22 July, 2013

My Nifty Summer Break

As my summer comes to a close there’s a bunch of nifty things that occurred…  

Nifty thing one.

woa there my wee daughter!

This past Spring Break, me and my kids; Karen-her brother and friend Jeremy; my other mutual friend and teammate-Kevin, and his kids all met in Moab.  My cycling goal:  get my kids hooked on mountain biking.  It worked!  So when Maura began to outgrow her bike, Karen’s sister Jill (because they’re awesome), donated a dual suspension mountain bike to my second daughter, Maura.  Maura first impression was:  I don’t know if I’m the right size for this because the bike is a little big.  In order to make her comfortable on the new bike I took her to the mountain bike park nearby and she rode several of the black diamond (rated like ski trails) paths/obstacles with no problem.  Afterwards, with a huge smile on her face, she felt comfortable with the new ride.  Therefore, when my kids live with me, we try to ride the mountain bike park and she’s always up for trying a newer challenge on the trail.
Nifty thing two.
2013 Dirt Team

I rode the Firecracker 50 for the fifth year (it might could be all in a row).  Last year I was 15 minutes off my target goal of doing a sub-5 hour ride.  My fitness was pretty good going into it and my trusted steed, Penelope (an Airborne 29er hardtail, the Guardian model with slight mods) was raring to go.  The only thing I’ve done was to add more Stan’s (latex) into my CrossMaxes and lubed the chain.  In the grand scheme of things, one can always race with solo support (i.e. yourself) but when there's two (am I alluding to the metaphor of life?), well it's like the placebo effect plus Christmas.  I call it the placekarenmas effect
Grabbed a bottle, climbing but I forgot to remove my empty water bottle!
After the first lap, I still felt pretty good and my bike was not making any noise at all-a sign of mechanical soundness which is what Airborne bicycles is all about.  After hearing Karen hollering, “Go Mike!” I was determined to kill the second lap.  At mile 49 or so, on a SCREAMING downhill, littered with all manner of rocks, where the safest line was scouting the discoloration of rocks with previous rider’s tires running on top of them and by accurately mimicking that path with my tires as precisely as possible while going 30+ mph, I bobbled my line and crashed at speed.  I cartwheeled like a Raggedy Andy doll and as I was cartwheeling, I said to myself keep rolling, don’t slide, keep the rolling inertia with your arms like you learned in karate (how to roll) and you’ll keep major body damage to a minimum-of course, this was all in slow motion in my brain.  During one of the rolls, my bottommost ribs got tagged with a nice sized angular rock as well as my elbow on the same side.  As I was laying in the prone position slightly moaning, remarking on how beautiful the blue skies where, I ran my hands over my collar bones to make sure nothing was sticking out and eye-balling my elbow that was slowly getting a hematoma with kinda deep scratches.   

 After several racers asked if I was okay-I suppose I was-I threw my right leg over my bike and winced as my sore ribs responded to my movement.  Nonetheless, it fired me up to finish strong.  I could breathe fairly deeply to continue putting watts on my pedals aerobically.  My front derailleur cable came off my top tube’s braze-on when I cranked my handlebars during my crash and I wasn’t able to use the big chain ring (I have a 2x10).  No worries, I finished exactly in 5 hours and 17 seconds.  18 seconds short of a sub-5 hour ride but I’ll take it!  Afterwards we baked in the sun, eating, getting some first aid at the medical station (me!), while we all talked and patted ourselves on the back and enjoyed each others’ companies.

Nifty thing three.
right elbow before trip

The next day, as my ribs where on the way to healing, Karen and I road-tripped to California-with bikes!-to meet my brother Neil, my sister in-law Dana, and my Mom.  People say one of the most telling signs of the potential of a healthy long term relationship is how well two people travel-especially in such close proximity.  The only painful thing for me, on our trip, was from all the laughing my sore ribs had to endure as we conversed while we flew down the highway or as we witnessed new things with two sets of eyes.  Some of the new things we witnessed on the way out:  Lake Mead complete with lethal noro-parasites at Roger’s Hot Springs, Las Vegas (we won loot and battled a wee bit of heat exhaustion walking on Tropicana), and walking around as we learned about the Valley of Fire State Park.   

In San Diego, we mountain biked with a colleague of mine at Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve where Karen kinda slayed, and afterwards we drove the scenic route to Stone Brewery-creators of Arrogant Bastard Ale-to wash down a tasty vegetarian lunch with a temperature correct fermented beverage in SoCal's picture postcard perfect summer afternoon.  Traffic in San Diego’s awful especially during the PM peak hours.  The best time to travel back to my brother’s was around 9pm, so we spent time in Balboa Park witnessing new things with two sets of eyes and appreciating how thrilling that can be.  When we arrived in the town  my brother lives, we had a sweet tooth aching to be satisfied so the choices were either Exxon or the Circle K.  We chose the Circle K because Karen quoted, ‘Strange things are a’foot in the Circle K.’  
Your eyes deceive you not!
at the Getty flanked by awesomeness!
  Prophetically, what transpired as we were perusing  our edible options of teeth enamel delamination was:  the clerk confronting two teenagers about allegedly stealing Ny-Quil while simultaneously fending off repeated, identical questions a homeless man was querying with complete naivety about the secret location of the microwave and upon finding it, is it possible to use said microwave oven to heat his stew?  That qualifies as strange yes?  Quickly, here’s a rundown of mentionable stuff we did:  eating decadently at Sprinkles Ice Cream in Beverly Hills, walking on the sand at Laguna Beach, watching pelicans fly by and inspecting tidal pools, geeking on Hollywood Boulevard, route finding in LA rush hour, witnessing the cultural spectacle known as the Getty Museum,

eating a cream puff at Beard Papa's, sharing a vegetarian hot dog with ghost pepper mustard at the Grove, searching for music at Amoeba's Music, and Ruby's Shake Shack.

Needless to say, a magical time was spent in California.

My brother Lem!
Nifty thing four.

My Mom accompanied us to Phoenix where we met with my older brother and his family.  The next day we rode F.I.N.S.

After our ride, I suffered through a wee bit of heat exhaustion.  As we were figuring out what to do after our ride in my brother’s kitchen, I asked my sister in-law Jeannine three times if I could make breakfast.  Each attempt apparently new contextually with the previous try completely forgotten.  When Jeannine started laughing I thought, what’s her deal?, that’s when Karen told me of my thrice requests for the breaking of (our morning) fast.  Arizona, you’re scary hot like ghost peppers on a Fritzi Dog hotdog.
Who says an Airborne hardtail can't rip?

F.I.N.S. stands for Fantasy Island North Singletrack.  The original Fantasy Island started south of Phoenix, we're north.  Get it?  As the day went on, the sweat was pouring but there was no difference in water content between the humans and the atmosphere surrounding us- that means no evaporative cooling.  We were slowly shutting down without the winds.  It was still pretty darn fun.  My brother Lem-being the most gracious trail guide and host, Karen, and I were smiling and kinda pooped out too.  Great riding today and we didn't get shocked going underneath the low hanging powerlines (like I did the first time I rode there)!

look at that form!

My summer's not completely done yet, I do have some non-work time where I can still enjoy what remaining vestiges of summer's left! I am grateful that such an amazing trip occurred thanks to the largess of my family and for having my sweet (and cosmically resonating side-kick, my amazing girlfriend) Karen accompanying me.  Cyclocross nationals are in my backyard this year-Boulder!  It's the second week in January, so if I can be clever and disciplined and not get burned out I'd like to give it a shot.  That would be my next nifty tale to tell...