photo block

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

dog days of winter

I’m dog sitting Jengo for about a week. We just went out for a quick afternoon trot around the block in the drizzle. I don’t get the impression that Jengo does a whole lot of running but I ran him just a little today – a few minutes. I figure any dog should be okay with that. As soon as he dropped back behind me instead of leading the way we walked it off.

It’s been drizzling a lot the last few days – apparently – I’ve been out of town – I thought Georgia was a warm place – pretty cold out there – nice running through Piedmont Park though – and the Botanical Garden there.

When we returned from our space journey across the continent the rain cup was full – 14.5 cm. Actually it holds about 15 cm but who knows if I got there just in time to measure the four day rain event or if the rain had been splashing out over the lip for days?

And in other bigger more exciting news – we’ve now got a memory card in the camera that holds more than 4 pictures at a time! 2000, to be exact. So, hhhhere’s Jengo… Hard to tell from the picture, of course, but he’s listening to jazz on the radio.

Because of this new photo ability the blog could be at a crossroads here if you know what I mean. Something to look at, at last! Assuming I ever remember to take the camera out with me on adventures.

Merry Winter to All! It becomes official at around… well, I can’t figure it out exactly – sometime today. We’ll call it right… now.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

currently reading

The Anthropology of Turquoise:
Reflections on Desert, Sea, Stone, And Sky
by Ellen Meloy

Monday, December 13, 2010

Vibram FiveFingers

I finally got my hands on (I mean, feet in) a pair of fivefingers – the glove-like running shoes. Don’t tell Vibram, it might hurt their feelings, but I picked them up in one of those gag, “white elephant” holiday gift exchanges. They are the Sprint model.

I think they might be about one European size too small for me, although according to the Vibram shoe sizing chart they’re actually a size too big. Feet and shoes, though, are not mathematical equations – hence the saying, “if the shoe fits, wear it.” I haven’t run in these yet because they feel too small so maybe I’m not qualified to write a true and fair review yet but here are a few (mostly negative) thoughts. I’ve worn them around the house and am wondering if maybe they’ll stretch out just a bit so I can give them a run but not sure yet.

These shoes seem to pride themselves on being minimalist. To me, they still seem over built. The two Velcro heel straps and one larger Velcro strap over the top of the foot seem unnecessary. If I keep these I’ll probably cut those all off. Keep in mind my perspective, though, as I’m the guy that doesn’t tie his regular running shoes either – they’re knotted loosely enough to easily slide on and off – that works well for me. They don’t fall off. And neither would these fivefingers without their straps. The inner lining is more than enough to secure them to the foot especially since you’re supposed to make sure they fit just right to begin with.

The rubber soles are much beefier than I expected and really too much for my liking. The worst part of the sole is where it wraps up and around the front of each toe. My toes end up sticking and clicking together. Maybe with use this problem would wear itself out as the rubber lost its tackiness. They should keep the sole on the bottom. I’m not planning to be kicking around a bunch of rocks, although I suppose that is the intended purpose of the rubber toes for people that use them out on trails – anti-toe-stubbing technology.

I’m wearing the fivefingers right now as I type this. They’re starting to feel a little better as I wiggle my toes around but they’re still a little annoying. The idea behind these shoes is make you feel like you’re running barefoot but at the moment they feel even more restrictive then a regular light shoe like the cross country racers I ran in during the early part of this year. And at least with those, I can wear them out to the pub or wherever if I feel like it. There’s no way I’d wear the fivefingers anywhere/anytime but night runs or in the ocean or a river rafting trip. At least these are all black so they’re a little less noticeable than the other bright colors available.

I’m not sure how much these cost as I got them for free. I think they may be sort of expensive – in the $80 range. It would feel a little strange to take the scissors to such a valuable shoe but I think I’d like them more if I cut the tips of the toes off and all the straps. I think at some point though you just have to avoid the silliness of trying to mimic the natural human foot and just go out running barefoot.

Oh, and one more thing, Vibram. You really (obviously) ought to call these FiveToes as hardly anyone runs on their hands.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

currently reading

The Lost Cyclist
by David Herlihy

and (just finished)

Unbearable Lightness
by Portia de Rossi

Monday, December 6, 2010

lessons from a tire pumping nerd

Don’t be a tire pumping nerd. Or don’t bother being one, anyway. It’s okay to ride your bike without repumping the tires every time. And yes I’m talking about the road bikes with the skinny tires. And no, I’m not talking about the urban bikes with the fat tires although you needn’t pump those either very often like I’ve been doing with Mindful Mule lately. I can’t even remember the last time I pumped up those tires. They’re 26X2 and they’re pretty low on air but they roll and it’s cold out and so when I get out there I don’t want to pump, although that’s warming, I just want to ride. I don’t want to fiddle with valves and shit. It’s too limiting.

And it’s the same with the road bikes. If you think that you have to repump your tires every time and put on your special riding costume and fill up your water bottle with poweraid and plan a route and find a partner or group to ride with then you’re never going to get on that bike and ride it down to the store or to the pub or even to work for that matter because it’s just too much of a pain to do all that every time you leave the house. Your bike just needs to be ready to ride all the time. And if you rode that race bike last weekend it probably already is.

If you want to tuck or roll your pants I’ll allow that, though, as I do that a lot. I’m a bike nerd, too. Hello, my name is Jonah and I’m a bike nerd. Sometimes I wear that costume too, so I know how it can be, but you’ve got to let your self be free. There are so many roadies out there that aren’t riding their bikes but for exercise. Please go somewhere on you bikes, too. Ride free.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

meditative slog

I had a super slow run through the Arroyo this week. It was strange. I was so low energy I could barely call it running. Jogging maybe. Although it felt more like speedwalking. Although the word speed shouldn’t be applied here so I’ll call it slogging – slow jogging. To be fair, this was really only perceived slogging – my time for the run was a little on the slow side but not outlandish – 10m/m.

But sometimes it’s really good to slow down. To listen to your body when it wants to go slow. Not that today my body was telling me to go slow. My legs felt fine and my form held through the distance well. I just had no motivation. Some element of the whole was missing. Maybe it was my mind that wanted to go slow.

I was talking about my running habits with a friend last weekend and telling him about my Arroyo route. I mentioned something to him that I’d never really verbalized before: in addition to running in the Arroyo, I tend to Arroyo via a run. In essence, the run being merely a vehicle to accomplish the main activity: being in the Arroyo.

This week that became a bit more apparent. I wasn’t really enjoying my run but still it seemed like the best way to tour the area. A few people down there walking dogs or running or birding and that old ranger guy on his horse (the mellowest beat in town.) Toward the end of my journey down there it hit me that it was totally quiet. I could hear all the birds and crickets and the slight gurgle of the (channelized) creek. Dense green native foliage spilling down the hillsides all around me under the slightly dulled, thin-cloud-smeared blue of the still, heavy sky. I could have been in Bolivia. In fact, I’m pretty sure I could smell Hawaii. It was a moment I’d been missing lately.

And just like with meditation or yoga or chanting or praying or what have you, all that was needed was a simplification from the normal, a simple slog, away from goals and cravings, to slip briefly out of the envelope and recall.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Monday, November 29, 2010

running through airports

I often hear about the dry, re-circulated air in airplanes and how one should make an effort to stay hydrated during a flight. And I generally try to follow this advice, although, there’s also the downside of having to crawl over your fellow passengers too many times so you don’t really want to over hydrate either. So, as with so many things in life, finding the middle ground in this situation seems appropriate. Drink some water but not too much and you should be fine.

Unless your flight arrives late into SLC and you’ve only got 5 minutes to make your connection which, of course, departs from the other side of that fairly massive air complex.

Customer service isn’t what it used to be in airports. When we got off the plane we asked “a representative” what gate to head to and if she could let them know we were on our way. E63. And, no. You’ll have to run.

Um, run? I mean, I’m fine with that. Hil’s fine with that. But who else in this world in an airport is going to respond to that with enthusiasm? Something seems wrong with the system.

But we ran. With our heavy bags and coats flung over our shoulders – because no one can afford to check a bag anymore. I was wearing heavy hiking boots. Hil was wearing clogs. Hil said I looked like Santa Claus. I felt more like John Muir (having just spent the flight reading his book.) We both did our best OJ impression. Lots of dodging in and out of the many holiday travelers blocking our passage between the B and E concourses. No hurdling though – that seemed a little excessive. Some things only really happen in the commercials.

It was sort of a fun run. Challenging. Probably about 3/4 of a mile. Towards the end of the run I noticed my first symptom: cotton mouth. That’s weird, I thought. Not normal. We tried to compose ourselves as we arrived at E63 but soon encountered the next symptom: dry cough. Now that’s even weirder. We could barely speak. Half a sentence to the gate agent… interrupted by wheezing breath and searing throat and cough cough cough… second half of the sentence recovered by Hil or me back and forth – tag team communication.

It was crazy. The coughing just wouldn’t stop. I was convinced we’d run through some sort of chemical gas cloud leaking in from a jet refueling hose or some kind of industrial strength airport deodorizing agent.

Recovery was slow and agonizing. Water gargle beer water gargle beer, repeat.

The only explanation I’ve yet to come up with here is that we had severely dehydrated lungs and throat from the hour and a half plane ride in. We lived. Barely. But what would have happened to someone else? After this experience, despite the novelty and classic moment-ness of running through an airport, I have to advise all passengers against it no matter how much water you’ve been drinking or how fit you think you are. It’s just not worth it.

And besides, we missed our connecting flight.

Monday, November 15, 2010

you know you’ve been riding a lot lately when…

…you find yourself unconsciously track standing in the left hand turn lane of busy intersections…

…people tell you they saw you riding in the rain a you hardly understand why that’s significant…

…you really can’t remember the last time you sat in a car…

…there’s bald spots on your thighs from shorts/pants slowly shaving off the hair with each stoke of the pedal…

…you’ve stopped thinking it’s weird to wear your helmet to the ATM…

…you know exactly how many groceries you can squeeze into your basket…

…you fine tune your brakes with the barrel adjusters while at stop lights…

…your neighbors all seem to recognize you even though you may have never seen them before…

…you think helmet-hair is stylish…

Friday, November 12, 2010

salty tomatoes

My newest, bestest run recovery snack is a sliced tomato with lots of salt. You get calories, fluids, salt, and deliciousness. It’s really the only thing that feels appetizing to me after a long run. Even if I’m dehydrated, which I often am, I often don’t feel like drinking right after a run even though that’s what my body needs most. The advantage to the salty tomato is that it makes me want a big glass of water right after eating, thereby forcing the re-hydration process.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

currently reading

Listening to Cougar
by Marc Bekoff and Cara Blessley Lowe, Editors


Steep Trails
by John Muir

Sunday, October 24, 2010

sunset at sunset

I like riding Sunset Blvd at sunset. Like yesterday, riding from “the cornfields” to Silver Lake after Tour de Fat, which by the way was freakin coolio.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

the unbearable lockness of being

One of the coolest moments from this past week went down yesterday evening as I was pedaling to the pub. Lately I’ve been taking the long way there. It saves a couple beers ‘cause if I get there first there are no distractions. “Ticka, ticka, ticka… athousand, athousand, athousand…” Yesterday, though, I took the long way with additional purpose – returning to the scene of the ankle-river-tumble-splashdown incident. Well, the trailhead anyway. When I left there a few days ago after my fall I was less than mindful. I was more just thinking about my foot – footful – and I somehow rode away without securing my coil lock to the bike. I had remembered setting it on the rear rack but discovered the next day that it had gone missing. Not a huge deal – a low-dollar item – five bucks at the pharmacy/general store down the street. But useful and used a lot over the last couple/few years. I carry the D-lock around with me, too, but sometimes it doesn’t span the available lockup. At this trailhead I lock to the oak tree. The tree is huge, neither of the locks span the trunk but there’s a low branch that I wrap the coil lock around. And, lately, I’ve been a bit paranoid in town so I double lock – D and coil. So, I missed my coil lock. I thought about it a lot during our time away. I wondered, would I ever find it? What would become of it? Where was it spending the night? My mission in taking the long way uptown last night was one of rescue. I got to the trailhead and looked around. Also looked along the roadside as I approached. I wasn’t sure where it had fallen off. I looked under and around the oak tree. I looked in the trashcan – thinking maybe someone had thrown it in as trash. But, no. Where was it? Then, there it was, right there coiled up and resting quietly on a knot on the oak branch. Did I set it there? Did someone else set it there, recognizing the loss? It looked like it had spent the night out in the rain on the ground, a little sandy. But maybe that was oak dust. Thankyou, Tree, for watching over my lock. Back on the bungee and holding down the bag in the basket, we rode away, happily together again, into the darkening foggy evening.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

don’t go jump in the river – wade

Unless you’re up for a night (and counting) of R.I.C.E. combined with a heaping dose insomnia inducing pain. I’ve been continuing with my repetitions of Devil’s Gate Trail. Yesterday evening was gloomy and drizzly. It had been raining (very lightly – 6mm) all day. A trail run seemed like a nice idea so I rode up there and got started.

When I got to the creek crossing it was semi-flooded. I was surprised by this because the rain was super light and this section of the creek is just below the dam. Maybe they were letting water out from behind the dam for some reason. I managed to pick my way across the first ribbon on some rocks with only minimal amount of water lapping up on the shoes.

The second ribbon (do people call separate paths of a creek a ribbon? I guess I am, here) was a bit more challenging. Had to sort of hang over from a tree trunk hoping to leap across at just the right moment of lean but lost my grip and had to go for it prematurely. A little more lapping there but mostly a solid mud landing.

Then the third ribbon – a lot of ribbons for such a small little creek. I decided to jump it. I didn’t have any run-up space so it was a standing long jump, which I haven’t practiced much since 5th grade gym class. I was pretty sure I didn’t have enough spring in my legs to clear the distance and I was right. I landed two feet full splash down onto the sloping mud bottom just below the surface of the water about a foot short of the bank. Shoes, socks, shorts all soaked.

It’s okay. Carry on. Squish, squish for a short while but eventually fine. Up the rocky steep section of trail that leads over and through the dam. Down the other side to the turn around. Now do it all again in reverse.

I realized that I got a bit lucky on the outward bound crossing the first time and considered taking an alternate route back to the bike but that route is not as enjoyable and adds too much road.

So there I am back at the creek – the ribbon I’d just (almost) leaped across. This time, going the other direction, I had about a one step run-up so I thought maybe I’d clear it. And if not, well, my shoes were already soaked so what’s to lose? Well, again. I didn’t clear the distance. This time coming down on one foot which landed hard on an unexpectedly steep slope under the murky water. Crush.

The ankle only bends so far straight back, toes up until it stops. But all that energy of motion keeps going and smashes everything tighter together. It doesn’t feel good. It makes me feel really stupid. Obviously, I waded slowly through the remaining ribbons of the creek which is what I should have done to begin with, thereby avoiding a jacked up ankle and ending my running week and a sleepless pain-filled night.

Somehow (maybe endorphins) I was able to run the last mile back to the bike without much trouble although now that I think about it that last bit of running probably did the most to start the night’s pain cycle.

Miraculously, the ankle feels a lot better already this next morning. I can put weight on it again. No plan for a visit to urgent care. It’s not ready to be tested in any significant way but I might consider a one-mile ride to the farmer’s market this evening. As for the 10-mile ride across town tomorrow – eh, we’ll have to wait and see – the ride would probably be okay (piano pace, of course) but not sure about the landscaping job at the other end. Not to mention the ride back afterward. I should probably reschedule.

Stupid boy. Too much Mule, not enough Mindful.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

autumnal overlap

Wool again – sweater and gloves (fingertip-less)
for the ride to the trailhead, lock up to Oak Tree.
Cold toes already.
Not sure what the name of that trail is but I’ve been enjoying it lately.
Call it Devil’s Gate Trail as it goes over the dam of the same name.
Short run around Johnson Rock (J-Rock).
Jeans shorts, cotton t-shirt – when it’s cool you can run in anything.
Cloudy, cool, might rain a little more this afternoon.
So hungry – last chance to fatten up before winter.
First day of winter today. Last day of summer this weekend – forecast for 88 degrees. Don’t mind the overlap – nor the lack of autumn.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

first rain!

First big drops and thunder and a rainbow! A good omen! It’s going to be a beautiful fucking winter! Drum bun!

currently reading

The Gypsies
by Jan Yoors


One Life at a Time, Please
by Edward Abbey

Friday, September 24, 2010

message snippet

What's that guy's name that has ridden with CICLE a few times that you may ride with occasionally on Meridian in South Pas? (Not Nate or Noah.) I've run into him on Meridian a few times lately but can't recall his name. This will probably help you identify him better: he's been wearing a helmet with the plastic shell removed - just the black foam - it actually looks pretty good that way - he may start a new trend - I may be the first to follow it - since my plastic shell is cracking off anyway. Also, looks like he's riding Shimano 600 era aero brakes and downtube shifters. It's no wonder I can't remember people's names and hardly their faces when I'm always staring at their bikes - "hey! eyes are up here, buddy!"

Have a nice weekend.
Have a nice ride.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

currently reading

Beyond the Wall
by Edward Abbey

Down the River
by Edward Abbey

why they call them Mary bars

After test riding the flying mule a bit I’ve got an idea of why they call them Mary bars. When they’re upright you feel like you’re flying up above everything – you feel like Mary Poppins. And yes, you do catch a lot more wind, but so far I don’t care – I’m just enjoying the hilarity of it.

the flying mule

Can you ever have too many posts about handlebar grips? Probably not. So, triple layer cake didn’t last very long. It just didn’t feel right. It was mildly uncomfortable. I don’t exactly understand why. My hands are comfortable on the road bars with bar tape, but not on the Mary bars with bar tape. So I peeled all those layers off and I’m back to the old Ergon grips. But not everything is back to normal. While I was tinkering around with the grips I decided to flip the bars upside-down – which in reality flips them upside-up as I’ve been running them upside-down since I got them a few years ago. The difference is that now they are pointing slightly up-wise versus down-wise – you can’t possibly be following this, but oh well. Essentially, my hands are riding higher and my riding position will be more upright. It looks like Mindful Mule is flapping its handlebar/wings and ready to lift off. Ever morphing…

Sunday, August 29, 2010

triple layer cake

This might be a window into my insanity but I’ve now got three layers of bar tape on the Mary bars. The top layer is white and about an inch and a half in diameter! It looks like two broken wrists. Maybe I should get people to sign my handlebar casts. It’s pretty ridiculous. It’s pretty awesome.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

it’s still good

So I’ve got this old U-lock (actually, I kinda prefer the more English, Canadian, Australian term, D-lock – makes more sense) and it’s been acting up on me. The key gets stuck a lot in the keyhole and takes some effort and patience to get it unlocked. I’ve been a little worried that I’d end up locking my bike to a post forever if I couldn’t get it unlocked. Also, the plastic coating is falling off the lock. I was thinking about getting a new lock – maybe one of those short, thick, single-loop cable locks just slightly larger in diameter than the u-lock. They seem pretty versatile. But if I go to a bike store I’ll also end up getting a new rear light because my current light is extremely Jimmy-rigged with tape and zip ties and sometimes takes a few minutes to turn on or off. Totally frustrating. And I’d probably get new grips even though I’m liking the double wrapped bar tape. And, well, I’m sure I’d find something else I’d really need and end up spending a bunch. So instead I put a few drops of oil into the keyhole. Why didn’t I think of this before? It works perfectly now. It’s still taped up where the plastic coating is falling off and looks like hell but at least I should be able to lock/unlock at will. I should replace that rear light though. It’s just that it’s sometimes amazing to see just how far totally decrepit equipment will hold on.

Monday, August 23, 2010

old white bar tape

The handlebar grips on Mindful Mule are getting a little worn. Not a big deal. It’s not like they don’t work. They’re just a little broken down and grimy. Especially with this heat. Not that it’s been hot. It’s been quite a cool summer. Although it’s “supposed to be” 98 degrees tomorrow. So with the heat rubber grips get a little soft and sticky. I’ve been using the Ergon grips for a couple years now I guess. They’re kind of flattened out to provide a nice platform to rest your hands on that they say is better for your hands and that may be. I’m not sure but I liked them. I took them off today though. And although mtb handlebars have a smaller diameter tube than road bars I wrapped the Mule’s bars (On*One Mary Bar) with old white bar tape from the fixie. It makes for a little bit of a thin handle but seems like it will be okay. It looks and feels okay. Maybe even good. So what else is there? I may add a second wrapping if they’re too thin. I don’t know yet.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

currently reading

Earth Apples
by Edward Abbey


The Adventures of a Cello
by Carlos Prieto

Saturday, August 7, 2010


Two flats yesterday. One on Hil’s bike. One on Mindful Mule. I guess it’s goathead season again (just kidding)(and a pun!). But these were on the road. Three in each tire it seemed. At least I’m getting my tube patching skills refined.

Went into a park to fix the first flat. Got the rear tire and tube off but then couldn’t find the leak. But I know that park well and so walked over to the fountain on the other side. Tube under water makes bubbles at the leak.

Didn’t want to put the rear wheel back on to roll the hundred yards though so just held the wheel in one hand and the bike in the other and walked it over rolling on the front wheel. Reminded me of that Pippy Longstockings scene when they ride partially assembled bikes. How’d they do that? Was she a witch?

Anyway, I guess walking across a park with a disassembled bike draws some attention. Most of the people that hang out (it’s sort of a hangout) in that park probably recognized me as I do some reading and waiting there often, so weren’t too concerned by me. However, just as I was dunking the tube in the fountain a cop car pulled right into the park up on the walkway next to me. Maybe they thought I was stealing the bike or drowning a duck in the fountain, I don’t know. I didn’t look over at them as I wanted to let them try to figure out the situation for themselves without explanation. You know, practice their police work.

It was kind of fun to be under suspicion and be completely innocent. In the end they must have figured it out as they never got out of their car or talked to me. Or maybe they were just like, “There ain’t no law against stealing bikes. Hell, one less bike’s what I always say.” And drove away.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

amazing things seen in the Arroyo this week

Life in the (clogged) drinking fountain. Little fish. Actually they’re probably tadpoles. I don’t think they’re mosquito larvae (but probably they are.) What’s a pollywog?

A small landslide coming down the western edge. Amazingly, the empty space created by the loss of earth formed just the perfect peek hole to reveal the moon setting behind the ridge – cosmic timing. A lunar gravitational induced slide.

Brown Mountain biking trail closure extended

For the past year one of the most popular (and best!) mountain bike rides in the area, Brown Mountain and El Prieto, has been officially closed by the National Forest Service due to unsafe conditions created by the Station Fire that swept through the San Gabriel Mountains last August.

The original closure order was set to last through the end of September 2010. The mountain biking community has been eagerly awaiting this late summer reopening date (except for those of you that have been sneaking in illegally.)

However, this patience will need to prevail a little longer. The most recent update issued for the burn area keeps the Brown Mountain and El Prieto trails off limits for an additional five months, until December 30, 2010.

The Forest Service has recently been able to reopen limited areas of the burn area including the Magic Mountain Wilderness, a majority of the Pleasant View Wilderness, the West Fork of the San Gabriel River, Rincon Shortcut Road, Millard Campground, Chilao, Bandito, Horse Flats, Meadow Loop, Manzanita Loop and Coulter recreation areas.

For the next several months those looking for accessible mountain bike trails in the area might consider rides starting at Chantry Flats and/or Monrovia Canyon.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Mr. Ed

Abbey on NBC from Eric Temple on Vimeo.

(as seen on Bedrock and Paradox)

I'd never heard his voice or seen his face before. He looks and sounds somewhat different than I'd imagined - a little mellower and kinder and softer.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

sleeping and running at altitude

I’ve just returned from a brief Rocky Mountain High. Hilary and I were up/out/over at her family reunion near Granby, Colorado. It’s a pretty fun affair. They hold it in a different place every two years. This is the second time I’ve attended. Lots of good folks in that family. I think there must have been like fifty of us but I forgot to count. Maybe only thirty-five. We did a lot of singing and praying and eating and (strangely) watching videos from past reunions, which is actually kind of cool to see the younger versions of the people sitting next to you. Oh yes, and a talent show and a couple campfires complete with ‘smores and John Denver covers under a rising full moon. Pretty neat tradition they’ve got going.

But, man, that’s a long way to drive. Roundtrip is something like thirty hours. Luckily, it’s through some of the most incredible scenery in the world. That short stretch of Arizona through the Virgin River Gorge is super. Then you hit Zion and go for a run dressed as Jesus and it’s sweet (Birkenstock sandals, wide-brimmed hat/halo, fully unbuttoned short-sleeve surf-styled/Mexican collared shirt.) Then incredible skies and canyons through Utah and a beautiful thunderstorm followed by rainbows. Followed by uncountable crossings of the Colorado River, and the two mile vertical climb up and over the continental divide. Cowboys and horses and trucks and farms and old, old ranch houses and fields and peaks and rocks and you just keep rolling on and on and on.

After all that, we arrived at 8,750 feet or so. That seems like a pretty high elevation. It’s not out of this world or anything, but pretty well up there. Hil and I found an awesome little loop trail that we did a couple times. It wound around and over a creek and up a hillside past pines (sadly being heavily hit by that beetle or moth or whatever that is sweeping the West) and cottonwoods and it was such a nice little trail loop that I wish I could find waiting for me outside my door every morning.

Interestingly enough, for a guy that lives at approx. 580 feet above sea level I had no negative altitude affects. More interestingly enough, I did experience some positive altitude affects. Sleep was very deep and restful with intense and remember-able dreams. And running felt great. It was almost as if I could breathe better up there. There wasn’t so much oxygen/air to get in the way of the flow. I took great big lung-fulls of air and felt like I could have run forever. Very interesting. Of course, it probably had more to do with the inspiration gained from the beautiful surroundings that overrode any limiting physical abilities.

Upon returning to LA, or really, upon passing through Victorville, a great sadness overtook me. After spending close to a week traveling through the most incredibly beautiful landscape I hit the smog and the freeways and even though I was tired from the drive all I really wanted to do was to turn right around and go back. But here I am, back at home, and I know that the secret beauty of this place will return to me soon. And I’ll be grateful…


No, that’s nothing to do with weapons of mass destruction. It stands for What Would Mindful Mule Do? (MM is my bike – the urban-mountain-do-it-all-workhorse(mule) – but, it’s also me.) You see, recently when having a tough time making a decision about something (generally trying to balance endurance pursuits with social life) I think of some of my blogger friends out there and consider how they might approach the same situation. It’s helpful in keeping me on track. Of course, some of those blogger friends are complete freaks of nature (I mean that in the most loving way) so sometimes you can really only take their example with a grain of salt.

Mindful Mule, however, is fairly well rounded. I can trust that Mindful will lead me down a pretty wholesome path. He rarely stays in the barn all day but he’ll probably never do a century. A 20-mile commute, a CICLE ride in Griffith Park, a trip to the grocery store, a trail ride up Brown, cruising Old Town in the evening – check. Mindful is up for all of these. But a mule needs his rest. A nap, a beer, a book, a giant burrito – these are on his checklist as well.

So, I guess what I’m saying is it’s important to stay close to home, close to your self. It’s great to push the envelope sometimes to make sure you’re not missing something, but generally there’s a pendulum of peaks and valleys and they all average out to something reasonable for our lives.

Thanks to you all for being there in my thoughts.

Monday, July 19, 2010

cool thoughts

Miller High Life — Alternative Fuels from Michael Williams on Vimeo.

made in the shade

Lately I’ve been almost forgetting my helmet, again. With all this heat it would be nice to go without. The thing that usually catches me before I ride off is the feeling of intense sun on my forehead. Even a helmet without a visor provides a lot of shade. So I guess I’ll keep wearing it.

At this time of year one of the worst moments on a ride is waiting at an intersection. That’s when I get blasted in the worst way. Direct sunlight plus reflected light off the pavement and radiated heat off the pavement and sudden loss of wind cooling (as you’re stopped) and those cars next to you put out a lot of heat too.

There is usually a nice mini pocket of shade to hide in though. Even the shade from a lamppost (or similar) can make a big difference especially on longer rides (exposure adds up). It seems obvious to hide in the shade on a hot day but I don’t see other people doing it much. I’ll stop fifty feet before an intersection if it means the difference between stopping under a shade tree or not. It seems to confuse the cars but whatever – like I said, it should be obvious.

Same-same with running. Which brings me to the next topic related to heat. I’ve been noticing a lot of runners out lately in the heat of the day, running in bright sun. I kept asking myself What are they doing? How can they do that to themselves? Then I realized that they’re probably not going very far. Still though, unless you’re training for Badwater or something, it’s probably a good idea to run in the cooler part of the day or at least in a shady area. You’ll be more likely to come back for more. You’re not going to lose that 15 pounds (if that’s your goal) all in one run anyway. A little bit at a time…

Saturday, July 17, 2010

who is that girl

I was out on a short run last night after the heat broke. I saw a runner going in the opposite direction on the other side of the street. I’ve seen her around running a fair amount. Mostly I see her up on the eastern side of the Arroyo.

And I’ve seen her a few times going up the Mt Wilson trail during the race. She always seems to be right in front of me or passing me. I guess that’s the only time you’d ever see someone in a race, but in her case she’s been there a lot.

She’s got kind of an interesting gait/stride. Which is to say, it’s a bit wacky. Okay I’ll just say it, she runs like a girl. Feet kinda kicked out or in or both or something. Over the last couple years her form does seem to have straightened out a bit.

I saw her again at the end of my run. Again going the opposite direction. Based on her running routes it would seem as though she lives in South Pas.

So I looked at the standings for this year’s Mt Wilson race but was surprised to find that there were only three runners registered from South Pasadena. Woohoo, first place male - out of one! One woman, Elizabeth(28), finished about 20 minutes ahead of me – third female overall. The other, Corlyn(47), finished about 20 minutes after me.

Based on those finishing times it doesn’t seem that the runner from last night could be either of these two women. So maybe she doesn’t live in South Pas. Or maybe I really need to step up my training to avoid being crushed by the girlie runner.

I just wish I’d come to this latter conclusion in the cooler part of the year…

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

crescent moon through palm trees, endlessly

The last couple of nights there’s been a lovely crescent moonset along with one bright starset (planetset) behind a couple of palm trees up on the west ridge. It’s incredible. I’d say it’s beautiful but that’s too generic for this scene. It’s earthly, ancient, though, and then some. And, yes, it’s beautiful, for those that really appreciate the meaning of the word.

This scene feels very much like summer. Of course, the sudden spike in heat helps, too, but this evening’s silhouette of hillsides below bright celestial spheres and deep purple skies seems more significant than the temperature. It’s a calendar, reflected by the weather.

Adding to that, a display of several thunderheads from the desert to the east rose above the San Gabriel Mountains this afternoon. These giant mushroom shaped clouds reminded me of the smoke plumes from the wildfires last summer. Not quite as sinister looking as
this, but they’re sure to get bigger as the summer progresses.

So, anyway, summer is here. No longer can we/I hide behind the guise of June Gloom (which, by the way, was awesome this year – up until a couple days ago I was considering posting an entry as “the coldest summer I ever spent… was in LA 2010” – a bit of a stretched reference to the famous quote that you’re sure to know or can look up (regarding San Francisco, and apparently misquoted to Mark Twain) but it really was cool and nice for a while.

Also, even though I’ve been pretending to play it cool, I am so uber-psyched that Geoff won! Western States! So fucking! awesome! So happy and excited for you, man. Love it. Can’t even believe that we’ve exchanged comments in this blogger world. Thank you. Run on!!!

a visit from the blacksmith

The Adidas adiZero Ace are my new running shoes. They’re very light and airy. A nice compromise, I hope, between my last two pair of running shoes: the cross country shoes and the “regular” running shoes, both, also Adidas. I guess I’m on an Adidas kick. Three in a row for Three Stripes. The old pairs each have 600 miles on them and are beginning to feel a bit harsh. I’ll continue using them for a while on short runs or around town or add them to the growing pile of old running shoes in the closet – why do I save those? – perhaps they’ll make a good art installation someday.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

all the pretty horses and mules

There are horses in the Arroyo. Not wild or roaming or anything. They hang out at the edge of the stables right by the trail looking all cool-like with taped ankles, ready for anything – maybe another round of jumping or an easy ride down the trail. When I can’t get motivated to go for a run I think of all the pretty horses and they inspire me to go. Horses have great running form. When my own form breaks down due to fatigue I find it helpful to visualize and mimic theirs.

There was a mule on a walk in the Arroyo today, too. She looked super mellow. Blissful, almost. Living the good life in the Arroyo. Another good role model.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

sun sea and sasparilla

The beach for the holiday weekend. Barefoot to the pier. A dip in the warm Pacific. Cheese Shop sandwich and root beer. A tradition.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

currently reading

by Charles Sullivan


Bicycle Diaries
by David Byrne

Thursday, May 6, 2010

the doors of perception

Awakening from a daze, I find myself on foot in the Arroyo, again. Am I pushing further and further to find this place of transition, as in an addiction, or am I finding deeper thresholds to pass through? Over worked, my legs ache. The spring sun is intense – unadjusted, winter hide still browning, I’m blasted. Out of place, a desert sky hangs, still, above this tilted alluvial plain between my mountains and the Pacific. Doldrums between uncertain seasons – a strange emptiness lingers – like a ghost town, the doors of the tavern hang open, no wind or man to swing them. The earth and sky waiting on eternity.