One of my favorite authors, especially when it comes to cycling, is Joe Kurmaskie. He has many books, all to do with cycling, and the link to his site is over to the right of this post. I have read them all. In fact, I am in the process of rereading them. Currently I am rereading Riding Outside the Lines. It’s a series of short essays and stories of his many and varied cycling experiences. He is funnier than hell, and each story can stand alone to entertain a rider.
Those of us who are members of Facebook, have those friends that post cars, or sayings from time to time. They may promote booze, the fact that moms have a hard job, or just something that makes us laugh.
I like these. Sometimes, as they are meant to do, they make me giggle. Other times they make me want to ride and work out, and sometimes, I just sit, shake my head, and say “Really??” It just depends on the post.
There I was, biking home tonight, and having a pretty darn good ride. The temperature was just cool enough to get me thinking that fall would be here soon. No real wind to deal with, and after I got past the crowds at UW, the trail was wide open. Even the little kids on bikes were staying to the right and not turning in front of me.
As I got closer to home, past the new pygmy goats in the neighborhood (nothing says cosmopolitan like a couple of goats a block from downtown) and decided to stop at the local butcher, Double D Meats, for some lunch meat.
I walk in, and plain as the nose on my face is a sign:
Please forgive the typos on this one, I am using the iPad!
I live and work in the greater Seattle area. This is quickly becoming one of the most bicycle friendly places in the country. We are getting more bike lanes, a bike share program, and the Cascade Bicycle Club does an amazing job.
This means I am used to seeing bikes put to many different uses. However, during my weekend in Port Townsend, I was impressed with the variety of uses the people of this little town by the water have come up with! Continue reading “When in Doubt use a Bike!”→
My best blogger friend Megan asked me a question here recently. She has decided that she is going to give her blog, The War in My Brain, more attention, and, for a while at least, blog every day. She asked me how I do it.
I started blogging back in January, and with a few exceptions, I have added a post each and every day since then. I didn’t realize it initially, but I came to notice, from the blogs I follow, that daily bloggers are very rare. So she started me thinking, how, and more importantly, why do I blog every day?
As I posted a couple of days ago, Saturday, the 13th, was the start of Western Washington’s biggest cycling event, bar none, of the year: Cascade Bicycle Club‘s Seattle to Portland. As I also mentioned, two of my friends from the Holy P, Auburn Liz and Mighty Manda were riding this for the first time!
Why you ask? Is it because he has great books that have given me hours of entertainment? Is it because following him on Facebook makes me laugh at inappropriate times at work? Is it because he has 4 boys and deserves a beer? (well yes, any of these would be a good enough reason!)
But none are the reason for me saying this right now. The reason is this: Reading his books strikes a chord inside me somewhere, and then a blog post just wants to jump out!!
This happened last night. I am rereading Riding Outside the Lines,
in particular the story about heading for Ayers rock “Three (Unlikely) Amigos”. I won’t spoil the story (though I highly recommend this book and I will review when done!) but it had a line I read last night that stopped me short and made me think. (not easy at 10:15 PM I tell ya!)
It was this: “If you have to explain to someone why you ride, save your breath!”
Lord aint it the truth!
Those who ask “Why would you want to pedal 200 miles in a day?” or “It’s raining, why would you want to go out there?” or “You ride on roads isn’t that dangerous?” or any number of other questions, will never understand no matter how much you try to explain.
There is no way they would understand the thrill of topping a long hill knowing there is a fantastic downhill coming up. Rounding the corner and being close to a deer, or elk or blue heron or any number of types of wildlife that didn’t get scared away by an engine of a car. The feeling of pride when you look at a map and can slide your finger down for hundreds of miles showing the route you rode.
The feeling of peace when there is no one around, the road is clear, the wind is behind you and you are almost floating. The solid feel of your legs when you slap them, knowing they will take you anywhere. Driving up a hill in a car and thinking “Oh I could ride this sucker no problem!”
Unless you are a cyclist, there’s just no way to know all of these.
In my experience, there are 3 types of non-cyclists. (editors note! NONE of these are bad, nor am I meaning any insult, just my observation).
The first are those who intuitively get it! They may have dreams of being a cyclist, or have their own sport that has this same response from people (I had it when I tried to climb mountains as well explaining to people about blue bags (look it up) or poop cans made MANY walk away)! These folks can feel your passion and support you 100%
The second are those who would never WANT to do what I do, but are very impressed and want to hear more. They love to ask questions, and are genuinely curious. You can tell these by the fact they go out of their way to ask you questions about rides more than once. They are NOT just being polite! But there is no way they would ever want to saddle up and ride the Chilly Hilly on a rainy Sunday in February.
Then there’s the third type. They just think I am nuts and would never want to do what I do nor are they interested in the least! They could be great friends, and you can have other things in common, but if you mention the bike there is that glazed look that appears!
Now, just so you don’t think I am holier than thou, I think we all, at times, fit into all of these categories. I for one will NEVER understand: Why people like to wear ties, why Levi 501s are not appropriate attire for anything, why people enjoy weddings, why someone who lives in Seattle would ever own a boat, how anyone can be a complete vegan. (NO CHEESE????), or how a guy can read Nicholas Sparks books! (sorry Dave!) But the fact that we are all different is what makes life fun!
I am thinking most of the followers to this blog are in the first 2 categories. But for those who aren’t but still read regularly, Thanks!! I appreciate you doing so! I know it can’t be easy…
But I now know, if someone ever asks, “Why the hell would you….” I’ll just smile and shrug and save my breath!
I am SO not an athlete! In High School I never got near a sports team. Nope, no letter for Tony. In college, I played on some DAMN good intramural teams with the Strohs Bros and Fros, Softball, Flag Football, Inner Tube Water Polo, and even one stint each with Basketball and Volleyball (I sucked at these last two!)
Even though we had good teams for all of these, we never took first place. We tried, but just didn’t make it.
However, after college, some of us stuck together. Yes, from the Strohs teams came Chaos!
Scott, Dave and I, with Rob Wilder Dave’s sister Anne, and a bunch of us I do NOT remember, came together one year and won it all!
It wasn’t easy! First of all, we got knocked out of the bracket pretty early by the only team that ever beak us, I am relatively sure this was WC Pizza. This meant we were in the single elimination losers bracket after that. Make one mistake and you are out.
Well hell, no idea how we did it, but we stuck it out and made it to the finals and once again had to face WC Pizza. Worst part? Since we were in losers bracket, we had to beat them twice!
OK, time to play for keeps here. First mess with their minds! Every game we played them, they sat in the 3rd base dugout. That was their place. So first order of business, take the dugout away from them!
I can’t remember what time the came was scheduled for, hell it was 20 years ago. but whatever it was, I showed up 2 hours early. Yep! Showed up, took over the dugout they liked, set up all our gear and read a book. They were PISSED!! it was fun listening to them cuss about it. Especially since they were there an hour early themselves!
So the first game happens and we kick their ass! This means there is a second game. Turns out, game one was my turn to sit. We all took turns. There were 6 guys and 6 girls, so we all batted, but someone had to ride the pine each game. Game two was ready to start, and Dave, our coach, told me I was going in at short and the other guy was sitting. OH HELL NO!! He was a better shortstop than I was (and I was good!). We had these guys on the ropes (and they were jerks actually). I was NOT going to change a winning combination!
“Dave, I am sitting!” He looked at me strange and said “Its your turn.” “YEP and I am giving it up!” He made sure that I knew he was NOT the one telling to do this. “Nope it is my call! I will bat, but I will sit!”
And yes we won! Took both games and won my only first place trophy. It was a team effort. We played hard, supported each other, and had fun. I guess the moral here? The team is what matters, sometimes the most important player is one who DOESN’T play!
I miss those days, but I will never forget the day we won it all!
On Friday, the odometer on the bike hit 12000 miles. When I finally got to the house, the legs felt as if I had done the entire 12000 at one time. I was beat and it was time for a weekend off. No riding. And go figure, it turned out to be NICE both days! (Bet it woulda rained if I had ridden)
It was good for the legs to rest though. They will be ready to ride home from work 3 tines this week, then hit the Flying Wheels Century on Saturday. It’s a tough one, so I better be rested.
12000 miles is 4 one way trips across country (roughly). I only started riding seriously in 2008. I started pondering, how far and where would I have ridden if I had started earlier….
Between 1995 and 2007, 12 years, I focused primarily on trying to climb Mt. Rainier.
14410 ft of big assed mountain. You can see this thing from almost anywhere in the state, and the snow stays on top all year round. 4 times I tried, 4 times I was turned around by a body that just did not function that high. I was great until Camp Muir, 10000 ft:
But after that i was shot! That’s 4 attempts at climbing, 4 payments to guides, and 12 years of training for the big mountain. I had some successes with smaller mountains, Mt Baker and Mt St Helens:
But never bagged the big prize!
So the thought has hit me from time to time, did I waste my time trying to climb that sucker, AND giving my poor mom gray hairs every time I tried. All those years I could’ve been riding from here to forever, and had 4 or 5 times the amount of miles! More stories to tell, pictures to share…
But then I went back to some of the pictures I took while hiking…
First Snow showing on Hwy 410 (closed for the winter) on the way up to Mt Rainier
I love both these pictures, natural ice sculptures, and only those willing to strap on snowshoes would ever see them. Plus, they will be different every year. Could be less than 10 people in the world saw these exact things.
Rainier has MANY sites I have seen over the years:
All of these were snapped along the way for a training hike.
Another favorite place is Heather Lake. Just a quick up and back hike, up hill most of the way, but some of the things you see:
He’s a funny looking guy in this picture, but you can see how big the stump is and only imagine how big the tree was.
These are all day hikes, less than 1-3 hours from my house. So many to choose from, with 2 mountain ranges around me, there is no way I could hope to list them all, let alone hike them!
My travels also too me to Alaska, Denali National park. I have posted some of those photos before, but I will only put up two this time.
After flying in by skiplane to land on a glacier, and seeing mountains like this all around me for a week. Climbing, a small peak, snowshoeing and completely in awe of everything I saw around me.
Sitting here, sipping wine, waiting for our planes, knowing it better be here soon or we will be snowed in for 3 extra days. But really not caring if I was. We still had food and all we needed. I loved every minute if it even pulling the heavy sled while carrying the 40 lb pack.
Many times you will hear people say (those you know and those who get paid to speak to and inspire you) “It’s not about finally getting to your destination, it’s about the journey getting there.
Now like everything I think you need to take that in context. If you are stuck on a plane, with no window seat, heading for Disneyland or Key West, it is TOTALLY about the destination!! I want to get there and start enjoying myself! the inside of a plane with a bunch of smelly people I don’t know is NOT that much fun.
HOWEVER, looking at these and literally hundreds of other pictures I have taken over the years. The hikes and climbs I took to get in shape, or for the pure fun of it. The views, the trees, the lakes, and streams, waterfalls and avalanches. In the sun, rain, snow or fog. I have seen and experienced things that few of my friends ever have.
I had camp robber jays land on my boots when I was leaning against a rock to beg for a piece of a cliff bar. I’ve seen a huge rock slide falling off the lava dome in the crater of St Helens. Not to mention seeing the newest glacier in the world inside the same crater (fire and ice baby).
I’ve seen lighting striking as I RAN down the mountain from Camp Muir, and a mountain goat slowly moseying right through when I had planned to put up my tent. I’ve seen the milky way as we took off at 1 AM from 10000 feet, and flew a kite at 11000 waiting for the group to come down.
Eagles, hawks, humming birds, chipmunks and once, in the distance, a wolverine.
Yes, it true, I could’ve ridden more miles had I started earlier. But there is no way in hell I wasted my time! It really is about the journey, and the bike riding is not the end, it’s a continuation! There is a lot more see in this journey, and I may never get to the “destination” nor want to!
Last night was Tuesday night, and like most Tuesdays, that means I am in Federal Way with the youngest kid for dinner. Then we go to Starbucks and play Cribbage, or Chess or some other game, and just hang out (For the record, the pain in the ass skunked me in Cribbage last night!)
Dinner this time was at Gramma’s (my mom’s house) she and my stepdad Doug are always happy to feed hungry people who show up at the door. (Calling ahead is good, though, or could be you will miss dinner!) Steak pie with brownies for dessert! YUM!
So while we were there, the youngest started showing off his war wounds. He is 15 and skates on a longboard. Lately he has been skating with people at a higher level that he is, so he is trying out new things. Trying something new with a skateboard generally means falling. And he is missing some serious patches of skin to prove this.
It started me thinking about all the stuff I did, especially in college, and truly wondering why I am here able to blog… (Warning: MOM, this may lead to more gray hairs….)
First, even before college, I biked all the time. NEVER did I wear or even own a helmet… I once rode right in front of a bus, for some reason with my hands full of branches (no idea why I was carrying the branches, or how I got started on my bike with my hands full) and the bus had to slam on the brakes. As that bike at the time didn’t have any brakes, nor could I have reached them, it’s a damn good thing the bus could stop.
I can’t begin to count the crashes I had back then. I am even pretty sure that one time I knocked myself out for a little while (this woulda been Jr Hi) by hitting my head. Didn’t want to tell my parents because they may have made me stop riding for a while! Couldn’t have that! So after the world stopped spinning, I just kept going.
High School I was pretty mellow. A very boring kid with great grades who studied a lot, and never did anything dangerous. Unless you count graduation night. I had a 69 Merc station wagon. when I graduated. Leaving commencement and heading for the school sanctioned party, I floored it. For some reason this caused my windshield to completely fog up! Couldn’t see a damn thing. Did I stop? Nope, just rolled down the side window and stuck my head outside, while going 70 on a side road! Made it no problem!
OK, college, higher education, I musta been smarter then! Well………
In our dorm, if you locked yourself out of your room, you had to pay a fine to get it unlocked. (May have been $5 or $10 MAYBE $20) Any money we spent on stuff like that took away from pizza money. We (well the Immortal Pete Lamb) discovered that it was possible to crawl out one window, inch along the ledge, reach over to the next window and pull yourself over to the next one. Then unlock the door from the inside!
He and I were great at it. The 1st floor wasn’t so bad (even though on the back side there was a drop off so it was closer to 2 stories tall) and I would go as high as the 3rd floor. (This I charged money for). I was once asked to crawl across for a guy on the 6th floor. I thought about it, even walked outside and looked at it, but for once common sense kicked in, I declined.
Driving was always an adventure. Once, in Pullman, the Mudsucker and I were heading for a Mexican place for dinner. We wanted to get there before the rest of the group. Scott said “Turn HERE! It’s a short cut!” Yep, a hill, straight down, covered in ice, and we were heading straight for a power pole at 40 MPH! I used every trick I knew, but nothing slowed us down. I looked at him an said “Oh this is bad!” Just as the ruts in the road took us right around the pole! I hit the gas and kept going and we got there first! Me worried? NEVER!
Or the time heading down hill, a car full of people (same car mind you, 77 Dodge Aspen Wagon (hey I love hatchbacks!) food, beer and barbecue in the back. I passed a semi, on a 2 lane road, came back in front of him, and saw I had to slow down for a 15 MPH switch back. I hit the brakes, nuthin, hit them again, nuthin, hit them a 3rd time and they started to grab! Jim in the back said “Is that brakes I smell?” “Yep Jim, tell me if you don’t smell em anymore!” and we slowed just enough for the corner! )OK THAT time I was worried! I forgot to tell my Dad about this incident and later that year he came close to driving into a Piggly Wiggly as the brakes failed again! )
Or the time at Cheers West where I pissed off a Mountain of a man (he was huge!). I had playfully tossed an ashtray a friend and ended up hitting someone else’s beer. I had already ordered a replacement for it. This guy got in my face jawing at me because if it. (Wasn’t even his beer) I jawed right back (all 5’7″ 135 lbs of me) He looked at me and said “Don’t let 2 seconds of stupidity ruin your life!” I stared right back and said “I won’t will you!!!!!” (Meanwhile the Mudsucker and Dave were at a table watching this saying “Tony’s gonna die” “Yep sure is” “too bad…” (for the record if something woulda happened they would’ve jumped in!)) The man walked away (to this day I don’t know why) and all was right in the world.
I tell these stories, knowing there are many MANY others that are not coming to mind right now. Teen and twenty something guys are not smart. Each and every one of them seem to think they are bullet proof. I know I did. And while I sat there and listened to the youngest tell his stories about his battle wounds (Pain heals, Chicks dig scars, Glory is forever (yep, my fault, I told him that) I realized he has it too.
Looking back, I know I was stupid many times. But its part of being that age that you challenge yourself every chance you get. I think of all the fun, all the stories, all the adventures that wouldn’t have happened if I played it safe. Most people grow out of it, but I don’t think I have. It’s why I have sky dived, bungie jumped, mountain climbed and now ride anywhere and everywhere.
If I lose that spirit of adventure, if I give up trying, then I honestly believe I would have one foot in the grave. It would be time to trade the bike in for a walker! I am more careful now, and I sure as hell don’t climb on ledges, but I DO have a degree of bullet proofness left! I think I take smarter risks now, but I rarely decline a challenge!
And I support the youngest in his skateboarding endeavors! BUT, since I am a dad, I do make him wear a helmet!
Folks find a challenge, accept it and beat it! It will keep you young!