Thursday, January 26, 2006

W&OD&C&O (in Haiku, sorta)

markie and dog(mile 75)
the end of the ride
a medium sized black dog
sniffs markie's chamios

(mile 74)
waiting by the trail
a girl rides by and blushes
markie is peeing

(mile 63)
go on without me
i'm out of gas markie says
i try but i can't

Easy there, Markie

Staying hydrated(mile 50)
19 mph
on your left, on your left please
sorry, i meant right

(mile 35)
crossing the river
memories come back to me
i bonked here last year

(mile 34)
i.p.a. and stouts
pilsners, porters, and lagers
me and my root beer

Butch using a tire lever(mile 25)
fixing a flat tire
real men don't need levers
this is what butch says

(mile 1)
hills on custis trail
take it easy, zone 2 right?
not on the fixie

(mile 0)
spearman and donna
markie, butch, bill and me
in search of base miles

White's Ferry

Monday, January 16, 2006


Joe at Whitegrass

Glide. It's what differentiates skiing from walking with skiis on your feet. Last weekend was a three day quest for glide, on snow, on ice, and unfortunatley on asphalt.

We packed up the car Friday night and left early in the morning for the trip to Canaan Valley Resort. Local temps in the high 40s and other friends cancelling their ski trips had me worried. Lucky for us a Friday night snow storm arrived just in time to put down enough powder to last the weekend. We headed out early Saturday to Whitegrass for my first ever crack at skiing. Whitegrass is an amazing place, and not just because of the skiing. The down home vibe is strong and the folks who run the place have XC skiing in their blood. There was also something familiar about the woman who helped me with my rental skis but I didn't quite figure it out until much later. Our friends Rick and Deb, who are also fanatical XC skiers, were eager to show us around. So after gearing up and strapping the kids into a Burley-type trailer for skis, we hit the trails.

Conditions were less than ideal on our first time out. The snow was wet and caused chunks of ice to form on our skis. In mountain biking, this is the equivalent of riding with 10 pounds of mud on your tires. Rick and the kids smartly split off to go back to the lodge while Deb, Gina, and I continued on. The weather steadily grew worse as we plodded along (well, Gina and I plodded, Deb seemed to be enjoying herself despite the gathering storm). I was hurting in a bad way. My knees, not used to the new strains of skiing, were tearing themselves apart. When I could no longer stand it I took the skis off and limped the last mile back to the lodge with my tail between my legs. After only 6 miles of skiing, my legs felt just as bad as they did after the SM100.

Dinner, a warm stove, and some live music put some life back into me but the fun wasn't over yet. As we leave Whitegrass, the winds whip up a blizzard. Narrow, icy roads and moments of zero visibility make driving tricky. We stop to help someone fix a flat, get stuck going up a hill, run into a few ornery drunks that would put buddy Spearman to shame, get towed out of trouble by our friends Paul and Sandra with the 4x4, make it back to the room safely, and send the cops back to fish the drunks out of the snowbank that they drove into. Sagada slept through the whole after dinner ordeal, which was a good thing. Oh yeah, that woman running the ski rental counter: Sue Haywood.

Sagada at WhitegrassThe next day I decided to rest my poor legs and hang out with the kids while Rick and Deb hit the trails again. Turns out I got little rest. The kids put us through a full day of sledding, ice skating, and swimming. With a few hours before dinner, I decided to give the skis a second chance. With some old school ski shoes and a pair of skis borrowed from Deb, Rick and I skied right from our rooms to explore the backcountry near Cannan Valley Resort. Conditions were much better than the day before. For one, there was no blizzard. The snow was slippery and I was getting some glide. Backcountry with its rocks, logs, and more technical terrain is more like mountain biking, but on skis. I got my first downhill run but failed miserably when I tried to do a telemark turn. Still, I had that same familiar feeling I had when I first started mountain biking. An addiction was growing.

Day three and we're back at Whitegrass for a few hours of skiing before we have to head home. I went out with Gina and Sandra for a loop around the "Snow farm" with a nice detour into the back country. Conditions were perfect, and this time, no ornery drunks to deal with. We wrapped up around noon, grabbed some lunch at the lodge and headed home. The next day I'm hitting the web looking for a pair of XC skis and some pointers on how to execute that elusive telemark turn.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Hello 2006

Woke up early on new year's day for the first ride of the year. Rode out my door to mostly empty streets and brisk morning air. No route planned, I just wanted to wander. Found myself at Burke Lake Park and did a lap around the lake, wishing a happy new year to everyone I met. Stopped to snap a few pictures and rode back home. 25 relaxing miles. Simple and rewarding, like I want the rest of the year to be.

Bah! It's still graffiti.

Monday, January 02, 2006

So long, 2005

So long, 2005. But before I send you off, a quick LA story to put things in proper perspective:


(circa New Year's Eve, circa 1990)
It was a party to end all parties. We had been given free reign to destroy the interior of Robison Hall, my building at the UCLA student Co-op, and a designated cultral landmark of the City of Los Angeles. My roomate Peter and I are running for our lives from our room. We had just broken off the valve of a large fire extinguisher and it was unleashing havoc. Moments later we run into Jay who's been going room to room by bashing through the walls with a sledgehammer. He's covered head to toe with drywall dust and traces of fire extingusher foam. People are running amok and screaming for no apparent reason. Eventually, we find our way to a balcony overlooking the main road. Couches have been dragged into the street and folks are sitting on them watching the chaos unfold. Someone shines a floodlight on us. "Take it off!" Zenya yells from across the street...

Fast forward 15 years and I'm fixing a hair clog in a bathroom sink. The clock has struck midnight. "Happy 2006," I say quietly to myself. Time changes all things, and that's a good thing. No matter how much I miss those reckless days I wouldn't trade them back for what I have now, even if I could. We go through life inventing and reinventing ourselves, and back then I never would have thought I'd have the life I have now. I've shed a few labels and gained a few more in their place: husband, father, and of course, cyclist. I try my best to grow as each.

Our weddingAs a husband, I'd like to think I'm doing something right. Gina and I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary in 2005 in the company of our closest friends and family. Of course, not all of this is my fault. Gina has been great at putting up with all of my stupid quirks and many imperfections. The way things are going now, I could easily see us doing this again in another 10 years.

Sagada and JoeAs a father, I saw some real milestones this year. Sagada learned to really "read", do some math (although Fibonacci numbers are still giving her trouble), and most importantly, ride a bike. I'd like to think I had a hand in that. With all the "big" rides I did last year, some of my best rides have been ripping the mile long Wakefield Creek trail with my daughter, then racing her back to the parking lot. Sure, she fell a few times, and daddy even ran over her bike once (accidentally), but she always got back on and kept pedaling.

As a cyclist, it was my best year yet. I'll always remember: 12 Hours of Lodi; 24 hours of Big Bear; Wednesdays at Wakefield; riding the entire C&O Canal in a day; Singlespeed World Championships; SM100; Buzzard Rocks; Jim Thorpe; the C&O Canal Women's ride; the fixed 40 ; Elizabeth Furnace epics; spreading the singlespeed gospel; the Southern Traverse; Douthat, and all those Monday and Thursday nights at Wakefield. I had some incredible rides and races, but most importantly, there were a whole lotta friends who made it all matter.

So as 2006 is upon me and the last remnants of that blasted hair clog are fished out of the drain, I'm thinking back to that time circa 1990 when we razed Robison Hall. I'm thinking of the friends I've lost touch with, and some that I've rediscovered. Gina and Sagada are asleep in the next room. Sagada tried to wait till midnight but just missed it, dozing off at 11:30. I'll probably never get another chance to destroy an LA cultural landmark, but then again why would I want to? It's like the revamped verision of "A Clockwork Orange" with that additional chapter where little Alex voluntarily gives up his evil ways. Even though I always hated that new ending, somehow I can't help but relate.

Happy New Year everyone.
Accotink 2005
Last ride of 2005 (photo by Gina)