Thursday, April 29, 2010

My $550 Dollar Trail Run

Running is stupid. I'm pretty sure I've made that comment a million times, and I do feel that way. It is the same way I feel about snowshoeing. However I do run and I do snowshoe- but then again I also pay taxes and I'm not always feeling so happy about that.

That being said I took the dogs out for a trail run yesterday after work. It was raining a bit and I'm lazy, so I figured it would be easier to clean up myself and the gear needed for a trail run than a bike ride, so there you have it- lazy trumps stupid.

Molly, Jake, and I headed out and settled into a nice groove. For me that means constant motion and only one nearly rolled ankle out of every 50 footfalls. We had completed the first part of the loop and I decided I wanted to do a bit of exploring for some future trail building I've been planning. So we hopped over a small stream and picked our way through the woods. We had just come across a really cool spot that had about 30 largish boulders and rocks strewn about and I was envisioning cool northshore style elements that I'd likely never ride- but sure would look agro out in the woods. I was mentally mapping where we were and just picking our new heading when Molly took off. I didn't think much of it other than thinking "Squirrel" in the voice from "UP". Then I heard her barking- and I knew it was one of four things: skunk, porcupine, bear, or another dog.

Now this list of four is not random, in fact it is quite well researched. My dogs have a tendancy to get themselves into a bit of trouble. My wife and I were trying to figure out how many skunks and porcupines the two of them have gotten into over the last few years- we lost count. Add in the handful of bears that Molly has faced off with (or the one my wife faced off with when it looked like Molly was about to get into a bit of trouble), and a King Kong sized handful of dogs that our two have scrapped with- you get the idea.

Of course being the responsible dog owner I am, I have no leash so Jake follows me as I go charging through the woods to find the barking Molly. I then hear the first yelp, followed by more barking- so my list of four remains firmly in my head. I then find her, trying to bite the ass end of a porcupine.

Now the thing about porcupines is that they don't move very quick, so this 80lb dog is yapping and trying to bite off its backside- but is is still moving at a Sunday stroll pace. And Molly, well she looks like she's got a full beard now- face full of quills and it doesn't seem to phase her- yet.

I yell to Jake to stay (this is when the leash would have been helpful) and he does for the most part. I run over and pull Molly of the porcupine and wait for it to start to scamper up the tree. But this is toooooo much for Jake, he's about 15 feet way and just vibrating- and then it happens- he busts forward grabs the porcupine (now about three feet up the tree and moving slooooooowly) by the leg and the thing falls on Jake- filling his side, paw, and part of his face with quills.

If it wasn't for what I knew was coming soon, it would have been sort of comical to watch. Now I grab both dogs and try and encourage the porcupine that moving up the tree a bit faster this time might be a good option. Of course if you've ever trying to hold two dogs by their collars while their faces are now pin cushions and at the same time trying to not get pulled over by them onto a porcupine, you'll know that there is a moment where you wonder how bad the jokes are going to get about the fact that your face is full of quills. Fortunately that didn't happen.

Next we begin the trek home. At first the dogs were fine, but they kept getting their heads a bit to close to my legs, and now the frustration of knowing I've got to pull quills, or more likely, will need to finance another significant vet bill, starts to creep into my head (there goes that new road wheelset!) At the same time I'm having that thought the dogs start to become more aware of their new Pinhead look. Jake is rubbing his face and side on the ground about every 20th step and Molly grabs at her face with her paws and tries to pull them out that way. But we slowly head home.

We get to the house and the dogs stay on the porch. I go in to let K and the girls know about the dogs and to grab a pair of leather gloves and pliers. The girls want to see and K is already on the phone with the vet. I get about 40 quills out, but each one is at the risk of loosing my hand as Molly is getting pissed and pretty snappy with her mouth. Jake is just so full on his side and is so squirmy that I just can't make much progress.

K comes out and says the vet will meet her at the office and she loads the dogs and heads out. Now the guessing game begins- how much will this one run?

About three hours later K comes home with two very dopey dogs. Molly is very out of it as they have to sedate her just for her shots, so a quill removal requires and elephant tranquilizer. Jake is a bit gimpy as his dragging his side on the ground drove a couple quills pretty deep and they had to cut him a bit to get some of them out. The total bill $550.

Remember how I started this- running sucks.


Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Rider Down Update #1

So on April 16 I went under the knife. I had a pretty bad left shoulder that would dislocate without much trouble as a result of a little too much falling down associated with bike riding and winter snow sports. So due to the lack of stability and concern about early onset of arthritis I had decided to get it fixed. My original plan was to wait a couple weeks later and get one race in for the season to have some goal to shoot for before being relegated to the couch. My choice was to do the bike leg of Tuckerman Inferno Pentathlon. I had done this last year and it was a nice way to get motivated to ride early in the season.

Problem I had was the surgeon's schedule did not fit with my plans. If I didn't get it done on the 16th I was going to be looking at mid to late May before he had an open slot to slice me up. Knowing that the usual rehab timeline is 6 months until a full return to action, I didn't want to push it out any further as I still have hopes of some early Fall riding in the woods.

With all of that to consider I opted to pass on the Inferno and go under the knife the day before the race was scheduled. The morning after surgery I woke up and saw that we got a dusting of snow. I checked the weather and saw that Pinkham Notch had gotten 10 inches overnight. That is the finish area for the bike leg of the race I was going to do that day. As I laid there I though I was pretty much OK with not doing the race on skinny tires with almost of foot of fresh snow while riding up a mountain pass.

The surgery went well so they tell me. What do I know as I was knocked out the whole time. I woke up with my arm in a sling and some new holes in me. Bummer now is I'm supposed to wear the sling for 4-6 weeks and it doesn't hurt so I keep wanting to use my arm. Supposed to see the Dr. tomorrow to get the stitches out and see how it looks. I am hoping everything is at least on schedule so we shall see.


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Knee Pain

Is it a sign of getting old or getting fat when your knees hurt after every ride?

That is my question of the day.

Good thing there is this thing called cold beer to ice down the knees!

Ride safe.


Monday, April 19, 2010

Big Mama

They always say if you've got something that is hard to say that you should just come out and say it, so here it is- I love my Big Mama. Now before any of you go running to my wife and tell her I just called her "Big Mama" on the interweb, first understand I am talking about my new bike. And before you go running to my wife and telling her that I just said I loved my bike and didn't say that I loved her, well now you are just twisting up my words- so I'll clear that all up- I love you Karen. Here is her expression to all of that.

Now that that is all out of the way. I have fallen in love with squishy bits and geary changy bits once again. It is obviously part of my ongoing evolution (or de-evolution) as a rider- who knows, but I started out fully rigid geary (first mountain bike was a LL Bean Explorer built by Cannondale that had- get this, a Sun Tour MTB drive train on it), I then stayed rigid and bought a Specialied M2 Stumpjumper, which I loved. I eventually built an S-Works M2 Stumpjumper with a carbon FSX suspension fork (bought two- one for my then fiancee and one for myself, my then fiancee then married me and my then wife eventually became a mom and my then little child grew and that then little child is now 11 and rides that bike that was originally bought for my then fiancee 15 years ago- got all that?)Anyway I rode my S-Works until Miah at the Red Jersey told me that I was missing out on the dual squishy thing and I got myself onto a Kona Bear De-Luxe. I road that for a bit and then built up a Santa Cruz Blur. All was good in the land of squishy bits and gears, and then A1 got the bright idea of Single Speeds- so I pulled the trigger and bought a Gary Fisher Rig, I road that for about 8 months and then built up my Salsa El Mariachi- which I still own and love (although it is for sale- so much for love). I was now hooked on the 29er thing and the SS thing and the rigid thing- but I figured I should have a 29er hard tale with gears and front squish just so my quiver was balanced, so I built up a Salsa Mamasita. Well that biker rarely got ridden, so I converted it to a SS but left the Reba on there, it still didn't get ridden. So I bought a Origin 8 carbon fork like JJ did and then I fell in love with that bike. So that became the goto bike. All along I was getting older and living up to the "Weak and Feeble" mantra. To make a long story longer and to give it no real point, I saw the Big Mama and wanted to have a 29er dual squishy with gears- so now I have one.

It sat in the box for two weeks, then after being built say for another two weeks. Then CA and I headed over to North Conway a couple weeks ago for a shake down ride. It took me a solid hour to remember how to ride a bike like that, and at first I hated it- then the skies parted and light shone down on my brain and I got the knowledge. Unfortunately my legs were not as enlightened, but I was getting the feel once again. Then I took it out for a spin on the trails that need to be named, but that have been built (many of them) by CA in his spare time (I'm gonna miss him next year when he's off at college). I really started to get a good feel for the bike and started railing corners and making tech climbs in a way I haven't done in years on a SS. By the end of the ride I had fallen in love with the Big Mama.

For a moment I thought it meant I had gone soft, gone the way of gears and suspension. Then I realized that as long as I am still pedaling my own butt through the woods I haven't gone soft. However I did just see one of these: and while I know that it really isn't trail ready I think it could make navigating the aisles of WalMart a bit more manageable.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Bike, where art thou

It's April. It's frickin' nice outside and I'm not out riding, grumble, grumble...

I've been having an interesting later winter/early spring- started with a torqued back that took me out of skiing and riding for a couple/three weeks. I nursed it back to partial health and had a great run of skiing for about two weeks. Was able to get in a bunch of days with K and the kids, a day at Wildcat with Webb, a day for just the adults in my house at Bretton Woods, and then capped it off with a weekend up at Sugarloaf with the family and the family of the notorious JJ. In that two week run the only real issue I had was a very fat head on Saturday morning of the Sugarloaf trick but that was due to some sneaky sneaking of full beer bottles into my hand until 3am by JJ. I'm all better now.

Then came Monday and I was stretching and doing push ups and something in my neck went all wrong. It's Friday now and I still feel like my head may just fall off, which I assume would be bad- although if I shot video of it with my phone and posted it before I blacked out it might make me the next interweb video clip sensation.

I'm wondering if I chaulk this all up to just getting old (if that is the case then getting old sucks), or if I should chaulk it up to being in piss pore shape and that I need to really start taking better care of my body. Hmmmm. I think we all know the answer- it must just be something in the water.

So there is my sob story. I am going to try and duct tape my head securly to my shoulders this weekend and get out for a ride, might even try to drag CA out for a bit and do my best to not showcase any bad influences. Temps are supposed to be in the 80's, so I'm guessing I won't need my winter shoes!

ride on