A Semester’s Tuition for a Carbon 29er + Plus Wheelset

Bentley is worth more than each one of our cars.

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Don’t hate, if I don’t ride it Beckie does. and I pass that love around. Alana begged to try her next bike and brand-new tubeless wheelset. 10 lbs lighter than her “kids” 24inch Hotrock, 2.5 lbs lighter wheels than when G rode it. 1×10 is 11x awesomer than 3×7 and chainsuck every 2 miles. So close we are to forever being done with shitty kids bikes. G got on it October of her 8th year, hopefully Alana’s standover will stay on schedule. She sorted out the shifting and braking power instantly, then the speed, then wrecked herself underestimating the responsiveness turning while trapped in the cockpit. Small girl, big ferrari.

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One Bird must fly, and I haven’t gotten a nibble trying to sell it for $999. Srsly? This is a great deal for $1k.

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So many baby birds.

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I followed Byron up to Christopher Creek on the Rim. Military Sinkhole -> 260 -> See Canyon->260->See Canyon, fun both directions and got the lower DH 2x. ~2200 climbing, ~3800 down. 22miles.

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only picture from Military Sinkhole, 1000vf down the Rim in 2 miles woot woot!

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Bentley was magnificent on the ups and downs. Good dog.

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It’s not his feats of strength, his cartographic madness, or his blogging about his radness that make John Schilling so special… It’s how he turned the trail burrito into an essential part of everyone’s kit.

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facebook cover pic fail, sorry Byron

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My 25th reunion was coming up. It slithered into my head, and wouldn’t get out. I was furious it forced its way back in after so many years walling it off. I met my first random Princeton alum in 20 years of living in AZ. The unprecedented ‘cold’ 70 degree May morning at soccer practice found me pull on an old cutoff sweatshirt full of holes that had been wrapped around the 10lb dumbbells I keep in the trunk. The shirt for years sat in my closet – too small and ratty and 80s. When i couldn’t face throwing it out it went in the trunk, jic, like jumper cables. I had it on 5 min when a strange woman asked what year I graduated. She materialized out of thin air, like mosquitos after a monsoon, or panhandlers at your gas pump in Tuba City. I couldn’t believe I’d encountered another of my kind in AZ, though our odds were certainly improved at the Scottsdale JCC. We circled around each other warily, and finally embraced like former victors in the Hunger Games. She doesn’t use her degree either, and feels completely disconnected living out here. On behalf of alums everywhere she accepted my mea culpa for skipping my reunion. Thank you ghostly friend from class of ’97.

Mostly I’m happy. I’ve struggled with whether I’ve squandered my degree, whether Princeton was the right choice, whether I’d do it again. Definitely not, maybe. The financial pressure was too much, the gap-awareness too much. The academics were just fine. I was too immature, unempathetic, parochial and angry staring up from the bottom. I would have liked more sunshine and a better ratio, more time, or an Honors college at a different school. My year in Raleigh working at a TGI Fridays should have come in ’89, not ’95. *insert flair joke here*. I learned humility and people skills slaving for tips at the behest of the NASCAR masses packing a chain restaurant. Should have just gone to law school.

My path from there was defined by circumstances, fear of debt, fear of failure. These are all good traits, that I traded in for fun and bikes, and a highly-employable reasonably-lucrative skillset. I can find work anytime, from anywhere, and press ‘fuck it’ at will. My ceiling and motivation are lower, so I drive carpools, and punch the clock around my daughters’ schedules. Beckie could not do the kids and her PhD career without me, we could not be our family without her job. Mostly I’m so happy.

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Spring, 1990. On our way to College Nationals after beating the Irates from East Carolina U. I lost to them each year the next 2 years. West Windsor Fields becomes The Overlook Hotel, all pictures of Princeton must be black&white.

In ’94 I picked up w a team of DC and Philly all-stars at a November tourney in ECU (Greenville, NC – Ultimax). We won with 12 guys. Blew up their alum team ‘X-rates’ in Semis. I stuffed their captain on a great layout to keep our throttle down when they started to rally. I remembered him being really really good in college, and that block still feels awesome. Then we beat the Irates in Finals. That Spring they won College Nationals.

I was drowning in memories, and injected some reality with two of my dearest friends. Byron, Brian and I rode the brand-new HooDoo trail at Gold Canyon. Its amazing and terrifying, Phoenix’s Hangover. Like Sedona, the vision is as good as the trailwork. It routes along an exposed off-camber ledge, high up the wall of Gold Canyon. Every stroke I worried about a left pedal strike or a bar end. I had to tune everything else out and focus.

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so, yeah, there is some staring down through all of this. We’re only halfway up the climb.

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This I think is the start of the double black descent, and it deserves the classification. After climbing and traversing the rockface for a half mile, its one pucker move after another. This one slips into a steep tight passage, and immediately you must make an aggressive S into another slab and stacked rocks, about six more times, til you see the video below. I walked a few things I will get the second time, can’t wait for Fall to go back and try again! HooDoo is far-and-away harder than anything else at Gold Canyon. The trials on Phantom, Where You Fromme and Tech Trail hold nowhere near the consequences.

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This is the last hard move at the bottom of the descent. Its super fun but you have to commit to the initial liftup or you are heading to the hospital. (borrowed from the internet).

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Personal achievement: I got a move on the Tech Loop I’ve never had the balls to try before. You can see the lead rider take it around 15 sec in this video. Bentley’s plus wheels and lower COG gave me more contact and confidence on the rock lines, the carbon XC geo leapt up things. I need to use the dropper more and get used to a little less squish, but we are getting better on the downhills each ride. Last week was a big day in the mountains, today we crawled on the rocks. (borrowed from random dude on youtube).

What counts as success? I’ll start with no blood, getting home safe, and the glow of completing a physical and mental challenge. Happiness for me spirals out from there into rings of abstraction. I’m now on the Board of a non-profit, and we are suing the City.

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Alana and I rode with one of my NoDDC teammates. Pat is an amazing new friend who I would never have met otherwise. She’s mom’s age, with many things on which we disagree, but a whole lot more we agree on. I have met so many people like her that I’d never reach in my bubble. I’ve had kind conversations with the City Council members I wish to unseat, and every single one reinforces how much more reasonable our politics would be if we did more face-to-face. Ironic idea for a group that grabbed its influence through Facebook. Three generations of preservationists on one ride.

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I couldn’t pull myself away from the Princeton ’92 Facebook page. So many pictures of our common formative epoch. Stories of people struggling with doubt and middle-age just like me. Each classmate’s tale was fascinating, false starts and home runs. Some were changing the world, some just getting by with beautiful families and local acts of wonder, teaching classes or writing books, some hocking wares they did their best to make more nutritional and environmentally-conscious. There was so much humility and kindness and potent observations. One extremely successful woman joked of her relief seeing we were not all robber barons and NHL owners. I hope it true, that we’re not just the Facebook losers validating each other, and the rest of the manor-born are out there looking down on us still.

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I’m much nicer than I was, and I like me. The warmth and sincerity of so many people I want to know better lifted almost three decades of skepticism and regret. I bought a plane ticket and registered for Reunions. Housing, rental cars all seemed like logistical rollerball; I opted for simplicity and crammed everything for 3 days into 22 cubic liters, ready to sleep on a floor. I hope to never stop embracing my inner dirtbag for an adventure. I’ll be the homeless dude carrying around all his orange stuff.

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These clothes didn’t make the cut. Yes I’ve had that beer jacket for 25 yrs and cant fit it in, and yes I own a tiger onesie. Gonna go put it on and mess with the cat. Guys can have fun with their bling too, right?

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