa Bonita. A huge plate of enchiladas/beans/rice, 100 oz of beer and water, and a bowl of chips/salsa. By 8:30 I was feeling human again. That’s it for the riding season in Flag. With this snowfall tonight, we won’t see trail until March/April. It’s been a great season. Time to take the bike apart, clean-grease-repair-upgrade and fire it back up in a couple of weeks down in Sedona.

Snow day tomorrow – for sure. I’m sure I’ll drag Lyza down to work to shovel snow for a few hours and then we’ll head for the hills and do some sledding.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Got me a new baby Niece!

Callie Danielle Sulger was born last night 'round abouts 8:30pm. My sister and little Callie are doing great. 9lb 4oz. My sister grows 'em big. So of course I started thinking of nicknames right away.

Goin' Back to Callie
Callie D
(insert your nickname here)

Pics to follow, although all smashed head kids pretty much look the same. pink skin, dark know the drill.

Squirty and I are going to make many dozens of christmas cookies tonight and deliver 'em tomorrow 'round town. The snow should be falling from Saturday afternoon through the next five days. I may be able to skin up to the top of the Snowbowl on my birthday next week and get a huge powder run in. I've only snowshoed up and boarded down 2000+ vert of powder once. It took 3 hours to climb up, and the 10 minute ride down was like being on a magic carpet. Could I get that lucky? Maybe!

Best to my Sis, Bro in law Mike, newphew Troy and her new one Callie....can't wait to see you all 'round Christmas.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

I went down to see Yoda today. We played 5 games of racquetball and I took him in 4 of 5. He was tired...had been up since 4am lamenting the fact that the Sedona real estate market has been consumed by its own bad self. Yoda specializes in land sales - residential and commercial - and he couldn't tell me which was worse right now.

He brought his worries to our game, and because of that I got his "b" game today. To even things out, I brought my "b" game as well but for different reasons.

The guy brings out the best in me with regards to sportsmanship, and his game is a constant reminder to me to play in control, and play smart. Back in the locker room, he again laments about the sagging market - and he's upset that he brought that to "the one place where I usually forget about everything". I know the feeling, as I get that escape from r-ball games and tough bike rides. These days, that escape is pretty important.

I had to talk to my crew about potential layoffs, cut hours, and don't even come in to my office and ask for a new logsplitter - I'll buy you an axe and a hatchet instead. Usually I catch some slack time this year, the slow season, but I can already feel the ramp up to the reality of me covering extra shifts for laid off staff. The reality is that when the money is coming in, you can afford to make mistakes and everything is still fine. When money is tight, every misstep is amplified, scrutinized - and thus my back becomes a knot of sinuous material that keeps me up at night.

Got a nice ride in Sedona planned for Saturday - and I won't even remember this blog post for those 3-4 hours of shredding the Sedona red.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Proposed New Year's Resolutions

-Spend less than $86 at Starbucks

-Get Lyza on a board and into guitar lessons

-Patent my 'garage gym' training program, self-publish a book, and sell 100 copies

-Get a newer car before August when mine turns 300K - one that screams "mid life crisis"

-Evolve this blog into an actual website

-End up on a beach in Mexico for at least a long weekend

-Podium once, or twice - age group doesn't count

-Buy something on E-bay, use it for six months, and sell it for a profit

-Wear bib straps over a white T-shirt at a state series race

-See either Sara Bareilles, The White Stripes, or Night Ranger live

Monday, December 8, 2008

11 months + 6 days.....

5:30am rolled around and I found our team campsite at the Pemberton Trailhead. I'd had a calm drive out to the venue, and I was in a very relaxed and mellow state until I opened the car door and was greeted with Tool/Korn/Slipknot......everyone was mumbling and grumbling - fer crissakes I'd have rather heard some Beck, Big Head Todd, or even Barry Manilow. Save the TOOL shit for the start line.

Anyway, still mellow as jello, I got prepared and went down to the line with my teammate C-Dub. Gooooooo! He looked strong at the start and I waited for 1:02 minutes when he came in from the 15.5 mile lap. My turn.

I went with the 2:1 gear ratio and it paid off. I felt strong, rarely spun out, and never felt like I was standing too much at all. 1:03 for me. Back to C-Dub..1:04. Back to me 1:04......and so on. 8 laps later I came in at 4:12 pm and they were only allowing people to start a final lap up until 4:30pm. We figured we were 30+ minutes up on the 4th place team, and 10+ minutes down from the 2nd place team who had already departed for lap #9. We waited at the line until they called the race - high fived - and took a slow 3 mile ride back to camp savoring the highlights of the day. No mechanicals, no injuries, consistent lap times, great weather and a ridiculously fun course that offers everything Flagstaff doesn't have.....smmoooooth crushed gravel, endless water bars to jump on downhills, banked turns and sandy washes to mosh through.

Cat: Men's Open Duo - Singlespeed
Team: Numbnutz
Number: #269 (love the irony)
Distance: 8 laps, 124 miles in 8.75 hours

So I trained, raced, spent $400+ on entry fees and traveled over 1,000 miles for 11 months and six days to get a Pint sized beer glass that says 'third place' on it. Does that even make sense? I know it makes sense to D, Big Steve, Mr. X, C-Dub, EC, and Ellsie. Just livin' the dream baby!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Sittin', thinkin', drinkin'

Put the girls to bed 'round 9pm tonight. Lyza...tired from a good day at school. D....awaiting a new crown for a molar, getting hammered by the exposed nerve. After a couple of valiums, she passed out in a better state.

Me? Out to the garage for my nightly foray into the world of pullups and back exercises. Now I'm sittin in a recliner drinkin' 24 ounces of Tecate, reading Newsweek cover to cover with my old mp3 on random. Radiohead's "High and Dry" - one of the greatest songs ever recorded - comes on and I dunno....the articles talk about transition teams, Michelle Obama, bailouts, Pirates off the coast of Somalia and somehow it all seems OK. How is today much different from, say, 40 years ago? Just different problems and for the politically correct "challenges". The parallels between FDR's transition into office compared to Barack's are strikingly similar and - inspiring.

Me and Slacker Wilkens are jacked for Saturday's Dawn 'til Dusk race in Phoenix. I slapped a 16 tooth cog on the back for a 2-1 ratio for the SS since the course is a moderate climb, rollers and down down down to the line for a 15 mile loop. The 4th lap will hurt if we get to that point. There will be a big cooler of Mexibeverages and some tasty eats. It's December for crissakes - time to train like a slacker and get some AZ sun on my milk-toast Wisconsin-looking face.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Small Town D-Bag

If you're not playing fantasy football, then you're either not a pro football fan or you're not a gambler. If you're still not playing and you ARE both of the above - then you're missing out on a good ol' time. Don't give me the "I don't have time". For fuck's sake, it takes about 15 minutes a week and I guaran-ass-tee that you'll spend more time than that because its fun! Fun I say, fun!

I got into a league this year with some friends, and some people from across the country that I don't know. After toying with my team name, I settled on Small Town D-Bag....paying homage to what has become a team name for several 24-hour cycling teams I've headed up. I found a picture online that suits my team name, and started typing trash-talk messages to the other teams in a redneck dialect that obviously took way too much time to craft - a dead giveaway that I'm really not a redneck, tatted-up, white trash punk. D-bag? yes I am...I'll give you that.

Anyway...phrases like: "I monna kick yer ass, n'after a victry party Ill giv the old lady a thro, n'after o'ccourse she brings me a cold one". See - way too crafted of a sentance to even be legit. The cool thing is that I totally got under one guy's skin and he kept calling me pathetic, pathetic, pathetic until he finally said "stop bothering me". See, I had rallied six other league players by telling them how to get under this guy's skin and he was tired of being bombarded by what now became the D-bag army. Ohhhh yeah, that's what I'm talkin' about. Messin with this guy to the point where my ficticious D-bag character was on his mind in his dreams gives me great pleasure. He was even calling the league commissioner to whine about "why did you get this guy in the league".

"At the end of the day", Fantasy football is all about money and all that other stuff I mentioned is just the fun part of playing. I'm in contention for a $450 prize if I continue to do well. After a 1-3 start, I'm now 8-4 thanks to a couple of trades that worked out in my favor. My right hand girl at work is smack dab in the middle of the pack - playoff bound though - so we have some trash talking coming up if we meet in the playoffs.

Fantasy football - don't miss it next year.
I'm not a "quote" guy - unless they are really freakin' funny. But this one speaks volumes about the current state of our economy.

Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” -Thomas Edison

Monday, November 24, 2008

There’s a nasty little three letter word that just caught me on Saturday as I was coming around a switchback high in the Flag peaks. FCK? SHT? Nope…….AGE caught me and “done kicked the shi* outta me”. I have never been one of “those guys”. You know, the dude that sits on the ground after a race and contorts himself in sweaty lyrca all the while you’re trying to enjoy a cold one….or the dude who uses a tree as leverage to pretzel himself while he talks about his race. Stretching. What a waste of time, right?

I was stoved up, and the thought of riding again on Sunday was not even an option.

The remedy was a 1.25 hour session on Dana’s massage table Sunday evening. I legitimately cried, screamed, laughed, pounded the table, and begged her to count her sequences out loud so I knew how long her elbows and forearms would be crushing my legs. Once I went through the painful interrogation of my IT band and hamstrings, I thought calves would be easy. Easy? Holy crap was I wrong. Prisoners should be interrogated this way because I was unquestionably questioning why in the hell her clients would pay for this.

Alarm at 4:45 this morning – I get up and feel…..good. Really good. Fortunately the memory is still as fresh as a bottle of Bud Light, and I am 1000% committed to spending 15 minutes after each ride – stretching – and being “one of those guys”. I promise I’ll change out of the spanducci’s first though.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

7 lines about 15 hours

Blew off work today.
Rode the SS for 2.5 hours in the ridiculously quiet woods.
Spent some good time with D.
Spent some good time with Lyz.
Said goodnight.
Now I'm listening to Weezer and heading to the garage to punch my hanging meat.
Josh said that first.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

I moved to Flagstaff to have weather. Changes in weather. Rain. Snow. Wind. All that and a bag o' chips. Well 78 out of the last 81 days have had no measurable precipitation and all we've had is wind - big wind - during a normally calm fall season. The forecast calls for 10 more days in the 50's and 60's with nothing but sun. The trails are dry, and the riding is good - but my snowboard is tuned with nothing to do.

Time for a change since the days are all too short right now meaning riding time has been squeezed into a small timeframe. So I've re-entered the world of strength training. Not at the gym - hell no - I can't succumb to the pressure of lifting weights alongside buffed out 20-year olds with sticks for legs, trophy wives with racks of Gibraltar who catch a peek of themselves in the meathead mirrors any chance they get, and everybody - I mean everybody - has headphones on. Crazy anti-social...........but the real reason I'm skipping the gym is that I like my little home setup.

For me it means a chin up bar in the garage, and an old piece of outdoor carpeting on the cement floor for pushups and crunches. Bodyweight exercises, something I've been doing intensely on and also intensely off for about 10 years. Rocky-style, man. Maybe I'll lift some logs in the snow and throw them off a cliff and scream in Russian, or run 15 miles in a blizzard with no shirt with songs from SURVIVOR on my headphones. OK -scrap that. The truth is I have a space heater in my garage and my bike on a stand so I can do repairs in between sets. It's pretty comfortable. Call it the man-cave, call it a poor man's gym. The goal is to stay dedicated to this for three months and emerge a little bit stronger for the 2009 race season. Eye of the Tiger baby.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Lyza has discovered that auto racing on an X-box is a whole hella lotta fun. Her learning curve was about 3x shorter than mine, and it has now become a smash-up derby as we beat the tar outta each other. Wait, an hour went by playing video racing?? OUTSIDE! So outside we go to play ‘500’ with her buddy Nate Dog. You know – toss a nerf about 50 yards in the air – call out a number (say 200!) and whoever catches the nerf gets 200 points. OK – enough of that, back in for some more auto racing. And so it goes….mix in some fine espresso, good food, and a couple of Tecate’s for me and it’s a weekend full o’ fun.

I managed to get out on a great SS ride Saturday…into hellacious winds that were probably from the same front that hit California and wiped out 700+ homes. Of course – the downhill ride home was so fast, and so fun that it made the singletrack climb into the headwind well worth it. Sunday’s ride – short and weak. I sucked – just plumb tired I think. My legs feel like fallen timber. Me and CDub are doing a dawn til dusk duo on 12/5 in good ol’ Phoenix on a wicked fast desert track. What’s my motivation? That’s my motivation right now.

D may have snagged a few more clients for her bustling massage business by simply running in the woods on Sunday morning and hitting a pasta party at the kitchen store on Sunday night. I’m still amazed regarding how effective word-of-mouth is in a small town. All of those marketing classes I’ve attended would reap a whole lotta’ cost and not a lotta’ results in Flag-town. Good for her, it’s growing like she hoped.

I’m one employee down going through the rest of 2008 and into 2009 – and we won’t replace him. My accountant/controller is gone which means we’re “absorbing” the position….read more hours for me and my right hand girl Rose D. Oh well, at least I have a job. I’m gratefruit grateful for that!

Friday, November 14, 2008

It was heartbreaking, but I decided to not get my new root beer single speed smoothie due to a combination of no money and technical specifications (the new 51mm offset forks are cool but limiting). So as a therapeutic measure I scraped up a couple hundie and pro-dealed a new chrome accented Rudy Project helmet and new RP shades. This new helmet has three chrome finish points – so I’ll look faster when I lumber by in the middle of the pack – maybe some punk will think I’m lapping the field, and you can be sure I’ll embellish my effort to make it look like that is the case.

Why didn’t I save the two hundie for retirement? - my financial planning father would ask. Oh, Dad, that’s because in two months I’ve lost 1/3 of the value of my IRA that I have been putting money into for 19 goddamned years. I’ve got a word for retirement and it’s spelled F-U-C-K-E-D. No, I’m not pulling what’s left out of the mutual funds, because I’ve spent a lifetime playing blackjack the same way….Here’s my strategy: stay at the same freakin’ table when you go on a losing streak, out of spite, thinking you can win it back, when in fact I’m bleeding cash with horse blinders on because I keep saying ‘one more hand’. Great strategy huh?

It worked once in 1998, and as I did a death spiral down to my last $10 at Circus Circus in Vegas – I fought back to being up over $500 in about 10 minutes. For some reason, I always remember that a lot more than the 234 other times where my last $10 evaporated into the dealer’s bank and I just walked back up the room and slept it off.

What to do?

If my savings goes down another third, I’m seriously considering taking the remainder and putting it on black. Always bet on Black.

This afternoon I’m going to take my old frame, and my old fork, and my old brakes, and my old wheels and snazz ‘em up with my new helmet and shades on the Flagstaff singletrack. Knowing I made just one smart financial decision by not buying a new bike makes that chrome sparkle….even though I know that shimmer will fade. For now, today, at 4:00pm sharp, I get to go ride in the woods – life is good.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Thumped by Thumper

At 6:15am, me and the boyz - C-dub, Sully, and JT - roll on down to infamous “Rottonwood”, AZ where there are more McCain/Palin stickers, assault rifles, and methe labs per capita than any other city in our glorious state. A scant 48 miles, and a 3,700 foot elevation drop from my front door, Cottonwood is the very last place you would ever consider wearing a lycra cycling costume, so we wisely chose to host this little event at a patrolled state park on choice singletrack – because people on Rottonwood don’t frequent trails you can’t use a Quad on. I’ve been cursed, and nearly flattened on my road bike down there and I’m not goin’ down that road again, so to speak.

Race rules: 6 hours. 7 mile loop. 8am start. 10 dudes. Whoever does the most laps…wins. 50 degrees at the start, 75 at the finish.

The Thumper loop is 2.5 miles up an old jeep road called Raptor with about 500 feet of climbing and plenty of ‘steps’ so you can haul ass in between pitches – if you got anything left. Then 2.5 miles down and across a fun as shit singletrack section called Thumper, and on down another 2 miles on the Lime Kiln trail that’s again, fun as shit.

7 laps won it. I finished five laps and was one lap from max….as in I could have done six, but, five other dudes had quit when I came around after five laps and had what looked like an ice cold 300 gallon cooler full of assorted cheap Mexican malt beverages. How do you keep riding when you know you’re going to finish 4th on the day regardless – and that cooler was fo’ reals! The sad part is that I was spent and could only put down one 99 cent can of Modelo. Next time, I’m not trying so hard. Five seven mile laps doesn’t seem like a lot, but Thumper is mean….steep, rocky, sandy, with loads of two and three foot drops which were doable on laps 1-4, but I started getting sloppy and weak on lap five and it was time to quit before I got a ticket to the Cottonwood ER which is short for a Veterinary Clinic.

My pal Sheck came by for a surprise visit from over the hill in Clarkdale. She rolls up in her air cooled (you always have to mention that to a VW junkie) Karmann Ghia that’s like 35 years old…..canary yellow. Sweet. All the guys were like – WHO DAT?! That’s my pal motherf*ckers, and she’ll kick yo’ ass.

24 hours later I wake up to 2” of snow in my back yard. And, I gotta go to work at the crack o’ smack. Weekends go entirely too fast.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Recently, D decided to clean out her closet and I'm thinkin' - "hey - sell this stuff on can make some pretty good $$ for the name brand stuff".

Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong.

I've sold 50+ items on E-Bay including bikes, clothes, and electronics along with a few household items and have received probably 15 questions total for those items. D has received no less than 15 e-mails for ONE FREAKIN' LISTING regarding measurements of sleeves, hemlines etc. Then there was this memorable nugget:

D sells a tank top for something like $3 plus $5 shipping. The actual cost to ship the tank was around $2, but you figure $1 for the envelope, and a couple bucks to get it to the post office....the chick who bought it gets all snarky and sends an e-mail that says 'you better check your shipping prices'. I take the liberty of responding and this bitch fires back again - she has to be one of those "get the last word in" types - her husband must be insane or she's really hot and he's putting up with it for the short term. Anyway, D deleted her response as I was ready to lay down a profanity-laced tirade......over a $3 tank top. Wow - blood pressure medication please because I'm about to blow.

This E-Bay thing for chicks is a complete catastrophe. Dudes can buy from each other because a large shirt is, guess what....wait for it....LARGE. A used stereo component is, wait for it again, USED!

F*ck - I need a bike ride. I got one yesterday...three hours worth including busting some snow crust up around 9,500 feet. Then I went to look at the new root beer rig I have been coveting. Everything is legit except for the stem/bar. I can switch that out in a snap.

Oh and Josh, I'm not even thinking about giving you D's E-Bay links for fear of one of your rideandsmilz questions!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The first thing I checked this morning was the early exit interviews out of New Hamp.....ok, I'm lying. I checked to make sure I kicked the crap out of my friend in fantasy football and YES - I kicked his ass to the curb.

Barack the Vote...

Friday, October 31, 2008

Met C-dub yesterday @4pm. The mano-a-mano single speed race was "on" as soon as we turned in the same direction. No words, just go like hell. He punished me up Elden Lookout Road, climbing 1000 feet about 45 seconds ahead of me. I made it up on the drop back down the other side, and we duked it out on the back side of the loop with both of us passing each other when one made a boneheaded move on a tehnical section. Quick handshake at the start of the loop and home our separate ways.

No small talk, no time for that....the sun had set a while back and it was riding by braille and memory for the last mile of singletrack to my door. Hot tub for 45 minutes to warm up and feeling good again. Feelin' great actually.
Upper left corner? Coming to my garage sssoooonnn.
Happy Halloween y'all....

Thursday, October 30, 2008

#4 of Four

We went to the North Rim in late October to see some fall colors, and to hike down into the canyon for a night via the North Bright Angel Trail. It was a Tuesday and we had not seen anyone since passing through the park Boundary near Jacob’s Lake. Sweet!

Our one night camp site was set in a few minutes. We enjoyed a nice sunset, boiled up some dehydrated chili which was actually pretty good, played a little cribbage, and then off to bed so we had plenty of energy for the hike the next morning.

I awoke to a hissing sound, and I was a little freaked out because it wasn’t intermittent – it was steady. Fleece pants – on, hat – on, shoes – on….and out of the tent following the sound with my ears and headlamp. You gotta be kidding me. Pebbles were duct taped over the valves on my rear tires, and the tires were about ¼ of the way down when I saw them. I pulled the tape off, stopped the leaking air, and when my adrenaline should have calmed down – it spiked. There had to be someone nearby and I was armed with the sum total of a headlamp.

About 100 yards behind me, a set of headlights came on with the start of an engine and I froze in the light like Drew Barrymore in Poltergeist. The driver hit the gas, and took off. I didn’t see much of anything…..the license, I didn’t see who was driving, and by that point about the only thing I saw were images in my head of pee running down my leg. My girl woke up when the car started and called out from the tent when she realized I wasn’t in my bag. I didn’t even know what to say – should I let it go and sleep with one eye open or tell her what happened and ruin the trip? What happened next made the decision for us.

That truck was coming back. It stopped about ¼ mile away, killed its lights and the engine. We started our car, turned on the headlights, locked the doors and waited. And waited. I told Kathy to stay in the car while I opened the hatch and literally just picked up our tent and threw it in the car – bags, pads included. We drove towards the truck as it was the only road out, and gunned it as we went by. I wasn’t taking the time to see a license plate – just get the hell outta there. It was a quiet ride home with both of us looking around until we reached 89A. We got back to Flag around 5am and had shots of tequila in the kitchen until we were laughing about it and then passed out until Monday morning.

-As told by our good friend Kareeminess

Happy Halloween

Looks like my neighbor with the big TV, but 'tis none other than John Daly after a Sunday night bender at a Hooters.

Like the orange halloween flavored jumpsuit.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Halloween chronicles part 3

In sixth grade, the cool thing to do on Halloween was to go and Tee-Pee houses. We got the tip-off from some 8th graders that this one particular house of a very attractive girl would be empty and we could really hammer it with the Tee-Pee.

Stocked up by Charlie’s older brother Jimmy – who bought TP for us, three packs at a time over the course of a week - Me, Rich, Charlie, and Matt were armed and loaded and used huge newspaper delivery bags to hide the ammo. We were half way through the covering of Lara’s house, trees, storage shed, and a 2nd car in the driveway when a car pulled up – like real fast – and 4 dudes got out shouting “get the little f*ckers!”. We scattered like buckshot and I remember blazing a path around a couple of neighboring houses, and then doubling back to the house we Tee-Pee’d. I grabbed my Schwinn Traveler 10 speed – left the newspaper bag and hit the gas. One of the pursuers grabbed Rich’s bike, but it was really small on him and as soon as we hit a hill I rode away. That bike was FAST, and with 10 speeds, you could really light the pavement on fire….or so I thought then. I made it home, locked the door, and that was enough excitement for me.

Charlie got away too, but it turns out Matt and Rich got hauled back to a basement where Muk Muk was waiting for them. Muk Muk – aka Mark Studinski was the leader of the local Eagle Scouts. He was big, had angry zits, extraordinarily strong, sadistic, and as far as where his is in the world right now, you could tell me he was in prison for killing someone, or he’s worked his way up to French fry cook at the In and Out Burger in Indio, California – either story I’d buy 100%. Back then, he was pretty freakin’ scary.

He starts with Rich, and makes him confess to the Tee-Pee job by giving him a purple nurple; twisting your nipple to the right and left until you cry. Then Matt went down like a folding chair. They ratted me and Charlie out, and Muk Muk stalked me for a week until he finally caught me alone. I got off the bus, walked to my house and there he was like Michael Myers hiding in a tree next to our garage. Too late…I was toast. One purple nurple, and a few cuss words later……and it was over. F*ck you Muk Muk.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

graduation and a good day on the bike..

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Halloween riding chronicles, part two of four:

3 o'clockish on a Saturday in December of 1998 and I'm riding some of the more remote trails in the Dry Creek area of Sedona. I remember stopping at the creekbed - dry creekbed that is - for a second to check my rear derailleur -it had been clicking in 3rd gear - quick barrel adjustment on the cable and I was all OK - clip in, and start riding ahead again. I pass a guy geared up in full downhill riding pads, and a full face hello from him after a greeting from me. Whatever - he was going up to my down and probably working hard with all that gear on.

I finish a rocky climb, and am coasting on the flat when I just feel someone behind me. Same dude as before I think, after a glance back to what looked like a guy dressed in mostly black. I just figure he'll pass me when he's ready. Maybe 20 minutes later, after a drop into a sandy wash I have that same feeling....glance back, and a guy is stopped and standing at the top of the wash - maybe 100 yards back. A black silhouette against the backdrop of the sun, it was easy to see it was him again. I took a hard left back up the wash and circle back to where I saw him standing. Now he's gone. OK - whatever. I thought it was a mechanic named Little Dave who works at the local shop and I would just say Hi.

I know of a little game/goat trail that leads towards Cottonwood and I plow down it with another hour of light left figuring I'd take the jeep roads back to my car under moonlight. Once again, I get that feeling, look back, and its the same guy riding about 50 yards back. I continue, but slow down a does he. I hit the gas for two minutes - hard. So does he. We both stop. I look back, and call out: "Dude - you comin' through or what?". He casually picks up his bike, turns around, and rides back the way we came - no reponse. Now I'm 1/2 ticked off, and 1/2 a little freaked so I continue on at a moderate pace - looking back every couple of minutes. No sign of him. The singletrack dumps out onto the jeep road and it's twilight. With 45 minutes of dirt roads to ride, I'll be back after dark.

Maybe 20 minutes in, I look up to my right and see him again - a good 1/4 mile away, up on the side of a Butte. It had to be him. Same bulky figure with the gear on, but the light was so low and I wasn't positive. He watches me like an owl protecting his territory as I spin by on the road. I just continue along with no intentions other than getting to my car. He slips out of sight as the contour of the road takes me away from his perch. Darkness....back at the car, I change, put the bike up on the rack, and hop in for the drive home. Keys in the ignition - and I see a piece of paper tucked under my wiper.....can't be a ticket or a disount pizza flyer out here that's for sure. It said:

"roses r red
tonight is dark and blue
u can't see me but I can c u"

About a week later I was in the Bike and Bean, and Dan - who sold me my bike six months prior - is making me an Americano. We exchange pleasantries and goodbye's and as I'm heading to the door he says "did you get my note?"
Four years ago today, I rode out to Walnut Canyon for a night ride. Walnut Canyon has a lot of historical significance to it, primarily because it was home to many Native Americans. Cliff dwellings still exist, as well as certain off-limit burial ground sections.

I remember the night being warm, and I was riding well, cutting through the darkness with an HID light that could pave the way for a car. It’s a 20 mile out and back ride, and I reached the half way mark after a twisty, technical drop into the mouth of Walnut Canyon. I stopped, turned off my light, looked at my watch – 10:55pm, and took a look up at a moonless night and an abundance of stars. With shadowed 500 foot rock walls on two sides – it was sight I won’t forget.

‘ching ching’….’ching ching’. It was as if someone was maybe 50 yards away – into the mouth of the canyon – shaking chains in a semi-rhythmic pattern. ‘ching ching’…..’ching ching’.

Now I know that there are occasionally homeless people that sleep in the woods, and Walnut Canyon is within 5 miles of a Wal-Mart – so enough said there. But, it was late at night, a long way for someone to haul chains so they could shake them, and it was pitch freakin’ black. Indian Burial ground was all I could think of in that instance.

‘ching ching….’ching ching’. It wasn’t stopping and it felt like it was getting louder. My heart stopped, resumed, and got louder too. I turned my light on, flipped 180 degrees and hammered up to the rim as fast as I could. A sign at the top indicated that a right would take me to the overlook and a left would take me home. I chose overlook, turned off my light, and walked carefully to the edge to surely catch a glimpse of the A-hole transient who was messing with me. Darkness. Just the breeze blowing the trees. No chains. A million stars, but my heart was still racing.

Once again, I flipped it 180 degrees and was ready to wrap this up. ‘click’ – my light wouldn’t come on. ‘click’ again, no luck. OK – my mind is now one step away from freak out mode. I let my eyes adjust to the dark as much as possible, and pulled the battery and bulb connections – gave them a quick dust off – reconnect them…..’click’. The bulb came on, and I was in business. I glanced at my watch to see where I was at time-wise. 10:55pm? That was the time when I had stopped at the bottom of the canyon. My freakin’ watch had stopped?!

Hauling ass, and headed for a shortcut back to town, I was ready to be home behind a locked door. I was apologizing to unknown Indians all the way home (I sort of lost my political-correctness at that point), when pffffffffffffffffft. Flat tire. I’m running Geax Sturdy 2.5 tires and I flat? I changed that thing frantically, pounded the pedals home, got inside, locked the door, and told D what the hell had happened. She said off the cuff “that’s Indian Burial Ground out there”. Then she asked me if my watch was working….man, I totally forgot about that. It said 12:05am. You gotta be kidding me. It was 25 minutes behind and was working again. 25 minutes was the time it usually takes me to climb out of the canyon.

I haven’t been back there since.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

weekend of recovery

slept – 18 hours, rode – 3.5 hours, cleaned the house and yard – 5.5 hours, saw Stanley Jordan play some lights out improvisational guitar – 2 hours. That’s 29 hours. I’m not sure what happened with the other 19 hours, but we sure didn’t waste any of it as it involved family time, cleaning out camping gear from last weekend and eating as much as possible.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Bid IT up....

Thursday, October 16, 2008

In the hot tub last night looking up at a full moon, I finally had a moment of clarity. I decided that Coldplay is to the 00's as Ambrosia was to the '70's.

So an old friend walks into the CafĂ© today, sits down and orders lunch. I walk by, recognize him – we shake hands and small talk for a bit. He says “what did you think of the debate last night?” I said “I’m a big Obama fan, and I thought he did well”. He got up out of this chair, walked off, and said “I can’t even be around this”. He paid his tab, and I never saw him again.

Wow – totally caught me off guard. Adios old friend, I hope I see you back after 11/4.

I slept in this morning and pried myself out of bed for a 1-hour singlespeed romp. It waddn’t no romp. It was a borderline deathmarch. I’m still coughing up dust from Moab, picking it out of my ears, and I rode about as fast as Jared from Subway on a Dasani Mountain Bike that he won from a grocery store giveaway. Everything hurt, and I was in early season form at best. That damn Moab trip about ground me down to a small lump of used Folger’s Coffee grounds. I figure I’ll bounce back, but damn – I haven’t been this low in a while.

My housekeeping crew said to me in broken English today: “You need a tall car because you are very big and your little car you look funny in”. “You know, like a Hummer or a Truck”. Hmmmm. I was actually thinking of getting a smaller car.

I handed over the books for Red Rock Racing today….no more Treasury duties for me. I feel like a free man. The politics of running a social club far exceed those that I deal with at work. Crazy, but true. We’re running a lean team for 2009 – probably less than 30 members – but that means more $$ to race and travel with. Good times ahead.

If you're a Cubs fan, isn't this the year that you finally said "F*ck the F*ckin' Cubs, they f*ckin' let me the f*ck down every f*ckin' year and I'm f*ckin' done with this sh*t".

This chick at the bank today thought it was really "impressive" that I ride "those bikes without motors". I kiddingly gave her my best Jack Nicholson impression from A Few Good Men and said "Is there any other kind" - a reference to the word "danger" in the film. She didn't get it even for a second and gave me one of those indifferent laughs. I realized she was 20 years old when she indicated she was excited to go to Karma Sushi next week and get a beer at the bar - legally. So, she was roughly FOUR when that movie was released......and I'm still quoting lines from it. Nice. Dirty Old Man.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Sunny and warm on Sunday.....

Check your results at these dust-bowl workstations.....

Flattened tent at the campsite next to ours.....

Chris W carving one of the sandy bowls, and yours truly stuck in lap 1 traffic on an LA-like dirt freeway.....

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Monday, October 13, 2008

24 hours of wind

We rolled into Moab with an hour of light to go on Friday and immediately put on our costumes and hit the trail for a pre-ride. Picture a 15 mile jeep road in an idyllic red rock setting…..but the kind of jeep road that only converted crawlers can drive on…..ledges, deep sandy washes, short and steep climbs and descents, off-camber slickrock, and dirt halfpipes that you rode like a snowboard – 15.2 miles of shit-eating grin fun. I love this sport! We managed to eke out 11 miles before we lost sight and had to take a shortcut back to camp. Set up camp, eat pounds of pasta, and sitting fireside with our not-so-talkative neighbors who all lived in Snowmass, CO. 11:30pm rolls around and we’re in our bags for the night. Then, the wind. We had a 30mph tailwind on the drive north. It subsided at dusk, shifted, and came on from the SW like a house-a-fire around midnight.
We were buckled down…tents staked, gear stored so we only had a ½ empty Gatorade cooler full of water dump onto the ground, but when you have 200+ campsites and now a 30mph sustained wind with 70mph gusts, the shit was flying Wizard of Oz style. EZ Ups – bye bye. Tents – bye bye. Campstoves – bye bye. It was insane and the only way I could get even an hour of sleep was by putting in my headphone buds and turning up the music loud enough to not hear my rainfly snapping in the wind all night.

Up at dawn, and huddled near the van for shelter, the wind was now worse. Our lead guy was kinda edgy, and not happy out about the LeMans start so I said I’d take it and he could go 2nd. I haven’t run in over a year, so that was a stupid thing to volunteer for but hey – I’m a team player early on at these events. If you asked me the same question at 4am I’d say “F-U!”. We all put on fat 2.3 to 2.5 front tires after the pre-ride to alleviate crashing in the sand, and that turned out to be the best gear decision ever.

Gooooooooooooooo! It was a 400 yard sprint across a prairie dog hole infested dirt field into the wind. I blew like a grenade after sprinting 350 of those yards and coasted into the bike staging area in the first 1/3 of the field with two crying sets of quadriceps. For 11 miles racers were elbow to elbow passing and getting passed until things finally sorted themselves out. My first lap was tough with the run, the traffic, and getting my ass handed to me on the backside portion of the course that we missed on the pre-ride. It was a sandy/rocky climb with that aforementioned headwind that took a lot more energy than I thought. CW, Alex and JT all threw down solid times on their first laps with Alex smoking the course in under 1:20. He’s 50 years old and still killin’ it.

Much more into the groove on lap 2, and I finished it with a lot less effort and the same time as lap one at dusk. Strip, warm clothes, stretch, eat the equivalent in calories of a dozen Krispy Kremes, tune the bike, legs up and stay warm. That’s the routine and before ya know it, it’s time to strip, put on the riding clothes, mix your bottle(s), check your gear one last time and head down to the line to wait for your buddy. Once again, CW, Alex and JT were solid and steady and we were sitting in 15th place. Third lap started at midnight for me, and it was as if ¾ of the field were riding like their first time on a bike - walking everywhere in fear of the drop offs, mistakenly hitting sandy seeps that forced them off their bikes, yet the top riders were still flying like it was noon. I passed a few dudes in our class and moved us up three notches. I was cold, hot, cold, hot and then really cold - but had a steady lap of around an hour and a half and rolled into the start house ready for a rest – no teammate though. Fuck. I storm up to camp and much to my chagrin CW’s in his tent with what smells like a pile of puke near his vestibule. He mumbles “I’m sick, food poisoning I think, I can’t ride – sorry”. We sorted out a new order between me, Alex, and JT, but we lost 40 minutes in the process. Game over. We fell like a stone from 12th to 29th place. CW rallied after sleeping for 10 hours, and did the final lap for us in a good time. Rather than food poisoning, I think he might have come close to hypothermia on his second lap as he only barfed once and had more issues with communicating and coordination than anything else. Net result at 12:00pm on Sunday….27th place out of 84 teams.

Fortunately, riding season never ends in Flagstaff if you’re willing to drive 35 miles. Cottonwood is hosting a little 6-hour event on the Thumper trail in early November and I’d love to saddle on up and ride in the warm sun for a change. Maybe even on my new rig and start thinking about the 2009 racing calendar.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The weekend was a blur. D and I went for a hike on Saturday in the peaks. The leaves were turning gold, the dogs were loving the 45 degree day, and literally - just as we got back to the car - it started dumping a cold cold cold rain. Got home, threw some fuel into the woodburing stove and heated the house from a cold 62 to a balmy 72 in a few hours. Somehow the day just slid away and we were awake on Sunday morning with WTF faces on. Sunday bought on the Red Rock Racing fall BBQ. We met at 10:00am and rode up into the peaks to see more fall colors. Back at the trailhead to a catered BBQ lunch. It started getting cold again around 3:00pm and everyone just packed the hell up and went home to warm up. Good times. We had 25+ teammates, and it was great to see everyone for a last hurrah before the snow covers the trails.

Speaking of snow, there were 6" above 9,000 feet. The snow capped peaks were a pretty dramatic backdrop for the BBQ. I pulled out my snowboard Sunday night and it needs a little work - sharpen the edges, and a fresh coat of wax.

We leave for Moab on Friday AM. I'm trained, I've been tapering unintentionally (read: not riding as much), and I think I am ready to give that event everything I have.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Instead of watching the scripted, inevitable “debate” results last night, I went on over and played two racquetball matches on a quest for the points title in our league - #1 seed is a good thing to get so I can have an easier route to the finals. Match one, against a 20-something lefty, was over before it started. Rookie = Cotton shirt (WTF – those things weigh 10+ pounds when you’re sweaty, and then you get chills after your match), brand spankin’ new $200 Ektelon racquet, ultra baggy basketball shorts, and a little snip of ‘tude before we started………. until he lost 15-5, 15-0. He basically quit in the second game and I was enjoying beating him into the ground when I knew he was done.

Match two featured Tim Tim the Grocery Route Man. Nice guy, good competitor, and a pretty solid game. He was capitalizing on any mistake I made in the first game and that’s the mark of a good player. Unfortunately for Tim, his backhand was shaky. He couldn’t defend against a ceiling shot and got himself into a lot of situations where he had to play off the back wall. He also had a hard time getting to drive serves on his backhand side with two knee braces and all. 15-8 and 15-2. Racquetball is completely about identifying your opponent’s weakness(es) and then making them hit the shots they don’t want to hit……all night. It’s fun watching them mentally melt down and then physically give up. It’s happened to me many times, especially when I was learning the game, and I’ve broken 5+ racquets over temper tantrums. I know, real mature – but It’s been three years since I last did that so I’m growing up……. 7:30pm, and call it a night on the courts and back home with Squirty in tow. She hit some balls on an empty court with the club pro. She’s kinda into it, so who knows – she’ll be kicking my carcass to the curb in ten years.

OK – so 64% said Palin did better than expected, 83% said Biden is ready to be VP, and 34% said Palin is ready to be VP. 57% said Biden won the debate. Wow – those are shocking results, that everyone saw coming. If I knew what the results would be before sitting down to play Blackjack I’d be retired right now. Can we just get this election over with and

A chill weekend coming up with a few rides and hikes planned. team BBQ this weekend – outside - despite a good chance of snow above 8,500 feet. SNOW?! Yeah baby, that’s what I said.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

I haven’t actually sat down and watched a baseball game on TV since ‘nam, so I reckon I shouldn’t be disappointed that the Twins lost a play-in game against the White Sox yesterday. 162 games – and they tie, so a coin flip determines a home game in Chicago and a 1-0 win for the Sox gets it done. Being a fan of small-market teams, I’m now going to order a Milwaukee Brewers Cap from Mills Fleet Farm – you know – the square bill trucker style hat that looks like crap on anyone’s head, but says loud and proud BREWERS.

I totally crushed a sales guy yesterday – we were basically signed and sealed and I pulled the plug on him at the last minute because of a better offer. I could just feel the punch to his stomach when I said “Mike, we’re gonna stick with Chase Bank because they stepped up and beat your offer”. For a minute I thought about him missing meals because of guys like me who don’t sign on the dotted line. Then, I remembered that he smokes like a controlled burn bonfire – so maybe he can cut that out first before the meals. I have a feeling he’ll be having a Marlboro sandwich for dinner regardless of what I do or don’t do.

I’m sure not crushing the competition on the bike. Although I’ve been doing “maintenance” training – just trying to stay in shape for Moab in 10 days, I’ve been slacking off a bit on the two wheels. That new Rig I posted a few days back has me ready to sell two bikes to get it. I better talk to the Ways and Means Committee Chairperson – Dana – before I do anything snarky like make a call to the shop, wait three days, drive to Cottonwood, pick up a new Root Beer Float Rig, drive home and justify it by saying something like “I’ll pay it off….soon. I just got a Trek Credit Card with no interest and no payments for 12 months”. Come to think of it, isn’t it offers like that that have us in an economic death spiral? Not really – but they don’t help the situation any.

Word on the ‘net’ is that Joe Biden is going to do the debate tomorrow, and then withdraw from the DEM ticket due to “health issues” and Hillary will then be substituted. There are a lot of rumours (sp. for you Sheck) on the web, and that would be a colossal one if it became true.

I wonder where the Biggest Loser is in his pursuit of the prize at work?

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

An end of the season father-daughter camping trip was nothing but fun. Lyza and our neighbors from down the street had a good time camping on the shores of Beaver Creek. Catching lizards, bugs, and trying to catch fish with their bare hands - good luck. We got a light dusting of rain at night, but otherwise it was warm and the water was too. No politics to talk about on this trip, just fun with the girls and kickin' it with the critters out there surrounding us.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Bike Porn.....

what i would do for this new version of my tried and true single speed Rig. Rootbeer even, nice.

Last night I got my legs back. My racquetball legs. It was as if I had to coax them out of retirement. Up until game #1 with Krazy Kevin, I had nothing.....flat footed, no anticipation, and poor footwork for kill shots. Then, it was like a switch went off and my legs remembered how to get r dun. Of course, all of the connective tissue in my legs is trashed and I'm hobblin' around a bit this morning - but damn it feels good to be back again. Krazy Kev and Wacky Warren took their beatings well and I walked away content to be playing well again.

Holy Frijoles the Twins just swept the Sox and now have a 1/2 game lead going into the final weekend of the never-ending MLB season. Somehow, this team seems to squeak into the playoffs year after year on their paltry payroll. I hope they can take Kansas City down this weekend and lock 'r up. Then - maybe meet the Cubbies in the WS? OK - get I'm off the crack pipe now.

D has her first client in her official new massage room downtown. Here she goes - off and running with her own business. I know she can do it.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Back in the saddle this morning for a 1 hour spinout. D was scheduled for a crown on a tooth, so I dropped her Valium'ed head off at the dentist, pounded out an hour on the bike - S*it/Shave/Shower, and back to pick her up in my monkey suit. Drop her back at the Chateau and off to work.

I'm pissed -

Can you believe the Feds (read: WE - the taxpayers) are bailing out the falling financial markets? "The bailout of Fannie and Freddie, the purchase of AIG, and the latest multi-hundred billion dollar Treasury scheme all have one thing in common: They seek to prevent the liquidation of bad debt and worthless assets at market prices, and instead try to prop up those markets and keep those assets trading at prices far in excess of what any buyer would be willing to pay." - Ron Paul

All I know is a lot of people were living way above their means for a long time and the honeymoon is over. I just wish those that created this mess would pay for it individually - and those that chose to forego the lure of getting easy money would not be punished.

Off the soapbox and back to work.....Go Twins!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Overheated, Deflated, and Defeated........

Have you ever been set up on a date by a friend, and when you meet your date, you’re not really excited about spending an entire evening with her? However, since you’re committed to several hours you do what you can to find some redeeming qualities. Maybe she has bank, maybe her snorting laugh is followed by a cute smile, or maybe her sense of humor carries the conversation at a really comfortable feeling until your date is ova.

All of this came to mind ½ way through my first lap at the Payson Stampede this past weekend. Me, Ben S, his wife Sarah, and their mutt Shamus arrived at 9:30am and had plenty of time to set up camp and get ready to roll out at 12:00pm. It was warm – 88 degrees, but I had visions of blissful singletrack a la Sedona, AZ on my mind and I was pumped to get out on the trail. Gooooooooo! It was a ¼ mile Le Mans start and we jogged it at a careful pace. Ben is a lot faster than me but he was riding 24 hours so he was content to hang with me for at least the first part. I Grabbed the bike, and my Camelbak which was equipped with enough fluids, food, gels, and tools for a six hour effort. That was the plan – ride six hours – refill – and ride six more.

Back to that ½ way through the first lap part. I found myself looking for any reason to be excited about this “date” I was now committed to. The bitch turned out to be 8 miles of old mining roads, and + or - two miles of pavement. These roads were old, washed out, and laden with some sharp rocks on the downs, and steep and sandy on the ups. There wasn’t a shady spot anywhere, and two of the climbs were so steep that my front tire was bobbing on and off the ground for 100 yards while I was just trying to stay upright in granny gear. A few people who had hiked out to the steeps were cheering – and made them more climbable to me, but I had to walk a few each lap because I just didn’t have the juice to climb them.

4 laps down, only one hamstring cramp, and the early evening temps were taking the sting of the heat away. I was eating enough to feel OK, and the hellacious headache I had for the first three hours was pretty much gone. It was 5:45pm, and an announcement came over the PA that you had to have lights on at 6pm. Ben raced out to beat the deadline. That enticed me to leave quickly without the burden of setting up and riding with lights. I was so juiced to ride into the night, as I was finally feeling cool and comfortable. I chose to only take a single Co2 cartridge, a tire lever, and one spare tube. Pfffffffffffffft. Two miles in and I’m flat on the back tire. Quick hit with Co2, and in another mile it’s flat again. Stan’s won’t seal it because it’s a pretty sizeable hole right in the middle of the tread. Shit. Change it, and put my spare tube in, but I only have enough Co2 for maybe 20 psi. A couple of riders pass and I scam a pump off a nice dude. OK – I’m back, but now I’m trying to make up time and I stupidly fly down a rocky descent with no regard for my brains, much less my collar bones. Flying over a rock garden and ……double flat. No shit. I’ve never managed to do that in 21 years of mountain biking. Double fucking pinch flats with 29” tires and no spare tubes – good luck with that.

So now it’s dusk, I have no tubes or patch kit, and a borrowed pump. It took nearly 20 minutes before I was able to borrow two 26” tubes for my 29” rims. I spent plenty of time fumbling and bumbling in the waning light, finally pumping them up to 15psi since they can’t handle the volume of the larger wheel without exploding. I rode very carefully until sundown avoiding every rock I saw. Soon, it’s pitch black and there aren’t any rocks to see. I have to wait for riders to come up on me and then I ride in front of their lights until they get impatient with my careful pace on two half-inflated tires and blow by me. Thankfully Jen S. picked me up and I rode her light the last mile – and paid her back by pulling her as hard as I could on the pavement to the start/finish line. Two hours and twenty minutes for one lap. Fuck. That really sucked. My average lap time had been around an hour five to ten + breaks, and this put me well out of the second place in my age group I had been maintaining up until 6pm. After evaluating the hole in my rear tire, it was deemed stupid to attempt riding on it. Two semi-cool cans of Tecate, some good conversation with Sarah and Shamus, and a change of clothes sealed the deal - I was in my sleeping bag at 11:00pm.

Ben hit it hard until midnight, wisely slept for 5 hours, and then rode until nearly noon. 13 laps for him and a second place overall brought some cold hard cash. The dude hardened the f*ck up and did great. Sure – pros like Nat Ross ripped off 21 laps and were done by 10am, but Ben battled hard and got second despite the inevitable mechanical lighting failures that come with amateur riding.

As for me, I was not mentally prepared for the heat, or the letdown of the style of the course and I let it take me down a few notches. I was disappointed with myself. Yeah, I recovered well by sundown, and that allowed me to deal with the flat tire issues with nothing but laughter and a sheepish grin as course officials accosted me for riding with no light. Riding in pitch black does heighten your senses, and just a glimmer of light from the next rider was really inspiring. It all just makes everyday life seem so freakin’ easy when I suffer like this from time to time. When’s my next race?

Well, I didn’t bail out on my date, and in spite of the fact that she ain’t pretty, I’m probably going to ask her out again next year about this time because I found one redeeming factor in her – She's pretty fun to hang out with.

Friday, September 19, 2008

I got nothin.....

Nothin but a punched ticket to ride from Noon to Midnight tomorrow. Of course, I got all sore playing racquetball last night. Ken the Snowman and Big David were the opponents. I didn't play great - kinda sluggish and didn't have much power, but I managed to knock 'em both down.

Race report on Monday. Twins won a big one last night in the top of the 9th and the Vikes were smart enough to bench their starting QB. At least there's hope for these teams that I can't stop following.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

I had a completely benign visit - I guess those are always good - to the doctor yesterday for my first physical exam in many years. I guess I'm in pretty good shape, and there weren't any red flags. We'll be keeping an eye on some genetic issues that my lovely family has in their history, but my cycling habit/obsession seems to have paid off.

Well I'll be damned if I wasn't done at 2:15pm, so rather than go home and clean the house, I hopped on the old single speed for an hour as a black wall of rain approached town. Up and back down got me back in the garage as the raindrops just started rolling in. Damn if it wasn't the worst ride I have had in months. I felt weak, sluggish, and my rear tire was not hooking up because I put too much air pressure in before the ride. I hope I can bounce back by Saturday so I don't go on a death march for 12 hours in Payson. I saw the topo for the race and it looks like just a bunch of 100 foot drops and then back up. Nothing too severe other than some section called the "rocky bitches". Shit - that's all we ride up here so that sounds a little hyped up just to sell entries.

This Sarah Palin thing has me just pissed off. It's like a bad Disney Movie that just got funding. Remember the "movie guy" who did the narration for most previews? "A girl, born in a land where nature rules and women have to fight for everything they get. Paramount Pictures presents a story about a woman who made it to the top of the world. Sarah Palin - President of the United States. "I can see Russia from my Backyard!""

The GOP is so damn irresponsible for even picking this windbag that it frightens me. George Bush, Dan Quayle - these clowns 'learned on the job' at our expense. What would happen if this chick learned on the job? Vladimir Putin would eat her liver for breakfast with fava beans and a nice Chianti. I'm seriously frightened.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

I rolled out of the garage on the gears last night a little after 8:30pm. D was scrambling to get packed for her last trip down to massage school, and L was starting to fall asleep after about an hour of homework and a couple of hours of tackle football with her pal Nate Dawg.

Warm night to start, full moon, some clouds, and as usual – not a rider to be seen. The ride was very uneventful – just smooth over techno stuff, smoother on the smooth stuff, and I never really noticed anything other than what was right in front of me. I didn’t work that hard, but I didn’t ride slow either. I guess I’d call it a ‘tweener’ and tweeners feel good sometimes. As I was rolling back home, I stopped, turned off the Niterider and just looked around. You could hike with no lights – easy. So, I rode with no lights for the last mile and although it was slower, it was funner….yup – it was much funner n’ ridin’ wit lites. 1:45 of pressure release - man I feel better.

Into the garage, and into bed after some snarky conversation with the D. I’m like a burned out rocket at 10:30pm – I got nothing. She is like a cracked out caffeinated chipmunk on her second wind….But – my sleep vibes win and f’n A – it’s 5:00am again and she’s on the road at 6am. Here we go…..

Friday, September 12, 2008

Racquetball week 1 is in the books. First match versus Fritz the Car Salesman. He gave me the "I was out all last year with shoulder and hip issues - I'm just back in the game again". Dude had a pretty good game and his sandbagging words were not matching his deft strokes. I found his weakness though, which was his backhand ceiling shot. GSM (game, set, match) and on to match #2.

Patrick the HUGE Firefighter who could lift my car with one arm. He was surprisingly quick for a stocky muscle-bound man...for the first game anyway. I was just switching up serves every time (lob, drive right, drive left, Z serve....) and making sure to pin him to his backhand which he had a hard time with since he was so stacked. If you asked him to reach an arm across his body he might get to his tricep that's how big this dude was. Well all that bulk is tough to carry around on the court and so the running around caught up with him. He all but gave up the second half of the match. GSM. I do know that if my house goes afire, I want him there because he could move our entire contents in about 20 minutes.

Out of there in an hour and home to catch up with the D - and discussing her last week of massage school in Phx....YEAH!. Coming up for me is a 12 hour singlespeed race in Payson next weekend on the 24 hour Nationals Course. I've got 6-8 hours of ride time nailed down, now its time to push a little harder before the end of season finale in Moab.

JB - good luck at Cheq
Ellen Jo - have fun at the Air Cooled VW fest in Jerome
Big Steve - Good time at the game tonight, and on your Sunday road ride
Fish - Your Lions better beat the Pack

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Good time on the bike last night with the three Small Town D-Bag stand-ins, CR, AK and JT. It got unsustainably fast for 20 minutes and then everyone backed off because we were getting sloppy and AK dumped it a couple of times. We have a good cohesive group who want to bust ass, and most importantly......a "gear dude" in JT who has a converted 15pax van with a full kitchen and propane heat. Aside from a massage therapist and a camp chef, we're GOOD TO GO.

An original Small Town D-Bag reunion? Unlikely. Jeff switched to a 6" front/rear Titus LocoMoto and had such an awful mental/physical experience at Old Pueblo in February that he swore off 24 hour racing, and Eck has a chronic back issue. JB though, he's a hard man. He's racing the 40 miler at Chequamegon this weekend - tear it up man, and at least drop Lance like a rented Grand Canyon Burro for the first 15 yards. I'm thinkin' the Small Town D-Bags Volume III will include Big Steve for 2009.....The big man makes moderate downhills look like 45 degree ski slopes.

2009 Resort Budget in the works in front of doesn't look pretty. Better get on it.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Obi Wan

Outta the house today at 5:50 and on down to meet my Obi Wan Kenobi….71 year old Mr. Cristall – spelled dangerously close to every rapper’s favorite champagne, and the parallel is that this guy loves the good stuff a la Cristal and Dom. But he’s confident enough to order chicken wings with either one.

Obi Wan taught me how to wield a racquetball racquet ten years ago. Before I met him I was a hard hitting goofball with no technique other than ‘crush the ball’. Part of that description – the goofball part – will probably never go away. He’s undergone some surgery lately so he wasn’t at his best, but he sure didn’t have surgery on his vocal cords. He had no problem verbally correcting my footwork, chastising my faded hand-eye coordination and lack of flexibility since all I do is ride bikes. This is our third year going through this, and he seems to enjoy barking, giving tips, and reminding me how stupid I am to quit playing every year and then try to pick back up where I left off. He didn’t have to remind me to play easy today, don’t overstretch on shots, and only lob serves because it hurts like hell the next two days if you go hard on day #1. I’m thanking him right now as I feel stretched, but not stretched out, and my arm is just a very dull throbbing appendage. Obi Wan morphed my game into one that relies on placement and finesse – with the occasional type-A male Dodge Ram Truck driving cannon shot just so I don’t start to grow man boobs and talking about feelings on the court. I still wanna kill the motherf*ckers I play. So – for the next four months we’ll meet every other Wednesday in Sedona and I don’t foresee a day when I won’t learn something from the ol’ Kenobi.

Team night ride tonight @ 8:00pm with bright-ass night lights…..the Small Town D-Bags part II will be hammering the crap outta each other on one of those notorious “Oh, I haven’t been training much, let’s just take it easy tonight” rides. Yeah, right. Somebody will throttle it and then….well, it all goes to hell.

Where does work fit in today? Between 9pm and 6pm and between blog posts and fantasy football updates. Just kidding – I better get on it.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Curbed Enthusiasm After Week #1

10 years ago, the Minnesota Vikings unleashed Randy Moss on the NFL. Watching Moss, Randall Cunningham with his perfect 50 yard spirals, and Robert Smith at RB shred NFL defenses that year was a once in a lifetime scenario – at least so far. Those Vikings pasted Green Bay with Moss getting so open, so deep, so many times it was not even fair until time, ego, and money caught up with Randy and those Vikes.

10 years later and I’m buying into the hype that the Vikes will once again dominate. Last night, if they didn’t have Adrian Peterson - they would have been shut the f*ck out by Green Bay. I just turned off the wi-fi at the end of the third quarter and let time take care of the overhyped Vikings. Here we go again….an up and down year that will have me bitter, excited, angry, and filled with nothing but hope for 16 more weeks. I guess I love the Vikings like a buddy who is in a bad relationship. There’s no real reason to stay around ‘cept for the fact that I’ve been around them for 40 years.

Fortunately, two great things happened today. 1) I got an eye opening 45 minute SS ride in before work at the crack of 5:50am this morning. 2) My buddy Scotty announced that he and his wife will be bringing daughter #2 into the world soon. Good on ya Scottie – I knew you carried a big stick that was capable of getting your wife prego even at your Harrison Ford-like age.

Monday, September 8, 2008

I met Sully at Buffalo Park at 7:00am on Sunday and we headed out on what I would call an end of summer blowout ride. My boy Sully – I call him boy because he’s a 20something semi-pro MTB racer – had e-mailed me the night before saying “I’m out, I’m hurtin’ too bad”. Unfortunately for him, I didn’t check my e-mail on Sat, and he had to show up or risk being ripped for blowing me off. What he was referring to was our scheduled ride up and around the San Francisco Peaks, often called the Soulstice loop. 50+ miles, ridiculous amounts of climbing and descending – but – well worth the suffering. Sully was feeling the effect of a crash on fresh chip-seal at a road race two weeks back. A 30 mph crash that filleted his midsection. He was still leaking pus from a couple of holes in his abdomen, and he was not at his best at the start of the ride. We talked briefly about cutting it short, but once the testosterone started flowing there was no way that would happen. Without a word we just rode at a pretty fast tempo and never talked about it again. I like guys like Sully, who ride smart and don’t have anything to prove – yet won’t give up in spite of suffering. Fortunately for me, his road crash slowed him down a notch or two so I was able to hang with him all day.

The first 30 minutes featured a good steady climb for warm up. Then we came upon the first serious climb – a 12% gradient for 1.5 miles of technical shredded dirt and rocks that always force a dab, or two, or four. As I got near the top, my back tire caught the edge of a rock and pfffffp! I burped out about 10psi on the tubeless setup and had to hit it with Co2 – considering I run 24psi, that tire was nearly flat – a quick one minute fill and we were off again. The next climb, the Weatherford Trail, was not nearly as steep, but it is 3 miles long, and probably the most trashed/rutted two track in Flagstaff. Just think of cris-crossing a rut a couple of hundred times just to find a good line through the babyhead rocks. I was working hard, but the lure of the scenery was keeping me from going into mental overload, and suddenly it was over and we were on our way down.

A bomber descent down Friedlein Prairie led to the third climb - Snowbowl Road – a steep paved road climb that D and I had ridden up on our road bikes the day before. It felt pretty easy considering the technical stuff we had been on to that point. We topped out at 9,000 feet, and then rode back down to the base of the mountain range and around to the north side of the peaks on FR151 and FR418. You get dramatic views out here of the painted desert, and you can even see the lip of the Grand Canyon close to 55 miles away. After about another 45 minutes of hard work on the dirt roads trying to hold Sully’s wheel on the ups, we were at the base of the north side of the peaks. Dana once had to use a Clif Bar wrapper here to………….no way, I’m not even getting into that story or I’ll be sleeping in a tent in the yard for a week.

What loomed ahead was the granny gear climb to Lockett Meadow followed by an old connector trail to Waterline Road. 2,500 vertical feet of climbing over four and a half miles of beat up dirt/rocks/roots. For me, it was granny ring in the front and my second or third smallest cog in the back for well over an hour. We were passing hikers on the upper portion, but barely, at a 2.5 to 3.5 mph clip the whole freakin’ way. At the top is Waterline Road – , 50 degree temps compared to 70’s at the base, a bottle refill from a natural spring and a huge f*ckin’ sigh of relief. Now at 9,500 feet, we were looking at about a 15 mile gradual downhill all the way to my driveway. 50 minutes later, the bike was on the rack, and I was in the shower with a strong cup o’ joe just to stay awake until 8pm.

Broken down: 6 hours. 55 miles. 6,200 feet of climbing. 120 ounces of water/Nuun/Accelerade, 4 bars, 4 gels, and a chocolate chip cookie.