Angry Bird

What you give up to go up in the McDowells makes the downhills so much less fun. Yet I, I!, have perfected a route that stands in glorious contrast to this seemingly unbendable natural law. It took almost 4 years. The only thing you lose hauling a big bike up the hill is time, and its a workout anyway, right? There are even a few B-lines.

There is a jersey barrier that i finally willed myself up to the top, and dropped it so smooth i wondered what took 3 years. Cuuuuuuuzzzzz its very tall and very skinny, and the next time i wadded myself up at the very top and fell sideways at 0mph. Slow enough to see the crashlanding and plan my escape, with only a little bite to the elbow. I’ve spent years honing my matrix cat-like anti-cactii moves. Redemption came charging the downhill from the overpass before i could see the bottom, trusting the Bird to ride it out. Snowboarding.

A parallel thematic arc in my (self-indulgent) serial epic is hating myself for a $5k bike i dread riding uphill. Flats make the Bird so much awesomer .2% of the time. That .2% has bought me a dank nug of confidence that i turn to regularly. I treasure it, i would be broke(n) without it.

March 20, 2013 – alt dropin to HiLine in Sedona

But clipless make the Bird awesomer so much oftener. i busted out my pedal wrench, hated the McDs no more, hitting under 8 min down Paradise Wash repeatedly, and jumping down-facing drops at the bottom of the golf course. Rerealizing why freeriding and techriding and going fast are so radiant, when there is an obliging climb to enjoy like tailgating.

Tequila Tree sits atop the last pitch down my most excellent route. I hammer and jump and fly hard for 1:00, 1:15, or 1:30, then sip liquor and get safe and stare out over the Valley. There is nothing in the McDs the Bird can’t swallow, as long as i lean back stay centered and point downhill. Firebird, take me home. Its a ReverseShuttle+DH training ride, and a metaphor, and a happy hour! I am marketing this workout program…

…I’ve been white-whaling over this for 2 years.

And my friends Chad and Scott have a weekly Tuesday techy ride at the 50 Year Trail in Oro Valley north of Tucson. These guys have been very influential to follow, reading their blogs and knowing them has opened up possibilities, about distance and cross-training and blawhging and humility. Showing up completely worthless would be disrespectful. So I prepped with 2 Somo rides, staring down the spine on the Waterfall 2x til i hit it, the S curve on 24th Street til i hit it. Pushed through cleanly on power and technique, compensating for confidence. terrified.

pics courtesy of Yuri


Next week i rendezvoused in Tempe with John, who’s brilliant idea was to duck out on a Tuesday before Lumbergh noticed, and hammer down to the Old Pueblo to join in the 50 Year fun. John and I have hung out on AES rides for a few years, i recently rode his wheel down the precipitous north face of Tom’s Thumb. Its been inspiring fun to watch him transform from finishing in the dark with broken bikes to planning monster multi-days. He has gotten so strong and so gritty so quickly he completely shot by the part where most fast riders realize, despite some techy skills, i mostly sorta suck. And whine about having to get home. I hoped his hardtail 29er would slow him down enough to not feel my weakness. Really glad i got drawn into one of his schemes!!

The 50 jumped us right in – downward facing, gaps, chasing guys much stronger and practiced on these trials. Before I could process the adrenaline, or aggregate my insecurities, we hit this:


Thankfully, I got to follow Alex down it, like many other big moves over the years. You cant deny me service under SB1062 simply because i call another man my security blanket!! Alex also broke out early to come shred woot woot!!! The pic is from Scott, from a ride I wasn’t on. And a bunch more courtesy of Chad and John. All the ganked pics makes this seem like a LOOK AT ME post. It is, but its not. If it was, would i include this?

mah tat makes me look rad! 

the takeoff looked so easy…
^ pics courtesy of John

It was like that for about 2 more hours. Chad and Scott were the most gracious hosts, to our 3 from the ‘Nix along with a few other cool folk from Tucson. Showing us the lines and indulging our false starts, and trusting us while they sessioned to their limits as well. Deformed verticals and rock crawling, elegant sunset shading the back side of the Catalinas, uplifting company. Each move got more confident, exponential irrational reaction to acts of will. I hustled to nurse the leaky rear tire punctured during my failed chasm jump, pushed to keep pace, yet despite all that the trail kept getting…not easier, but i got better.

These moments of beauty and fear and affirmation are what make sports so imperative to me. Its not the KOM, the scholarship, the statistics. Its being forced into choosing to be better than i think i can be. Weeks of other-people’s photo dumps are the closest i can do to share these flashes. They just…flash…and I am so grateful to have been there, and to have a record to remind me to be grateful every day.

thank you for the pics, the ride and the stoke. See their blogs for more!

There is a pic of me nailing this. But this one from Scott is so much better, people should see it for demonstrative purposes.


Rob was a really cool guy, on a vision quest, to ride 1 bike for 1 year for under $1k. Watching him wiggle into and down this on a Transition Klunker after I’d taken 4 tries and crapped myself on my $5k squishy was another of the afternoon’s perfect moments.


lol. just, lol. what a great afternoon!!!


^more pics from Scott.

And just when i was ready to knock the bottom out of Lady Somo, just when Rage over lunch unclanged the parts i clanged up the day before, some dickless motherfucker stole this from me.

Pulled it off the bike frame locked to my rack outside the gym. *facepalm*. Admittedly i’ve gotten lazy, in the good old days you needed tools to rip off a thru axle. I’ve been trolling Craigslist, filled out a police report, looked at the gym’s video; if i don’t try, I’m encouraging this to happen again. I was angry for about 2 days. mostly i wish they took the whole thing. For the same outta pocket insurance would buy me a new expensive bike.

Prescription for feeling better about getting bike parts stolen: buy bike parts!  Saddles*, tires, rotor, axle and a new custom wheel!

*technically, I did not need 2 new saddles, but its part of the healing process. If i find my wheel i will pepperspray the asshole and kick him in the nads for costing me $500, but I’m really happy with how it ties the new HeiHei together!


we rode through the park, got eggrolls, then rode some dirt home

1 Comment

  1. This was a very cool read. I was about to say, “cool story bro!” and mean it, but opted not to as I didn’t want to sound lame. I do want to ask you though, where that b-line boulder is in the McD’s? Looks like a fun challenge!

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