Demasculation

After Wolf Creek I was inconsolable, sweating and nervous, sick for powder.  I ordered all the tuning tools i didn’t already own, and turned the kitchen into Chollaball’s Ride & Apparel Shoppe. For 2 days i edged, waxed and burned p-tex while starving for direction.

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I rode 1.5 hours from home out to Local Jonny’s to share a beer with Gordon and Yuri, and find whatever motivation to push push myself. I’m fat, my knee hurts, and I have no excuses. G and I hit 15 miles of contoured desert and grabby edges the next day.

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Absent soccer the next weekend, the kids rode the MBAA McDowell Meltdown race. I rode over Bell Pass and down into Fountain Hills to meet them at the starting gate. G was leading 1/3 into her race for 11-12s, but crashed out when she overcooked a turn. She hit her face and twisted her seat, cried when she quit after limping 1.5 miles back in. 30 min later she was pissed for not winning. Hopefully she learned to ride on the right side of the edge.

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Alana took first in her first-ever MTB race for 8&Under girls. 1 lap of the Sport Loop, where she enjoyed beating a lot of the boys too.

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The biggest blemish on the day was seeing the sexism so many boys have learned at such a young age. The race organizer had kids line up by 5’s by age group, and lined up ALL the boys first. As if screwing the girls out of a clean hole shot never entered his mind. Why dont they spread the races out by 5 min? Both girls reported hearing “You’re being passed by a girl” and having to deal with bullshit while passing on the trail. I will let MBAA know, when I find a voice to say it constructively. Beckie tut-tutted at my disappointment given all the times she’s dealt with mansplaining and entitlement on the trail. Dinner at Four Peaks cured all.

Sunday we were in the car at 4:30 to catch first chair at Snowbowl after a storm. The girls picked up where they left off.  Alana crapped out at noon and slept in the car, which for $16 on the day was supah w me. No friends on powder days. G kept going and going til 2:30 when we bailed out before the traffic. Back home by 5:30, 13 hrs door-to-door.

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The weather pounded AZ all week. Inauguration Day I went for a wet beery dog ride.

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Soccer games cancelled, we went to AZ on the Rocks free anniversary party. Alana had just come from gymnastics, and G from the gym with me: they said they were both hungry when we arrived. I hoped to starve them out after an hour, to return to the comfort of my couch. No such luck as there was free food and ice cream, and we stayed for 3 hours. #WPP.

Alternative fact: holding a place in line for my children to jump off a wall, especially while i could be climbing, is life’s greatest pleasure.

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I bought Snowbowl’s 2-for-Tuesday online tix while we were huddling inside from the rain. Then we played hooky, $150 for everyone to ride 4 feet of fresh.

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Little story about this little girl: she mistakenly went down the gulley at the bottom of Agassiz, then to the top of the mountain and all the way to bottom of Humphreys. I kept hoping she’d be tired, but she just kept going. Some of the most challenging runs she’s done, nonstop and no doubts. She takes instructions incredibly and has a flourishing sense of self-evaluation. 

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That Saturday, G’s team was losing 5-0 against the #3 team in the country when she took one in from midfield. That night I went to the Old Timers game at the 35th Anniversary of New Years Fest. Here is a story about my first NYF in 1997.

I’ve had a real hard time being around the game for the last 10 years. Tonight no one ran and no one tracked turnovers. There were so many old friends to hug. I stopped a point twice to hug both Matt Westfield and Philip Norton Brown.

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Look, I’m about to throw away a hammer!!
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Irony: the generation who built the internet has only fat photos at 46 to brag about their radness. The video of me making the play of my life was lost cause the guy couldnt find the tape. I made peace with Ultimate that night. I think. I might go punch someone. I might go back next year.

That night my back hurt, not from pounding my knees but from short striding so much i pulled my glutes. The reunion went on the next day with a big group ride on the Black Canyon Trail from the Gloriana TH. I was worried, slow and shy, I ignored people and kept pace. I climbed and descended, didn’t melt down, and ended steadily. I’m less afraid of a beating when i have less to lose.

John look great, I haven’t seen him in almost 10 years
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Officially new family tradition of alt-Xmas and whiteout driving

3 years in a row Wolf Creek for Xmas with the family. And 9 December trips now for me. Each successive trip nudging me closer and closer to buying a tow rope and some shackles for the truck. I bounced the rear end lightly off a snow covered embankment to get me back into arc of the turn coming down into Pagosa Springs. Same turn I did a donut on in 2007. By choice, i swear. I prefer to think I’m getting more experienced at driving in winter conditions. Table stakes for powder days.

9in of fresh fell during our first day. 6 months post-TKR my knee didn’t hold me back at all. Only being fat to blame.

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They got 15 inches more that night, which was for awhile too much. The lifts didn’t open til 10, and I nearly drowned. The day started sour. The kids really wanted only a half day of lessons, trying to all meet atop Raven Lift for lunch was a cluster. I thought it might just suck, but, such is impossible. The worst day snowboarding beats most other days.

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G knows no one likes a complainer or their pouting, and Alana is getting good enough we almost all have fun. Last year i said  “All I want for my birthday is them to come snowboarding with me.”  Yes. So much yes.

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I wanted to cry. I was growing wings, forever unsticking from icy Greens full of Texans.

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Coyote on the road out of town.

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Day 3 the Dump settled into cream, 30 degrees and blue sky. G, Beckie and I rode Treasure Lift all morning. They took the blues while I dropped Alberta face. Some of it was textbook and i was glorious, some was too much heel sliding and lawndarts.  Ugly or not, i de-emasculated myself, booted me from my hole of fitness excuses. I had frequent headaches and shortness of breath pulling myself off the ground. Thusly riven, I met up with G for le shushing down the lower mountain. Run by run she was getting the pow and the pitch, looking for her lines and her exits. I’m not always seeing her, but I keep seeing her success at the bottom. Lack of a body is all good when it all goes downhill. We rode for 3 hours without a break.

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there was some of this…  which made my day hard. On my knees on my butt facing uphill, in and out of my bindings, punching through, lunging up, strapping in and clawing to start. Should I show her the line or collect her yardsale from above? Where can we both stop and start and discuss the next sequence? On a bike I can climb, stop on a dime, turn on it, and never worry about whatever is underneath. Too many times snowboarding with the kids in powder felt like huck-and-pray, bad dadding.

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But it worked, over and over again. The kids knew, even if they didn’t know how, to point downhill and flow, to not get too stupid, to look ahead, to grab the awesome and shake off the suck. They know how to fall, knew it didn’t hurt. They charged stuff kids with 15 and 10 days have no business charging. Unless they cheated. My 10th day on a board I was riding blacks badly at Steamboat, my 15th day chasing Byron badly through steep powder forests in Tahoe. The mountain-bike crossovers of balance and vision and momentum and engagement once again blowing my mind. For all a biker doesn’t know about snow, so much is so easy. Their body language shouted out their handups. Poised powerful girls riding.

As i ducked off the sides of the groomers, they followed fearless, feverish, banging it. They popped up each fall I kept mistakenly thinking ‘this is a big one‘. Only 1 meltdown each over 1000s of vf.  At the bottom Alana would shoosh through the lift line and brag she hit nothing but pow. Her gymnastics and tight stature a natural match for the mountain. She was the calmest purple-pink glow in the universe. She warmed me every trip up the lift. My kids crave pow through the trees; my work is done here.

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I got stuck shooting pics and had to flop my way out. But Alana never fails to give it up for the camera. I watched her completely take her eyes off the ground and turn to me and smile, and keep looking at me and smiling, making sure i got the pic, slide through a turn and find her way down the mountain while i struggled to catch up.

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MMP Night Ride

The Dynamix Devo team did the first MMP night ride of the season. G and I did a lap of Pemberton with Emma and Jen, while Alana and Beckie did a lana-sized ride. After bbq and cupcakes for Emma’s bday, Beckie and I led 5 kids and Dia to the playground for another 4 miles.

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Rotating Priorities

v4.0 of the blog! Leanness as an inspiration, for my lack there-of! Work gave me a performance-based covered parking spot, which almost makes up for my spare tire.

It started here, 9 years ago

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7 years of dated cartoonishness, frozen by lack of vision and a mute muse. v3 last year I changed the name, finally, from boring-ass default chollaball.net. My evolutionary pace is overrun by the Catholic Church and the Republican party. Though G has not changed much either, still not wiping food off her face.

From a safezone-pov, this is a transformational post! Priorities change.

G impels me, 2 hrs at Brown’s is a legitimate ride!
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life-lesson from Dirtbag Dad: if you’re not hiking the view is probably not worth it
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‘Dad i wanna try the ramp’
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An evening learning to drop curbs, 2 afternoons hitting a spot, Desert Trails, then she had it
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June 8 my knee gets replaced

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My best buds Byron and Alex joined me for a Sedona celebration, the last one for quite some time. It took massive coordination for 3 grown-ass men with jobs and families to ride 20 miles through Carroll Canyon and the west siiiiide.  These things don’t just happen, it needs to be preeminent in your mind, you need to commit. Sketch, Skywalker, Last Frontier, Scorpion and Pyramid were awesome.

i didn’t take many pics mostly i was off the back
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It was almost all new to me, but almost all XC. Craving the steeps on the H’s I wrongly brought the Firebird. The only move i needed the bigger bike was mile 19 on Pyramid (nee, Special Ed to Witchdoctor before the Forest Service renamed them). I nailed the turn and drop, but was so tired hauling that sled around all day my arms and toes collapsed propping my momentous ass back over the saddle shooting the exit, and i went OTB. My ribs hurt every time i sneezed for the next 2 weeks.

Sunday happinezz to aspectate asexy new kitz
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White Tanks Regional Park: G off the line, and Alana charging up the back!!!
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That’s right I said Alana! The race organizers let me trail her for a 2.5 mile lap, which…she finished! We promised her a trip to the movies as reward. They saw a cartoon i avoided for $9.80 a ticket, we saw The Revenant. Beckie hated it, but it fit me: keep breathing.

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Emma sealing the win
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almost done
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splits for Emma and G
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5 short days later was the Beti Bike Bash!!! For $85 and 2 trips around the mountains, G got 6 hrs of instruction led by an Olympic team member, a sweet new jersey, race registration, and 2 days entrance to McDowell Mountain Park. Alana’s gymnastics studio wants $250 just for the chance to eat lunch with a former Olympian and a bunch of control freaks. Which would you make a priority?

We set-up next to the Yeti demo tent and rode for 2 days while the kids camped 
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Saturday I took out a 4.5 carbon 29er. I liked the 27.5 5c better the next day, half inch more travel and half an inch more slack. Geeking out on featherlight frames, internally-routed dropper posts, and 1×11 drive trains. Its easier to find a quiver-killer when you dial back from dropping gnar. Our post-surgery bike will be a long-travel carbon 29er with a 69 degree head-angle, that Beckie and I both can ride.

Carbone test ridey – ran into G, Avery and Emma leading the campers up Escondido Trail
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BOOM! Took me 29 more years to do this. She was totally feeling it…
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2 tries later G overshot the landing and lawn-darted into the ground. She learned a lesson, and I’m so grateful didn’t break anything.

Dia, unimpressed and not to be outdone, ate a dead thing’s spine
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Sunday Mrs. Cball committed to a plan and executed it:  fulfill all quartermaster duties, then over Bell Pass while I shepherded spawn to the race.
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Emma, Avery and G racing ‘under-18’. So proud of these girls!
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Rob insisted the loud unis would make it easier to pick them out
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Thanks Scott W and Beti Bike Bash for some of the pics!
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THIS!!!!! Racing again!
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she said her gear was too high to start, and down-shifted to make her move
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This happened so fast i missed it! 35 min for 2 laps of the Sport Loop.
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if we didn’t know the Clarks, we’d judge this differently
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dude doesn’t know the Clarks
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that helmet is just hideous with that dress
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G spent the rest of Sunday demoing a $6000 Yeti, and getting each and every upgrade on it. Gonna be an expensive Xmas, but hard to turn away from that truthiness .

We got Alana another stock shitty kids bike, for about 30x less. As much as I tried to avoid stopping over in 24ville, she’s outriding her 20inch but is just too small for G’s bike. I will give them whatever gear they need  to progress, its just harder to believe Hurricane Genevieve rode her 20″ for another 6 months.  Other than bigger wheels and qr skewers, i feel like i downgraded the brakes, drivetrain, weight, and even tires at only 1.8 inch wide. Explaining 3x front rings to a 7yo highlights its utter stupidity. G is among the first riders who will never experience a rotary phone and a front derailleur.

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full
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The Goodluck Goodbye Tour continued!!!  We had so much fun in Sedona, we agreed I had to show Byron the goods at Gold Canyon. So much riding alone or riding with kids or not riding at all can make you forget why you bother. I need to make a point to bother, for the immaculate moments riding carbon in beautiful places with my favorite people.

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so much color everywhere
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up the Blue Stairs
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I glowed all day, and most of the next. I added some colors and layout to the new site, couldn’t help myself.  It had to be softer and brighter, everywhere I see the sunshine and the sky. Parenting for Gnarness – its not just about them.

Fooled me with her style and ease

or

Head like a hole black as your soul

I struggled with this post’s title. And with words in general, numbstruck after the now-annual Birthday Biathalon.

Will you be my valentine” has not been said for the last 10 years. Sisters having the same birthday used to be precious, then cute, then economical, until scope-creep and mounting pressure for each year to be bigger than the last leaves us excess and gluttony and money-raining reparations. And the cradle will rock. I gave G my present, and thought it was plenty good – a private shooting lesson with a professional soccer player.

All I want for my birthday is them to come snowboarding with me.

∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞

I was intrigued by a new trail at Hawes, that summits the mountain to the south of Radio Tower road and the water-scarred deathtrap that has become Tower Trail. The descent was sure to be like the best parts of Tower Loop.  And the climb…m’eh; I HAB the McDowells every other ride, pushing my bike is like putting on my helmet, nothing in the relatively smooth crushed granite of Hawes could possibly threaten me. I started at Usery Pass road, to meet Byron and Alex afterwards for an easy loop around Pass Mountain. Such a stylish payback for 45 min drive to get there, and it wouldn’t make me choose between two of my all-time favorite rides and riding buddies that used to be out my door.

big views at the top of Gidro Pass

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Salt River to the north

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home! and if you look past Red Mountain you can see Tom’s Thumb. I got it made so bad.

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The White Tanks, 50 miles through the sprawl

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The trail still feels primitive. The descent on Goat trail was sketchy, the traverse and climb some walking. I luuuuuuuurved the drop back into Las Sendas – long, tight and explicit.

There are other ways to do the Hawes-PassMtn loop, but I no longer live on it so they offer no conveniences. I really liked having my car in the center of the figure 8. Except for a long, long climb from the river to the top of Pass Mtn, where Byron and Alex abused me with their fresh legs.

Byron on Pass Mountain
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Between us we have 50 years experience on Pass Mtn, it never gets easier.

miss a beat, lose the rhythm
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Dia and I, checking out the Phx Open from Tequila Tree. Camelback in the center, Somo the red dot to the left, 35 miles south. It was that kind of night.

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you’ve got me captured I’m under your spell
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The next day G was a wreck with sickness. She shivered during warmups for her soccer game and sat out as her team’s only sub. Coach played her 1 short shift, the insurance goal bounced off her foot as she wobbled and moaned in front of the goal, then she went to bed for the next 3 days.

Alana and I joined the Dynamix Devo crew at Brown’s Ranch.

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I fooled her, told her 3 miles max, then eased it into 6.5. I’ve figured Alana out – get her in a good mood, let her think you pay attention to her non-stop chatter. Why can’t this be love?

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Won’tcha turn your head my way?
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Two live wires. Just watch these ladies go.

and then my friend Carmen traded me this for a 6-pack of Sex Panther! That night we started jump training, taught them to pump and drop off curbs at an office park 90 seconds from our garage. They were vastly improved after 20 reps.

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We went for a night ride, with 7 kids, from the parking lot of one of the busiest bars in the city during Friday Happy Hour. It could only be topped for parental negligence if it occurred during the Phx Open Weekend in a lightning storm. One of our friends is a school teacher, that should count for something! Dia and I made it exactly 50 feet through the chaos before I ran over her foot and we called it a night – thankfully no toes were broken and she was running again in 2 days. I got drunk at OHSO. At least everyone had fun! Thanks Scott for the vid.

dance the night away
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Sunday we went to Robin’s house to socialize some new ACDR puppies.

Meet the Van Heelins, Edie and Alex!
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Edie, rocking a solo
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Alex. he’s a drummer
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pretty woman
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running with the devil
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poundcake
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G and I did a sunset ride up Gateway and down Paradise Wash, but first we hit one of my spots for suburban hooliganism.

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Jump!
(you knew that was coming)

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That big glow is not G’s face, its the moon. This must be just like living in Paradise.
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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.

xmas day +1
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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.

G wrapping up 15 miles
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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.

happy bday BB and Liam!
bdays!

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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herdy dog

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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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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