Monday, December 28, 2009

Sunday Night Haiku




so cold on my toes
the hairs in my nose are froze
maybe one more run?

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Blue Christmas



I missed the Blue Christmas service at church. I'm bummed, because that is my favorite service of the year. Not that I get all depressed during the holidays, at least no more than you can expect when you live where the sun sets at 10 til 4 in December, but I just like the somberness of the service, the walking and praying of the labyrinth, and the quiet contemplation that the evening brings. Christmas is a joyous occasion, as we wait once again for God to walk among us, and show us how to live a sane life, even when surrounded by insanity. But for those of us who live far from home and family, it is also a daily reminder of what we have left behind, and lost.

I love living in the inland northwest. I love the 4 seasons, all the outdoor pursuits that are available, and I love the people. I have made great friends, and I have a church family that I depend upon. I could never imagine moving back east. That is just not who I am anymore. It was however, the place of my childhood. 312 Evelyn street is where I spent so many of my Christmases. I can still feel the warm air from the heat vent that I would sit in front of, as my family sang Christmas carols on Christmas Eve. My mother would play the organ, all the kids would sing, and my Father would sit in his chair and smile, enjoying his one great accomplishment in life, his family.

Thursday night, Christmas Eve, G and I will go to the 7 o'clock service at church, then come home, and with much unasked for help from the heeler, we will open our Christmas presents. Then we will eat pizza rolls, drink hot chocolate, and watch "the Snowman." Christmas morning, I will go up and ski for a few hours with my buds, and then G and I will go over to Pastors house for an informal dinner of comfort food. That is our tradition, and I love it. I would not trade it for anything, except for maybe one more time hearing my Mother play her organ, and to see my dad's smile.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Sunday Night Haiku



If I'd not seen you
I would never know this pain
that has made me whole

Stuff

Well, I trust that no one is left to read this. Good. That means it's just you and me. I've not been on a bicycle since October, and have no plans to get back on until March 1. Pretty much just a date that I pulled out of my ass. Hopefully, my little problem will have gone away. If not, then I will be trying to sell a Kona mountain bike in order to raise money for a recumbent. What the hell, it's ski season anyways. Though I've not been skiing yet. There is a little matter of no snow.

Things around here have been kinda slow. The heeler and I are running 3 days a week, which, along with a couple of days a week on the elliptical at he gym, keeps me in pretty good hiking shape, I hope. Now we're just waiting for enough snow to get into the back country. The biggest news concerns G. Her back is going south pretty quick. She went to see a neurosurgeon, who basically said that she needed to see somebody about getting her scoliosis surgically repaired . We've been surfing the web, looking at different sights. Holy Crap, we're talking major surgery! They go in both anteriorly and posteriorly, break up the vertebrae, and then screw them all back together. The neurosurgeon wanted us to go to Seattle, but I think that our insurance may force us to stay in Spokane. We'll see. Holy crap...

It's been cold in North Idaho, but that's all right by me. I have gotten to really love this time of year. The sun is setting before 4 o'clock, so the evenings are long. G and I have been holing up and trying to figure things out. Plans have changed, but we are ok. I guess that's just how it is. Peace.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Sunday Night Haiku

stars like ice crystals
and a wind blows so cold it
freezes your laughter

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Sunday Night Haiku



stripped of all I know
till there is nothing but me
God craves a good joke

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Sunday Night Haiku


all day steel grey skies
and at times snow flakes falling
I love these winters

Monday, October 12, 2009

Starting Over

I've purposely not been here for awhile. My idea of writing a blog based on commuting by bicycle has hit a few snags; due to a, how do I put this delicately, fucked up prostate, I'm not even sure I am a cyclist anymore. Also, does the world, or the 3 people who read this, need another bike commuter blog. There are plenty of them out there. But I do want to write, and this seems to be a good outlet. If I think that there are a few people reading this, then I tend to feel some commitment, and there is less chance of me lying. Well, maybe not. Never let the facts interfere with a good story.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Sunday Night Haiku


cold that blows through me
brings a smile to my chapped lips
snow will soon be here

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Life at GNH Studios

Man, I can't believe it's been 2 weeks since I last wrote. Sorry about that, but things have been kind of busy around here. G and I have been working hard trying to get her studio painted so that the carpet people could come. We're done with the painting, the carpet is in, and all the furniture is back in. Now, G just has to get all her stuff back in place. What a mess!


It was actually pretty fun painting. Those of you that know me, know that I am not real into home redecorating. I have always told G, that she could do anything that she wanted, as long as it could be done while I was out on a bike ride. That was fine with her, because she is a perfectionist, and I am not. In other words, she wants to do it right, and I just want to get it done, so that I can go ride my bike. Unfortunately, as her spine continues to degenerate, the option for her to do all the things hat she wants to do is just not there. So, there is no other choice but for me to be her laborer. And much to my surprise, I have really enjoyed it.

The only problem with working for G, is that she is an artist, so nothing can be simple (which translates to fewer bike rides), but since we were really trying to get her studio done, I had her convinced to tone things down. I took a Friday off, and we had the whole downstairs primed and painted, including the ceiling, by Monday morning. That meant the carpet people could get right on it. Then disaster; the carpet that G had picked was out of stock, and had to be ordered. That gave G 2 weeks to think about her studio. So, now there is a stripe around the top of the walls, that gives the room a sense of depth, or contrast, or something else artsy. Anyway, it does look good, and I was able to talk her out of the 4th color.

I have been riding a bit lately. I'm riding to work 3 times a week, and getting a longer ride on the road bike on Saturdays. The knee is feeling good, though my leg still wears out pretty quickly. I see Doctor on Tuesday. I'm really jonesing for a mountain bike ride.

Thursday, August 6, 2009


Tonight, before you go to bed, read some of the FatCyclist blog. Then, tell your wife, husband, partner, companion, mother, brother, sister, father how much you love them and how much they mean to you. Then, go back to Fatty's blog and donate to Livestrong. Last, but not least, say a prayer; for Fatty, for Susan, for all who have lost and all who have suffered.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Poop of the Day

I don't know what kind of poop you see on your daily commute, but here in northern Idaho, it can be quite varied. Of course, riding on a multi-use bike path, dog poop is not at all unusual, especially behind the I-90 rest area at Huetter Road. I have no idea why someone would watch their dog take a crap on the trail, and then not bother to dispose of it. I guess they just figure that no one else in the world is going to come along that trail.

Horse poop is also not unusual. Horses are not allowed on the trail, but that seems to be more of a guideline than a rule, and good lord, horses take a lot of craps. There is nothing I like more than riding through a nice fresh pile of horse shit, and then having it fly off my tires for the next hundred yards. Thank God for fenders.

Last spring, as the snow melted off of the trail, there appeared quite a bit of moose poop. But even that didn't surprise me that much. The moose population in these parts is growing, and like most places, there habitat is being encroached on more and more. I can only hope that I don't ride upon a moose cow and calf out on the trail. They are big, and like most mothers, don't take a perceived threat to their child lightly.

Then, last week, as I was slowly climbing the last short hill of the day (Dr King, if you are reading this; There are no hills on my commute. I swear!), I happened to look down, right as I passed a small pile of poop. I didn't think too much of it at the time, it was just poop. Then, it occurred to me, there was something unusual about that poop, so I went back for another look. Sure enough, it was full of cherry pits. A small (I hope) black bear must have been gorging himself on one of the wild cherry trees that grows along the trail, and then just couldn't contain himself till he got back to the woods. Yep, bear crap:





Wednesday, July 22, 2009

One for Fatty

So maybe I overdid it a little this week. Last week was the week from hell at work, so all I did was my gym workouts. This week I wanted to push it a little more. I rode to work on Sunday, and then again on Monday. That probably wouldn't have been too much, except that I accidently got out of the saddle on a short climb Monday morning, and discovered I couldn't spin through the top of the pedal stroke. Of course, being the OCD (obsessive-compulsive-dude) that I am, I worried about it all day at work. On the ride home, I kept getting out of the saddle to try to repair my spin. Now, I know that Doctor told me not to push any big gears, but I think what he really meant is to not push any big gears unless you become obsessed with the fact that your pedal stroke is not as good as it once was and you really need to fix it immediately or your entire world may crumble around you. Or something like that. Anyway, my leg has been pretty tired since then, and my knee aches more than it did, but I'm sure it will be just fine. And I can stand on the pedals and spin through the whole pedal stroke.

On a more serious note, if you follow Fat Cyclist blog, you know that things are not going real good. Cancer is a horrible disease. If you want to help, click here.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Rainy Days and Mondays


I love Idaho. Yesterday, when I rode to work, it was 91 degrees. Today, it rained all day and never got out of the 50's. July the friggin 13th, and it's 57 degrees! In the deep south, where I grew up, that just never happens. Back there, it gets hot about the end of May, and stays hot until the middle of September, with no breaks. The only relief is when the humidity drops from 80% to 60%. Out here, it's a humid day when the humidity gets above 25%, which rarely happens this time of year.

I plan on riding to work tomorrow. I know that I rode to work yesterday, but it was Sunday, and I only went in to catch up on some paperwork. I didn't have to take a change of clothes. and I didn't go in until 2. Tomorrow will be the real thing, panniers loaded, early start, and , the best part, that ride home. Work, as work tends to be, has been incredibly stressful lately. I have missed that afternoon ride home.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Commuting by Bike

For the first time since March 13, I commuted to work by bicycle. It felt pretty good. It was Jeremiah's and my 4th ride (Jeremiah is the name of my new ACL), and it was a pretty good one. Very little pain, just some pressure behind the knee cap, but that is to be expected. I'm being very careful not to push any big gears at all. It's a little hard to granny gear up all hills, but I'm doing it. I'm also having to make sure I drop it into the small ring at all stops. Starting in too big of gear really hurts.

I'm not to the point where I can ride 2 days in a row, but I'm going to try to ride to work a couple of times this week. We'll see how it goes.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Yep


WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO HOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Money maker

Since I can't ride or run right now, I have some spare time on my hand. Plus, the only mail that I get these days is medical bills, so I decided to make some extra money by inventing something that the world desperately needs. I now present the Ed CaM.



We have only had one trial run so far.




Order information will be available soon.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

What are Friends For?


The following post is dedicated to my ski buddies.

My initial intent of this blog, as I have stated before, was to write about bicycling, in particular, commuting, as well as skiing and other assorted activities. Unfortunately, as you well know, my active life has been interrupted by my knee injury. Now, I know that the best way to get people to continue reading a blog, is to write on it often. However, and trust me on this one, rehab ain't exactly an exciting topic. Let's see, Monday I had 123 degrees of knee flexion, today I had 128 degrees. Today, I stood on one leg (the surgically repaired one) on a soft mat for 2 minutes. Now, that is gripping stuff. I bet you are glued to your lap top.

Things are going pretty good. My rehab has progressed enough that I am able to go to the gym 6 days a week. I alternate between swimming and hamster work (see last post). It's not as much fun as riding, but it is not bad. My evil friend, Rebecca (not her real name), wants me to tell my Doctor that he should allow me to start riding my bike, because my over all health and mental well being is every bit as important as the condition of my knee. I promised Rebecca (I swear that is not her real name) that I would, but that's only because I'm a little, ok, a lot scared of her. But, in the end, I am going to do it by Doctor King's protocol. I am as frustrated as I have ever been with my body, but I am going to do this right. I want my knee to be healthy, I want to climb cave trail on my mountain bike, I want to run a marathon, and next winter, I want to make my ski buddies, Rebecca (I'm not even sure what her real name is) and Banana, suffer, just a little, in the "Sweet Cedars."

Monday, June 15, 2009

A Hamster's Life


Today marks one month since my ACL surgery, and according to Dr King's protocol for post surgery rehab, I can start adding a few things to my routine. So far, I have basically been doing some pretty simple leg exercises, as well as riding an exercise bike, all to increase my range of motion. The only real cardiovascular exercise I have been getting has been the swimming. Today though, four weeks after surgery, I added the Elliptical Machine, and the Treadmill. Woo-hoo!

I have never been much of a gym rat, but if you live in northern Idaho and want to swim more than 4 months of the year, you have to find an indoor pool. So, last fall, I joined the Coeur d'Alene Fitness Center to use their pool. However, now that I am a full on rehab candidate, I will be making full use of all of their facilities, including, for now, the elliptical machine and treadmill, and later the weight machines.

Anywho, as I was mentioning, today I started my new program. I began last night by downloading some appropriate music onto my iPod (Flogging Molly, Kings of Leon, Placebo; fast and loud). Then, today after taking G to the Pain Clinic, I was off to the gym. I started out on the Elliptical Machine. My PT had told me to be careful, that it might take a few minutes to get my balance on it, but I didn't have any problems. So there I was, on my machine, next to a pregnant chic, well... ellipticalling. It kinda simulates..hmm..., nothing that I have ever really done in real life. It's not like walking, or running. Maybe more like frolicking. Yeah, that's it. It's like frolicking on a cloud, or something.

And then that feeling hit. The same feeling I always get on "cardio" machines in a gym. I am a friggin hamster running in my wheel. I am getting nowhere, but I can't not do it. If I don't keep turning my wheel, I'll go crazy, so I just keep going, and going and going. I pay no attention to the other hamsters around me, and they pay no attention to me. We are all going nowhere fast.

I rode(?) the Elliptical for twenty minutes. I figured that would be good for the first time, see how the knee does. I then got on a treadmill and practiced walking. It felt pretty damn good to be walking without by brace, without a limp. About 5 minutes into it, I thought, man this is rehab. I am getting my knee stronger. If I work hard enough, I just might make a comeback. Somewhere, a hamster smiled.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

AA

I need help; serious, serious help. I am afraid that I am in deep trouble. As you know, I am unable to ride a bicycle right now. As a result, I seem to be completely obsessed with my bicycles. The end result, is that I have begun to accessorize them. My road bike, the Fuso, now has orange cork handlebar wrap with a matching orange seat bag. Admittedly, it looks pretty good, but I didn't stop there. I bought blue Time pedals for my blue and white Kona mountain bike, and tore the really cool Rasta wrap off the bar ends, and re-wrapped them with matching blue wrap. Oh, my God! What is next? Contrasting tires? A blue handlebar bell? Where will it stop? Help me!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Simple Life


I swear, those are tomato plants. I went to the downtown Farmer's Market this afternoon, and bought tomato starters, a couple of pepper plants, and 3 types of basil from Kilarney Farms. Between G and me, we might be able to get them in the ground this weekend. Last year, because of G's health, I took over the garden. Actually, I became the laborer. She had already done all the work over the last several years to give us a nice organic garden, but, unfortunately, she just couldn't do the work anymore. G even talked about plowing it under and planting grass, but I had just read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver, and really felt the need to continue the garden. It did well, and we got beans, peppers, tomatoes, blueberries, raspberries, and grapes. This year I had planned to do more, but the knee thing has kind of screwed that up. So this year will probably be about the same. I put garlic in in November, but besides the stuff I bought at the market, I doubt we will get too much more that that in the ground. Luckily, with the quality of veggies that Paul grows out at Kilarney, we shant go without.

Friday, May 29, 2009

It's All About the Bike


Back in the early 90's, the woman that I had been married to for a decade decided that I was not providing the lifestyle that she wanted to live. It took a few years, but eventually the marriage dissolved, and we went our separate ways. I was alone for the first time in many years, and I needed a way to deal with it. So many times in my life, I had turned to various methods of overcoming loneliness, most of which were not that healthy. But fortunately, I had learned how to use more positive addictions to heal myself. This time I turned to my bike; a 1989 Fuso FRX, built by a framebuilder named Dave Moulton. When I bought it, I was working at a Fuso dealership, so even though the FRX is not a custom built frame, I had the opportunity to call Dave and have some features added, including a Cinelli bottom bracket shell with above bottom bracket cable guides, and a Fuso head tube badge (he had gone to decals a few years earlier). I wanted the bike to be bright yellow, but Dave suggested that I add gold pearl, a very nice touch. I built the frame with all Suntour Superbe components, because I didn't want any Shimano, and I couldn't afford Campy. Today, this bike is a dinosaur, but in its day, it was beautiful.

Anyway, enough porn. I started riding. A lot. Tuesday night North Gwinnett Club ride, Wednesday night the Chicken City Cyclist club ride, Thursdays, another N. Gwinnett club ride, and then Friday nights a small ring only ride with some Chicken City guys, followed by pizza at the Monkey Barrell. Saturdays were usually an organized long ride, and then Sunday morning a solo time trial. Same thing, every week. It kept me sane, it kept me somewhat sober. It was the best rehab I could have found.

Time went on. I met G (a Chicken City Cyclist), got married, moved to Idaho. I hooked up with some mountain bikers at Vertical Earth, a local bike shop, and kept riding. I started upgrading my mountain bike, till I finally ended up with my current one, A 4" travel dual squishy that is worth more than my truck. It is a sweet ride, and I love it. Northern Idaho is an amazing place to mountain bike, and I hate that I am going to lose a season due to my knee.

The Fuso is an old bike now. I drool over a Scott carbon fiber bike every time I go into the bike shop. It's lighter (5 lbs), stiffer, faster, newer. It is also out of my price range in my current financial situation. But at this point, that is not a bad thing. After I hurt my knee, I spent some time on eBay, found some good deals, and upgraded the Fuso. It now has a 9 speed drive train with Shimano (yes, Terry, I know) STI shifting. I got one short ride on it before my surgery to make sure everything worked. Everyday, I go down and look at it. I know that it is going to be 12 more weeks before I can ride it, but I just like looking at it. It is still a beautiful piece of craftsmanship, a totally utilitarion machine, a piece of art.

The title of this post, of course, is playing off of Lance's book. And I understand what he meant about it not being about the bike. Rebuilding your life, whether it is a major rebuild, such as recovering from cancer, or from the death of a marriage, or if it is a smaller overhaul, as from knee surgery, it is about how you handle yourself and your priorities. It is making sure that when you recover, you are stronger and deeper.

But it is also about the bike. I know that in a few weeks, I am going to climb on the Fuso and ride, and I know how that bike will feel. I have thousands of miles on that bike, and at times, it has been a part of me. I am looking forward to the ride.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

I'm Back



Dude!!! Feeling much better; beginning to think that maybe I'll live. I quit taking the heavy duty pain medicine, and that has made a big difference. I would rather be in pain, than feel like that shit makes me feel, so I'm just using Tylenol to take the edge off. I even was able to deal with a somewhat major plumbing issue today. G went downstairs to the studio this afternoon to get something off the printer for me, and when she returned, the conversation started with those words that I never like to hear; "now I don't want you to panic, but..." The carpet in the computer section of the studio was saturated with water. To make a long storyshort, with the help of our neighbor, Mike, they were able to move all the furniture, equipment, and shelving, so that we could pull down the paneling and find the leak. There is never a good time to have a water leak, and a week after knee surgery seems especially bad, but we were lucky to have help from the neighbor, and it was a relatively easy location to get to, so I was able to repair it myself. If it had been somewhere requiring a lot of crawling to get to, I would have had to call a plumber on a holiday weekend. That would have sucked!

Oh well. like I said, I'm feeling better. I'm even starting to look at some events to focus on after rehab. There is an Xterra triathlon at Farragut State Park in 2 weeks. I am going to assume that they will have it again next year, and if not, then I will find another one. It looks pretty doable. An .8 of a mile swim, followed by an 18 mile mountain bike ride, then a 6 mile trail run. As usual, the swim is my biggest obstacle, but I can actually see myself being able to swim this distance. The ride would be long, especially if there is a lot of single track, and a 6 mile run is a long run for me, but like I said, It all seems doable. Something to focus on.

There has been some positive notes to the last week. My Occupational Therapy staff sent me some adaptive equipment, including a very useful reacher/grabber. Designed to pick things up without having to bend over, or to reach things without having to get up, it also has enabled me to pull the dogs tails from across the room, cop a feel from G while remaining out of reach from her backhand, and to generally annoy all those that get within 4 to 5 feet of me. Quite entertaining.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Post-Op

Holy Crap! If there is one thing that I learned this week, then it is that it hurts like a son-of-a-bitch when they drill a few holes in your (my) body and start replacing parts. I had no idea! Man, I figured I would be up and going in just a few days, but that does not appear to be the case. Instead, I'm spending most of my days stoned on hydrocodone and morphine with my leg strapped to a cpm (continuous passive motion) machine trying to get full extension. The doc said 3 months before I can get on the bike, and at this point, I think he has a valid argument. I can't even imagine turning a pedal.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

untitled

I get to get up nice and early tomorrow for surgery. I'm friggin thrilled. Having not had anything cut off of me since I was 3 days old, this is a new experience. I am really not looking forward to the next few weeks. Oh well.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Ride Your Friggin Bike!!!


Tomorrow is the first day of National Bike to Work Week, and I am busy getting my shit together so I can ride to work. Doctor told me that I could try riding, as long as my knee didn't swell too much, so I went out yesterday on the commuter. It was awesome! It was sunny and warm, and it felt good to be back on the bike. My knee did pretty good; I only forgot and stood up once to power over a small rise. I did not forget again. I definitely have to granny gear up everything. As far as my knee went, I feel that "not much swelling" is very open to interpretation. I iced it, ate some advil (yes, Rebecca, I took some auntie montana also), and it was all good.

So tomorrow, I'm riding to work for the first time since March 13. I will have a smile on my face, and a chip on my shoulder. If you have never ridden to work before, this would be a great week to try it. And if you are a local, don't forget that this Friday, Doma Coffee, is having their National Bike to Work Day pancake breakfast. There is nothing better than sugar and caffeine to get a commute going.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Ahh, Youth

Well, well, well, I'll be damned. I really am going to have surgery on my knee. I had kinda convinced myself that doctor would tell me to man up, get back on my bike and ride. I was hoping that he would decide that the ACL wasn't too bad, and that the menisci would be alright without surgery, or at the very least, he would just clean them up a little and I would be back on the bike, and training for the Portland Marathon, in just a few weeks. Nope. ACL reconstruction, menisci repair, and then 2 months before I can resume anything that resembles activity. Bummer!!!

On the bright side, he did tell me that, since I was a young athlete, he would do a double bundle allograft. Now, dear reader, I would like for you to read that again. Slowly. No, not the part about double bundle allograft, you can look that up on the web, this ain't an A&P class. I meant the part where he said young athlete. I mean, I know that some of you that know me are thinking, the guy just had the wrong chart (if that were true, I would let him cut the wrong damn leg off, just to be called young athlete), but he was looking right at me. Now, if you don't know me, let me just say, I wear my age. In fact, sometimes I tell people that I am 60 so that they will say, "man, you look pretty good for 60." When people find out that I am only 50, I usually get something like, "dude, what the hell happened to you!" Oh well.

Back to the surgery. An allograft is a graft taken from a donor. Now, since none of my so called friends are lining up to donate body parts to me, then it will have to come from a cadaver. I sit beside the County Coroner in my church choir, so tonight at choir practice, I put in my order. I asked him to keep an eye out for a young person that was not overweight, didn't smoke, and did not ski. He just shook his head and said that he would get back to me. I hope he hurries.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Wine and Cheese

Sometimes, it's a good thing to hole-up for a while; to just cut yourself off from the world (as much as possible and still keep your job) and regroup. There are unlimited methods. You can go on a long solo back-country trip, or , if you can't get away, a bicycle ride or a long run can allow you to get lost from the world. Sometimes, depending upon the method, it can be not so positive, as when you hole-up with drugs and/or alcohol (been there, done that), which are effective, albeit self-destructive methods.

For the one or two people that actually read this dribble, you may have noticed that I have been holed-up. I have basically only left the house to go to work, the pool, or a few things at the church. It has not been a bad thing. I live with an amazing woman, who puts up with a lot from me, and 2 dogs and a cat, that also put up with a lot, as long as I feed them. Actually, come to think of it, that is also true of the woman. Since I've been holed-up, I've not been keeping up with this blog. I started this to write about commuting by bicycle, back-country skiing, and other outdoor pursuits. Right now, all I am doing is swimming laps at the pool. Not real exciting. Let's see, I swam yesterday, didn't drown. Yawn.

The point is, I've been kinda down about my knee, and I really don't want to whine on line. But The Judge, who just learned how to send an e-mail about a week ago, has been bugging me to write something. So, I did.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Alternatives

Saturday, 1300, a rainy day in the Great Inland Empire. Sitting on the bed with The Heeler, listening to Shawn Mullins, journeying through a blog called The MinusCar Project. Great stuff, especially his mini Bible study on Jonah, the people of Ninevah, and its relationship to saving our planet. What a great way of looking at this story. What would the general condition of Christianity be if the mainstream modern American church had embraced the story of Jonah, instead of trying to interpret Revelation to fit their needs. Oh well, just a thought.

I have driven my car to work every day since I got hurt, but MinusCar has started me thinking of alternatives. We do have a bus system in the Coeur d'Alene area, and I think that might be a viable option. Unfortunately, it is a walk of several blocks from both home and work, which is not really that great for my knee. Maybe I could ride the cruiser those few blocks, but I'm not sure. It is so easy just to hobble downstairs, get in the car and drive, but I started riding my bike to work in order to lessen my personal impact on the planet; a small, probably silly and futile effort, but Paul tells us that we should be seen as silly by the prevailing culture. The story of our Faith, has rarely been the story of great leaders performing great deeds, but of insignificant people performing seemingly insignificant acts.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

One Sunny Day

Springtime in northern Idaho is a fickle mistress. She gives you a glimpse of sunshine and warmth, and then hides it again under the cover of clouds, rain, cold dreary days, and sometimes, just to keep you off guard, snow. But, unlike those in more temperate climates, we who have just gone through 5 months of winter, tend to bask in her glory, when she is sly enough to show it to us. Where else, when it hits 70 degrees for half on hour on a Tuesday, do you see so many people driving around with their windows wide open, people with t-shirts and shorts on bicycles, and the city park full of sunbathers. How many will show up for work today with sunburned faces and other sundry body parts?

I love sunshine on snow. I love spring skiing, but even just a drive through the valley, surrounded by snow covered mountains is a beautiful thing.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

The Good Truck


Man, I miss driving my truck. I bought it in 1992 brand new from my friend, Doug, who was general manager for a Chevy dealer, and got me a great price. I put the canopy and the Yakima on it in 97, and it has been G's and my main road tripping vehicle since we've known each other. It has a raised dog bed in the back that Ed loves (The Healer rides under the back seat. She seems to have issues). It helped us move to Idaho from Georgia; we spent a week camping in the rain in it on the Oregon coast, it has been to Moab a couple of times, and we drove it on a mountain biking, spiritual healing trip to the north rim of the Grand Canyon shortly after my mom passed. It has been part of my life for longer than I have been married (I'm kinda hoping that G doesn't read this). I know that it is an inanimate object, but if a vehicle can have soul, then this truck definitely does

The only problem is that it has a clutch, and with my knee in the shape it is in right now, I can't drive a clutch. So I am driving G's Subaru, and she is stuck driving my truck. I say stuck, because, for as much as I love driving my truck, G hates it. According to her, it is too long, has too many blind spots, and it is just too damn big. Her biggest issue, though, is trying to park it. I will admit that it does have a fairly sizable turning radius, and can be a challenge in a small area. Evidently, it took her several attempts to get it into a parking spot at church last week, and by the time she did, she had a few people watching, and evidently enjoying the entertainment.

I am a bit concerned that it may be several months before I can drive my truck. In the mean time, I am afraid that G is going to start pushing me to sell it (she has already dropped a few subtle hints, like "why don't you sell that f***ing thing"). Of course, with 265,000 miles on it, who the hell would buy it?

Friday, April 3, 2009

Core Work



G says that I should add more pictures to my blog, so I thought I would share a photo of my current work-out regime. As you can tell, things are going swimmingly. I am really getting into this new program, and I think it's beginning to pay off. My legs may be starting to atrophy, but I am really starting to show some great development in my "core." You also will notice that I have some new work-out partners. The Healer is a bit down about the lack of running, but, all in all, these guys are a lot less maintenance then my previous adventure partners. None of these guys steal my powder lines, or offer constant critiques of my very unique ski style (an artist is never appreciated in his own time).

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

LOL

It is beautiful here in northern Idaho. The temps are in the upper 60's, lower 70's and the sun is shining. I'm thinking about going out and tilling the garden, maybe go for a bike ride, or just a long slow run. I love these gorgeous Spring days when you just don't know what to do!

Hah: April friggin fools. It's 34 degrees and snowing. I got my MRI results back, and I won't be riding, running, gardening or skiing for quite awhile. It's a partial tear of the ACL, and tears in both lateral and medial menisci. Hopefully I will get away with arthroscopic surgery, but I can't get in to see the ortho until April 28th.

Now for the reality check. G is at the doc right now getting the results of her MRI. Her neuropathy is getting worse, and they want to see if her back is breaking down even more. She is in a lot of pain, and is pretty discouraged. My friend K is facing the prospect of starting chemo this week. I talked to her on Friday, and she was pretty scared.

The point is, it's just a friggin knee. I will miss at least half a season on the bike, and I don't know that I will ever run that marathon. But in the great scheme of things, it could be a lot worse. Now it's time for me to buck up and take care of the little woman.

Friday, March 27, 2009

The Vacuum

My bed has turned into a gigantic vacuum; a black hole of epic proportions. No matter how hard I try, every time I get near it, it sucks me in. I try, I really try, not to fall into the vortex, but to no avail. My friend Sasha, being young and exuberant, tries to pep me up by coaching me on all the things I could be doing, such as one leg exercise bike, one leg workouts, ect. Unfortunately, I am not an exerciser. I run, I ride, and I ski, not because I need to exercise, but because I have a need to ride, to run and to ski.

That is a hard concept to explain. I am in pretty good shape, and I have reaped the benefits of years of exercise. I have great cholesterol levels, excellent blood pressure, and a low resting heart rate, and I am not overweight (I'm not exactly skinny either). For me, however, these things are the secondary benefits of riding and running. Their main benefit is what they do for my soul. I know that sounds fairly corny, but I can think of no better way put it. I am happiest when I am on my bike, and it really doesn't matter if I am flying down a technical trail on my mountain bike, in the last few miles of a road century, or on my commuter heading for work on a Tuesday morning.

I see the doctor Wednesday to get the results of my MRI. I know that no matter what the results are, I have a lot of rehab in my future, which means a lot of exercise. It may mean time spent on an exercise bike, a treadmill and some weight machines. Not exactly my cup of tea, but they are represent a means to an end. That is, if I can stay out of that vacuum known as my bed.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Training Big

Last week I spent some time thinking about what I would train for this summer. I always like to have a goal, whether it's a big single event, such as a double century, or something like riding 30 days straight, ect. Now I have a new goal; not missing out on a whole season of riding. I still don't know what is wrong with my knee. My family doc (actually, his nurse) is setting up an MRI and an appointment with an ortho doc for me, but like most family practitioners, his office is way too busy. Of course, it really isn't that important that I get the MRI immediately; I won't get in to see the ortho doc for several more weeks, and my knee is unstable enough, and swollen enough, that I have to remain non-weightbearing until the swelling is gone. So for the next few weeks, I'm on crutches.

But it is frustrating. I need a plan. I want to know what is wrong with my knee, and if I need surgery, I want it soon. Then I can get to work. I envision myself starting out slow. Gentle rides, followed by slow stretches. Then in a few week, I'll be at the gym pumping iron, performing plyometrics, long hard rides, including climbing Fernan Saddle once a week. I'll rehab like no other has rehab'ed before. I will be the King of rehab!

But for now, I'm just lying on the bed, leg propped on pillows, reading a little Murakami. And trying to stay away from the fridge.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Pop


Yesterday started out pretty good. I slept in, and then headed up to the ski hill for an afternoon of turns in 3 day old powder. I skied alone for a run, and then hooked up with Rebecca and Banana for a run in the Sweet Cedars. The snow was heavy but soft. On our next run, we dropped into the trees next to Red Dog. The trees there are really tight, and my legs were a little dead to be skiing trees that tight in that heavy of snow, so I worked my way over to the groomer. As I came out of the trees, I had quite a bit of speed, and some slower skiers in front of me, so I hit the cut up powder on the side of the run to give them plenty of space. As I made my turn back to the right, My left ski hit a little pile of built up snow and stopped... Unfortunately, I didn't. As I came over the ski, I felt, and heard, a pop. I could feel my femur slide on my tibia, and then I was down. I lay there groaning in pain and fear. I knew what had happened, and I knew that my ski season was over. Either my ACL or my MCL is most likely gone.

The pain of an injury like this is initially associated with the abnormal movement in the knee joint, and then later with the swelling involved, so after the initial pain (and nausea) was gone, I was able to side slip on my right ski down to the chair lift. At the top I was met by the Ski Patrol, and got my first sled ride down the mountain as an actual patient. My friends, Mark, Anna, Rebecca and Banana banded together to get me , and my manual transmission truck, home. (don't get too teary eyed about my buds; Rebecca called this morning to let me know that there is 7 inches of fresh powder).

So, there it is. My blog about bicycle commuting, skiing and running will now, more than likely, be about rehab. I will try not to whine too much.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Handmade

I have several bicycles. My commuter is a 20 year old Trek mountain bike that I never liked as a mountain bike, but it has made a great commuter. I also have a sweet Kona cruiser with a red, white and blue paint job, a Kona full suspension mountain bike, another Trek, and an old, broken Paramount road frame. But the two bikes that mean the most to me, are a WTB steel Phoenix, built by Steve Potts, and a Fuso road bike built by Dave Moulton.

When I ride either of these bikes, I know that it was crafted by someone who understands that there is a bond between me, and the craftsman who welded the frame. I know that he also rides, and thus cares about the relationship between rider and machine. I enjoy riding my other bikes, but there is a difference that is hard to explain. It is simply a connection between me, the builder and the bike.

That feeling of connection can be found in other areas. During the summer months, we get what produce that we don't grow ourselves from Kilarney Farms. We know that not only is Paul's produce organic, but that it will always be great quality. When you sell to people that you may ride a ski lift with, or see at the local pub, you have to care about quality.

On Fridays, if I get off work in time, I try to stop by Doma Coffee Company on my ride home. It is not only a good group of people, but also a great cup of coffee. As soon as I walk in, someone always offers to fix me an americano. Trust me, the best cup of coffee you can get is in a roastary, made by someone who truly cares about how good that cup of coffee is. Nowhere is the coffee fresher, and nowhere is there a barista that has more invested in how good the coffee is. It is more than a product for these guys, it is a way of life.

I don't think that it is odd that the guys at Doma Coffee also appreciate hand built bikes, or that they also buy from Kilarney farms. We are part of a growing number of people that think that the demise of the craftsman, the small farmer, and so many cottage industries, is a sad loss for both the local community, but even more so, the global community.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Eye of the Storm

It's been a tough time to listen to the news lately. Not that I'm a real news junkie, but I do wake up to NPR Morning Edition every morning. The headlines are pretty much all the same. Unemployment is rising, homes are being foreclosed on at a historic rate, banks are closing, and that Chevy truck in my driveway may be my last one. I have friends out of work, and even my industry, something that you might consider recession proof, is slow. A storm is blowing, and I just want to hunker down and let it blow over.

I couldn't get up enough motivation to get out of bed to go skiing this morning, so I hung out with the wife, watched some ebay bids, and read a few blogs. Someone had commented to Up in Alaska that frostbite seemed like such an old fashioned injury. I knew that they must have been from a temperate climate, because for those of us who live and play in a cold climate, cold related injuries are a very real danger. Sure enough, he was a blogger from Key West. I went to his blog, conchscooters common sense to flip him some shit. It is an insightful, well written, thoughtful blog. He writes of the economic and social concerns that the current economic crisis is creating, and hits the nail on the head in so many ways. Good stuff, but for me, pretty depressing. There just seems to be so little hope of surviving this storm.

So, I put on my running shoes, put a leash on the Heeler, and went for a run. It's a stormy day today in northern Idaho. Thirty degrees, winds steady at 20 mph with gust to 30, and, at times, snowing heavily. It was great. I love storms. I have been on Mt Hood when the wind was 60 mph on top. When I was a National Ski Patroller, if it was a stormy day, I would always volunteer to sweep the South of the Border traverse. To sweep SOB, you first had to traverse around Kellog Peak, which took you right into the wind blowing up from Pinecreek. Visibility would only be a few feet, and blowing snow on snow creates a feeling of vertigo that I have experienced in no other situation. You cannot tell if you are moving or not. Then, once you reached the SOB traverse, you headed out to the farthest boundary of the ski area. It was a feeling of being completely alone (except in the late season, when wildlife would start using the traverse line. You never feel alone when you see mountain lion tracks)

As I ran, the wind blew, the snow fell, and as is typical of northern Idaho, the sun would occasionally shine. All at the same time. I was listening to Bob Marley, a man who crafted his art to teach that everything would be alright, if we would sing, love and have hope. I got to thinking, I am a man of faith. One of the requirements of my faith is hope. This storm too will pass. I have no idea what the landscape will look like afterwords, but I do have hope.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Community

Today was one of those perfect ski days. We got new snow this week, the temps stayed cold, and we had sunshine. Got a bit of a late start, but hooked up with my friends as planned. We skied (and boarded) hard, finding some pretty nice powder stashes in the Sweet Cedar's and managing to get the last run on every lift. All in all, a great day.

One of the joys of sport, is camaraderie. I skied today with my regular ski partner, and four other people; one that I have know for about 2 weeks, one that I talked to one evening in a bar several years ago with mutual friends, and two that I met for the first time today. By the end of the day, we were acting as if we had known each other for years, and I guess in a way, we have. We are part of a group. We share the common bond of love for the outdoors, love of physical activity, love of the rush you feel when you survive a steep and deep run through the tight trees, and the feeling of an artist when you put together a series of perfect carves on a canvas of snow. For a day, we are brothers and sisters on the hill, sharing those common genes that have drawn each of us to a small, mom and pop ski hill on the Idaho Montana border, on the last day of February, to act like a bunch of kids. We are family, we are a community.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

My Future

I'll just come right out and say it. I'm a pretty darn good mountain biker. I may not be the fastest, but I can stay toward the front with most of the groups I ride with, and I have pretty good technical skills. At the Spokane Mountaineers mountain bike school, I usually teach the more advanced group. Yep, not a bad rider.

I'm a pretty decent skier, too. I don't have the prettiest form, but I can ski all of the local terrain, and I do pretty good, in even the worst conditions. I'm still working to master breakable crust, and I realize that thinking you can ski a double black diamond in Alaska, because you can in Idaho, will get you killed. But still, all in all, I'm a good skier.

I suck as a swimmer. I started swimming last summer, because my back hurt if I ran too much, and my prostate didn't want to ride too much. In other words, I started swimming because I'm getting old. It's a nice low impact sport (if you consider drowning low impact). I started out in the river, by myself. The first time out, I swam about 10 minutes, and thought I was going to die.
I kept going back, even bought a wet suit, and got to the point that I could swim for 20 to 30 minutes at a time. Still by myself, though. Then this winter, I joined the gym, and started swimming in a pool. With other people. And I suck. People I have never talked to come up and give me tips. I'm sure they stand there, trying to decide if they should say something, and then they just can't stand it anymore. With the words, you suck, screaming in their heads, they tell me to keep my head down, try to keep my butt up, rotate my torso, and stop whatever the hell it is I'm doing with my legs. I nod, thank them, and then flounder down my lane, head up, butt sinking, torso flat, and legs doing whatever the hell it is that my legs do.

I know that in 10 or 20 years, I probably won't be mountain biking much, and my back will have deteriorated so much that I won't be able to run at all. All that I will have left is swimming. Great.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Winter in Florida

It's 6:20 am EST, 3:20 PST, and I'm sitting in the Tampa International Airport waiting for my flight home. I flew down here 2 days ago for a 4 hour meeting. The weather has been nice, cool for Florida, but 40 degrees warmer than home. I went for a run yesterday afternoon wearing shorts and a t-shirt. In 2 months maybe I can do that at home.

It is always amusing to tell Floridians that you are from Idaho. Some give you a blank stare, knowing only that Idaho is a long way from their world. Others give you a look that I can only imagine is the same look that they would give if you told them that you were an escapee from the local mental institute. They cannot imagine why anyone would live somewhere that is cold for two thirds of the year.

As I ran yesterday, I thought about why I choose to live somewhere that is cold and dark. I do miss the sun in winter, and getting outside to exercise this time of year is a challenge and not always very pleasant. Of course, there is skiing, but that is only a couple of days a week. Most of my winter is frigid bike rides, icy, death defying walks with the mongrels, or eating (I know, eating is not technically exercise, but it is a great winter activity). My conclusion is that winter is like a long run. Like a run, it always takes a little while to get into it. Then as you warm-up, so to speak, it starts to feel pretty good. The snow begins, the skiing starts, life is good. Then, towards the middle of the run, the pain starts. You've not seen the sun in days, weeks, and it's starting to wear on your psyche. Now it's time to just put your head down, lose yourself in your thoughts, and bear it. You know the pain will end, it always does, and at some point the endorphins will kick in and you will be enjoying yourself again. You just have to slog through. Toward the end, if it's been a good run, you'll not want it to end. On the other hand, some runs can't end soon enough, and you think, if I can get through this run, I'm done. I will never run again. But you know you will. It's in your blood, part of your soul.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Fat Boy Versus Blood Mountain


Spent the day yesterday backcountry skiing in the Boulder Creek Basin. It was an incredible day; lots of sunshine (as you can see in this photo by John Latta lattaphoto.com ), a good group of people, and about 5 inches of new snow. It is also one of my favorite places to ski, with beautiful scenery, and mountains that make you think that you are in some of the big terrain north of here in Canada. All of this less than an hour drive from my house.

The day at Boulder started with three hour ski-in, climbing around 3000 feet. We then got about 1100 vertical feet of good turns in decent, albeit variable, snow. After a little lunch, we climbed back up to the ridge, and then skied a nice steep route into Loon Lake, climbed the ridge again, another nice ski into Boulder Creek Basin, and the long, painful ski/snowplow back to the cars, made worse by doing the descent out in the dark. Damn, I wish I had not forgot my headlamp.

As is typical of a backcountry ski trip, the vast majority of the day was spent climbing. I am not a great climber, but I enjoy it. Since I am not the fastest climber, I have learned that if I keep a nice steady pace, without a lot of stopping to "fiddle" with my gear, take pictures, dig through my pack, ect., I am able to stay with most groups. I just keep a nice, steady, slow pace, being more the turtle than the hare.

When I'm climbing, in an effort to take my mind off the pain, I let my thoughts wander, and when I am hurting the most, when the trail has become steep, I almost always think of my Dad, and my first backpacking trip. I was an eleven year, overweight, insecure kid. I had joined Boy Scout troop 144 as soon as I was too old for Cub Scouts. My only memory of my time with that troop was an overnight backpacking trip up Blood Mountain, a beautiful, but fairly difficult hike on the Appalachian Trail in northern Georgia. My Dad drove me to the trailhead in Neel's Gap, and then followed us up the trail. I'm pretty sure that he didn't think that I could make it, with my homemade wooden pack frame and gallon jug of water on my back. He was right. I fell behind early, and never saw the rest of the boys until they stopped on the trail and waited for me. As we reached them, they began to ride me as only a group of 14, 15 and 16 year old boys can. I was broken. The scout master suggested to my Dad that maybe I wasn't going to make it to the top, and my Dad agreed. He helped me back to the car, and drove me home. Now, my Dad was not exactly an athlete. I never knew him to go for a run, a hike, a bike ride, a swim, or anything else that might be considered exercise. But, he got me up the next morning, drove me back to Neel's Gap, and hiked with me to where the Troop was camping on top of Blood Mountain.

I often think of those other boys on that trip. I wander where they are now, men in their mid-fifties. Are they still hiking, are they still in shape, could they keep up with me on a 1500 vertical foot climb? Maybe some of them could, but my guess is that most of them could't. Mostly, I think of my Dad. He was not a very communicative man. He didn't give me an inspirational talk about never giving up, always keep working to fulfill your goals. No, he just went for a walk with his fat son. I don't remember it as life changing at the time, but when I am working hard, climbing a long trail on a mountain bike, or ski up the same uptrack for the 4th time in a day, Blood Mountain with my Dad is always there.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

We Could Sure Use Some Powder

Yesterday was groundhog day. I don't know if there are any groundhogs in northern Idaho, but if there are, they sure as hell didn't see their shadow. I'm not exactly sure what that means, but since its the first week of February, I'm pretty certain that winter is going to be around for awhile.

Skiing has been interesting lately. After several weeks without any new snow, we skied into Copper Lake last week for some backcountry turns, and I guess the best description for the conditions would be challenging. We hiked the ridge up on a suncrusted ice layer, hoping with every step that our skins would hold. You pretty much knew that if you fell you might not stop for awhile, so none of us had any interest in skiing back down that route. I had performed a 300 foot death slide down whiplash the day before, and was still a little gun-shy. Once we reached the top of the ridge, we dug a pit on a northern slope and decided that it looked pretty good. However, the trees were too tight for the conditions, so we kept searching. Things finally opened up off to the east, so we dug another pit, and skied breakable crust back down to the lake. It was not pretty, but it was skiable. The ski back down the approach was typically fast and quad-burning.

We got eleven (ski hill rules) inches of new snow last Tuesday night, so Banana and I went up to Lookout Pass and skied fast and hard in the first fresh powder in a while. It was nice snow on top of some pretty hard crust, making for some fast runs. Banana pretty much handed me my ass, but it was fun. I did manage to bend one of my new poles with my rib cage, so my poor luck with having a nice pair of ski poles that match continues. Such is life.

I'm heading back for Lookout tomorrow. They got a few inches of new stuff on Sunday night, so there should be some good turns. I'm hoping for snow before the weekend. We are planning on skiing into the Boulder Creek Basin, which is one of my favorite areas, so I'm thinking it might be time for a naked snow dance. Like my skiing lately, it ain't gonna be pretty.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

JRA

I'm on facebook.  Yes, it's true, and evidently I have 49 friends.  No matter that some of them I've had to look up in my 1977 MHS yearbook (I knew that there had to be a reason I've kept that thing all these years).  I will also admit that I open my Facebook page everyday.  It's kind of like a car wreck, I just can't seem to look away.

As I've mentioned, I have several nephews and nieces.  I first opened a Facebook account in order to have more contact with them, especially my nephew, Justin.  Some in my family think that Justin and I are very similar, and I think that we are, but not in the way that they think.  It took me many years to establish who I am and what I wanted, and a lot of my family think that Justin is going through that same thing, but I don't agree.  Justin wants to make a living as a singer/ songwriter, and is working hard to accomplish that goal (sidenote to Justin:  you can't do it if you aren't totally focused, and focus does not come from outside sources, if you know what I mean).  The problem is that being a singer/ songwriter is not seen as a practical way to make a living, and they are waiting for him to grow out of it, and to grow into something more practical, much as they see me as having grown into who I am.  No, the way that Justin and I are similar, is that we both have a need to live lives that are special.  I'm not saying that I think that we are special, or that we know things that other people don't know, but we both have a need to be that person that lives in our head.  Only time will tell whether Justin accomplishes his goal.  In my case, I finally did find a way to make a living, and I am living an "acceptable" life, but I was just riding along when this life happened.  Justin seems to be looking for something in particular.  We'll see.


Thursday, January 22, 2009

My Bicycle Saved My Life: Part II

So, I really didn't want to get out of bed this morning.  Yesterday was a tough day, and I didn't sleep that good last night.  Once I was up, I really didn't want to ride to work.  It has been cold the last few days, with lows in the upper teens, and it is humid, the perfect combination for misery.   I drank my coffee, read my devotional (Oswald Chambers; great stuff), and ate my cereal.  Then I did what I do so many mornings before a commute.  I went through the motions.  Go upstairs, brush my teeth, go into the bedroom and pull on riding shorts, a shirt, wool socks, wool tights and my nylon hiking shorts.  Then it's to the basement to put on my winter riding boots, vest, coat, hat, balaclava, gloves and helmet.  Then, into the garage, where I roll out my bike, attach the panniers to the rack, turn on the three tail-lights, make sure the headlight is switched on, and crawl onto the bike.  All of this is done without a lot of decision making.  I just do it.

Once I'm riding, things begin to look up.  It's cold, but not too bad.  Brian taught me a long time ago that if you start out a winter ride with enough clothes on to be warm, you will soon be too hot.  My legs feel the cold first. My wool tight are pretty old, and a little more threadbare than they used to be.  This time of year, I take the back way out of the neighborhood, which means my first couple of mile is predominately down hill.  By the time I hit the river, I am cold.  My face hurts (I know, it's killing you), my torso is cold, but the worst are my hands.  By mile two, they are frozen, and they hurt.

There is a comfort in pain.  I know, that sounds a bit odd, but it is true.  On a cold morning, after an emotionally draining day like yesterday, I welcome the cold.  I like how it feels biting my cheeks.  On mornings like this, I welcome the pain.  I am a bit OCD, and when things go bad, I play the events over and over in my head.  I cannot seem to get it to stop, until I crawl on that bike, and feel the frigid air.  Suddenly, all I think about is cold.  For thirty wonderful minutes, the events of yesterday are gone, replaced by one all consuming thought.  My hands friggin hurt!  

By the time I get to work, I have warmed up considerably.  In fact, I stopped at the Seltice Park and Ride to took my balaclava off.  I lock up my bike, go into work and begin another day.  Nothing has been solved, but I am able to clear my head a little.  And no matter what happens today at work, I will crawl on my bike this afternoon.  The good news?  It's supposed to be in the low twenties.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Commuting Again

Road to work today.  Not only was it my first commute of the year, it is also the earliest in the year that I have ever commuted by about 4 weeks.  It's the first time I've commuted to work in January.  It felt good to be riding to work again.  Looking at the weather, I'll probably ride 2 to 3 more times this week, then we'll see what the snow does.  

The roads are not too bad, but there is still quite a bit of ice, and I am glad I have studs.  I don't know if the studs really do a whole lot of good, but they give me a sense of security, and even a false sense of security is better than nothing.  Plus, the tires make my nerd-boy commuter bike look cool.

It will be interesting to see if anyone else has started commuting yet.  I would imagine that Gym Teacher is either already out there, or will be shortly.  I may not see him until the Post Falls side of the trail opens up, or unless I start leaving for work on time, and I don't see that happening.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Hanging Out

Went for the first ride of the year today.  It was awesome.  Sunny and 34 degrees, which for January in northern Idaho is absolutely balmy.   It felt great to be on a bicycle.  It has only been a month since my last ride, but time seems to stand still in the winter time.  

The roads are in pretty good shape, it hasn't snowed in a couple of weeks.  The Post Falls side of the bike trail has not been cleared, so I had to take the back way to Atlas, and then up onto the trail.  I rode down to the bike shop, not because I needed to buy anything, but I needed a destination, and a bike shop is always a good destination.  

I first started hanging out at bike shops 25 years ago.  After a couple of years, I guess the guy at the shop finally got tired of me loitering, and gave me a job.  I spent the next 7 years in a shop.  Life changes prompted me to go back to school in the early nineties, and my days as a full time shop employee came to an end.  

When we first came to Idaho, one of the first things I did was to find a bike shop that I could hang out at.  It took awhile to find just the right one, but when I walked into Vertical Earth for the first time, I knew I was home.  I mean that in a literal way.  It is through that shop that I met my community.  I can think of very few friends that I did not meet either directly, or indirectly, through the shop.  Mark, the ex-owner of Vertical Earth, has become my closest friend.  

Mark sold the shop about seven years ago.  The shop has changed quite a bit, but it is still the shop that I go to.  And on cold January days, it is nice to have a place to ride to, hang out for awhile, talk to the mechanic about how Shimano is ruining the world, and dream about my next, next bike.


Monday, January 12, 2009

Who I Am

 I spent the day yesterday digging bags full of snow out from under six feet of snow.  Rick, our spiritual leader, had devised yet another exercise to scare us all enough to never ski in the backcountry again.  Upon his urging, eight of us spent yesterday on Mt. Spokane locating buried beacons, and then using the newest research in victim excavation, we dug pits big enough to not only locate the victim, but to give the rescuer enough room to perform any necessary first aid.  It was cold, backbreaking, frustrating work.  In other words, it was a blast.

Over the last few years, technological advances in rescue beacons has reduced the time to locate the burial spot of avalanche victims dramatically.  Unfortunately, the time it takes to dig the victims out is the most time consuming part of a rescue, and also the part that is probably the least discussed and the least practiced.  The group that was at Mt Spokane yesterday is a great example of the typical backcountry skier.  We are all proficient in the use of a rescue beacon, and can locate multiple victims fairly quickly, but, with the exception of two or three, we had given very little thought to the actual rescue.  As is his style, Rick put together a training day that was educational, fun, practical, and eye opening into the dangers of our sport.

Now, the point of my ramblings.  Backcountry skiing is inherently a dangerous sport.  The risk of death by avalanche is always there.  I am by no means an expert, and am in fact not that experienced.  I only go into the backcountry with a few people that I trust, and I have worked hard to gain enough knowledge not to have to trust anyone blindly, but the risk is always there.  I am a responsible man, and I take my responsibilities toward my family very seriously.  So, why do I go into the backcountry?

The only reason that I can come up with, is that this is who I am.  I have a need to be in the middle of those places that most people are content to see from a distance, or in a photograph.  I am a skier, a cyclist, an athlete.  I am not a PTA, or a Rehab Director, those are merely what I do.  The great schism is that I am a husband, and I struggle with what I risk.

When I went out yesterday, it was at the tail end of a three day fight with a cold.  By the time I got home yesterday afternoon, I was running a fever, and quite miserable.  Some people might question my judgement of spending the day outdoors in January, being cold and wet, when I was already sick.  But I needed that training.  It is important stuff for the backcountry enthusiast, no matter what your mode of travel is.  Education of all aspects of backcountry sking is my priority.  After all, it is who I am.  

Friday, January 2, 2009

Ski Shape

Yesterday, after spending the day skiing hard, I had planned on writing a post about skiing oneself into shape.  Unfortunately, I fell asleep, so I'll try it again tonight.

One of the many benefits of commuting to work by bicycle, is that it keeps me in pretty good shape.  This year was especially good, because I was able to stay on the bike so late into the season, and even though the snow was a little later in coming this year, I am still going into the season in pretty good shape.  The lungs are there, the cardio is there, and the quads are still pretty strong.  But, bike riding is bike riding, and skiing is skiing.  In other words, even though the bike keeps me in shape, those first few days of hard skiing kick my ass.

The skiing yesterday was incredible.  Deep powder that was firm enough to make it easy to control, but soft enough to forgive any mistakes.  In other words, hero snow.  It made us all look like great powder skiers.  In the steep, tight trees, it was sluffing underfoot as we picked out turns, able to only see 4 to 5 turns ahead before the trees closed in and we ducked out looking for that next line.  Later in the season, we will ski like this all day, but in early season you have to pay attention to your legs.  Once they start to really fatigue, you have to get out into the open.  Tight trees are not the place to be when you can no longer pick your turn.

Every summer I teach at a mountain bike clinic.  I love doing it, and I am a much better rider since I have started teaching.  Breaking down riding into individual skills and then practicing those skills is very beneficial.  Yet, when I am asked how to become a better rider, my answer is always the same:  ride your bike.  The same can be said for skiing.  To get into ski shape, you can do all the offseason work that there is, you can clinic, you can even read about skiing, but the only way to become a better skier is to ski.

Oh well.  Tomorrow I'll be back out on the hill.  I'm a little sore tonight, but after a few warm-up runs I'll be fine.  I don't know how long the legs will last,  but each day they'll last a little longer, until I am in prime ski shape.  Of course, by then the snow will be melting, and it will be time to get into riding shape.