Fresh Meat

As absolutely no one has noticed, I’ve been absent from the wordy slopes of Mt. Shredward for a while. Like, two years. Wow. That’s even longer than I thought. I’ll include myself among those who didn’t notice or care I was gone.

However, I’m pleased as punch n’ gin to say that while I’ve not typed word one in my bloggy wogg, I’ve been extremely active on the trails of the bay area during that time, with an assist from the epic headline-grabbing drought we’ve been suffering out here in Cali. It’s been as advertised, so mountain biking has been a year-round sport for around half a decade now.

The reservoir shores of our golden state are a barren, apocalyptic, multi-tiered ring of sadness surrounding alarmingly small bodies of water that are quickly racing towards pond status. But hey, it’s been a non-stop riding party. Dusty as fuck when riding with the crew, but I guess if there’s a silver lining to our slowly churning environmental catastrophe, no rainouts on planned riding days ain’t bad. Actually, I honestly can’t remember the last rainout I had. But they say that this year will finally be the year that we actually have a winter. There’s gonna be an El Nino, ya know. I’ll believe it when I’m not sucking dust.

Also keeping me on the trails on the regular is that I’ve suffered no serious injuries since the great elbow rebuild of aught-twelve. It’s just been the usual little falls that result in sore wrists and scrapes. And actually, I kind of take the long view on abrasions. See, I don’t know about you guys, but this sick fuck never grew out of his love of a well-timed scab picking. And by well-timed I mean early and often. I’m actually not aware of any abrasion on my freckly and increasingly wrinkly skin that didn’t encounter a major setback to the natural healing process thanks to a compulsive, full frontal fingernail assault. Maybe one or two escaped prying up by my index finger’s nail, but even that is highly unlikely. My fingertips are on a near constant search and destroy mission, feeling for anything that I can squeeze or pick off. Pimples, which apparently are going to be with me from puberty to the grave, are equally doomed in the abused warzone that is my skin. I’m much like a dictator in that I’m unrelentingly cruel to my own population (POPulation. That’s funny.) It’s really beyond my control, kinda like reaching down my boxers and playing with my boys once I’m sitting in front of a TV. Am I right? The fellas know what I’m talkin’ about.

I’m never off the clock when it comes to self-grooming. And for the record, it stays self-grooming. My wife and I both believe that, like peeing and pooping, acne harvesting is a private matter, so we don’t do the primate stuff. Gross. And besides, that’s my fucking bacne. Mine. For me to enjoy.

While we’re on this disgusting subject (though judging by the millions of views that the more grotesque and jaw dropping squeezings get on YouTube, it’s a shared interest), a related vent: I’m still puzzled to this day whenever I see someone with a larger than normal whitehead on their face that remains unmolested for more than a day. I mean, what the heck, dude? For one, it’s kinda rude to make people look at a mound of pus and sebum through a transparent membrane of epidermis. You’ve pretty much got a glass-domed display at the National Museum of the Disgusting right at everyone’s eye level. Secondly…oh my god!…how do you deny yourself the satisfaction of successfully dispatching the power that lies between two well-placed digits on that weak bitch? White means it’s go time. Hopefully you didn’t actually listen to all those warnings about the dangers of popping pimples in junior high. What else did you believe, you pussy? That you should always wear condoms?

So yeah, mountain biking. I’ve been doing that. And working. Going on the occasional trip. My daughter is now in sixth grade. Got a new car. The 27.5” wheel has taken the fuck over. Had my fifth anniversary with my second wife. I took a full time job after over five years of freelancing. Yeah, let’s see if I can get this Shredward thing going again.

UPDATE: Wooohoooo. Had a crash that resulted in a big scrape down my shin and in the crotch of my leg and foot (I think it’s called an ankle) and am currently in a beautiful tussle with the crusty results. It had been a while since I had a playground of multiple square inches like this. Good stuff. Thought you should know.

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Happy returns to Tamarancho

I spent a little time scouting as a kid. Thinking back, I was in first or second grade, and all the sudden I was doing this thing called Cub Scouts. Funny how the transitions that must have happened leading up to the varied events of our youth just sort of fade away as more years separate us from those younger days. For the life of me, no matter how hard I try to recall more details, that’s pretty much what I’ve got: suddenly I was in Cub Scouts. No memory of my parents asking my twin and me if we wanted to join Cub Scouts. Nada. Oh well. I  do, however, have multiple disjointed memories of what happened while in Cub Scouts. One boy getting yanked out by his apparently-pretty-goddamn-sensitive parents because the pack was based out of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (my family wasn’t Mormon, but I guess didn’t sweat them. It just wasn’t a real visible thing to us kids other than that some kids used “brother” instead of “mister.” I mean, what the hell? Mormons are super nice. And they have an American Jesus, for Christ’s sake. Pretty cool stuff). I also remember a gangly kid having a sobbing exchange with a den mother about his ability to do a summersault, him insisting that he couldn’t do it, and her taking the opposing view. Chris eventually did the summersault—to the condescending applause of a half dozen or so summersault masters. (One really valuable thing that came out of that kid’s devastatingly shameful moment is that my brother and I turned his sobbing refrain, “I can’t doo iiiiit,” into a still-enduring Beach twin sound bite.) I think that my mom, always very involved in stuff, even did some time as a den mother. Other than that I remember we did some Indian stuff when it was still okay to do it. Pinewood Derby. I got my full diamond of badges. Became a Webelo. You know, Cub Scout shit. Then I wasn’t a Cub Scout. Another transition that’s gone. Maybe I became too old. Eventually we moved to the foothills of Amador County. One of my new acquaintances’ dad headed up the Sutter Creek Boy Scout troupe (I guess they were don’t ask, don’t tell since no one ever asked me), and so I did Boy Scout shit for a year or two. I even went snow camping one total bullshit night. I learned that spending the night in a place cold enough to accumulate snow deep enough to dig a sleeping hole is as horrible as it sounds. But the majority of the time scouting was pretty fun. Even the snow camping trip was fun during the day. I’d say that being a scout is pretty good for a kid, despite the incredibly silly misstep the old Scouts Kings made of trying to stave off the obvious.

I’m especially fond of the Marin Council of the BSA. I don’t actually know much about them, but I do know they’ve got some land up in the hills above Fairfax, Ca, and on that land they’ve got beautifully crafted and maintained trails. And unlike most of the trails in Marin County, which are off limits to tire (save hippies that may still have a pair of sandals soled with old Michelins), these trails are made for biking. Hikers aren’t forbidden, but it’s pretty much regarded as a biker area. Awesome. It’s called Camp Tamarancho (“Tamo” is the cool mountain biker lingo), and it’s a really fun place to ride. And interestingly enough, it’s the location of the Guinness Record, World’s Most Unnecessary Sign:

If I must

If I must

I’ve never had a bad day on Tamo. And that record remains intact because it was actually a night ride when I tore the ligament in my right elbow (I won’t revisit the event because it’s been mentioned enough on this blog. If you give a fuck about the details, they’re easy to find in the recent archives). It wasn’t until I was about half way up the first climb that I realized that this was the first time I was riding Tamo since my little-wreck-with-a-big-bummer-result happened. Cool, I thought, something to write about in Mt. Shredward. I started to think of funny captions I would have on the photo I was going to take of the 30 yards of trail, full of dozens of baby heads, one of which stopped my bike cold while I kept going. But then I got there, and I found this:

Decapitated babies

Decapitated babies

What happened to the baby heads? Seems to be a theme going here. Duude, where are the baby fuckin’ heads, duuuuuUUDE? I guess Boy Scouts don’t dig baby heads on the trail, which I gotta say is pretty antithetical to your average mountain biker’s viewpoint on having infant cranium-sized rocks to run over. We love ’em. And I would have loved to run over them again, too.

Sigh. So anti-climatic.

But you know what? (Of course you don’t. So I’m gonna tell you.) I like anti-climatic when it’s on shit like this. Really, whoopeelahdifreakinwhogivesafuck? As I said, it took me a couple miles into the ride to realize that it had any significance. And not long after that, I realized I was wrong. The injury happened a long ass time ago. I rode Tamo with a pain-free elbow, the recovery well in my rearview. It was hardly a nothing injury, but it’s not like it was one of those exploding baby heads and it blew off my legs and my return to “the spot” required machinery or prosthetics. It was a great ride at Tamo, as usual, but it was just another ride. I’m happy to say, I have them all the time. Just another thing that will fade from my memory.

View from: Aboutaridesolticeville Elevation: 1375 Population: 1

View from: Aboutaridesolticeville (San Francisco, way in the back)
Elevation: 1375
Population: 1




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The death of a tester

Woe is us. Wooooooe is us. And unfortunately I’m not talking about Whoa. As in “Whoa! Nice one, friend!” That’s a whoa which everyone enjoys. I’m talking old school woe with a side of melancholy. Yes, for many East SF Bay Area riders, the topic today is a woeful one. The bell has tolled for one of our most well known testers. $2 Hill in Joaquin Miller Park up in the Oakland hills. It has been rendered useless under a tomb of tree parts. The uninitiated and non-locals can get a taste of it in this video. And if you have any doubts, yes, attempted climbs are exactly as dramatic as depicted by the director.

It no longer looks like that. (But before I go on, I need to note that, as is the case with most videos that show testers like this, it looks much less difficult than it is in real life. So don’t be all, “Dude, that shit doesn’t look hard at all!”) I finally saw it about five days after I heard about its closure. And damn, it is seriously closed. Like, Circuit City on a Sunday at 2:37 AM closed. It now resides beneath branches the size of well-fed pythons and big ass logs, some so girthy that Yao Ming couldn’t completely encircle ’em with those long and loving Chinese arms of his, no matter how much of an arboreal fetish he had. It looks like a cartoon mouse shook some pepper into the trunk of a cartoon elephant, the hilarious blast leveling the trees for a good two football field’s length swath. It’s not just the 40 yards or so (I’m horrible at judging distance, so I could be way off) of the actual $2 hill that got covered. The trail leading up to it is also under lumber. You can’t even see the actual $2 Hill from where the new bypass trail (which is great, by the way. Big props to the folks who sweated hard to get that built) veers off to the left. I’m not going to say $2 hill can no longer cleaned, at least as long as there’re monster trucks and tanks. But it is no longer bike friendly.

So, I thought I’d do an obituary (more of a eulogy, I guess) for this little stretch of trail that has slain the ego of so many fine riders. Kind of like when even the most despicable of assholes dies. Suddenly people have all kinds of great things to say about them. “Well, you know, Uncle Mark was Uncle Mark. Ha. I remember this one time, he polished off the fourth signature vodka and rubbing alcohol cocktails he had that night, staggers up, looks me in the face and spray-spits it all over me. But what was really funny and creative of him was that he held up a lit lighter first. My god, did I ever burn. That’s why I don’t have full ears. Boy, could that Uncle Mark express himself in interesting ways or what?” I know, it’s not a perfect analogy, because in actuality $2 Hill was genuinely loved. But why the fuck do we do that after horrible people die? I digress (as usual).

The lore is, and it makes sense, that it’s called $2 Hill because if someone in a group cleaned it, everyone else is supposed to give him two bucks. Kind of a closest-to-the-hole thing. I don’t personally know anyone who has any earned any actual income from $2 Hill, but it’s a catchy name.

Locally conceived names for stuff like that are always so cool. Such a staple of localized culture. And we do it so instinctively. A clearing where high schoolers meet to party and drink weekend after weekend, year after year, generation after generation. Off-playground areas where neighborhood kids like to hangout and play. They all get named. In high school we had a really tall jumping off point on the Consumes river outside of Plymouth, CA. It was called Big Tit. Of course I have no idea how long it’d been called that and by how many people, or if it’s still called that, but all my contemporaries knew that moniker as naturally as we knew the name of our school mascot. And there was another more frequented swimming spot simply called The River, which I don’t believe to be a very unusual local naming. I think a lot of people use “the river,” but what’s interesting is that it always means one particular spot. River banks cover a lot of area and people don’t just stand at random spots thinking, “I’m at The River. Now where the hell are those guys?” And this local naming thing can get reeeeaal local. Even in a single household people give names to rooms and backyard areas that overtake official names like “spare room.” In one house my family lived in we had a room called “the boat room,” so named because someone who owned the place before us had had the horrible idea to take out the original, square, sane people window that came with the house and put in a replacement that was the same size as your average ship porthole. Which means, now that I think about it, this visionary went through the effort of not only removing the original aluminum framed sliding window, but also had to do some framing, sheet rock, texturing and painting. Or did that room have wood paneling? Even more disastrously innovative was that the pane was a very 70s amber orange that had that funky (again, very 70s) kind of bubbly texture. It made for a very dark room, but a pretty interesting one to a kid, and a gave the Beach family a nice name to identify the room.

In the case of a really tough little stretch of Sunset Trail in Joaquin Miller Park, someone named it $2 Hill. And low and behold, it spread. But interestingly enough, my riding crew and I always knew it under a different name: La Bamba, which was coined (way before I joined the group) by one of our ranks and low and behold, it stuck. So out of love and respect for my crew and because until the last few years I didn’t know it had another name, in this writer’s eulogy, it will be named as such going forward.

La Bamba represented a lot of firsts for me, now that I’m thinking about it. The first time I rode it (or tried to ride it, at least) was on my first night ride. And though I’d been at the mountain biking thing for at least a couple years, it was my first experience with a tester. I’m sure I’d pushed my bike up testers before it, totally unawares that I should have been trying to ride that shit, but I was completely unfamiliar with the concept of a crew stopping and gathering at the base of a tricky technical ascent, and voicing encouragement, tips and good natured taunts as each rider tackled it one by one, hoping that the rider would “clean” it (a term that was also new to me, but which I now embrace with arms and legs, as well as my soul’s arms and legs). The camaraderie of the tester is a fucking beautiful thing. Tremendously bro.

And as far as testers go, La Bamba was a dandy. There are guys on my crew, very good riders, who for whatever reason never have—and now never will—clean it. There was a very mental aspect to defeating La Bamba that for some, I believe, proved to be their undoing much more than the actual physical feat. It was trippy shit seeing one member of the crew in particular (let’s call him Fauxqua) get one bitch slap after the next from the dirty hands of La Bamba. He’s a kinda imposing looking guy and a natural athlete with a huge personality who takes on technical descents with a fearlessness that I will never possess. He should have been able to defeat that hill more than a few times in his hundreds of attempts. But La Bamba owned him 100%. He’s going to give me shit for saying this, but he always looked done before he even rounded that first cut to the left above the support timber.

I don’t know how many attempts it took before I busted my $2 La Cherry, and I don’t really remember the actual event for some reason, but I’m sure it was glorious. I was on my old my old 2003 Gary Fisher Tassajara, which though a trusty steed (which I’ve converted to my city bike, and absolutely adore), was a lower-mid level bike, at best. What I remember clearly, however, is that my first attempt after I finally got my dream bike, a Blur LT2 (which I’m still riding after 4 years), was a successful one, and I laughed all the way up (at least until I couldn’t waste much needed oxygen on laughing), extremely happy with my new purchase.

Pushed to give my win total, I’d say I got about a dozen cleans under my riding shorts’ elastic waistband over the years. I think that’s a pretty good number, though it represents a very low percentage of success. The conditions of La Bamba varied wildly. At times they were so bad it made cleaning it damn near impossible. And I’m not just talking when rain produced slick mud that made it like trying to climb a diarrhea smeared slide on your bike. The biggest obstacle within the obstacle was what we called “The Chute,” which was a foot deep grove that formed on the second half of La Bamba by way of hundreds and hundreds of attempts. It was full of loose earth and hatred. Either your back wheel would slide out or, especially frustrating, while trying to keep your balance at slow speed over uneven surface, you’d do quick correcting steers left or right and your front wheel would kiss off the foot high side of the chute and you’d be fucked as fuck. Foot down. Dab. Done. Dammit. The Chute was my undoing for many many attempts. But then, folks got tired of The Chute and a line to the left emerged, and there was hope. Wins became more frequent in our group. I know they did for me.

But now, the challenge of La Bamba is gone forever. I’m sure, like this poll and heated discussion on, there will be a lot of back and forth on whether it should have been taken out. I’ll certainly miss the challenge. A lot. But from a sustainability and aesthetic standpoint, it was kind of a nightmare. So I’m taking the noncommittal, “I’m bummed but I get it,” stance. I’ve been to IMBA classes on building sustainable trail, and La Bamba could have easily been one of the slides they show as examples of shitty trail built on a fall line. Like Uncle Mark, La Bamba certainly had its flaws, but as I’ve said, it will certainly be missed.

The demise of La Bamba also got me thinking (warning: rants aheads).

It got me thinking about actual life stuff. More specifically, one of actual life’s biggies: challenges. Really, that’s what life is: the manifestation of how an individual handles challenges. (That’s pretty good, actually. Fuck Webster (not the little black dude, the dictionary). That’s the new definition of individual human existence). There are so many influences on how we handle challenges (beyond the challenges themselves, of course). Genetics is huge, of course. I mean, if you’re just dumb, you may be kind of fucked, and mess up a lot. But even more important is how you’ve been raised. Do you have grit? Have you had everything handed to you? Though some just have grit naturally as well, even if their parents sucked. Going back to intelligence, for better and for worse, there’re actually some pretty damn successful dullards out there because they’ve got grit. And I’m not just talking about pro athletes, actors and models. But successful business owners and the like. Not real bright, but who overcame the challenge of risk aversion, and boom, you’ve got a dumb guy whose life is kicking the sad, runny shit out of the life of a genius with too many degrees and not enough balls or grasp of the real world.

For the most part, obstacles and stuff like gets in our way gets a bad rap. But they shouldn’t. Hard stuff is incredibly valuable. But I think in this modern life, we’ve gotten really bad at choosing which challenges we’re trying to remove. But even worse, how we’re choosing to get rid of them.  I don’t think you can “provide” problems away for other people. I think it’s rad that we’re in a country that can help those in need, and I’m not a sociologist, but it seems like more times than not, we’ve fucked up pretty bad on the helping people thing. I’m not talking about times of disaster or in the cases of helping the physically and mentally ill (especially in how horrible we are at helping the mentally ill, which is a national disgrace in my opinion). But you remove the challenge of not starving for the able bodied (and goddamn, have we ever. Our poor people are obviously not starving), and apparently it messes people up. A lot of people get hobbled. Another thing that is kind of lame that’s happened with challenges is that things that should be no brainer stuff is being portrayed as big challenges that you need to have the courage to overcome. There’s a billboard I’ve seen out there a lot, I shit you not, that says it takes courage to save money. What? I’ll say it again. What? I thought it just took common sense. And our president in the state of the union talked about how anyone can have a kid but dads need to have the courage to actually stick around and raise a child. Obama, you fucking pussy. You should have been up there humiliating deadbeat nation on live TV. The society wide shoulder shrug we have on shitty dads just bailing and not raising their many kids is resulting in an absolute catastrophe and is the root problem of impoverished communities. I’m a divorced dad who has made his mistakes, but damn, I just can’t even comprehend dudes who bail. I drive a lot of miles to spend as much time as possible with my daughter, and write a pretty damn fat check each month, and still feel guilty all the time. Courageous? How about be a fucking human being. But no, let’s just play cowardly lip service. “Um, excuse me, you should take care of your kids. I’m not a racist. Moving on…terrorism is bad and you should see how we bombed the fuck out of some of them with our drones!”

Uh oh. I think I’m derailed here. But it’s my railroad and I’ll run off the tracks if I want to.

What I’m getting at, I think, is that we need to embrace the vast majority of our challenges and just do what successful and happy people have always done: solve them. Beat them. Overcome them. But especially think really hard before we try to eliminate them. Some challenges are better left as is. I can’t say $2 Hill/La Bamba falls into that category, but it’s a challenge that I’m certainly going to miss. I felt so good every time I beat it. And there was even a sense of satisfaction the countless times it beat me, because never once did I think, how can I get around this? And I think most of us mountain bikers are the same way. No wonder I love gathering with them at the bottom of a tester so much, rooting for them to beat it senseless.


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Hey, it’s Shredward! Ug. Maybe it was better when he was gone.

Hi. I’m back. Feels good.

But why did it take so loooonnnng? Why is it so hard for you to just write something, fuckerrrr? It’s been like a yeeeearrrr. No, that’s not what I’m imagining my faithful readers are saying, seeing at long last that their favorite mountain bike blogger—NO—their favorite blogger—NO a second time—their favorite writer, period, has returned, ending their sleepless nights full of restless anticipation. No, it’s what I say to myself as I contort to kick myself in the nuts for not doing enough side projects, written purely out of a constant gnawing desire to create.

Uh oh. I sense some self pity coming on. Yep, here it is:

A little bit of background (Which is kind of silly since there’s a decent (97%) chance that I will be the only person to ever read this. But, c’mon, when a dude jerks off, the movie playing in his brain theater is not of realty. Otherwise a fella is imagining himself sitting on a toilet filled with shit slowly dissolving in a porcelain bowl of piss water, pants and boxers around hairy ankles, eyes closed as he works a two handed fist slicked by Walgreens brand hand lotion. That’s not hot (I guess unless you’re a guy who has a thing for guys who look exactly like yourself jerking off on the toilet). So he maximizes the experience by fantasizing that a spank-worthy co-worker, actress or spouse’s friend hates herself enough to allow vaginal or anal penetration by the average sized, semi-erect phallus in-hand (let’s pretend he’s beating off in a hotel room where they charge for wi-fi and it was too expensive, so he had to fantasize ol’ skool). So I will act as if many new readers, turned on to my work by my fans, are discovering Mt. Shredward for the first time and are in need of some context.): I’m in the midst of a 13-year career creating advertising through my in-born grasp of the written word. I’ve seen my stuff on TV, in magazines, on freeway-side billboards, on movie screens before the trailers start, on internet connected computers. All that stuff. It’s pretty fun, and I earn a nice checks doing it. Like a several-multiples-of-my-hard-working-blue-collar-dad’s-best-salary-ever checks (I’m proud of that stuff, but I’m not just bragging here, I have a point).

So I have a cool job and haven’t had to worry about being able to pay bills in a long time. But, there’s an issue: I’m of the species homo sapien. We’re kinda fucked up. Like, the most fucked up of all species. Example: some of us homos slid out on a slick of baby slime into a horrible existence where it’s a good day if you don’t witness a loved one being hacked up by a machete wielding rebel guy and then ear raped by his equally maniacal pet dog. Yet this person living this unimaginable life will still be so driven to survive that they would eat the loved-one-derived droppings of that same dog just to take in enough nourishment to last another fucked up day—a day that probably won’t be as good. And on the same day another homo who has surpassed his wildest childhood fantasies of success, and has enough money to ensure his great grandkids are ungrateful pukes that never have to work a day, will put a fancy brand name hollow point slug to work shredding the grey goo of his sad, one-in-a-million brain. What’s with that? People who live in Genital Punch City do everything they can to survive, yet people who reach their lofty goals call it a life. What I’m saying is, as a homo, things are bit complex. I’ve got some mental issues that I’ve had to deal with (thank you genetics), but I’m not going to pretend that I’m not a pretty damn happy guy, BUT for some reason I don’t get to feel fully satisfied with the great life I’ve worked hard for. Why not? Because that’s not in the cards for this homo. Instead I often go to bed giving myself shit because I didn’t work on the next revision of the feature length script I wrote in my spare time, or start another one. I also wonder why I’m such a loser who can’t even manage to put in the effort to promote the book I wrote. I wrote a fucking book and a full feature length screenplay (good ones too, from what I’m told). That’s not even how I provide for my family (although believe me, I slap myself around plenty for my perceived career failings as well), so I’m totally free from that burden. But still, Andy’s brain is all, “Yeah, but you haven’t promoted the book, like, at all. And the screenplay didn’t make it through the first round of any of the shows you entered it in, so you should be doing revisions, loser. Never mind that you do this side stuff for fun, and not to support you family.” (Christ. Now I hope no one reads this. I’m really getting off the rails here and there’s really no hope of me not coming off like a drama queen self pitying asshole, is there? Didn’t think so. Bummer, but the purge must go on). It gets even better (worse?), and finally brings us back to the point (or not. I don’t remember my point), I also use this little mountain bike blog of mine that I haven’t posted on since October 12th, 2012 as ammo against myself. How can such an insignificant, dumb little no-reader, no-money-making bunch of pixels be a source of more artistic self flagellation? The thing is, I love some of the stuff I’ve written in here, and for a while there was rollin’, writing my brains out and actually building up a little bit of a readership. Then my ligament tore, and with that tear, the enthusiasm, along with my elbow, was also heavily compromised. This, after all, isn’t an elbow reconstructive surgery blog. Shredward isn’t because I like to fall and shred connective tissue and get it surgically repaired and then share my experiences. So I went a bit easy on myself at first for abandoning this blog. I’m not riding, so how could I expect to be geeked about riding writing? But then I got back on my bike. One month. Two months. Three. Nothing. And I felt bad about it, of course.

But finally some shit has sparked me!! Uninterestingly enough, it’s not this rant I’m on. It’s actually going to be in my next posting. But when I started writing what I intended to write about, low and behold, I started bashing myself, and boom, words. Purging, self-serving words. That’s the I remember! Actually it’s not, but I’ve gotta put this wallowing somewhere.

Enough, Beach. You’re here. You’re writing stuff. Stop with all the over the top introspective self pity. Tell the folks about how you’re back mountain biking.

Sounds like a plan.

So, while I’ve gotcha, I’m happy to report that my surgically repaired elbow is feeling more like a normal elbow and, despite the pretty cool six inch scar, it even looks like a normal elbow than it has in ages. And most important, I’ve been back on the trails for a while now and am probably back at about 90% of my former skill level, and damn near 100% of fitness. I have some doubts that my hinge will ever be how it was pre-injury/surgery. But in the last couple months it’ of surprised me, putting in the rear view mirror comfort levels that I figured I’d have to make due with, and moving into new realms of stability and strength.

Let me go back a second. The shit thing of it was, I actually had to have two surgeries. First the big one to replace the torn ligament.

Oh yeah! Let me digress another sec about my ligament replacement procedure; check this out. Being the curious fellow that I am, I asked my doctor, and was educated that they didn’t replace my torn lateral ulnar collateral ligament with a dead guy’s lateral ulnar collateral ligament. No sir, ulnar lateral collateral ligaments are weak as fuck. Instead they use hamstring tendon from a dead guy. It’s stronger!

So, I had that original reconstructive procedure done, followed by an agonizing six month recovery (not so much pain agony, but inactivity agony. Though the first week huuuuuuuurt. Damn did it hurt). Then, goddammit, eight month after the first surgery I had to have another one to retighten a suture holding together the slit where they cut into my elbow capsule to do the repair. It had pulled open just 2 mm, probably around month 4 of my recovery, but the gape was big enough to leak elbow juice. It was most likely as a result of me overdoing it during my recovery. It made a pretty nasty looking lump, like the size of one of those big white, speckled jaw breakers they have in gift shops, but it was soft and liquidy. My wife and even my ex-wife were like, “Got-damn. You need to get that gross thing removed.” That set me back about 6 weeks or so. But I got a carelessly large prescription of Percocet from it. I’m not the addictive, abuser type, so having those around when the mood strikes from time to time is kinda cool. So, what did I take away from the experience other than hillbilly crack? Well, not much. It was just an extra long reaffirmation that not getting to ride because of injury sucks. That’s about it. I was sure that I’d have deep thoughts and philosophical learnings from suddenly not being able to ride for such an extended period of time. Nope. I’ve just moved on and have quickly built back my fitness (which was heavily aided by the fact that I was able to hit spin class twice a week) and have worked on getting back my confidence, which has happened about as slowly as I feared, but it’s coming.

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This might be boring

I have no idea what I’m going to write about, but figured since it’s been a couple fortnights since I’ve hiked Mt. Shredward (obviously mountain biking is a long way off thanks to my lame wing), I should just punch myself in the balls, scream “C’mon you fucking (a few names that call my masculinity into question),”  jump on wordpress, open a new post and just get gonzo.

All right. Blog post. Yeah. Ready aaannnnd…write!

Aaand now!

Yeah, that’s what I thought. Not surprisingly, there’s not exactly a cord of hot-burning oak fuel for the fire pouring out of an Chevy pickup. When one is trying to add to one’s mountain biking blog while one is seven weeks into a six month hiatus from mountain biking, it’s kind of like an NHL beat writer during the current strike. Rather, they probably wish it was like that. That’s just gotta be the lamest. Unlike them, nothing depends on me churning out a piece (except my unique clicks have dwindled from about 35 to 40 a day to a big fat zero). It’s their job, so they end up having to push and grunt and strain and push out NHL stories that no one gives a frozen turd on the blue line about. Me, I’ve got fuck all mountain biking stuff to write about because I’ve done fuck all riding, which has resulted in fuck all inspiration, well, so I just don’t write. It’s been a bummer. I miss tapping about and entertaining myself. I even seemed to have gained some readers (at least according to the click tracker I have installed on wordpress), but, meh, that’s life. I’ve really been okay. Much better than I thought I would be, actually.

I wish I had something juicy and confessional, like how not being able to ride has been a blood soaked SS boot kicking me down a terrifying mental staircase five, ragged, broken steps at a time. I fight and claw, but finally I’ve landed in a sad place filled with swirling, heavy tar-like mania where 99% of the time I’m unable to comprehend my own thoughts, let alone organize them into coherent communications to share with you. And when I do surface enough to take a gasping gulp of semi-clarity I’d report to you stuff like how my non-understanding, bitch of a wife found me “coupling” with my Blur at three in the morning, and that I explained to her, in plain fucking English, how my bike and I will give birth to a new me, free of injury and the ruins of aging, and the re-born me will ride to the peak of Olympus, and become an immortal, Shredius, the god of fat tires, and that I would never need surgery again, ZUES BE PRAISED! I have not time to tap on this cursed tablet. Now I must pack my satchel with Ambrosia flavored Gu and fill my skin with wine to hydrate me as I conquer the highest of Earth’s peaks. Friends, depart with me! I hear the descent down the back of Fuji gives sensations not to be matched by the hummer given by Venus, herself. AWAY!

But no, you get this:

I guess for my own records, for one day I will look upon these words again, I can talk about my last check up, which was a few days before this was written. It went great. Range of motion is better than expected at this point of my recovery. Unfortunately the timeline for my full release is immovable, but it’s good to be doing good.. My rehab is going well. And I’ve been getting into a couple spin classes a week to stay not fat.

One thing that is kind of interesting is that I learned that the piece of tissue that they used to replace my lateral ulnar collateral ligament was actually out of a dead dude’s hammy! I always kind of assumed that they just used another elbow ligament. No sir, that is incorrect. For one, you need a longer piece of tissue than the original ligament because of how it’s installed. They drill a hole into the humerus and then the ulna, stick an end of the tendon into each hole, then screw it in, sort of wedging it in place until the bone heals around it. Another reason they use the tendon out of the hamstring is that it’s incredibly strong. Much stronger than the original ligament. That’s why pitchers who have elbow ligaments replaced often can throw even harder than they could before the injury. I wonder how long until we hear a story about a pitcher who was struggling to make it to the show finding a doctor somewhere in Turkey or Whackistan or other country where such procedures may be had, taking 5 grand to replace a healthy ligament. Don’t imagine it’s against the rules of baseball. Probably less risky than some of the veteranarian intended shit athletes have shot up with.

Well, that’s about it for now. Gotta say, feels good to write something not related to work. I’ll come back.


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Yeah, but can you fix my balls?

So, the last time I was on the slopes of Shredward, I was all like, “Oh man, I gotta get surgery on my elbow. Dude, I’m so bummed, I won’t get to mountain bike for six months. Boohoo for me,” you know, all cryin’ like a bitch. Well, fuck you. How would you feel if a big sliver of your life was about to get taken out like one of the only slices of pepperoni left in the foraged over pizza boxes, and all that’s left is a bunch of shitty weird pieces that have potato slices on them. That was a poorly constructed sentence, but people who have had pizza brought in to the office know what I mean. I’ve got a lot of good stuff in my life, but one of the best parts is being removed, which ups the ratio of lame to good stuff. Why can’t they be like, “Hey, your elbow is pretty fucked up, so I’m afraid you’re not going to have to pay rent for  six months.”

But I digress. What I’m tapping away with both hands about is that I actually haven’t had surgery yet. I was on the hospital bed, IV in my hand, getting ready to get a nerve blocker, when the surgeon’s intern came in to chat, and noted on my chart how I had noted that I had a weird rash on my elbow. THE elbow. “Hmmmmm,” he said. He went and got the surgeon. She looked at it, shook her head and said, “I can’t do it.” Bummer. So my surgery got postponed and went to work, which sucked. I went to a dermatologist, they checked for fungus or infection, and I’m good, on for August 28th.

So I thought, I’ll spend some time in the saddle! Awesome. I love mountain biking! I’ve been riding all this time with a jacked elbow, what’s a few more rides? I’ll just be careful. Well, what those few more rides have been, is pathetic.

There’s the school of thought that cautious riding is better than no riding at all. And I can’t really dig up good evidence to totally dispute that point. But holy shit, is it a far cry from the riding I was doing before I was clued in to the damage beneath my elbow skin, as well as the potential for dislocated disaster if I go down hard. They may as well have told me that another consequence of this type of injury is that the circumference of my balls would also be aversely affected. It’s given rise to a troubling concern: is it going to take a long time for my stones to heal and start pumping some courage again? I know getting my maneuvering skills and balance back is going to take a few rides. Maybe more than a few. What we regular riders can do on a bike isn’t totally natural. It takes reps. I get that. But how long am I going to be afraid of hitting the deck and re-injuring my repaired hinge? Because I gotta tell ya, being cautious isn’t that fun. I’ve always ridden in what I call “I’ve got a kid mode,” which keeps me from just saying “fuckit” and going off a big drop that can eat my spleen if I shank it. It’s just not worth it to me. There’s enough fun stuff out there that has a lower likelihood of causing me to know a group of nurses personally. But ever since I did a week in Moab, I’ve learned that me and my Blur are capable of going down some substantial stuff. But it took a bit of work to build to that point, and it certainly didn’t involve worrying about crashing and re-mangling an old war wound.

I don’t know. Maybe I’m worrying about worry that will never materialize once my elbow is recovered from its fixin’. But if not, I may be going back under the knife again, this time to get elective surgery to have my permanently shriveled plumbs replaced by those of some bad ass who died base jumping or something.

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The coming storm of inactivity

I’m sure some of you mad bombers out there who hang much closer to the ground than myself would (and should) disagree, but I don’t find that mountain biking is as hazardous as perceived by outsiders. It’s certainly much more forgiving than one would think, given all the hard-and-sharp-as-fuck stuff we bounce over, snake through, jump off and, sometimes, land on with our fragile, mortal vessels. Think about it: How many times have you seen your buddy go down in front of you hard enough that you shout “Ohhh duuuude shiiiit man!” A lot, right? And sometimes it’s you freaking the hell out of your co-riders as you abruptly dismount and say “how do ya do” to the ground. But how often does the rag doll slowly get up, make sure his dick is still attached, say, “aaaaaagghh, man,” once or twice, shake out and flex the limbs that bore the brunt, do the slow fuck-that-hurts stroll in a circle, but then eventually remount and finish the ride? Yep. Pretty much every time. Knock carbon, I’ve never had a riding buddy break a bone in all my years of riding, which is just insane seeing how many times one of us has gone down in a cloud of dust or mud. And we ride in a really hilly, tree covered, rocky area (SF bay area), so our opportunities to find creative ways to fuck ourselves up are endless. I know plenty of riders out there do break bones, but I would wager that the serious injuries:crash ratio is surprisingly small.

I know for sure that mountain biking’s not even close to being as dangerous as its lame cousin, road biking. And when it comes to permanently erasing your skinny tire riding ass from this world entirely, mountain biking is a snuggly wittle fuzzy kitty compared the snarling, Indian-dude-eating tiger that is road biking. I actually wanted to do a grim (but I thought potentially thought provoking) article about riding for the first time after a friend dies out on the trail. But there was one small problem: I couldn’t find one person who qualified as a subject, i.e. guy who did his Final Ride on a mountain bike. Every Google search for “killed, dies, mountain biking” just turned up article after article about a road biker getting killed. Unlucky for a part-time journalist trying to write an article, but also kind of nice. Mountain bikers are good people. I don’t want them dying all over the place (and for the record, obviously I don’t want road riders dying either). Now if I’d wanted to do a similar article on road bikers, well hell, I could write a yearly volume on the subject. Road riders, thanks to the death’s door speeds they reach and, especially, the fact that they’re literally betting their lives that cars will yield a three foot strip of pavement to them, make the news all the time. Bummer, and another reason I don’t dig riding pavement.

But, even though mountain biking isn’t as dangerous as say, the hit your friend’s head with a hammer game, it does pose certain risks that can take your ass out of the saddle and onto the shelf for a bit. Case in point: one Andy Beach.

I’ve complained off and on in the pixels of Mt. Shredward that I’ve been dealing with a bum elbow for damn near a year. I’d had one crash last year that made it swell up and kept me off my bike for a couple weeks. But it got better, and eventually healed. Hooray. Then in December ’11 it was giving me a little soreness again while doing yoga and weight lifting and other stuff that keeps me the panty moistening physical specimen that I am (really not sure why trannies pee themselves a little when they see me, but they do), but not horrible. Then on a night ride I hit a baby head without the necessary speed, went over my Monkeybars, landed right hand first and jammed the piss out of that same problematic elbow (“straight armed the world,” I believe is how I described it). Bad news. I couldn’t ride at all for a few weeks because it was popping and catching, and I couldn’t mountain bike for about six weeks or so. Shoulda gone to the doctor, but I didn’t. And, over time, it actually got a lot better. I eventually resumed normal mountain biking activities. Yeah, it got better, but not totally healed. So eventually, after my wife got better insurance, I went to a doctor. After a few visits of the usual doctor fucking around, saying it’s tendonitis, I finally got an MRI.

When I went in to get the results, I was expecting that they hadn’t found anything, and that it was indeed tennis elbow. Turns out it’s actually mountain bikers elbow. That’s when you have a bone chip floating around and  other inconvenient impediments to normal elbow function. Unfortunately, I can’t just squeeze the chip out like a blackhead (although that would be fucking awesome. Wow, what a sweet gross out fantasy for a pimple popping fan like myself), it’s going to require some arthroscopic action. So the doctor referred me to a surgeon, which was weird seeing how I thought he was a surgeon. On that note: do your research on doctors, folks. This doctor was a fucking…wow, he sure did suck at his job. Just as well that it was my last trip to his office. It helped me avoid the awkward conversation of telling this guy, “Yeah thanks, but I’m going to find someone who isn’t a half spaced out dipshit to do the surgery. But next time I’m in the mood for a doctor who rambles on and on over me while I’m describing symptoms, well I’ll be anxiously camping out at your office door before you open, just like I did in ’92, waiting in line for Pink Floyd tix.”

So a week later, I went to a top dog surgeon at UCSF and…remember how I wrote a few lines back that I was told I needed arthroscopic surgery? Woulda been nice if that were the case. As I’ve mentioned, my first doctor seemed to know that there are things called bones and joints, but not much else. The new, good doctor set me straight: The bone chip thing, sure, that’s a problem. But wait! There’s more! She proceeded to demonstrate how loose and unstable my elbow is. Then we went to a really sweet realtime xray machine thingy that let us see my bones moving around and she showed me a neat trick where there was this substantial gap between where the bones in my elbow meet. Then I asked a silly question: “Well, is it still just an arthroscopic procedure?” She gave a brief laugh, shook her head and said, “Nooo. You’ve torn a ligament in there. It’s reconstructive surgery.” And she diagnosed all this without even looking at my MRI. Which means my first doctor did a flat out misdiagnosis when he had all the evidence he needed. Ooooooo, I’m gonna Yelp the fuck out of that guy (I’m not the litigious type). But it does seem like this Dr. Lattanza who is going to do the cutting is a total master when it comes to delicate butchery, which is cool.

So, technically, it’s called Elbow Lateral Collateral Ligament Reconstruction. She’s actually going to replace my spent ligament with a previously owned model from a dead dude (probably road biking). Yeah, kinda cool! And then there’s the matter of the bone chip, (I’m going ask if she can keep it so I can check it out, maybe give it to my cat, Nyla). This will leave me with a one inch spot of no cartilage. Is that going to cause me problems down the road? Most likely. But maybe not. Who knows? Isn’t this fun! But near term, my mind is on one thing:

Six months of no mountain biking. I haven’t had six months off my mountain bike since the six months before I started mountain biking.

Other than the fact that I’m probably going to get some cool pain meds, all I have to say is: duuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuude. Totally…fucking…weak.

I’m not scared of surgeries (at least ones on my extremities) or getting put under, and it’s not like there’s a bone chip floating around in my parietal lobe and there’s risk of turning me into a guy who wears an Elmo bib when he eats. But, mountain biking, maaaan. Mountain bikinnnnnng. This is just hairy, dingleberried ass. How am I not going to develop a drinking problem?

And so many of my other favorite things require my right arm. Yoga. Saluting people I think deserve a salute. Waving my arms at blimps. All gonna be on hold. Fortunately I’m a lefty, but duuuuuude. Mountain biking…gone.

So, obviously there’s going to be a new topic here on Mt Shredward: The incredibly exciting world of Not Mountain Biking. These pages will be my therapist (possibly along with an actual therapist). I will try to put a positive spin on things, but I will also try to go deep, and share when I am extra sad. Hopefully I won’t be extra sad a lot.

One bright side I’m looking on is that it’s an elbow, and not a knee, which means that my pedal pushers will be able to push until my heart’s semi-content. I can go to spin classes. Obviously, spinning is literally a closed in, dark room compared to the great outdoors where one rides a mountain bike, but I will be able to stay fit. I dig spinning. But without dirt…wow, I could potentially be in some danger.

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Gettin’ Some Strange or The Helicopter Chase Incident

My riding crew and I do a weekly night ride. I don’t think I have any regular readers (because I’m a little too real for this Pollyanna Stepford world, maaan), but if I do, they already know about it. We’ve got quite a bit of trail to choose from—really good…no, great trail. But, you know that asshole with mad game who is already banging a stable of hot tail, but still just can’t help himself, even when a rutty, sloppy mess eyes him over the top of her glass while downing her 7th vodka cranberry of the night? Sometimes, as riders, we’re like that guy. We want to mix it up. Actually, deep down, we’re all like that guy, but most of us either have a ton of restraint, or zero options. I’m sure Brad Pitt sometims thinks, “Jesus, Angelina Jolie’s vagina again?” (and I’m sure there are times she rolls her eyes behind closed eyelids and thinks, “Woopie do. I’m getting fucked by Brad Pitt. Every woman’s dream…Wonder what my brother’s doing.”).

Brad and Angelina, both thinking “Whoah. Like to get a piece of that over there.”

We see examples of it all the time in the form of celebrity affairs. In actuality it’s usually a much more complicated situation, deeper than physical hotness, but usually the external reaction amongst the gossip media devouring masses is always something to the effect of, “He’s got (hot wife’s name) at home and he cheated on her with that?” Arnold’s maid being the current undefeated heavyweight “What the fuck?” champion. I mean, he’s an older Arnold, but he’s still Arnold.

But, no matter how great the t(r)ail we’ve got regular access to, as humans we’re compelled to mix it up, even if the forbidden alternative is well below the quality of the regular. Strange is strange, no matter how strange it looks. I’m not laying anything new on you here, or saying it’s good or bad, just sayin’. Actually, acting on this compulsion is pretty much always bad when it comes to people. But we’re talking trail here.

With this need for something new, one of the night ride crew vets took to Google maps and found some dirt that looked like it could provide something different. It was just fire road. No way it was going to be as fun and swoopy as the miles and miles of tight single track we usually choose from, but whatever. We’d never hit it before, so maybe it’d make for an interesting night. Turns out, it was really interesting. Yes, we stepped out on our steadies, solid 7s and 8s, with a 4, and it paid off. The trail brought something to the party that upped her beyond her physical make up, giving her the impact of a circa-2000 Carmen Electra whose vocabulary is limited to “Oh, god, you’re so good at that,” “harder,” “I want to do it if it’ll make you happy, baby” and “can I go out and get you anything?” No, it wasn’t so much what was on the ground that made her great, but something in the air around her.

Enough keyboard masturbation. Here’s the recap of that now famous September 29th, 2011 (last day of the baseball season) ride that I wrote the next morning (actually more keyboard masturbation). I’d take out names and trail names that give away the locations, but that would be pretty drama queeny of me. No one reads this anyway.

“The skies indeed were angry, friends. Angry at an innocent foursome who had wandered into lands in which they had no intent of harming, but in which they also had no business. An airborne creature with red eyes ablaze, roaring with threats of serious consequence if we ever returned to that place. But more on that in a moment.

We all arrived at CTG (still no second sighting of creepy truck guy) and geared up. Jeremy had been doing some earth gazing from satellites, and had a notion that we should try something different. Paul, Aqua and myself had a notion that we should follow him. We headed up the usual CTG route, following Golden Spike. But rather than heading up the familiar terrain to West Ridge, we stayed on Golden Spike and dove down over the rocky radness that had last seen us pushing our bikes in the other direction to avoid the few yards of poison oak that separated us and Redwood Road (if you weren’t on that ride, you won’t know what the hell I’m talking about. Even if you were, you may not know what the hell I’m talking about). It was good times.

We finished up our descent and, after brief discussion, crossed a bridge onto the pavement of the Redwood Gate staging area and continued onto Pinehurst Rd. As we passed the guard shed, Aqua was reminded of the time he tangled his bike in a metal gate at that very location, and gave us a nice recap of the adventure. I gave him a recap of when I witnessed (well, heard) Lee doing a similar stunt.

We continued up Pinehurst with the promise of previously unridden earth (albeit fireroad, but we were fine with that) and the lovely shores of San Leandro Reservoir dancing through our heads. Surely mermaids awaited our arrival.

We finally came up on the pearly gates that lead to our promised heaven. The gates actually weren’t so much pearly as chainlink, about scrotum-high and adorned with metal signs that said something to the affect of, “Dudes, just don’t, okay.” But seeing how Aqua was able to jump the gate one handed, we figured they couldn’t have been that serious in its warning. So we headed up the soft-with-dust fireroad toward our destination. Is that a lakeside Siren I hear?

Oh, there would be sirens, but not exactly the type that beckoned with song and heaving busoms.

It was a bit of a grunt at first, but the weather was perfect and everyone’s spirits were perfecter. After we reached the peak, we bombed down a very enjoyable and fast downhill section, slowed only by some lose topsoil here and there and a fawn that almost bore the brunt of Aqua’s downhill might. (I have to note, I have never seen so many deer on a ride. They were everywhere. Can we import some cougars?) After the grade leveled, we were at the shores of the beautiful…woah, what a fucking cesspool. Drink up east bay. If there were ever mermaids in the San Leandro Reservoir, crawdads and catfish made short work of their corpses long ago.

After a brief attempt to ride the shoreline (hindered by the minor detail that it was fucking impossible) we headed up a fireroad which looped back to our original road of entry. We humped it back up the road and then settled in for a safety break. I checked my cell phone for baseball scores while software met hardware (by the way, way to suckit Sox and Braves. Way to nut up Cards and Rays). While reporting the scores, a soft puttering sound broke the silence. That soft puttering soon became an extremely loud puttering sound, accompanied by a helicopter. Soon both were joined by a spotlight sweeping the ground for…oh shit…us. We were suddenly that guy on COPS, hopping backyard fences in a ghetto, unsuccessfully trying to outrun light. Their search was aided by the fact that a light was left ablaze on one of the bikes lying on the road. Paul yelled at me to turn out my light. Unfortunately it was Aqua’s light, which I couldn’t figure out how to dim. But I have my doubts that they would have come up empty in their search, regardless. We made comical attempts to scatter and hide under the cover of oak, but the jig was up. Soon we heard the helicopter version of police sirens as the lights on the bottom of the copter went blood red. Arrest mode. Next the stern voice of the airborne park ranger announced from above that, in no particular order, A) we were trespassing. B) That officers were enroute. C) We needed to evacuate the area immediately. D) Were subject to citation or arrest. E) We were very very bad boys. In other words, this exploratory ride had suddenly become the coolest…fucking…ride…ever. Night after night with no police activity came to a thrilling end. We were being chased out of an area by a freakin’ helicopter. Finally figuring out that the best course of action was to stop hiding like children and do exactly what the nice officer was telling us, we came out from under the trees, grabbed our steeds and headed back toward the gate, alternately bathed in spotlight (wonder if I could strap that light to my handlebar).

As we rode out, Ranger Lungs repeated the fact that we were trespassing and needed to get the hell out of there multiple times (okay, we get it. You told us like a hundred times. You’re waking the neighbors. Gawd!). I couldn’t stop laughing, Judah’s Priests’ “Breakin the Law” on my head’s iPod. Paul and I even turned on our lights. What was the point in going low-pro at that point? We were as high-pro as could be and there was no going back. No use in risking a fall during the times we weren’t in the spotlight. I thought, well, it’ll suck to get a ticket if the promised ground reinforcements were indeed waiting for us, but this was pretty cool. Finally we reached the gate (Aqua was behind us, a little bit slower to give up his hiding spot) and Ranger Yelly repeated the fact that we were trespassing, this time capping it with “DO NOT RETURN TO THIS AREA!” Fortunately no ground troops were there to continue Captain Bigvoice’s scolding. Paul, Jeremy and I hopped the fence that had warned us that potential trouble awaited us 45 minutes earlier. Paul briefly stopped to bury incriminating plant life, just in case, and we headed up Pinehurst. Corporal Loudmouth gave us one more reminder that we had been on private land and to not return (which was helpful because I hadn’t heard the last five times he told us that. I think someone likes hearing their voice echoing through the east bay hills a bit too much. Can’t say I blame him. He had nice pipes.), and then peeled off. We stopped in a turn out and expressed pleasure that we had taken the illicite route because of the excitement of the chase. Aqua caught up a few minutes later.

We caught East Ridge trail at the Pinehurst staging area, still gitty from our scrape with the State Park Airforce, and thankful that there was no financial consequence in the form of tickets.”

Chased by a helicopter. That was sweet.

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Ex-Gen X

Remember when we Gen Xers (and if you’re not one, glad to have younger/older readers) were like the young, super pissed, grungy, but still sexy, generation in the news? It was so rad. Dudes from Seattle were our angry voices (which is funny when you think about it, since Seattle is so lovely).

Nothing said “Fuck YOU!” to the establishment like a rubber band bracelet.

Shame that a huge chunk of the generation who got tagged with the coolest letter in the alphabet is now growing beards to hide double chins, wear sunglasses to cover crow’s feet and has saggy tits tattooed with a rose that’s stem is actually growing a couple centimeters a year. Maybe we should just face facts and give up the X to people that someone would actually want to fuck. The current generation of 20 somethings could definitely use a little edge. An X isn’t going totally solve that, and they probably don’t deserve our X, but it’s a start.

“So look, if you can look up from your phone long enough, and can focus on us even though we’re not communicating with you via text or facebook, we’ve got something we think you need. Our X. Right now no one knows what to call you. Generation Everyone Wants to Punch You in Your Fucking Wayfarers is too long and Generation WTF is too obvious. And by the way, those Wayfarers aren’t anything new. We liked them in like fifth grade. Check out an old Tom Cruise movie called “Risky Business.” Anyway, we’re going to let you have Generation X. No one will really remember or care that there’s already been a Generation X, so it’s yours. Now do something about your music. It’s…well, it’s just horrible. Back in our day we had great bands, like Ugly Kid Joe and Candlebox.”

You know what? Fuck ’em. They can’t have our X. They wouldn’t appreciate it anyway. And besides, those little smooth skinned (except for the ones with acne) bastards are already borrowing enough from the 80s and 90s (see: Wayfarers). My entire riding crew are Gen Xers, and we still have quite a bit left in the tank. Yeah, a ride never goes by without a complaint about the ever-wearing tendons in our joints, but the fact is, we are out there climbing steep ass hills and actually keeping trim. Can’t speak for the rest of my generation, but some of us definitely still have enough energy to get angry if we wanted (though seeing how we’re all on $3500+ bikes, I guess there’s not a hell of a lot to complain about). And look at Eddie Vedder himself. Still bringing it. Although I’m sure post show conversations go a bit like this:

“How was the knee, Eddie?”
“Egh. Still a bitch, but if I take a bunch of Motrin right before the show, then some at the halfway point, I can deal. Christ, the ‘Even Flow’ video came on in an airport bar the other day. No wonder I feel like this. Payin’ the price. Can’t believe I don’t have neck issues. Then near the end…the shots with my shirt off. Depressing. I still have that six pack. Too bad about the layer of fat over it.”
“Yeah, my shoulder is still fucked. Now that I think about it, Stone’s knee was bugging him when we were in Chicago. But I guess it got better. You should ask him.”

Yeah, bet they’re still the voice of our generation.

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How to humiliate yourself and your bike

First off, belled jester hats off to the science wizzes who developed this (seriously) impressive technology. Pretty neato stuff, and very deserving of the word “Pro” in the product name. And there’s actually a bit of exciting mystery beyond “How’s that thing work?”:

Namely, what’s going to be the Guinness record for longest duration someone will keep this thing taped to their spokes before the rational part of their brain—the part that was sleeping through the entire purchase and installation process—is suddenly awakened by all the inbound teasing and laughter, causing it to relay the realization, “Oh my god. I’ve gotta take this stupid fucking thing off my bike.”

But if you happen to be a Video Pro enthusiast and got your mom to write a check to MonkeyLectric by yelling what a total fucking bitch she was being because you’re totally going to pay her back, don’t let my cynical, grown-up attitude projectile vomit Lagunitas IPA and Don Pilar on your parade. Be excited about your latest poorly thought out purchase. In fact, to prove that I can still be fun, here are a few copy and imagery ideas, free of charge:

A tit in each wheel so the ladies know that you’re no homo
A photo of bike spokes
Your area code, because it shows you’re rollin’ with ‘hood pride
The nickname you gave yourself
Pot leafs, skulls or pot leafs growing out of skulls
“My other ride is your girlfriend”
The tattoo you’re gonna get
Arrows that point up toward the coolest guy in the world

That’ll help. And this is no small gift to you, Light Rider, seeing how I usually charge top dollar for writing and conceptualization in my day job.

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