Sunday, April 15, 2012

Dreams wasted...or fulfilled?

Like many of the things I post here (and on that Book of Faces interweb site) I lifted this from another, far more profeshonal, funnier weblog than this one.  And this particular video struck a nerve with me.

Get in the way-back machine and travel to around 1989 or so and you'd find a 17 year old, mulleted (just an FYI for you too young to remember, when you went in and asked for a haircut you got a mullet, no choice), Bermuda shorts, Vans wearing kid that wanted to be a Clint Reynolds.  I wanted to load my Lovely up with my then coveted Diamond Back Turbo BMX bike and head to San Diego and live the bike bum lifestyle, at least for a little while.

But, and it is a BIG but, to live that lifestyle, or at least to be able to get to a place where you can live that lifestyle, you had to have some money, or be from a family that had money, and I was neither.  So, I continued working and going to college and later that year (1989), I "discovered" mountain biking.  My dream then changed from going to San Diego to be a BMX bum to going somewhere where I could be a mountain bike bum, maybe Northern California, Oregon, Colorado or Utah.  Once again, there is some money involved here, and while I had some money now, I was also on that I.V. drip of money and it was difficult to let go of it, just walk away, especially since I was now on a career path with that grocery store where I worked.

In 1991, I packed up my truck with my brother and headed out to a place on the map we only read about in magazines, Moab, UT.  If you've been to Moab in the last 10 years or so, I'll tell you it is NOTHING like it was in 1991.  It was a town with only 1 fast food joint, McDonald's (not that a fast food joint is important, it just illustrates a point) no movie theater and only one bike shop.  It was a dying former mining town.  Mountain bikers has just started going there in the previous few years. Now, it has many fast food joints, a theater, at least 4 bike shops and the town has exploded, thanks in large part to mountain biking.  Coming back from that tangent...we headed to Moab without much of a plan other than to go to town, find a place to camp, buy a trail map and go hit some trails, which we did.  We didn't have a lot of money in our pockets, so were kinda bumming it, making PB&J sandwiches, camping at a cheap spot, etc.  

Since 1991, I've been to Moab many, many times (somewhere around 20 times, averaging almost once per year!) as well as biking trips to California, Arizona, Nevada, Wyoming, Colorado and right here in my back yard in the beautiful Black Hills.  And almost every time I went on these trips, I didn't go and stay in a fancy hotel anything like that, but we camped or stayed with family or friends, sleeping on their floors, couches or for a luxury night, their spare bedrooms.  I've slept in the back of my truck in a downpour in Moab with a friend, I've camped at the Fruita Fat Tire Festival in the same truck with my Lovely and the Boy when he was only 11 months old.  I camped in primitive camp sites along the Colorado River with friends, near people that were living there full-time.  Looking back on it, I have lived the mountain bike bum lifestyle, albeit 1 or 2 weeks at a time.  Then when that trip is over, I get to go back home to a nice house, a warm bed, a refrigerator stocked with food and beer and a family that likes me better when I leave for a little while then come home with an attitude adjustment.

Now that we're planning our next biking trip to Moab, I am getting ready to go be a bike bum for another few days.  And if I can keep this up for another 10 years or so, I'll have logged enough days of being a bike bum that it would be the equivalent of being a bike bum for a year or two.  Doing it a week at a time probably works a lot better for me.  I admire Clint Reynolds for following his dream, and  youth is definitely NOT wasted on the young in this particular case, but I think I might just go ape-shit crazy living in a tiny little Airstream like he is.  I get to be a bike bum without the uncertainty of where I'm gonna sleep tonight and without the dumpster diving.  So, my dreams are not wasted, but fulfilled, a week or so at a time.  

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Someone Bring Me to My Senses and Punch Me in the Sack.

I got my first mountain bike (an electric blue Trek 950 with Mountain LX 7-speed Hyperglide) with birthday and graduation money in 1989, so other than my relationship with my Lovely, I've been working at mountain biking longer than anything else in my life.

This is what it looked like at an early 90's race, but without
Tomac or Ned.
If you rode a mountain bike at all in the 90's, you raced.  There was a rule I think that you had to race your mountain bike if you had one, or even access to one, anytime from 1990 through 1998 or so, which is what I did.  There were plenty of times that I was WAY off the back, and then there were times when I was more at the front of the pack, even placing in the top 5 in the Expert classes at races.  BUT, those top finishes required a LOT of training and committment, which eventually made mountain biking a lot less fun.  So, when my work took me to the Front Range of Colorado in the late winter of 1998, it was a good time for me to change my focus of riding.  Sure, I still did a few races after that, but it wasn't the only focus of my riding, but more of a by-product.  As a matter of fact, I remember distinctly telling myself that I was no longer going to race except for a new'ish (at the time) format of 24 hour racing, which was a festival like atmosphere.  Eventually, even 24 hour racing fell by the wayside.  Now riding was all about just riding for fun, nothing more.

The 600 nut-jobs from last year's Five-O.
Fast forward 10 years to 2008.  We (the family and I) are preparing to move back to our current locale of the Black Hills of SD and I have friends racing in the Dakota Five-O and they have persuaded me to give it a whirl.  Without the gory details, I finished, but it wasn't a ton of fun, so why I signed up for the next year's race is beyond me.  I did and I got a little better, so I signed up yet again the next year (2010 for those keeping track).  I had mechanical issues (if you search this sad little blog, you'll come up with that gem of a race report) which were my fault, but I felt like I was getting better, so even though my time was worse, I felt good about it.  And of course last year I raced and peeled off my fastest time by far (almost an hour faster than my 2009 time).

So, when sign up day for this year's Five-O came around, 7:00 am on April 1st, I was at the ready on my computer and by 7:06 I was entered in my 5th Five-O.  And, by 11:30 am, all 600 spots were SOLD OUT!  What the hell?  Most of the time, I barely know what I'm gonna do next weekend, much less on a Sunday 5 months from now.

But wait, there's more.  In addition to the Five-O, there are some new races on the scene here in the Black Hills.  The first one is called the Black Hills Back 40, put on by super fast and nice guy, Phil Busching (yes, the same one that tortured me at my physical therapy) and others, which I'm planning on doing.  In addition to that one, there was one more mega race put on the calendar for this year, the Tatanka 100, a new 100 miler that I am contemplating (this sucker is early'ish in the season, so being ready for a 100 miles might be tough, at least for me).  In addition to all of this, I'm kicking around the thought of the 24 Hours of Moab, hopefully with Teamfubar intact or some other variant of it.  So what the hell does all this mean?  It means I'm back into being a mountain bike racer!  How the fuck did that happen?

I'm sure my face will look like this after most
rides this year.
I spent the previous 10 years just riding along.  Albeit fat and out of shape, and now I fat and in shape, or at least more so.  10 years of just riding my bike, not feeling like I had to, but when I wanted to.  Now, I'm putting 2, 3 and maybe even 4 of the biggest, longest races I've ever done on the table in front of me.  That Not-So-Serious moniker might be slipping away, maybe turning into a Somewhat-Serious Cyclist or even the Moderately-Focused Cyclist.  But never worry, it will NOT turn into the Very-Serious Cyclist, since if I have to choose between a "training" ride or a fun ride with friends, the fun ride will always win out.  Racing will still be a by-product of my riding, not the focus...but maybe I'll wear my heart rate monitor to the next "fun" ride, you know, just for fun.