Posts

Racing

Image
After almost 10 years of writing about the mountain bike races I do, I understand that by now, writing a detailed description of each race I do is pointless. I'm doing the same races I've done for years so the descriptions are largely the same except that I seem to be getting a bit worse at them each year and even at my best I was never good enough to add the necessary excitement to them to make them worth reading. Reading about someone who repeatedly comes in last is a bit, um, demoralizing.

So why bother writing about them at all? More to the point, why do them?

I was thinking about that as I started out for my last lap of the Oregon 24 last Saturday night. I was only doing the 12 hour race this time. The last time I did the 24 hour race two years ago I made the podium but it was the first time I felt something had gone really wrong with my body by the finish. Last year I intended to do the 12 hour race but it snowed 15" and it was crazy and actually kind of fun but no…

Reunion

Image
I should begin by saying I was never wired to enjoy high school reunions. They share a slightly guilt infested part of my brain with California Interstate fruit inspection stations. I know fruit inspection stations are important for protecting California's crops, and it's not much of an inconvenience to stop and talk to the inspectors, but I'd rather not have them find the bag of apples I stashed in the trunk. They let me through and then I feel like crap for lying about what's in my car. Then I spend the rest of the year waiting for news of a new blight that wiped out the California apple crop that was caused by some scumbag tourist from Oregon with fly infested apples. The opportunity to see the people you grew up with should be a blessing, but if fills me with dread that they'll find out I didn't really amount to much and after a few minutes I'm kind of boring and God help them if I start talking about my job. Afterward, I just dread the pictures that co…

Afterward

Image
Dear Joe,

I know you won't be reading this. Last Thursday your cancer took the last thing it could take from you and you departed this place for points unknown.



I'm glad Carolyn and I got to see you last weekend, while you were still moving about and engaged with the world around you. Zack and I got Maddie's old Scott road bike put back together, which seemed like a useful thing to do when there's nothing to be done. We watched the last stage of the Tour de France together too! Zack knew a couple of the riders in the peloton and it was fun to geek out about bikes one last time.

Surprisingly, I was glad we were there Monday morning when you transitioned from that frail but present place to the beginnings of death, as your body finally couldn't keep up with the damage the cancer had wrought. We were caught off guard by how fast you shifted, though you hung on for 3 more days; long enough to bore everyone who came to say goodbye until finally the hospice nurse told th…

Travels With Joe Part II

Image
I've mentioned numerous times over the nine years I've written this blog that Joe and Maddie got me back on my bike. Reading over the early posts from 2009, I realized that there was a whole year between that re-acquaintance with biking and my first post. That year was the beginning of maybe the longest journey I had with Joe; the one on the bike. I think it's important to fill in some of that story.

Riding a bicycle has been a part of my life off and on since I was a child. I stopped for a few years after my 2nd bike got stolen at college around 1981. I picked it up again in 1987 when mountain biking first got popular.  I don't remember the exact year my sister and Joe got together. Maybe '89 or '90? They met on a group bike ride. Joe and I bonded pretty quickly over bikes. I may have been racing a few years longer than he did but he was always better. Always faster. We didn't do a lot of races together. I remember doing Spring Thaw in '91 or '92 w…

Travels with Joe

Image
Considering the tone of my last two posts, I want to make it absolutely clear that my former brother-in-law Joe is not dead or losing his mind.

I think he's skiing today.

Unfortunately, he does have cancer, and it's quite serious. If you're thinking "Oh, well, if he's skiing it can't be that bad" I would just tell you that standing and moving are the least painful things he can do right now and if you're in pain all the time, you might as well go skiing. I've had cancer. It was frightening. It was humiliating. There were adult diapers involved. There were catheters in unpleasant places. Don't get me started on the anal probes. Compared to what Joe is going through, my journey was a pleasant Oxycontin fog filled with cool robots, leg massages, and lovely, caring nurses.

We're all worried of course.  If you've been around Carolyn and me, we've told you we're worried. We've told you many times. You might wonder why we care so …

Daryl Hoffman

Image
September will be my 40th high school reunion. It's funny, but for all the things I've experienced, all the people I've known and the places I've seen; I'm still tied to those people and those years in the late '70's in Rondout Valley in upstate New York. I was always a bit of an outsider there. We moved to Stone Ridge when I was in 4th grade and it felt a bit like wandering into a conversation that had started a long time ago. But I found friends and though most of us didn't stay in touch until Facebook showed up, they have turned out to be durable friends. I suppose we were bound to measure ourselves against the people we knew in high school. But I've also grown to realize these people defined home, the place I left in 1978. It felt like we were just figuring out how much we cared for each other right about when we graduated.

This reunion has a good deal of momentum behind it, thanks to Facebook. As we've become reacquainted in the last coupl…

Some thoughts on the road's end

Image
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…