02 November, 2013

My Most Bestest Fall Break Evah (complete with our version of "Life Below Zero")!

You have to bear with me here because my ADD inflicted mind is coming off one the more surreal, super joyous, nearly spiritual, super connected, endorphin and oxytocin (um, I'm not nursing, just bonding with Karen) releasing, caloric and culturally rich October Break known to Mike.

Cali (yeah, I know you Californians hate that moniker for your state).
Two great women!
     I celebrated my Mom's 80th birthday in Orange county California with Karen.  It was a fast trip.  A two nighter near the Circle K of  "My Nifty Summer Break" blog entry-the Fairfield Inn.  It was awesome seeing my brothers and especially my Mom.  What made it so endearing for me, well, was a lot of things.  Not going to be too gushy here but my Mom was truly appreciative of all the hard work that went into her celebration.  Usually she and my Dad would go out to dinner chilly-chill style as they would always do.           Unassuming and low-key (as opposed to Thor's mischievous brother mind you), just two people enjoying each others' company, insulated from the goings on from their surroundings.  Neil invited her closest friends and family and he did it right.  Mark, a nascent Annie Lebovitz and Neil's brother in-law, was capturing all these sweet moments in photographic 1s and 0s along with all the participant's facial nuances of elation, happiness, and tenderness whose foci was the celebration of my awesome Mom!  Too special and endearing, if I was secure with my masculinity I would've cried right there on the spot.  You know who did cry though?  Neil's friend's father.
    Karen and I were introduced to this gentleman.  He was a retired teacher, so of course there were common interests, which lead to a conversation about teaching...As this gentleman was talking about his illustrious teaching career, I saw his eyes tear up when he talked about some innovations he implemented.  At first I thought he coughed due to water going into the bronchial tubes as opposed to the esophagus, but indeed he was getting a smidge lacrimose.  As the trajectory of his soliloquy continued, it brought up the passing of his lovely wife of 52 years.
    She just passed a month ago and obviously the wounds were still fresh and his remembrance of her truly painted a picture of a companionship worthy of the movies.  Karen and I were in awe of his story, recounting milestones before and during their marriage.  He was unabashed at this point of his water works and as a guy-ee, guy, I said something feigning manliness, "Dude, you need a hug."  So my little, 5' 7" frame was hugging this Ursine Man, Gentle Man, Teacher Man, Loving and Devoted to wife Man, because we were both moved by his tale.  As he was talking, I would steal glances at Karen where we would briefly lock eyes and she would smile.  Ahh!  Afterwards as Karen and I were talking about this, we both agreed, while it was a tender tribute about his life it was surreal!  My Mom's geburtstag celebration with a lacrimosal tale spun by a tender giant-stranger in one room.  Hmm!  'Twas bad enough that my mind's hyper aware from the red-eye air travel and it lead to  stimulus overload.  It was a combination of leaving a cold Denver, arriving in a picture postcard SoCal Saturday, people dressed up for this event, Karen looking thoroughly prepossessing in her lavender/blue dress (which kinda matched my blue shirt-yeah, I'm a crip-right!), walking around the neighborhood beach club hand in hand with Karen trying to identify water fowl paddling in the artificial but beautiful lake, hanging out with my brothers, eating Thanksgiving style, hanging out with Neil's in-laws, sun being super bright (duh!), all contributed to the buzz in my reptilian brainstem.  Then, quicker than you can snap your finger, we were back in a picture postcard Sunday afternoon in Denver.
    Nice times y'all.  Extravagantly simple. Unwieldingly elegant. Straighforwardly convoluted.  Ate me some cake too!!  Sunday lead to Monday.  Coincidentally Monday shares three out of four letters of one of my favorite places on Earth.  Moab.  Yes, Monday we go to Moab.  We meaning Hez-chilly, not Karen (boo!); but, Karen did go to Moab the week before!

Moab (yeah, I know you Californians hate that moniker for your state).
      We take a new guy.  Sean.  This means chilly-chill.  First ride?  Sovereign.  Interestingly, this trip to Moab will be my first ever dually suspended ride on Delilah.  My Airborne, DS, 29er, XC specific steed.  Sean has skills but lacks the elusive cycling:  iron buttocks and leg fitness.  He has great potential though.  He cleared obstacles during his logarithmical learning curve out on this trail that ranges from chill single track to technical rock formations/obstacles in obtuse spatial arrangements.  He did well.  While he was going slow, Billy and I were determined to clear any obstacle in our path.  The deluxe time of going slow for Sean allowed us to work on our form and angle of attack, and the tweaking of our centers of gravity as we sussed out gnarly stuff to attempt to clean.  Time got out of hand, the sustained winds were getting awful as two fronts were battling it out, so we called it.  As we made our way South, we stopped at all potential lodging to inquire about prices.  The best one was the Rodeway Inn.  They had three, full sized beds in one room.  Unheard of!  The surreality of this was passing snow as we left Denver entering a sunny, sunscreen using Moab playground/pilgrimage.  This was Monday.
Sovereign Trail
     Tuesday we plan for Amasa Back to Captain Ahab, then Pipedream.  The hype of Captain Ahab could potentially make it a bust once we got there.  It's like reading The Milagro Beanfield War, expecting the movie to be equally as good. Which reminded me of a conversation Karen and I had about movies, which was:  Is it a good movie if it's a high fidelity, verbatim portrayal of the book, or because the producer did a great job of taking tasteful liberties of it through his/her translation?  The movie version I saw of the Nichols novel was just awful.  Thankfully, Captain Ahab wasn't.
    To get to Captain Ahab you have to climb Amasa Back.  Amasa Back is fairly tame, except when it isn't.  It's a fairly technical climb.  My Airborne is like my mid-phat skis:  technology to equalize the terrain.  I mean you still have to ski or pedal but once you hit the point of proficiency-I might be partially proficient-it makes the terrain less daunting but not less painful should you biff it.  Also thankfully, the videos I saw of it were of people hucking their bikes off of ledges.  I don't have that kind of skill; furthermore, my mantra is:  there's no shame in walking.  As Billy and I traded off leads I would see how the terrain unfolded and when he cleared nasty stuff, I would watch the angle off his butt using his saddle as the angle of reference whenever his tuckus was airborne (as opposed to my tuckus on my Airborne!) to see where my center of gravity needed to be along with the angle of incidence (imagining it off a horizontal plane), not to be confused with the angel of incidents.
One of many drop-offs at Captain Ahab
     We were at our skill's performance envelope.  There were these chute-y runoffs where the trailmaker would lay a path of rocks to transition the angle smoother to the dirt singletrack.  These rock singletracks were thin (imagine a skinny flight of stairs without handrails)!  Any deviation off-center would truly lead to an endo; or worse yet, telescoping your top half into your bottom half as you go head first following the rules of gravity.  Some of these tight drop-offs were near a cliff or near super sharp rocks so you really had to bring your A-game and her friend velocity.  It's a 29er playground.  The big wheels are like my mid-phats i'm telling you!  It rolls over everything if you have the confidence, velocity, and center of gravity to attack it.  I was flowing! When that happens, a channel in your brain opens and your bike talks to you.  It dares you/pushes you sometimes and today it also highlighted my (visual) fall line in phosphorescent yellow as I was scanning the singletrack like the former lifeguard that I was.  Thanks Delilah!  I swear, I dabbed only once.  Twice I went back and cleared stuff where initially I had to stop.  To quote Billy when he rode his friend's 29er, it's almost like cheating!  It makes me really consider getting a DS carbon as opposed to an HT carbon.  I felt invincible.  That's not good though, because that's when you make silly mistakes that lead to injury so I had to mentally ratchet it back a bit to respect the terrain.  It was indescribable fun.  Technically difficult (it's rated two double black diamonds like skier terrain).  The price of failure could be lethal (not crashing but falling off 20' drops); yet it produced so much endocannabinoids/endorphin I had a Cheshire cat-type grin afterwards.  Nobody wanted to do a second lap with me so off we go to do Pipedream.  Again, there are these two competing fronts and the clouds are getting heavy with precipitation rolling south or north as we see our riding envelope of time shrinking.  Made for this beautiful, otherwordly scenery atop a geographical/topographical contour found only on Mars.
    At the Pipedream trailhead it's getting colder and it begins to rain.  It was chilly all day but sunny.  Enough for me to keep my leg warmers on.  Drew did this trail and he said it's a trail that Karen would absolutely hate.  I see why.  It's exposed, the singletrack's super skinny, where you have to thread the needle between large rocks, and the singletrack blindspot's usually over steep embankments, all the while the trail's cut in the higher elevations of the side of the mountains.  Billy and I called it when the rocks were no longer polka-dotted with rain but when the whole rock changed color due to saturation.  We had a prearranged spot to meet Sean at the Moab Brewery.  Now the story gets even more interesting...
the one and only H-ball!

At the Moab Brewery I meet the one and only Greg Herbold, Downhill World Champion and holder of many National Titles in the same discipline.  Had a beer with him while he told me of his Denver, Colorado upbringing and his R&D job at SRAM.  What a great guy, and as a consolation gift, he gave me his autograph and his baseball cap.  What a great guy!

Life Below Zero.   Here's a quote from National Geographic's website, Life Below Zero follows six people as they battle for the most basic necessities in the state with the lowest population density in the United States. Living at the ends of the world's loneliest roads and subsisting off the rugged Alaskan bush, they battle whiteout snow storms, man-eating carnivores, questionable frozen terrain, and limited resources through a long and bitter winter. Some of them are lone wolves; others have their families beside them. All must overcome despairing odds to brave the wild and survive through to the spring. Talk about Maslow's hierarchy of needs, I don't think they get past the third level it's so absurdly difficult.  The scene would begin with a person's distance from the AC.  For example:  the narrator, in his best radio, DJ voice would begin the scene saying Noorvik, 13 miles north of Arctic Circle, John would have a 24 hour window to trap enough muskrat to make coats for their children to survive the Winter!  while they would film him attempting this task.  We were captivated watching this show like a moth to lunar light.  Our attempt at a humorous spin to this was when Sean and I walked to the Rest Stop Area atop Vail Pass where it was snowing.  In my best DJ voice, I said Twenty-seven hundred miles south of the Arctic Circle, Sean and Mike wear their flip flops in freezing weather to the Rest Stop and their toes get cold!  Try it for yourself, it's funny....dammit!  At the hotel in Moab, Billy said, 2700 miles of the Arctic Circle, Bill's remote control in the hotel room dies attempting to change channels!

'Twas an AMAZING show!
Twenty one pilots.  Karen and I go to the soldout Twentyone Pilots show Friday, thus ending the World's Bestest Fall Break Evah!!!    Tuesday Karen, Drew, and I go see The Book of Mormon!  Okay gots to pay it forward now for the Karma Bank, being this Fall Break was the inverse of a logarthmic function in units of sublimity.  Pinch me y'all!

No comments: