May 7, 2019

Nurture of Nature, part 1

Last night, I was out with my Monday group ride, and I heard an interesting bird I couldn't readily identify. If I'd been riding by myself, I'd have stopped until I could see what it was.  But I was temporarily leading the group, and I couldn't. And that felt so wrong.

Maybe I'm an adult in a twenty-something sport, I don't know, but that event sums up a feeling that's been growing in me for awhile now, and I'd like to delve into it for just a moment, if you'll indulge me.

First, a bit of background about me. As a child, my mom subscribed me to Ranger Rick magazine. It's still put out by the WWF (the World Wildlife Foundation) and is a conservation magazine for young kids. I loved it and I also enjoyed walking the trail from my house into the woods and down to the meadow with a stream that ran through it. Hickory Creek (pronoounced "crick" where I came from). I built birdhouses. Etc. I remember as a pretty small kid wanting to build brush piles so small animals would have a place to live.

A little later, at age 11, I got into BMX.

Put those two together after about ten years, and a detour into road cycling (which let's face it, is still quite an outdoor sport, it just has to stay on the little paved paths) and you've got a passionate mountain biker who's out in the woods for something more than to do rad jumps and tear it up, man.

But why am I alone in that? I mean, I'm sure I'm not totally alone, but why is mountain biking worlds away from bird watching? Or the kind of people who like to watch deer in the evening?

In fact, it almost seems that many riders are almost annoyed by nature. Why has this tree fallen onto our trail? What do you mean, we can't ride here because it's conservation land? (implied: what do we care about rare animals?)

As usual, I'm reading too much into this. I'm overreacting (also, had a venti Starbucks, so maybe that's part of it). But the point is sound, I think. Why are we more interested in the performance of our suspension than in the nature we're riding through?

Is it because we're a younger sport? Surfing seems to understand that it takes place in a natural area. And it seems to cherish it. (and also doesn't SEEM to be obsessed with tech, but I could be wrong and looking from the outside.) As mtb matures, will we as a group grow up a little bit?

Mar 18, 2019

Continuing to Start Slow

Dirt Rag recently redesigned their web site. Look who's the first article on the "Opinion" page! That's my photo, too.

It also got some nice compliments on the RBW Owner's Bunch, a very active Google discussion group.

Feb 21, 2019

"Start Slow and Taper Off": additional information

If you read this blog at all, you'll want to check out this link. It's my latest publishing, and for this story about how the Japanese practice of Shinrin Yoku ("Forest Bathing") interacts with MTB, I got to interview two of my bike heroes, Jacquie Phelan and Grant Petersen. I could write volumes about each of them, but if you really want to know, following those links will soon explain why.

You may be interested to learn that my title for this article was "Take It Easy". The editor changed it. That's fine, that's her prerogative. But my rationale was that by citing the Eagles' song, it subtly enforced the writing's message of a kind of restart, a return to mountain biking's more free-spirited, nature-loving roots in the seventies.

I had also included footnotes in the article that didn't make it into the "printed" page. Some of them were just to the scientific studies of Forest Bathing, but if you're interested, check out this from Outside Magazine and this organization dedicated to the pursuit.


Jan 16, 2019

How We Spend Our Days

Lest you get the idea that I do no writing, here's just a few examples of recently published work:

THE PERSIAN GAMBLE

CODE OF VALOR

THE TINDERBOX

The catalog introduction HERE

Heavenly Amish Mysteries & Three Sisters Island Series

Now, don't get the wrong idea. I can't---and won't---keep up with an ongoing list of every fiction feature I write. But if you've wondered what it is I actually do as a copywriter, this is a pretty good sample. 

I should mention that this is the polished product of editing and proofreading. I can't churn it out like this. But in most cases the wording and most of the content is mine.

Dec 31, 2018

The Whitehead Option

I was standing alone in the woods, it was now dark, and something up the hill was making a squeaking noise, like a pig---or a rabbit who's being eaten alive. My decades-old seatpost had just snapped in half. I'd hoped that the severed top half would simply insert into the seat tube and be much lower, but because of the way it broke, that was not going to happen without a file. Needless to say, I wasn't carrying one. Nor did I have time to use it even if I was. 

So there I stood, with my new leather saddle and a bag of tube and tools in my hand. I WAS close to a road, so that I could stash them both and come back later, but we're talking about $40 worth of supplies in a $20 bag, under a $75 saddle---not to mention that I'd have to explain to my wife if by some chance they weren't there when I returned. I decided I'd just hold onto them. 

I tried using the bag's straps to attach it all to the frame. This interrupted my pedaling and moved around, bringing the new saddle dangerously close to the spinning tire. Not a good option. Then holding the seat rails in one hand while also gripping the handlebars. 

But after a little walking with the bike, I realized that I could remove the bag from the seat, remove the broken post, and have 3 relatively compact packages, that would fit in jersey and jacket pockets.



*******

The year was 1986. Racer Cindy Whitehead was competing in a mountain bike race called the Sierra 7500 in Bishop, CA. About 1 mile into the 50-mile race, she pushed her bike through a sandy section and jumped back on, only to have the seat break off underneath her. She went on to win the race, riding 49 miles of it without a seat. It was a legendary performance that's still talked about 32 years later.

*******

I rode to a small  dirt road that led back toward the parking lot where I'd started my ride. Thankfully, this had street lights---and potholes. But as I approached the bigger road that led to the car, I realized it was night, and a busy street connecting two towns. Would I go back into the "scary" woods (a section that I know well enough to ride it reasonably in the dark)---or face certain danger on the road?  I chose the woods. And about a minute later, the more powerful of my two headlights went out. 

I still wonder what that sound was, though.

Oct 13, 2018

Streaming Consciousness

Going to try a little experiment here. [I'm] in the middle of a ride and I'm going to try speaking [a] blog post into my phone.

So, I'm sitting on the edge of what I believe is Round Pond, but I'm not certain of that, near Gordon College. And about half of my vision is taken up by the lake. [It is] making strange little almost figure eights of light and waves on most of the surface, but to the right of me for some reason it's smooth. The trees are about half changed. It seems to be that the yellow ones are the ones that are changing so far and I see two really tall Pine trees straight in front of me. It's almost the middle of October, but for some strange reason it is hot today and humid. Also, I noticed there's a birch tree right in front of me with some beautiful little twigs hanging off of it, and all of its leaves are gone. I'm out here, among other reasons, because my mom is in the hospital. She went in just a little bit dizzy and now she says her vision is completely swirling around when she opens up her eyes, so I don't know what's going on. They seem to have ruled out a stroke. They flew her down in a helicopter. So I'm out for a bike ride because there's not a whole lot I can do. I found myself just thinking about what could be wrong not trusting the doctors, and I realize there's no point in that at all, because even if I somehow miraculously figured it out I wouldn't have any way of telling them. So I decided to take a ride and stop thinking about it, which is exactly what I'm not doing,so maybe I should get riding again. I've just come through a tunnel of leaves: I can still see it behind me, kind of a ledge trail right next to the lake almost on the edge of the lake in fact. Almost? It is! Just saw two dogs out walking and now I'm sitting on a railroad tie next to the Lake.

-------

Now I'm sitting back in the car and I'm trying to decide if I have a concussion because I went over the handlebars on a really steep downhill that I really should've walked! I think I'm alright, but I figured I'd put this down on virtual paper. I'm hoping I might get a scar out of the cut on my knee though. Remember to wear your helmets, kids! don't walk down walk down things you can't ride down.


 [Maybe I was confused- I meant the opposite (this was almost a week ago. No concussion, and believe me, I looked up the symptoms thoroughly)]