Friday, December 23, 2011

Eve of Christmas Eve

It's the day before Christmas Eve, or Christmas Eve's Eve.  It really should be on a Thursday, because Friday is the Christmas Eve of the Weekend, and we all know Thursday is just Friday's Eve.  Or, as I like to affectionately call it: Friday's bastard brother.  I like you and all, but you are not fooling anyone.  The 23rd of December is a Thursday to me.  So close yet so far away, as a child this is one of the longest days of waiting.  Waiting for that magical day to come with its surprises and disappointments.  Disappointment of getting socks or the wrong G.I. Joe without kung fu grip. 

I'm in an even bigger eve of sorts.  I am just days away from embarking on a trip out West.  I'm excited, super excited, but I am also concerned that the weather is not going to be conducive to what I want to do.  Ride MTBs in some of the best country for doing so on Earth.  I am so worried that I'm going to drag my MTB all the way to Utah and not get to make one pedal stroke in the holiest of holies.  I know that I should be happy about getting to go out West and see the mountains, hike in the snow, drink the best beer, eat the best food, and just basically live the life.  LIVIN'

Think good thoughts, be thankful for what you have...Ahhhhhhhh!  The suspense is killing me, I want Santa to come and put perfectly groomed singletrack under the tree with blue skies, and, and, and.  I am going to have a great time -why do I have to keep telling myself this?  I am that spoiled brat opening presents and not getting exactly what I asked.  Yeah, but I wanted the BLUE one!  What no batteries?  What were you thinking?  Slippers?  Ok, so I will admit...Some things people never change.  People being me. 

It's not that I set my expectations high, it's that I am not flexible with the things that I want.  It is getting everything you want, but it is not everything you want.  There is always more, bigger, better, awesomer.  It always seems that I come back to perspective.  I need new eyes to see the country that I have.  In a few days I will have new country to view, I pray that it is good enough.  I know it is more than I deserve, and I hope that I appreciate it for everything that it is worth.

Enjoy your time with family, your time away from work, eating too much, the bad gifts, horrible TV, and the wonderful Christmas spirit in the Wal-Mart parking lot.  Life is brief, enjoy your next ride -as if it were your last.  Advice is sometimes a bitter pill to swallow, especially when it is your own.  I look forward to what is in store for me.  I will embrace the future, no matter the color or flavor.  As for you Christmas Eve's Eve, you will never be Christmas or the day before Christmas, but at least the procrastinators worship you as they are scrambling to grab that last or first gift.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Let's Ride

Dark is not the opposite of Light, it is the absence of Light.
  -Beastie Boys

Last night was the longest night of the year, or more importantly the shortest day of the year.  This is what we call the Start of Winter.  Which seems kinda crazy considering the temps outside have been Winter-like for some time now.  Welcome Winter, have a beer, but please keep your feet of the couch, and try not to overstay your welcome.  For me and my like minded outdoorsie people, this is a turning point with our battle that we wage with darkness.  From this day forward the Sun will begin to creep more toward the North and provide us with more daylight.  I just heard a slight cheer.  I give it a Heck Yeah!

I've been fighting the good fight -with lights, and with unemployment I have been taking advantage of the daylight hours.  I don't feel safe enough on the road to ride at night, but hitting up the Riverparks trail and Turkey instead.  Turkey at night is an interesting experience, especially if you are rolling alone.  Enough.  Buy a light and go use it, it is well worth the money.  That is unless you like bolting your bike into a mid-evil torture device, pain and suffering intervals, and cleaning up puddles of sweat.  Then by all means.  "I'm suffering for my art"  Something like that.

Not to brag, Ok maybe just a little, but I have been able to get some good rides in lately.  Outside.  The Good Dr. and I went for a little Riverparks spin on Tuesday.  One word...Under-dressed.  Not really, but I did not take gloves.  I was thinking that 50* is warm enough for naked digits.  It is well above the temps for frost bite, but I lost feeling in my hands and it made the bars feel like I was flexing them.  I could not figure what was under my finger, it was my other finger.  It was a little strange, next ride... Gloves... check.  There is a point here, no it is not wear your gloves. 

Sharing a ride with someone who, like yourself loves to be on a bike, will make any ride better.  No matter the condition.  Shared experience is best served with good company.  Speaking of good company, I rode with a teammate yesterday.  We will call him Seth (any resemblance to live or dead persons is a mere coincidence).  "Seth" and I met up on Riverparks and headed South.  Beautiful weather, slight wind with a little bit of a chill.  I have not been on the bike more than 90-100mins in the past two months.  Yesterday was a full three hours.  I don't know how I managed to be in the saddle that long?  I would have cracked at about 90mins in, except. Except the fact that I had good company to share my ride, this transcends the time-space continuum and enters the unexplained "fun zone".  Don't question it, it is real and if you have not experienced it you need to find someone like the Good Dr, or a "Seth" to share your ride with.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Merry Elfin' Christmas

Oh I love the holidays.  Let me count the ways.  Turn the scarcasim meter up to 11 for this one folks and prepare to be offended.  I'm sure I am going to step on a toe or two and will probably taste some shoe leather in the process.  Who cares it's the holidayz and anything goes.  Try finding a parking space without getting threatened.  Seriously, where did all of these horribly bad drivers come from?  Who flipped the switch to make everyone insanely rude and hostile?  Humanity is so lovely this time of year, middle-finger salute right back at ya.

It all starts with someone pulling pepper-spray and gassing a Wal-Mart on "black Friday", or a trampling and pummeling to death at a K-mart.  That is how we know the Christmas spirit is here among us.  The Romans may have crucified Jesus at Easter, but we are killing the baby Jesus with our commercialization and politically correctness.  Heaven forbid sorry I mean lovely place of afterlife of your respected religion, what is going on people?  If you are going to celebrate Christmas, Celebrate Christmas!  It's not a holiday... It's Christmas!  Stop ruining it for everyone by trying to make it something that it is not.

My family taught me that if you are going to do something do it right, no matter what that happens to be in life.  If it is a horrible job that kills your soul, do it and do it right.  What we do is not a reflection of who we are...It is how we do what we do, that is the window into who we are.  So taking what we know about what we know, we should apply this to Christmas.

Christmas is a religious celebration.  Look it up, that's right Google that.  Who knew?  It seems like in a few years that besides the Bible, the story of the "real" reason for Christmas will be a search on Google.  I am by no means a pillar in religion, but I do have respect.  Respect...find out what it means to me.  When did we stop teaching respect?  We instead preach tolerance.  Tolerance killed Respect.  Oh yeah, if this pisses you off, just remember that you have to tolerate me and my beliefs, just as long as I am not preaching Christianity.  

If we do not believe in Christmas don't celebrate Christmas, don't water it down with our half-arsed attempts to degrade a religious holiday that some hold sacred.  There are plenty of other quote-unquote holidays that we can wrap presents, give gift cards, and cook turkey. 

Merry Christmas

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

"Real" road riding

On my recent trip back to Texas to see my parents, and get some bike riding done.  I took the CX bike to take advantage of all the dirt road mileage that is available right out my parent's front door.  I was blessed with slightly damp to muddy conditions the first day.  This is a gauntlet thrown down my Mother Nature that could not be refused.  My Dad decided to load up his two dogs and be a follow vehicle.  He is an excellent moto-pacer, but today's course did not allow for speeding inches behind a farm truck.  Maybe next time.  We headed out on roads that I have driven tractors, combines, grain-trucks, cars, farm trucks, but never a bike.  This was a new and interesting way to see the country that I knew, or did I know?  Riding a bike is one of the most intimate ways to see country, and I was now seeing my home with new eyes.

Texas dirt roads, flat, straight, abundant
Old farmhouse owned by cousins
Farm Schoolhouse in the middle of nowhere

Me with a Texas "tree" in background

Dirt roads rock
My Team Car Truck

Monday, December 19, 2011

End of the beginning

Today was the Oklahoma State CX Championships.  I raced.  One, because I like to race.  Two, because it was on my home turf.  I watched the CX Champs last year from the other side of the tape.  It was cold and I had a blast watching, but I also felt drawn to this fantastic thing that we call Cyclo-cross.  It is not right taking a road bike and racing it off-road.  That is what mountain bikes are for, off-road.  Everything about CX is like a dare.  It is done off road, in horrible conditions, with an every-man-for-himself approach to racing, and this all happens at what we like to call "full-gas".

My first experience with racing the CX bike came at a practice race.  It hurt like nothing I had experienced in quite a while.  Something along the lines of riding a trainer and doing 40min super-high intensity, except this trainer was bumpy, dusty, hot and had riders in front and behind.  I questioned why I had to have a CX bike?  I did two more practice races and then drove to OKC with some friends for my first "real" race.  I made it a lap and almost a half when I had a flat.  Not the best start.  And that lap and a half hurt, it hurt a lot.  I was kind of glad that I got the flat and did not have to continue to suffer.  Yeah, don't tell anybody that, I have a rep to maintain.  Once again I questioned the validity of owning a CX bike.

I did some practice riding of my own on Turkey Mountain.  I had a blast rocking the CX bike on mtb trails.  I took the rig to Texas with me and rode it from my parents house down to the Canyon.  This was so much fun.  During the ride down to the Canyon, I watched all the cars with their mtbs on racks headed to the same trails that I was going.  I actually was stopped in the Canyon by a couple that asked if I was "that guy riding the road down here?"  Yep, that was me.  Owning a CX bike was starting to be kinda cool.

More practicing, some racing and more rides.  I bought a helmet light to ride now that the sun is nowhere to be found after 5:00, and the first usage came in the rain one night and I reached for the CX.  This was fun, and I was starting to realize more and more what owning a CX bike meant to me.  It became the Swiss Army knife hanging in the garage, appropriately between the MTB and the Road Bike.  This is the bike that begs to be ridden in the mud, rocks, grass, sand, fire, brick-walls, German razor wire, snow, bullets, and pave. 

Today was the last CX race that I will do this season, but I do hope that it is not my last CX race.  I have struggled with the question of, "is racing Cross fun?"  I am not sure I can answer that.  What I can say is that it hurts.  I have grown to love riding my CX bike anywhere and everywhere.  Heck if this were easy, everyone would do it, and I probably would not want to do it anymore.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Illusions of

I was given a hall pass to go down to Texas to see my parents last week.  I always have big plans to do some sort of travel-blogage.  I have great ideas, I plan on taking all kinds of pictures and what not.  Seriously, I have written some great stuff, albeit in my head, but it's good stuff, it just never makes the page.  I swear that I have a great travel guide to Sprintingthebelllap's Texas Panhandle, it's awesome, now if I could only get it out of this vast empty expanse of a brain and cultivate words and sentences.  Is that too much to ask for?

I always get in a hurry to get down to see the parental units that it turns into a race, where nature breaks are timed and the one gas stop is handled with NASCAR precision.  This is no time to stop and smell the roses.  I'm at the Flying J yelling at the dogs to do their business, we're on a time schedule that they seem to not have received the memo.  "You smelled that spot like 20times, go already!"  I'm sure the locals look at me as if to say "that boy aint right".  I'm being crazy thinking that I am 5mins behind schedule.

I cant wait to get to the place of my birth and hang out with those people that me and one other person call Mom and Dad.  Crazy runs in the family, and this apple did not fall far from the tree.  So when I am with the family I seem to not have anytime to write.  There is a constant barrage of food.  OK, I get that I am not big, and some might say skinny, but I eat.  I eat a lot, but I will never be able to eat enough to satisfy my Mom and Dad's idea of the ideal caloric intake.  "You want your Mom to make you some eggs and bacon?" my Dad says as we are watching wrestling at 9:30 at night.  We just ate like an hour ago, and I'm already getting hit with the question of eating.  So, just to show what a trooper I am, I ate a bowl of cereal.  "Sure you don't want any eggs, or maybe a waffle?" Dad questions as I am finishing said bowl of cereal.  Right, and I've only just gotten here.

I really do wish and hope that I will be able to write when I am home sometime.  There is just something about being in the house that I grew up in around family.  On the family farm, with the history, and all the ghosts.  Ghosts of my past, that just seem to be more real when I am on their turf, in their 'hood.  They are the ghosts of Christmas past, something like the "Ghosts of Sprintingthebelllap's Past".  The connections are so much more visceral in the vicinity of the past.  Oh, if only to be able to tap at a keyboard with the flood of emotions, smells, and sights.  It truly would be a cathartic experience to capture some of what is elicited when visiting home.