Wednesday, October 28, 2015

A shout out to single parents that ride.

Ever since this whole cancer thing started, my Lovely and I have basically lived apart, save for the one weekend home and a couple hours here and there. So, it is not unlike being a single parent of a small child. 

Yes, the Boy is 13.  Before we knew he has cancer, leaving him alone to go do something was never a problem. Hell, I'd probably get in trouble for how old he was when we started leaving him home alone. But now that he has cancer, his immune system is constantly compromised because of the chemo, so we have to basically monitor him around the clock. We've been instructed to bring  him to the hospital immediately if he has even the slightest fever. This obviously means he has to be with someone almost all the time. 

Because of this, finding time to catch a ride while I'm alone in Colorado with the Boy is difficult. Sure, I've got family around that is more than willing to hang with him for a couple hours, but it's hard for me to want to put that responsibility on their shoulders should something arise while I'm out fucking around on my bike. 

That all being said, I have gotten out a couple times in the last week and a half. I've had a couple revelations on these rides. First, it feels like I've gotten amazingly out of shape over the course of the last 6-7 weeks (not that I was ever in good shape, but now it's even worse). There's a lot of sitting around in the hospital, as well as in the apartment or my mom's house doing things like homework, art or just talking to doctors, nurses or case workers on the phone. Add a little bit more elevation to the mix and all of the sudden, I'm climbing even slower than I did before! WTF? I thought if I slowed down from my previous pace I'd be going backwards.  Second, I've found that I've become a big pussy on techy descents. Some of that can be attributed to the fact that I haven't been riding much lately (you know the whole use it or lose it thing), but a bigger chunk is because I can't afford to be injured right now. I mean, obviously I can't afford to anytime, but because what we have going on is counting on one of us being there at all times, it is even more so now. I found myself walking techy stuff that I used to ride without even thinking about it. 

But as I said, I did get out. Early in the week, I did a solo ride at Green Mountain. The ride started out with about 4 or 5 switchbacks, which left an iron taste in my mouth. "What the hell? I think my lungs are bleeding!" But overall, it was a good ride. 

Then on Saturday, Cleaver had said he might be in the area and we should go catch a ride. Finally about noon, I hadn't heard from him, so I was gonna write that day off. The Boy and loaded up and headed to my mom's house. Just as we were leaving, the call on the Bat Phone came in. We were gonna ride! And Highlander Andy was gonna join us! Cool!  

Andy took us to a fairly new state park about 25 miles SW of where we're staying called Staunton State Park. One of the things Colorado does really well is their state parks. Even their smallest parks are top notch facilities. 

Anyhow, we did a nice loop there that took us up to 9400', (I was REALLY 
sucking air) took us into snowy terrain and garnered some stellar views of Pikes Peak and awarded us with a rollicking descent. The terrain was smooth enough that speed was the only danger for us on the day (Cleaver's Garmin clocked 33 mph). But, almost immediately when we were done I wanted to get back the Boy. 

I suppose the further into this process we get, the more I'll "figure it out", but I have to say I've earned a new found respect for single parents, especially a single parent of a child with special needs, I always knew they had a tough job, but now I'm living it. So, good job single parents. If you have any tips, let me know, but I'm really looking forward to when I am part of a two parent household again. 

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Lance Armstrong, Cancer and Riding Bikes

Have you seen this trailer yet?

All about Lance Armstrong and his system of cheating in the pro peloton, this movie will probably be a huge hit in Europe, but most likely be, at best, an art-house movie here in the US.

Like most cyclists, I was an Armstrong fan when he was starting to win (although I liked Jan Ullrich better, how he started each season fat and out of shape, looking like he just drank a 6 pack and snorted a line of coke off a hooker's ass).  I had my doubts as he closed in on five TdF wins, but when LeMond was bellyaching about Armstrong's doping, I thought it was just sour grapes.  Then as he neared 7 wins, I was pretty sure he was doping, as many of his major (and not so major) competitors were dropping like flies to doping scandal after doping scandal.  No way this guy could have stayed clean and beat all those other guys, right?  (Kinda funny though how each sport has its own doping figure that the media locks onto, like Barry Bonds in baseball, and crucifies them, even though TONS of others are doping.  Maybe if they weren't such assholes to the media...)

I reveled in the fact that Armstrong doped, even going to a party with a bunch of other cycling friends the night Lance "came clean" with Oprah.  I even wrote a blog or two about what a hypocrite he was and how his apologists were idiots, blah, bablah, bablah.  I even got to the point where I kinda felt sorry for him.  I mean, he's been raked over the coals and he's having everything, and I mean everything, taken away, from wins, to the ability to ride in events, to all of his money.  But, he made his bed, now he gets to lie in it.

And then this last week, everything changed again.  Don't get me wrong, I think he's still a cheat and he was an asshole to a lot of people, and that will never change.  I don't like Lance Armstrong the cyclist.  But as I was lying on that hospital couch/futon/bed/medieval torture device, watching the Boy, who was hooked up to about 10 different tubes and/or monitors, have one crazy-assed drug after another pumped into him to rid his body of cancer, I thought about Lance Armstrong and the fact he overcame the odds that were stacked against him from such a shitty disease, not to just survive, but to live, much less ride his bike at a competitive level (yeah, yeah, I know, he was cheating, but still), my opinion of him changed once again.
Lance between his stints as an asshole.

I realize there are many, many other success stories out there, but because I ride (kinda) I can relate to Lance, and not to the doper Lance, but to the survivor Lance, to the LiveStrong Lance.  Suddenly, I could empathize with the Lance apologists.  I understood why the locked onto him and why they gave him a pass when the rest of the world was crushing him.  My thoughts about him went from a white area in the beginning, to a grey area in the middle, to the deepest, darkest black area by the end of his 7 "wins" and were now back in a grey area once again.  They'll never be a "white" area again, but the fact that it's back to a grey area says something.

Which brings me back to riding.  I took a bike with me to Denver with the thoughts of riding some short rides as time allowed, with my mom stopping by to hang with the Boy for an hour or two.  HA.  That was serious wishful thinking.  Besides the fact we were in the hospital for 2 1/2 days last week, when we were out of the hospital, I had 7 alarms set on my phone to tell me the various times I had to get him medications or flush lines throughout the day.  It seems like every time I turned around, I was giving him something.

Now I'm home and my Lovely is in Denver with the Boy and I'm thinking about catching some rides.  But part of me feels guilt about wanting to do something as superfluous as riding a bike for pleasure, knowing that the infusion the Boy has to take every night makes him feel like shit.  Knowing he can't go out and do many of the things he loves to do.  Everyone keeps telling me to make sure I take care of myself during this ordeal, but that is easier said than done.  If I knew for sure he was going to be OK, then riding a bike would be a fun idea. I'll probably still go for some rides while I'm home, and it will most likely do me some good.  I'll ride in hopes that by this time next year, I'll be doing it with the Boy.
One of my all time favorite pics of the Boy.  Tandem riding
at HLMP (M-Hill).

Monday, August 24, 2015

I lied

As most of you know, I post with stunning irregularity on this blog.  All sorts of bullshit gets in the way of being able to puke out some nonsense on this digital paper.  As I stated in my last post, I was going to shutter the NSS blog for a while as we dealt with Samuel's cancer and the ensuing treatments, but with the length between regular posts, I probably didn't even need to state that I was pulling the plug on this blog.  I could have just kept on, business as usual, and no one would have been the wiser.

Which brings me to the reason I lied. 

Yesterday I went into work for a while. The store is closed on Sundays, so I like to go in and write the order, stock the store and get stuff done that's harder to do when it's open and we're focusing on customers. And, as usual, I rode my bike to work. 

As I usually do when I ride my bike, I thought about all the shit going on in my life, which obviously led me to thinking about Sam and all the crap he's going to endure for the next year or so. And I thought about the amazing outpouring of support we've received in the last 48 hours since letting the world outside of a close circle of family and friends know what's going on. All of that overwhelmed me and I cried on the way to work. Let me tell you it's a bitch to ride with tears in your eyes. As I rode I realize that I need this blog to vent some shit, yell and rant and rave as we go through this. And maybe just be silly, or dirty, or, well, just bitch. 

So, after the shortest hiatus this blog has ever seen, I'm back posting with same ridiculous irregularity that you've come to know and expect from me. We'll still be over on Sam's Caring Bridge page, but that will be more updates and news about Sam. This will be just for me to vent. If I get too whiny, tell me in the comments, I probably won't give a shit, but tell me anyhow. 

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Who gives a shit about Leadville

I fully expected that the next post I was gonna do for this blog was going to be about how I succeeded or failed at Leadville this year (and it kinda is) but none of that really matters. And as I weave this tale, you'll soon find out why.

Back in January, my son Samuel, crashed skiing. Shortly after this, he started having intermittent hip pain. He'd play basketball, dodge ball or something like that and he'd complain about hip pain. It seemed like he had a pulled muscle or something along those lines. He'd take a couple ibuprofen and everything would be hunky-dory. We deal with this every 3-4 weeks and didn't think much of it. 

Fast forward to mid-July. We went to a friends house for dinner where a giant Slip n' Slide was set up for the kids. Sam ran up and down the hill many times, having a blast on the slide.  The next day he was hurting for sure, barely able to walk. Not cool. We called the doctor and made an appointment. I was convinced it was a pulled groin muscle. 

We got into the doctor a couple days later and you know how those things go. Go to the this place for an xray, that place for a CT scan, make a follow up appointment with a orthopedic doctor, blah, blah, blah. 

About 3 days before heading to Leadville, we had an appointment with the orthopedic doc (which was about 3 weeks after our initial doctor appointment) who then sent us for a color contrast MRI. He said, based on the CT scans, the two possibilities for Sam's hip were an infected bone or a tumor. Shit. A tumor was a possibility? WTF? Nah, no way. That kid is healthy as a horse and strong as a bull. I'd bet (based on some information we received) that it's an infection. No question. He'll get on an antibiotic regimen when we get home and everything will be A-OK.  We then scheduled an appointment for a specialist orthopedic in Sioux Falls for a couple weeks after we got home from Leadville.

So, off we go to Colorado for a couple days at my mom's house, then up to Leadville for the race and a couple days of camping with my mom and my brother and his family. 

Friday we got up early to head to Leadville so I can get signed in, go to the pre-race meeting, etc. As we were at the gas station filling up, my phone rings. It's the doctor's office. Sweet, now we can get the ball rolling. "It's definitely a tumor. We've got your biopsy appointment scheduled for next Thursday." Those words were like a well placed Chuck Norris round-house kick to the gut. Holy shit. It was like one of those scenes in a movie where a bomb goes off and the person is disoriented and can't hear what's happening around him. All of the sudden I had zero desire to go to Leadville, but since the ball was in motion, we continued on to the city in the clouds.

As I sat in the pre-race meeting, all I was thinking about was Sam and hoping beyond hope that it was just a cyst or a benign tumor and that everything would still be good, barely listening to the presenters. We got up early the next morning and without having you suffer through the minutia of this race, I got pulled from the course at mile 74 after missing the time cut off and I could not have cared less.  I had no shits left to give. Was it the two flats I had on the day?  Maybe.  Was it the fact that all I was thinking about was my son during the race?  Possibly.  Maybe it was a combination of everything involved, but I didn't care.  Maybe the day when they tell me Sam is OK I'll get pissed about it, but not now.
Sam going in for one of many scans he's had so far.

We just got home from Sam's biopsy in Sioux Falls and found out he does indeed have a cancerous tumor in his hip.  The doctor said it is either Ewing's sarcoma or osteosarcoma but the course of treatment will be similar.  A round of chemotherapy to shrink the tumor followed by a surgery to remove the tumor and most likely replace his hip with an artificial one, followed by more chemo and/or radiation depending on the cancer.  Of everyone in-the-know, he's taking all this news the best.  When we were talking with him about the surgery/hip replacement he said it will be cool, cause he'll be a DROID (saying the word like the Motorola Droid phone does when it turns on).
Sam yucking it up, pre-op.
Right now the whole bike thing is kinda ringing hollow for me.  I hope that someday I'll be stoked to fire this blog back up, but for the near future it's gonna go dark.  We'll be over on Sam's Caring Bridge page, updating his info so if you feel inclined to follow along, you can see how he's doing.  And of course, feel free to shoot me an e-mail or give me a call.  I'll still be riding my bike when I can, but it for sure won't be what I'm focused on.

Monday, May 25, 2015

When N+1 is One Too Much

In the cycling world, as I'm sure you've all heard or have said, there is an equation that says B=N+1, where B=Bicycles Owned and N=Bicycles Needed, meaning you always need just one more bike.  I've heard this same philosophy thrown about by skiers (although they're using skis instead of bikes) and golfers as well, so I suppose any sports/hobby that requires shiny new equipment has this a running joke.

The Moots is gone...
I was a subscriber to this mathematical formula for a long time.  I had bikes upon bikes in my garage (well, I guess I still do, but hang with me here).  I had a bike for everything.  I had/have a singlespeed, a 5" travel trail bike, a 29'er hardtail, a cross bike, a tandem, a city/pub bike, etc.  You name it, I had it.  And the whole while I should have taken a cue from my cross bike, which was/is my road-gravel-commuter-singletrack-cyclocross bike, which means I use this one bike for lots and lots of different things.  And besides washing it once in a while, the biggest thing I ever do to that bike is change the tires from a beefier gravel tire to a smoother road tire.

The nagging issue of owning all these bike came down to one word...maintenance.  You know, once a bike gets to be a certain age and/or have a certain number of miles on it, it seems like there is always something that needs to be repaired, replaced or rebuilt.  A new brake lever here, some brake pads over there, a new chain, tires on both need to be replaced, oh shit, this one needs its fork overhauled, this one needs it brakes bled, blah, bablah, bablah.  It was nice to have another bike to ride when one was down for the count, but it seemed like those things were overlapping at an alarming rate.
Gone too...

Splitting the difference...
So guess what?  I did something about it!  I sold off two bikes and rolled the money into one new bike that split the difference.  It took a lot of soul searching to come to the conclusion that I needed to part ways with my beloved Moots (I've ridden a Moots for 16 years), but this frame was 10 years old!  Technology was passing me by and while that in and of itself wasn't an issue (I find myself having some retrogrouch qualities) being able to replace parts on a bike of that age becomes more and more difficult.  I thought if I'm ever gonna get anything money-wise for the Moots, I'd better do it NOW or just completely embrace the retrogrouch in me and ride it into the sunset. I also found myself riding my 29'er hardtail a LOT, like almost all the time, but I missed having some squish in the rear of the bike.  While the 29'er wasn't that old and in pretty good shape, I didn't see a need to have two bikes when one would do the trick, again, the maintenance thing, ya know? So, part of it was replacing a slightly antiquated wheel size (26") with a 29'er, but I was just sick and tired of having to constantly do something to one of these bikes.  Will I have to do stuff to this new one?  Yes, eventually, but I'll only have to do it once, I won' t have to do it to two bikes, leaving me more time to do what?  Ride my freaking bike!  Now if Mother Nature would just cooperate...

Sunday, April 19, 2015

In defense of Episodes I-III

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know, this is a quasi-bike blog.  But it's also a blog about shit I love too, so we're gonna talk about Star Wars for a minute (or five).  Besides, if you've blasted down a forested stretch of singletrack and you haven't pretended you're on a speeder bike racing through the forest moon of Endor, you're either a liar or you have no business reading this blog anyhow.

The new Star Wars trailer, as the kids say, dropped this week.  In case you haven't seen it, here it is.

 And with this, the news media has gone completely ape-shit.  Good Morning America, ABC Nightly News, (which are owned by Disney, the company making the new Star Wars movies, hmmm) NPR, and others have run stories on this TRAILER (it's a teaser from a movie that is 8 months from being released) and the event, Star Wars Celebration, where the trailer was officially released.  And with it, the ubiquitous interviews with all those quasi-nerds that say the same shit, "Yeah, the trailer was great, but I have mixed emotions, I really hope this is better than the Jar-Jar disasters of Episodes I-III." Or something along those lines.  A fucking 20 something hipster-nerd, who wasn't even born when Episodes IV-VI came out, waxing nostalgic for movies that he hasn't even seen the original versions of?  What the hell?

Let me preface this by saying I don't think that Episodes I-III were great, but they're not as horrible as some people make them out to be.  Could Lucas have done a better job with them by letting someone else direct them?  Sure.  Would they have more depth and character if he didn't rely solely on CGI for every damn effect?  Absolutely.  Can I give you the reasons why they're not the trash you think?  I'm gonna.

Defense 1.  The free flowing story arc.
Episodes IV-VI had no constraints on its story line.  Lucas could have taken us anywhere he wanted to go.  We didn't know there was a second Death Star, we didn't know what Jabba looked like (it's true hipster-nerd, Jabba was NOT in the original version of Episode IV), and we surely didn't know that Darth Vader was Luke's father.

Episodes I-III had a very limited ability to create a story line.  Everything in all the stories had to come to a very specific point.  They had to come to Anakin being trained by Obi-Wan and subsequently being defeated on Mustafar by Obi-Wan and being burned up like a piece of Bantha bacon.  Luke and Leia had to be born, and then hidden from Anakin/Darth Vader.  Yoda and Obi-Wan had to go into
Mmmm, Bantha bacon...
hiding.  Oh yeah, and Anakin had to turn to the dark side and actually become Vader.  Hard to make a new amazing story when the  very specific ending was already written.

This is also why the story line for the new episodes should/better be amazing.  There is no constraint on the stories.

Defense 2.  The acting.
Pensive Luke...that's some SERIOUS
I hear a lot about how horrible Hayden Christensen was as Anakin.  Yes, I'll agree he wasn't great.  But guess what?  Mark Hamill wasn't great as Luke either!  Seriously, go back and re-watch IV-VI and tell me why you think Mark's acting was better than Hayden's.  Just listen to the whiny, monotone voice that says "BUUT I WAS GOING TO TOSCHI'S STATION TO PICK UP SOME POWER CONVERTERS!" and seriously tell me that this is better that Hayden saying in a 4 year old's best grumpy voice "DON'T MAKE ME DESTROY YOU."  You can't.  And, just like in Episodes IV-VI, there were bright spots of acting.  Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan was believable, especially when he was monologuing on the bank of the lava river to the fried up Darth Vader, and when Natalie Portman was telling Anakin "you're breaking my heart" was real emotion.

Defense 3.  They are kids movies.
I think this is the thing that people forget the most.  Not that these movies were not intended for adults, but they were made for kids!  Lucas has said many times that he wanted to recreate that Saturday serial type of experience he had when he was a kid.  And, lest you forget, you most likely watched Episodes IV-VI when you were a kid and then saw I-III when you were an adult, skewing your opinion on those movies (except for those hipster-nerds, who are just regurgitating what ever is supposed to be cool or not cool about Star Wars).

Defense 4.  Lightsaber battles.
The lightsaber battles in Episodes I-III were WAY better than in IV-VI, don't deny it!  Sure the battles between Vader and Obi-Wan in IV and between Vader and Luke in V-VI had a lot of emotion in them, but they looked like they were swinging 25 lb. baseball bats at each other.  As far as the action goes, they were far better in I-III.  Actual choreography and young actors that could handle it  
(mostly), not old guys or guys in heavy black suits.

Defense 5.  The Jar-Jar factor.
This is the one that gets me riled up the most.  Everyone always points to Jar-Jar as to why Episodes I-III sucked.  Don't get me wrong, I don't like the Jar-Jar character.  I think it's pointless and slightly racist.  Watch these movies with a little kid sometime and see how hard they laugh at Jar-Jar and you'll understand part of it.

That's not my defense though.  My biggest complaint is about the revisionist mentality of those that blame Jar-Jar for I-III and think that Ewoks are OK.  Ewoks suck my balls!  I hated them from the second they came on screen at the Elks Theater in 1983 when I first watched Episode VI.    
Really?  The Care Bears beat the Empire?
Seriously?  Luke, Han and Leia couldn't beat the Empire with the fastest ship in the galaxy and all those X, Y, A, and B wings at their disposal, and yet a bunch of FUCKING TEDDY BEARS with rocks and sticks take them down?  I call BULLSHIT on the whole premise!  Tell me the Empire wouldn't just torch their whole planet, burning the forest down and the tree-forts and teddy bears that live therein.  God I hate Ewoks...

So, here's to A New, New Hope that Episodes VII-??? are better than I-VI, yes I-VI, all of them, but I can almost guarantee that there will be a Jar-Jar/Ewok character or moment in these new ones that will get the nerd illuminati so up in arms that they'll have a fit in their mom's basement.  I loved IV-VI as a kid and still do as an adult, I know I don't hate I-III as much as you say you do and maybe now you won't either.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Rambling thoughts that may or may not tie together.

Do you ever think about when you first learned how to ride a bike?  Do you think about that feeling you got when you first were able to ride on two wheels, no parent running behind you holding you up or no training wheels saving your wobbling bike?  It was magic!  Balancing yourself on something 2" wide (or less) yet propelling yourself forward at a pace that was faster than running and could take you much further!  It was independence, it was freedom, it was maturity, it was getting rad, it was amazing.  

Do you ever get that feeling anymore when you ride?  Why not?  Too busy?  Too stressed?  The thoughts of your life, death and taxes weighing on you?  Man, you gotta find that place again.  It gives you perspective, it calms you, it makes everything OK.  I found that feeling again today.  A short ride through some side streets, past a cemetery (if riding past a cemetery doesn't put shit into perspective for you, just about nothing will) and I was on singletrack.  And even though I could see the city on one side, there was nothing in front of me other than that brown ribbon of dirt snaking its way through the trees up the side of the mountain.  That smell of the forest, the pine trees, the dirt, the organic material decaying, all mix together and speak to that primal spot in my soul.  Couple that with the sound of my bike tires scraping rocks, trying to find some traction, crunching the gravel on the trail, the whir of gears, the grating sound of brakes being applied and pretty soon, while I could see the city below me, it meant nothing to me.  Not that it wouldn't ever mean anything to me, but it didn't right then and there.  I was in the moment, I felt the magic of being able to balance, pedal, shift, and brake all while trying to keep myself from plummeting off the edge of a ravine.  It was that same feeling as I had when I first learned how to ride a bike.  I don't always find that feeling when I'm riding my bike, but I find it way more often than not.
Riding in the Land of the Lost...

Which brings me to the bummer part of this story.  After almost 3 hours of winding my way all over Skyline and HLMP here in Rapid City, I was pedaling home on the bike path, awash in that feeling of being tired from the physical exertion but alive with all the endorphins my body could muster, when I crossed paths with a mental kick to the balls.

There it was, pulled over on the side of the bike path, a family, the mom walking a dog, the dad, crouched down near his son, who was on a bike with training wheels.  As I got closer, I could tell the dad was being a total, ever-loving prick to his kid, who was sitting there with his head down his eyes full of tears.  By the looks of the situation, the kid was doing something that didn't go over well with the dad and he was being "told" all about it.  I said, "Hello" in a firm voice, hoping that the dad would realize what he was doing and stop it as I sped by.  I contemplated stopping and saying something, but I quickly realized that I don't think it would have helped the situation.

Look man, I get it.  Sometimes as parents we don't stop and think before we say shit to our kids.  And sometimes our kids do shit that gets under, WAY under our skin.  And sometimes we say shit to our kids over and over and over again and they don't listen.  And sometimes we need to give our kids a push to get them motivated and try to reach their potential or even just to try new things.  But at NO time is it OK to berate your child and make them feel like idiots.  Guess what parent on the bike path?
Did you know your child is CONSTANTLY trying to impress you with everything they do?  They want you to be proud of them, they want you to tell them they're doing the right thing, they're doing well, they make you proud.  Stop just for a minute and think back to your childhood and how you'd feel in that situation if you were in your child's shoes and it was your dad yelling at you.

Bike riding is always supposed to be fun no matter how old you are, but it is supposed to be especially fun for a small child.  Don't make them grow up to be one of those pricks driving their giant diesel pickups that are rollin' coal that swerve towards and throw shit at cyclists because they are bitter about an experience they had when they were a kid.  Give them the confidence they need to grow up and be a (almost) 44 year old that loves that magical feeling of riding a bike almost 40 years after the first time they pushed a pedal down on their own.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Move some dirt, ride some dirt…

I never want to get preachy on this blog. It's mostly supposed to be my fun, nonsensical rambling with a few tales of woe or whoa thrown in for good measure. But today I'm gonna get a little preachy, so in the words of Jack Nicholson, if "you can't handle the truth" then you should probably stop reading now.

You're still with me? Good. Here we go...

The whole thought of this post came to light for me this last Wednesday, which was April 1st , the dreaded April Fools' Day, which also happened to be the day to sign up for the Dakota Five-O.  Last year the Five-O sold out all 700 spots in a few hours and the expectation was that it would be the same or even quicker this year.  In addition to that, the website that everyone used to sign up last year was bought out by a different company, so everyone that I talked prior to the April Fools' 7:00 am registration was logging in early to make sure their old user name/password worked.  And at 7:00 when registration began, so did the flurry of communications about how the system was crashing, people couldn't register, people were getting registered 5 times, etc. all while I sat and drank my coffee watching the chaos unravel on my Steve-Jobs-Control-Your-Mind-From-Beyond-The-Grave device. "But Not-So-Serious, this will be your 8th Five-O.  You've done all of them since you moved back.  Aren't you doing this one?" I hear you say with a *GASP*.  Why yes, I am, but because of the actual point of this post, I didn't have to go through the gyrations of the other 699 individuals.

Gettin' dirty on the Centennial Trail.
You see, Perry has put out a call to arms the last couple of years.  Come help do some trail work to prep the course for this year's race and you're guaranteed a spot in next year's race.  You don't have to get up early, fight the other 699 people for a spot, or stress out when you were charged for 5 spots or didn't get in to the race.  Trade a little sweat equity for the peace of mind that you're in if you want to be.  So for the last two years, I've taken him up on his offer and it's been great!

Getting a guaranteed spot in the race isn't the point of my post though (even if it is a nice benefit) but getting out and doing some trail work is the point.  And this is where I feel like it gets all preachy and it can come off as "well, I do trail work so I'm better than you" and that is decidedly NOT what I want.  Look, I get it, we're ALL busy.  We have lives, work, spouses, kids, want to ride our bikes, yard work, want to ride our
More Centennial re-route stuff...
bikes, house work, want to RIDE OUR BIKES, soccer games, WANT TO RIDE OUR BIKES, shopping, WANT TO RIDE OUR FUCKING BIKES, that get in the way when it comes to doing stuff like trail work.  Guess what?  So do I.  The last thing I want to be doing on a beautiful Saturday morning is getting dressed to go do trail work.  I worked my ass off this week and I'd rather screw around on the internet for a while, drink way too much coffee and then go ride my bike.  But the trails aren't going to build, fix or clean themselves up.  There are hundreds upon hundreds of mountain bikers in our communities.  If we could just get 1/8th of them to go out and do two hours of trail work per year, TWO HOURS PER YEAR, we'd be miles and miles ahead of where we are now.

Sometimes there is a tangible benefit of doing trail work, like getting to laugh at everyone that is
Making trails better for your enjoyment!
having a meltdown about trying to get into the Dakota Five-O, and other times it is not so tangible, but that smug feeling you get when you ride a section of trail that you know would completely suck if you didn't work on it is totally worth it!

Friday, March 27, 2015

The Unstoppable March of Time

The one that started it all
 looked something like this one...
It's weird. As I sit here and type this, I think back on the time that has elapsed since I got my first mountain bike, an electric blue Trek 950, a lugged steel, rigid behemoth with the new Mounatin LX grouppo and a new shifting technology called Hyperglide, and it seems like just yesterday. And while there have been many bikes, bike rides, levels of fitness, races and bike trips in between then and now, the majority of the people I ride with have been riding the same length of time and I've known a lot of them that long or longer. I've seen them grow old at the same pace as I have, so when I look at many of those guys (and gals) they look the same to me as they did 20 years ago. Then every once in a while something happens to remind me that I'm not that 25 year old noob, riding their bike with reckless abandon, not giving much thought to the relentless march of time.

As most of you that read this blog probably already know, the master of disaster, the grand poobah of the Dakota Five-O and the Gold Rush Gravel Grinder, Perry Jewett took a BIG spill on his snowboard a few weekends ago, busting his pelvis up pretty good, earning himself a life-flight to Denver for some surgery and a dose or two of someone else's blood. (If you haven't yet, pop on over and sling him some scratch to help cover of these expenses.)
I don't think it's supposed to look
like that

In addition to that one, el Hefe of All Hail The Black Market, Stevil Kinevil, also had a small topple on his two-wheeled fun machine and blew his knee into a billion bits.

While this post isn't necessarily about PJ's or Stevil's woes, they both have something in common with me, beyond their love of bikes, snowboarding, skateboarding and other extreme sports (it pisses me off that Mountain Dew, MTV and Dan Cortese wrecked the use of the word extreme), they are both roughly the same age as me.  When someone my age has a catastrophic injury doing something they love, it causes a person (or me) to stop and reflect on their life, choices and how shit can change in a blink of an eye. It also reminds me that we're not as indestructible as the 25 year old me once thought. The torn quads, the concussions, blown out knees, broken pelvises (pelvi?) on up to classmates that have passed away are the constant, nagging reminder that we are not long for this mortal coil. 

But what's a guy to do? You can either sit by, waiting for the grim reaper to tap you on the shoulder, telling you it's time OR, grab that son-of-a-bitch by the balls and show em who's boss. Sure, I don't
Damn it! There are no balls to grab...
bounce back nearly as fast as that 25-year-old did, which is probably why I thought I was indestructible then.  Mountain bike crashes were nothing, you just jump up, dust yourself off, check the bike to make sure it was still operable and get on and go. Now there's a personal inventory taken and no rush to get back on the bike.  The bike check doesn't come until much later after making sure the body does everything it's supposed to do.

There's the rub.  If those nagging thoughts of not being indestructible enter your head while you're out doing those things that can cause you harm: snowboarding, rock climbing, mountain biking, etc., you'll either become so paralyzed by the fear that you will either not participate in those activities that make you who you are or it will cause hesitation.  And in the words of Perry Jewett, hesitation brings devastation.

So get out and do those things you love, those things that make you, you.  Get rad, ride down a rocky trail, go as fast as you can on your snowboard, push your envelope.  Granted, your envelope might be different than the envelope you were in when you were 25, but that doesn't mean you can't still push it. I think I'll take the afternoon off and do some mountain biking, maybe do some last weekend of the season snowboarding this weekend, and I'll go drink some beer at this fundraiser for Perry for good measure, even if it is only a fraction of what I could drink when I was 25. 

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Seriously, WTF?

Before we get too far into the meat and, well, the seriousness of today's post, I have to encourage you to go over to the Tatanka 100 website.  I'm doing some guest blogging over there about what's coming up in this year's edition of the race...big changes and I think the race will be really amazing.  There are shorter distances if you don't want to ride your bike for 8+ hours as well as combining the whole thing with the BAM Festival so there is live music until 10 pm for family and friends.  Check it out.

OK, let's get really, really serious.  Last time I was here, I asked everyone to take some action on HB1030, the 3' Passing Law which would require all vehicles overtaking a cyclist to pass with at least 3' between them.  The law was amended to read a minimum of 3' under 35mph and a minimum of 6' over 35mph.  Great!  This is all good news, but I will say, we need to barrage our representatives with e-mails and/or calls to pass this bill.  The bill has been deferred to another day 3 times.  I know that this is a common practice, but I've also watched them defer bills right out of the legislative session, obviously killing the whole thing.

All this being said, and I shouldn't even give this guy any publicity at all, ever, we have good ol' Gordon Howie, Tea Bagger extraordinare, turning this into a political thing and uses scare tactics in his headline, Move Over Stupid or Go to Jail (and his follow up post, Why I Hate Bicycles)  WTF?  First, NO ONE is going to jail.  When was the last time you saw someone go to jail for a traffic violation?  It's almost always a misdemeanor.  Second, since when is giving someone the courtesy of not clipping them, maiming them or killing them with your car a Left/Right thing?  Last time I checked it was a human decency thing.  If you read his blog post on this you'll see that he only sees two options for passing a cyclist.  1.  Swerving into an oncoming lane of traffic. 2.  Buzzing the cyclist.  I had a conversation with a person once about this exact same subject and their opinion was the same as Howie's until I asked them "you do realize there is a 3rd option, right?"  SLOW THE FUCK DOWN until it is safe to pass.  It's going to cost you about 5 seconds in the grand scheme of things.

Some of his solutions for this are not allowing cyclists on roadways not intended for cycling OR posting a minimum speed limit, that is half of the maximum speed limit, and if you can't maintain that speed then you can't ride on this road.  So, South Dakotans, how many times have you been on a rural road in our state and come upon a tractor/combine/bailer/farm implement , etc., on the road?  What do you currently do when this happens?  Using my best Arnold Horshack impersonation, OOOH, OOOH, let me guess. You SLOW DOWN until it is safe to pass, then you go around them, not buzzing or clipping them, and probably wave to the farmer/rancher on your way by, right?  But using Howie's demented logic, if
Buzz that slow moving
son-of-a-bitch.  I dare ya.
there is a minimum posted speed limit, well, then these vehicles shouldn't be allowed on the roadway.  This is the kind of logic that is happening in our state folks.  E-mail your legislators NOW.

While you're there, tell them to KILL HB1214. HB1214 is a bill requiring cyclists to wear fluorescent/reflective clothing while riding on a highway (for those of you living in Rapid City, if you ever have ridden in the new bike lanes on Jackson Blvd., you've ridden on a highway).  This bill is stupid for many reasons, let me explain.
1. There are already laws regarding reflectors/lights for cyclists. This is just an added layer bureaucracy on top of what we have.
2.  This law puts an undue burden on people that are poor and use a bicycle for their only means of transportation.  Yes, I know you can get a vest for under $10 at a hardware store, but if you don't think that is a burden for some people, then you've not been that poor.
3.  There have been many studies showing that fluorescent clothing does NOT increase the visibility of the cyclist.  I could link this for you, but when I Googled it, I found a lot of data on this.  The biggest thing I found in multiple studies I read were that if your clothing contrasts with your surrounding you're slightly more visible.  Doesn't have to be fluorescent.  Riding in the city where everything is grey? Wear a color other than grey.  Boom, problem solved.
4.  (This piggybacks on #3) In those some of those same studies I read, it said that cyclist that did wear fluorescent/reflective clothing had a false sense of safety because of the clothing.  They thought that since they were in these "hi-vis" colors that motorists would see them, making them less defensive in their riding.
5.  (This is the biggest one for me) If a motorist hits a cyclist that was not wearing fluorescent/reflective clothing it gives them an out for a crime.  "Well I didn't see them because they weren't wearing fluorescent.  It doesn't matter that I was uploading a selfie of my crotch to my Tinder profile."  Motorists get off in auto-bicycle accidents WAY to often in this country, lets not give them another reason.

Damn, I've been on my soapbox WAY too much lately.  I'll do my best to post something lighter, maybe Not-So-Serious next time around.

Oh yeah, for you loyal readers, thanks for being around.  I got a shout-out from one of the blog-o-sphere's biggest bike-blogger/douche bags (same diff), Stevil Kinevil at All Hail The Black Market (the shout out is about half way through this post).  You were in on the ground floor.  This shit's about to get HUGE!

Saturday, January 10, 2015


Not too much to ask...
(image borrowed from Biking Bis blog)
For the first official post of 2015 I'm asking that all (3) of you that faithfully read this blog to e-mail your state senator regarding bill HB1030.  What is HB1030 you ask?  The short answer it requires motorists give a 3 foot berth from the furthest point on the right of their vehicle (mirrors, cattle catchers, jousting poles, machine guns, what ever is on the right side of their vehicle) and the furthest point left of the cyclist (typically handle bar, but could be extended middle finger).

A blog out of Sioux Falls called The MinusCar Project wrote this up yesterday that gives the complete skinny on what HB1030 is all about.

It’s officially official. HB 1030 is a bicycle related bill that will work its way through the South Dakota Legislature this winter. Riders will want to pay attention to this bill. When laws are scrutinized anything can happen to them. Additions, deletions, omissions. The last time a bicycle bill was in the legislature South Dakota was close to becoming the first state in the union to legislate cyclist wardrobe – and that was on a 3 foot passing bill.

This year HB 1030 is mostly a 3 foot passing bill. Notably this bill seems to have originated with the Department of Transportation. My sense is a change to law recommended by state staff is more likely to be successful.

Part I

The bill will introduce a new section into the books that reads:

“The driver of any motor vehicle overtaking a bicycle proceeding in the same direction shall allow a three foot separation between the right side of the driver's vehicle, including any mirror or other projection, and the left side of the bicycle. The driver of the motor vehicle shall maintain that separation until safely past the overtaken bicycle. A violation of this section is a Class 2 misdemeanor.”

I’m pretty ok with adding this into law. I do recommend adding the word MINIMUM in the sentence “shall allow a three foot separation.” Many riders say 3 feet isn’t enough and adding this word implies more is better.

Part II

The bill will amend an existing law. The bold portion indicates the amendment:

A person operating a bicycle shall give a continuous signal of intention to turn right or left during the last one hundred feet traveled by the bicycle before turning. The signal shall also be given while the bicycle is stopped waiting to turn. A signal by hand and arm need only be given intermittently if the hand is needed in the control operation of the bicycle. No driver of a bicycle may overtake another vehicle on the right if the overtaken vehicle is signaling to make a right turn.

I am always happy to point out the most dangerous place to ride is to the right of a right turning vehicle. How do you know vehicle is turning right? You don’t. This amendment would make it illegal to ride to the right of a right turn signaling vehicle. I say don’t ride to the right of any vehicle.

I’m neutral on this amendment while pointing out my personal standards are more strict than this amendment would require.


So write your state representatives. Get them early. They don’t start real work till Monday. Tell them this weekend what you think of HB 1030. Surprise them by showing them you care.

Find your reps now!!!

You can find your representative by going to the "Who are my legislators" page on the SD State Legislature website.

As was stated in the MinusCar post, the state legislators don't start real work until Monday, so let's flood their inboxes with support for HB1030 (with some minor adjustments).  Even if you're a casual cyclist, this law impacts you!  Take 5 minutes to show them that you care!
3 is still pretty close when a car is traveling over 35 mph.
(image borrowed from Biking Bis blog, where they've been
enjoying their 3 foot rule since 2011)

That is all.  Please proceed with your normal weekend shenanigans.

UPDATE:  I already e-mailed my state legislators and have received a reply from Senator Craig Tieszen.

Here's my e-mail: 

I am e-mailing you regarding HB1030 the Bicycle Passing Act. I am a cyclist, a business owner in Rapid City, a registered voter in your district, and your neighbor Sen. Tieszen. I ride my bike past your house and have said hello to you many time when you've been outside.

I ask that you please ensure the passage of HB1030, with a minor change. Line 7 reads "allow a three foot separation between the right side of the driver's vehicle, including any mirror" . I would like to see this changed to read; "allow a minimum three foot separation between the right side of the driver's vehicle, including any mirror".

As a bicycle commuter, I follow the rules of the road, stopping at stop signs, signaling my directional changes, and riding as far to the right as safely possible and yet have had more than my share of close calls. This bill isn't much to ask of our fellow motorized commuters.

Thank you for supporting this bill. My safety and the safety of all cyclists, children through adult, thank you. 

And Sen. Tieszen's response.

I believe I have supported a previous attempt and probably will be able to do so again. Thanks for contacting me. I am looking forward to bike riding weather again!!!! Senator Craig Tieszen

Contact your legislators folks!