Friday, August 28, 2009

True to Me

Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado. (credit?)
  • Ever notice how stress can make you feel like you've just ridden 100 miles all up hill?
  • I get Up and I get Down.
  • Sometimes the people closet to you all of sudden seem like their from another planet and you have no idea what language they're speaking.
  • At times I find myself in a disconnect, looking for solid ground.
  • Nothing is ever Black or White for me, always different variations of gray. Blue gray, green gray, black get the idea.
  • My friend Nicci is fighting the fight of her life with breast cancer and I'm truly inspired by her sense of grace, acceptance of things as they are now and her humor.
  • I am blessed with life long friends, not many, but they love me even if I'm a little qooky.
  • Making a living as an artist is challenging and difficult. Sometimes I wish I could just have enough money so I could buy a new bike or go play where ever I wanted to whenever I wanted to. But being an artist is something I collided with and it works for me so I make the best of that and do what I can when I can.
  • I grow weary of the city a lot these days. I'm blessed to not live in it, I have refuge in the hills, there aren't many people around us, it's quiet and dark at night. We have a lot of mountain creatures to keep us entertained. If I could leave the Boulder area I would. I can see myself on a lot of land in the SW part of Colorado, living in a straw bale house, big garden, lots of room to move around, ride my bike, have big fires outside, watch the stars and planets skim through the sky at night.
  • I've been riding by myself more lately. The trails behind my house, in BC and the stunts and drops on our property. And it's good, just riding, no drama.
  • The woods and mountains are turning to fall, the smell of decaying leaves is hanging lightly in the air these days. As it should be, the passing of one season, one moment into another. Nothing stays the same, everything whether it feels good or bad passes, changes into something else.
  • I read a lovely book recently called Saltwater Buddha by Jaimal Yogis and it made my 3 or 4 days that it took to read it. Some lines from the book that resonated with me.
"I usually surf alone..But that's fine, I'm not striving for the ideal surfer's paradise anymore, or the perfect life without obstacles. It doesn't exist. Not that I don't have preferences or dreams anymore. But it seems like the idea of paradise is just on the horizon, always, while life is here, under my feet, now."

"I am not what I think I am, I just am"

" I've learned I'm not the things I do or don't do..and yet all those things are and I am..and we have naturally run into each other like colliding molecules.."
  • I'm working on (and failing most of the time) being with and grateful for now, as I am, as it comes, the joy and the angst, the moments that aren't my best or even someone else's best. It is what it is.
  • The wisdom to just let it be, not let it go, but let it be.
  • Oh, and all the stretching and strengthening I've been doing has helped my hips flexors, they don't bother me nearly as much. I actually really enjoy the stretching, it feels so good.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Mi Hermana y su Familia

Auntie Cici, Little A, Big A, Karen and Mike

My sister and her family came for a week long visit, just leaving this morning on their flight back to Virginia. It was good to spend time with them all, Mike and Karen have their hands blessedly full of one very smart and energetic 4 year old named Aaron and a lovely, sweet 6 month old named Amelia. I'm not quite sure how they do it because I'm exhausted. We had a lot of fun and it went by very quickly.

Aunti Cici giving her Big A a Neck Ride..

Aunti Cici with her Little Peeps..

Monday, August 17, 2009

Just like Ole' Times.

Rainbow at Sunrise from camp..

Morning Sunshine.

Friday evening Craig and I and the hounds headed down towards Salida for some Art dropping off business, camping and riding. We were to meet Emma, Scott and Keenan up on the mesa heading towards Mt. Shavano TH, Craig's brother Randy was there too. The camping on the mesa there is fantastic with a pinion and juniper forest and HUGE views of the mountains and valleys all around. The sky at night provided incredibly bright stars and a very visible Milky Way, our galaxy, yea to very low light pollution! The coyote's howled up a storm the first night, so awesome to hear off in the distance, one of my favorite sounds. We had great weather, not hot, actually quite fall like in many ways. I finally got to ride Monarch Crest with Emma, she had never ridden it and things fell into place kinda last minute for them to come down as well. So while Scott, Keenan and Randy went fishing on the Arkansas, Craig, Emma and I rode 30 odd miles of delicious ST, starting at 12,000' and descending finally back to Poncha Springs.

Emma from on top of Monarch Crest. The trails gains 12,000' in elevation. You really do feel like you're on top of the world.

Craig and myself atop Monarch Crest...

The ride itself isn't that demanding except for the altitude and its effect on your lungs but the ride itself is not technically challanging except for some sections of Silver Creek but that's all just a blur really cause it's a fast DH. What I noticed is that there are a lot more people riding the Crest trail these days, more than I remember, we past a lot of people including a couple on a tandem MTB, sorry I don't understand that at all but they were having fun and doing well. However I don't think many finish of the ride by doing the last nine miles on Rainbow, I think after riding 20 miles most head down the dirt road to 285, however they don't know what they're missing. But if you're bonked Rainbow will feel punishing. We had a little rain but it passed quickly, we also had 3 flats, 1 for Craig and 2 for me. Too fast over sharp rocks on a smaller tire, next morning I replaced the Maxxis Advantage 2.1 with a Maxxis Minnon 2.4, problem solved. I had also gotten a flat on that Advantage last week riding the trails behind my house, not the right tire for my back wheel, the Minnon is a little slower on climbs but not too terrible.

Goofing around while waiting for our ride at Poncha Springs.

It was a great ride and getting to do it with Emma and spending the time with her was super awesome as we don't get to ride nearly as much together these days. We all went out Saturday night in Salida to the Boat House Cantina on the river. Had some tasty food and margs, our friend Eddie joined us after he left Leadville where he had been taking photos of the Leadville 100 riders. Then we all buzzed back to camp for a lovely night under the stars with a pinion fire.

Eddie, Randy, Scott, Myself and Craig ready for some riding on the Colorado Trail from Mt. Shavano.

Craig coming in hot on the Colorado Trail.

The next day lazily rolled in and we eventually made our way up to the Mt. Shavano TH and rode a section of the Colorado Trail as an out and back, about 20 miles I would guess. Emma took her turn watching Keenan and Scott, Eddie, Craig, Randy and I all enjoyed a day of more ST. This time the ride was much more demanding than the Crest Trail. I was somewhat tired from the day before so the longer, technical climbs hurt more, took more for me to pedal through, some I just walked. My legs never came alive that day but there were some very good DH's to make up for that. We didn't see another soul on that section of trail except for two horses with riders, that's it, I guess everyone was over on the Crest trail. All in all it was a lovely weekend, though a bit hectic and energy consuming, it was great to spend time out with the Youngs and Eddie, very much like ole' times.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Turning Within

September Serene by Jennifer Cavan

It happens in August sometime, it's very subtle but I can feel it like the way you feel a light breeze run across your skin, if you're too busy you might not notice it at all. I call it The Turning Within, and it's coincides with the very first moments of autumn. The nights are getting cooler already, the days shorter, the late summer wild flowers are in bloom and I can feel that shift happening inside of myself and I welcome it. The summer is a busy and wonderful time full of high energy and a lot of light but that level of being can't sustain itself forever and it ebbs into a queiter time, thankfully. Autumn is my favorite time of year, it's full of energy as well, riding in the golden mountains or the warmth of the desert, it's chilly nights and mornings camping, and warmer clothes, it's fires and soft, warm light. Somehow, I can feel this turning, this shift in my body, I look forward to it but don't think about it too much, it just happens. It seems early this year, perhaps because we've had a cool and wet summer, perhaps because I'm already making plans into September, but the shift has occured, summer is roaring quickly past and fall is quietly heading up the trail towards me.
My mind wanders to going away, as it usually does, to the desert, to Utah and Cedar Mesa. I want to be in the canyons, the solitude and quiet, to be away from the pace that is set in towns and cities by people rushing to meet their goals. To just walk quietly up a slot between red cliffs, listening and being aware of the life moving queitly forward around me as it has done for thousands of years. Every year this happens to me and it's a gift.
This weekend we're rolling down to Salida. I'm dropping off some more art work at my gallery there, camping and riding Monarch Crest. Craig needs to do some fishing, he needs some time, some time to go into his head and maybe just get out of his head while he does his fishing dance.
I want to let go, let go of the things that I think I need to be doing and just do the things I can be doing right now. To me, letting go means to be open to whatever happens and usually that opens up a whole universe of possibilities that need the fertile ground of openness to occur. The tighter I hold onto, it must be this or that way, usually beautiful experiences won't happen. So throw it up in the air and see what happens. I don't mind The Turning Within, slowing down the pace a bit mentally and soulfully, it's as natural as the seasons.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Rain, Sun, Fire!!

Looking up the valley towards Mt. Crested Butte from the 401.

Craig and I arrived at our campsite up Cement Creek Rd. outside of Crested Butte late Thursday night. Our friend Peter from Durango and his buddy Jon were already asleep when we got there. We hit the sack after we set up our tent, happy to be away from Boulder and in Crested Butte. Friday morning we planned to ride the always fun and fabulous 401 trail with Peter and Jon before our show set up time for the Crested Butte Arts Festival. We had plenty of time and started out from Gothic early that morning. As we climbed Schoffold Pass Rd the clouds began to grow but we hammered on and jumped on the 401 single track from the pass. When we got to the top which is close to tree line it was obvious that we were in for some weather, it was just a matter of time. So we padded up and headed out on the ripping DH, hoping somewhat unrealistically to stay ahead of the imminent weather. There was another couple at the top as well, a man and women from Massachusetts on vacation for their wedding anniversary, they had eloped to Crested Butte a few years earlier. Their names were Susan and Uey (He is German and forgive me but I can't pronounce or spell his name, so I made a nickname up for him, Uey, which sounds like the first part of his real name.) We would come to see and know this couple over the course of the next few days.
A few minutes into the DH the rain started and it came down hard. The trail turned to slick as shit greasiness and traction wasn't something anyone was getting. The switchbacks were especially fun as the rain made this trail a completely different riding experience.

A quick stop to take stock and wait for Jon..Peter feeling the 401 vibe.

At one point on the descent the rain turned to hail and it got cold fast, I mean really cold. Lighting was hitting off around us and we bombed the trail to the nearest clump of fir trees. We were all very wet at this point, gore-tex helped but only so much. We decided to take cover, I was turning a bit hypothermic pretty quick. I didn't have a spare set of gloves or a spare long sleeve jersey, my mistake, I only brought my arm warmers and gore-tex jacket, even my space blanket that I normally carry wasn't in my Dakine. But I did have my pads thank goodness which helped with warmth a lot. As we huddled under the tree I began to shake pretty good, Peter ended up sitting in my lap with his arms around me keeping me warm and Jon kindly gave me his long sleeve wool jersey and Craig gave me his dry back up gloves, they were all cold too. I luckily thought to bring a second set of socks which I put on. As we waited for the rain to let up Susan and Uey showed up and took cover as well, this was epic for them. It's funny when you become cold, really cold, how other things don't register mentally with you, your brain functions begin to slow and your body uses all of it's energy finding a way to keep itself warm. I knew that as soon as I could I needed to drop some elevation and start climbing again to generate some heat.

Craig, once we dropped down and the rain had stopped, the sun was trying to make an appearance as well. He was totally soaked.

Craig and I. I'm feeling much better at this point, quick turn around. The sun had come out a bit, I was much warmer from the additional layers and it had stopped raining for the moment.

As we descended through the aspens and cabbage the sun started to try to break through a bit, it warmed our bodies and our spirits. The rain had transformed the dirt into a slick, greasy trail. I thought it was very fun trying to keep the bike from sliding all over the place, technical skills you don't have to work on much in Colorado. We waited at the first bail out spot for Jon, Peter and Susan and Uey. Peter, Susan and Uey decided to bail at this point and Craig, Jon and I finished the ride, it had started to rain again as well, no biggie. I felt great at this point, just very soggy but warm. It was an awesome, epic ride, loved it but will not come under prepared again!

Warm and Blissed out after the ride.

Craig's muddy mug after the ride.

Looks like someone threw him and his bike in the pond.

Craig said to make a funny face but this is all I could come up with..strange because I was very stoked at this point!

Luckily Jon had brought a small power wash with him, one of those things you use to spray pesticide or whatever with, you can pick one up at the hardware store for $20.00, you pump it up for pressure. Worked great, bikes were happy for that.

After the ride we headed to CB to set up our booths, Peter is a potter and was in the show as well. The sun came out full force once in town and never went away for the rest of the weekend. So we got lucky that morning on the 401, Hah! The show went well, sales down from last year, but well enough. CB is an awesome place to hang out as usual and we had our Secret Stash come Sunday night. There are so many Texan's and Oklahoman's in Crested Butte, they are generous patrons that is certain.
Monday morning Craig and I headed over to the Taylor River and rode Doctor's Park. We ran into Susan and Uey again as we began our climb up the dirt road and we rode most of the ride with them. They are such a nice couple, had a great attitude, love Colorado and they rode a lot of hard shit for folks from sea level. We parted ways for the 6 mile DH back to the river. No camera this day, forgot it in the truck. Though I wished that I would have had it for the views up top at Doctor's Park are amazing and wide open and we also rode directly through a prescribed burn on the lower half of the trail. Literally zooming past burning trees, the heat was intense. I don't think the fire fighters expected us by the looks on their faces but we were gone in seconds, Susan and Uey though had to dismount and wait 15 minutes before they could make it through so we got lucky. It was so surreal, it's not every day you ride through fire and flames. Apparently they were clearing habitat for the mountain goats.
It was a good weekend, good to be away in Crested Butte, doing our thing, putting my artwork out there and having a positive respoonse to it, riding our bikes, camping, hanging out with friends, meeting new friends, laughing and ultimately getting a head cold, yuck!