Monday, November 23, 2009

Why do we slide into a persistant state of douchebaggery?

We've all done it. Every single one of us that ride bikes, from time to time, fall into a persistant state of douchebaggery. We have good intentions, but it often spirals out of control, to the point where people not in our sport (or into our sport) start to glass over completely. Let me explain...

I went on a ride the other day with some guys I met for the first time. At some point of the ride, we were stopped, waiting for another rider and someone started talking about durometers of the rubber of their tires. WTF? Seriously? We're gonna talk about the tackiness and the firmness of tires when we've just ripped down some sweet-assed singletrack at night? God, no wonder friends and family that don't bike don't want to. They probably think they have to take some sort of college class so they know how to talk the talk. Most newbies just want to know they did OK on that section of trail or that the iron taste that is in their mouths, caused by the blood in their lungs, will eventually go away and they won't get it on every ride.

Conversely, I went for a beautiful Thanksgiving morning ride with some other friends and beyond the fact that one rider had a blown derailleur cable/housing, another one was riding a WAY old school bike and yet another was riding a cross bike (damn, he's one hard dude. A cross bike on the trail we rode makes for one tough dude) there was minimal talk of bikes. We talked about the trails, the potential of new trails and some of the history of the area. Way more chill and laid back. And even though there were no newbies on this ride, it would have been a ride that anyone would have felt good on.

I think when riders get together, there is some testosterone fueled posturing going on. "I know more about bikes than you do" or "I am more into bikes than you" and we've all fallen into this trap. Bikes are techy and expensive and fun. I mean who doesn't like to get a shiny new trinket whether it is a new bell for your handlebar to a new bike. And when we do, we like to brag about this stuff and show it off. We want to let other riders know that our purchase of this tire is well thought out and it works really well in this terrain. We want to justify that part that we spent more money on than most people think is sane to spend on a whole bike. We want our fellow riders to respect us as not just a bike rider, but a cyclist. The whole lifestyle, not just that ride.

But temper that when you feel it boil up into the back of your throat. To paraphrase what a certain Tour de France champion said, it's not about the bike. It's about the ride. It's about hanging with good friends and making new ones. Sure, the bike can make it more enjoyable and possibly less difficult, but think about your first ride. I doubt you remember how the bike performed, but I bet you do remember where you were, the trail you rode and the people you rode with. That's what riding is all about. Gowan now, go ride.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Are you ready for some football?

As promised, I will detail, in excruciating minutia, my Monday Night Football experience. OK, maybe not that detailed, but I will give you an overview of the craziness that was the Pittsburgh Steerlers (remember an earlier post and my LOVE of the Steelers) v. the Denver Broncos.

Let me give you some back story here. I have known for 6 years that the Steelers would be playing in Denver this year. I saw them play there in 2003 and knowing how the NFL schedule works, every team not within the same division will play each other a minimum of every 3 years, alternating the city. So, 2006 Denver went to Pittsburgh and in 2009, Pittsburgh came back to Denver (and they'll be back in 2015, just an FYI).

Knowing this, I watched all off-season for the second that tickets went on sale. Long story short, Ticketmaster and the whole ticket purchasing process is a SCREW JOB. I had 3 people online, logged into Ticketmaster and the second they went on sale we all tried to get tickets for this game with absolutely ZERO success. I call bullshit. Bullshit on how they sell tickets, make 'em available, the works. And the NFL wonders why they have stadiums that aren't sold out. It's because true fans that want tickets can't get them unless they go through a scalper and pay about 3-5 times their face value.

Alright, I'll get off my soap box now. So another long story short, I got tickets through my brother, who got 'em through a client, for basically face value. Three rows off the field in the North end zone. SWEET! And while not being able to see the other end of the field as well as I'd like, I found the experience of our seats really cool. At one point, when the Steelers were starting their drive back by the end zone, they took a time out and were standing around about 10-15 yards ahead of us. I always knew that football players were big, but some of them are freakishly large humans.

I went to the game with my mom, who is a big time Steelers fan as well. As a matter of fact, when the Steelers rolled into Denver and laid the smack down on the Broncos in 2006 for the AFC Championship, my mom and I went to that game together too. We got to the stadium this time about 30 minutes before kick-off on an absolutely gorgeous November evening. I was able to wear a long sleeve shirt under my old school Greg Lloyd jersey to the game. A perfect night for watching some football!

Just before the game starts, I hear someone yell "Chris", then "Seeley", and as I turn around I see a face I recognize, but it doesn't register. After about 10 seconds, I realize that it is the brother of the Princess (see earlier posts)! I didn't recognize him immediately since it was out of context. I never expected to see someone I know in a crowd of 76,000, and here is a person I know sitting 3 seats behind me. Kinda crazy.

So the game starts and as usual, there is a lot of good natured jawing back and forth with Broncos fans. It is pretty fun and people are usually pretty cool about it. As the first half progresses, which is fairly close, a guy sitting behind my mom is pissing her off pretty badly with his verbal diarrhea, so I am now having to reel in a 57 year old woman. Nice. It should be the other way around, shouldn't it?

The second half starts and the Steelers start putting the hammer down and begin pulling away. I hear two crazy women yapping at each other starting to get more intense. This is important as at the end of the third quarter or the beginning of the fourth quarter, shit hits the fan.

The action was down at the other end of the field, so a bunch of Steelers fans were standing up, looking down field at the action, myself included. The next thing I know, I am being hit in the back by something. I turn around to find a woman with a Steelers jersey on had been pulled or jumped over 2 or 3 rows of people onto a woman with a Broncos jersey. Hair was being pulled, slapping, scratching, this was a full blown, booze-soaked cat-fight! We were hollering for security, without getting immediate assistance. I was hoping that one of them would get their top ripped off, but that only happens in bad cable TV shows and in dreams.

The fight probably only lasted about 1-2 minutes, but it felt like it lasted a lot longer. Security finally showed up and took the two women away (and I use the term women very loosely in this case, as the obviously both barely qualify) and a few that got sucked into the melee. As the cops were "cleaning up" the boyfriend of the Steelers jersey wearing woman, though he was more akin to Jabba the Hutt wearing full Seattle Seahawks gear (did he know what game he was at?), pushed a cop. Holy SHIT, I thought, it is ON LIKE DONKEY KONG! The cop turned around and said "Did you just push me?" To which Captain Dumbass replies, "You pushed me first" and with that, he pushes the cop again! In no time at all, the cop has got this guy's left arm up behind his back and has his head slammed down on a seat back, with his forearm pushing down on the Captain's neck. Meanwhile, we miss TWO series of the football game.

A few of the hooligans finally were allowed to come back to their seats and everything was chill in our section for the rest of the game. Oh, yeah, the Steelers WHOOPED the Broncos ass too! All in all a great night. The Steelers won, I went to the game with my mom and a rad cat-fight broke out!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Ridin' in my old stomping grounds.

Episode III, Revenge of the Park.

Last Sunday morning (well, I guess 2 Sundays ago, since I am a PROcrastinator. No, actually, like a fine wine, I wanted you to savor the last two posts, note their subtle nuances, their nose...yeah, that's it!) I headed for Colorado to see a Monday Night Football game, which I'll describe in my next post. I went down a day early to hang out with Bobki and get some riding in at Palmer Park in Colorado Springs.

Palmer Park is a saving grace of an otherwise psychotic city and is just one of the very, very few things I actually miss about living there. It is 20+ acre wild "park" smack dab in the middle of the city. It has over 20 miles of trails, with everything ranging from beginner singletrack to the toughest, technical singletrack. It is an oasis in a sea of shit.

Anyhow, I make it to the 'Springs to ride with Bobki around noon. We make our way over to PP and start riding some loops that I have ridden at least 100 times. At least.

We make our way around on a fairly fun ride, making a lot of technical stuff. Riding here felt familiar and comfortable, like an old pair of jeans. Felt great! As we're wrapping up our ride, we drop down Cheyenne trail, which is the trail we started our ride on. I am flying and feelin' great! Floating over stuff, jumping off of rock drops, railing corners, I was on my A game.

We make it to the bottom of the trail and I even make the hard 200+ degree off-camber switchback at the bottom. We stop and chat for about 10 seconds, then were off. I am following Bobki down a set of stairs/waterbars at a fairly good clip. Which is when everything went as sour as grandma's potato salad left out on a July day.

sssshhhh CLICK: Um, Houston? This is Apollo 13, we have a problem here. Trajectory is all wrong. Requesting ground assistance with our flight path.'s too late. Apollo out. sssshhhh CLICK.

At the bottom, my front wheel dropped into a hole of some sort and much like a medieval catapult, I went flying. My bike made a complete flip and continued on down the trail, much like a horse with its rider shot off. Bobki heard the commotion and was able to stop soon enough to see my bike, riderless, continuing on by itself.

I landed on my right side, smacking my head HARD. I sit up and inspect myself and helmet. Everything still moved and nothing hurt too bad. Upon inspection, I have a hand sized bruise and scrapes on each knee and I broke my helmet. SONOFABITCH. I loved that helmet. That is the 4th helmet I've broken (while on my head) and the second one Palmer Park has claimed. Coincidentally, I was with Bobki when I broke both of them. Hmmmm, I better take a closer look at that.

All in all, everything is fine. My knees are all healed up, I have a back up helmet and my bike came through unscathed. I guess it is good to get a crash or two out of the way once and a while. Shows you're riding hard and paying a flesh penalty to the Earth. I just don't want to break helmets anymore. I am tired of wiping that involuntary drool off of my keyboard every once and a while.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Night riding with my son

OK, onto part two (of 4 or 5) of my recent history.

So the next night after our group night ride on the "M", I took my 7 year old son on his first night ride aboard the tandem. I phoned up Aaron, (well, actually sent him a text, but that sounds like shit. Saying phoned sounds more friendly, like you talked with Marge the switchboard operator before she connected me with Klondike5-4345...good GOD I sound old!) and he met us for the ride.

I got our tandem set up with the lights and put a Petzel headlamp on my son's helmet. I wanted him to have some light so he could see stuff along the trail so it wouldn't be scary, but not have the light be so bright that it was distracting to me trying to see the trail. The light worked perfect for him! The only thing I need to work with him on is not looking directly into someone's face/eyes with the light on. We stopped at the top and he kept looking at me with his light burning. I think I still have little blue dots floating around in my vision.

We rode a basic 5 mile loop on M-Hill, basically riding the same loop I rode the previous night with the group. It was great! My son absolutely LOVED it. I don't think there was ever a time that we rode singletrack that he was so excited about doing it. Heck, at one point he was even singing "I got a feelin', that tonight's gonna be a good night, that tonight's gonna be a good good night...I got my money, let's spend it up!" I love the fact he is still young enough to burst into song when the moment calls for it and not be embarrassed. I think Aaron liked the ride too, and I think it was his second or third night ride, so I think it was a successful ride.

We're ready to do another one soon, so as I fall behind on my posts, it will just add one more in the queue.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

WOW, so much to talk about...

Man-o-man, a WHOLE BUNCH of stuff has happened since my last post, which is why my last post was so long ago, so with a big gulp of cold brewed coffee, here we go. Most likely, this will be a two parter, as this is a tale of two states.

The weather has really changed around here...changed for the better! This last week was primo and perfect for riding. After the last cross race, I sent an e-mail out for our "group" or "club" or whatever the hell you wanna call the Ramblers, about our monthly "meeting" and the reinstitution of our weekly rides. I say "meeting" in quotes as they aren't really a meeting at all, but just a bunch of guys using the excuse of a meeting to get out of the house for an evening of being free of any responsibility at all and to drink beer, tell stories and act like we're all 22 and single again (and by single again, I don't mean trolling for chicks. I mean just no responsibility and talking like our wives aren't around.)

So, Thursday night was our first night ride. We; myself, JT, Jay, Chad, John, and Greg, met at about 5:30 at the parking lot of M-Hill and after JT chugged his last beer we were off. There is something cool about looking at a string of lights working their way down a series of switchbacks at night. A nice loop around the top, down a sweet new trail on the backside, back up a series of switchbacks and down a "technical" trail and back to the cars. It is beer:30, off to the Firehouse!

We all descend upon the Firehouse Brewery and Grill like starving rats upon a dropped bit of hot dog, with much fervor and excitement.

Once inside we have a round or two of beer and dinner is delivered. It is funny how when you've ridden with a group of guys, when you're drinking there is a lot of talking and laughter going on, but once there is food, it is basically quiet. And in this quiet we really noticed a table of women to our side that was out of control. You'd hear mumble...mumble...mumble...MANIACAL LAUGHTER...mumble...mumble...mumble...MANIACAL LAUGHTER...etc. So finally after we all had to look at the table a few times and make some sort of snide comment I finally had enough. I rolled up my beanie and marched over to their table with a bit of a crazed look on my face, slammed my hands down on their table and asked "What is so goddamned funny over here?" A look of surprise and a bit of nervous laughter came from the women and they explained they go there every Thursday night and have their own "club" meeting. Their laughter was much quieter after that and soon they disbanded and left. Yup, I still have it! I have about as much moxie and mojo with the ladies as someone farting in church. It's cute when you're 3 or 4, but completely revolting and inappropriate at any age afterwards.

Soon afterwards we disband as well. It feels like it is about 11 pm, but in reality it is 8:45. Good grief we're getting old.

Well, that was long enough for today. I still have another night ride with my son (his first), a ride with JT, a ride in Colorado and a Monday Night Football to talk about...I better get crackin' huh?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Quite possibly the GREATEST weekend ever...

Since we've moved back to the Great White North (otherwise known as South Dakota) I've had a job unlike any I've had before. I am off most weekends, so my they start around 5:30 on Friday nights.

This last weekend also contained the ultimate Halloween day, Saturday. Kids have all day to get ready for it, don't have to sit in class and think about it all day, and still have Sunday to work off that sugar-induced hangover. We had the makings for a perfect storm this weekend.

So, our weekend started off Friday night with a Halloween party for my son. He wanted to have friends over for a small party, which was a great idea on paper. In reality, having 6 screaming 7-8 year olds running around your house make you realize that we're definitely a one child family. In all seriousness, it was fun and at one point during the evening, all the kids broke out in impromptu song, which was really cute and cool.

Saturday came with a clear sky and warm temps, which was perfect for my 3rd cross race! Since the race was on Halloween and it was a cross race, costumes were encouraged. I had mine all planned out and we jumped in the truck and sped off toward the Wyoming border where the race took place.

Once there, much to my joy, I found out they were gonna do 2 races, a short course and a long course! YEA! 30 minutes this time as opposed to an hour. After it was all said and done, I probably should have raced the long course, but hey, what the hell. So, I got the costume on (for which I have no pictures yet, so you'll have to take my word) which consisted of; bib knickers, arm warmers, a red cape and a Nacho Libre mask! And no, much to the dismay of many onlookers, I had NO JERSEY on. To say I am hirsute is an understatement. I have never shaved my legs for cycling because I wouldn't know where to stop. I have hair from the top of my head all the way to some weird tufts on the tops of my toes. So I was in my furry was SWEET! I had hairy-luchadore power!
My class had 4 or 5 guys and about 6 or 7 girls line up for the race. I knew if I was going for only 30 minutes, I had to put the hammer down. They told us, since each lap was about 8 minutes long, we'd go 3 laps and call it. And we were off. I was right on the heels of the leader through the first lap, but after the last run up and through some seriously grassy, wet section, he pulled away a bit, leaving me and the eventual 2nd place rider about 50 yards behind.

I duked it with the 2nd place dude for a little while on the 2nd lap and he got a bit ahead of me. As we rounded the corner for the start of the 3rd lap, I gave 'er all I could and couldn't quite catch him. I finished in 3rd place, which was kinda last place cause the girls were there for mostly fun (though I guess I was too). It was still a lot of fun to race in costume, though a cape wasn't the best racing accessory.

That night, trick-or-treating went off without a hitch for my son. He went around a few blocks of the neighborhood and decided he was done and wanted to come home and hand out candy. He'd rather watch the kids (or customers as he calls 'em) come to the door and see their costumes.

After an extra hour of sleep (since DST ended), Sunday came and I got a 2 hour ride in on M-Hill with a couple of cousins. We hit a newly cut trail, which was super sweet and flowy and had an awesome ride. They did an outstanding job of building those trails. Even after some snow this last week, the trails were still a bit damp, but the water runs right off without any damage. Great job to the planning crew and IMBA for those sweet trails.

Finally, I finished up by doing 5 hours of yard work. In our house we have a saying with our son "first we work, then we play". We definitely played first this weekend, but I made up for it. I have to say though, the yard looks great now and it is basically ready for the next round of snow or storm, but I am not, I'd love a few more rides.