Saturday, December 29, 2007

Thursday, December 27, 2007

the envelope, please

And the winners of the award for Best Commenting in 2007 are (in no particular order) Geoff, Shawn, and A Midnight Rider. Thanks for sticking with me through this first session of my whacky blog. I really appreciate that you’ve taken the time to hang out here.

And thanks to all those people listed to the right in the blogroll. You’ve all been very inspirational.

It’s been a lot of fun to be a part of this little community we’ve got going.

Happy 2008. Are we in the future yet?

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

psychology of the season of sun

For just a few days now we’ve been heading toward longer days - more hours between sunrise and sunset. The change is so gradual that I can’t possibly imagine that my brain would be able to perceive it. But, somehow, just knowing, just believing that longer days are here again gives me a more positive outlook. Just this morning I was tempted to wear my flip-flops outside. It’s still cool of course, about 45 this morning, but I know that it will be warm and light again soon, so if my toes get cold I will be able to enjoy that cold knowing that it won’t last. May your season be bright.

Last Week
Run 16 = 9+7
Bike 73 = 9+12+(6+7)+(9+7)+23
Burrito 3
Beer 10 = 1+1+1+4+1+2
Car 0
Rain 5.1cm = 2.7+2.4

Thursday, December 20, 2007

12 days of Christmas

Is that the title of that partridge in a pear tree song? I’m not really that into Christmas. I’m more inclined to celebrate the Solstice. In this regard I appreciate the following passage from Gary Snyder’s book Back on the Fire (p.73-74):

“One of my neopagan friends, an ethnobotanist and prehistorian, complains about how the Christians have callously appropriated his sacred solstice ceremonies. ‘Our fir tree of lights and gifts,’ he says, ‘has been swept into an orgy of consumerism, no longer remembered as a sign of the return of the sun,’ and, ‘People have totally forgotten that the gifts brought from the north by Santa Claus are spiritual, not material; and his red clothes, white trim, round body, and northern habitat show that he represents the incredibly psychoactive mushroom Amanita muscaria.’” !

Oh, snap!, Jesus must be saying.

However, I noticed before this morning's run that there are twelve days left in 2007. Not exactly the same thing as the twelve days of Christmas, but close enough for my mind to get that song stuck in my head during my run. Now, I don’t know the words to that song very well, except for its repetitive “on the somethingth day of Christmas my true love gave to me, lalalalalala…” Right? So, anyway, it was the perfect mindless repetition/chant/mantra for my run today. My mind was stuck in that Christmas song for over an hour and my soul and body were set free to roam about the earth. So, I guess Christmas has its value (at least in its songs) after all.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

acorn beer

The acorns I collected last week are pretty well leached of their tannins now after several days of soaking in water. I ended up with about one cup of acorn flour.

I’ve decided I’m going to make this batch into beer. I don’t know how to do this. So far I’ve boiled the acorns in some water.

And put it all into a jar.
I’ll need to do some research and experimenting, but maybe after several years of collecting and brewing I might come up with something drinkable. I’m not in any rush.


I just came across Gary Snyder’s new book (published in 2007). I didn’t even know he had a new book. I was fishing through the library yesterday looking for… well, looking for a book, of course. I had a couple of good recommendations from the blogging world (thanks), but they were all checked out. I was just about to give up when I took one last shot with my old friend. I don’t know how I missed this books release. At least I’ve found it now. I’m glad to see that there are a few other people finding it, too - it’s been checked out three other times. I find it interesting to note when books I’m reading have been check out by other people. Often times a few years has gone by in between readings.

Gary has had a big influence on my life. Although we’ve never met, we seem to be following a close relationship with the natural world of Pacificalifornica that surrounds us. Or maybe I’m following him into that world. And maybe he’s following Muir…

Monday, December 17, 2007

coasting counts

I had a pretty mellow week. I feel like my body could use a break from pushing for goals so I’ve just been coasting along while trying to maintain some base level of output. However, progress continues: I passed 3000 bike miles for the year. Hopefully this period of semi-rest will funnel me into next year with the energy and health and motivation for new resolutions.

Last Week
Run 14 = 7+7
Bike 79 = 10+(22+5)+7+9+(18+8)
Burrito 3
Beer 12 = 2+4+6
Car 25 = 5+20

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

the old ways

I went for a long walk yesterday down in the Lower Arroyo Seco. I tend to skirt along this area on most of my runs and rides, so I get a view from the rim of the little canyon/big wash but hadn’t actually made it down inside this section for a long time. The goal for the day was to collect some acorns for flour. I figured I’d just walk around for a few blocks and hit the neighborhood oak trees, but I ended up heading to this little corridor of nature where Oak is more prevalent.

I’m not used to walking so far. I think it turned into about eight miles. And I managed to fill all my pockets with acorns (and a few seeds of Datura for my own private spirit garden.) It’s finally cool enough that one can just keep walking and walking without ever getting hot and my running and riding seems to be providing a payoff in endurance for these unexpected jaunts.

When I got back I shelled and chopped the acorns to prepare them for the process of leaching away the tannins. This will likely take a few days of soaking in cold water. I’ve never done this before, but suddenly feel it to be an important activity for anyone living in this area. It’s a great way to connect with the earth and celebrate the acorn bounty of fall. I only collected enough acorns to produce a small amount of flour, but if it turns out okay, I may go back for more. Check out my friend Orchid’s thorough acorn preparation story here.

Monday, December 10, 2007

back to stretching

I restarted my post run stretch out and nearly all of my minor injuries went away. I guess stretching does make a difference after all – especially in these colder months – yes, it was 42 degrees this morning. I didn’t make it out for that Brown Mtn photo shoot yet - the holiday party season started up this past weekend and is already taking its toll.

Last week
Run 14 = 7+7
Bike 70 = 3+3+26+3+(26+9)
Burrito 4
Beer 9 = 1+1+1+6
Car 44 = 35+9

Saturday, December 8, 2007

not so tiny flowers

Remind me to bring my camera up on Brown Mountain next time (tomorrow?). It is so beautiful up there right now. We’re finally getting a good base of rain in the ground and the plants are responding with fresh new growth and starting their flowering cycle. Today I saw the first manzanita flower of the season! - a cluster of about twenty tiny white bell-shaped flowers. And the first lupine flower of the season, too. Even the little rockslides are incredibly colorful as new rock is exposed to the light of day for the first time.

I was reminded today of a conversation I had with a friend a few months ago about a house that was for sale right at the Brown Mountain trailhead. I suggested how incredible it would be to live there and have Brown in your backyard. He said he thought he’d get bored of riding that same trail all the time because it’s just a fire road without much to see. I have no way of understanding a comment like that. All I can say is that I want to ride that trail forever.

In the book I’ve been reading John Muir has been noting the difference between the perception of nature as picturesque versus beautiful versus sublime. He seems to be suggesting that while each of these represents a different appreciation for nature or Nature, each is inherently misleading because of its foundation in an anthropocentric viewpoint. These scenes in nature that we call picturesque or beautiful or sublime are deeply rooted in this earth – far beyond their relative appeal to humans alone. Brown Mountain is infinitely more beautiful than we realize. Those tiny little white flowers speak volumes to the universe.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

little differences

This morning’s Brown Mtn ride was such a different experience from Sunday’s. Sunday was like ho hum what am I doing up here and today was like Yes! This is awesome! Woohoo! I can fly! Amazing what changing your blog title can do…


I was the only one up there - just me and Brown, all alone together…

I found an allen wrench on the trail…

my brakes weren’t squeaking…

my seat was higher – it’s been slipping down – now it’s tight…

there was correct air pressure in my shocks and tires…

Mississippi Queen and I were finally dialed in so we can rip!!!

I was inspired by Floyd

I drank almost no water and no food on the ride…

my feet weren’t so cold…

I was 15 minutes faster…

there was a red tailed hawk floating next to me at the top…

I saw a bobcat…

was a great day to ride…

was awesome…

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

cool brake reset project

I just worked on Mississippi Queen’s hydraulic brakes for the first time. It was totally fun. I guess it’s a pretty simple exercise for anyone that’s done it before, but as this was my first time working on disc or hydraulic, it was fun to “surf the learning curve” for a little while (did I just make that up - don’t forget where you read that awesome new phrase first – kinda reminds me of Gleaming the Cube).

All I did was remove and replace the brake pads, but made the mistake of squeezing the brake lever in the disassembled state and so when I tried to replace the wheel the brakes were too tight and I couldn’t figure it out. To the internet! Shimano let me know the error of my ways, mentioning something about needing to reset the pistons with a Travel Spacer. “Oh fuck, I think I threw that away,” I exclaimed. But no, it turns out I didn’t. Lucky thing I have the pack rat gene. So back to the shed I went with aforementioned travel spacer (orange, as described on the Shimano site) and just as darkness was putting an end to the job, I got it all together and the wheel spins freely and the brake works (I hope). So I guess I should go riding tomorrow.

Monday, December 3, 2007

injury accumulation

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been noticing several minor injuries developing. I guess injury is too strong a word. Maybe joint unhappiness is more accurate. Strangely though, everything seems to be getting unhappy at the same time: left wrist/hand, left knee, right knee, right hip flexor… probably something else will pop up today. Maybe I just need a few days off from everything, but it’s hard to resist getting out there on a run or ride since these are all such minor inconveniences. Maybe I need to bring stretching back into the mix.

This reminds me of a common comment I’ve heard throughout my life (mostly from non-runners): “running ruins your knees.” There’s always those stories floating around about the guy that used to be so fit and ran all the time and used to run marathons and triathlons until he “ruined” his knees and now can’t run anymore.

I don’t fully believe this story. But even if it’s true, I wonder what difference does it make? So he doesn’t run anymore and he’s got a bad knee. So what? At least he ran once. At least he experienced something of this world that wasn’t easy or fully understood by those around him. At least he got out there everyday and experienced the quiet cool fresh air and the birds singing to the sunrise, and the intense heat of summer, and the downpours of rain, and beautiful sparkling purple nights… A bad knee seems a small price to pay for such earthly moments.

Last Week
Run 16 = 7+9 [ytd 1001]
Bike 107 = 3+18+4+(3+2)+10+(23+10)+(27+7) [ytd 2873]
Burrito 2 [ytd 112]
Beer 8 = 1+2+1+1+3 [ytd 530]
Car 26 = 9+17 [ytd 2157]
Rain 2.8 cm [season to date 9.2]

Sunday, December 2, 2007

frozen feet

There’s something about cycling shoes that make my feet cold. This happens to me on many rides during the year, but especially on the colder days. Today’s Brown Mountain ride with/on Missy Meta – who, as I decided today, will now be called Mississippi Queen (How many times am I going to change her name? Probably a lot more. A name is very important and changes with time. That’s why I changed my own name and wish I could change it again, but people in my world are too inflexible for that.) The temperature upon departure was 46 degrees – 54 upon completion. This was between 9am and noon, covering 27 miles. And the sun was out, so not exactly super cold, but as my riding friend described it in his return text declining the ride offer – “too brisk” – hence, I was solo, as is common. I don’t know what the temp was at the top - it’s about 3000 feet higher up there – I guess, I need to look at a topo map – anyway, it was probably not more than 46 degrees up there.

I was wearing wool socks, and riding up a frickin’ mountain for god’s sake (it’s okay, I mean that literally), so I’m a little surprised that I should be so cold in the feet - one more thing to add to my recent confusion over temperature and how it effects our bodies in unexpected ways.

Yesterday’s Toy Ride went great. We collected a whole lot of toys and warm clothes in our bike trailers for Hathaway-Sycamores Child and Family Services. And Santa got his amazing carries-everything-in-the-world sleigh back last night – he even gave me a Negra Modelo when I returned it – thanks, man. I wish I’d asked him how he keeps his feet warm…