Thursday, December 24, 2009

My entire family is either in Tucson, Arizona, or Siesta Key Florida tonight celebrating Christmas Eve. Me and D? chillin', literally, in cold-ass Flagstaff after I get off work today. Ahhh well, I got nothin' to bitch about at all. I have a job, the heat is on in the house, and the sun is shinin' I have a couple of surprises for my daughter and D that I can't wait for them to open up. I swear to God it took me 30+ years to figure out that giving Christmas presents is certifiably, unequivocally, undeniably just as fun as receiving them.

So, I'll put in my time today, and Christmas Day through the weekend at the Sawmill, and then celebrate proper after that. Salmon on the grill tonight is a start, followed by a local party tomorrow night, and a trip to Tucson next week for family, presents, and mountain/road riding. Somewhere I'll squeeze in consumption of a few tasty cordials Steven T. Nejedlo style.....maybe some Cointreau, Chambord, or really ramp it up with a glass of dark, sweet rum.

As my brother Fish says when I ask him how things are goin', "Just livin' the dream CB". Me too Fish.

ps - does anyone see the writing on the wall with Brett Favre? As a Minnesotan, I have to say "It could be worse".....but I, like most Minnesotans think it will get worse. If that jag off f*cks up the season at the end I'll........

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Wednesday Mornin'

The alarm went off at 4:40am and I was already awake waiting for it to go off. It had snowed all night. In the Subie, bust through the unplowed streets and I’m on my way to the turnoff to Snowbowl. I see a plow, but quickly realize he was done with all of the first 50 yards of the 6 mile road. There was one set of tracks going up – pretty fresh – so I went for it. The clearance on the Subie is 8 inches, and the snow seemed to range from 4inches to 14inches depending on drifts. White knuckle driving fo’ sho’. I turned on NPR and got enthralled with a story about Coco Chanel because I needed a distraction from the driving which had me all wound up. I was pretty confident I’d make it to the top, but I wasn’t sure until I hit the last mile when I saw plows working the resort parking lot at the Bowl. YES!

Board on the back, spikes on the feet, car key double zipped inside my snowpants. Snowcats had been out since maybe 5am, so I followed tracks ¾ of the way up in the dark and was only sinking down about 3 inches on each step. I’m sure my path looked like a drunken ‘Sconnie driving home from a bar on a snow machine. I kept losing the cat track in the blowing snow and couldn’t see the trees well enough to navigate until I got into some protected parts of the slope. I traversed across a catwalk out of the wind, and realized I wasn’t going to the top today. Looking up, the blowing snow was out of control, and I had to be home by 8am.

Boot change, board on, off the cat track and into powder that was mid-thigh. Deepest snow I have ever boarded in. Down the steeps without so much as a turn or two, and onto a 100 yard flatter section….stalled out. Board off – posthole it for 50 yards until the slope dropped, and finally – to the car. I had the key. It started. Covered head to toe in snow, I had a very little grin on my frozen face. That….was….fun……I think. Sorta. Maybe.

I gladly followed a plow down to town at 20mph, and rolled into the driveway about 10 minutes late… neighbor had plowed it for me. Then I had a big-ass grin on my wet face. That WAS fun.

Monday, December 21, 2009

I just wrapped up a week with Lyza at our house. Week on, week off, week on, week off. 182.5 days per year with my little-big girl. That's what joint custody = for me. Man, it's hard to let her go sometimes. Other times, I'm ready to kick her on over to her Mom's.

She's loud, rough, obnoxious, plays with boys 24-7, and at the same time is sweet, loving, very sensitive, and every now and then - thoughtful. We spent the week on homework, a visit to the dentist, haircuts, school meetings, playing in the snow, x-box wars, playing Stratego and Uno, and her favorite - wrestling in her room. I have to be careful, because outweighing somebody by 120 pounds can result in disaster on the mat - on the other hand, if I sandbag and she senses that I'm letting up on her, she'll start to count me out...1...2....2......2.....2.....2....DAD - START TRYING! She'll never let it reach 3 unless she thinks it's legit.

So, off she went with her Mom today until next Monday. I'll get to catch up at work, spend some great time with D, road ride with teammates in Sedona, and work on some of my own personal goals as well - who am I kidding - goals? I just want to have fun. Out to dinner, make my own schedule, and "check out" of being a parent for seven straight days. Some of my buddies call it a rockstar life, as I'm deeply involved in raising a child, but I get to set it aside too. In a lot of ways it works for me. But man, it's hard to let her go sometimes. Maybe it's the holidays, I don't know.....pfuck it, time for a Tecate, some sleep, and a hard run tomorrow before the snow flies again.

My new best friends...

Kahtoola Micro Spikes. Just say no to running indoors. Treadmill? Never! Bike trainer? Ha, yeah right....
I ran these little gems of sweetness on packed ski trails and A) they didn't eff-up the ski trails and B) they provide supreme traction and C) I had a great freakin' time.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Opening Day at the Bowl

Yesterday’s conditions were best described as ‘spring conditions’. It was 45 degrees in the lift lines, 35 degrees at the top, and the runs had great snow. I hightailed it outta there at 2pm due entirely to my pathetic snowboard fitness.

C-Dub and JB showed up around 10:30am with a backpack full of Tecate and snicker bars. Cool… snacks and lunch all in one Camelbak.

The newest technology at snowbowl is a radar gun that they are using at a couple of locations where slopes merge. My guess is that they didn’t have it on yesterday because just when I thought I was cold straight haulin’ ass, I’d get passed by a dude or a chick who was really cold straight haulin’ ass. Damn! We skied the trees, the open groomers, and helped form moguls on the steeps. It was a bluebird day with not a cloud in the sky and no wind whatsoever.

This weekend, they are expecting 3,000 skiers each day on Sat and Sun. I’ll be avoiding the bowl like my daughter avoids her homework. Time to hop back on the road bike – races start in 3 weeks. Yes, races start in 3 weeks. I'm gonna suck until at least March.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

After getting the cat on my head whacked after work, I found myself sitting at a school board meeting amidst a couple of hunnert’ other parents concerned about budget cuts/override funds/school closures. It’s all legit man, they are talkin’ about cuttin’ teachers, admin staff, and consolidating kids into even a proposed ginormous K-8 school. The usual suspects including clueless parents, very informed parents, propaganda spreading goofballs, and citizens with blatant political aspirations were all clear and present.

Selfishly, I walked away with a better feeling than I walked in with because the impact on Lyza will be minimal - for now anyway. The flip side is that I know a lot of teachers in town who could be impacted by closing schools, and that just plain sucks, but what business hasn't been impacted by our sagging economy? Sorry, but at the end of the day, the school district is another business spending taxpayer money, and that's how some emotionless people look at it.

I also got quite a laugh sitting next to my ex, as we picked apart some of the stereotypical parental sets at the meeting. We were always good at that, when in fact we probably should have been looking in the mirror and realizing our own shortfalls because there were plenty there. Regardless, I left with a smile and it helped bring the entire drama into focus on a bigger level because……..

………..Unfortunately, Flagstaff is fighting a losing battle not in its own community, but at the state legislature level where funds allocated for schools are not seen as a priority, and that view has nothing and everything to do with the horrendous economy in this state right now - meaning it's never been a priority, and now we don't even have the tax base to fund the basic needs.….I guess that’s why our schools are ranked in the lower third nationwide in a lot of categories. And we live here because? Oh yeah, 90% of my kid’s teachers have been great, the mountains behind my house beckon me to come out and play all the time rain, snow, or shine, and since we’ve become accustomed to being underpaid it all makes perfect sense. The mountain biking is pretty good too.

I'm worried though that those outstanding teachers will disappear along with the school/program cuts that are imminent.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

december to remember

It's a fine day today as my ex gave up a losing battle and stopped sending our daughter to religious education classes at the "Sin 6 ways till Sunday, then say a few Hail Mary's" school of Catholicism. I'm all for education, I'm just not supportive of one school of thought brainwashing children by saying "repeat after me....". I mean, c'mon......any 'house of God' that throws it's collective weight and guilt around by condemning homosexuality as a 'disordered state' is in my opinion, ridiculous. According to Catholics, homosexuals have a mental disorder, but they are OK so long as they practice abstinence. Wow. What - the - hell - ever. So much for coexistance, tolerance, and acceptance. I think I'll teach those virtues to my daughter myself, and when she's old enough to understand religious principles of established churches, say in college, then she can make the call herself.

Unless of course I raise her like the d-bag I am and screw her all up, which is entirely possible.

I'll be 42 in two days. D hooked me up with fleece lined tights, and microspikes for running on packed snow. Mom has a Paris-Tours video on the way with a spectacular victory by Philippe Gilbert to watch, and Lyza has something planned that I know will make me laugh. That right there is a pretty good B-day. I'll be off work, for a full day of boarding at the Bowl.......followed by a prostate exam the next morning. Yeah buddy, enjoy your 30's if you're still in 'em.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Pow baby...

We scrambled up the Bowl again this morning, and the falling snow put a nice 2" sugar layer on what was already there. The ride down was fantastic, and we stopped 2/3 of the way, and hiked right back up for a total of 2,500 feet or so of vert.....I am whipped, but I'm still smiling.

The second run down Lava was in 20 inches of untracked powder, and describing that floating feeling on a fat snowboard.....hmmm, you know it. It forces permagrin, and that is the way to start a Saturday. 5-8 inches expected tomorrow means a snowball fight on Sunday with the neighborhood kids. I think that means a Monday dawn patrol before work back up the mountain. F*ck yeah, it's been a great start to the ski season for us because they haven't opened up the lifts yet....keeping all of the flatlanders in their mansions in the desert. LOVE IT!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

At the Bowl at 5:30am....quickly running into untracked snow. Time for a freakin' rest - we made it to the cat track!

Postholing on a 45 degree slope in 30+ inches took 4-ever...

Gettin' closer to Midway

Down Tiger through ski/board-sucking powder. Wilkens is in that powder looking for skis.
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Monday, December 7, 2009

Fun in the snow!

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put a capper on it - the season is ova!

Rolled outta Sedona at high noon on Friday, and made it to Phoenix around 3p and I didn’t have to put the monkey suit on until 5:30p….just enough time for a road ride! 58 degrees, sunny, and a 15 mile loop around Fountain Hills was just the ticket. Quick change, got the VIP’s on the bus to the dinner spot and the rest of the evening went as planned. Back in the room ‘round 11:15p and up at 5:30 to a really loud Latina singer on the cheap clock radio – Holy freakin’ heart attack.

The start of the race brought 37 degrees, but I wasn’t taking the first lap, that was C-Dub’s job. I picked up my race #, met him at the line, grabbed his down jacket from his trembling body, and watched him head out with the other 299 riders….Me? Into my kit, and SNAP I knew I was missing something – nobody had any coffee, including my unprepared ass. A shot of Espresso Hammer Gel has 50mg of Caffeine, so there you go….I felt better and managed to take care of biz in the porta pot after a short warm-up to get the juices flowing.

1:03, 1:03, 1:07 and 1:07 were my four lap times. 15.3 miles per lap on the fastest AZ racetrack I know of. I shaved nearly 20 minutes off my combined time from last year on a course that was a mile longer. I got the gear right this year (32x17), and felt pretty strong the entire time other than a lap 3 cramp that was only ¼ mile from the finish. Yeah baby, that’s a good sign going into the state series that starts in a month. We got 6th out of 8 teams in the SS cat which surely doesn’t belong on a marquee. The category was very competitive as the difference between 3rd and 6th was about 1 min and 30 sec per lap. However, that’s a lot of time that we just couldn’t make up - so, no hardware this year to take home, but it was a great race for me and C-Dub and we both definitely left all that we had out there.

After my last lap, I fell asleep in a camp chair with a Tecate in hand, and woke up to a D-bag taking a picture of me laughing. I had to chuckle, and I laughed even harder when I tried to get up and nearly stacked it into one corner of the EZ-Up.

You know you got your money’s worth at a bike race when you:

……are huddled in a port-a-pottie for warmth and the tank full of remnants is the last thing on your mind
……paid $1 per mile + the cost of travel to kick the crap out of yourself
……feel so fresh and so clean when walking out of a port-a-pottie that has a hand sanitizer dispenser
……finished and said “never again”, and then a few beers later you’re talking shit about racing again and all of the stuff you would change to get on the podium

Friday, December 4, 2009

Great White North

Headed down to Phoenix today - it'll be sunny and high 60's all weekend
Race the bike, one last time in 2009
Monday - 2 feet of snow predicted above 6,000 feet
Shelve the bike
Board on the back, hiking up for a powder run
Idiot SUV drivers everywhere await
Just let 'em stack it
Back way off
Here comes winter

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

One cyclical pattern I can count on each year is the first weekend of December. Friday night is always a corporate party we attend on behalf of our hotel group owners, and Saturday is the Dawn til Dusk mountain bike race in what’s left of the desert surrounding the hell of the south we call Phoenix. Enough about the corporate stuff already.

The race is on a singletrack loop of crushed granite. When it’s dry, I can’t think of a faster surface besides pavement. Climbs are easy if you keep your mo, washes are deep, and the traction is outstanding until about 20+ mph when you kind of lose contact with the granite – but you can float the curves at high speed if you are careful. New year, same partner, same plan, same course. Last year we managed 3rd place out of 8 teams….nothing to get all giddy about, but we rode pretty well and got some nice beer glasses for our $150 entry fee. This year….8 teams again, so far anyway. My goal isn’t necessarily a podium, rather, I want to see if I am in better shape at this point than I was last year – so lap times will be my focus. Forecast is for 72 degrees and sun. Mmm, yeah, that’ll work!

Our two month stretch of Monday night crits was broken last night as 4 inches of snow blocked two of the four turns on the oval. I hopped on the rollers with Paris-Roubaix on the computer screen and good intentions, and managed 35 whole minutes of legitimate work. That sucked. I suck. Fuck the rollers and the trainers. I’m gonna man up and just keep going outside in either cycling gear or running gear, or snowshoe gear or snowboard gear. This indoor “trainer” does nothing for me mentally or physically.

Me, C-Dub and AA did a pretty technical loop on Saturday in Sedona, and a couple of the sections were true 10’s on my sphincter ‘puck-o-meter’. We’re not talking “no f’ing way” drops, we’re talking “hmmm, I think I could probably do that, but why don’t you go first” kind of drops. Having 29” wheels helps, but there’s still good potential for injury and AA was the smart one of us three – walking the steeps. Yeah – he may not experience the rush of clearing the drop, but damn if that rush doesn’t last too long and I start thinking about…..

…….the overall lameness of my healthcare. My policy has been whittled down, based on a fixed reimbursement from my employer, to the point where I have a $2,500 deductible and every time I go see a doc it’s almost as expensive as cash. Screw this. It’s HSA time….tax protected Health Savings Account + a cheaper policy with a 10K deductible. Pay as you go. Pay for what you use…enough of me making Blue Cross richer year after year.