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

Bentley is worth more than each one of our cars.


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.




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.


So many baby birds.


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.


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




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



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.











facebook cover pic fail, sorry Byron



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.


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.



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


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.


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).


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.


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.


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.


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.


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?



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.


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.



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.


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.


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.


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


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.





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.


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. 


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.


Look, I’m about to throw away a hammer!!

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



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.









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

18 mos later i changed the themeScreen Shot 2016-04-04 at 10.36.13 PM_blog

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!

life-lesson from Dirtbag Dad: if you’re not hiking the view is probably not worth it

‘Dad i wanna try the ramp’

An evening learning to drop curbs, 2 afternoons hitting a spot, Desert Trails, then she had it

June 8 my knee gets replaced


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



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

White Tanks Regional Park: G off the line, and Alana charging up the back!!!

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.

2 laps down, 1 to go2016_0320_WhiteTanks_02_blog

Emma sealing the win

almost done





splits for Emma and G




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 

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

BOOM! Took me 29 more years to do this. She was totally feeling it…

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

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.

Emma, Avery and G racing ‘under-18’. So proud of these girls!

Rob insisted the loud unis would make it easier to pick them out

Thanks Scott W and Beti Bike Bash for some of the pics!

THIS!!!!! Racing again!



she said her gear was too high to start, and down-shifted to make her move

all true2016_0327_BetiBikeBash_09_blog

This happened so fast i missed it! 35 min for 2 laps of the Sport Loop.


if we didn’t know the Clarks, we’d judge this differently


dude doesn’t know the Clarks

that helmet is just hideous with that dress


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.



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.

Saguaro Squeeze. Yes he cleaned it, twice.2016_0403_GoldCanyon_01_blog

so much color everywhere


up the Blue Stairs



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


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


Salt River to the north


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


The White Tanks, 50 miles through the sprawl


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

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

miss a beat, lose the rhythm

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.


you’ve got me captured I’m under your spell

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.


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?


Won’tcha turn your head my way?

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.


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

Sunday we went to Robin’s house to socialize some new ACDR puppies.

Meet the Van Heelins, Edie and Alex!

Edie, rocking a solo

Alex. he’s a drummer

pretty woman

running with the devil


G and I did a sunset ride up Gateway and down Paradise Wash, but first we hit one of my spots for suburban hooliganism.


(you knew that was coming)


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


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!


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


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

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.





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






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.


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


These moves are getting routine.




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


vaya con Dias

smarter about some things



New Years Day+1
Brown’s Ranch

last dance for the 2-bike?




I barely pedaled or braked 3 miles down Hawknest, it felt like snowboarding.*heart* that trail, new favorite trail.

G wrapping up 15 miles

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!

this is a serious muthafuffin cake, handmade by Jen Clark

about to invade the Sport Loop!

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.



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.


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.


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. 


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.

2015_1010_bikerace_01 2015_1010_bikerace_02 2015_1010_bikerace_03 2015_1010_bikerace_04 2015_1010_bikerace_05 2015_1010_bikerace_06 2015_1010_bikerace_07 2015_1010_bikerace_08


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.



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.


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!


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

I needed a new weapon in the war for trail supremacy.



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.


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.



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





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.


DirtBag DadCamp: Amongst the Hill People


Andy Grammer – Honey I’m Good

James: would you maybe want to dogsit while we are on our honeymoon?
Me: *ears perk up*
James: Cause I know you are between jobs and whatnot…*dingdong*… Oh my, you got here fast.

2 weeks in Flag to start a Phx summer! 3 chollaballs, 3 dogs, and a cat: James and Staci had no idea what they unleashed!

Its my garage now, i even peed behind the old palette.

The instant they left for the airport on Friday we took Dia for a couple laps around Buffalo Park. G picked it up, slung it around and dropped it without skipping a pedal stroke. Alana whined, complained, and had a meltdown on the 1-&-only short climb. This became her flagstafrican baseline.

Saturday was 7 miles, 75 min, shuttle down the AZT-Dogfood-Schultz. I locked Alana’s bike halfway down the ride where the AZT meets Dogfood. We 2-biked there from Weathorford trail at mid-mountain, and then she did the rest. Slowly, timidly, badly, building on last night’s frustrations, walking too much. I thought at times we should just leave her bike by the trail and never let her try anything but dance classes again.

G was skeered over this trial, after Alana tormented her with how traumatized she still felt from me riding her over it 2 years ago. I swallowed my frustrations for her seemingly innate genius at remembering every excuse to hold herself back. Fortunately a spotter was all G needed to try it, then she jumped off the front for the rest of the descent. This was her flagstafrican baseline.


G did so well we decided to do Schultz o&b right from the house the next morning. The climb had a lot of rests, encouragements, hummingbird and woodpecker viewing breaks, and chances for Dia to wade in the creek. We had no deadline, lots of apples, and silently agreed to dig in for her longest sustained climb. Telling Mom became her motivation. She nailed the DH, resting to take advice between each pitch, and patiently let me take my shots at the boulder drop halfway down. Best.Riding.Partner.Evah!

That evening we did 10 miles into town and back on the FUTS for dinner. tinyShredder rolled it easy, and mostly so did ‘lana! Her longest ride yet!

We stopped at The Ditch to play. G hitting her first-ever lip

and stacking it up! At least soft dirt doesn’t hurt.


Alana crossing Rio De Flag


No one told us Hops on Birch was, like, a bar. They had 1 bottle of rootbeer, 1 juice box, and some stale pretzels for the kids, but the beer selection was awesome.

Alana’s mood on the bike changes course like a gnat, on the ride home her flagstafricanism was trending up.

Monday we went to the Adventure Course at Ft. Tuthill. They got 3 laps on the kids course, and had it mastered by the end. To where I didn’t want to take them back for fear their overconfidence would get them hurt. I can’t wait til I finally get a chance to hit the adult course.











The new Ft Tuthill Bike Park  is, literally, next to the adventure course. Making Ft. Tuthill the happiest place on earth! Except G wrecked, badly, on her 4th run. The track was fast, narrower than we’re used to, and the trees messed with our heads. She carried too much speed into a jump and overcompensated in the ensuing turn, ripping a 5 inch raspberry down her buttcheek.

She walked off the course, gritted, let me wash it, while a couple boys gawked at the girl-who-totally-ate-shit-but-didn’t-cry out of the corners of their eyes. She even did 2-3 more slow runs, for pride. But our day was done, except for trips to CVS and Safeway for many variations of gauze, tape, and ice cream. Fortunately, I brought my tub of aquaphor with us, on a hunch.

Every time I know one of my kids is going to scar, i wish i could take it onto my unwanted skin instead. I’d look like a WarBoy from Fury Road. Removing all that pain and scabbing from them would make it worth so much more to me. But some lessons can’t be learned any other way. G knew she went too fast too soon, fucked it up deep down where you balance your bike and your skill and your confidence, and daily applications of goo are hopefully the intellectual repetition of the lessons learned from pain. Slow down, don’t overcook the turn. Her flagstafricanism was trending up.

Tuesday we slept late, had a nice breakfast with more ice cream, and I overjoyed hiking with them on one of my very favorite bike loops up Little Gnarly and down Jedi.





We saw one-and-only other person on Jedi, a rider who dropped in silently behind us coming through an Aspen meadow, just before the logramp-to-boulder trial above the switchbacks. He cleaned it while the girls cheered.


I’ve never gotten this one, but will be so much more psyched to walk it heretofore 

That night Dia and Grahammay got a trip to the dogpark, and the girls more ice cream and hamburger for their owwies.

Wednesday G was feeling better and we found some self-adhesive softwrap, so did the AZT from 418 to Bismark Lake. Alana and I had a deal, she would ride her bike for a mile before 2-biking, and get more ice cream. I lied about the GPS enough to get her to do 1.5.

climb little girl, climb!





unlocking for the 1.5mile descent

After a burrito power-up we went 3rd time into the Lava Tube. I had 8, er, 7 functioning lights, a pint of water, a 1-hit, an orange, and 2 ravenous Monsters. I feel bad, a little, for the people they overtook and dropped. I love being around the stoke they have for this hike, even if i hit my head and roll an ankle each time trying to keep up!


Thursday I hooked up to ride with my bud Rockman. His awesome daughters kept the girls occupied for a few hours.


We climbed Schultz Creek, Climb 3, then Hobbit Forest to drop into Wasabi. Solid climb and best run ever down one of my white whales. I was visualizing it all night before, and it worked! My flagstafricanism was trending up. Thanks Joe for the ego pics!




Roadwork is being done on  Elden Lookout Rd, and a couple drivers stopped to watch us roll out of Upper Wasabi. Double punch on the mancard!



Thorpe Park has a disc golf course. Using soccer balls was a fabulous idea that wound up sucking, badly, in a mountain town. So it became a kicky dogwalk in the woods.

Friday was a taper(nee, hungover) day. We drove up Friedlein Prairie road to hike Overlook, and then up to the Wilderness Boundary. Haven’t been here in a few years, such an engaging trail that is always changing due to treefall. I’ve never gone slow enough or looked up from the rocks and logs to really soak it in, and its a gorgeous airy forest with meadows at 8,000+ feet. Going to have to hit it this fall to see the aspen and avoid the crowds. Can’t wait to show it to Beckie.



this is a tasty apple.

Heard you got another apple?!






ironic that Alana snapped this photo. I was showing G the series of moves through this section, explaining how to break them down, and how I crashed and dented my frame on my 2nd-ever ride on the Heckler 8yrs ago. This seemed really hard back then, now its just another rock garden.


Saturday the planets aligned! Beckie came up, and the AES Aspen Asphyxiation had been rescheduled to this weekend. Sometimes I am glad for her arrival, sometimes not. We got this 3-sum going on, and sometimes mom storms on in and fucks it all up. I had 8.25 hrs, 7kvf and 52 miles to vanish and get everyone’s head right, they got their own 3-sum going on without me being around to screw it up. I tweaked the race route to let me hit just about everything on Mt Elden I hadn’t already gotten this week. I left from the house, climbed Rocky Ridge to Lower Brookbank and desceneded Jedi just as the really fast guys were coming up, aggressively jumping all the drops after walking them earlier in the week. The monster storm the night before made Sunset unbelievably tacky, and the stoke from that screaming descent carried me almost up to Snowbowl Road. Almost. Ray made the route awesome by adding in Twisted Sister, and awful by adding in GT trail. Pushing my bike up this stupid, primitive scratch in the volcano I yelled out ‘Fuck you Ray you fucking douchebag‘. The ensuing 3 mile climb up Snowbowl Rd was so deadlegged that, after comparing times, I actually rode it slower than Beckie ran it in a race 2 years ago. There was 3-4 more hours riding, but most of it flowed far better, and after dipping into my PainCave finally I was done.  It wouldn’t be an AES race if I didn’t kinda hate it.

Sunday I was feeling good but lazy, and meat-sweating from a fantastic dinner at Satchmo’s. Our recovery day started with a 4×4 crawl through the Cinders.


Then re-walking some of the fun, tight techy stuff from the end of yesterday’s ride, along Fat Man’s Loop on the far east of Elden.





Then the day went suddenly, utterly and deeply to shit. The huge downpour on Friday night flooded my truck’s cylinders, turning into a $500 repair on Monday.

Dia lost a tooth wrestling Graham.



and our attempt to salvage the day and ride into town for dinner quickly resulted in Beckie gauging her ankle on a chain ring, and 5 stitches at the ER.

The massive upside of all this calamity is Beckie stayed in town another night for what was our very best day of the trip. At Coco Bike park, everything started slowing down, for all of us.

The first time on the Blue line i spotted G, reminded her that you can’t can’t can’t bail out once you are in the ramp, trust that you will get through it. And after she got the feel, we kept reminding each other to trust it and go bigger!



both wheels in the air!


go Alaaaaaaannnaaaaaa!

girls are getting the attack position

whereas G has perfected a scowl, Alana believes strongly in smiling for the photo. I approve of this adaptation!



i wasn’t quite cleaning the blue line, but i was getting closer each run. G and I both were getting used to the lips on the jumps. Next time!



never know what you will get with the AlanaCam




Griffith’s Spring afterward to release the heundz!



Our final attempt on the FUTS into town went much better. I used this opportunity to promote upgrading the HeiHei to a 1x drivetrain, and forever prevent this from happening again. Alana crushed it on the way in, and gutted it out on the way home. Never figured her for a 2-ride day, until today. Her flagstafricanism is definitely trending up.