Cornering

2 years in a row Wolf Creek for Xmas, making 8 December trips for me. El Nino took their ytd from 150 inches to 210 around our trip.  The best gifts share time, right? So here’s 9 hrs in the truck, into a snowstorm. Merry Xmas!

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My other paltry Xmas gifts were new swim goggles and a large camping tarp, but who’s dad (and mom) drive them 500 miles through squalls for fresh pow? They have been great kids all semester, G just qualified for comprehensive gifted classes, and Alana hasn’t gotten a math problem wrong yet this year. Every day they get smarter, learn more how to learn.

some voracious Hour of Code
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I was doing pretty good too, trading my Man of Leisure to become the new QA Architect for Nextiva. The office is conveniently located for a ThNR down to Boulders on Broadway.

i so miss commuting to Tempe
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Day 1: its a great day at Wolf Creek when its too grey for any photos.

Day 2: we were stacked up in the morning waiting for Wolf Creek Pass to finish avy control.

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so fresh Beckie and I stuck together all day, me taking edges and alt lines til we met at the bottom

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I convinced Beckie to follow me down a blue run on the Alberta face.

She stressed and blamed the whole float through the trees, but stayed in the tracks and carried her speed. We kept in sight of the lift and easy bailout. The next run we pushed further into the powder-drenched glades. She whined, worried but didn’t panic. She said she hated it, but I think she had fun, even if she won’t admit it.

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G’s instructor said she’d maxed out on what lessons could teach her, until she joined the ski team. We rocked blue runs together as the crowds gradually surrendered to sundown and flurries.

Alana believed herself equally awesome, even as she avoided parallel turns because she wants to go fast. She and Beckie took the last lift way up the hill and finished so late and so cold and so dark the ski patrol mounted up to go look for them. Alana couldn’t have been happier.

It was bleak, snowing, and the road was closed the next morning. Another murky 7 degree day on the hill followed by 10 hrs home in the dusky accumulation seemed dumb. Heading home early still wrapped in our outerwear seemed smart, until we slipped into a backache-migraine-inducing total whiteout in the pass to Durango, with the engine light blinking, on Xmas — that seemed really really dumb, and only seemed less dumb when we finally got home and could pick up Dia.

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These moves are getting routine.

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Alana finding her capabilities on Quartz trail, however, is not. Every time i thought she would dismount she did not.

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vaya con Dias
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smarter about some things
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New Years Day+1
Brown’s Ranch
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last dance for the 2-bike?
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I barely pedaled or braked 3 miles down Hawknest, it felt like snowboarding.*heart* that trail, new favorite trail.

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That night Alana and I rolled Dingo trail with Dia, and talked about lana-sized rides. A great conversation, we agreed to try the Sport Loop at MMP while G and Beckie went off on their own.

The next day she did another run down Quartz. She was tired and bonking, sluggy, but so much cleaner than last time, outriding failing strength. She demanded to session a few of the hardest sections. Crashed dropping the big hill from the Library into Westworld, and fighting back tears acknowledged my reminder to not start on a downslope or take off her gloves. Breaking through the cognitive ceiling…how else do you explain not having to explain ‘soft on the brakes‘, ‘flow through the turn‘, ‘carry speed in the rocks‘? So recently, so long, a 5 mile ride with Alana seemed so unfathomable. Physical limitations dissipate in the incursion of confidence and skill. 

The next week we joined our Dynamix Devo teammates at MMP.

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this is a serious muthafuffin cake, handmade by Jen Clark
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about to invade the Sport Loop!
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Alana’s best trail ride evah! There were a few challenges, like being dropped by everyone and their mothers, a long slow uphill, and 20 failed starts on a downhill that got in her head.  The flowyness opened her mind, in the background 4 Peaks snowyness.

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The very next day G climbed lower Gateway and almost cleaned Paradise Wash. I told her it would be lumpy. She shrugged and banged through it, maybe better than my first time over 10 years ago. They are turning a corner.

At Wolf Creek, G asked me what I meant by ‘days‘. Why did she have 12 days, why did Alana have 7? 13 and 8 after Beckie daytripped them all to Sunrise. I was 3 at 23yo, before buying my first skis for a trip to Silver Mountain, Idaho with Beckie, that blew out the back of my mind.

El Nino-drenched soccer fields had G off the pitch for 3 weeks, but she had 9 days on the bike. Alana had 5. I could ride this curve a long time.

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Stacked dipshittery, and how to not be a SAR stat

A few years ago I read Death In The Canyon. The overarching takeaway was that, other than the jumpers, it was nearly always a confluence of bad luck, bad circumstances, and bad choices that got people killed.

2 hours and only 12 miles into a 46 miles ride, too much HABing and 50% of my gps gone, i knew exactly how stupid i’d been already.

  • didn’t study the map
  • didn’t put a pic on my phone
  • didn’t have a hardcopy
  • didn’t turn backlight timer on my gps from ‘Always On‘ to ‘15 sec.‘ This was particularly galling. As a frivolous unemployed man-of-leisure, i had my bag packed, gps loaded WITH THE TRACK SHADED, and bike tuned by Wednesday eve. *facepalm*

My cleverness at deconstruction on-the-fly and root-cause-analysis was not at all comforting. Risk aversion and respect for it should have turned me right back around and had me home in another 2 hrs completing the 29 mile short course. However, a SAHD with a hall pass rides as long and as far as he can. Getting lost would be saddle time the family couldn’t possibly hold against me, and James said the backside of the course was supercool. I still had 6 hours of daylight to go 32 miles, was making almost 6mph despite the completely unnecessary HAB, the backside was supercool, and I had a backup battery pack. Like a chessmaster I thought I had outplanned my dipshittery!

The back half of the loop was amazing! A gradual ~8 mile dirt road climb where high-elevation forests sleekly replaced miles of grassy hills. I saw a deer and told him to run away, .25 miles later i saw hunters and sent them in the wrong direction. Desert trees don’t Fall like trees in the Mid-Atlantic. The few reds and oranges that charged out of the deep corners in hillsides full of small-leafed greens shouted out about recent rain. The washes were ankle-high refreshers, splashing me just enough to embrace the season while not actually making me cold. The descent off the back loop was supercool as promised, with periodic trail placards detailing the history of Kentucky Camp every time I had to HAB.

Back at Kentucky Camp the GPS gave me a not-unexpected low-battery warning. Aaaand I found I did not have the right cable to plug into my battery. SHIT! I assumed, rather than confirmed, my usb cable was in the bag. Backup battery was now useless. This was particularly galling; i wash my bag and gloves and helmet regularly, as if the gods of dirtbaggery were angry at my cleanliness.

dont panic.

The risk seemed unreal, I was so stoked off the descent and feeling great with the scenery. don’t panic.

I knew I was the last rider out, it would get cold fast and I only had a small headlight and base layer. dont panic.

Ask for help? Sorry sir\ma’am but can i borrow your usb cable for a few? Head east for SR83  and an eventual road finish in the dark? don’t panic.

I had 3 hours of daylight and 15 miles to go, with some recollection of the ride out and maybe 20 min of gps battery to guide me. You’re a SAHD looking for a reason not to die. Bang it!

The banging was 3 hours of laborious creeping, stopping to fire the GPS and confirm what the tracks on the ground and directions of shadows suggested? I am slow, and weak, and soft. If I wasn’t i could be following someone, could have been following someone for the hours i went the wrong way on the inner loop. Every turn mattered, so I made every turn count.  Peek at the gps and hope it would give me this peek and 2-3 more. My riding was ugly, beat, with no rhythm, or confidence to charge a climb. but I got back just at sunset.

Whew! and added this to my kit.

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But still I have to say you play with matches you get burned…have you ever given a foot massage?…Antoine shoulda fucking better known better. 

 

Aspen Trip

This is how you Fall Break! Weatherford Trail from Freidlein Prarie Road, Flagstaff, USA

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Dia ate 7 hot dogs, 12 meatballs, and over a pound of ziti and queso dip. Her stomach was notably bloated as she lay on the bed panting between refills of her tiny water bowl. Getting our full $15 pet-friendly hotel fee from the happy hour buffet at the Drury.

Biscuits and gravy refueled the dog for the Inner Basin trail in the morning.

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G’s First MTB Race

They called it the AZ State Championships. I dunno, it was just her and her friend Emma, for at least a guaranteed 2nd place. My goal was for her to race and have fun, knowing that most people screw up some things their first race(s) such that results really can’t be the goal. 2 x 4 mile loops, she’s never ridden beyond a mile without me. She said she washed out twice, and dropped a bottle, but still followed the course, managed her own water, paced herself, and…and…rode 8 miles without me!

Thanks Deanna Young and Rob Clark for the photos, and congrats to all our Dynamix Devo teammates Emma, Liam, Barrett and Syd.

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Supgrade

I tried a friend’s fancy board this summer, and it opened my mind to my bumpkinism about SUPs. Our first board is an intro POS, heavy board heavy paddle, that I could trade on a good day for a midrange EZ UP or a couple pairs of nice kids-sized cleats. The table-stakes at the sport give you a taste of the stoke, but you quickly tire of losing. Our board rides the water like an earthquake, gradually and inexorably tilting you into a swim. I tracks like a leaf and slogs even down current.

Beckie loves it, and I like it enough to lend her my ability to close. 3 days later, we had a new toy.

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Putting the money into it was never in doubt – I’ll keep my shitty truck for a few more years to redirect fundage into toys like this! The best part about outdoor toys (other than road bikes) is that doubling costs have immense, performance-value sweetspot benefits still 10x cheaper than cars. I’m pleased to see I’ve gotten better and better at this meta-transaction, evidence by *ahem* a new board in 3 days!!!

NoSnow is at the Hawes’ trailhead, and we were not aimlessly driving out there. l It was a full morning. Beckie took G on a loop through TRW. Alana and I did the Canal trail and Tour De Backyards, for 4 miles of dirt and almost an hour of spin time!!!!
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Sunday, we drove the truck down into Bartlett Flats and pushed off into the lake, first time, and it was so fun! 2015_0927_Bartlett_Lake_01_blog

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It is so responsive, stable and fast! I could steer both directions from both sides, even the children were killing it.

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SCIENCE!

Dirtbag DadCamp in session for the Jewish holidays! New annual membership to the AZ Science Center.

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Dingo

Some meddling kids and their dog worked all summer on a connecting segment that ties together Westworld TH and Gateway in the Lower McDs. Its built onto an unmaintained-yet-marked system trail and some social trails that had fallen into disrepair. We’ve been using it for a dog-walk route for years; and now its flat(ish), beginner(minus the rocks) trail my kids can grow on.

It wiggles and squirms, dodging the nearest creosote or boulder. It dashes through stupid, stoopid lines trying to go up going up, pouncing on 5 yards of hardpack and a short shot onto high ground before recycling the tinyEffort and shooting down again into rocky washes. We followed Dia with a chalk line.

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G has ridden it uphill a few times, not without whining through the ugliest parts. I’m doing my best. Its DirtbagDad’s rock to push uphill, or maybe my bright shiny object to stay sane. But I’ve got company.

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oh hey, so, as you know, i’m a herdy dog. Would you mind keeping that mcleod away from me as I stay glued to you? Is this bothering you, cause I’m sensing some frustration? that’s an awesome handsaw – cut cut cut! Let’s build something together!

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When we don’t ride Dingo, or the golf course, we ride to Tequila Tree. Dia digs it now, loving the long mild climb and the rushing downhill, so many runs removed from her PTSD first-ride-back in March. She has it paced, goes off the front to slow me down, cheers for me to fail since the few dabs lead to water breaks. We sit at the tree and hear rattlesnakes gushing out like a puncture in a tire; after a minute dreading a flat we realize the bike is unhearable 100yds away, and as the sheering sound slows to a tick-tick-tick it raises new concerns. We defilade a little downhill, keep drinking. The towers at Somo are cloudy but the silhouettes of Camelback all the way to the White Tanks are clear. The Sprawl corners at the junction of Paradise & Levee trails, where the ambient grey glow from the city just…*pow*…stops. Sometimes we wedge against the edge of a storm for an entire ride.

pic courtesy of Kathleen Kingma
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I needed a new weapon in the war for trail supremacy.

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A nasty grabby palo verde got its comeuppance, lines were cleaned, and G rode Dingo a little better the next time.

We’ve been riding trail 2x/week, sometimes with a great team of kids and adults. Lots of good folks heading out for a Friday night Phoenix Mountain Preserve ride.

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G was overcome with upgradeits, and I can’t blame her when some of those kids were riding $4,000 Pivots.  We bought her a pair of PI X-Alps and set her up her up on clipless pedals. I installed the cleats but she set the tension, took the flat pedals off and put the new spds on, and made it a few times around the block practicing clipping in and out while wearing every piece of protective gear she owns.

The next night we got some saddle time at Reach 11. G with new spds, ‘lana with a new jersey that magnificently allowed her to carry her own water while looking fabulous. Both helped her have some more autonomy and ride a little stronger, I can definitely appreciate that. bout 6 miles in the dark, from the Scottsdale Rd entrance in Reach 11 to the lake near Tatum. G ate shit standing still near the end of the ride, after much complaining about wearing pads and how easy clipless were, and me subsequently guaranteeing her she would eat shit at least once for no good reason and to quit whining about her pads. hehehehe, safe crashes and proof of my omniscience always put a smile on my face.

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G agreed to ride her first race in early October, so we pre-rode the course at McDowell Mountain Preserve with the kids’ team. Alana had so much fun she did some singletrack on her own.2015_0823_MMP_01

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TinyShredder and 11 miles of dirt-roadieing across Reach 11. Its like a ThNR!  We came on a pack of javelinas, a flock of geese, an owl, and a rattlesnake stretched across the trail. G got the hook for night riding now.

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DirtBag DadCamp: GrandsCamp

With 2 weeks left in summer vacation, The Chollaballs bailed; fleeing the fireball to visit Mom and Dad in Sarasota!

Their new neighborhood pool is plush.

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One of my oldest and dearest friends Eric Ascalon posted up that he was visiting in Clearwater, so we met for drinks in St. Petes. This reunion brought to you by the BookFace.

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MomMom and PopPop took the kids to the Sarasota Library

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Next day we went to the Ringley Bros Museum. Stuart takes awful pics, but at least he took em :)

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I ditched the kids and flew to New Hampshire to meet Beckie for Janna Lorenzen’s wedding at Loon Mountain Resort .

Beckie killing time in Manchester waiting for my flight.

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Friday afternoon we hiked up the mountain before a fantastic pre-wedding party.

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saturday – hiking in Franconia Notch State Park

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then this

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New England wedding overruns us with bow ties, gingham and seersucker

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Meanwhile back in Florida, the family went to see Winter at the Clearwater Aquarium

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Sunday hike, size large. Falling Water Trail to Franconia Ridge to Lafayette Mtn to Old Bridle Trail. About 9 miles, I think about 5k vf. Trail was very rugged, mile-for-mile it compared to the Canyon, harder in some ways as there were few easy steps.

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post hike drinks at Strange Brew, Machester, NH

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Back in Florida, we went to Selby Gardens where Dad is a docent.

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Siesta Key Beach

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G lining up 2 weeks in a row at the summer Kids Run series.

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DirtBag DadCamp: Skating

“I wound up having to join AA. I don’t even drink. Just needed the stage time.”
–Bob Nickman

Allowing the girls to buy rollerblades made me complicit in their impending fractured ulnas. Despite what Wayne LaPierre would have you believe, most people think giving a gun to your kid without training is foolish.

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Way back in March I signed them up for a free series of summer hockey lessons at the Ice Den, knowing they’d thank me when it was 110. Amazing choice for 12:30pm in June, it was almost too cold watching. Said no one in AZ, ever, at 12:30pm in June.

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A couple Wednesdays we went to free-admission at Skateland. If you snicker at going into the Mesa ghetto, you need to try it and get godsmacked at how much fun you had in the 80’s.

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Finally they were good enough to skate all the way to the high school, around and back! They didn’t exactly have fun, the reality of 1 degree downhill and uphill and brick sidewalks.

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Reciprocity

Saturday we had a swimmeet in S. Scottsdale.

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Then dashed off to the the annual Snow Day at the Phx Zoo. They put exhibits on every 15 min, and we charged every one we could manage.

California Condors, eating dead rabbits
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Prairie DogTown set atwitter by cauliflower!
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A zookeeper was showing off a Common King Snake that wandered into one of the exhibits. We had actual questions after it crawled in from under our TV, and its similarly-inclined rattlesnake-lookey neighbor that jumped out of our hop seed bushes. He gave us a semester’s worth of herpetology in 5 min! And now we know about jaw sizes, fangs, behavior identification, and how to pick them up.

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warty pigs are adorable when they act like dogs
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The elephant had the happiest day of her summer thanks to the Phoenix FD!
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G was sitting on my shoulders, I had no idea what was being filmed

The monsoon finally hit that night, and we stayed in town instead of camping in the high country. 7:30am was overcast and cool enough for a family ride around Brown’s Ranch. It mandated a 6am wakeup to load bikes, apply sunscreen, stuff calories, placate egos, drive, safety meeting, unload and mount up 5 bikes. G killed it, and Alana…sorta actually killed it, but whined like a cat that’d been petted.

Since we were in the neighborhood, our friend Robin invited us by to see the newest ACDR puppies and help socialize them.

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dogs good for people, people good for dogs. The 5 pups hid from us at first, then it turned into an orgy of belly rubs and facelicks all morning. We did the Full Lincoln.

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