Weekly Wrap Up #2389

Thoughts for the week. Because thoughts posted on a Friday probably won’t be read and I can’t think of anything else to post on the Instagram. Even I’m tired of posting dog pictures.

– I finished “Suicide of the West”. I do recommend it. The author has an understanding of classical history that makes me wonder what classes I took in school. I vaguely remember learning something about the pilgrims and I think there was something about robber barons and Egyptians. Definitely pyramids. I remember pyramids. The libertarian in me mostly liked the book, but I’m probably not smart enough to know if I really do or not.cruise2

– After swearing I wouldn’t watch another one, I sat through most of the second Jack Reacher movie. Firstly, what the hell did Tom Cruise do to his face? There’s a weird Wayne Newton thing going on. Second, on what planet did someone think Tom Cruise would make a good Jack Reacher?

– Sticking with the movie theme, I finally watched “The Last Jedi”. Brace yourselves Star Wars geeks… it was unwatchable. Horrible. I’m out.

– On the golf front, I’ve spent approximately 83 hours at the range in the last few days. I’ve got the ball going in the air about 40% of the time. Only a few clubs have been thrown. To the ten year old having her first lesson, I apologize for the words you heard. Those are golf words and you’re going to have to learn them at some point.

– Here in Idaho we went from cold and wet to 100 degrees. To all the friends and family we convinced to move here… you actually believed me when I said we don’t have much heat until late August? <insert Dr Evil sinister laugh>

– Several hundred dollars in ice cream (don’t ask) sitting in the freezer is not conducive to the diet. If this is some sort of Zen/Buddhist/navy seal willpower thing, I’ve failed.

– I’ve been mountain biking with the hound quite a bit lately. It’s pretty hard to tire out a Vizsla when you can’t keep up with him (see ice cream note above). mtb dog

– I’m going down the vitamin/supplement road. I saw some stuff on YouTube, so it’s got to be legit. D, B12, apple cider vinegar. I chase it down with bourbon. Not sure which one is making me feel better.

– Been doing the time restricted feeding thing for a bit now. Down 10 pounds. If I could keep my feeding window from being mostly nachos I’d probably be able to ride uphill better. The downhill part is going well (something about mass + velocity).

– Mrs Troutdog and I officially cut the cable cord. Doing the streaming thing only. The interface sucks and I don’t have the patience to find anything to watch. The end result is that I rarely watch TV anymore. I’m not sure what I’m doing with my time now, but it’s not TV.

– I’m developing a serious love/hate relationship with old people. Some of them are the coolest patients and I could spend all day listening to their stories. Some of them are the nastiest human beings you can imagine. Generally, If they weren’t a nice person to begin with and managed to make it to 80+, there is no filter anymore. Don’t be one of those people.

Until next week (unless I win the lottery, turn pro on the senior PGA tour, get picked for Dancing with the Stars, or the zombie apocalypse)…


Dean Vernon Wormer: Here are your grade point averages. Mr. Kroger: two C’s, two D’s, and an F. That’s a 1.2. Congratulations, Kroger. You’re at the top of the Delta pledge class. Mr. Dorfman?

Flounder: [drunk] Hello!

Dean Vernon Wormer: 0.2… Fat, drunk, and stupid is no way to go through life, son.

A Good Walk, Ruined

I generally don’t think of myself as a quitter. Well, except for diets, workouts, resisting nachos, yardwork, and learning Spanish. I’ve lost count of the number of boxed sets of learn conversational Spanish CD’s I have in the closet. Every time I see a new ad advertising a new method of “learn  Spanish in your spare time”, I buy it. When I had a monster daily commute, why not make productive use of your time? Within a week I’d be back to listening to late ’80’s angry punk rock during the drive. Much better to stoke the road rage fire with. My commute is now approximately five minutes, so at best I might learn a word a day. Two complete sentences every year!

Which brings me back to quitting. Specifically, golf. I’ve quit golf before. Several decades ago we moved to Houston Texas. Lovely people, terrible climate, and not much to do except eat and play golf. I was exceptional at the eating part. I took up golf  and used it mostly as an excuse to eat at the clubhouse. When we left Texas I suddenly once again had access to more diverse outdoor things to do, and the golf clubs disappeared into the garage somewhere. plaid

Fast foreword a frighteningly long period of time and a buddy began pestering me to play again. Having reached an age where my mountain biking, skiing, and rock climbing probably isn’t as sustainable long term as it once was… golf seems like something I can do for much longer. Besides, once you reach a certain age you stop caring what people think about your plaid pants.

So, I began the journey once more – with results about the same as I had in back in Texas. When I started purchasing golf balls by the truckload because I was losing so many, I decided it was time for lessons. I cycled through several instructors without much success until just recently.

My first lesson with the new coach went so well I ran out and bought a ridiculously expensive push cart because I was going to start playing every day. During my second lesson he made a few more changes and for the first time ever I actually hit a golf ball correctly. Not just correctly, spectacularly well. Crushing it distances I didn’t think were possible. I went to bed that night dreaming of turning pro. Senior tour, here I come!

The next morning I went to the range to practice and reinforce my amazing new swing… and chunked an entire large bucket of balls about twenty feet in front of me. I literally could have thrown a ball further and straighter than I was hitting with the clubs. Less than 24 hours later the brand new swing was gone. Even the old swing was gone. Expletives were flying.

I actually walked back to the car and left the clubs on the range. I was going to drive away and be done with this horrible sport. I came to my senses enough to go grab the clubs, but I was definitely done. Fuck golf. It’s for old people anyway. I’m going back to mountain biking.

I stewed for a solid two weeks. Then with my tail between my legs, I snuck back to the range. Same result. I’ve never felt so helpless and uncoordinated in my life. I’m not a superstar athlete, but I’m at least semi-coordinated. How is it possible for me to be so bad at something? The thought of quitting again just bothered me. How can all those little old ladies whack it down the fairway with some success and I can’t?

I made emergency calls to every golf course near me and found an instructor with an open time the next morning. Within a half-hour he had me hitting at PGA pro quality again (in my head anyway). I went to the range the next day and – the swing was still there.

I’m proud of myself for not quitting. I’ve never played a sport that I simultaneously enjoyed and hated so much. I figure if I can persist with this, maybe that resolve will spill over tclubso dieting. Anyway, I’m headed back to the range today. If I can sustain two practice sessions in a row, I may actually attempt to play a round again. If not, look on craigslist for a complete set of golf equipment. The clubs will be cheap because most of them will be in two pieces.


Sandy:  I want you to kill all the gophers on the course!

Carl Spackler:  Check me if I’m wrong Sandy, but if I kill all the golfers, they’re gonna lock me up and throw away the key…

Sandy:  Gophers, ya great git! Not golfers! The little brown furry rodents!

Carl Spackler:  We can do that… we don’t even have to have a reason.

 

A Public Shaming

I’ve joked about weight loss and my lack of conditioning for years. Lots of self-deprecating comments about being weaker than a kitten, squishy around the middle,walle wheezing like a two pack a day smoker walking up stairs… In my head I was joking, but I was never really concerned because I just knew that a couple of afternoons in the gym and I’d be back in race shape. It’s not that hard, I just need to put my mind to it.

I have cleaned out the fridge and cupboards multiple times the last six months because starting tomorrow I’m eating “clean”. I’ve subscribed to Blue Apron and Cook Smarts. I religiously read several paleo web sites. I have the bible for body mechanics and movement, Supple Leopard, on my desk. I just recently purchased a Soda Stream so I’ll drink more water rather than buying crap at the store. I’ve read Jocko Willink’s book and subscribe to his daily 4:30 am discipline tweets. I have a fully outfitted gym in my garage. I have zero excuses.

I have a stack of jeans in my closet that I don’t want to throw away because I know I’ll fit in them again shortly. I wear the same three things over and over because I hate how everything else looks on me… but I’m not about to go buy clothes because I’m loosing weight any day now and that would be a waste of money. I spend way too much time researching stationary trainers, the Peloton Bike ($2k, seriously?), the Woodway Curve treadmill ($7k, WTF?). Last year I signed up for a bike race but never showed up because I was forced to admit I probably wouldn’t be able to finish. I wrote the other day about catching sight of myself on video and being horrified. Clearly that wasn’t enough to prompt me to do anything about it.

Yesterday, reality hit hard. I went skiing for the first time this season (it’s been a really bad snow year). I know I haven’t done much exercise for, uhm, a while, but that’s never really stopped me before. Maybe I wouldn’t be able to do as many runs as normal and I’d be a bit sore then next day, but otherwise no big deal.

Late in the day I took a silly little tumble on an awkward slope. No problemo. Went to get up and… my quads weren’t strong enough to stand up. I literally did not have the strength to stand. I sat in the snow and contemplated taking off my skis so I could get on my knees, when my nephew skied up and asked if I was ok. I said of course I was and wrenched myself up in a heroic effort. I managed one more run and that was it. I’d clearly strained my back and knew it.

This morning I’m sitting here with plenty of ibuprofen, a heating pad, and feeling sorry for myself. How in the world did I manage to let age get the best of me like this? How sad that I’ve lost so much strength I couldn’t even bleeping stand up? I’ve seriously claimed how ridiculous it was that someone would let themselves go like that (in my inside voice). Karma baby. One of my greatest fears would be to end up on my own hospital floor. Having my coworkers help me on a bedpan because I didn’t take care of my back is not an option. I’d fly to one of those surgery centers in India before that happens.

I hope this was the last straw. I know what to do and I have the tools to do it. I’ve done it before. I was in amazing shape (ok, maybe not amazing but pretty good) four years ago. Can I do it again? It takes an average of 66 days to create a habit. Why is it so mentally hard to break the cycle of eating and sloth? Isn’t there a pill I can just take instead?

I’ve already committed to more skiing, cross country skiing, mountain biking, and a river trip this year. If I continue down my current trajectory I’ll have to bail on all of it. I don’t want that. You have my permission to publicly shame me. Call me out on my diet. Ask if I’ve worked out. Tell me I look squishier than usual.

If pain and public shaming don’t work, I’m doomed. I contemplated posting the “before” bathing suit picture so I’d have daily motivation to change. Rest easy, the Facebook (or my ego) isn’t quite ready for such a shocking image – one that you couldn’t unsee. This morning I officially weigh 203.6 lbs (after pooping of course). I was 176 four years ago. That’s a lot of cake and nachos. Let’s see what happens.
costanza


Milton Waddams:  “The ratio of people to cake is too big”

I May Have Restarted Winter

Much of the US is currently experiencing what experts like to call “winter”. Cold temperatures, wind, and frozen precipitation known as “snow”. Much of the northern hemisphere is engulfed in this same phenomenon. The 2018 Olympics may go down as the coldest on record. Here in the west we have not seen this same weather pgisstriattern. Locally we saw one snowstorm on Christmas day… and nothing since. After writing this, I’m preparing to go play golf. In FEBURARY. I may or may not wear shorts.

I am a little worried that I may have inadvertently restarted winter though. Yesterday I washed and cleaned the truck and we all know what happens when you wash the car. I also took my mountain bike in to the shop. I went for a ride the other day (in FEBURARY) and had a minor issue with the front brakes rubbing.

The bro at the shop seemed like a good guy. He had all the lingo down. “Hey bruther, how ya doing?” “Ah, that’s just righteous dude!” “Oh, such a buzzkill when you can’t get your flow on.” I think I understood most of it. He seemed genuinely sad for me that my ride wasn’t working. He put my bike up on the stand and starting giving it the once over. Like a doctor doing a proctology exam he pushed and measured, occasionally shaking his head and muttering to himself. Finally he looked up with sad puppy dog eyes and said, “bro, you’ve got some stuff we need to take care of”.

I am such a sucker. You do not want me negotiating anything for you. Apparently I have issues with my forks, fork seals, drive train, pistons, pads, badly designed first generation brakes, chain stretch… my eyes glazed over at that point. My aggressive, no nonsense response was “uhm, ok”.

I suspect the only original thing I’ll get back is my seat. The shop called shortly after I got home and said they’d have to order parts. It’ll be next week before it’s ready. Did I want to take advantage of the 12 month no interest financing plan?

Wait a week to hit the trails again? No problem. Check the weather to ensure we can still ride and… cold and active weather pattern is developing for next week.

If you’re not a fan of winter, I’m sorry. I may have jinxed this early spring for you. I guess I’ll get the ski gear ready to go. Will probably have to take stuff in to the shop for a tune up. Wonder how much that will cost me?

On Camping. And Totes.

Last weekend I went car camping. It’s been awhile. The last number of years have been more focused on river trips, backpacking, and a mega land-yacht RV. All of which arguably have components of camping, but are not exactly the same. To me, “campintrucksterg” is loading up the family truckster, driving to a designated forest service campground and unloading a mountain of gear at a designated “site”. Said site shall contain one rickety picnic bench, one fire ring, tent sites that are on a mandatory slope of at least 30 degrees, and easy access to a standard forest service toilet that contains horrors that shall not be mentioned.

While all of those items are worthy of discussion, it’s the mountain of gear that befuddled me. With backpacking and river trips you have clear space limitations, so you’d think that I would be good at packing efficiently. Apparently those rules don’t apply when car camping. I looked at the volume of space I had in the pickup truck and lost my mind. I packed gear for every possible contingency. Enough clothing to cover temperature ranges from  Death Valley to the top of Everest. I brought enough lighting products to perform neurosurgery at midnight. Small, medium, and large flashlights. A 5 pound lantern powered by 6 D-cell batteries. A headlamp. And a backup headlamp just in case. What did I actually use? The 2 inch mini flashlight one time, while digging around in the cooler for another beer. I had approximately 2,000 feet of utility cord, mosquito nets, shaving mirrors (but no shaving kit), tools, zip ties, plastic zip lock bags, a compass (we never left the campground), a broom, and at least four different drinking cups. All told I think I had three full duffle bags, a backpack, a cardboard box, a cooler, a half cord of firewood, an air mattress that was too big to fit in the tent, and a ten pound folding chair. I briefly considered renting a trailer but that would have been… excessive.

Within the first half hour at camp all this gear somehow exploded, covering the camp site. And when it rained – it all came into my little tent. I slept surrounded by mountains of stuff. The contents of every duffle bag had been pulled out and strewn everywhere, looking for the extra pair of socks I was sure I had. When it came time to leave there was no careful packing and organizing. Everything got stuffed into one giant pile into the back seat of the truck, which is now spread across the garage, the basement, and the kitchen. I plan on cleaning and putting it all away any day now. Promise.

I vowed never again. I will become the Martha Stewart of camping organization. I’ve spent approximately 45 hours researching camping organization web sites. I have visions of campkitchencolor coded plastic totes, camp kitchen boxes, and gear organizers. In my mind I’ve been crafting plans for adding a camper shell to the truck and building fantastic storage options so I’m ready to camp at a moments notice. I will craft laminated efficiency checklists and pare all equipment down to the bare minimum.

And then I stumbled across the Sprinter van. I am now officially obsessed. This is the ultimate car camping vehicle. Small enough you can drive it sprinteranywhere. Big enough you can comfortably sleep and have all your gear available. There’s whole community dedicated to van life. I could be ready to go fishing, to faraway hikes, climbing, escape the zombie apocalypse, a horrific nuclear accident, or just plain old camping at a moments notice. It works for campsites, boondocking, sleeping at truck stops, or Walmart parking lots. Never mind that I average about two camp trips a year. The point is that I could if I wanted to.

Now I just have to convince Mrs. troutdog. Or I could just buy more totes.

—————————–
Clark: I think you’re all fucked in the head. We’re ten hours from the fucking fun park and you want to bail out. Well I’ll tell you something. This is no longer a vacation. It’s a quest. It’s a quest for fun. You’re gonna have fun, and I’m gonna have fun… We’re all gonna have so much fucking fun we’re gonna need plastic surgery to remove our goddamn smiles! You’ll be whistling ‘Zip-A-Dee Doo-Dah’ out of your assholes! I must be crazy! I’m on a pilgrimage to see a moose. Praise Marty Moose! Holy Shit!

Are You Hurt, Or Are You Injured?

Back in the Paleozoic era, I played Pop-Warner football. I remember one game when I got my “bell rung”. The sophisticated first aid of the time was smelling salts and some weird pushing on your diaphragm to get you to breathe again. Executed by “the coach” who had comprehensive medical training which consisted of watching M*A*S*H reruns. It was probably a pretty good concussion (which may explain that strange twitch I still have) since I didn’t remember much after that. What I do remember was coach asking if I was hurt, or injured? I said I didn’t know, so he sat me on the bench for a few plays. He came over and conducted a thorough neurological exam by asking if I felt ready to go back in. I must have said yes, ’cause I played the rest of the game.

pain.jpgTo this day, I’m still not entirely sure which is which. Do you go back in the game if you’re injured or hurt? I know that if there’s no pain, there’s no gain. Also, pain is just weakness leaving the body. So if I have pain someplace, I know it hurts but does it mean I’m injured? No, wait – I’m merely injured not hurt. But what if it ’tis only a flesh wound? I’m so confused.

What I do know is that these days something always hurts. The current inventory is as follows:

  • A shoulder that aches all the time from arthritis and a torn supraspinatus resulting from a mountain bike crash.
  • An acute elbow, epicondyle / tendon strain from the climbing gym.
  • A couple of wicked blisters from a several thousand feet of climbing in poorly fitting boots to get some backcountry turns in fresh powder.
  • An odd pain in the back of my knee that comes and goes. Probably a blood clot.
  • And worst of all… I stabbed the roof of my mouth eating Doritos. Those little bastards are sharp.

Anyone with more a few more brain cells than me would realize that at my age I should probably spend more time at the library rather than pretending father time doesn’t exist. Getting old sucks. I don’t remember having these issues when I was younger. We just went out and did things. No warm up. No stretching. No specialty hot-house yoga classes to focus our inner chi so we can properly concentrate on hydrating with our pomegranate energy drinks. We drank water. Or orange flavored Gatorade if you were lucky. We carried salt tablets when we went backpacking. I’m not sure what I was supposed to do with them, but I brought ’em every trip.

soccerbubbleApparently today kids can get a concussion simply riding their scooters into a strong headwind. It won’t be long before football disappears completely, replaced by hoards of young soccer players – encased head to toe in temperature controlled, memory foam suits and $2,000 cranial protective devices. Each player will be subjected to a 28 point neurological exam by the on-field physician and lawyer before being allowed to go home.

I miss the days of feeling young and invincible. Of not walking my bike around an obstacle but instead thinking, “I bet I could jump that. What could possibly go wrong?” You’re not going to get any extra credit points for meeting your maker with zero scars. Besides, what’s a few concussions here and there? I don’t drool that much. Now, where did I leave my car keys? I’m out of Doritos.bigwheel


Mediocrity And Whatnot

If there’s one thing I excel at, it’s being average. I’m not trying to be self-effacing. It’s true. I “do” a lot of stuff casually but I’m not really good at any one thing. Except eating maybe. You’ll be hard pressed to find someone who can consume bacon like I can. Pork products aside, I just don’t have the drive to master something and that pisses me off. Of course not enough to actually, you know, practice or anything.

It’s not that I don’t want to. I’ve proven that I can be focused and motivated in brief spurts. Recent highlights include:

  • The group weight loss challenge of ’14. Dropped to near high school weight and won the contest. Kept he weight off for approximately 2 days. I’m currently back in the comfortable sweat pants category.
  • There was a brief burst of photography promise. Won critical acclaim from tens of people. Now I only take blurry pictures of the dog with a cell phone.
  • This one time, I wrote a blog post about dogs and cats. Several people laughed. The zenith of my writing career.
  • This one time, I cooked up a really good batch o’ barbecue ribs. That was it. I really like ribs.

Why do I share this you ask? Because all these motivated people on the damn twitter and facebooks are really pissing me off. It’s a non-stop barrage of new year motivational challenges, positive attitudes, and ridiculous encouragement. I’m talking to you Rock with your 3:45am wake up and be the hardest worker in the room attitude. Don’t get me wrong – I like the idea of it. I just don’t like the “doing” part of it.

This onslaught of be all you can be enthusiasm does work. I’ll verbally tell everyone that I’m re-embracingrule number 5 (NSFW) then go off and eat large amounts of cheese. Gym equipment, paleo instruction books, and an embarrassingly large REI dividend check all prove that I’m really good at starting something. It’s the follow through part that lacks.

My point? I don’t remember. Probably due to my ADD, lactose and gluten intolerance. I think I was trying to make a new year resolution without actually, you know, committing to anything. I resolve to keep my resolution from last year (or was it the year before?). To be motivated and get good at least one thing. I’m not sure what that is yet. My ’15 goal is to hear from someone who heard it from their non-gender-role-stereotyped cleaning persons cousin – “that troutdog dude… he’s a damn good <insert verby-noun that is at least more interesting than sudoku puzzle solver>”

Meanwhile I’m going to go organize my camera and sporting equipment. Maybe I’ll be inspired to use some of it. Or not. I think there’s a Walking Dead marathon on TV.

F-Bombs On The Bunny Slope

While my life achievements have been numerous, impressive, and intimidating to most mortal men, I tend to not publicize them.  After all in today’s age we have at least seven different social media accounts (five of which you can’t remember the passwords), LinkedIn, blogs, Christmas newsletters, and on-line “brag books”.  I have no idea what that last one is, but every professional job search service says you must have one.  I usually just bring an old photo album of baby pictures.

So, imagine my horror when a friend sent me someone’s “climbing resume”.  Seriously? With everything else going on in the world I now have to stress over my lack of a climbing resume?  I’m a busy guy.  I don’t have time to be searching for climbing resume examples on the internets.  I have nymph fishing videos to watch (yes, this is a real thing and how I spent my morning).

Sigh… not wanting to be left out of the next social media, job hunting fad, I present my climbing resume:

  • 1975   Climbed the big kids playground at the junior high school.  Solo ascent.  (class II 3.7+)
  • 1977   Group climb of the Matterhorn.  Seated climb, Disneyland-style.  (class II 5.1)
  • 1982   Ascended some hill in the dark to drink two beers we’d stolen from my friend Roberts house.  (class I 1.0+)
  • 1994   Summited high point in Houston (some office building downtown).  Done in classic alpine style, carrying only a briefcase and sack lunch.  (class I  2.2++)
  • 2007   First ascent of Funny Bunny Express, Heavenly Valley, Tahoe.  Expedition style, utilizing both “magic carpet” and “rope tow” methods.   (class III 5.10)

Speaking of climbing and rope tows, I attempted to teach a friend how to ski this past weekend.  First off learning how to ski when you’ve reached middle age, while commendable, has a few challenges you may not have anticipated when you were a little tyke.  It’s not like a golf course – there’s no beer cart lady who periodically comes by to serve you tasty beverages.  Your center of gravity is a few feet higher and further in front of you than it was as a youngster.  This tends to have a negative impact on your relationship with Newtonian physics.

Also, the bunny hills tend to be filled with little kids and moms.  It turns out they don’t appreciate expletive filled tirades when you fall.  I tried to explain to the ski patrol dude that some little three-foot tall psycho went screaming by at mach II and cut us off.  Anyone who wears an all pink “My pretty pony” ski outfit should have their pass pulled just on general principle.

The lesson learned?  Don’t drop the F-bomb on the bunny slope (hey, that’s T-shirt worthy!).  Also, knit ski caps give you really bad hat hair.

I Ride A Pink Bike

Yesterday I was able to go on a mountain bike ride for the first time in months. Way up here in the frozen north, winter tends to interrupt such activities. Ok, not exactly frozen… we get snow a couple of times a winter. But it does get cold which makes my nose run. Perhaps growing up in a temperate climate has diluted my hearty Swedish genes somewhat?  Anyway, the point is that the trails get too muddy to ride if you’re the responsible type.  Since I’m a rule follower I did my part and sat in a chair for three months, moving as little as possible.

Shockingly, this did terrible things to my once meager fitness level.  And as I near the half-century mark, nothing depresses me more than people older than me who are in better shape.  So of course, there I was on my first real ride in months, huffing, puffing, wheezing like an old inner tube with a leak as I climbed up a trail I flew up last summer.  And by flew I mean I rode it without stopping.  And once outrode a twelve-year-old girl to the top (a high point in my career).  Struggling with my climb I heard bikes coming up behind me.  I did what comes naturally and pretended to have a mechanical issue so I could stop and let them by.

Three old coots (at least ten years older than me) went by at near race speed, carrying on a conversation, going uphill faster than I normally go down. A devastating blow to my already fragile ego.  Once they were gone I climbed back on the bike and slogged my way up. And sure enough as I got towards the top, the three old dudes were up there stopped and chatting away.  With the last hundred yards in full view of my audience, I pushed myself to the red zone.  A tactical mistake, as once you’re in the red zone you need oxygen… and it’s really hard to suck in your gut and pretend you’re not breathing hard when your brain is screaming for O2.  I think I got a little light-headed at that point.

After giving the traditional ‘bro nod and “hey, ‘sup?” (also known as the urban white dude greeting), I made some lame comment about taking too much time off during the offseason.  The obvious leader of this group of geriatric fitness freaks looked at me and actually said something very profound.  “Well”, he said, “nothings free. You gotta earn your beers.”  With that they mounted up, said have a good ride, and off they went.

I spent the rest of my ride thinking about what this Bodhi Zafa of cycling had told me.  He’s right.  Earn your beers (or chips ‘n salsa, cake, or tasty Cheez It’s snack treats) by going out and playing hard.  I used to do that. We all did when we were younger.  Why do we stop?  How did “working out” become a chore that had to be done rather than something fun we did?bike

A hundred years ago I used to be that way. It was hard to get me off my bike back then.  I must have had an attachment to it, as twenty-  eight years later I still ride that same bike on my daily commute.  A 1985 Miyata 912.  A reasonably high-end bike at the time.  It saw a little racing and a lot of road miles.  And yes, it had a black and pink paint scheme.  Super popular for the eighties.  Not so much for a number of years.  Now… I get a lot of compliments on it.  What was old is new again.

Today is another beautiful day.  Time to go out and earn a few beers.

Hurtling Down The Mountain

I honestly think I could have won medals in the downhill. Maybe not gold, but I’d definitely have been on the podium.  When it comes to skiing, I am a Norse god. I am the very definition of fluid, harmony, and grace in motion.  That is, as long as I’m on a groomed run named after either a bunny or a Disney character. And, if you squint and ignore the 12 year olds flying past me.  I am the original rock star of the groomed intermediate trails.

If you’ve ever hit the slopes you recognize that coolness factor some people exude.  Those people who have the right gear, not too flashy, simple and comfortable looking.  They never look cold or too hot, smothered in 20 layers of Walmart fleece.  They never slip while slogging through an icy parking lot in ill-fitting boots.  They ski fast and with a simple fluidity, skis close together, with an easy rhythm in any terrain. You hear them talking about runs you’ve never heard of, backcountry excursions, and levels of vertical that are vertigo inducing.

I am not one of those people.  My gear never really works.  My skis are of an “old school” vintage.  In the cold my nose runs with a disturbing volume.  I am either cold or sweating like I just ran a marathon.  My legs lack the strength to go down a long run in one shot.  I wear ill-fitting goggles I stole from my wife.  My gloves are from Costco and my jacket was manufactured before the current crop of high schoolers were born.  My poles are so old I honestly don’t remember where I got them.  They may be rentals that never got returned.

When faced with terrain that tips more towards the vertical, my fluid, carving turns instantly become an awkward snow plow.  Bumps and moguls?  Only if you want to see a grown man cry.  Deep powder?  I have lost skis and spent thirty minutes trying to extricate myself from deep holes, only to repeat it fifty yards further down.  Chairlifts?  Yes, I have fallen off.  I have run into trees, trail markers, other skiers, and a chairlift.  I have fallen on flat cat tracks, in front of the lodge, in the parking lot, and while putting my skis on.

Why would I continue to subject myself to such abuse?  Because I love the sport.  I plan on skiing until the doctors tell me I can no longer continue for fear of permanent damage to my ego.  Or until it becomes a risk to my fledgling mountain bike racing career.