Brrrr.

I need shoe covers. Rode up this morning in low teens, and my feet were frozen when I got up here to work. Had a great piece of the screaming barfies pacing around my classroom with my feet thawing. Not fun.

Riding makes me stupid(er)

This is a demonstrable fact, witness the ride home today (under gorgeous bluebird skies): I was content for an hour to stare ahead, thinking of essentially nothing. No intrusions, beyond the level of “owtch, that’s a headwind” or “my front tire makes cool sounds at 25 mph”. This why having a job at it intellectually challenging is good.

The pendulum has certainly swung the other way. Riding, or more usually running and to a lesser extent climbing, during college was the great and vital escape, as in those days it took multiple hits with a sledgehammer to move the brain switch to “off”. And I am certain that things will change again, most likely when I get my act together and go to grad school next year. Gotta enjoy the fitness and limited-work-time while it is.

On the note of intellectual fulfillment, I’d like to highlight one of the more obscure links off to your right I Blame the Patriarchy. I’ll put the quotations before the drivel:

“My vigil has been a long and fruitless one. No epiphany hath forecome. Whenever I turn on the TV I might as well be bending over and pointing at a sign on my ass: “Behold another receptacle for patriarchy’s indoctrinatory videographed ejaculations.””

and

“…TCM [Turner Classic Movies] is a sort of chronology, an historical record of the misogynist antecedency of modern patriarchal thought, a reference manual to the canonized idols, saints, and gods of 21st century oppression.”

First, this is funny. I Blame… has some consistently great writing, managing to be amusing and insightful without the net disease (I call it The Rolling Stone syndrome) of substituting humor, irony, and a wink-wink knowhow for substance and earnestness. Good stuff, and a personally important counterpoint to yet another debate about tread psi and gearing.

Second, misogyny is an important subject. Halfways through my time in college, I read a lady named Judith Butler, and life has never been the same. Behind her convoluted and challenging Gender Trouble is an idea that is so elegant I find it hard to articulate: that the ordering of life into us and them does a fundamental violence to one’s experience of the world. There is a pernicious inaccuracy to any such “binary” (trying to avoid philosophy words), and the process invariably creeps into other parts of one’s life.

(Yes, these trading cards are so nerdyawesome, it makes me want to read Hegel. It’s worth noting the Tracey Emin’s card features mad cleavage, reminiscent of almost every concert program pic of Ani DiFranco.))

Example: viewing the “inherent difference” between genders ignores how complex the category itself is. Categories do not exist, there are only those things which we choose to make examples.
So, I try to explain to a student two days ago that by singing Ludacris’s “Shake Your Money Maker” he snot only disrespects herself, but everyone else (in the room and in her life). A bit of a hard sell, given how inadequate my above summary of Butler’s wider implications is. It is something some people grasp, while others (thinking of my students again) have never been taught how their own hate and disparagement will poison their own lives.

It is rightfully uncomfortable for men to read things like the quotations I lifted today. The term “feminazi” comes to mind; but just as Hitler should point to the evil inside you, so to should feminism. Culture, and anything in it, only exists because it is a part of you, you a part of it. (Why, I think, W is so disheartening for me.)

If you have a particularly strong stomach, dig up the noted Seven Wives for Seven Brothers; along with Meet the Parents one of the most asinine and uncharitable movies I’ve ever seen. If you’re not moved to nausea by this one, you may be in need of some soul searching.

You cannot do anything well, until you know. The unexamined life is not one worth living. Ergo, read something new today.

Blaaarrhhhh…

Last night I slept like garbage, when the alarm went of a 0450 for riding to work, I immediatly reset it for an hour later and went back to sleep, albiet fitfully. An hour ago going outside, we had a brutal windchill, therefore I’m not looking forward to riding home. No getting sick.

I’m a little gunshy about the cold after this weekend, which seems silly. I love the cold, but despise being cold. I also have strange reservations about buying a bunch of clothing (shoe covers) that I won’t use very often. Again, silly.

Still on for Moab, but the weather report doesn’t look like it’ll be melting much snow. I’m going to send of an email and try to get the NPS to be forthcoming. We shall see; cuz right now I just want to go home and eat soup in bed.

Sometime in the last week maps went up on the Red Hot website, I am very psyched! It looks like a cool and varied course, challenging but in a way that will suit me. I’ve also never been on almost all of it, despite living there for about a year. That’s why we do these things.

1554

This day goes forth for rest. Gotta have it. Today I went to work, went to our teacher’s meeting, came home, hung out, and drank the above. Which is simply the best. My fav. Now I’m watching Lehrer, ribs baking in the oven, potatoes on the stove. Life is good.

Also, happy 78th to Mike King, Jr. I designed research projects for student groups at work, for our “day off” this morning. While the presentations were quite bad, the research process itself went exceedingly well. I still struggle to teach nuance, but MLK is someone the youth have been programed to identify with. The present ideological implications of the 14th amendment, not so much. I can only teach my students what they learned themselves. MLK is it, so he gets the last words:

“All men are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality.”

Photos from Freezefest

Courtesy of Ms. Malia McIlvenna. Cheers.


The crew ready to roll in the parking lot. Canyoneering, moreso than most outdoor activities, attracts an interesting group of folks.


On the second Freezefest-New Year’s trip through the Black Hole, two epic log jams were discovered. 70 feet tall, filling the entire canyon for 100 feet. Climbing over (and rapping down the other side) was not exactly safe, but for one jam was mandatory. The crew that year also encountered the fascinating canyon phenomenon that is “log soup.” Envision a thicker version of the trash compactor scene from Star Wars, butin water over your head. You must tread water and shuttle logs up and around you, because as the water level drops due to evaporation, the logs fill every minute bit of surface area on the water. Hard work, and can vastly increase time in the water. This sign, bolted and epoxied to the boulder near the bottom of the entrance trail, kindly asks you to not be a dumbass and kill yourself, right in time for conditions to resume “normal” (no logs) this year.

Our PSA: canyons are shaped by floods, and more relevantly reshaped. Beware.

Me wading into the action. Note 3mm neoprene gloves (with holes), fuzzy rubber skull cap, and drysuit. Along with 2mm neoprene socks, allows the enjoyment of stupid-cold water in the middle of winter.


Jared Hillhouse (San Juan co. deputy) exiting one of the numerous swimming pools. Many who went through the day with thin gloves swam backwards, using the drybag in the pack for flotation and keeping the hands dry. Jared’s finding of the beach with his butt demonstrates the inefficiencies of this technique.

Failure is not an option

Now: define failure.

Something I’ve had problems doing for years now. Yesterday evening: is it failure to cry uncle and get picked up when the ride took longer than I thought, my hands are freezing, and I’m facing riding through town in the dark with all the scary drivers out and about? Or is it failure to be stubborn and push through when my training goals dictate otherwise? I feel good about pulling the plug, I wanted to ride for 7 or so hours, and did. I rode well, was focused and right now feel tired but not destroyed. Another shivering and nervous 90 minutes would have done more harm than good. Recognizing this for the strength that it is has been a construction of the last five years. Running and getting injured, climbing dangerous routes, and making my marriage work have all given me the perspective. It all helps me sleep well.

In some ways I was never fully alive until I started rock climbing when I was 13. I can’t recall being particularly passionate or interested in anything previously; the lacuna of memory that is my dad’s death when I was 11 makes a clear look before impossible. At least for now. Climbing gave me something to test myself against, it also in the stress of high school became cast rigorously in black and white. In the year’s since I’ve been trying to gain back some gray.

My goals for this year are scary. Transiowa is frightening. Not because of the misery I know awaits, but because of the choices that misery will bring forth. I’ll have profound ego in the event of a DNF, but only if in the next months I give myself a reason. So, the buisness of the day, every day, is to ensure and honest success or failure. And to remember that, suffering notwithstanding, this is all supposed to be fun.

I’ll get to revisit the roads where I rediscovered the interest in riding a bike that largely dimmed when I crashed and broke my clavicle, mountain biking when I was 12. Those are the halcyon days, when I would ride half an hour across town, pick up my friend Adam, ride an hour or more out to the state park, ride trails for 2-3 hours, then ride back to his house and then mine. All in jean shorts, without repair gear! We never got a flat on those rides, and even when I had that crash I still rode back to his house, trying to ride one-armed over the pavement seams.

Marni’s right Chris, kids are remarkable.

All the unremarkable details:

The Brooks is beginning to break in, taking all the tension out helped enormously. I’m somewhat concerned that my natural position on the back rests a bit on the metal frame, but I also think the leather is still hard enough that I wouldn’t know if that were the case. On the other hand, even though it never felt that comfy, my ass isn’t sore at all today. I’ve been religiously wearing chamois shorts thus far, but my eventual hope is to dispense with the funny looking nut-sweat-factories and be able to ride all day in capilene undies and “normal” shorts and pants. Plus the leather is polishing up a bit under use, and looks awesome.

I’m really pleased with everything about the bike, in fact. The monkey is intuitive, period; regardless of what I’m riding on. Yesterday’s ride had almost everything one could find to ride on locally, and it did great. Once the saddle is truly broken in, I have very high hopes for comfort and utility (and not getting my skeleton rattled on the Rim Ride in March).

I’ve also developed what I think is an excellent test of rigid fork and frame compliance (big and ambiguous word that it is): no handed riding on solid washboard. Provided you aren’t about to go into a ditch or be hit by a truck, it give you time to relax and examine exactly how much movement you’re getting from each piece. Based on this and memory, without head to head tests, it seems to me that the monkey fork is the Salsa Cromoto grande’s equal, while the monkey frame is a good bit stiffer vertically than the Soma Juice. The Juice/Salsa combo’s flex pivot point (if you will) was about 5″ back from the headtube, right where the top and down tubes start to significantly diverge. The Monkey’s is squarely at the fork crown. Not a very scientific test; yet it seems to me that both flex-characters have benefits and draw backs.

Most importantly (and this speaks to the overall question of “emperical” testing of bikes and bike parts) the geo advantages of the K Monkey are far more significant than the flex characters of either bike. I haven’t noticed the monkey beating my up any more, for “shock” on a rigid bike a tire makes way more difference than any small change in frame or fork. Not that I would turn down a ti fork if someone gave it to me.

I’ll write a comprehensive and final comparison of the Juice/Cromoto and Monkey/Monkey after the White Rim. It should provide a fertile test ground for such questions.

Business remaining for the day: 1.5 hour run, pile o’ grading, and looking into elk permits for this fall.

And yes, brown IS my favorite color.

Quick list for the day

…with more to come later. Right now I’m busy rehydrating before I pass out.

7 hours on the bike.
4.5k vertical.
Cold hands and feet.
Lots of wandering around to find an obscure FS road.
Stellar climbing and descending on said road.
Unique trail conditions: slippery sand and hard cow-postholes?! (simultaneously)
Lost the “road” 50 minutes of bushwacking with the bike.
Frozen hands on a long descent.
Called Meredith for a rescue.
Sore right hip from landing on a cobble.

Despite all the monkey buisness, I’m getting my groove back physically. Now I want to keep building without getting greedy, or lazy.

Good night, and good luck.

Reload

Always tricky, as Chris has noted, to switch gears after you spent most of the week gettin’ psyched to ride in the cold. This AZ morning, however, its crisp and sunny and blue. I woke up in my very nice bed (we finally found a proper mattress last month at a thrift store, $60 got us one which seems new), after having gone for a three plus hour power hike, ate a tasty dinner, and watched four episodes of The West Wing. Not too bad. Soon I’ll be scrutinzing maps for an 8 hour ride today.

Speaking of hiking, it was designed to be a two hour run. However, I’ve now given up on making my Patagonia Endurance pack work for trail running. All the various combos of high, low, tight, loose can’t keep the damn thing from bouncing around and eventually causing shoulder cramps. A pity, because I want to devise some way to be able to carry a gallon of water, snacks, clothing, and gear for all-day runs (when my fitness gets there!). Perhaps two bottles in hand, and two on some kind of hip pack will be the way to go; though I used my Mountainsmith Tour for r3 over a year ago and got side cramps from its bouncing on the way back down the North Kaibab. These are all less immediate gear issues.

A more immediate one is the stellar looking Jandd frame pack I’ll be reseaching and likely getting this morning. Jandd even has it on sale at their website. Meredith and I had intended to manufacture one ourselves, but the materials and zipper would likely cost more the the Jandd, especially on sale.

And of course, the Moab trip was cancelled. Chris states it well, the weather truly was a roll of the dice. We could be out there now having and easy, if chilly, time of it. Or we could be stopping every 200 yards to push through drifting snow, freezing the feet and pushing or finish well into a cold night. Given the long drive for all of us, the quality of the whole experience will likely be better in a week. Next weekend is also the last free weekend I’ll have to prerun some of the Red Hot course, so I’m going even if it’s snowing. My goals for that race, stated publicly to engender (self) accountability:

1) Finish under the cut off, if just.
2) Have fun.

That is all. Now I just have to break the inertia and get out there! Charge.

Dinner out is a go

Anyone care to identify the Rob Redford film in question?

Just read Chris P’s tale of his WRIAD trip last February. Weird. The trip itself sounds epic, what’s weird is that I’m almost exactly a year older than him. My bday is in fact 2/10, but my AZ license says 2/11 because Meredith misrecalled it. She won’t let me fill out important paperwor due to my incomprehensible handwriting, ergo in the eyes of the state I was born on the 11th. Theoretically this could cause issues, and should be changed, but for the moment its just funny.

Last year I thought the 10th was a Saturday, but that’s this year. Last year it was the 11th, and we were living in St. George, and headed up to do the Subway (and the upper section, Das Boot) in Zion NP. It was the 11th, though I still thought it was the 10th. We had a great time anyway, swimming through ice and walking across long frozen corridors in which one usually has to swim. We even met folks hitching at the lower parking lot, thinking no way in hell are there other people out to do this today.

Small world.

Once I’m done with this literary procrastination I’m off to stuff all my warm gear in the truck, in preparation for the weekend. Seems like Dave and Chris will make it out, so off I go. I’ll pick up some shoe covers and perhaps lobster gloves in Flag. Or make due with what I got. My Sealskin waterproof socks work well as vapor barriers, but are bulky and a nuisance.

Nutritional highlights will include:
-deer jerky, courtesy my stepdad
-coconut macroons, the secret weapon
-chocolate covered espresso beans
-Clif bars
-maybe dried fruit, though I tend to not eat much when its cold
-sour jelly beans (secret weapon 2)
-fancy performance beverage (usually tang, this time probably waterbottles of hot green tea)

Still trying to figure out how to bring the fat fleece extra layer, larger pack or something strapped to the frame. Making a framebag is on the short list.

Over and out.

Plato

The ancient Greek philosopher, interpreter and recorder of Socrates, and as such the single most important author in the history of western thought. Apocryphly sourced for the quotation; “He was a wise man who invented beer.” Anyone want to point me towards a dialogue for that one? Not that we’re doubting, really reading the Symposium (rough Greek for “mad drinking contest”) knows the man appreciated his brew.

This rant brought to you by the PBC, and their superlative Raven Maniac Stout. Perhaps the first chocolate-accented stout where the chocolate is a collaborative, smoky partner rather than a fancy dress on an ugly date (to be patriarchal, it is beer). Served in delicate little 10 oz mini-pilsner glass. 9 percent, they told me, and after three I must believe them. These years out of college, I typically talk philosophy whilst mildly intoxicated. Brings back memories of the basement pub, arguing with Jeffy B in the corner while the rest of the 10pm Wednesday crew rolled their eyes playing darts. I like living in a town with a good brewery; alas, too far to ride, and too many loud Cali-retirees during happy hour.

A storm was on the air this afternoon, but the stars were out when I went out 15 minutes ago to water the P-pine on the deck. Our Solstice tree, cut off and stuck in the dirt two weeks ago, is looking chipper as ever. New year’s this weekend? A new year is for big plans, sore knees, and cold clear air tickling your nose hair.

In conclusion, beer “darkness” is measured in “Plato’s”, I see. Named after a German, but still not I think a coincidence. Another of life’s paradox’s: of all the German’s Nietzsche goes best with or inspires the best beer drinking, but Hegel it would seem would probably be the best man to buy you a round. It still makes me more at ease with the order of the world to think of Hume playing billiards after a day of work.

Good evening, all.