A Tin Cup, a Cake, and a Penny

04.6.2009 | 11:40 pm

Before I begin today, I think I need to promise you something: eventually, this post will be about bikes. And not just tangentially. But I am taking the long way around.

So you may want to go get yourself a snack.

I’ve been reading Little House on the Prairie to the twins. Specifically, I’ve been reading it to them for a few minutes right when they get up, reading it to them as they eat breakfast, reading it to them during their after-school storytime, and reading it to them during bedtime storytime. And whenever else we both have free time.

The girls are hooked, and the truth is, I am too. Little House on the Prairie (that’s right; I mistakenly skipped Big Woods — the girls understand that we’ll be taking an extended flashback once this book is done) is a compelling, well-written story, though I do a little real-time editing to remove some of the more embarrassing prejudice of the period.

This morning, I was reading the chapter where Laura and Mary are certain that Santa isn’t going to come because the river’s too high (“This was before Santa had reindeer,” I explained to the twins) for his pack mule to get across. Then, of course, Mr. Edwards shows up — having waded the river — and tells the girls that he met Santa in town and was instructed to bring each of these presents: their very own tin cup (they had to share before), a candy cane, a little cake, and a penny.

The girls, naturally, are overwhelmed with this wonderful array of gifts. And as I read this to my own girls, I got all sniffly, misty, and tight-throated myself. Luckily, I am so masculine that I have no problem admitting I cry when reading children’s literature.

Meanwhile, my twins are looking each other with their “What’s dad’s problem?” look. And yes, at age 7, they already have that look.

Tin Cup200904070727.jpg

Susan’s been doing well lately. She’s not stronger, but she’s not weaker. She has more energy, and has in fact been getting a lot done — she’s down to the last 20 or so of the 80+ bracelets she’s committed to make, and has been spending a lot of time working on finishing her novel (I bought a Dell Mini 9 netbook for her to write with — much lighter and more comfortable for her to rest on her lap).

Then, over the weekend, I talked with my sister Kellene. She volunteered to come over and take care of Susan and the kids toward the end of this month so I can go ride Kenny’s annual Ride Around White Rim in One Day (RAWROD) event. And Susan’s feeling good enough that I feel like it really is OK for me to go.

And suddenly, I am totally giddy. Goofy. More than usual, even. By a lot.

I get to go on an all-day ride. And camp with friends. In Moab.

Of course, I have been on dozens and dozens of overnight mountain bike trips. At one point, they even seemed a little mundane.

Not now, though.

This trip’s my very own tin cup.


As if that weren’t good enough news, yesterday Spring arrived. And not just in a minor way, either: blue sky, mild breeze, and warm enough to ride in shorts and short sleeves.

My first thought was to get on my road bike and get out on the road for a couple hours. After all, it’s been snowing and blowing so much I just couldn’t imagine trails being any good.

But I so wanted to take the Singlefly out.

So I made a plan: “I’ll ride the Singlefly out to Lambert Park,” I thought, “just to see how muddy the trails are. Then”

I got to Lambert Park and…the trails — at least at the trailhead — were not muddy.

But how could that be? It has been snowing daily for more than a week.

“OK, I’ll just ride up the trail until things get messy, then turn around,” I thought.

But the trails didn’t get messy. They stayed perfect — tacky and clean — for the entirety of a two-hour ride.


During this ride, I discovered something a little bit embarrassing, but also very wonderful. You see, I have always thought of Lambert Park as a ride of last resort. It’s only a half mile from my house, but I haven’t spent much time there because I’ve been concentrating on the evolving wonder that is Corner Canyon. Or during the Summer, I take every opportunity to ride the Ridge Trail network.

So, regarding Lambert Park as a second-class trail system, I often forgot it even existed.

What a fool I have been!

Here’s the Lambert Park trail network:


That’s almost all singletrack. Miles and miles and miles of excellent, highly-varied singletrack. Half a mile from my house.

And I’ve just been ignoring it. Excuse me for a moment while I pound my head against my desk.

Yesterday, excited about being (finally!) outside on a new bike, I just explored. And I found Wildcat — a fast, open singletrack descent through scrub oak, with several jumps. I found Spring, a twisty climb that tops out and sends you on a forested descent, dodging trees along the way.

And I got reacquainted with Lambert Park’s main claim to fame: Rodeo. Rodeo is a downhill-specific rocketsled ride down a ravine, banking high and dropping fast.

Every time I have ever ridden Rodeo, I’ve immediately climbed back up for another run. Everyone does. It’s that fun.

Lambert Park is a nice piece of frosted cake when you haven’t had cake in months.

After work today, I am heading right back over. And this time I’m bringing the helmetcam.

(If you’re local, email me and join me for a ride this afternoon. This trail is too perfect to not ride today. And besides, helmetcam videos are always a lot more fun when there’s someone in the picture.)

A Penny

I want to be cautious about this, because my joy at just being out on my bike yesterday might possibly have made any bike in the world seem wonderful.

But you know what? That Singlefly feels pretty darned fantastic. It is so light it makes up for the fact that I am fat and slow. It feels nimble and stable. And like all singlespeeds, it feels direct. Unfiltered.

So anyway, the thing I want to be cautious about is saying that this is my favorite bike, ever. Because that’s a bold thing to say after just three short rides.

But it is how I feel at this moment.

I am so glad Spring is here.


  1. Comment by Jim | 04.7.2009 | 1:22 pm

    You’re hooked on Little House on the Prairie? Geez Alice… does this mean you’ve gotten over your Little Women fixation? What next… “Hi God, It’s Me, Margaret?”

  2. Comment by Alex | 04.7.2009 | 1:28 pm

    spring showed up here in Boise also…ahhhhh it is great…..

  3. Comment by Jared | 04.7.2009 | 1:47 pm

    Congrats on the arrival of spring. We had a taste over the weekend, now it’s snowing. And I have to mention a bit of jealousy at that excellent looking trail network right next to your house. I have to travel at least 10 whole miles to find anything that awesome here in wv.

  4. Comment by Formerly Bent022 | 04.7.2009 | 1:47 pm

    I am beyond jealous, I do not have a SS and it is raining here in Cali.

    BTW – Elden did you receive the photos I sent you after ToC?

  5. Comment by chtrich | 04.7.2009 | 1:49 pm

    I love Lambert Park! Unfortunately due to my MIM syndrome my bike is at the shop today getting new brake pads installed.
    Guess I’ll just see you at RAWROD.

  6. Comment by rexinsea | 04.7.2009 | 2:07 pm

    “I am so glad Spring is here” You and me both! Weather is nicer AND there is light late. Have fun tonight.

  7. Comment by brokeMBA | 04.7.2009 | 2:08 pm

    I’m glad you got your bike, spring arrived, and you found new/old singletrack that close to home. I expect great video soon of not only your local ride but RAWROD.

    I live in Alabama and its 40 degrees and blowing here (very un spring like). Not that it matters since I broke my collarbone badly racing the other day so I will live vicariously through your spring riding. Maybe I will make it out to Moab next year instead…bummer on my trip this year…grumble grumble

    Have a great day and all the best to you and the family.

  8. Comment by Lizzylou | 04.7.2009 | 2:09 pm

    I just want to warn you (without spoiling anything). There will be sections in later books that will leave you bawling your eyes out uncontrollably. Be warned. I remember being absoluletly devastated reading these books at the tender age of 9.

  9. Comment by MikeonhisBike | 04.7.2009 | 2:14 pm

    Glad you finally got to get out on the new steed. Spring Rocks!!!

  10. Comment by Hamish A | 04.7.2009 | 2:18 pm

    That is a multiple woot post, right there. Good news about Susan, Cute tale of the Kids, funny mental images of you snuffling over a kids book and rediscovered trails on a new bike. Oh, AND spring to boot!

    Enjoy the ride and getting reacquainted with your local trails, enjoy spending quality reading time with the girls, enjoy spring and be sure to tell Susan how stoked my household over here in the UK is to hear she’s doing ok.

    Now, go ride! WIN Susan!

  11. Comment by b21 | 04.7.2009 | 2:21 pm

    “So anyway, the thing I want to be cautious about is saying that this is my favorite bike, ever. Because that’s a bold thing to say after just three short rides.

    But it is how I feel at this moment.”*
    *until I get my next bike, which will be my favorite bike ever, until I get…..” (repeat)
    If you guys have found Spring, would you mind sending her East for a bit? We promise we will will send her back in June.


  12. Comment by MOCougFan | 04.7.2009 | 2:23 pm

    Sweet. Was hoping you would be able to make it to RAWROD. I’m coming out from Missouri to ride it.

    Unfortunately I’m way fat and slow. Maybe we could switch bikes and I’d ride the singlefly and you could ride my hardtail. I think that’s a great idea.

  13. Comment by bikemike | 04.7.2009 | 2:25 pm

    you’ve got more nice trails in that diagram than the entire state of florida has…wow.

    going for a road ride in an hour…62 degrees and 38 mph winds out of the west…yehaw

  14. Comment by 29er | 04.7.2009 | 3:02 pm

    I thought Lambert would still be muddy too. Thanks for scouting out the trails! I might be riding there later this afternoon, but not in front of a helmet cam.

  15. Comment by KanyonKris | 04.7.2009 | 3:11 pm

    Jolene and I will be there around 5.

    DO UPPER RODEO! It’s a bobsled ride through the trees and crosses over the stream a few times via plank bridges. AND it dumps right into the top of regular Rodeo, so it’s like Rodeo+, or Rodeo^2, or something.

    The entrance to upper Rodeo is on the north side of the stream just below where the spring comes out of the hillside – you’ll go between some tress and down a steep little slope and the fun begins.

  16. Comment by MOCougFan | 04.7.2009 | 3:28 pm

    Do me a favorite and hammer it hard down Rodeo tonight. Then wipe good in front of FC’s cool camera so we can have some awesome video tomorrow.

    Don’t hurt yourself too bad tho.

  17. Comment by leroy | 04.7.2009 | 3:55 pm

    Oh sure, Lambert park sounds nice.

    But here in Brooklyn, Spring means we get a ton of tourists to dodge as we cross the Brooklyn Bridge.

    Sorry, didn’t mean to brag.

    I’m sure you can find a day hiker or two to dodge.

    Have fun!

  18. Comment by Steve | 04.7.2009 | 4:43 pm

    Dang it, Fatty – you’re not supposed to tell people about Lambert, much less describe it so gushingly. It’s supposed to be kind of *forgotten*… :-)

  19. Comment by Susan Tomlinson | 04.7.2009 | 4:45 pm

    I got a little sniffy myself while reading this. :-)

  20. Comment by Big Boned | 04.7.2009 | 5:07 pm

    I’m waiting for the bent version of the singlefly before I put my money down.

  21. Comment by Mary | 04.7.2009 | 5:09 pm

    “Little House on the Prairie”!!! Just the best books ever.

    I don’t really care about all the bike stuff though. ;D

  22. Comment by Kathleen | 04.7.2009 | 5:35 pm

    Elden, your joy just leaps off the page! I’m giddy just reading this post. Have a fabulous ride this afternoon and share that helmetcam video asap.

  23. Comment by Lissee (formerly known as Bitter) | 04.7.2009 | 5:42 pm

    Soooo happy for you!

  24. Comment by Clydesteve | 04.7.2009 | 6:26 pm

    Comments today are a scream. Gals visiting from Pio Woman gushing about you liking the Little House series to the point of emoting, and all the MTB guys gushing about Lambert Park.

    BTW there is another series of similar, and in my estimate even better childrens lit. you can graduate to – the ‘Little Britches’ series, by Ralph Moody. It is a little more manly, but the twins will like it. And your boys might be caught listening in.

    Know this – one and all are pleased to hear of Susan doing well. Good call on getting her the mini notebook!


  25. Comment by The Incredible Woody | 04.7.2009 | 6:51 pm

    Nice to hear that little pep to your step!

  26. Comment by WheelDancer | 04.7.2009 | 7:00 pm

    Always good to hear a positive update on Susan! I had a little piece of single track about a half mile from my last house that I didn’t find out about until shortly before I moved but it was only a couple flat, featureless miles.

    Clydesteve – Perhaps the MTB guys should extend an olive branch and gush about getting a little singletrack on the prairie?

  27. Comment by Kala | 04.7.2009 | 7:38 pm

    Ah, you’re glad it’s Spring… and I have snow in Western PA!!! Ew!!!

    Loved your LHOTP (Little House on the Praire– shorthand!!!) analogy! :)

  28. Comment by stewOZ & miss | 04.7.2009 | 8:30 pm

    Reading b/w the lines, it was obvious you had a smile from ear-to-ear! Great stuff.


  29. Comment by KanyonKris | 04.7.2009 | 8:47 pm

    MOCougFan – I didn’t make it in time to ride with Elden, but my wife did. All I had to do before I left was order some software – 2 canceled orders, calls from the credit card company, phone stuck to my ear with a customer service rep, and 45 minutes later than planned I made it to Lambert. I sooo needed that ride to bring me back to sanity. My bride and I had a great time.

    Elden – Thanks for mentioning Wildcat. I’d forgotten about that new trail and enjoyed riding it. I take it you liked upper Rodeo?

    Loved it. Video soon. Your wife hammers. – FC

  30. Comment by Mom of Fatty | 04.8.2009 | 1:35 am

    I turned to read your blog just before going to bed. I will sleep with a smile.

  31. Comment by Mike Roadie | 04.8.2009 | 4:37 am


  32. Comment by Andrea | 04.8.2009 | 6:00 am

    Hee! That was quite the heartwarming post Fatty on all fronts!

  33. Comment by buckythedonkey | 04.8.2009 | 7:35 am

    Oh yes Mike, HUZZAH!

  34. Comment by Dan Rogers | 04.8.2009 | 7:42 am

    Sounds like heaven! Still looking for anything remotely close to this in northern NJ…

  35. Comment by Andrew | 04.8.2009 | 8:00 am

    Dude – I love Little House and Lambert Park! That’s funny, I always remember that story right around Christmas time when, for whatever reason, our planned “small-this-year” Christmas ends up out of control.

    It’s the simple things, man. The simple things.

    I’d love to ride today. I’ll see what I can pull off.

  36. Comment by Mike | 04.8.2009 | 8:08 am

    Hey, Botched took me to rodeo. Fun trail. Lucky you.

    On a side note, I did my first outdoor road ride yesterday, and I think you should be grateful you didn’t. I don’t know what the wind speed was in Utah, but I was totally pinned just to hold 18 into our nasty Idaho wind.

  37. Comment by Marce | 04.8.2009 | 8:17 am

    New to your blog (WHERE have I been?), but it feels like home — that Susan isn’t stronger, but isn’t weaker? That’s how we measure our days, too. A good day, in our lives, now, is a day in which you don’t get bad news. I’m training to ride the Pan Mass Challenge in Massachusetts, and am going to get a Fatty wooly (no spring in Boston, yet). But really, am writing to find out if I can buy one of Susan’s wonderful bracelets… or maybe a bunch.

  38. Comment by Leslie | 04.8.2009 | 8:29 am

    Great post. I love the Little House books, and that Christmas chapter is one of the best parts of the whole series. Thanks for reminding me of the power of simple pleaasures.

  39. Comment by ann | 04.8.2009 | 10:04 am

    Sorry, bike people:

    Hope is the thing with feathers
    That perches in the soul,
    And sings the tune–without the words,
    And never stops at all,

    And sweetest in the gale is heard;
    And sore must be the storm
    That could abash the little bird
    That kept so many warm.

    I’ve heard it in the chillest land,
    And on the strangest sea;
    Yet, never, in extremity,
    It asked a crumb of me.

    E Dickinson

  40. Comment by regina | 04.10.2009 | 3:36 pm

    yea the tv show was not even close to the books and the books and the books are the best. yay spring.

  41. Comment by Linda Ruthers | 04.14.2009 | 2:03 pm

    My bracelet from Susan arrived last week, and I love it!! Thank her from me, please!!!

  42. Comment by Ben L. | 04.14.2009 | 4:28 pm

    I’m relatively new to your blog and I’m loving it. Your writing is fun and inspiring. If I ever make it out to Utah (my aunt lives there, so it’s possible), I’ll definitely check out the Lambert Park trails.


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