Yesterday, I talked about how foolish I felt for having ignored Lambert Park until then. I then said that I was going back that very afternoon to explore some more.
Well, that turned out to be a fine idea indeed.
And there are big chunks of singletrack I still haven’t explored.
Let me remind you that this is a trail network less than a mile from my house. And as I’ve mentioned before, I can ride up Hogg’s Hollowes right from my front door, too, giving me access to Corner Canyon (I’ve got some late winter footage of that I need to put together — tomorrow, maybe?).
And then, of course, there’s the Ridge Trail Network. And Grove. And all the road riding.
There are no two ways about it: I am spoiled, and spoiled rotten.
PS: For those of you suddenly interested in Alpine, UT as a place of residence, this photo might be of interest.
Hey, we could totally be next-door neighbors/riding buddies. And the price is reduced and everything.
You should give Jared a call. And tell him Fatty sent you. That will freak him out, because he has no idea who I am. All the more reason to call, if you ask me.
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.
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.)
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.
Wilson, NC (Fat Cyclist Fake News Service) – In a packed press conference today, Aqu Sports announced details for its much anticipated and talked-about Tour of America.
“It’s been almost exactly a year since we sent out a press release asserting the Tour of America would begin in September of 2009,” said Tour Director Frank Arokiasamy. “We felt it was high time to start filling in the blanks.”
According to Race Director Richard Dunn, “2008 went by really fast, and before we knew it — whoah, there was December and we still hadn’t signed up any cities or sponsors or teams for the 2009 event.”
“We probably should have started making calls before November, but you know, it’s really hot in North Carolina during the summer and the air conditioning in our office kind of sucks, and then when autumn comes it’s so beautiful and the weather’s so nice that you just want to get outside,” continued Dunn.
“Long story short, our plan for 2009 became to focus on writing a really solid plan for 2010 – 2012 and calling 2009 a mulligan. And I feel we did an excellent job of that,” said the Race Director. “I’ll leave the details up to Karen, our Logistics Director, to give you the details of those plans now.”
“For 2010,” said Karen D. O’Neill, logistics director for the Tour of America, “We plan to blame the economy for our not doing the race.”
“Of course,” explained O’Neill, “that’s not the way we’ll start out. A few months from now we’ll announce that we’re going to do this race in 2010. Then we’ll go dark again for a while. It won’t be until sometime in early 2010 that we’ll actually make the announcement that either the economy is still too bad to support a race of this magnitude, or that the economy has recovered too recently for us to meet our financial obligations in a timely manner.”
“Which, of course,” concluded O’Neill, “leads us to 2011.”
“For 2011, we actually do plan to conduct a Tour of America,” said Arokiasamy. “However, it will be in South America. And it will be unsupported. And it will be raced entirely on motorcycles, instead of bicycles. Also we will avoid cities and roads altogether, having the course go up and down the coastline…and under water, when there is no beach…or when the tide is high.”
Interrupted Arokiasamy, “We feel that this will give us precisely the kind of experience we need to come back to North America the following year for the Fifth Annual Tour of America.”
2012 Plans and Beyond
“By 2012,” said Arokiasamy, “we will have established ourselves as the premier stage race in America, having either put on a race or had a very good excuse each of the preceeding four years.”
“And for 2012, we hope to begin planning very exciting plans indeed,” effused the Tour Director. “Namely, we will tell everyone that the race is planned for a certain date in July. Then, when everyone shows up on that date, we will look confused for a minute and then take a quick look at our printed materials and slap our palms to our foreheads and exclaim, ‘Oh my! We actually had the race in June! I can’t believe we said July. Sorry about that!’ And then we’ll all have a good laugh.”
Concluded the owner of the fledgling race promoter. “And then, of course, we’ll get busy working on the 2013 race. We’ve got an absolutely terrific course in mind for that year.”
The news conference did not have a Q&A session, with the race promoter citing “important drawing of colorful lines on maps to do.”
Here’s the view from my family room window, in a photo I took this morning:
This is just unacceptable. It’s Spring. I have a brand new bicycle I’ve only gotten to ride twice — not even enough to get it dialed in.
I have completely run out of shows to watch while riding the rollers.
Seriously, Mother Nature. Stop it.
A Note from Fatty: My friends at Banjo Brothers are doing an interesting experiment: Microfiction via twitter. It’s a bike story, serialized into 140-character chunks. Get caught up with the beginning of the story here, and then follow the updates on Twitter here.
As a teenager, I had the following jobs, in the following order:
- Feeder of frozen meat patties onto the broiler conveyer belt at Burger King (fired after two months)
- Shelf-stocker, floor-walker, toy assembler, help-as-needed do-er, and occasional Dungeon Master at a toy store (yes, from time to time I got paid minimum wage to play D&D. Envy me.)
- Firework stand worker, and post-July-4 Firework stand disassembler and firework warehouser. My coworker friends and I would talk endlessly about the awesomeness that a stray match would bring about in that building.
- Lawn maintenance, basic pest control in North Carolina. I nearly melted.
- Midnight-to-6am radio DJ. I believe my entire audience was 3 14-year-old girls. Still, this is the coolest I have ever been.
- Door-to-door insulation salesman in Southern California. I spent the entire summer wondering why I gave up the radio job to do this. I still do not have a satisfactory answer.
All of these things helped me make a career choice. Or rather, they helped me realize that I absolutely positively wanted to work while sitting down. Opining, theorizing, and occasionally (if necessary) writing or editing, as opposed to doing any real work.
And here I am. For the entirety of my career to this point, I have always either been sitting at a computer, sitting in a conference room, or sitting with my computer in a conference room.
I am not complaining. It may seem like I am, but I am not. When I’m complaining, I seem even whinier, if you can imagine that.
In any case, I would like to point out that even us white-collar (or in my case, “no collar,” since I’ve somehow managed to avoid companies with fussy dress standards my whole career) workers don’t have it easy. Work can be difficult. Gruelling. Painful.
Work can be, in short, very much like riding a bike. Which — finally! — leads me to my point: being a cyclist is the perfect way to condition oneself for the modern workforce.
- Spin a low gear at high-cadence: The secret to high endurance efforts as well as fast climbing is to learn to spin an easy gear, but spin it fast. This principle is true in the business world as well. For example, I never do anything that’s actually very difficult, but do my absolute best to always look like I’m moving very fast. Or for those of you in software, just say you’re doing agile development. Works like a charm.
- Drafting: When you’re on a road bike, you can conserve a lot of energy by staying very close behind your competitors, letting them do all the work while you coast in their slipstream. The way this metaphor applies to the business world is so darned obvious I don’t even need to explain it. Don’t innovate. Instead, ride on your competition’s coat-tails and then nip them at the finish line. And by competition, could of course mean either your company’s competition or they guy down the hall.
- Tolerance for pain: As a cyclist, you have developed a surprising tolerance of — and quite likely, a somewhat disturbing appreciation for — pain. You have augured into the ground, plowing fresh soil with your helmet. You have left unusual indentations in tree trunks. You have tested the impact resistance of pavement. And you have voluntarily ridden your bike even as you suffered mightily. Frankly, I cannot think of any greater or more directly applicable training for either a position in Sales or Customer Service. Or for a beatdown by the boss. While others quake and despair at the abuse from which they’re suffering, you will simply be thinking to yourself, “Y’know, this reminds me of the time my front tire blew at the apex of a tight bend in a fast road descent. Wow, what a day!”
- Endurance: As a cyclist, you are no doubt familiar with the numbness and/or agony that accompanies a long session in the saddle. And you have learned to put up with it. What you may not realize, however, is that most people have not learned to deal with sitting that long. This gives you a distinct advantage when you find yourself in a marathon meeting. I myself have gleefully (?!) watched as others begin squirming and shifting in their seats as the fourth hour of an all-day meeting begins. Meanwhile, having cleverly thought to apply DZ-Nuts under my pants at the beginning of the day, my posterior still has the eye of the tiger. Wait, that didn’t come out right.
- Use training analogies as a way to excuse yourself for slacking: Every cyclist knows you don’t get fast by always sprinting. Nosirree. You get fast by through a mysterious and complex sequence of efforts. Similarly, it can be asserted that you don’t succeed in the workplace by always working ’til you’re frazzled and burned out. You need to alternate between easy projects and difficult ones. You need to surf the web for a few hours, as a “recovery period.” And when your boss tells you that you always seem to be working at a snail’s pace, you just need to tell her that you’re getting in some base miles right now.
I’m certain that will put her mind at ease.
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