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Showing posts from 2015

Words

I've been thinking about words lately. Powerful things, words.

I mentioned in my last post that work had been piling on. It had. But in a strange way that left me drained and lost and it had relatively little to do with the usual things that make work awful and a lot to do with words. 
For 15 years I've been responsible for Linfield College's website. Like an engineer on a ship, I nudged the site along through the years and the changes. It's been the sole task of my professional life and it's been an honorable one.  After a decade and a half, I've come to understand that the web has always been about words. Yes, cat videos too; and scheduling your toilet bowl cleaner refill deliveries on Amazon as well. If you wind it back to the early 90's though, a hyperlink was the revolutionary connection of a word to another document filled with words with similar connections. That was the web. The pictures and videos and eventually the Apps and the Cloud and all that…

Black Rock

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It's been a while since I've written. I feel bad about that but truth be told, I didn't have much to write about.

Or I did, but it wasn't ready to be written.

Or it was, but I didn't feel any better writing it.

That's it. The thing is, I started this blog to write out my cancer journey, because it made me feel better. I kept it up as I re-discovered mountain bike racing and it's been a good place to write out a lot of the funnier moments of my life but also the painful ones. Maybe especially the painful ones. The funny things are still there. So are the painful things. Maybe not as epic, but they're still knocking against the walls of our happy lives. A marriage that's ended, sickness, death. The kind of sadness that's unavoidable as we get older. At a certain point, it just gets depressing writing about it.

And I've been bored with biking. 
There, I said it. Bored. Bored, bored bored. So bored I've even taken up running. I'm tired …

Mt. Ashland Hillclimb: Let's Take a Walk

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My sister is really good at this running thing. She loves it to the point that she sort of forgets that she's way better at it than average people who spend most of their day feeling bad for blowing off the gym again.

People like me.

It's hard not to get sucked into her enthusiasm for running though. Carolyn was in NY so I drove  down to Ashland to see everyone since Maddie was back from school with her boyfriend Zack. I brought my bike, my running shoes, pretty much all the toys because you just don't know with my family. When Mallory said I should do the Mt. Ashland Hill Climb with her and her friend Amy, who just had hip replacement surgery and was getting back into running, I thought: "well that sounds nice. It's shady, Mallory's not running at race speed so she can pace her friend Amy who just had hip replacement surgery. It should be a pleasant hike!"

God I'm stupid.

The Mt. Ashland Hill Climb is a 13.3 mile long running race from Lithia Park to…

A Little Ride into the Night and on to the Morning: Part II

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Let me describe the the Oregon 24 course to you.

It takes place on an 11 mile loop. You start up a short hill, hang a left, then go down a bumpy, rutted connector trail. This short stretch of trail turned out to be incredibly handy. More on that later. After that, you  swing on to a stretch of beautiful single track that weaves through the woods in a gentle down grade. A couple of little climbs and you hit a short rock garden. Some more pretty single track and then the trail turns uphill for about a mile or so. Mile 4 you top out and start a fantastic downhill on a trail called Dinah Moe Humm, named after a Frank Zappa song I can't stand, which is a shame because it was all I could hear in my head for much of the race.  Maybe 7 miles in the trail turns uphill again for a half mile. Mile 9 you turn on to a straight fire road you ride for 1 1/2 miles before a sharp left turn that takes you up a hateful little climb before a short downhill back to the start. You go th…

A Little Ride into the Night and on to the Morning

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We got home from France July 2nd. July 10th I packed up the Subaru and headed over to Bend to do the Oregon 24 again. Committing to a 24 hour race after a three week break in training was probably a stupid idea. Actually, committing to a 24 hour race under any circumstances would be considered a stupid idea by most people.

Carolyn, to her great credit, just smiled and said she knew I was going to do it and understood how important it was to me. Thanks to her keen situational awareness, she also said I was on my own. She had to work. She also had to be someplace with flush toilets, hot water and basic hygiene. When we were in Antibes, we attended a Swedish solstice party. After many drinks, someone opened up a tin of fermented herring. The smell of that rotten fish took us all the way back to the pit toilet at last year's race. No, it was a relief really. Once I started making lists and packing she knew I was on top of things. She cooked up rice bars and boiled eggs and potatoes fo…

France

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So, I've been in the south of France for the last few weeks. Carolyn, Anne, Chris (Anne's boyfriend), and I have vacationed the heck out of those weeks. I can say with confidence, no vacation stones were left unturned. Just as an example, last Sunday was an easy day, but in that day I was mountain biking in St-Tropez, wine tasting, had lunch by the beach, and a quick swim too. We didn't go to a lot of sights. We took in the Chagall museum in Nice and in the realm of guide book high points you might pay to see, that was about it.  This trip wasn't about seeing. Don't get me wrong, there was a LOT to see along the way. The picture below was from our lunch stop in Éze. How do you even eat when you're looking at that? But really, it was about being in a place. And it was about the people in that place.

The daily intensity has made it difficult to write anything about it, at least in any kind of narrative way.  That said, I do want to note a few things that have b…

Father's Day

17 years ago I wrote something about my father in a summit register on top of Wheeler peak in Nevada. He had passed away a few months earlier ending a rough journey with multiple myloma. He was 66, only three years older than my wife is now. Since it's Father's Day, Everyone is posting pictures of their fathers on Facebook with best wishes, expressions of love, or memorials of them in their absence.  As I sit on a balcony in Antibes, a week in to a trip that I will be struggling to find words to describe for some time to come, I am a bit astonished and a bit ashamed that I don't have a picture of him to post and I can't remember what I wrote on that mountain. All I can remember; all I can ever remember, is that he died with his mind intact, so his greatest fear never came true. But he died before he saw Maddie grow into the beautiful woman she is. He died before Carolyn and I got married, before he saw me teach a college class. And he died before I ever figured out ho…

Spring Thaw

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As I'm writing this, I'm standing in Anne's loft. My bike is packed in a travel case. I'm looking over my screen at my new humongous rolling duffel bag that happens to be the exact color of my late grandparents 1968 Galaxy 500 - a sort of copper color that Tom Waits described as "monkey shit brown". We're about to fly to France. Short of illness or serious mechanical failure in one of the various machines we will use to get there, in a few days I will be mountain biking in the Maritime Alps. If it sounds like I'm not excited about that, it's only because I don't have the vocabulary to describe how strange and wonderful this all is.

I'm getting ahead of myself. The France trip had been on the horizon for awhile. It's the vacation we've never had but it seemed so abstract in January and March, like those drunken plans to do some great thing or get together again because it would be so cool and how could we not but you never get arou…

Memory Races

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So this last weekend I went out and did the Chainbreaker in Bend. I finished third from last. Again. It was the kind of finish that might compel you to wait for your wife to go to bed so you could put some Field Report or maybe Sarah McClachlan on the stereo, pour yourself a glass of a nice single malt, and stare at the dying embers in the wood stove wondering why you show up at all for these things.

You would think that. But you would be wrong. 
You would be wrong because I'm not a night person and I always go to bed before Carolyn, even on the worst days. 
You would be wrong because I don't drink whiskey much any more. 
Mostly you would be wrong because, at this race in particular, all that palaver about finding different reasons to race as I seem to get slower really had meaning. As much as I want to write something funny or sad it was neither of those things.  There's been an overarching oddness to racing this year. I've done two 5k running races and it has been …

Mudslinger

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I know! When was the last time I did a bike race?

In case you were wondering,  I'm not going to seed. I've just been busy. In February I got a personal trainer through Linfield. Senior Exercise Science majors need crash test dummies and the college has an army of 50-something staff desperate to recover some shred of their misspent youth. Ellie, my trainer, has performed minor miracles working on me.  I've dropped about 5 very stubborn pounds, my posture is better and I think throwing a medicine ball on the floor as hard as you can in an empty racquetball court makes the most satisfying sound I've ever heard. On the other hand, making a 55 year old man do Burpees with pushups in the middle might be considered elder abuse but maybe this is just what getting old feels like now.

Then there's the deferred maintenance on the house. Since last July we've installed a heater/exhaust fan in the downstairs bathroom, repainted said bathroom, replaced a rotted support pos…

Running With Sisters

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So my sister tricked me into doing a 5k trail run last weekend.

She's clever that way. I only have myself to blame. She was coming up for the weekend for a visit. Carolyn was in NY visiting her family and I was looking forward to a couple days catching up, maybe a bike ride up to the ridge, go to Portland and do some shopping, have a nice lunch, watch some movies, punish a few bottles of chardonnay, it was going to be fun!

As fate would have it, a friend on Facebook posted a link to the 5k, 10k, and 1/2 Marathon Spring Fling trail run at Alsea Falls on Saturday. Mike Ripley was putting it on and I've raced my bike on those trails before so I knew it would be well supported in a beautiful setting. I thought Mallory might like it.  I messaged the link to her telling her she should do it. I'd cheer her on and make her burgers for dinner. One minute later she messaged me back.

In my defense, 5k seems really short in a text. Just 2 characters! Anyone could do that. I should als…