Friday, December 28, 2007

Anybody need a Buddy?

I may have a need for one soon. A bike riding buddy, to be specific. You know, the one that you can always count on to show up and endure with a smile whatever diabolical plan you have in mind.

I have one of those and he is picking up stakes, most likely. My Buddy is one of the lucky folks who work in the entertainment biz (set lighting) and THAT whole movie/tv production machine is pretty much dead right now as a testament to greed and the lovely world of Labor Unions. Combine that with a bike riding injury and the result is a practical decision on his part to head his family back to the midwest and live cheaper for a while till things resume....if they ever do. Live cheaper than So Cal? Imagine that!

And so, I contemplate the endurance races I had planned, the big rides and the camping trips. The next year's road trips. The after work rides. Sure, there are other folks to ride with, good folks too. But they are not my Buddy.

My Buddy is heading to Ohio and I am feeling a bit lost by it all.

Godspeed, Buddy Steve.


To the guy or gal that puts in 50 miles in the cold and snow. To the SS'er that racks up more elevation gain in one ride than I do in a week. To the endurance racer and the route finder. To the blogger, the BB poster, and the page linker that shares it all on the net for me to read and chew on.....

I am inspired by you.

You make me want to be better, to ride longer, to get out when it is cold and ride anyway. You have me dreaming of new ways to put big loops together, to think 'epic' and pack extra food expecting an adventure. You give me hope that this next ride of mine will be as great as yours was, maybe better.

You make me want to ride. For that, I thank you and in return, I promise this: I will do what I can to inspire you and others you will never know to feel the same way.

Happy New Year.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Off Day

No, not Day Off. Off Day.

Yesterday I had the first ride in a week and a half due to sickness and honey-do's. Nothing much, just an hour blast around the local hills. Temps were on the cool side, probably in the low 60s but the wind chill from the blustery day made it feel like the 50s. Still, it was better than ice storms in Indiana, so off pedaling I went.

I knew from the first 1/2 mile that I was nowhere near recovered from last week's plague. The antibiotics were doing their thing and the left side of my face no longer felt like it was packed full of cement but I was running on a low fuel warning lamp status. Topping that off was a bit of digestion upset from lunch that kept reminding me of the previous unhappiness by the way it resented the waist strap of my Camelback.

It felt good to be out anyway and the 29er wheels sung along in their baritone voice (26" wheels are sopranos, don't 'cha know). I had planned a nice loop up to and overlooking the east side of Lake Castaic, but that would have put me into a cold headwind on an exposed paved road for too many miles. Time to tuck in a bit, so I headed over to the Castaic Race Course. The race course is a network of trails used for...hey, you guessed it...NORBA style races, etc, but we old time locals were riding it when it was just ranch access roads and cattle paths. Now it is a challenging workout with steep climbs and fast descents on a mix of fireroad and singletrack.

I was on the Karate Monkey with no grannygear, and the low energy factor conspired to keep the loop short. I was thinking of some rippin' blend of trails for the day's ride, but I stopped to rest three times on a middle chainring climb that normally is just a good warmup. Hmmm...I think my eyes are bigger than my legs today for sure.

SO, I cut it short and rolled over to an overlook and prepared to drop down a fast section of trail that I normally grunt up. The last time I rode down this, it cost me a new frame. I overcooked the corner and slid into a concrete drainage ditch at slow speed, weight back off the saddle, front wheel barely able to keep from locking up, on the brakes hard...aaaannnd *smack*. Heck, I did not even tip over, but the impact was so direct, brakes all on and upright and all, that I bent the downtube on my Manitou FS. Man I loved that bike.

Today would not see that happen again. I am on my trusty 29er, and I am invincible. I am fast, confident and might even say god-like (small 'g'). Off the lip of the downhill and gravity takes over....down I go. As I said I am on the big wheeled wonder bike, I am....I am...well, nuts, I am wobbly, I am over braking, I am wiggly, in short, I am a mess. The switchbacks were awful, the bike was awkward, the trail seemed too narrow, and I was looking like noob central, or at least it felt that way. Is this the bike/rider combo that recently rode 4+ hours on singletrack, rocks and sand and barely blinked? I think not. Different guy. Dang alien abduction again...lights in the sky, body snatchers, cloners. Something.

Based on that ride, 29ers suck, I suck, riding sucks.

Time to go home without coming to any conclusions other than chalking it up to an off day. Glad it was a short one. My fragile ego can only stand so much of that.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Canyonlands Fat Tire Festival: circa 1988. First Road Trip

"Halloween of 1986 saw the first unofficial Canyonlands Fat Tire Festival, put on by Rim Cyclery. It was an organic, spontaneous event that grew over the years to legend status. This was a time for the industry “hotshots”, racers, and the “regular folk” to get together, ride hard, relax, and have a good time. There are too many stories from the festival days to recount here, and most of them are better told over a campfire or in the backroom after a long day of riding."

Copied from the website here:

Yep, been there, still got the T-shirt. I had wondered if Kevin (see last post: Lines on a Map)and I had been there for the first one, but we missed that by a couple of years. Still, I remember Moab as a VERY sleepy little town with one, maybe two bike shops, but I think Rim Cyclery was it. There were a few restaraunts, no fast food that I recall, and not much else. But, the rocks were there, no doubt.

We rolled into town in the afternoon and stayed at the Bowen Motel, still there I think. Not much else to do as evening approached, we drug the motel room chairs out onto the sidewalk and watched the town roll up for the night. Later we amused ourselves by swatting flies off the ceiling. High times I tell ya.

The next day, we rode over to the Rim bike shop. The vibe was awesome as all over town, mtn bikers were riding by on all kinds of cool bikes. It felt so amazing to be part of that atmosphere. We were so stoked; The red cliffs, the cold air, the whirr of freewheels and buzz of knobbies. I still remember that feeling. We were less jaded then, no doubt.

Wow, Rim Cyclery was a candy store for sure. We saw more cool bikes parked outside than we could believe. Hand made Ritcheys, Potts, Fishers, Goats, Ibis's (Ibii?), Fats, and all the other more common stuff that we could afford was just everywhere. We registered for the festival and picked the rides we had to try. The land of Oz at the end of the yellow brick road for sure, and we were among the tribe in the Emerald city.

Some of it we were going to do on our own. the Slickrock Trail was one of them. We looked at the distance for the full loop (10 miles or so), figured we could knock that off before lunch and then get something else in that afternoon. Silly us. It was a hoot of a ride. I could not believe how far you could lean over the bars and pedal without losing handlebars into the belly button stuff. And the ledge descents were just as amazing with rubber stripes worn into the crotch of our riding shorts from buzzing the rear tire. I still can hardly believe we rode that on rigid bikes. Slickrock is deceptively bumpy. It looks smooth, but it is not really. But hey, that was the way it was, no other options. Fat 2.2 Hardpack IIs aired down and that was that, elbows and knees provided the rest.

10 miles later, we were totally thrashed. We had cleaned the whole trail as far as I recall. There would be crowds of folks at the top of some of the tougher climbs just watching everyone try to ride them. My Schwinn Paramountain with its silly long chainstays and pretty light build was a monster on that rock and I cleared it all to the hoots of the crowd. At least, that is the way I remember it;). Either way it went, we had gained an appreciation for the riding here. It was sweet and sassy and the sassy part had kicked our butts. We felt like we had gone to the gym and done squats and bench presses more than a bike ride....totally anarobic. We barely had enough energy to eat a huge pizza and ride over to the Rim bike shop to take in the atmosphere.

I remember one led ride where the local giving the tour was amazing, riding in Teva-type sandals and worn out tires that had been sewn back together to get a bit more use out of them. He was such a good rider. We held up the California end of things and rode the techy stuff well, but that was where Kevin and I had cut our teeth, riding rough trails, exploring, etc. Shoot, now most 16 year old riders can clean our clocks with doubles and 10' drops to flat but back then, we were pretty good and we rode it for all we could. I remember there was a guy...he even had his own poster (which I have at home IIRC)...can't remember the name, but he rode a very high end bike, some hand made aluminum thing and just did the most insane bowl rides and OMG roll-overs into steep drops on the slickrock trail. We were not THAT good, just to set the record straight. Todd something? Hmmm.

We went to the Halloween party. Wow that was an interesting look at the Tribe. There were some children of the earth types there that had some...ahhh.. interesting costumes on.

It all seems so long ago. I have been to Moab several times since then either for biking or 4wheeling and it has grown so much, I hardly know it from that week in 1988. But I bet you all remember your first road trip and that was mine.

I wish I could find pics of that trip. Got 'em somewhere, I think. So far, no luck on the pics and my memory is pretty sketchy for a lot of it. I do remember I was there. The T-shirt proves that.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Lines on a map

I remember it well, when I met Kevin. I had been riding for a couple of years or so and had built up a pretty nice bike, a Schwinn Paramountain frameset with Deadly Nedlys signature decal on it. He and Cindy Whitehead had recently won the NORBA championships or the Worlds or some such thing, and they celebrated with a pretty nice lugged frameset out of the Waterford plant. Prestige tubing and XT parts. Sweet. The problem was, I did not know where to ride the dang thing. There were a lot of mountains out there, in fact I live practically surrounded by National Forests or parklands but it can be intimidating to just head out with no idea of what you are getting into.

The bike shop guy had mentioned that there was a local mtn biker that was doing a lot of exploring and we should meet and talk shop. He said he was kind of a character in that he rode with a full backpack, army sleeping bag, etc. Really? My interest was peaked.

The fated day happened and we met over the counter at the Schwinn shop. He was kind of a character, but Kevin impressed me with his open attitude about wanting to explore the areas trails and roads. His way of putting it was to ride "all the lines on the map". Cool. I'm in.

In fact, he was planning a trip to Moab, Utah to check out this thing called a Fat Tire Festival. I am not sure of the year, but I think it was very early in the life of the festival. I still have the t-shirt and the water bottles from that trip.

Oddly enough, I am a pretty careful kind of guy and it really is not like me to jump in a truck with a near stranger and head across three states. Still, I must have trusted him or seen something I liked in the guy as two weeks later we were rolling into Moab for the best time on a bike I had ever had. I will save that story for another blog entry. Maybe I can dig up pics.

Over the next several years Kevin and I rode nearly every line on the Angeles National Forest map and a few that were not shown. I still have the map with all the highlighted lines, torn edges, and scribbled notes. That map has seen a lot of dining room table talks, spread out and studied as rides were planned, loops closed, dots connected. Every faded highlighted line is a memory. We wrote two books together on where to ride and saw them published, some of which lives on in current trail guide books. We started a Mountain Bike Trail access group, the Grapevine Mountain Bike Assoc., adopted two local trails, named a few trails that still carry the monikers we broke them with, and remained friends for many years.

I will always remember how good a rider he was. Really a great singletrack rider, he never used toe clips, always rode in hiking boots and wore underwear under his lycra shorts. I never could break him of the habit of carrying the 'survival pack' he rode with, usually some kind of army grade fannypack with shoulder straps. this is waaaay before Camelbacks were on the scene. He could climb too and had the constitution of a goat. Many a time he would show up for a ride with a Taco Bell cup of refrieds and green sauce, shovel it down and then hammer up the trail leaving me amazed.

In the early days, we pushed and carried our bikes a lot. That is the fate of those who choose to blaze trails and be a pioneer. His favorite line was "just one more hill". It must have worked cuz I always fell for it and kept on pushing, riding and carrying.

As time went by and bikes changed, I was always trying the newest thing, SPDs, front suspension, etc. Not Kevin. He just shook his head, grinned and said he liked it the way it was and saw no need to change. Then he would proceed to set a trail pace that would leave the racer boys wondering and woe to the 'fast guy' who went on an exploration ride with us. Two hours into the push out of some lost canyon, they would be wishing they had never met us.

I remember one huge loop we were doing in the Los Padres forest. We had connected several Jeep roads and motorcycle trails together and were pretty worked over. As we hit the pavement for the last leg of the journey, about 10 miles of rolling 2 lane through the junipers, one of the three of us was really shelled and had decided to call for a ride back to a bar we had started near. Kevin was to wait with him until the truck got there and then join me on the ride back. I started down the road, barely able to turn the cranks and had not gotten more than a mile or two along until I saw the rescue truck coming towards me and past to pick up the one guy. I expected to see Kevin in a few minutes, pedaling along to suffer with me on the last leg home. Soon I heard a vehicle approaching from behind. As the mini truck passed me, I saw the driver, the guy who was too bonked to continue, and hanging out the passenger window looking at me with this sheepish grin, was Kevin taking the SAG wagon for all it was worth. I was struck with an odd combo of anger and humor. At first I felt betrayed, then as the lactic acid buffered the anger, I had to shake my head and laugh, thinking of the beers that they would be drinking while I pedaled along.

I rarely see Kevin anymore. He lives a ways from me, but not that far. I miss him, but I am a lousy 'pen-pal' I guess and he is no better. I don't think he rides much anymore but hikes stuff like in and out of the Grand Canyon in a day. He still finds those lines on a map.

I could not have found a more inspirational, willing, and humble partner in crime for all the exploits to come. Thanks, buddy. It was great.

I bet he still rides without toe clips, SPDs, and wears whitey tighties under his lycra, but don't tell him I told ya so.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

The Plague, I'm sure of it.

So, I am sitting here with great weather outside for this time of year, blogging instead of riding. The Santa Ana winds have things warmed up for the moment and the rain is a few days away, possibly the same storm that has the Pacific Northwest under water and in the dark right now. And here I sit, plague ridden, Bubonic probably. Could be Cholera or Dengue fever though. Hard to say.

Kinda achey, kinda drippy, kinda tired-wanna-crawl-under-a-blanket-and-sleep-all-day feeling. Yep. Malaria, I reckon. A quick perusal though my favorite blogs says much of the same thing. Apparently it is a nationwide plague as many other blogger/cyclists are stricken. I know how they feel, to be cut down in our prime like this. Pity.

Hopefully I will be done with this soon, this viral drip machine that is my sinus, and I will return to normal, whatever that is.

Now that I have had time to think about it, definitely Yellow Fever, likely the 24 hour kind.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Hurricane Cliffs Trail System: A road trip....finally!

Originally we were set for a September Gooseberry Mesa trip but that fell apart at the last week before we were to leave. Two broken riders + one broken bike equals 0 road trips. Still wanting to get one trip in before the snow flies...well, not in So Cal, but it will be flying somewhere...we set our sights on a bit lower elevation, St George/Hurricane, Utah. I had come across a few write ups on the 'big loop' that tied together several trails in the Hurricane Cliffs Trail System and together made for a 20 mile or so loop that seemed to take 3-4 hours and was nearly all singletrack with little climbing. Cool. If I am going to drive most of the day to get somewhere, it needs to be more than a 2 hour ride.

We watched the weather as the date came near and it looked good. Highs in the 60s and no rain. Reservations for camping were made at Sand Hollow State Park, a fairly new park that caters to OHVers and is just a few miles from the trail head.

Time to hit the road.

I had built a removeable bike stand out of a spare front door threshold and some fork holders I had laying around and the bikes sat in the Surburban nicely upright and out of the way.

The coolest thing was that every time I looked in the rear view mirror, I could see the outline of the handlebars and brake levers with the road behind them disappearing into the distance. Road trip.

Across the Nevada desert through Sin City and into Utah, we arrived at Sand Hollow and found that we were one of the very few to be camping there. It was quiet and had great views, huge pull throughs with hook ups, and a very open, expansive feeling to it. Nice. All set up, we checked out the red sand that was everywhere in small drifts. Buddy Steve checking it out: "Hmmm...we wont have to ride in that deep sand, will we?"

That night, after a hot dinner of chicken, onions, and various veggies all tossed in the skillet, we were hanging out around the campfire to stave off the cold when in the corner of my eye, I caught the shape of a small object moving behind and off to the side of buddy Steve. I said. "Steve, don't move! There is an animal behind you and I am going to get the flashlight." It never occurred to me what this sounded like from Steve's perspective. I left out the fine detailed adjectives like small, cute, fuzzy, and mostly small. For all he knew there was a Cougar behind him and I was practicing the technique known as "I don't have to be faster than the animal trying to eat me, I just have to be faster than you" ploy. Flashlight indeed.

Coming back I was surprised to find a small fox sitting about 6' away and very interested in our dinner scraps. He was getting none of that cuz we had eaten it all. He checked out our camp pretty well before looking for better diggings somewhere else.

I had done all my research online to get trail head locations, ride descriptions, etc, and I had purchased one map from With that, we set out in frosty but clear weather to find the trail head. On the road up to the mesa, we got behind a very large, very slow truck. This made us cranky and such that we completely missed the dirt road that we wanted to begin the ride on (shown as arrows in the pic...arrow one, big, slow truck...arrow two, road cut into hillside). Arriving at the top of the mesa and at the real trailhead, we realized we never saw the road cut and turned back in the truck to find it. How did we miss that? Oh yeah. Slow truck, cranky us. Back to the trail head at the cell towers and the kiosk, trail map, and plaque about the historic Hurricane Canal.

We had decided to ride the trail loop counter clockwise based on advice from local riders, although it was pretty evenly split on which way we should go around the loop. To do that, we parked at the Hurricane Hill/ Rim Trailhead and rode back down the highway towards town about a hundred yards or so then turned left onto a graded dirt road and began climbing in the 45* morning air. It was not long before we were peeling layers. I had decided to take the Karate Monkey set up as a 1x9 (no granny ring) and a hardtail of course. I really wanted to ride the big 29" wheels on ths type of ride to see if it was still good or not. More on that later, but the lack of a tiny gear had me warming up pretty fast.

On this ride, you really are never very far from town or the highway that you cross once or twice. Despite that, it can feel like you are waaay out there, all alone at times. Nice feeling with a comfortable reality in case things get messy. With the town of Hurricane below, we rode the fireroad till we came to the Gould's Rim trailhead. Gotta love the sign.

The trail runs along the rim of the canyon, not really exposed too much, but fun and mildly techy, Mostly, just windy and fun. If this was a portent of things to come, we were gonna be stoked. The cold wind was kinda nasty at times and we were playing the layering game for awhile.

More Gould's Rim.

At a dirt road crossing, we picked up Goulds (not Gould's Rim) and the trail took on a different character. It snaked and climbed its way around a bluff and finally over the top after enough dips and twists to make ya dizzy. My back was beginning to feel the effects of the heavy pack and that had me a bit concerned as we were not quite a third of the way done. We shall see.

After about 2 hours of riding, picture taking, and gawking at the cool views, we hit the J.E.M. trailhead, across hwy 59 and at the corrals. Lunchtime. Finding a spot to hang feet over what must be a waterfall when it rains enough, we dug into Chunky Chicken spread and bagels. Ambrosia, I tell ya. I was really looking forward to J.E.M. as one reason I rode it this direction, was to ride 'down' J.E.M. which was supposed to be uber-flowy and fun. It was. There were a few sections of the steeper parts that presented you with a ledge and nothing but air beyond as you rode closer and closer and then juuust before you locked the brakes in panic, would reveal the trail dropping off and down. Good fun. I cannot believe how good the bigger wheels of the 29er feel when dropping off those ledges. I was not jumping off them, just rolling off at speed, but it was pretty amazing. I like it. We walked one really nasty spot, but the rest was flowy and smooth. Definitely the highlight trail of the trip. Not too many pics, just too much fun to stop. We made up a lot of time here after the very slow Gould trail. The lunchbreak and J.E.M. had revived me and things were moving along nicely, back, legs and all. One pic below is a Where's Waldo moment as brother Steve rails the downhill ledges on J.E.M.

J.E.M. ended too soon and we followed the map past the intersection of J.E.M. and the China Wash trail and found the Hurricane Rim trail. It was interestiing how each trail had a unique personality. Gould's Mesa was a mix of everything and very mellow. Goulds was tight, slow and twisty, but fun. J.E.M. was fast and smooth with a couple of heart in throat moments on a few ledges that really were not all that bad once you hit them, and now the Hurricane Rim trail. It was quite difficult, actually, at least after 3 hours of riding and with no granny gear, it had a fair amount of climbing overall, nothing reeeal steep, but it was a bit of a workout. Also, it has large sections of trail that seemed like someone had poured concrete slabs, broken them into 3 foot pieces and then separated and tilted them ever so much. Now, a few inches of travel on each end and a fat tire and it is no issue really, but I was on a hard tail and I have gotten lazy over the years from too much time on FS bikes. I pinged the rear rim a few times until I remembered how to ride a hardtail again. Once I smacked it really good (strong rims, those DT Swiss TK 7.1s) and surprisingly never flatted. 29" wheels not withstanding, I would have liked a bit of rear squish here. I would run bigger tires than the Maxxis Ignitors for my 200lbs of rolling weight if I were to do it again.

Rim Trail and the Virgin River.

Supposedly one of the mesas in the distance is Gooseberry. I will take their word for it.

Soon enough we hit the peak and could see the Suburban in the distance. A quick section of downhill and we were back, 4 hours and 15 minutes later. Considering the moderate pace, picture taking, lunch, one detour that did not work out and the resulting retracing of steps, we probably could have pulled it off in 3 hours and change if we traveled light and pedaled faster.

A few thoughts on the day: 29ers are made for this kind of riding. The longer the ride, the better it felt and the big wheels were fast, secure, and great in the desert terrain. The Thudbuster seatpost kept things sane for the old bum and back, but I really need rear suspension to get the most out of a day like this. It would have saved a lot of energy on the Hurricane Rim trail as we climbed up all that broken rock. 1X9 is surprisingly versatile. I pushed a few sections for maybe 10' to 30' but that was about it. On the fast responding hardtail with the big wheels, if you could push the gear, it would just motor up the trail at a good pace. I would love to do this ride again on a light 3-4" travel 29er and take no prisoners.

Back at camp, we fired up some steaks and taters (vegans, look away!) and watched the sunset do its thing. The fox came back to see if we felt like sharing, but even the apple pie plate was clean. Sorry little dude. Too much riding today to leave any crumbs.

Drive, ride, eat, sleep, drive back.

Road trip accomplished.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Road Trip Eve.

The Suburban is loaded, the tent trailer attached. Bike gear, food, tools, maps. Camera, GPS, new bike mags fresh off the shelf.

Tomorrow, Utah.

Heh. Road trip.

Thursday, November 22, 2007


Ya gotta know where you came from if you are going to know where you are going.

Proclamation of Thanksgiving

Washington, D.C.
October 3, 1863
This is the proclamation which set the precedent for America's national day of Thanksgiving. During his administration, President Lincoln issued many orders like this. For example, on November 28, 1861, he ordered government departments closed for a local day of thanksgiving.

Sarah Josepha Hale, a prominent magazine editor, wrote a letter to Lincoln on 28, 1863, urging him to have the "day of our annual Thanksgiving made a National and fixed Union Festival." She wrote, "You may have observed that, for some years past, there has been an increasing interest felt in our land to have the Thanksgiving held on the same day, in all the States; it now needs National recognition and authoritive fixation, only, to become permanently, an American custom and institution." The document below sets apart the last Thursday of November "as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise."

According to an April 1, 1864, letter from John Nicolay, one of President Lincoln's secretaries, this document was written by Secretary of State William Seward, and the original was in his handwriting. On October 3, 1863, fellow Cabinet member Gideon Welles recorded in his diary that he complimented Seward on his work. A year later the manuscript was sold to benefit Union troops.

By the President of the United States of America.

A Proclamation.

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consiousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln

William H. Seward,
Secretary of State

Thanksgiving Morning Ride: earning the right to eat a lot later on.

The shadows are long on a November morning. It is cold, too. Well, at least for So Cal. Feels like Fall at last.

Like most back yard So Cal stuff, it is a fireroad that often follows or ends at a power line. No matter. It is all good for a pre-turkey ride.

The Karate Monkey in repose, absorbing EMF for the ride down.

Looking back before the descent, the typical rolling hills of the area, brown, not so dramatic, but laced with a lot of riding potential. Sigh. Not like the pics that some lucky souls have as their back yard, but no snow, no ice, and it is fast becoming 65* or so as the day warms. I will take it. That is the northbound 5 freeway in the pic, slogging along at 20 mph towards multiple grandma's houses.

Monday, November 19, 2007

You can never go home again.

So, after a few hours on the KM and those big ol' wheels, I did a quick experiment tonite. With the Utah trip a week away, I was debating which bike to take for the JEM/Gould/Hurricane loop. The 29er has no granny ring and no rear suspension. the Cannondale Prophet has all that in spades but no big wheels. I had pretty much settled on the C'Dale but tonite I did a quickie ride on the 29er and then hopped on the Prophet and spun around.

Ahhhh...wellll...hmmm. This sucks.

OK, back to the Monkey. Uh huh...that feels familiar.

Back to the Prophet, repeat, rinse, wring dry, etc. till opinion is obtained.

The result? I will likely never go back to the Prophet or any small wheeled bike again. It felt odd and high, narrow, short, waaayy too plush in back, sloooow to pedal (and the Prophet is a pretty good pedaling bike actually), and nervous. When I stood up to pedal, it seemed like I was 2 miles above and beyond the front wheel and I have taken that bike down some fast stuff in the past and it felt fine...then.

The one standout feature one the Prophet is the Lefty fork. THAT is one fine piece of work there.

I am still amazed how quickly I got used to the 29er and how well it works for me. This is going to cost some $$$.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

29er Trail Time

Took some time off the bike this weekend but I had a good week by my standards...something like 5.5 hours of saddle time all on the Monkey 29er.

Lovin' it.

The 1x9 drivetrain is surprisingly versatile. I am pretty convinced that in many parts of the country this would be all the gears you would ever need. If I was a stronger rider, I maybe could get away with it here, but there would come a day where the lack of a granny would get me at about hour 3 of the ride and I would detonate and walk a while. Having no big ring is no big deal as I only want to go soooo fast on the hard tail anyway.

Speaking of hardtails, the 29er really does ride much nicer than the equivalent 26er. Pretty smooth and if I was not so beat up in the low back from too many miles on the old odometer, I bet I could get away with this or maybe a soft tail for 90% of my riding. As it is, after about 2 hours or less depending on the type of trail, it starts to fatigue me pretty fast. Still pretty amazing how quickly I can move down the trail on a hardtail. Big wheels keep on rollin'.

Very pleased with the squishy seatpost. Without that, I would be hurtin' for certain.

The next ride will be on my 26" 5" travel bike just to see how things compare. Wonder if I will miss the big wheels?

Friday, November 9, 2007

Road Trip: St. George here we come

Ahhh, Utah. Lots O' good stuff there for outdoors folks like me. I had a group trip planned in September to Gooseberry Mesa but one by one we were all sidelined by injuries either to our bodies or our bikes.

So, here it is nearly December and NOT ONE road trip this year. Completely unacceptable. St. George it is. Itinerary: One day's easy drive to St. George from So Cal and set up camp, next day ride the combo of JEM/Hurricane/Gould...should be a good 3 hours or so, give or take, camp that night while stories flit around the campfire of today's bravery, and pack it up the next day back to home.

What bike should I bring? The new Karate Monkey 1x9 29er or the 26" Cannondale Prophet? Hmmmmm.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Thanks for the memories.

Tonite while riding with Joe W., Stan the Man, and Steve the recovering crash addict, I had one of those Kodak moments. We had just finished the downhill of the Castaic racecourse and we were headed home. Stan and Steve were just ahead to the left of me and were bickering good naturedly like an old married couple. Joe was still grinning from the euphoria of the downhill on his new Stumpy with more suspension travel than his old steed and there I was, taking it all in. It occurred to me that right then and there, with all of us old guys having a great time in God's creation on these silly bicycles that our wives think are...well, are silly...that mountain biking is a great sport and I am so blessed to be able to do it, to be reasonably good at it, and to have friends who feel the same way.

Thank God for small things like moments in time like this.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

29er: Time to get building

Well, other than a couple of small parts on order, the biggest chunk of hardware preventing me from beginning the frame build came in the mail while I was at the SEMA show in Las Vegas. Came home to this:

Nifty RST M29 fork with accessories, pump, t-shirt. manual and stickies. Cool, The fork looks really nice, kinda a pearl white. Time to get swinging wrenches and make a bike.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

29er Project: Nearing the Finish Line

Well, just got off the phone with RST. A new M29 is headed my way. Ordered the Thudbuster seatpost and Blackspire 32 CR last night. I buddy tossed a carbon Easton bar and alu stem my way for free, but I am not sure if they will work...the bar looks narrow and the stem short. We will see. Still need a chain, grips, cables, and a bash ring and jump stop. I think I can use an old XTR rear der. and Grip Shift set up I have.

Maybe I will have a big wheeled bike in a week or so.

Hee hee.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

In search of Fall colors

It has been feeling like autumn around So Cal, so it seemed prudent to try and find some changing colors. Some parts of the country you can't go outside without being enveloped in red and yellow leaves, but we have to look pretty hard to get that experience.

This one mountain has a unique mix of oak trees which turn color and drop their leaves. Not sure what they are. We always called them an Eastern Oak...have no idea if that is right, but they have these large, round acorns and fluted leaves. They are not at all like the typical oaks we have in the foothills and valleys. This ride gets up to around 5800' onto Liebre Mtn and rewards the 7-8 mile climb with great views and a singletrack return. Ahh, the good life.

However today, the winds of change were blowing in the form of Santa Ana winds from the north. That means gusty, windy conditions in the foothills and cold windy conditions up higher. The clouds were hovering on the crest of the mountain (it was in the high 30s with the wind chill) and it was misty all the way up. Every once and a while the clouds would part and allow for a great view.

Once on the top, we were surrounded by hunter's encampments. Great. None of us are hunters, so we were pretty clueless as to the time of year for all that Elmer Fudd-run around with a gun stuff. As we geared up for the singletrack descent, shots rang out on all sides of us, muted somewhat by the mist and clouds. Nice, and not one blaze orange windbreaker among us.

We were glad to get off the top of that mountain. The single track winds through the oaks and pines at the top, sometimes just a tunnel of trees that feels like the Star Wars forest scene on the speeders and then it will open to grassy slopes before it dives into chapparal. Very sweet. Definately a good day despite, or because of...not sure which, the weather. I rode pretty well, the knee did ok and I did not end up on some hunters truck hood.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Gonna' ride tonite

Nothing real special, just a putt up a local canyon with a bro that is healing from a nasty crash. So why am I all excited in a quiet kind of way? Funny how the prospect of getting out on a bike with a good friend is something so looked forward to.

Simple pleasures.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Knee Injury: Chapter 3

Back home after the lovely news, I could not do any real training in martial arts, so I turned to the bike for help. Help in moving through the healing process, help in moving through the fog of disappointment. Riding was easy and cautious at first, but I built up to decent rides after a while. I still limped and had poor extension and flexion though. The summer went by with slow progress.

The follow up to the doc came and went. I wanted to know what my limitations were, my recovery path, more info on why this felt this way or that. Basically, I wanted answers. It seemed to me that that was his job. I have questions he has answers. Apparently I was misinformed. I walked out with more questions than before. Basically it was put to me this way: You should be able to eventually do anything you want to, if you have any stability issues come back and we will operate and we can order you a custom brace ($1000.00) to go along with your life.

Man, that was just not good enough. I guess if I was a sedate, average, slightly overweight Joe who sports program involves Poker Tournaments and watching NASCAR, I would have been satisfied with that. But I had planned to be fitter at 50 than I was at 40 and I was on track to that. It is said that God laughs at our plans. If this was it then so be it, but I needed to KNOW that. I suppose the doc could only say so much, but I felt like I got the best 5 minutes of his day and the options given me were the default check list they teach in medical school: Medicate, operate.

How could I heal and strengthen the damage done? How could I take the years of athletic experience, knowing my body, working through injuries and pain, and let my body heal itself? No answer.

I had read about an alternative therapy called Prolotherapy. It had been around for a few years and is not new, but involves the injection of what is typically a Dextrose solution into the damaged joint, ligament, tendon, etc, where it inflames the area and promotes natural healing to occur. The more I read, the more it intrigued me. It seemed to be an option to consider for the type of injury I had. What can be better than triggering the bodies own healing system? The worst that could happen was that it would not be effective and I would have spent money for nothing. You see, insurance does not cover it. You can get all the Ibuprofen and surgeries ya want, but no simple injections of sugar water.

I remember discussing this with a friend who was injured from a bike crash. He was running through the same HMO merry go round and we were comparing notes. I said that I was dreaming of a medical environment that when you walked in the door, they took a look at the whole of you. They really took the time to ask questions and considered all the options. I asked the Orthopedic at the last follow up about the Prolotherapy. His reply was "They will stick you with needles, make you sore, and charge you a lot of money". No discussion past that. Next patient?

Summer waned and I was ready for another plan. I made an appointment at a local LA sports rehab clinic that was nationally known for not just Prolotherapy, but a holistic approach to injury recovery. Also, I had the MRI re-read by another independant ladb. This time the results were quite different. Instead of a full section tear, the ACL was diagnosed as a "probable, partial tear". Really?

I am past my fourth Prolotherapy injection now and the entire approach has been remarkable. The time spent with the doctors was very different. I never felt rushed and the exams were insightful and intuitive. They looked at my whole posture, leg strengths and weaknesses, any nerve issues, recommended strengthening exercises and some corrective inserts for my shoes on the damaged leg. Supplements were suggested to aid in the natural healing process, but not required.

My knee feels much more solid now and the pain in the joint is still present, but should fade away as the injections wear off and healing continues. I do not know if the Prolotherapy will be the magic bullet or not but I do think it is helping a great deal.

The most amazing part of the experience at the rehab clinic was the whole approach to the examination and healing process. The moral of this yet to be finished process is be careful of what you accept as fact regarding your body. I learned that MRIs are very often misread and one techs read will differ from another. Shop around for your care and consider your options carefully.

If I had listened to the doc the first time, I would be healing from an ACL surgery right now that I may not have needed. Time will tell. I will report back in a few months.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Knee injury: Chapter 2

Mid Spring, 2007: So, off to the doc I go. I went to a local sports/Ortho clinic and saw the same doc that tended to my shoulder issues a year or so back. He poked and prodded, asked some questions and then did a test to see if the knee showed any sings of looseness due to an ACL tear. Nope, not really. "Your knee feels pretty tight", he said. Still, to see what happened he took xrays and scheduled an MRI. The xray showed no fractures, but some bone bruising. So far so good.

The MRI happened and the follow up was scheduled.

Back at the docs, imagine my surprise when the words out of his mouth were "You have a full section ACL tear". Whaaaaat!!? "See here", he said, pointing to the MRI (which just looked like some photography experiment gone wrong), "We really don't see any attachment here and here".

I was stunned and depressed. No way had I thought this was headed there. I got back up on the table for another push me/pull you exam. This time he said, "Well your knee is looser than the other one". Now this was the one that 4 days ago was tight. What is up with that? SO what are my options, doc? Hard to say. I would have limitations, certainly, but how much was unclear. When will I be able to play hard again? Martial arts? Cycling? Heck, I was wondering about a simple hike, if I would live wondering when my knee was going to give way or begin to be unstable, etc. So basically, take no risks. Great. We discussed the surgical options as well.

I ended up with a knee brace, some suggestions on what NOT to do (extreme sports, etc), and a prescription for vitamin I and physical therapy. I walked out with more questions than answers and the answers I had were not the ones I wanted. Bummer.

The PT person gave me a slightly more thorough exam, range of motion, etc. She reiterated that my knee felt very tight and was surprised at the MRI results. She did not feel the knee showed any sings of classic ACL damage. No signs of meniscal damage either. A few exercises later and I was on my way.

I hit the Google again and did a lot of reading on ACL surgeries. Autograph, allograph, patellar tendon graft, etc. Also, the success rates, dangers, typical results, etc. What an education. Did you know that the one of the highest percentages of ACL injuries happen to early teen age girls? Especially soccer players? Me neither. I also spent time on knee injury forums, I read about alternative medicine approaches, etc.

See, the deal was this. if I had blown my knee out so badly that it swelled up and laid me out, or it was giving out as I went down stairs or lived life, or it was obviously REALLY screwed up, I would have scheduled the surgery cause it would never get better beyond what the operation would provide. I would always have serious compromises with a missing ACL. One thing for sure, no matter what, I would never be the same again. One bright light was that cycling is not ACL dependant, but life is way more than bikes. I was too young and fit to be this limited....too much was uncertain.

But, I was not that bad. I had no instability, some pain but not a great deal, no swelling, clicking, popping, catching, etc. I knew I was a bit screwed up, but I dreaded the thought of rushing into surgery to "fix" a knee that was not as bad as the results of the operation might make it. Would I heal enough to live a more careful but reasonable sports life if I just left it alone? A loose knee can lead to arthritus and joint damage later in life. And, if I did the surgery, should it be Autograph (using my own body tissue as the 'fix agent' of Allograph where cadaver tissue is used? The allograph is becoming more popular since it does not involve cutting parts of a 'good' section of your body, typically a section of patellar tendon or hamstring tendon, to make the repair. The recovery is shorter that way, but there are no guarantees of the quality of the cadaver donor. Even if the tissue is not diseased or compromised, it may be not be as strong and fit as your own body would provide.

Well, 2 weeks and I see the doc again, with more questions that I know what to do with. Either way, life feels a bit darker right now. God is good, but he doesn't always tell me everything I would like to know.

29er Project: more parts

Well, it rained last night and this morning so I looks like we get a break from the parched conditions this last year brought to the So Cal area.

So, after the wheels were obtained, I sat and looked at the other parts I have eBay'ed for the Surly. I had originally wanted to stay to $1000.00 for the build. I could have hit that mark, but it would mean stripping some other bikes of parts and compromising on the front fork. If this was going to be an SS only, I could likely get away with a rigid fork, but running a 1x9 and hoping to do some falirly difficult training/fun rides meant I needed a squishy fork. Too many miles on the body and too many bumps in the trail to do otherwise.

Also, I hate cheap parts. I am not a parts snob, but a set of $125.00 29er wheels would probably not meet my expectations of quality or weight.

Enter the marketplace of the world, eBay.

So far, I have a used King headset, a new WTB Ti railed saddle (in white/grey/black color...ooohhh!), a Deore XT Hollowtech II 180mm crank and BB, and SPD pedals from the Bay.

REI supplied a twice marked down XT 11-34 cassette ($45.00!), and Jenson USA was blowing out Deore LX hydro brakes for dirt cheap.

The wheels/tires came out of the MTBR classifieds.

I figure I am around $1K now and it will take another $500.00 to get it done, maybe a bit more. Looking back on it, I could have paid cash for a used and built bike for that amount of money, but I have to admit I enjoy the planning and chase of the build process. Many's the hour I have sat on ebay, refreshing the screen and waiting to slip in that winning bid. The heart races, the pulse quickens.

Meanwhile, the sun is breaking through and it may be time to go ride and leave all the parts in the box for a while longer. After all, my heart rate is already up from the last auction!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Plan 29: rolling stock

Just got these in the mail. Picked them up on the MTBR Classifieds. Thanks Ken G NM! DT Swiss Onyx hubs with TK 7.1 rims. Looked nearly new and came with fresh looking Maxxis Ignitors for $275.00 shipped. Not too bad. Plan 29 continues.

The 29er Experiment: Part one

After the SS conversion, I was poking around on, from whence the SS inspiration came, and I started reading about this 29er stuff. Big wheels for bigger riders made a lot of sense to me. I had been aware of 29ers for a while but they were so fringe. At the time no one in my circle of friends rode one. No shop sold them. No one extolled the virtues of big wheels. So it just passed into memory.

But later, the more I read, the more I was intrigued by the concept. So, now that I had a taste of SS riding, I borrowed the one 29er a bike shop owner had, his personal ride, a Jamis Exile 29er. When I first saw it, it looked so odd what with the big hoops and all. It was a 19", kinda small for me by one size, but close enough. I took it home and just sat and looked at it for a while. Man those wheels looked big.

OK...go riding, quit looking.

Man those wheels feel big.

It rolled fine down the road, felt a little slow to spin up, etc, but when it hit the loose, gravelly, sandy road up a local canyon, the big wheels began to come into their own. It was like it rolled through the chaff with no ill effects at all. Cool. The first rise in the road felt kinda sluggish to stand and pedal but the twisty singletrack and the fireroad out was eye opening. It felt really stable and calm. Hmmm. May be something here, but I needed gears to see if it worked well on more of a typical ride for me.

So, I rented a Ventana El Rey from The Path Bike Shop. 21", orange, gears. Ok, then. Much the same feelings as the Exile, except the gears and 4" of travel more closely matched my typical trail bike. On the first half of the ride I was thinking, "I wonder if they would sell me this bike". By the end I had decided I did not want it. I just did not click with the bike as a whole, but I still was amazed how the big wheels did some amazing things like turn flowing singletrack into bobsled runs with no feeling of slipping and skittering. The bumps really did get smaller. Very cool.

So now what? I did not want to spend $5K on a continuation of this experiment and yet I was pretty sure that the right set up combined with more time on the bike is what I needed. A plan came into form. If I built up a budget bike that represented a good version of 29ers and spent some winter time on it as I re-hab'd the knee, that would be acceptable. if I was not sold, I could : A) sell it B) SS it and keep it around If I liked it, I could: A) keep it in some form or another...SS, geared, etc B) Part it out and put that money into a full suspension bike with confidence

Either way it seemed like a reasonable plan.

Then, as I was returning the El Rey at The Path Bike Shop, I got into a conversation on what I liked and did not like. I mentioned my thoughts about an inexpensive 'toe-in-the-water' bike and we started walking around. I came home with this.

I got a Surly Karate Monkey on mark down for $275.00 with no fork. It was last year's model without the clearance for a Reba, but that was ok. Not the first choice in forks for me anyway. Black, steely, kinda heavy, but cool and very versatile. SS, Geared, Disc-no disc, etc. Steel is real. I like steel. I knew it was not the latest and sexiest, but it was proven and predictable.

Plan 29 had begun.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Knee Injury: I thought the ACL was a group of liberal lawyers?

No, that is the ACLU.

I don't know much about them, but thanks to an unfortunate moment in the Spring of '07, I have learned a lot about the ACL, as in, Anterior Cruciate Ligament, a part of the interior of the knee that helps stabilize movement during sports, running, walking, etc. This is a journey into the realm of self education, treatment, and self awareness of the limitations of the medical industry in evaluating this type of injury for a practiced athlete. It is my journey, and it is not over yet.

Time log...early Spring, 2007: I am sure that anyone with an awareness of sports has heard of an ACL injury. Very common in football, soccer, skiing, etc, it usually happens when the knee joint is stressed beyond the limits of the ligament's tensile strength and a full or partial tearing of the ACL results. Once torn, the ACL has a very poor record of healing on its own. It seems that the synovial fluid that encapsulates the knee joint has very little blood flow and consequently, very slow healing abilities. Also, the fibrous nature of the ligament tends to shred and breakdown till little connection from bone to bone is left.

That leads to a loss of stability that can limit the sporting activity of the injured person and, unless repaired can lead to increased stress on the cartilage (meniscus)and other parts of the knee. Can you say, arthritis?

The repair is a pretty involved process requiring surgery and a long healing process to follow. Figure 6 months of sports related downtime and one year to full strength with no guarantee against surgery related issues such as lingering knee pain, reduced flexibility, etc. Not a rosy picture.

I knew none of this while I was laying on the practice mat a few minutes after the injury happened. I just knew anytime your knee pops and it hurts, that is not good. The injury happened during some practice of Judo techniques. I was caught up in a poorly executed hip throw that levered off my knee instead of higher up on the thigh/hip. My foot stuck on the mat and I was forced over to the floor. I had no tremendous pain or swelling immediately afterwards. Remember this point. My knee felt a bit loose and did not like being pivoted on or really any quick movement, so I was walking around with a limp, but I was walking.

Off to the local sports orthopedic center, but not before I spent a bunch of time on Google reading about knee injuries. I was not textbook for an ACL injury, I learned. I had no serious pain or swelling post injury, I had no real instability (knee giving out or buckling), or any clicking or 'catching' during knee movement that would point to ACL and/or Meniscus (the cartilage 'socket' that the knee uses as a cushion). I figured a ligament strain, but what did I know.

Turns out maybe I knew a lot, but I did not know that yet and I would not know that for a while.

Next the doc.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Singlemindedness: Sampling the pure life

Once I began riding again (see previous post), I began poking around to see what was new. Sure, I bought some mags, etc, but these days the internet is the place to check the pulse of the cycling community.

I found something that caught my interest. Seems like a few crazies had decided that one gear is really all you need so they had tossed all that shifting stuff for the simple and pure vibes of riding single speed. Huh! Ya don't say? I really cannot remember anyone even thinking of doing this back when I was paying attention to trends and riding a lot. I really never stop riding when I get pulled into other interests, but I just ride like I live under a rock as far as being on the latest wave of cycling stuff. So, somehow I had missed the revolution. Must have been on the late news.

Always wondering if one can really have too many bikes, this SS thingy kind of coincided with my desire to cut my commute over to the martial arts studio in town. I was teaching rather than training, but my 10mpg truck never even warmed up before I got there and back. Still, I hated to ride my 5" travel bike over there SPDs and all.

So, I reached up into the rafters of the garage and resurrected an old flame, my mid 90s era Curtlo Mountaineer/Action Tec. $150.00 later and a few conversion items mixed with stuff out of the box-o-parts I had laying around, I had this:

Tell ya what, I have seldom had so much fun for so little money. Frustrating at times, difficult in others, but strangely appealing, SS'ing is very cool. I have it geared to work well around town (34x18) but I can really get moving on a moderate dirt grade. In fact, I hammered a buddy into the ground on a recent hillclimb and he was a comparable rider on a $3K+ fully sus bike. As long as I can pedal it, it is really fast. I had forgotten how fast a good steel hardtail can be. Also, how bumpy, so an old suspension seatpost was installed and the Action Tec fork gives 2" of de-bumpness up front. 24.25 lbs of WHEEEEeee. Cool stuff, but I am not kidding myself into thinking that I can ride this everywhere. I really gotta admire the guys/gals that can pilot a rigid SS as there main squeeze, especially if they live west of the Rockies. 24 hours solo on an SS? Wow.

Cycling Cycles

I bet if you look back on most cyclists lives, you will find times where they ride a lot and times when they taper a bit. Other things come along and catch your interest: kids, marriages, health challenges, etc. I used to ride 4-5 times a week 'back in the day'. Now it was once or twice a month...maybe. Not burn out or lack of interest, just stuff that comes along in that 24 hour day we have. Time and time again, I would come back to the bike and wonder why I left it for so long.

It happened again a few years ago. One of those detours came along in the form of a new challenge...martial arts. My son was taking some classes and I always watched with interest. I found myself thinking, " I am in good shape (Mtn Biker!!) and I may still be young enough to do this...maybe".

Four years or so later I achieved a black belt and was instructing part time. Great journey, but it really had cut into my riding time and passion. At 45+ years old, I only had so much energy, and training 4 days a week at the studio was about all I had to give. Then, while training in another form of martial arts to continue my education, I turned the corner (figuratively speaking) and ran smack into a torn knee injury. I still remember that feeling after the *pop* and the pain as I laid there knowing I had just really screwed up.

I always protected my knees. I never snow skiied, jogged, etc. Bad on the knees you know....cycling be good on the knees...must have good knees. Then there was that *pop* to remind me that I may have missed a lot of skiing for nothing.

MRIs followed, Drs visits (man, what an education that all was), some therapy and then time to heal as best I could and that meant little or no martial arts. Time to ride. See how the knee feels...not too bad. ACL injuries and the like are very forgiving to cycling so off I went. I had put on 10 lbs of weight, a combo of muscle and fat that really helped when you are fighting on the mats. Before the month was over, I had dropped 10 lbs.

My knee was still screwed up (more thoughts on that journey later) but I had fallen in love with riding again. Just as in the past, the cycle of life had come back to gears, wheels, sweat, and the giddy thrill of wind, speed, and the sweet satisfaction of a good ride.

And again I found myself asking, "why did I stop doing this?" Who knows, but I know one thing for certain, as long as God gives me the ability to climb up onto the saddle and pedal, I will keep a bike or two around, cuz sure as shootin' I will be distracted again and it is good to know my bike will wait for me with a understanding between us that I will be back.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Birth of a blog

Where to begin? Well, at the beginning I guess. Somewhere around 1985 I saw a Schwinn Mtn Bike catalogue that a co-worker had brought in to work. That was the beginning of a long love affair with a wonderful sport/hobby/passion/whatever that has, at times, burned brightly and at times dimmed, but has remained there as a defining point in my life.

I am a man, a Christian, a husband, a father, a worker bee, a tall white guy, etc. I am all these things and have been more or less as time went by. But since that day I saw that catalogue and handed over the cash for that first knobby tired wunderbike, I have been something else.

I am a mountain biker.

And that is just fine with me.