Dirtbag Dad – The Prologue

My last job rocketed past frustrating into pointless and stupid. 4 supervisors in less than a year, none interested in anything but the hamster wheel of broken releases vs. automating deeper quality. The last one asked\told me to do what was clearly not on my resume, and I explained as delicately as possible I had no interest in learning old technology to support a flawed strategy. *sigh* It was his department and his vision, which i respect, so he should respect my checking out and making myself his very expensive paperweight. When I got the severance package, my officemate cursed me for outplaying him into 6 weeks of blood money. Is there a morale problem here?

For a month I showed up about an hour a day, on my bike, around trips to the gym, and a million projects around the house. I lost 5 lbs in April, plateaued in early May as I built back my chest and core, then dropped 5 more pounds almost overnight. I cooked, exercised, saw the kids off in the morning and met the bus in the afternoon. Beckie and Dia ran everyday and ate fabulous food every night, jumping headlong into stay-at-home-dad with me.

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My first cobbler was delish. I made mashed potatoes, crock-pot porkchops, alfredo with basil pesto from our plant, eggplant parmesan (twice), lentils with coconut milk, omelets and salsas. Alana is eating vegetables, scooping avocado from its skin, and putting dishes in the sink. Genevieve is responsibly using a great big knife.

The actual ‘unemployment’ left me just 3 weeks for my bucket-list of child-free adventures, in May, in the desert. And I couldn’t have been more stoked. I was rewarded with the most temperate, overcast May I can remember. Some say La Nina. I guess. I would have ridden in 110.

Hawes, after rain, hero-dirt
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home-Camelback-home. 30 miles on the CX bike, a mid-week hike I haven’t done in over 10 years
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National with Seron. Weather was overcast, almost chilly, so we went to Telegraph Pass and back and got sprinkled at 1pm, with just enough time to hit Los Taquitos.

A few pixels of Seron nailing the Waterfall, first time for him in over 2 years. I hope that is a good trade for all the new ego-pics he gave me.

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I rode Pass Mountain for the first time in 2 or 3 years. I rode it 50x the 10 years we were in Mesa, and didn’t recognize anything on the front side – its been flattened and smoothed and dozed 4 ft wide. The pitches at the mountain’s feet we called The Canyons are now easy rollers. Places I’d wrecked that haunted me for years til finally I could ride that trail over and over without blood flashbacked if\when i thought i was passing them. Melancholy, mixed with an invigorating fast pace. Climbing the north face i wondered if that giant boulder that no one has ever gotten had been taken out. It wasn’t, and I was almost disappointed, since I gave up trying it 10 years ago. Might as well have kicked Pass Mountain while it was down.

The awesome north climb is still hard and the back side is still great fun.  If Pass Mountain was a woman, she would have a great butt and legs, and a nice tight chest, that forever reminds me of my wife losing her boobs after breast-feeding. My relationship with Pass Mtn has always been a dysfunctional mess of inadequacy, rejection and lust.

I met 2 equestrians at the summit, who were scoping out the descent, concerned about me coming up behind them. I asked them to please wait 2 min while i got on my kneepads so I could jump in front, with no good place for half a mile for us to stack up.

Them: “You must not be afraid of heights“.
Me: “Oh I am, but I contain it.”

That is how you multi-use a trail! They were talking to their horses telling them to be cool when I took off. What awesome ballsy ladies, the kinda horse people i like. Saw them coming down the Slab when i was at the bottom of the rubble field.

Later that week I hit Gold Canyon with John, TrailDoc and some other friends. Thanks for the pics!

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James and Staci’s Wedding

So happy for my dear friend James and his awesome VSLF. James is a remarkable, resilient, humble, strong-like-ox person. One of my top 5 riding buddies of all time, and the one i love when i’m with him.

Graham and Lucy are their Monsters

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They had a beautiful event at Bismark Lake in the San Francisco Peaks.  The girls couldn’t wait for their first wedding, and camping at 8,000 feet.

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8,000 feet and intermittent rain made for some cold hours. Several times i dove into my 20 degree bag for a catnap to warm up. Dia spooned with me. The children were exemplary practitioners of leaving your shoes at the door.

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Now that’s how you wedding processional!

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Vato still in his jammy-bottoms.

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End of School PT Party

the start of 2 months of Daddy Daycare while celebrating the end of school at Rage Cycles. Alana was charging the dropin on her 20″ but i was too busy spotting her to take pics, so proud of my girls. Rage is a hard track, and i still squirm a little every time riding in the big berm. Dia peed a little, I wont say where, it helps pack in the dirt. Dinner at Two Brothers Brewing Co

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First

First lost tooth, first busride home by herself, first ride to the library without whining, first chapter books. First day she might not be a soul-sucking parasite much longer.

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First day homework is done with a snack just when sunsets become magical.

First day unemployed. First time seeing my six-pack in several years, a month of pre-unemployed dreamworks. First easy walk home from the grocery store with everyone’s pack heavy. First time sure i got Dadcamp covered.

Bros Before Hos – An Impromptu Performance

Back before Xmas G had a friend sleepover. Together they discovered a gift for G that Alana hid under the bed. Instantly and thusly i was thrust into the gaping maw of sororital disaster, G bonding with her friend vs. destroying her sister.

If you appropriate a phrase for a post title, you will see an uptick in site hits, which i do not care about; I do it cause some phrases rock. Its a tribute band, not a cover band.

Ahem. Bros Before Hos – An Impromptu Performance.

I parent for gnarness. This is not a threat, its an opportunity. It should have been filmed, cause it is was some of my finest work.

I do Alana really well, how she swallows word ends and narrates to herself. How she spins without looking, swirling in her mewhere, spotting something at Sports Authority that she, they, everyone wanted.  Twisting her want into a sisterly kiss, a tiny Xmas genius! Yesterday she asked me what I liked most about her and I said you are wicked smart.

can i give this to genevieve for xmas?

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I tell G and her friend the story. Alana dragging it to the register, careening out the checkout line, stumbling out of the store. I bang into walls, and fall on the bed – Alana schlepping it through the front door.  She charged down the stairs “Dad! whu if we hideit unda mah bed?” Alana carrying a sheet of plywood against her face, lurching up the stairs and wobbling down the hall.

The girls are captivated by the play written just for them. They swear to silence, to act surpised on xmas morning. I drop the mic. Moments i see perfection in all things, such a good day upon a good day to build this wax tower of better and better.

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Semana Santa

First Easter in Mexico!
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started with a 2 hr ride through the Morua Estuary.
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I stayed on the vegetation, til the Death Mud pushed me back up over the dunes
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Still had a better day than this sea lion
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eggstravagant deggorating
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Alana’s
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Genevieve’s
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Beckie’s
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mine
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the face of 6 weeks of severance pay
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dogbutts!
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Egg hunt!
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the girls wanted to try the skimboards, and soon learned why they have been leaning against a wall for the past 10 years
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More Desert Trails!!!!

93 degrees means the kids learn to rest in the shade and inhale water. I thought we would barely be there an hour, but everyone kept rallying. Including me. My legs were dead and my knee was exploding after 6.5 hours and 50 miles through Brown’s Ranch and over Tom’s Thumb yesterday.

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It made completing each sprint up to the dropins on my dirt-jumper so gratifying. I was hard once, and maybe just maybe i can be again. Climbs are fun! I felt looser each run, fatigue and heat melting the mountain of logistics and driving and coaching and assuaging 3 riders. “Have some fruit, strap on your pads, drink, take the high line, don’t cross the trail, commit, be careful.” The good days are redeemed by moments, repeating my friends’ advice to attack the jumps, get into the landing position, and trust.

tinyShredder was feeling it too.

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pretty good pic for a 9 yo with an SLR.

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As we were loading the car Alana finally asked to swap out her 16″ and ride her 20″, and spent another 30 min on the skills track before she hit the green line. Each indulgence buys off a future complaint, reminding her she’s done this before and we won’t condone unwarranted timidity.

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On the drive home the kids were chattering and rambling, littleGirl war stories charged up on stoke. Great session for everyone!

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Brown’s Ranch on My Birthday

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Dog Rides, Dog Souls

I forgot much of what I barely ever learned of the coyote underbelly of N. Snottsdale, with Kila an already old-dog who mostly wanted to nose around for 2-3 miles max. Long gentle miles coasting, thinking, smiling and pondering, not on the trainer not in a room, same calories while absorbing every inch of my realm with much better company than Netflix. Dog rides are not about hammering or vertical or gnar, though we approve of all these things. Dog rides are seeing shadows, silences, sniffs and snoops, the affects and affectations of suburban whether and wild illusions. There are many dark corners and natural corridors, its been a while since drifting through them was an almost-nightly ritual.

Dog rides are not hard, but they don’t need to be easy. Dîa doesn’t want them that way. Tequila Tree, 98th St. Wash, the golf course, Horizon Park. We like our choices. A lot. They are extremely child-compatible or as heart-pounding as I want. Running with my pack again, to the library, the school, this cat in a littledog’s body, this brilliant beast, lithe and learns like she does everything else: fast!

I am thinking about a new tattoo:

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We were out for an hour, more than our 10th but less than our 20th ride, a noncomittal range like the girls you slept with or how many times you tried coke. The still-novelty proved prescient, the last 2 miles 500 feet down, where she lingered just in front of my wheel, so either could wreck the other, and didn’t let me pass. I loved the intimacy, but was frustrated by the confinement. I wanted to rip it, small dh as it was, take a sip of thrill out of another perfunctory commitment commuting my children. She resisted a bit when i leashed her 25 yards before we came out of the desert onto the sidewalk. How just like a dog, transitioning from off-leash to leashed. Selfish damn dog. We rolled onto the sidewalk, she was still elsewhere, still selfish, still a puppy, still so vulnerable. She darted in front of my wheel, flashed across and under it, i sensed impending carnage and for a beat hesitated thinking “you’re gonna get a lesson now, Dia“.

We both did. I went over the bars, she was screaming. Not a yelp getting smacked by a wheel and tumbled in the dirt, but the insuppressible shrill of a dog who must have broken her leg. Oh fuck oh fuck, as i pulled up from my digger, oh fuck she’s screaming I’m gonna see her broken leg, I’m gonna see her twisted back. I saw her twisted tail in the wheel and lacerated by the rotor, cleaved almost all the way through, with three fractures. Tendons rolled up like pink rubberbands, bones glowing pale. This is what i am seeing. I am seeing this, wrapped in the wheel, i am seeing this and need to do something, now, my dog is knotted into my bike and her tail is severed.

I reached for her, she attacked me, grinding my hands when i drew for the wheel. I shrieked back at her stop biting me STOP BITING ME, she gnashed me again. I went for the release on the thru- axel, which spun and spun but did not grab its threads. I went back to the other side of the wheel, Dia snapped and snarled and ripped at me more, while i struggled at the wheel and ripped at her more, rotor stuck in her, tail wrenched and broken, dog weighs less than my bike getting wrenched around from behind.

I flailed with the axel again, braced for the attack on my hands, someone appeared and I yelled at her to not get mauled. She yelled at me, I yelled at her, more shredding to my hands, Beckie, someone had a pliers. I finally got the axel out, the woman grabbed the handlebars while I screeched “PULL HARD!!!!”

The dog stood up, frozen, shocked still. I collapsed on her and cried. I’m so sorry Dia, I’m so sorry. For just one fraction of one second i was selfish at you, I could have stopped this, and I am so so so sorry.  Then there was a long awkward awkwardness. The bystanders were creeped out. Beckie had gone home, looking for a toolbox, unaware one of the good samaritans was the Notre Dame HS maintenance man. No one quite wanted to load the bloody dog into their car. My phone wouldn’t work with gristle and gore all over my fingers, i numbly apologized for the belated arrival of my wife, and some of my random f-bombs. Much more surreal than this freak accident after 20 yrs of riding with dogs.

Beckie said from when i first called to when we were in the car heading to the Emergency Vet was 14 minutes. Seemed longer. The taking of Normandy Beach took like 20 minutes, as per Saving Private Ryan. She doesn’t seem to hold the 14 minutes against me, just like i didn’t complain about my tenderized hands. But getting the wheel off her was terrible.

Animal urgent care provides amazing facilities for a first-world dog, but didn’t have so much as a cotton ball for my ragged wrists. I slumped in the waiting room and bled, signed forms, wiped off their pen. Kids Club Soccer has made me realize that when coaches say ‘this might happen‘ what they really mean is when the Vet says ‘this is probably going to happen‘. And your dog is definitely going to lose her tail for the cost of a semester of college.

I am just so glad you are home.

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I know your ass is so very itchy, and when I feel bad for you or me we will cowdog up. I will stuff your antibiotics in cream cheese and cover your pain-killer in bacon grease, and laugh as you squeeze the e.collar through the dog door and under the bed and crash your bar-ends into the walls as you stumble thru the house. We will cowdog up.

I did some bike work. this is what a rotor looks like when it messes with a dog’s tail.

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yeah Dia, you kicked that rotor’s ass! that muthafuggah is NEVER gonna spin again. booyah!!!

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this is what a dog’s tail looks like when she messes with a rotor

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Everyone keeps saying ‘freak accident‘ and ‘not your fault‘, but my guilt will never go away.  I’m an expert mountain biker and I put her and my kids into positions where I’m the one who keeps them safe. By definition: hubris. I will never be selfish with her, with them, on the bike again. Nunca mas. Wisdom is redemption. Wisdom is redemption.

12 days of lampshade turned into 3 weeks of not riding, wondering how Dia would handle it. The first 30 seconds she was right back in front of my wheel, i was towing a trailer and it might as well have been a freight train vs. Dia’s 25lbs. I panicked, jacked the brakes, wanted to bail. My left arm found my hip and Dia’s 25lbs were off the port bow. And after 200 yards, it seemed like she even wanted to be there. Then it stopped, we skated, and headed back.

The next ride she blasted a mile 6 feet to my left, mostly listened to me, but would not come the moment i let her offleash. I ignored it, there were two owls hooting down at us as we rolled through the golf course.

they look like this to us
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we look like this to them
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I rose goggled the dysfunction.  Dia ran from me at the trailhead, hid behind the bathroom, peed when i leashed her and pulled as we rode off.

Two nights later we set out for Tequila Tree. Dia peed in the garage, then 100 yars away ditched me and ran for home. She peed in the driveway, then .5 mile later ditched me ran through a neighborhood across Bell Rd. and home. She peed in the driveway and I rode her slowly a mile up the road and down the 104th St. trail into the McDs. She seemed happier when i took off her leash, and trailed me for 2 miles until I got off to walk a 20 yard stretch. Then she was gone.

I found her an hour later. 10ft off 200 yards from the 104th St. TH right where i let her offleash. I was there 30 min before, so were the kids when they came looking for her, when I circled back down the lower trails and back up the road, calling. I was calling, unmistakeable in my light, and only saw a glint to double back and find her. Terrified in the dirt, not responding. I’m just so glad you’re home.

And then this happened.

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things we did different this ride: fluffed Dia with proclamations of eternal devotion, rode in daytime, licked her face, rode with children with busy hands that like to scratch and praise, rode the Firebird — maybe Dia just hates 29ers? Gave her bites of leftover Pollo Loco every 10 min from the moment we stood in the garage.  She pood, she stayed in her space, she was magnificent. I gave her more chicken, the girls are, sorta, capable of selfless love. So good ride, we needed it.

 

Rocky Point Spring Break 15

new beach entrance
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Dia approves of this hole
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Dia approves of this hole
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