G (5) wanted to win. Alana (7) wanted to look good.
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 theme
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
‘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.
Between us we have 50 years experience on Pass Mtn, it never gets easier.
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.
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?
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.
Sunday we went to Robin’s house to socialize some new ACDR puppies.
G and I did a sunset ride up Gateway and down Paradise Wash, but first we hit one of my spots for suburban hooliganism.
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.
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.
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.
I barely pedaled or braked 3 miles down Hawknest, it felt like snowboarding.*heart* that trail, new favorite trail.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This is how you Fall Break! Weatherford Trail from Freidlein Prarie Road, Flagstaff, USA
Dia ate 7 hot dogs, 12 meatballs, and over a pound of ziti and queso dip. Her stomach was notably bloated as she lay on the bed panting between refills of her tiny water bowl. Getting our full $15 pet-friendly hotel fee from the happy hour buffet at the Drury.
Biscuits and gravy refueled the dog for the Inner Basin trail in the morning.
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.
I tried a friend’s fancy board this summer, and it opened my mind to my bumpkinism about SUPs. Our first board is an intro POS, heavy board heavy paddle, that I could trade on a good day for a midrange EZ UP or a couple pairs of nice kids-sized cleats. The table-stakes at the sport give you a taste of the stoke, but you quickly tire of losing. Our board rides the water like an earthquake, gradually and inexorably tilting you into a swim. I tracks like a leaf and slogs even down current.
Beckie loves it, and I like it enough to lend her my ability to close. 3 days later, we had a new toy.
Putting the money into it was never in doubt – I’ll keep my shitty truck for a few more years to redirect fundage into toys like this! The best part about outdoor toys (other than road bikes) is that doubling costs have immense, performance-value sweetspot benefits still 10x cheaper than cars. I’m pleased to see I’ve gotten better and better at this meta-transaction, evidence by *ahem* a new board in 3 days!!!
NoSnow is at the Hawes’ trailhead, and we were not aimlessly driving out there. l It was a full morning. Beckie took G on a loop through TRW. Alana and I did the Canal trail and Tour De Backyards, for 4 miles of dirt and almost an hour of spin time!!!!
It is so responsive, stable and fast! I could steer both directions from both sides, even the children were killing it.
Dirtbag DadCamp in session for the Jewish holidays! New annual membership to the AZ Science Center.