Sunday, September 26, 2010

Blood, Sweat and Gears or Big Fat Whiny Post

Saturday we saddled up with good friends for a long, remote ride. Our autumn so far as been quite dry and warm and the trails are showing a bit of wear at this point. I headed out with little expectations of myself, trying to keep it simple and just have a good time and enjoying being outside for hours on end.

Since the fire a few weeks ago I'm a bit paranoid and when I look at a forest I see potential for fire.

We pedaled our way in for awhile, climbing and rolling a long. Losing and finding the trail a few different times, it was an adventure we were all up for. Then it was time to take a little break, eat some food and then carry on and up.

Emma and I.

Then things got interesting for me. I took a tumble while hucking off a innocent rock drop, just landed completely wrong and bloodied up my shin and arm, nothing to bad though but the fall seemed to warp my experience for the rest of the day. I would slide out on corners a few more times, corners that held no technical challenge other then they were washed out and sandy and rarely used. Apparently I broke my rear derailluer during one of these spills and half way through the ride I was left without a granny gear. Okay, no problem, hiking what I can't climb on the bike is no biggie..right after I discovered my broken derailluer Craig's brother discovered his brake lever was not working so we had to tape that up so the pin would stay in.
Yikes, what's going on with this ride! I don't like to complain so I don't for the most part but since this is my blog I will admit that I began to feel sorry for myself, something I don't admire but realize that it happens to the best of us at times. I started to think too much on the gearless induced hike-a-bikes, and this is why.
My stoke for riding has been off this season, I'm not IN LOVE with riding which is weird for me. I'm going through the motions for the most part and it's starting to affect my confidence and ability. I don't want to break up with riding but maybe I need to see other people so to speak. But I know what's bothering me to a certain degree and here it is:
  • My bike is getting old and beat up and needs replaced
  • My lower back and hips hurt and no amount of stretching is making it go away. I think it's the bike, the frame
  • My cheap Shimano shoes have given me a painful corn on my right foot that if there's any hiking can quickly become a sufferfest. I need new shoes
  • My gear is falling apart, my hydration pack, helmet and gloves all need replaced as well as my derailluer now
  • The pivot points on my BLT need replaced again, happens every 6mths to a year. This is due to poor VPP design by Santa Cruz which they say they have fixed on their current bikes. But replacing the pivot points is expensive and I've done it at least 5 times since I bought the bike.
  • I need new brakes or at least brake pads
  • I bought a cheap WTB Weirwolf on Chainlove that I keep pinch flatting and creating the need to buy new tubes or possibly a different tire
  • And the most frustrating thing is I don't have the money to do any of this
Wah!! Yeah, I know, I'm whining and complaining but this is where some of my frustration lies and it's eating away at my stoke. I picked an expensive sport, one that requires continual upgrades and replacements of parts, etc. So I just deal and work around things as best I can.

Just a flesh wound..

Time to head down. At this point I just wanted to be riding alone..something I had eaten earlier on the ride wasn't agreeing with me and I was having pain from gas. It ain't pretty or fun but it was what it was and it wasn't that much fun for me at this point. Though I'm still glad I was out there, regardless of all the frustration and mind crap I gave myself. I keep riding, waiting for that spark, that stoke to reappear, hopeful.

I love to ride, it has always been medicine for me and given me perspective in my life during some of the hardest times and it's just plain fun. I'm going with whatever this is, trying to learn what I need to learn. I just need to give myself a break and make it simple, regardless of what happens I need to enjoy the ride. So please excuse my whining and complaining, I promise it won't happen that often.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Dancing with Fire

Monday morning, Labor Day, dawned cool, sunny and windy, very windy. Things would change quickly.

By mid morning Craig noticed the smoke plume above our house in the sky to the south and west. It got smoky fast and the air quality deteriorated quickly with a thick smoke haze.

The smoke plum settled in front of the sun and gave everything a strange, orange glow. There is no filter on the camera, these flowers were glowing orange.

We discovered a Fire had broken out in 4 Mile Canyon by going online, about 4.5 miles from our house to the south as the crow flies. We weren't too worried though, we've had some close calls with Fire before and had not been evacuated. But the wind wouldn't let up, it actually got worse and it was getting harder to breath. However by noon or so the air quality improved markedly and we became optimistic that things were going okay, there was a lack of information online though. I was listening to the fire/sherriff scanner at this point and heard that the Fire was in Sunshine Canyon, just over the ridge from us. I decided to drive just up the road and take a look over the ridge. This is when it became clear...

It was close and much more serious then we knew and we needed to get out. This is looking southwest towards Sunshine Canyon and Gold Hill Road. There are flames and a burning house in that smoke, it was blowing up.

Another view of the mountain side torching. The trees were just going up like matches, exploding into huge, tall flames. As I stood there for a few moments taking it all in, I was stunned and felt like I was looking into the face of a wild creature, this element of Fire was alive, unharnessed and very hungry.

A view looking back up towards our mountains from town on Monday evacuation. I was so sad, I felt like I had left a friend up there, our home, hoping that all would be well. The rest of the week unfolded in a daze of waiting. So many people wondering if their lives would be changed dramatically.

These images are from one week later, looking down into Sunshine Canyon/Sunshine Saddle and to the south you can see the top of Sugarloaf and in the middle is Gold Hill road. At the bottom of this image is the remains of a house I would see all the time on my runs or rides, the whiter slab is actually the concrete surrounding their in ground pool, the house to the right is gone. Craig and I hiked up to the ridge above the house in the burn area to get a view of the destruction. I felt spooked at first, so much had changed just over the ridge from our neighborhood, we got extremely lucky this time and I felt so badly for those who had lost their homes and are still displaced.

This is Sunshine Saddle. The Fire came through here and left this one house all by itself on the hillside. Some of my riding trails go off to the left and down out of this image.

This house was untouched yet surrounded by completely burned forest and destroyed homes. I can't understand why it survived but it did.

This is what we were hiking through along the ridge. Everything was burned.

Fire creates life, our sun gives us our very existence. We've harnassed the power and energy of Fire and easily forget its original nature, it's still a wild creature and given the chance will run free and does not discriminate who it runs over. I have been reminded of our fragile place within this world and life is wild and ferocious at times and that has it's place. I am deeply grateful that my home is still here and the Fire has spared us more heartbreak, but I know it lurks and is out there and deserves my respect, the fire came within a half mile of our house. Thank you to all the firefighters on the ground and in the air who danced with the Fire, you are amazing warriors to me. And many, deep thanks to all my friends and family far and near who gave us safety, support and love in their actions and words and thoughts. You are what it's all about!


I've been gone awhile, last week was surreal and I'm left feeling completely distracted and deeply touched by the outpouring of support throughout my community. Words cannot truly express how grateful I am to the all of the people who fought this fire on the ground and in the air, their tireless hard work and dedication is something extraordinary. Our home and most of our neighborhood was saved because of their efforts. I will be posting pictures in the very near future. Thanks to everyone who sent positive and protective energy and love our way, it made all the difference.