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?

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.

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.

NBC You Suck, Or How I Learned To Love Dressage

Seeing as we’re at day 134 of the ’12 Olympics, I feel the need to offer an opinion. First off, I understand that the technical aspects of providing coverage for more than 400 events is analogous to planning a shuttle launch. Kudos for that NBC. Unfortunately the creative planners for Oprah and Dr. Phil have merged with the CNN news department to produce a frightening chupacabra-like entity that has little resemblance to sport. This is painful for me as I love sports. Any sport. I’ll watch bass fishing if it seems competitive and I can figure out the rules. However, this Olympics is stretching my tolerance. Dear NBC, here’s a few thoughts on how it’s going so far:

  • You’re broadcasting approximately 23.8 hours a day. Would it kill you to explain the rules of an event from time to time? I’m just not as up to date on my rules of etiquette for fencing as I should be.
  • You’ll show 154 hours of meaningless diving/swimming/soccer/team handball/water polo early heats in their entirety, but feel the need to quickly summarize the decathlon in 10 minutes? Seriously? It’s one of the original events and derived from one of the earliest events, the pentathlon. Same with other track events like the shot put. I get that those big ‘ole boys aren’t exactly as photogenic as women’s beach volleyball (oh-lah-la!), but couldn’t you show more than just the last two throws of a couple of athletes? It’s not like you’re running short on broadcast time.
  • I’m done with women’s gymnastics. An incomprehensible (and seemingly random) scoring system combined with 11-year-old dwarf-like children just isn’t working. I’m pretty sure women’s athletics have evolved past glitter, eye shadow, spastic hand waving and toe pointing.
  • Enough of the “inspiring” athlete profiles. I simply don’t care that Suzy Q lost her favorite dog at age nine (tragic cement truck accident) and that’s what inspired her to become a synchronized swimmer.
  • Ok, I know it’s been in the Olympics forever… but how is having a horse prance around to music a sport? I admit it takes a certain style to pull off that rock’n top-hat though. Ditto rhythmic gymnastics. It’s tough not to laugh at (I mean be inspired by) dancing around with a ball and ribbon.
  • How hard would it be to have a Sportscenter-type of show to summarize the events and standings each day? You’re broadcasting events on NBC, MSNBC, Bravo, NBC Sports, and CNBC. You must have someone over there familiar with producing a news-type show (well, it is MSNBC. Maybe not). I’m running out of DVR space and can’t keep up with all the results.
  • Apparently the only question appropriate to ask a gold-medal winning athlete who’s gasping and trying to recover from their event 30 seconds ago is “you just won gold, how are you feeling right now?”

I know I sound grumpy but I don’t know what it is about these games this year. It just feels so… so, manufactured. NBC so desperately wants to capture an inspiring, tear-jerker of a moment (cue 1980 miracle on ice), they’re ready to pounce on anything. The result has been a hodge-podge of events that are hard to follow with enough continuity to develop any sense of the competition. Except team handball of course. I’m pretty sure every minute of every game in every heat has been broadcast. And I still can’t figure out the rules. Sigh…