Sunday, December 21, 2014

Solstice Day

Acknowledge the darkness, appreciate the light.

Solstice Sunrise
Crazy sunrise on the shortest day

Deer in the pre-dawn park. The rut is in full swing.

wind hike
Hike up in a draw out of the wind

sand dunes
Looking down at the valley from Salida's Sand Dunes

solstice storm

Strong snow-smelling wind
Winter's breath from the Divide
Look now toward light

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Cruising to the end of a tough year

I've been through plenty of tough times in my 50 years on the blue marble. Was this year the worst? Hard to have perspective to know. Memories from other difficult years, like the year my marriage failed, are clouded by time. I'm in this year now, and I'm still in the process of climbing out of the hardness and leaving it behind. It will not be my story.

So whathafock happened? Well, actually quite a few suckful things happened in my personal life, but the big thing was a serious injury. I realize looking back at the few posts I wrote this year that I never told the story here on the blog. So here it is.

On May 4 I was in the San Rafael Swell in Utah with my good friend Earl. We were riding motorcycles in the canyons. It was a Sunday, and we'd done a big ride of over 100 miles on Saturday. I was tired. I made a mistake while trying to corner on an easy sweeping left turn in a dry wash. I won't call it an accident. I made a mistake. I blew the turn, went wide into the rocks. Just before I crashed I kicked my right foot out to try to shove me and the bike back to the left. All I did was hurt the leg. It's not easy to kick 300 lbs of motorcycle and 200 lbs of Tom-meat off the course that it's on.

immediately after the crash
This picture was found in a hidden cranny on my digital camera just a few weeks ago. Earl took it when we both thought this would be a funny story some day.

When I landed face down in the gravel I knew I was hurt pretty badly. The knee was screaming, and I clearly had a chest injury. Earl picked up my bike. We talked about the situation a little and Earl asked me if I could ride. I said something like I guess we better find out.

We were an hour's ride from where we were camped. But it took almost two because I was really hurting. When we got back we scrounged up all the pain relief we had between the two of us. I had two advil and Earl had one. I took two and saved the other for later and Earl loaded up the bikes and everything else. We drove the hour to Green River and stopped for lunch. I had a hard time sitting in a chair, and when we got back in the car I leaned the seat way back and just tried to relax.

We drove the 7 hours back to Salida. We went to Earl's house where I got Vicki and we went home. I found a Vicodin from a previous adventure, took it and went to bed. I actually slept. In the morning I started moving around, doing things like cleaning cat boxes with three days worth of produce. While I was doing that I started to have muscle spasms from in-breath. A breath would trigger a spasm which pushed out the air, another in-breath another spasm. It was kind of like a seizure, and very difficult to stop.

I put Vicki in the truck and we went to the hospital. The knee hurt really really bad, but it was the ribcage that was a crisis. When I got to the hospital I told them to never mind the knee and figure out what was up with my ribs. I expected to be there for an hour or two, then go fill a pain pill prescription and go home. The ER doc came back with an X-Ray and told me he wanted to check me to stay. He told me I had a pneumothorax, which is doctor-talk for a punctured lung.

So, let's cut to summary: I had broken 6 ribs, two of them in two places. It was ribs number 3-8, all fractured right where they join to the spine. Probably 5 and 6 had fractures in the middle as well. My theory is that the lung wasn't punctured immediately, otherwise I never would have survived 24 hours without treatment. I think the spasm seizures displaced the fractures, moving a jagged edge up against my lung wall.

That first day in the hospital was super bad. My pain seemed to be escalating. All day long and into the evening, the doctor had to be asked to up the dosage. By nightfall I was on IV dilaudid. For the next 6 or 7 weeks, narcotic pain meds would be part of every day.

I was in the hospital for three nights. When I got out, my sister Meg arrived to stay with me for a week to take care of me. My memories from those weeks in May when I was heavily medicated are hazy and unreal.

My knee was sore, but I was so medicated that I could kind of ignore it when I walked around. When I finally got off the pain meds (no easy task folks) the knee became more of an issue. So I went to an ortho, expecting that I had torn meniscus that would need a scoping. Nope, fractured tibial plateau. The ninth fracture, which I had been walking around on without crutches or cast for nearly two months.

So I had the darkness of lonely days spent whacked out on narcotics, watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer on Netflix. Then I had the darkness of trying to get up, go to work without any pain pills clouding my judgement and function in life. Nobody likes to hear a whiner whining, but people, that was a very difficult time. I could barely stand to sit at my desk, but worse than that my ability to bring any energy to my work was limited. I felt like crap because I felt like crap, and also because I really didn't feel like I was earning my paychecks. And I really needed to start bringing home paychecks again because I had not worked for a month.

My ability to enjoy weekends during June and much of July was severely limited as well. I couldn't walk for more than a couple miles, both because of pain and because I would get tired. I couldn't ride a bike. Pedaling really irritated the knee pain. I didn't even ride my townie bike to run errands for most of the summer. I actually rode the motorcycle, because it was easier than getting in and out of the truck and didn't drink so much gas.

It was isolating, boring, frightening, and sad. I was depressed. I wallowed in sadness and self-pity for much of the summer. It really took willing myself to feel better to get past it. I just had to put a different goddamn expression on my face in the morning, go to work, and get on with it.

Right now? A week before the winter solstice, a time of year that usually depresses me because of the darkness and the cold, and I'm in good shape. Very grateful. I've mostly healed. My knee actually has recovered enough with no intervention that it isn't limiting me from doing the things I want to do. The only thing my ortho forbids is running. Which is fine, because I only run when I'm being chased.

I'm enjoying playing in the snow with Vicki on snowshoes or fatbike. I'm enjoying relationships with friends that were taken to another level by the help and support they provided when I desperately needed it. I'm enjoying work, and I think I'm earning my paychecks again.

I'm kind of re-inventing myself, and I'm energized. I seem to have moved beyond the era of endurance mountain biking. I'm riding, but I'm just not thinking about doing dirt hundies or 24 solos. That stuff has been an obsession for a decade for me. Maybe I'll get back to it, but I did lots of that stuff. Not sure that my mission in life is to wear out mountain bikes. So maybe my path will be to do something else. Or lots of something elses. The years of endurance riding weren't very diverse. Or very social. Now I'm going to do lots of other things, and enjoy a wider spectrum of life.

This year is not my fucking story. In the years that come I'm committed to finding my joy. I will treat 2014 as a symbol of why we should be grateful. I lived through that shit, came out stronger. My body took a hit, but it's not the first time.

Thank God we heal.

old monarch

Here's to finding beauty, joy, and companionship in 2015 and beyond. Thanks to the people who helped me through the darkness. You will always be special to me.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Life is like a box of chocolates...

... and sometimes you get one of those shitty maraschino cherries covered in waxy crap milk chocolate that you spit back out into your hand.

immediately after the crash

It's been 6 months now since I crashed my moto and incurred life-changing injuries. I'm getting back to a basic level of health, having healed enough that the effects of the injuries no longer keep me from doing anything I want to do. I am very grateful for that. A big part of this experience has been realizing how much we take for granted.

I gained about 20 lbs that I'm having trouble getting off me. Much of that is because even though my body is healed up and ready to get back into shape for all day rides (or hikes, or whatever), I don't really have the drive. Not sure where it went, but it's gone at least for the time being.

The seeds of discontent were sowed well before the moto crash. I've been feeling a disconnect from my old life since fall of 2013, after crashing out of the 24 Hours in the Sage. But the moto crash fallout put me into a place where everything was pretty much zeroed out. Total reset.

These days my free time is spent doing stuff that Vicki can do. On a bike, that's really no more than 2-2.5 hours at a 4-5 mph pace. She actually prefers that we go hiking rather than chasing me on a bike. She's quite an enigma: an 18-month-old herding dog who doesn't really like to run all that far. 

So, I should be doing the short rides and hikes that Vicki wants, then heading out on my own to get some extended time in the saddle. I did that yesterday, roughly 2 hours on foot with the dog then roughly 2 hours mountain biking by myself. But that's really not much compared to olden times. And often, after Vicki and I get home from our outings I just putter around and skip doing anything more myself.

My exercise and outdoors life has been rotated into a different direction. 

Huge long bike rides became basic to not only what I do, but who I am. So, if I don't do that any more, what is my life for? Am I supposed to spend a couple more decades wearing out bicycles? Or what?

Let me tell you, it would be a tremendous comfort to be back there happily wearing out bikes. Riding bikes far and long was a passion and a mission and a purpose. There was no question then about what I would do with an available Saturday.

I still love bikes, and bike people are still my tribe. I've had glimmers of the joy of singletrack I remember. Fear of crashing has kept me from really being in the flow, but I get more glimmers all the time. So far it hasn't translated into the old passion or drive though. 

In general life has been difficult in the six months since I got out of the hospital. During the summer months you'd think I would have been really bummed out because I was missing a rocky mountain summer. I was, but the fact that it was summer was kind of beside the point. My life was fucked up in a very basic sense. I was depressed. I was disoriented. It was all I could do just to bring some kind of energy to work.

One of the things that is true when your life is in shambles is that people don't want to hear you complain. And I get that, nobody likes a whiner. It isn't a lack of compassion, it's that people feel uncomfortable with the negativity. They don't like it that you are down and struggling, and when you show that you are something changes in their eyes. They steer the conversation toward optimism. And you really have no choice but to fake it. Put a smile on your face and talk about some good thing.

Which is fine. Living in the darkness sucks. Society should discourage us from being there. What's not fine is that there may not be anyone able or available to really feel it with you. It's isolating. And that makes all the rest of the shit that much shittier.

Thank goodness for dogs.

This post isn't meant to be a whine, more like an attempt to fart out a little more of the ugly to propel myself toward the light. But maybe it is a whine. Fuck it.

I'm doing better. This isn't my first rodeo, so I've learned a little about how to HTFU and get on with things. That's what I had to do near the end of summer. Just had to decide to put a different goddamn expression on my face every morning and will myself to have more energy. It more or less worked.

We are coming into the dark months now. I normally fall into at least a semi-funk when the days get short and the light gets thin and colorless. This year, well, I'm not happy about it, but from where I'm coming and how I'm living, seems like it could just turn out to be totally OK. Change of pace. Vicki prefers chilly weather, heat makes her wilt. We'll snowshoe, maybe XC ski some, maybe I'll get a fat bike.

Maybe out there in the cold I'll come up with some kind of plan for the rest of my life.

sunrise over my house
Recent sunrise over my house.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014


Going back to work today. I'm nervous. It's been a while. I have not earned a dime in May, the last time I worked was April 30. Now I'm able to handle at least part of a day without narcotic pain killers.


Yesterday was the first day for that. I got up feeling better than ever since the injury. So I took Vicki back up Bear Creek and we hiked most of the jeep road up to the trailhead, and walked down the trail for a little ways. It was Vicki's first exposure to the Rainbow. I hope this section of trail will be come very familiar to her.

I did way too much. I got home exhausted and in pain. Took some pain meds and promptly fell asleep for two hours. But I feel like at this point I need to do a little too much every day, as long as I can rest my way back to feeling OK by the next morning it isn't too much.

This whole damn thing has been really intense. It's been humbling, frightening, depressing, boring... and inspiring. My friends and family have completely overwhelmed me with their support and work on my behalf. I have been touched deeply. Thinking about it chokes me up.

Now I'm trying to claw my way back to normal life. But it's going to be different. This has changed me. My old habits and routines have been completely blown up. Lots of what I do on a daily basis will change. My perspective has been changed.

Wish me luck. I hope I can be worth a crap at work. I need more than my income back, I need my life back.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Healing Update Too

Today Saturday May 24th I woke up feeling decent. Not done with this by a long way, but better.

Forecast was for a stormy afternoon and evening, so I decided to make the most of a pretty morning when I'm feeling good. I drove Vicki up to Bear Creek and we went for a walk up the jeep road. I 4-wheeled up part way then left the truck with the goal of climbing up to the trailhead and back. After about ten minutes I adjusted my goal to, make it a mile then turn around.

After a while my friend Chris S rode up and stopped to talk (he incidentally is a radiology guy who has taken x-rays of me after previous run-ins with two-wheeled vehicles). Then Alex B came up and I got to tell both of them my war stories. I felt that I should have a large gnarled wooden cane to lean on as I told the whippersnappers my tales of bravery and misery.


Where you see the whippersnappers up the road is about as far as Vicki and I went.

Which was fine. It was so nice to just be out in the fresh air and the aspen leaves had popped. I love the brand-new aspen leaves. They are so fresh and light-green. Hummingbirds trilled through the woods. It was nice.


I think Vicki liked it too.

This whole thing has been pretty mind-altering for her I bet. She gets adopted and spends 5 or 6 weeks with me, gets past trust into having fun. Then I go away for a long weekend. She gets to stay with a wonderful lady and an incredibly hunky 8-year-old blue heeler, so it's not traumatic that I'm gone, but still. Then I come home for 12 hours, we sleep together in my house. In the morning I drive her to the hospital parking lot and ask her to wait. After several hours somebody else (someone she trusts deeply) comes along and drives her home. Then it's back to the nice lady and the hunky heeler.

I'm gone for another 3 day spell. And when I get home I'm...


I move differently, I seem to sleep a lot. I'm home all the time, which she clearly likes, but I'm not chasing her around in the yard playing like before. We only seem to go to places that are a couple blocks away, and I walk like somebody who just busted out of the nursing home but forgot to grab the walker on the way out.

It's going to be a while yet before I can give her a workout when we go to the woods together. But it's nice to take a baby step.

I took a 90-minute nap when I got home. I think I'll sleep well tonight. Amazing to think that walking eight tenths of a mile with maybe 175 vertical feet of climbing could be a workout. But that's where I'm starting. Bring on the healing, bring it on.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Healing Update

Doctor's appointment today with Dr Johnson who was in charge of me when I was in the hospital. Dr White is my personal doctor. I saw Dr White last Wednesday and will see him again Wednesday afternoon. This was my so-long, farewell appointment with Dr Johnson. She ordered an x-ray which she'll check out, but I'll be taking it to my family doc Wednesday and will follow through with any problems with him.

I can walk, and have been taking Vicki with me at least once a day down to Riverside Park. If I go more than about a mile it wears me. And it's a pretty much senior citizen pace. But I can move around.

Vicki walks with friend

Tough for the Vicki Dog though. Thanks again to my amazing friends for getting her out there sniffing and playing. Here's a picture of her on a walk with my friend Sydney.

I slept probably 3 hours or more during the day today. I'm still managing pain, and often find myself on the recliner in front of a movie realizing that it's almost over and I have been sleeping.

Hmm. Lots like being a senior citizen.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Reporting on Status Reporting


To people still reading this blog, all six of you, just wanted to let you know about things around here.

My first real experience riding dirtbikes went wrong on me. At first it wasn't wrong, it was a blast.

swelling is down

My friend Earl and I hauled the bikes over into Utah to the San Rafael Swell. We rode about 120 miles on Saturday May 3. Perfect weather, lots of chances to learn and figure out my motorcycle. Good fun day.

I was really tired on Sunday but we both wanted to ride at least for a while before loading up to go home.

My crash was unspectacular, embarrassing really. It wasn't that a challenging obstacle got the best of me, it was a total spazz move. For my mountain biking friends, it was your basic SPD fall. Not because you're going big, but a less-than-graceful reaction to a challenge situation.

I am far from having poise on a dirtbike. I was doing a decent job of faking it for much of the weekend, but when things went a little wrong on Sunday my response wasn't the kind of instinctive, muscle memory instant reaction I expect when I'm on a mountain bike.

kitty cat film

I spazzed.

kitty cat film

Upshot is that I broke some ribs. It was six, left side numbers 3-8 right near where they attach to the spine.

For the sake mainly of friends and family, I'll try to make some updates in this blog in the coming weeks. Current status:
  • Managing pain with pretty serious medicine.
  • Not working (job). Obviously wasn't working last week from the hospital. Haven't been able to operate without pain killers and that's going to be what holds me back from going back. I will have to be able to tolerate hours in an office chair with a clear head. I think that's not going to be this coming Monday. Please stand by.
  • Fantastic people coming out of the woodwork to help me with things.
  • Fantastic dog keeping me company, and being very patient about how slowly I move.
Thanks everybody, and check back here for news.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Vicki the Adventure Buddy

I got a dog. It's been a long time. My heart was bruised by the loss of my sweet Rosie almost a decade ago. And my life changed not long after I lost that dear friend. Having a dog would have been incredibly impractical.

But now it's not impractical. I have the house and yard. I have a reasonably flexible lifestyle. And I miss having that kind of friend.

So I decided I'm going to get another herding dog, but this time one without so much baggage. I spent a decade with Rosie scanning the horizon for other dogs any time I was out. She might jump any dog that came up to her nose, and when it was go-time she did not hold back. I paid for many stitches during that decade, her victims' and her own. I loved her very much and she loved me, and I miss her terribly. But she was really a pain in the ass!

Rescue takes many forms. Giving a good life to a young dog who's already reasonably well-adjusted, but homeless, is rescue. Taking a dog that's been neglected and/or abused is a pretty big burden. So many good people do it out of pure love for animals, I think we forget how difficult it can be.

So this time I decided, it's all about finding one who's pretty much OK but needs a home. I started looking around, mainly for heelers (AKA Australian Cattle Dog) and heeler mixes. Using the internet I found one on the western slope who had apparently failed to cut the mustard as a working dog, but had lived on a ranch until her incompetence came to light. Perfect.

By the time I got in touch with her shelter she was gone. Of course other possible dogs had popped up on searches. I sent emails and left messages for various shelters and rescues. A woman at Foothills Animal Shelter in Golden was very prompt and helpful. I had asked her about Mara, a beautiful red heeler who looked too sweet. Being in the shelter had been stressing her so they'd found a quiet foster home. She had been picked up stray in late February. She had been with the foster family for a couple weeks, and they apparently loved her.

I made an appointment to meet her at 4:00 PM Thursday, March 20. Vernal Equinox, first day of spring.

When I met her, she was quite fearful. Shelters freak dogs out anyway, but she definitely had her radar up for danger. A couple milk bone fragments and I had her coming closer. She wasn't completely freaked out, I could touch her, but she was eyeing me warily. Also, her teats (nipples for the non-farm set) were quite large for a 1-year-old. I wondered if she'd had puppies, then realized that it was likely they had done a spay-bortion. She'd probably been found stray and pregnant.

So, she had baggage. She was also very sweet, especially to the women who had been taking care of her. I could see that she had the capacity to trust.

And she yanked on my heart. She really needed to be someplace safe.

So I guess I fucked up that "this time one without so much baggage" thing. My practical side caved to my sentimental side.

At 4 PM I met this dog, by 5 she was in the front seat of my truck watching me deal with rush hour traffic trying to get to 285 and south to Salida. She sat there confined next to me for 3 hours and was OK. But not relaxed. She did not sleep.

The picture above is from the Friday morning. I gave her some food, and then we went for our first of three walks that day.

I decided to call her Vicki. I discovered that day that Vicki had no idea what to do with a toy. She had no idea what a ball is for. She would come to me and accept affection, but she always had an eye out for her escape route. Every once in a while I would inadvertently do something that made her flinch.

Being outside together was better, but I had to keep her on the leash. She was obviously still half afraid of me, so I couldn't count on getting her to come and let me put her back on the leash if we were out in the woods. I briefly took her off the leash in the above picture as an experiment, with the treats handy. In this picture I see a dog that is not frightened, but just kind of neutral.

When we got home from that walk we went out in the truck to run some errands. One of them was Scanga (MEAT!), where I got a box of frozen beef liver. When we got home she had some raw liver, which went down pretty easy. She took a nap, and later went out into her yard. She walked the perimeter, then returned to close to the back door. She stood briefly sniffing the breeze, then dropped a shoulder and rolled onto her back and writhed around. That wallowing on their back thing is a happy dog sign.

I went out after a while and called her over. I was scratching her chin when she slowly laid over, making full eye contact the whole time, and rolled onto her back. I reached out and scratched her chest, and she closed her eyes. For the first time, she showed me her belly and enjoyed a long chest rub with her eyes closed.

Then we went back inside, she found a corner in the living room and fell asleep. Real sleep, not the one-eye-open naps I'd been seeing her take.

Pirate staking out the beest. What kind of beest? Is it dangerous? Let's just assume that it is...

Meanwhile, Vicki's new life is complicated by the fact that there are these eyes on her all the time when she's inside. She'll come around a corner, and one of these fluffy hissy things will blow up like a fur balloon spitting and hissing. Early on, they would perch up on something high and just growl at her. Now they are starting to mellow out a little. Cautious approaches, a little closer every time.

She's kind of freaked out by doorways, or closing and opening doors, so when a door opens she tends to kind of charge right through it. In the morning when we get up and leave the bedroom, inevitably there is a cat in the hallway. She bolts out, and the cat(s) freak out and run. But they've figured out that she doesn't want to chase. So now they've started experimenting with approaching her on the floor 5 feet or less away. It's clearly going to be OK.

For day two, I decided on a longer hike. All the way up Sand Dunes, and we'd see how it went from there.

Once we were clear of town and alone on the trail, I decided to try an leash-off test. I had the treats in my hand. I took her off the leash. Moments later I called her close and gave her a treat. Then I just started walking up the trail. She followed along and it was like we'd always hiked together. I made a point of calling her over often. I would kneel down and give her some lovin'. Sometimes treat, sometimes just the affection.

It wound up being a pretty long hike, three hours. At times she seemed totally fine, but there were still moments when her radar popped up for some reason. She was suspicious when I took out the camera.

But it was a good, tiring hike. When we got home I popped open a can of the special artisanal‎ organic no-grain beef (dog) stew I had picked up before we met. I dumped it into her bowl and put it in front of her. She gave me a look that was like "really, for me?"

She tucked into that food and made it go away. Then we went into the living room so I could read and she crashed. About an hour later she woke up, and I took her outside just in case she needed to take care of nature's call. The door closed behind us and she did this kind of little dance step thing, then spun around to face me with a funny look on her face, and she turned and ran a big circle out into the yard coming back for a fly-by with her tongue out and a face full of fun.

Joy! She was showing me JOY! For the first time I saw that she knows what joy is. I was afraid I was going to have to TEACH this dog joy.

She was getting it. She was starting to understand that it's all going to be OK. She's going to be safe, and life will be fun. We played a game where I pretended to be trying to catch her and she showed me that she was way too fast and way too agile ever to be caught. After a while she came over for a big chest and belly rub. I had a few tears in my eye. She looked at me with happiness and security and let me rub her chest.

Today (Sunday March 23) was her third morning waking up with me. I seem to have lucked out and caught a cold, so I feel pretty crappy. But I want her (and me) to get into the habit of having at least a short walk every morning. So I blew my nose, put on my puffy down jacket and big gloves and grabbed her leash.

When I got outside I saw my townie bike leaning against the fence. She had been really good off-leash, maybe it was time to introduce her to The Bicycle. I realized that being Sunday morning, there were virtually no vehicles on the roads. I put her leash in my pocket, got on the bike and said "c'mon". And off we went on our first bike ride together. We rode the 8 or 10 blocks through town down to the F-Street Bridge. I made her stop and come over at every intersection, but she really stayed close on her own. My concern was that something would freak her out, but it was super quiet, so I took advantage and just got her over across the river and we had a nice little short trip on the dirt. Then I took her home and blew my nose again.

After it warmed up, it was time to go have some more exercise and quality interaction time. I grabbed my singlespeed and the leash. It was mid-day. So it would be leash all the way through town to the dirt. On leash next to a bike is way harder and more volatile than running along with the bike off-leash.

I put her on the leash and walked on the left side of the bike while she was on the other side. We walked along like that for half a block or so and then I stepped onto the pedal and swung myself on and started riding. She just kept walking along next to me, the leash slack. We made it all the way downtown that way, her consistently on my right even as cars drove by and dogs barked at us.

She's a year old, and way too young for big long runs, so I just took her on a nice flat trail along the railroad tracks, less than an hour, and I kept my pace down to about a trail-runner's pace. She was amazingly good at it. She just followed right along behind my wheel.

I stopped often to call her over and give her love. I did not bring any treats on that trip.

Her body language is changing. You can see it in a couple of the pictures below. She is relaxing. Her fear is beginning to be less acute.

So yeah, I fucked up the thing about baggage. Oh well. Even with all the improvement, she is still very jumpy. I don't take her collar off because she is uncomfortable with people putting things around her neck. So she doesn't like having it put back on. She doesn't like having me put the leash on her collar either. As I move around the house, every once in a while I'll do something that makes her flinch. She's weird with doorways.

But she's going to be OK. She is very sweet. As she continues to learn to trust me I can tell that she's going to be much like Rosie was, a sweet, loyal, and loving friend. I will probably always have to help her with fear. But she's going to have as much stability and reassurance as I can give her.

I need to teach her about balls and fetching. The game we have right now with the chasing wears me out. I like more the idea of being able to sit on my ass while she brings me balls to throw. Isn't that how it's supposed to work?

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Need More Red Sand in My Diet

Nothing is better for the mountain biker's constitution than a good dose of slab rock and canyon wren songs.

beginning of steves loop

Like any good first-world white male homo sapiens, my frustrations are legion. And like most first-world problems, they are not simple to explain. That's not to say they aren't problems, but come on. Get over yourself. Chances are, the more complicated your problems, the less significant.

Best thing for first-world problems, pack your expensive mountain bike into your vehicle. Go.

The desert is the chicken soup of my soul. My blood pressure lowers as I roll through the gnarled junipers, sage and rabbitbrush. I know when my personal spring has arrived when I hear my first canyon wren.


Followed a little group of bro-brah dudes up Mary's and saw them stop at Horsethief. They were doing the standard gawking trash-talking dare ya to ride it thing on the drop-in. Easy decision to skip that shit and keep going. I prefer to play the back nine at Loma anyway.


Steves, Lions, Troy Built. The stupid doubletrack climb up onto Mack's Ridge. Warm enough to perspire lightly, giving me that dried sweat salt/dust grit facial that all mountain bikers crave.

troy bilt
When you have a non-graceful dismount, it affords you a moment to reflect. And take a picture!

Got what I came for.

up on Mack Ridge

Finished up as the shadows got long. Last vehicle in the parking lot. Fire up the rustbucket, get on the interstate and west to the last Colorado exit.

rabbit valley exit

Nice secluded camp spot, set up the Wildernest via headlamp. Couple beers in the camp chair and a cold dinner. Lulled to sleep by cows and coyotes.

wilder nest

Up in the morning just before sunrise. Coffee. Fresh rubber pants. Ride the bike out of camp, time for Zion Curtain.

zion curtain

Beauty day. Started chilly, but not too chilly to skip the leg warmers and go bare-knee'd. Plenty of perspiration on the climb up to here. Start layering the dust/sweat. The layers work like sunscreen after a while.

zion curtain

Zion Curtain is big and raw. And it leads to the lovely and amazing Western Rim.

western rim

Commando trip. Drive-ride-sleep-ride-drive, and back home. Spring arrives in my heart.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Cleared Another February.

T.S. Eliot, a wonderful poet and a great influence on 20th century western culture wrote a poem called The Burial of the Dead. The poem begins:

"April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain..."

In this instance, Eliot was a dumbass. February is totally the cruellest month. Dumbass.

This one has been remarkably hard. Salida lost a good friend. And the winter wind blew and blew.

backbone above cottonwood

Saturday brought us a new month. Yesterday I looked up and saw that the Walmart bag wrapped around a branch high in my neighbor's maple tree was hanging slack. For at least a little while the wind rested.

cottonwood March 1 2014

Welcome March, month of the vernal equinox. Must make red sand pilgrimage soon.