Whirlwind Month in Pics....


A whirlwind past few weeks...

From prepping for another phenomenal summer (to include spending most of it in the Rockies, kicking bootay at the Breck Epic and some XTERRAs)....to major OUCH, to ANOTHER knee surgery (2nd in 8 months...ugh), lots of tears and why-me-pity-parties to being lost w/out goals, exertion, stoke...to switching gears, reflection, appreciation, lots of rehab, legs propped up, more tears, more fat, new body, tears, to hanging w/friends and family, swimming, paddling, reading, writing, trainer "sessions", eventually some flatland pedaling, a new lens, some camping in CO, then finally to some dirt, even some lung-sucking, grin-producing climbing...boom!

Blissful reunion.   Giddy in fact, not to mention that it was way up high above the treeline.  High-altitude...my bliss.  No ball-busting paces and still no techy singletrack but some epic rides/views nevertheless. I've even found some doubletrack worthy of praise!  Still a long way to go, still no running (sigh), still being very cautious, and perhaps never hit hard efforts again. 

But....summertime keeps ya dreaming, keeps stoke alive, esp that Rocky Mountain high.
Patience and restraint....lessons of summer 2014 (so far).






DH pedals for the roadbike (needed flats to layoff the tender hammie).



No QOM hunting this summer.....just hunting for self-earned wind in face, epic views, HR above 70 (finally!), some solitude,.....score!  
Bedrest led to walks, to trainer sessions, to some flat-land pedaling to some climbs and eventually....Colorado Trail!















Giddy....trail, flow, elevation, wildflowers, pow!




Embrace the day!




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Freedom...



So grateful for the freedoms we have here on the homefront. 










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A Green Spring....






Saying this post is late is perhaps an understatement, but as my knee convalescence drags on, I have no excuse to procrastinate further.

In sum, it was a spring of "green", although not so much because of the color.  In Arizona, despite what some people think, we do have lots of green year-round!  Many envision "hot, brown and nothing worth seeing".  But, we who know it better, know much better!  The myriad of colors -- the brilliant blue sky, the evergreens, the exposed earth basically offering you the cliff-notes of local geology. The intoxicating scents -- the mesquite, pine, cypress, their crispness, and my all-time favorite the creosote especially during monsoon season when it plumps up w/moisture.  The life, the history, the good livin',...!   I could go on and on and on about how much I still dig this place!

But, this past winter and spring, my life seemed to revolve around "green" -- my Grandmother who was the last woman on our side of the family to carry the married surname Green and the Verde River (spanish green), the latter which gives life to much of Arizona.   Per my previous post, our grandmother's final days were swift but she was super sharp til the end, and I'd had a few of my final phone chats w/her while I was walking along various spots on the Verde and she at her home in Florida.

I didn't realize the "green" connection at the time nor the awesomeness of how much they both gave so much vibrant life and brought everyone together.  She for the family, and the river for its life-sustaining water.

At the time, I'd merely been trying to find other things to do outdoors which gave me some wind in my face and still-injured-knee more time to heal...and of course to escape the "cold" of the higher elevations near home.



I spent many days paddling (stand-up paddleboard / SUP) along different sections of the river, though mainly in its dammed sections, some of AZ's best lakes.  The lakes are fantastic nuggets of the state and for the most part are quiet and unvisited in the winter/spring especially midweek.  Sheep, bald eagles, coyotes, wild donkeys, cattle and wild horses were regularly within sight, quenching their thirst from the wild and generally inaccessible river's flow.






And of course the bike.  Duh.  Since all my lil' hinge would really allow was some easy spinning, I'd scouted some long empty desert dirt roads where I could camp then just spin to my heart's content.
  



So remote in fact that sometimes I actually packed a little heat, something I rarely do.  Maybe I'd need it against some hungry mountain lion at dawn, or a bored ol' cattle rustler, or.....just felt like the right thing to do in certain locales.

However, of all those remote excursions, the only time I got a little sketched out, the heat wouldn't have been much use, sadly.  I was on my bike on an old fireroad seeking the old historic Sheeps Bridge.  The day was getting warm already and I was definitely having to pay attention to water supply versus mileage away from homebase (aka the truck).

I crested a hill and lo and behold there's big daddy rattler sprawled out across the road sunnin' himself.  I could relate, after all the sun felt great. But, he was blocking my way and wasn't going to budge.  I waited a few seconds and took the opportunity to snap some pics.  I was still a good 15-20 feet away and didn't feel too threatened.

Until. He. Got. Annoyed.  He rared his head back, giving me the ol' cockeye all while setting his rattler in full-throttle.  Instinct kicked in and I swear I felt sweatglands open in places I didn't know existed...my shins??  Wha??  So, now ol daddy simply refused to let me pass thru his sundeck.  Errr.  Rolled a few small rocks his direction which were not met kindly.  I then got mad.  I FULLY INTENDED TO FIND THAT SHEEP'S BRIDGE SO OL DADDY NEEDS TO CHILL THE EFF OUT AND LET ME PASS.   Eventually, after I told him that I was just a guest, he slithered up the bank and disappeared into the brush; I'm quite sure that when I pedaled past that I was at mock-speed, breath-held, traps fully stressed toward my ears and probably eyes squinted if not fully-closed (the same thing I do unintentionally sometimes on the dirtbike on rocky drops beyond my skill-level...ha!)  Point being, neither that little sidearm nor pepper-spray would've done much good w/ol daddy rattler.
(Oh by the way, he was the 5th snake I'd seen since sunrise.  Ah, another day in the life...)











 


( Fun friend TD & I playing along the northern sections of the Verde. )




( Right up against the river, a cool campsite for sure, assuming no one else is around. This night was totally unplanned. Fortunately my combo of stocked-rations and some leftover lunch was good enough for sunrise brekkie - sardines and strawberries. Yum??  )



 ( One of my now-favorite spots to set up camp now; ok well not now as it's 1 zillion degrees down that low, but come November, I'll be back! )
  



















The Verde,
special chats with my grandmother,
the sun,
brilliant blue skies,
wide open space...
   ...Spring 2014.
















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Slide Fire

Quick post and a few pics from my tiny lil optic/experience w/the recent devastating Slide Fire up Oak Creek Canyon.  I was on the other side of the globe when it broke out and started getting bombarded by emails asking if my house was ok. (Yes, mi casa is surrounded by far more pavement/urbania that I'd like.....hopefully the market will improve soon so I can get my bootay farther off-grid.)  

Knowing/loving this unique area intimately (see two links below* for some recent pics/adventures)
, knowing some of the local FFs, knowing how tragic is was last year for the fallen 19 FFs at the Yarnell fire, and already constantly annoyed by the tourists, their "need" for campfires and cigarettes, it was driving me nuts to hear about it -- the safety of the people working the fire, the air quality for my friends nearby, the wildlife, and of course preserving the gorgeous land itself.  

I finally got back into town late in the afternoon, with sight of the huge plumes of smoke filling the sky visible from miles away.  See this fantastic pic taken by my local insta-bud Drtjump....  Pretty much sums up the grandeur and what it looked like rolling back in town from the south.  Urghhh....







I was happy to be home and to finally sleep in my own bed, but at 0330 woke up feeling like I was going to suffocate because the air quality was so bad. In town, we were getting this weird atmospheric inverse(?) each night/morning which pushed most of the smoke/ash down the canyon to us.  It had somewhat cleared up by midday, but after another night of that, I decided to just pack up the truck/bike/sup and hit the hills for a few days.  Headed up to unaffected perches of the Mogollon Rim to camp, fend off some jetlag and reacquaint myself w/AZ.  


Much respect to those working the fire (the work continues) and those still trying to find the perpetrator.  


PSA: Please don't smoke in AZ. Please don't feel the need to have a campfire just bc you're sleeping outside.  Wear a jacket.  Eat normal food that need not be charred.  Plan ahead. If you must have a fire, do so responsibly.....in a "safe" area, conscious of wind/etc., have a shovel/ax, don't leave it unattended, and don't leave the area until you know (for hours!!) that's it's totally out.  Like clearing a weapon, check it once, twice, friggin 10 times!

Anyway, the fire is contained up to about 90-95% today and the air is clearer earlier in the days now.  


A few pics always trump words....



Base camp elsewhere for a few days....






Once back home, still nursing a tender knee, I thought early the next morn would be the best time to get in a road ride assuming the air quality wouldn't be too bad . . . up the canyon to spin the legs and to see the carnage.  (The road would otherwise be closed for the next month since they're doing construction at the switchbacks/top anyway....meaning less traffic too...an added perk.)


Taken from just north of town looking up the canyon; you can barely see Midgley bridge here.

Below...as I posted on IG:  "Expecting the worse but found some of the best: still lots of green, no traffic, songbirds and ravens flew alongside, two herds of deer, a few skunks, lots of chipmunks, rested firefighters, clean air by 0830, oh and an un-achy knee.  #makinglemonade #slidefire #sliderock #cycling #pleasedontsmokeinaz#pleasewearajacketnotacampfire #ijustwannaride"



(Slide Rock....a little over an later on my way back down the canyon...wind had picked up and much of the smoke had lifted. First time I've EVER not seen hordes of people playing in the water...it was awesome to say the least!)



There was definitely some carnage up there but with all the green foliage in full bloom, it was hard to see.  (But you can scour the internet for pics the crews took of the burns; personally I didn't leave the pavement....still not allowed to anyway as the fire is not 100% contained.) Surely the carnage on the eastside of the ridgeline (west of road) will be more exposed in the winter.

Please burn responsibly.



* Links: 

 - Schillingsworth's tale of our recent traverse of the top of the canyon along the rim which btw during the fire was all totally closed off and perhaps burned (definitely the Woody area); 
 - Half-Dirty Century  - an old post of mine.




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A blessed life lived...













 Back together again...



We're so grateful for the two of you....

An Update, Some Pics, a PSA & Tribute to Repo...



Because I haven't been able to handle the suck-factor of saying over and over and over and over: "Thanks for asking, but no, I'm sorry I can't go ride/run/play/etc w/you today either because....knee...old....no there's nothing docs can do....patellar...osteo...broken bone-chips....blah blah blah", I've pretty much gone off the social grid for a while. Saying it over and over doesn't exactly reinforce optimism so I opted to just not be faced w/having to answer everyone's questions (altho I know they all mean well).

So, yeah yeah yeah, all is fine, and at the end of the day, it's a grand old world out there and maybe sometimes better appreciated at a slow speed (boring! ha!).  I've got some awesome friends and family and I couldn't be better blessed/lucky in that department!!  (Thanks for the invites and don't give up on me....I plan to join in again soon.)   Life is good!  61+ years to go still!


So, same ol same ol....ol knee is really no better/worse than 1 week before/after surgery. $30K wasted and humility gained.  I've accepted laying off certain activities for a while, and I've been able to incorporate some hiking, some decent riding miles although mainly road (new roadbike!), the canals and fireroads and a few miles of singletrack here and there.  No real singletrack, definitely no descending.  And every few days, there've been some short "runs".  I definitely miss running the most...the freedom, the speed, the simplicity and definitely the runner's bod (and the nightly cookies)! :)



Shonny & Wild Horses @ Salt River
Donkey

 
Some canal riding down in the valley....still amazes me that this is so close to Urbania.

Schilling leading the way on a lil exploratory ride.


Hiking "Hangover" w/Turner dog and his mama Timoni.



GET STRONGER / FIX YO'SELF (PSA) . . . 

Also,  have been working on LOTS of work on STRENGTH/MOBILITY - the other reason for this post.  If you're my family reading this (or even some blog-cruiser), listen up....  

Over the past few years, I kept thinking, I run I ride I climb blah blah blah why in the heck would I need to touch weights and gain strength?!  I'm already strong!!  Why? ...well because I most likely could've avoided -- or at least postponed -- a lot of the permanent damage in my knees.  As triathletes/runners/cyclists, we hear this all the time, but most of us or like "whatever...won't happen to me, I'm invincible! I'm strong! I'm a bad-ass!"   And sometimes WE need it most, because we're always only moving in one direction...forward!  Our lateral mobility, our core strength, dynamic strength, etc is generally lacking sorely. And lord help us if we ever have to jump vertically! We further neglect what we don't use and any little idiosyncrasie is amplified and before ya know it, joints aren't tracking properly, muscles/tendons/soft-tissue/etc might get all mangled and simply trying to adapt to our bad form. Of course, this leads into a zillion topics and lessons, but I wanted to at least highlight a few steps to improving yourself ASAP!

If you're super-athletic or happy in retirement and fishing from a boat....take care of yourself, keep up your strength, your mobility,...!  At least do some basics. Use weights....they need not be supremely heavy, but use some.  And really, it's all about your FORM and ENGAGING PROPERLY. Over the past 10 yrs, I actually thought I was doing the best things...kept 'working out' and even regularly did lots of strength yoga; but looking back, there were a lot of subtle form faults I had...more like "workarounds" that I invented.  From the outside, it looked fine, but I wasn't "engaging" what really needed to be engaged.  Form, form, form!!   Start w/your body weight for the first few weeks if that's all you can do. Then work on weights, more dynamics later.  Make iT fun, just do it.  Women in my family....this is mainly for you!!!  Either way, I feel obligated to put this out there.  I wish I'd been pressured/bullied into more of this sooner.  Yes, there's so much we should be doing, but at least start here....the absolute basics! All ya might need is a band ($5), and you can improvise w/everything else til ya get it dialed in.  You'll notice a difference after the first session or two!  Do it!    (Got questions? hit me up! I'll bombard you w/references/ videos/whatever...I want everyone healthy!  And family: next time we're all at the river-house, there shall be group sessions on the dock! :-)

  - SQUAT (Box-squat is awesome, esp for those of us w/bad knees. Knees over feet, load those hams/glutes not knees.)
  - DEADLIFTS (double and single leg)
  - STEP-UPS (forward and lateral)
  - BANDWALKS - lateral, forward, ackward walking (stiff legged, primarily engage supporting leg/glute)
  - PUSH-UPS - I hated these in the army even though I could outpush all the guys. 
  - PLANKS - all sorts of variations here...the standard "front leaning rest", side (lift that top leg to further engage your supporting leg/glute/core), knee to elbow, knee to shoulder,....
  - LATERAL TWISTS - highly neglected areas for runners/cyclists. Use weights for counter-balance; incorporate via lunge w/weight/pulleys,...great for stability/core!
  - PULLUPS/ROWERS and OVERHEAD PRESS - we spend so much time hunching over (driving, typing, cycling, swimming,....fix it! :)
  - KEEP ON MOVING!




LIVIN' . . . 

Ok, so after that PSA, here are some obligatory photos of the warmest/driest winter I've experienced in AZ.  For immediate selfish reasons, it's been awesome.  For the potential problems in the future (drought, summer fires, forest closures, wildlife dismay, etc.), it's really not been ideal.  Hopefully, we'll get some precip soon.

Up Mingus on the roadbike.



Went out for my first "big" day on the MTB and was just gonna stick mainly to old jeep/mining roads and play it by ear.  Had my first ever sidewall slice (actually my first flat in 4+ years) so of course I was ill-prepared and got to walk 4 miles to the "main" dirt road (was walking on it for an hour before the first truck rolled by...dusted me out), then I hitched a ride w/a local landscaper and his wife for another 20 mins on dirt then about 20 mins back into town on hardball.  I sat happily in the back w/a bunch of rakes, hoes, shovels, chainsaw, weedeater and ol caballo.  Somehow, I was still absolutely stoked about finally getting a healthy dose of sunshine and challenge, both which I've been lacking lately.

Just a mere moment before the torn sidewall. Pedaling out of that wash below, I heard pshhhhhhhh, for all of about 10 secs. When I took this pic, I thought, wow, what a gorgeous day, then...pshhhhhhh. Ha!


At least I had a good view when walking the carbon caballo.


Last time that we (me & the mtb) had to hitch a ride, I met/found one of the coolest guys all the planet.  (Not really the case on this day though, or at least I don't think so....they didn't speak much english nor I much espanol. I think they thought I was nuts.  Yeah, prolly.)

1st venture on singletrack in over a month. Some hard-earned views way up there (ie. HAB)

Back toward Mingus.


Everyone has their own preferences/needs on their bikes - race, cruise, huck, jump, rail, flow, trial, socialize, spin,....or combinations thereof.  One of mine of course is to climb.
Must go up.
Must suffer.
Must live.
Will love.
Ahhhhhh...the rhythmic breathing and synthesis between the deep breaths, the churning pedals and the flaring nostrils.

So when I see towers high atop a mountain somewhere I immediately wonder about it's scraggly old dirt road/trail to the top.  I'd driven by these towers on Ord for years and finally was reminded/prompted via a buddy's strava post that it remained unseen (by me).  Not sure if ol lefty could handle it, why not try?!  So, up I pedaled.  Not the longest of rides, certainly not techy, but exactly what I needed.  1:20+ of up up up.  Knee felt good, body entirely unfit, but ahhhhh, the soul felt DIVINE!!!!


Looking back down (south) from the top/towers...Roosevelt Lake to the left (SE) and Canyon/Saguaro lakes to the right (SW, behind tree).  Over 3200' in 6 miles.  Yessss!

The rugged terrain goes on and on and on, only w/a few squiggly lines of old mining roads....most of which beg to be ridden.

One of the few "flat" sections, which was on the skinny spine of the ridgeline.


And I'd be remiss if I didn't post one more pic of Repo who lived his last day last week and was laid to rest today.  Always making us laugh, contributing to the world and living his life fully...
Respect.




Out.