Sunday, July 27, 2008

Halfway?!!?

OK so I'm a bit off the back in noticing that the year is on the downslide. Perhaps I'm looking forward more than back?

Yeah, that's it...

The pattern the past few weeks has been to ride first thing, hide in the office until the sun leaves the county, then build wheels into the wee hours. Sleep a bit then repeat. This MO has given me mucho time to get caught up on office and photo stuff (though I keep forgetting 'bout 2nd quarter sales tax, dagnabbit...) while hiding from the heat.

And for the first time in ages I've managed to sort through the top half of this year's photos before it's over. Stellar.

What follows is a handful of 'b-sides' from this season so far.



Lots of great trips taken, laughs shared, and memories made thus far, with more (always more!) on the horizon.

Hope it's been a good'n for you too.

MC

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Oh!

A photo-reportage from the last ~336 hours.

Congratulations! Today is your day.
You're off to Great Places!
You're off and away!

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
You're on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who'll decide where to go.

You'll look up and down streets. Look 'em over with care.
And some you will say, "I don't choose to go there."
With your head full of brains and shoes full of feet,
you're too smart to go down any not-so-good street.

And you may not find *any*
you'll want to go down.
In that case, of course,
you'll head straight out of town.

It's opener there
in the wide open air.

Out there things can happen
and frequently do
to people as brainy
and footsy as you.

And when things start to happen,
don't worry. Don't stew.
Just go right along.
*You'll* start happening too.

Oh!
The places you'll go!

You'll be on your way up!
You'll be seeing great sights!
You'll join the high fliers
who soar to high heights.

You won't lag behind, because you'll have the speed
You'll pass the whole gang and you'll take the lead.
Wherever you fly, you'll be the best of the best
Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.

Except when you *don't*.
Because, sometimes, you *won't*.

I'm sorry to say so
but, sadly, it's true
that Bang-Ups
and Hang-ups
*can* happen to you.

You can get all hung up
in a prickle-ly perch.
And your gang will fly on.
You'll be left in a Lurch.

You'll come down from the Lurch
with an unpleasant bump
And chances are then
that you'll be in a Slump

And when you're in a Slump,
you're not in for much fun.
Un-slumping yourself
is not easily done.

You will come to a place where the streets are not marked.
Some windows are lighted. But mostly they're darked.
A place you could sprain both your elbow and chin!
Do you dare to stay out? Do you dare to go in?
How much can you lose? How much can you win?

And IF you go in, should you turn left or right...
or right and three quarters? Or, maybe, not quite?
Or go around back and sneak in from behind?
Simple it's not, I'm afraid you will find,
for a mind-maker-upper to make up his mind.

You can get so confused
that you'll start in to race
down the long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace
and grind on for miles across weirdish wild space,
headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.

The Waiting Place...

...for people just waiting.
Waiting for a train to go
or a bus to come, or a plane to go
or the mail to come, or the rain to go
or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow
or waiting around for a Yes or a No
or waiting for their hair to grow.
Everyone is just waiting.

Waiting for the fish to bite
or waiting for wind to fly a kite
or waiting around for Friday night
or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake
or a pot to boil, or a Better Break
or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants
or a wig with curls, or Another Chance.
Everyone is just waiting.

NO!
That's not for you!

Somehow you'll escape
all that waiting and staying.
You'll find the bright places
where Boom Bands are playing.

With banner flip-flapping
once more you'll ride high!
Ready for anything under the sky.
Ready because you're that kind of guy!

Oh, the places you'll go! There is fun to be done!
There are points to be scored. There are games to be won.
And the magical things you can do with that ball
will make you the winning-est winner of all.
Fame! You'll be famous as famous can be
with the whole wide world watching you win on TV.

Except when they don't.
Because, sometimes, they won't.

I'm afraid that *some* times
you'll play lonely games too.
Games you can't win
'cause you'll play against you.

*All Alone!*
Whether you like it or not,
Alone will be something
you'll be quite a lot.

And when you're alone, there's a very good chance
you'll meet things that scare you right out of your pants.
There are some, down the road between hither and yon,
that can scare you so much you won't want to go on.

But on you will go
though the weather be foul.
On you will go
though your enemies prowl.
On you will go
though the Hakken-Kraks howl.
Onward through many
a frightening creek.
though your arms may get sore
and your sneakers may leak.

On and on you will hike.
And I know you'll hike far
and face up to your problems
whatever they are.

You'll get mixed up, of course,
as you already know.
You'll get mixed up
with many strange birds as you go.
So be sure when you step.
Step with care and great tact
and remember that Life's
a Great Balancing Act.
Just never forget to be dexterous and deft.
And *never* mix up your right foot with your left.

And will you succeed?
Yes! You will indeed!
(98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.)

KID, YOU'LL MOVE MOUNTAINS!

So...
be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray
or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O'Shea,
you're off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So...*get on your way!*

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Predictable.

July 17, 2008, 1:56 PM MST.

Finished tensioning a wheel, mopped the sweat from my brow (it's ~100* in the shop), walked inside and grabbed a quart o' chilled liquid refreshment, then plopped down here (at the computer, in the air conditioned house) for 5 minutes of respite.

And where, you must be wondering, did I point the browser?

Where else?

It's a sickness I tell ya. Happens mid-July every year.

It starts with a glance at the Idita sites, followed by a quick cruise through a photo folder or two. Harmless stuff, really.

But, mark my words, by this time next week I'll be relacing my fatty fat fat wheels, considering the relative merits of various potential routes, browsing for deals, and just generally pegging the geek-o-meter.

Sweet.

MC

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Old Friends.

I jumped at the chance to drive a few hours and reconnect with some old friends this week. Threw a bike and overnight gear in the toaster, plugged in some tunes and zoomed in a Gunny-esque direction.

Unsure of where Old Friend #1 was exactly, I ended up driving the entirety of Marshall Pass and down a bit of Poncha Pass before finding him grinding his way up the pave'. Whipped a uey and drove back a ways to get suited up before he came dieseling by.

Just great to ride with him for a few hours. Well, mentally great--physically it pretty much sucked. He's ~1600 miles into the GDR, and has obviously found his stride. Straight out of the car with no warmup I got positively killed for the first ~hour climbing Marshall Pass. It was difficult enough to just hang on, but eventually I got the idea to ask him questions that required detailed answers, and that slowed him down enough that I could settle into a merely agonizing pace. We chatted most of the way on subjects ranging from Shageluk to cheaters to saddle sores and ice cream. Not necessarily in that order.

Hardly recognized him with his midsummer tan--fishbelly white is his normal-to-me-in-February patina.

It rained for most of the last ~hour and then we split at the top at sunset. Seems a significant chunk of his motivation is merely wanting to finish so that he doesn't have to re-ride the same route. I've heard that sentiment somewhere before...

Some great quotes from him:
“This is a big damn country!”
“He’s one of those filthy Europeans—you can’t trust him. I know—I’m one too.”
“I was just happy to be keeping up with a fit Jenn. Then I snuck out at 2AM to get ahead of her.”

If you've been following the race the above will probably elicit a chuckle or two. If not, well, it really doesn't matter...

I descended and camped for the night, then made my way homeward the next morning. This day was different--I knew exactly where to find Old Friend #2.

Anyone that's lived and ridden near this small mountain town knows her as one of the first to open when the snow recedes, as well as one of the easiest to access. Not coincidentally she gets ridden a lot.I've ridden her on hardtails and softtails, full rigid and full sus, as well as single speed and even fixed.She's a quickie that packs a punch if you go out too hard, but she's always worthwhile because her rolling backside (ahem, descent) will make you grin regardless of how badly you cramped on the upswing.I couldn't climb fast in all the years that I was paid to do it, so now that the paychecks come from wheelbuilding I rarely even make a token effort to hurry uphill. Slaving and suffering has been replaced by gawking and ogling, a tradeoff I'm so comfortable with that I've supplemented it with a camera to give me all the more reason to dawdle.And dawdle I did. Further rationalizing my geologic pace I told myself that it would be downright rude to rush through a rare meeting with such a fine old friend.I've ridden her fast dozens of times, but I can't remember a single slow cruise.Not that I needed a reason but it was reason enough to take my time and really savor the surroundings.Not surprisingly, taking time to shoot some pics meant that I was getting a spell from the climbing and keeping my accumulated heart rate and fatigue pretty low. Sections that I remembered as technically challenging were emphatically not. Hmmm.Huge amounts of winter snow have finally vaporized and left equally huge numbers of flowers. I could live here a lifetime and still, each spring, insist that the flowers were better than ever *this* year.Cresting the top I grabbed a handful of gears instinctively--time to fly. But I just couldn't get into character when descending either. Not as fun to push without a wingman? Or just being considerate of 'her' feelings again?Meh--didn't really matter why. Honestly I think it was difficult to even notice the trail for all of the flowers and views.Re-reading that last, I can only think "God I'm getting old".
Is that wrong?

At one sweeping corner I stopped the bike and rotated to look back, realizing that although I'd been here dozens of times I had *no clue* what I'd see if I turned around.

Pretty nice.

Acutely aware of a growing confusion in my noggin, I stopped yet again to ponder why I was here. Am I supposed to be going as fast as I can? Should I be stopping to look around? Which will I tell all my friends about afterwards? Am I supposed to clean the climbs while staring at my front wheel, or walk the climbs while looking anywhere else? Gad--am I even allowed to walk when I have a fancy-shmancy wheeled conveyance along?'Round about here I got a bit of a headache and needed to lie down.

Woke a bit later to the sweet smell of brown dirt and green leaves. Sat up, stuck my face into the nearest blossom, and didn't process another thought the rest of the ride.
Perfect.