Skip to main content

The wheels keep turning..

Last month I was blessed with one of those rides that just brings it all back to a good place. Our old friends Jim and Wendy stopped by for the night on the way back from vacation. They had been doing some riding in Bend and had their Felt mtn bikes with them so I suggested we go for a ride the next day down in Falls City at Black Rock. Black Rock is a freeride park filled with crazy jumps, stunts, skinnies and all sorts of features designed for riders who weren't in touch with their own mortality. With our combined age of around 150, you might wonder what we were doing there. You would be right to wonder.

On the other hand, there are definitely some perks to a place like this. It's all bikes. No hikers, no horses, no ATVs, no guns, no conflict,  just like-minded folks.  I've never been close to riding at the level this park demands but I've never been treated with anything but respect by other riders here. It's also totally in the shade. It's a lovely forest with a pleasant albeit uphill road cutting through it that makes a pleasant ride in and of itself. The trails all criss-cross this road so it's easy to bail at any time. The truth is, I was being selfish. This place is a part of my rediscovering mountain biking. I first showed up here in 2007 with my 1987 Bridgestone and people just stared. I had a trail map and had picked the "easy" train to descend and still people kept shaking their heads and suggesting I just ride back down the road. Even with a new bike, I am always humbled by this place, but I've never felt unwelcome. I wanted them to see it. I also wanted to ride with Jim again. He got me on a mountain bike for the first time back in 1987. I picked up racing and he moved on to Ultimate and, while we've always stayed friends, we didn't ride together anymore.  In the intervening years our health and weight had gone up and down and this week we were both in better shape than we had been in maybe a decade.

The ride turned out to be a blast. Jim and Wendy held on to my wheel all the way to the top of Brown Mountain. Maybe my favorite moment was about 2/3 of the way up the road. We had stopped for a second and I was pointing out a particularly frightening road gap jump that started with a wooden ramp about 10' above the road and ended with a dirt transition on the other side. Jim was looking at it with a combination of the mechanical curiosity of a lifelong carpenter and problem solver, marveling at the physics of it, and the sane, cautious person thinking "OH MY GOD HOW THE FUCK COULD THEY DO THAT AND SURVIVE!!!"

The ride down was surprisingly fun. It was a relief not to have to hold myself up to all the freeriders for a change and simply ride for fun. Both Jim and Wendy smiled the whole way down. Anyone who saw us would have shook their head and thought we didn't understand how to ride here. Maybe that's true. But here we are and I wonder how many of the kids half our age will still be riding 25 years from now.

We grabbed lunch in Falls City and said good-bye. Though we get down to Ashland quite a bit, we stay with my sister and rarely get into town where Jim and Wendy live. I have to work on that. Jim is one of the few male friends I'm close to. We've always been following in each other's footsteps and after all these years, we can look back at all the choices we've made and feel like we've landed well.  What a blessing to grow old and feel good about where we've been.


Popular posts from this blog

Hawaii Part I

This is a year of great portent for Carolyn and me. All kinds of things lined up. It's our 30th anniversary! Actually, it's the 30th anniversary of our first date which turned into a sleepover which turned into nightly sleepovers which turned into moving in together which turned into buying a house together which turned into buying another house together and breaking out in cats, which is pretty much where we are now. Exactly in the middle of those 30 years we got married. It was sometime in July, we have it written down somewhere. That's not to say we take the marriage lightly. It means a great deal to us, though for some reason, we aren't getting the spouse's discount on rental cars that I thought came with the package. Anyway, 15 years of being bound in matrimony this year too. It's also Carolyn's 65th birthday, which is maybe the biggest deal. Oh, and there's a solar eclipse in August. If you're big on numerology and signs from the Heavens, this…

After this Winter - Some thoughts on losing my way

Last weekend I dug my bibs out of the closet, suited up and did the Mudslinger mountain bike race again. Some confusion after the race got me thinking about paths, wayfinding, and getting lost. It also got me thinking about politics.

This was the 30th annual Mudslinger which means we share an anniversary! A couple actually. Carolyn and I have been together 30 years and I started racing mountain bikes 30 years ago. My race prep this year consisted mainly of gassing up the car the day before driving down to the race. I think I've ridden outside four times since Christmas. Still, I wasn't going to miss this one. I did the second Mudslinger in 1988 and quite a few after that until I stopped racing in 1996. I've done it at least six more times since I started racing again in 2008.

I finished pretty far back in the field but ahead of a few dozen racers. I wasn't the only one having trouble getting the base miles in. More importantly, I had fun. It was a beautiful sunn…

Some thoughts on the road's end

I didn't get many Christmas cards out this year. Didn't do a letter either. I'm sorry about that. Here's what happened.

Less than a week before Christmas, my in-laws reached a crisis point that signaled the end of their independent lives and the beginning of ongoing nursing care. I want to recount the journey to that crisis point. I apologize for the length of this. I need to get it out of my head. I need to document this because my in-laws are wonderful people who have reached the end of their independent lives and I want you to know what it was like.

The crisis had been building for some time. We knew something was going to happen to push this forward. Indeed, Merle and Catherine are where we wanted them to be but their journey there was so abrupt and terrible sounding, it actually made people laugh when I recounted it. We tried to get ahead of what was coming but the desire to let Merle and Catherine continue to live at home combined with their determination to stay…