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?