Friday, February 27, 2009

Soapbox Friday

Ain't no TARP funds, no stimulus package, no home foreclosure relief, no withdrawl from Iraq, or no budget cuts gonna' bring this country out of it's depression. You know what will? An attitude change.

In less than 45 days in office Obama has delivered an end date to the wastefulness in Iraq, a raise for US Marines, pending legislation that will help people stay in their homes, and a stimulus package that - like it or not - means action and help. If you aren't on board you may feel a sense of false entitlement that's fading fast. You probably say "but what's in it for me?". Or, your religious prejudices may override your common sense. You could just be a cynical asshole.

Obama's going to set the tone for this nation, and I can only hope that we - as a nation - embrace it. It would mean that a majority of us would live with a purpose other than looking out for #1 - ourselves. If a tone can be set, laws will be passed with throughness and expedience, corporations will run ethically and efficiently, and consumers would buy intelligently and not excessively.

The gluttonous behavior that we - as a nation - have embraced over the past 10 years have put us where we are at, more so than the decisions of scapegoat politicians that we elected. Now we have the right person in the White House. Listen up, because he's gonna light a fire under this country.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

And just like that...

Ski season is over. A week of 50-60 degree temps has reduced Snowbowl to a small heap of crusted ice - or as they call it on their website "packed powder". If that's packed powder, then I'm Alberto Contador on the podium at Algarve in the posting below.

My snowboard goes in for a season ending tune-up and then back in its bag. It was a good season.

Time to ride. New costumes arrive next week. Spring has sprung.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Memo to young skinny guys

You can still get hot chicks...just ride your bike really fast, and win in Portugal.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Today was a good day

I had to cure my acute disease of working too much the last couple of weeks and playing too little. It was time for a Saturday intervention....

Saturday, Feb 21

Alarm goes off at 4:45
Eat a couple things, and go for a drive
Park the car, snow board on my back
Hikin' up to the top not lookin' back
Sun creeps over and I strap on the board
Cruise on down the mountain, man I'd love one more

Home from the slope and I pound the food down
Get the road bikes ready - we're headed outta town
65 degrees in Sedona ya know
Anything but flat - them are up and down roads
Rip a couple hours, out soakin' up sun
Stomach on empty I'm done

Two cheese burritos at New Frontiers
All I was missin' was three Tecate beers
Cheese coma kicks in and I'm asleep in my seat
Wake up in Flagstaff....I need something to eat

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Skiing at Purgatory

Anybody can learn to ski, its just that kids can learn in a matter of hours. Having watched Lyza in a ski school this past weekend at Durango Mountain Resort, she was just like the rest of the kids - talking about "bigger, faster, and steeper" runs after about 4 hours of instruction. The adult lessons were a sharp contrast, with tentative students practicing snowplows so they wouldn't ever crash. The kids - learned the snowplow as part of the class, but experimented without it to see what would happen. Usually, it was just an out of control stop on their butts, which was worth giving up control for the thrill. Awesome. We had a great time with the Ells family of four, and by Monday morning Lyza and I were ready for the drive back to Flagstaff. Late nights watching High School Musical 3, and socializing had us whooped.

It's always hard to drop her off at her Mom's after we go on vacation. The bond is intense, and as tiring as that can be, its a feeling that doesn't come every day.

For me, I got in 1/2 day of some excellent boarding in 6 inches of fresh pow on Saturday morning while Lyza was in ski school. The second half of the day I was pretty wiped out, and I just kind of coasted back to watch the last half hour of her lesson. We'll be back next winter for sure.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Winter isn't over just yet

With a semi-bum wrist still healing from that little tumble last Wednesday, I decided to hit the slopes instead of doing any winter riding. Saturday was a typical grunt up the slopes under gray skies, but at 11,000 feet I was surprised to break through the clouds and was treated to a pretty spectacular view – the kind you get from a plane – looking down on the swath of cloud cover below. Some good snow was remaining along the treeline, and home by 8:30am - it was a good start to the day. It started snowing hard around midnight, and I woke up at 4:45am on Sunday to 7 inches of powder.

The Sunday drive up to the slopes was fun enough – rally style – with the Subaru sliding through the corners…semi-bald tires helped too. The snowcats were out early so I benefited from being able to walk in packed powder on the lower slopes. Then, I turned off onto a run called Lava, and post-holed slowly up the grade as the powder got deeper and deeper. The catwalk at the top of Lava had been groomed and I got to recover on it as I traversed over to the last trail to the top which was partially groomed. It would have taken another hour in powder – so I gladly hiked up the groomed section for 20 more minutes to the 11,500 foot marker. The upper bowl was open, but just yesterday it was bare – with huge volcanic boulders showing everywhere. I think that route down would have trashed me and my board.

The ride down Ridge was one of those moments that I hope dementia or Alzheimer’s never takes from me. I took a few photos just in case. It was a 2,300 vertical foot drop on air through completely untracked snowfields with no-one around….until the last section where I sped by a line of marching ants with boards and skis making the pilgrimage to the top before the masses with lift tickets cut their curves into the powder.

We’re getting another 8”-12” today, with more snow in the forecast next weekend – ironically, the same weekend as the 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo. I’m glad I skipped that event this year.
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Friday, February 6, 2009

Crashed and Burned

Back on Wednesday, I blow outta work at 1pm for a little red rock mountain bike throw down in Sedona. Wilkens rolls down from Flag and we are on the trail by 1:15pm. A quick warm up through the Uptown Sedona yields rubber tomahawk, fudge, Indian jewelry displays and timeshare hawkers…….we blew past and got ourselves to Schnebly Hill Road and on to the Munds Wagon Trail. Every time I ride this trail somebody has to remark “there’s no f*ckin’ way you could bring a wagon up or down this thing”….sure – say that now because it’s been about 100 freakin’ years since the trail was used for Wagons, it’s been rebuilt with slickrock staircases, and I would venture to guess that only a portion of it WAS used in the first place.

Regardless, it’s a hard hike/a/bike warm up climb with some steep ups and downs that are supposed to get you on your game for phase 2: The Cowpies….Dome shaped piles of slickrock make up the Cowpies….it’s a blast to ride. Up, down, all around, ledges, sand, cactus, more ledges until you come to phase 3: The Damifino trail….. Big Steve has hiked the first part of this, and would probably echo my appreciation for the scenery, and the brilliance of the red rocks against the horizon of blue sky, and the technical aspects of riding this stuff. Trackstands are required from time to time so you can re-adjust your line, jumping ½ way through switchbacks, rolling over boulders, and off-camber red rock chutes that test your tires and your mind.

So Wilkens and I blow through this section with a few chicken shit dabs, but nothing too lame. We head down Damifino, and I’m riding ahead of him by maybe 50 yards. I got hung up on a climb, clipped out, but fell left instead of right – off a 10 foot ledge and onto a slope of scree and slickrock chunks…thankfully no cactus. About a second after I stopped sliding, my bike lands on my legs – nice. Wilkens comes by and hears my call “Dude…a little help here”. It takes me a few minutes to climb back up because my legs went all Elvis on me and started shaking and trembling. Net result: Broken brake lever, broken cable holder on my fork, rash all over, a nice hip contusion, and it turns out I have a sprain in my left wrist. Nothing too earth shattering and I can still ride without too much pain – so we continue on. The technicality of this trail gets harder as you go down, and a few of the downhill switchbacks were bike/hike as I just didn’t have the stones to roll them out. My head was all scrambled after the crash and the conservative side of me was evident.

We finished the descent at Oak Creek, crossed in knee deep ice water that – once you were out – felt pretty good. A tougher than remembered climb back to the car had me gassed, but fortunately it put a bow on a crash and burn day.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Say What?

I walk in the door last night sounding like an escaped insane asylum detainee. I swore I wouldn't have time to ride in Sedona this week and that work was really important right now - and then I promptly packed all of my cycling gear and left it sitting by the front door. D was looking at me like I was wearing a straight jacket. She asked me if I was going to ride today, and I said "I have no idea, probably not, but maybe". I offered aimless rants like "I need to work more, I need to work less". "I have a race this coming weekend, yet how can I possibly race if I haven't been riding at all?" "I'm fortunate to have a job, but it's taking over my life!". Being a typical guy, I usually express myself with answers like "yes", and "no". She was amused by a sudden flowing of colorful, mixed up answers.

I do know one thing. I have a solid intuition when it comes to work. I know when to burn the candle at both ends and when I can fuck off. Right now, it feels like I ought to be burning at nearly full throttle. Despite perfect weather, sunny days, and a tuned up bike - it stayed home today in the garage as it should. Instead of making resolutions to cope with this crap, I'm going to take a lesson from every NFL player who gets interviewed on National TV and substitute cliches for real answers....seems like a great coping mechanism.

Q: Chris, how are you going to handle the crippling economic downturn in your industry?
A: "I'm just gonna take it one day at a time"

Q: You're not riding much, and you are a shell of your potential....does this drain you mentally?
A: "It is what it is. I'm just going to give 110% and Good Lord willing we'll see some results"

Q: How are you juggling your fledgling career, being a father, and saving pennies for the future?
A: "You just have to keep your ducks in a row, and do what you have to do. We'll see how it all turns out"

Q: Your business is down 15% and your owners want to know why?
A: "Hey, everything happens for a reason. We don't want to compare apples to oranges, so we'll just put our heads down and work through it"

Thanks for the insight

Monday, February 2, 2009

Super Sunday

.....Alarm went off at 4:45am and I managed to make it to the Snowbowl parking lot at 5:40. Up...Up...Up into the dark and into a headwind that was blowing the board on my back silly. Quick change into the board boots and back down with a tailwind....yes! I must have put in 120 turns on groomed corn with just enough packed powder to justify the hike. That'll be my last time up unless we get some significant snowfall. It's just not worth an hour and a half hike up to plunge down on corn.

Off to the Aquaplex for some indoor pool action with Lyza and her buddy Nate-Dog. I never get tired of waterslides. Then over to Chateau Ells to watch the first three quarters of the Super Bowl. Back home to do book reports and then I find out the game became a game worth watching. Whoops. That's two years in a row. We drove back from Sedona in a snowstorm last year while the Giants drove down to beat the Patriots.

I still despise Rush Limbaugh.