How rad are dudes on fat tires?

A lot of people will look at the video below, sigh, and get all misty—maybe emotion will even well up far enough to necessitate a dab of the corner of an eye—thinking about the unconditional loyalty of a childhood pooch long passed and returned to the earth, the bones still hanging frozen in the soil at the base of the fence at Mom and Dad’s old place. No doubt the anonymous quote will come to mind, “I can only hope to be the person that my dog thinks I am.” Or maybe “Dog is my copilot.”

And I’m not going to say I’m unmoved by the smiling features revealed by the wind flattening Little Star’s long hair to his face. I mean, wook at that wittle guy!

But the lion’s share of my core’s soft and snuggly part oozes at the sight of half a dozen dudes hitting the open space on fat tire bikes (hopefully warriors from China found some sweet singletrack on their way to Tibet). I believe that should be the story: a gang on mountain bikes is so irresistible that a dog couldn’t help but follow them for one thousand three hundred fucking miles.

Here’s a new non-dog quote from Andy Beach: “Forward propulsion is the least of the power created by a pack of mountain bikers.”

Stay tiiiight, work together, Pelatronix crew.

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Sierra Sweetness

I totally take riding for granted. And you know what? I’ve got no guilt or karmic fear about it at all. I’ve worked for that granted that I take, and I’ll continue to do so. So, I guess that’s not technically taking riding for granted since I’m putting in effort (and as I notice more and more dudes my age trading in their riding time for an additional chin, I’m realizing that, apparently, it takes more work than I thought). What I’m getting at is riding’s become an automatic for me.

“Of course I ride. Duh.”

But one situation that I feel I effortlessly fell ass backwards into was that a young Steve Beach and Janis Hearne met, fell in love, married, totally boned down and produced twin boys Andy and Chris. And best of all, Steve and Janis did so in northern California. All of which I burned no calories making happen, but the rewards I’ve reaped have been sack-ticklingly pleasant. When it comes to riding hills painted in gorgeous, Nor-cal brings it, and I get to enjoy it in large part because of where I happen to have been born. Lucky me.

I’m not going to be as obnoxious as saying I feel sorry for the unlucky schlubs who live in completely level parts of the US. I don’t picture everyone in Nebraska lying in the middle of a dusty plane, drunk, arms and legs akimbo like a suicidal jumper, snake-like trails from tears and saliva the only semi-clean spots on their creased faces, hurling curses skyward to their maker in a cloud of breath poisoned with the smell of intoxication and sick: “Why  wasn’t I born in N0-Cal! Whyyy!” That’s snobbish and arrogant. And besides, I bet it’s probably pretty cool to be able to stare out at the horizon and make out the curvature of the earth.

But this weekend, I damn near felt sorry for anyone who wasn’t with me on my truly memorable weekend riding/camping trip in the green and granite of the Sierras Nevadas. There was perfect riding weather. Cream of the crop peeps to ride with. Multiple sized ants everywhere, bent on eating my face down to the marrow, which added to the thrilling sense of outdoorsiness and adventure. And at the end of it all, Nature said, “And because I like you guys so much, fuckit, I’m gonna throw in an eclipse that only a tiny percentage of the world are going to be able to see in its full radness. Sound good?”

Our riding groups’ master of big trip planning, Tim, took Nature up on her offer and invited the rest of the group in on the deal, with members sweetening the trip with various suggestions and their highly valuable presence.

We camped at Blue Lake. (Guess what color it was.) It’s in a region off highway 20 where  lake buddies Rucker, Blue, Fuller and Spaulding live as lake neighbors.

Blue Lake, disguised as Purple Lake

While on the subject of lakes, let me throw out this question: how do they decide if “Lake” is a lake’s surname or given name? Why isn’t it Tahoe Lake? I would have been okay with that. Why do Rucker, Blue and Fuller have “lake” second, yet their neighbor is Lake Spaulding? Hmmm. Is it a size thing? Spaulding is definitely the biggest. All the great lakes have “lake” first. No, that can’t be it. Clear Lake is pretty goddamn big. So is Pyramid Lake. Lake. Lake. Lake. That’s a funny word.

Day one ride:

Anyway, we had our sites on a trail called Blue Lake Trail. So we pitched our tents, geared up and put ass to saddle. One issue. We didn’t know exactly how to get to the trailhead. We knew it was on the other side of Blue Lake, we just didn’t know the smoothest way to get from the west si-eeed of the lake to the east si-eeed. What looked like a trail head was spotted on the south side, so off we went. But as is often the case, it was the wrong choice, and things got screwy as the trail quickly turned to bullshit time as people got separated. Let me elaborate on that. I got separated. I was out ahead of the pack, pushing though flesh tearing brush that made my legs look like scrotum bound ferrets had climbed up my pants. The trail we had laid our hopes on was gone. It totally sucked.

We had obviously chosen incorrectly. But it wasn’t that big a lake, so I was going to keep pushing through. Back tracking and choosing the north side didn’t seem a good option to me since we were more than halfway there. I suddenly noticed that no one was behind me. So I stopped. And waited. And then did that a bit more. Eventually I started calling out. Silence. More calling out, now angry. Nothing. Finally I hear voices up on the steep ridge above me. They tell me that they’re going back the other way, which for them may have been the best option. For me, as I said, it wasn’t. So I headed straight down the steep hill toward the shore. Once I got there, things were good. It was actually a ridable shoreline. So I rode most of the way to the east side, where we needed to be, and waited to see the gang emerge on the west side and head east on the north shore….never happened.

Anyway, this is getting too fucking long and boring. Eventually, thanks to the facts that I came across some hikers with a great map and that eventually someone eventually got smart enough to make a cell phone call (not me), we met up at the trail head of Blue Lake Trail. Everyone kept their cool, no one started pointing bleeding fingers, and we rode on.

Blue Lake Trail was an interesting one. The first part of it is built along the edge of what was once an irrigation ditch. There was a bit more hike-a-bike for my taste once the trail left the ditch and things got steep and loose in spots, but of course there was the promise of the return trip, as we knew this was going to be an out and back. Six of the group eventually decided they’d had enough. But five pressed on. I’m glad we did, as the best stuff was ahead of us. We enjoyed stream crossings. Rocky technical descents and ascents that would become rocky technical ascents and descents on the way back. Million-tree, multi-lake views. Gorgeous patches of purple wild flowers rooted in cracks in the granite. Some gnarly looking pines that I thought were bristle cones (but after some research, don’t think they were but still beautiful and ancient looking).

The Sierras have the type of scenery that rockets your “photo-worthy” threshold off the charts. I mean, even with digital cameras, you can only take so many goddamn photos. It’s beauty on such massive scale that it that can relieve depression, or enhance it because you feel so small and ugly in comparison. Do I want to stare at that cliff in awe or jump off it? Fortunately I’m in the (I’m sure bigger) camp that derives happiness from it, serotonin flowing and doing what it’s supposed to do. Over the weekend I had none of the anxiety/depression that, thanks to genetics, I’m medicated for, even though it’s been rearing it’s boil covered head a little bit as of late.

Sittin’ ’round the campfire with a moron

Everyone loves a campfire except people who have fallen into them. Add a fatigue induced body high from riding, good people, yummy food and the Earth’s means of mental impairment—be they grown and harvested or distilled—a campfire always makes a night better. And Saturday evening next to Blue Lake was no different. But there was one set back.

My wife doesn’t like when I use the word “retard,” even though I’ve been using it since the year 5 BP (Before Pubes), and I’ve never ever called a person who was actually mentally challenged a retard. No, that word is normally reserved for close friends who do something funny-dumb, or when describing a stranger who is annoying-dumb. For example, the dude that glommed onto one of my riding buddies, and eventually our camp circle: full on, chaw-in-lip, spitting on the ground, mooching our beer, annoying as fuck, total retard. And the worst part is, he was a blowhard retard. Did you know: they’ve got the best pot in Truckee. It’s super cheap there. He’s a pro snowboarder. He’s a great mountain biker on all the best, secret trails. But I was most taken by the fact that he doesn’t work and is broke. He is 34 and cruising around looking for campers to leach off. He even made a really weird comment about “the bald dude” (me), I guess trying to be funny. I don’t give a shit about being bald, but I do give a shit about dumb guys who  don’t know me commenting on it. I let it slide because I’m a grown-up. Fortunately he and his stumbling drunk girlfriend moved on and I’m sure eventually threw up on the floor board of the Honda station wagon that I’m certain was a hand me down from some highly disappointed parents. We then got onto the business of getting messed up and enjoying the hell out of each others’ company. Such a great group. Not a retard in the bunch.

Day 2 riding

Day 2 was a shuttle day. After breaking down camp, straightening out our logistics and moving around cars, we launched from Fuller Lake, eventually hitting Spaulding Lake Trail. It was the usual great variety that’s available on most trails in the area. Exposed, brushy hillsides. Loose cobble sized granite rocks. Small lush and green valleys filled with cedars, grass and streams. All just a blast. I salute all the riders who came before us who have fashioned fun builds over fallen logs throughout the trail.

Our turnaround point was at an amazing waterfall on the Yuba river, rimmed by a really fun granite playground that we fooled around on for about half an hour after eating our lunch and dipping out feet and heads in painfully cold water that felt like it would freeze if it dropped one more degree.

The Yuba River makin’ some noise

Aqua, left. Me, right.

We backtracked over the majority of the trail, which was even more bonerific (apologies to our lone female rider, Ceil for my choice of adjectives) coming back, except for one cock-blocking hike-a-bike which, to its credit, had been really fun on the way in. Eventually, rather than doing a full out and back, we headed off on what we thought was going to be the Ponderosa trail. It was not the Ponderosa trail. It wasn’t exactly great riding, as a lot of it involved some pretty tricky, very rocky ledge trails along Lake Spaulding. But we did get to cross three dams, which I always find pretty impressive as long as I keep the epic environmental devastation of damming out of my head. We eventually caught a paved road to highway 20 and got to ride on gravity’s back all the way to the cars. Eclipse time.

Ring of fire

Every solar eclipse I’ve seen has elicited reactions to the effect of, “Hm. Yeah, there ya go.” I get more excited about the bite I just took out a Specialty’s chocolate chip cookie than the bites I’ve see out of the sun. We’re talking 30 percenters. But this one, friends, will be my most memorable experience with the sun unless it blows up someday. Once again, I’ll use the word “luck.” There was only a narrow southeast bound swath of the western US that saw this annular eclipse in full effect. And we were in its glorious path. I had picked up a pair of welding goggles for the occasion, and they served us well. They weren’t quite dark enough, but combined with a pair of sunglasses, it revealed a crystal clear view as the sun was slowly eaten. Just spectacular stuff and a perfect end to a great weekend.

I totally saw this. Photo from the site you go to if you click on the pic.

Yeah, I’m a hard working lucky boy.

 

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Mt. Shredward has a new house. Now it’s time to make it a home.

Hello. Finally, and by that I mean, fucking finally, I’ve got all my content ported from my old host at squarespace, over to wordpress, so it’s all here, available for your consumption. I’m really happy about that. But there’s still a big problem. The default wordpress theme, 20-eleven, or 7-11 or whatever the hell it’s called is laaaaaaaame. The colors are laaaaaaaame. The overall feel is just not what I’m looking for, and hence is (sing it with me) laaaaaaaaaame.

On top of that, I’ve gotta get some social widgets installed with the hopes of adding to my five twitter followers and and the facebook and…and…and things. I need to link to the peoples’ sites I like. I’ve gotta get my world famous local advocacy resource page, Shredward’s List, posted. And what if you want to email me? Where’s the link for that?!

So, if you’re new to Mt. Shredward, please don’t look around and say, “I like the writing, but what’s this pussy ass design?” Don’t you worry. I’m super manly and after I intentionally crash on my bike so I’ll have scabs to pick and the resulting scars, I’m going to make this site way tough looking.

In the mean time, enjoy some reading. And as always, enjoy some riding. Myself, I’ll be hitting the Sierras this weekend for a riding/camping trip, so for the next couple days, Mt. Shredward’s going to have to fuck right off. I’ve got some granite to ride over.

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Watch out for the gimme

The human memory is a very interesting and extremely varied thing. I like the interesting and varied. At its best, memory steers societies in positive directions. A remorseful people will say, “Remember when we did that one thing and as a result life for everyone turned into this metaphorical daily gorilla-fisting we’re enduring? We probably shouldn’t do that thing again. Actually, someone write that down. Right now. We don’t want our great grandkids making the same mistake after we’re all dead from gorilla fisting related maladies.” And hopefully things are better for future generations, which is for the greater good.

At worst, the memories of horrible experiences can infiltrate your psyche and turn you into one of those dudes who does something that makes national news, complete with interviews where your neighbors tell reporters that you seemed nice enough, but kept to yourself. No one learns shit from that and innocent people end up as the guest of honor at funerals.

I’m a lucky enough fella that as of this writing I’ve had 38 years and about four months behind me that have produced no memories that make me sleepwalk and pee in my closet nor think that the best way to solve disagreements with my wife is by slappin’ a bitch. And since I’m living this pretty good life and am a relatively happy guy, even the memories that are pretty embarrassing I can actually enjoy. Like this one that popped up out of nowhere the other day:

When I was in high school, I lost a wrestling match to a one-armed guy.

No, it wasn’t armwrestling where you really only need one arm. And not thumb or Indian leg wrestling. We’re talking the kind of wresting where a guy with two arms has a considerable advantage over a guy with half as many arms.

Not the kid who beat me, but I’m sure this kid would have beat me too. Click image to read article on Michael Husar.

Now, to this dude’s credit, I actually wasn’t a totally hopeless wrestler. I really enjoyed wrestling, and probably won about as often as I lost. But I didn’t really have the build (I was lanky and not real strong) or temperment to be great or, apparently, one of those guys who has no trouble with opponents with one arm.

I should also defend myself a little and say that this was before this cool, extreme era of “handicapable” (damn, I hope that’s not an offensive term now) that we’re in now. Awesome stuff like athletes with no legs flying around the track at incredible speeds, like Oscar Pistorius weren’t as common as they are today. Yes, a lot of that has to do with massive advances in prosthetics, but there’s been an attitude shift. Maybe it’s because we see so many videos of people missing limbs totally bringing it on YouTube. My parents raised me to be very open minded and accepting, and I was. But I certainly wasn’t personally experienced with the fact that just because someone looked to be at a serious disadvantage, that didn’t mean they weren’t fully able—and maybe even likely—to prove otherwise by way of totally pimp slapping the odds against them—and me.

I actually don’t remember the details of the match. But I remember it was at a tournament, not a dual meet, which was for the best since my match wasn’t the only one happening. I recall also that I went into the match nervous because of the obvious unusualness of the situation. But despite this, I was also feeling confident that I could totally beat a dude minus not only a hand, but also a forearm, upper arm, as well as a shoulder to connect the whole works to his body. I mean, HELLO?! 100% more arms over here.

I also remember that I didn’t just lose by points. My dead-fucking-wrong-to-think-I-was-going-to-win ass got pinned.

And now that I think about it, him beating me wasn’t even that big of a deal to everyone. It wasn’t like in the movies where everything went into slow motion as the ref’s hand slapped the mat with a thundering, echoing crash, only to return to regular speed as the crowd roared and rose to their feet, triumphant music swelling. He and his mom weren’t weeping, overcome with emotion as she rushed from the stands and hugged him and he kinda hugged her back. This dude had obviously beat unjustifiably confident assholes before.

By contrast, on rare occasions a girl wrestler would show up at a tournament. I’m sure there are some great female wrestlers out there, but the few that I saw always got their asses kicked. Just sayin’. (And there was one time that a guy forfeited a match to a much-deserved showering of boos from the crowed.) But the one match that I saw a girl win, well, it got noticed, big time. Poor Jared Worm. Lost to a girl and also was named Jared Worm. Actually he was a cool guy. Still did okay with the ladies too, if I remember right.

Now, even though it was a total nut-stomping at the time, I was glad that this memory popped up the other day. For one, I’m always pretty stoked by opportunities to drag myself over the jagged slopes of Mt. Shredward. It’s funner than a motherfucker (and also it’s hard to keep coming up with stuff to share with you people now that I get more way more than zero visits a day). Consistently, we’re experts on one thing more than anything else: ourselves (I know I am), so I can comment on myself with more authority, dexterity and sheer joy than anything else. Losing to a one-armed wrestler? Well, material like that is just a fucking gift wrapped in beef jerky. I’ve been really busy this last week and have had this piece rolling around in my head and I’ve been dying to get it down on pixels. I couldn’t make something this great up if I tried. Lost to a one-armed wrestler. Wow, do you ever suck, Beach.

Also, there was a little riding/life lesson in it. It wasn’t one that I didn’t already know, but more of a reminder: watch out for the gimme. I’m not saying that the kid with one arm was a gimme that I just wasn’t ready for, he beat me like a prematurely balding step child, but the memory did make me reflect on the danger of stuff we don’t sweat out on the trail. I don’t have to take a scientific poll to figure out that it’s rarely the totally burly, scary-as-shit stuff that knocks us off of our saddles and into the grit—or worse—into the ER. Like all of us, I’ve had wrecks, but have actually never had a bad wreck on anything that I should have wrecked on. Going down steep cement steps in the trail. Chaparral trail in Joaquin miller at night. Done and done, many times. I kid around about what a pussy I am because I don’t bomb the big stuff, but I’ve ridden my share of potential broken limbs, and have never had that major wipe out on that stuff. Nossir, it’s the moves that we think we can take in our sleep that usually produce scabs and pissed off joints that keep us out of commission for a couple weeks. At least that’s been the case with me.

And it’s kind of a conundrum. You can’t ride around paranoid. That’s no fun (and actually being tight leads even more crashes). But you’ve got to always be vigilant too.

Maybe the real lesson is one of acceptance: if you put yourself out there, from time to time, we’re going to get a humiliating ass whooping, and that’s just the way it is. No, that’s the way it should be. And after all, the memories of those good old fashioned, unexpected, yet occasionally needed, ass whoopings make us better at moving down the trail.

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The post-ride buzz

“Reporting from his couch, for mtshredward.com, I’m Andy Beach for mthredward.com…oh wait, I already said that, the Shredward part. I’ve hadda couple. Anyway, I’m Andy. Peace.”

Yes, I’m out on the beat. Let the pretty, empty-headed puppets, anchored to a laminate-covered and light-bathed set get all the glory and pay by mindlessly regurgitating from the prompter. I’m a true journalist, risking life and brain cell to give you—the readers who demand the grittiness and honesty that comes with uncensored, on-the-scene reporting—the real story.

I’ve been meaning for a while to do a piece on the glory that is the post-ride buzz. So, like the legendary war correspondents whom are rightfully hailed by journalism historians, before composing this article I did a nice little ride at Waterdog in Belmont, Ca and then some post-ride drinking. You can trust me, dear readers. I wouldn’t have written a piece about running over human shit unless it had actually happened. Nor would I betray your trust and write a piece about how much I enjoy drinking after a ride on a day I didn’t actually take to the hills and was sober. The results may be poorly written and disjointed, but they will be authentic.

And as this is a special occasion, this particular drinking session features a special guest: a 22 oz bottle of Hop Stoopid Ale from Lagunitas (my all time fav brewery). Before today, I’d never actually bought a 22 ouncer (which I’ve affectionately dubbed a “Yuppy 40” seeing how the bulk of those 22 ouncers cost way more than most six packs). But my wife had texted me during my ride, asking me to pick up some stuff at the store after I was done. I went to the beer cooler at Lanardi’s, saw a Lagunitas brew I’d never tried before and put it in my basket next to a can of black beans, a white onion and a bag of frozen corn nibletts. Along with the fact that my palate was a virgin to this brew, it had the word “Hop” in the name (I love hops!), so I was sold. It did not disappoint. Petaluma’s most well known creation is probably Winona Ryder, but I’d argue that Lagunitas’s body of work has brought the public much more enjoyment.

Now that the Hop Stoopid is in my belly, I’m currently working on an “import” I brought back from my recent trip to the east coast (NYC and DC). A Founders Dry Hopped Pale Ale, brewed in Michigan. Nice stuff I’ve never come across in California

What was I talking about? Oh yeah, the post-ride buzz and how great it is.

I don’t know what it is. Maybe the combo of having your body feeling beat down, but also up beat with booze fueled humming. Some kind of S&M thing. It could also be the elimination of guilt. It’s no secret that alcohol has very limited long term benefits for the body. And you may be surprised to learn that conventional wisdom actually leans towards the effects being negative. But if you’ve ridden your ass off and left it all out on the trail, well, what’s it going to hurt? At worse you’re back to square one. I’ve definitely noticed that the harder I’ve ridden and the more dead I feel after a ride, the more I look forward getting home and cracking open a craft brew. So maybe my body, in its infinite wisdom created by millions of years of evolution, is saying, “Hey bud, you’ve done me a solid with that ride. Give me some microbrew or one of those fine anejo tequilas you’ve got and I’ll make it worth your while.”

Or maybe I’ve got a problem. Uh oh.

Nah. Far from drinking being an issue, I’ve always considered myself a “buzzaholic” at worst. Fortunately I have no problem stopping once I’ve started, and actually have rarely been totally fucked up. I just don’t dig it. And even on those rare evenings when I have been really drunk, other than the occasional stumbled-over word, it’s pretty difficult for people to even tell I’m impaired, so I don’t cause trouble. I really like drinking, but don’t need it (although my wife, who is living in Squaresville, likes to tease me otherwise). But post-shred libations, if I chose to fight the urge, it would be a bit more of a struggle. There’s an alcoholic dwarf in my head that always chimes in when I think about a ride, and he’s got those really stocky, strong arms that I just don’t want to tangle with.

“Oh, maybe I’ll do Skegg’s Point. That’d be nice. It’s amazingly beautiful down in that canyon, and there’s a ton of climbing that would be great for me,” I think to myself.

“And man, how great will a few beers feel moving through those tired legs. Nice! Let’s do Skegg’s,” says the little guy.

And I agree with him. For one, he’s right. Also, he’s like a Tolkien dwarf: super wise, bearded and not to be fucked with. So why fight?

Man, mountain biking never ceases to amaze me in its salt-like tendency to enhance stuff that’s already pretty fucking good. Experiencing nature. Not working. Hanging with friends. Moving fast. (And smoking out. Though I’ll have to take my riding buddies’ word for that, as I don’t enjoy the herb like I did in my younger days, which is kind of a bummer). Exercising. On and on.

Oh mountain biking, is there nothing you can’t do?

Okay, I’m empty. Time for another beer.

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Ridin’ and killin’

Ah, we higher-monkeys and every other animal. ‘Tis a complex co-existence, son, and one that’s evolved a lot recently. We used to get tore up in a windmill of claws and teeth and eaten on the regular back in the old days. But I guess you could say humans have definitely become the top in the relationship since one of us figured out that gunpowder + a tight space + a spark + a projectile = some totally fucked up organic matter.

Sure, there’s the occasional animal on man beat down (or eat down) like in this viral smash hit (hey, that works on two levels) below, but the numbers stack up overwhelmingly in our favor.

One could argue that a guy (or girls named Sarah) shooting a big scary animal that pre-gun would have turned us into poop isn’t the intended natural order of things. But I, though I’m personally not a big hunting guy, would have to argue that, logically, it kind of is the natural order of things. We hairless, lanky gorillas thought of these bang-powered lead projectile tossers with our very natural noodle. It’s really not much different than when our hairy Great Grandpa Chimp thought, “I bet if instead of just staring at that rock, I picked it up and hucked it at the head of the guy-chimp who keeps banging that she-chimp that my chimp nards tell me Ishould be banging…well, I bet it would make it a lot tougher for him to make adorable baby-chimps with her if my well-aimed rock rendered him silly to the point where he was more interested in why his face gets wet when he stares at his dick too long, and less interested in getting balls deep in my favorite gal.”

Now, before we proceed, I’ll say that the argument on the rights and wrongs of killing our fellow animal is just way too heated and eventually boring as shit to get into on this blog. I mean, I just made a joke about a newly retarded monkey stupidly pissing into his own face. I skim the surfaces of the philosophically challenging questions here on Mt. Shredward, but I certainly ain’t gonna dive deep into the Marianas Trench to figure stuff out. And besides, when you go to a place where everyone is blind and you’re surrounded by absolute darkness, there are no clear answers. Everyone just bangs heads and it gets totally annoying. This is just a place where I give my take in a ridiculous manner, raise a few questions in the hopes that you have a few laughs and fire off a couple of synapses in the process. I’ll just say that I’m anti-Andy Beach going hunting, not really anti-hunting under all circumstances.

So, you may or may not have seen this in the news a week or so ago. The sons of the global leader in blowhardedness, Donald Trump went on what was surely, the classiest, most exquisite, top of the line, luxurious hunting safari in the world. The photo accompanying the article certainly stopped my eyeballs in their tracks, causing my brain to send signals to my mouth, which a blind lip reader could have told you was forming the words, “What the fuck?”

“Smile if you’re gonna fuck it later!”

The particular article I read on this briefly hot story (I read about it on salon.com, a definitely left leaning site, which managed to connect The Donald’s boy’s hunting trip to the no-longer-media-darling and unfortunately dumbshit-infested, Occupy movement) explained how the fellahs left Africa feeling pretty good since they’d risked themselves to feed the local savages with the meat of the geriatric elephants and stuff whose asses they’d bravely capped. Anyway, millionaires getting out into the wilds on guided tours and blasting animals so they feel less pampered blah blah blah old news, so whatever. What really struck me, however, was part of the Spawns of Trump’s statements on the matter:

“We are both avid outdoorsmen and were brought up hunting and fishing with our grandfather who taught us that nothing should ever be taken for granted or wasted. We have the utmost respect for nature and have always hunted in accordance with local laws and regulations. In addition, all meat was donated to local villagers who were incredibly grateful. We love traveling and being in the woods — at the end of the day, we are outdoorsmen at heart.”

It’s such a weird take to me, saying you love and respect the outdoors, yet there’s a photo of you holding up a newly ventilated leopard. And honestly, it’s pretty clear they know deep down that even they’re not totally comfortable with what they’re doing. If you’re copacetic with stuff, you don’t go over the top making your point. If you’ve got a friend who out of nowhere says, “Man, you know what I love? Girls’ pussies and vaginas. And their tits and butts too. I just can’t stop thinking about doing sex with women all the time. I wish I was making out with a woman and feeling her big boobs right now!” then maybe you start thinking about how to have the, “look dude, I’ve got no problem if…” conversation with him. An elephant could count on its fingers how many times a ridiculously hyper-anti-gay polititian or preacher eventually ends up getting caught at a rest stop picking up a woman or hiring a female prostitute.

I mean, how can one be a full on “outdoorsman” and also kill the fuck out of one of the main things that makes being outdoors so great: wild animals that you’re lucky enough to spot? It gets especially odd to me if you don’t live in outdoorsy areas, like the Trumplings. When you leave the human areas and go into the animal area, don’t you feel like a guest? Don’t you extend courtesies to the hosts who are good enough not to eat your soft, pink, easily killed ass? I guess there’s population control stuff (which nature totally took care of before we moved in), and I have absolutely no issue with others killing for food out of necessity. And I don’t think hunters are bad people. I just couldn’t do it. How do I know? I shot a blue jay with a BB gun when I was in junior high. Ouchy, did it ever hurt my soul.

I know I feel that sense of courtesy and responsibility when I go out riding. I feel bad when I run over stuff with my bike, no matter what it is: from little snakes down to beetles. It can be especially challenging when there’s been some rain and then it warms up. Everything hatches. Suddenly there’s a bunch of millipedes all over the trails. I remember one night on a ride there were California Newts absolutely everywhere. Thank jeebus I never ran over one of those cute little buggers. It would have totally ruined my ride.

“Wook how cute and fragile I am. Only a total dick would run me over” Photo courtesy of the dude whose site you’ll go to if you click on it.

But, I guess that’s the complex situation we humans find ourselves in. If you decide you’re a hunting guy, you’ve got to own it totally. No amount of over-explaining your comfort level with vaporizing Bambi’s dad’s ventricle with a lead slug is going to make you actually feel totally at ease. And if you can feel totally fine with it, cool, and mail me some of your venison jerky. I love it! Then there’re folks like me, who don’t personally dig on hunting, but chow down on a bacon cheeseburger and don’t give much thought to the fact that an air propelled bolt scrambled the brains wired to the piggy and moo-moo flesh I’m washing down with a Lagunitas IPA (I’m sure some people have thought by now, “Whatever dude. Unless you’re vegan, you’re responsible for plenty of carnage you hypocrite. Yep, I know it, and couldn’t argue to a definite resolution on my favor) Yet I feel shitty when my WTBs squish a bug trying to make its way to the other side of the trail where a girl bug is sending out fuck-me scents. Like I say, complex. And hardly logical.

Wow. Life and death and killing and live-and-let-living and all that can be such a quandary for us hairless monkeys. Seems like it would be easier to be one of those animals just running on instinct. But then again, we’re the only animal that can truly internalize how amazing the natural world is to the point that we sweat and toil to form trails through it, and then design self-powered, two-wheeled vehicles to take in as much of it as possible.

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Today in, “guys who remind me I’m not that good of a mountain biker”

This video totally reminds me of this time I was riding with my buddies…in that there was dirt and we were on bikes.

I haven’t done a “Today in, guys who remind me I’m not that good of a mountain biker” segment in a while, so I thought I’d go digging through the YouTube to find some vid. Obviously I can only speak for myself, but I’m pretty confident that this one has something for everyone who likes to be reminded of their shortcomings when it comes to skills and courage on a bike. I know it did for me.

Nice job by whoever put together this collection of downhill and stunt lunacy (Though I don’t know what’s with the couple random motor driven vehicle shots in there).

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Shimano’s tree murdering instruction sheets

2nd UPDATE: With a new sense of calm, I got the derailleur installed, no thanks to you, Shimano instructions. The inspiration and tips came from the humans at the Passion forum. You guys rock. Shimano instructions, with all due respect to your fans on the forum, I still think you make out with crack whore butt.

UPDATE: According to the folks that the great, always super positive (seriously) MTBR.com Passion forum, it’s me that sucks, not the instructions. I can buy that. But I still think they should be more dummy friendly, dammit. Anyway, I’ll keep my original rant up because it was fun to write. Hopefully it’ll be fun to read too.

I’m a Shimano guy. Why? I don’t know. I’ve just kind of always had Shimano stuff and it worked really well. Boom. Andy Beach: Shimano guy. I guess I could have just as easily become a Sram guy if my first mountain bike had come with Sram stuff and it worked really well. Boom. Parallel universe Andy Beach: Sram guy. I do have to say, however, that Shimano makes way better looking stuff. Take rear derailleurs. Though Sram stuff is looking less clunky as fuck than it used to, next to XT or XTR gear, X-7 or X-9 stuff…I’d much rather bang the Shimano stuff. But who gives a runny turd. Both companies make really great gear that works smoooooth smooth.

And, ironically (or maybe not technically ironically. It’s tough to figure out when you’ve had a few drinks), I’m taking grease stained fingertips to keyboard right now to bitch about Shimano. But I’m going to digress a bit first. Let’s see if I get anywhere. Sometimes writing/reading is like taking a trail for the first time. You’re like, “I think this is going to get us through to that trail we want to be on.” And your buddies say, “Alright. Let’s go,” even though they probably don’t fully trust you, but they follow you anyway because hopefully it’ll be fun even if you end up out-and-backing. That was a digression of my digression. Here’s my original digression.

Prosperous and wealthy countries get to kick ass in many things lame countries don’t: Caring about stupid shit. Having poor, yet super fat people. Celebrity manufacturing. Rad food that we don’t even finish. Roller coasters. TV flatness. Now, I’m being ironic because it’s fun. But there’s also a part of me that’s saying, “Fuckin’ A. I’m glad to be first world.” And I’ve taken full advantage of being first world. I haven’t been killed by rebels. I’ve never pulled a worm out of any part of my body. I make more than a kick in the teeth per hour. I’ve been upwardly mobile. I come from a really modest background and have worked hard to be less modest (If I’m being honest, and I always am on Mt. Shredward, it makes it hard for me to relate to a lot of what the Occupy protesters are saying). I have a bike that cost about $4000. And I ride with a ton of dudes in the same boat. How crazy is that? A bike! I could by like 8000 of those bikes everyone wobbles around on in Vietnam.

Photo courtesy of whatever that watermark says

We got it good. But I think we earned it by building a relatively good society and enough of us don’t shit out kids we can’t feed. But here’s one thing that pisses me off about the gotitgood set: we get a bit careless when it comes to waste. Which brings me back to Shimano. They waste more fucking trees than bark beetles. Anyone who has put Shimano gear on their ride knows what I’m talking about. And if not, they will shortly as I go off on these knothole rapists.

The same company that provides some of the most flawlessly engineered stuff around ships their wares with the most taint licking, elephant ass wiping installation manuals ever.

Translation: bleh blotty blah blah bleeppy bleep blah blah da dee

They’ve always mystified me, but I’ve never really had to rely on them until tonight. I’ve got a couple bikes. My Blur LT that receives the majority of my love because it’s what I hit the trails with. Then I have my old Gary Fisher Tassajarra hard tail, which was the bike I bought to replace my first mountain bike when I started getting serious about mountain biking. This bike, beyond having a place in my heart, has a place in my life. Over time I’ve put some decent components on it and some Kenda slick tires, and it’s become my street/road bike. Recently the last original component on my Fisher, the front derailleur, gave up the ghost. The spring was no longer springy enough to drop me down onto the granny ring. Not that I hardly ever use the granny on this bike, but regardless, the thing was shot. So I found a good deal on a Shimano XT to replace it. It came in the mail today.

My mechanical chops are so-so, at best. But I figured I could manage to install a new front derailleur. Hell, it’s only 3 gears. Turns out, it’s actually trickier than installing its rear cousin, which I’ve pulled off. A lot trickier, actually. There’s not only horizontal stuff to deal with, but vertical. So I went for the instructions. But I quickly sagged as I was reminded, oh yeah, this is Shimano gear. Hence, it comes with a folded bed sheet of multi-lingual schematics of worthlessness not written for humans. I want to know how to put a bike together in the real world, Shimano eggheads, not see a freeze frame of what it would look like if you detonated some C4 in the bottom bracket. When I ordered my Blur, the folks at The Colorado Cyclist were good enough to ship me a whole ziplock full of these folded up maps to Frustrationville.

And I know why they did it. They didn’t want all that engineer porn around. Actually, that’s a stupid joke. Engineers whack off to youporn or redtube, like the rest of us. Sorry. No one could get hard within spitting distance of these absurd seizure-inducing posters.

So getting my new front derailleur right comes down to an endless game of trial and error. Or I walk sad Charlie Brown style into a bike shop and have them finish off the job. Either way, good grief am I’m a dipshit.

I just don’t understand who the fuck these scribblings are for. If you know your shit, then you’ve probably been trained by someone else who knows their shit, so you don’t need them. If you don’t know your shit and don’t have a great head for mechanics (read: me), then they’re as useful, practical and readable as pubic hair. They’re in four languages, but even the English may as well be enscribed in Ancient Fucktard.

Upside down. Or is it?

So, Shimano, here’s what I recommend: clean up your act, and put some human beings on the job. Do some R&D on real people trying to learn to install gear. Put Joe O. Cassional-Mechanic in a room with a naked frame and your stuff, and see where he gets stuck. Don’t forget tips on fine tuning. If you’re going to kill trees, make their sacrifices count for something. Or here’s an idea! Put videos online that explain it to me like I’m an idiot, because obviously, I kinda am. But I’m not dumb enough to know that your instructions are the shit that comes out of a dog after it eats shit.

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Today in, “guys who remind me I’m not that good of a mountain biker” and some other stuff

So, it hasn’t been that prolific a couple weeks here on Mt. Shredward, and today isn’t going to change that non-momentum much. But I ain’t sweatin’ it. It is interesting to note, however, that my lack of entries is correlating with a lack of good riding. We’ve had some rainy weather out here in Californ I A, I was on vacation for a week and I’ve been fighting a sinus infection (which my WBCs have about won). You should have seen some of the slimy green munitions I’ve been firing out of my double barreled snotgun. So even though I have been out for a couple rides, the quality has been less than epic due to retarded oxygen intake and processing.

The last ride I did was on Saturday in Henry Coe State park outside of Gilroy. I hadn’t ridden there in years. It’s a place notorious for brutal climbing, and it totally lived up to its rep, putting before me two-miles of wrong-facing gravity—much of it very steep—in the form of Lymann Wilson Ridge trail. It would have been a motherfucker in any state of health or fitness, but with respitory issues? Sheesh. Usually I’m way into a devastating climb, but in my weakened state, the hill was at a distinct advantage. I went all mother bird and fed the woodland creatures with my stomach contents three times. Bummer. It was a great sandwich. I can’t remember the last time I puked on a ride. But I’m stoked to get out to Coe again. There’s soooo much trail out there. The park is so huge, and the trails so many, that the maps are actually broken into regions, otherwise you’d have a bed sheet sized map to deal with.

Anyway, I don’t really have much else to say, nor a topic to dig down into at the moment. Right now my Blur is getting a long over-due spa getaway, consisting of having its forks into Fox for service and a total drive train replacement, chainrings and all. Not cheap, but it’s been three years since I’ve even had even the chain replaced. I’m sure I’ll have something to say about all that when I get my bike back.

But until then, I’ll do what I usually do when I can’t think of something cool to explore in the wilds of Mt. Shredward: steal someone else’s content and let you bask in the greatness of someone way better than you or me at mountain biking. Not only is the riding awesome in this one, the production value is super high and the Moab scenery grander than your great great grandpa. Coulda done with a bit less of the motion sickness inducing, constant forward and backward dolly shots, but really nice stuff. Credits are at the end of the vid.

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Spinning-guy Andy

I gotta say, I love a good spin around a humid room full of deep bass and sweaty people on oddly designed stationary bikes with big metal fly wheels.

Of course I’m talking about Spinning. And despite the lack of trail, trees and actual forward movement, I totally dig it. I get geeked about it to the point that I almost turn into one of those overly smiley (or intense, see below) people spinning on a commercial for a gym or in horrible stock photography. I don’t think I look like them on the outside, and I’m certainly nothing like this guy who got his ass kicked for being annoying. (UPDATE: Here’s how the case turned out. I don’t condone violence, even toward the irritating, but I do have to laugh that jurors went to the, “Well, if he didn’t want to get his ass kicked he shouldn’t have been annoying as fuck” presedent.)

Stock photo spin douche 

I don’t draw attention (or an ass whooping) to myself by randomly testifying like I’m in the First Souther Baptist Fitness Church of Johnny G. Nor do I have a ridiculous plastic grin rubber cemented on my face (I smile a lot, but if you’re smiling that big you need to pick it up a bit, pussy), but inside I kind of feel that way. I become Spinning-Guy-Andy.

If you interviewed Spinning-Guy-Andy, he wouldn’t be like real Andy. He’d be like one of those professional dancers explaining in a very serious tone how moving to the music makes him feel free and uninhibited. You can tell he’s had a shitty life, getting picked on by a dad who was around just enough to bounce a few Milwaukee’s Best empties off his son’s head and say how he always wanted a boy. But now he finds solace in dancing.

“Ya know, when I’m dancing, I just feel so free and like, all my problems just melt away, ya know, and I can really be myself out there.” Etc. You know way-into-dancing-guy.

Well I become his second cousin, way-into-spinning-guy: Spinning-Guy-Andy.

“Ya know, when I’m on that bike, spinning my heart out, I just feel, even though I’m not moving, like all my problems get left behind me.”

I even lose my musical taste. The hot dance club remix music starts pounding through the speakers, and suddenly I have the musical taste of a drunk sorority girl whose hit of X has just kicked in. “OH MY GAWD! I love this song. I want to dance. Who wants to dance? Do you want to dance?”

‘Cause we gon’ rock this club
We gon’ go all night
We gon’ light it up
Like it’s dynamite!

And you know what? I love every sthweaty minute of it.

It is kind of freeing to tell that internal cynical dickhead (the one who rolls his eyes at way-into-dancing guy) to fuck off, and have him actually fuck off. I’m usually pretty secure and loose these days, which has come with age, but spinning helps me relax the ole brown pucker even more. It’s like when you have kids and you just dork the hell out. A switch gets thrown from DUDE to DADDY and suddenly you baby talk. You hide your face with your hands, uncover it and go “ahboo ahboo ahbooo!” You verbally and physically smother them with love and affection with full abandon while the world looks on and you don’t care. You stop giving a shit about being cool when you’re with your little one. And it feels great. Maybe I should start yelling, “Yeah! Awesome song!” during class.

And not only does spinning help you loosen your soul, it helps you tighten your pedal pushers. There’re pretty obvious physical benefits of rotating a 50 pound flywheel like a medieval slave for an hour straight. It’s absolutely exhausting and I personally sweat more than an NBA big man. It’s the perfect torture to keep my muscley, near hairless body looking the way my wife likes it (well, my mirror and I care more than she does, but she likes it too). And just as important, it really helps me the next time I get on a bike that actually moves and go head-to-head with gravity. “You take the day off little chain ring. Me and middle chain ring have got this one. If something crazy comes up, we’ll let you know.” Poor little chain ring. He gets ignored more and more these days.

And what was really cool about the last class I did was that the instructor brought in a projector hooked up to a laptop. It took us out of the usual stare straight ahead like the living dead thing and made it a multi-media affair. This dude is already one of the best and toughest instructors I’ve come across, but he took shit up a notch with this silliness. I’m in a creative business that recognizes when people do stuff different, so I was excited.

And my excitement was well founded.

It’s pretty simple to describe what was going on in the projection on the wall: broadcasts of road races with inspiring, fun instructions that the instructor had put over the footage. “You’re going to have to pedal harder than that. That’s Contador behind you!” Stuff like that.

As I’ve written in the past, I’m not at all into road riding (nor have I ever taken much interest in the stars of the sport. And actually, I’ve never taken any interest in the stars of mountain biking and couldn’t name a single one), but I got pumped up being out on the pavement with them. Imaginary road racing with a very real physical component is really fun.

Those imaginary scenarios of chasing down road riders through the French countryside made me want to buy a road bike and start slamming some PEDs, figure out how to get uncircumcised, get a seatpost that’s five feet tall and start measuring distances in meetehrs and keelomeetehrs. Maybe wear billboards on my back and stuff my ass into shorts that are so tight you can make out the wrinkles in my sack. All that road rider stuff.

It was an extra fun class.

I’ll wrap this up with another thing that I really appreciate about spinning class: It reminds me how glad I am that I’m living a life that it’s the lamest thing I do in a bike saddle. As much as I enjoy spinning, I’m grateful that I’m surrounded by better, dirtier, more beautiful options and that I make the effort to take those options on a regular basis. It’ll always be a lot more enjoyable to be Mountain-Bike-Guy-Andy than Spinning-Guy-Andy.

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