In Regards To Myself

Well you’ve been doing this a long time. Indulging in your Peter Pan complex while that chip on your shoulder crumbles away. Before you let it go completely you may want to save a few crums and keep the pilot light on because you’re going to need it if you hope to pull off what you have planned for 2019. You had better cut the lines and empty the gas tank and smoke ‘em if you got ‘em and invoke all that other cowboy bravado because you’re reflection is looking older and pretty soon later will become never. Lord knows Hell is cold this time of year and this Winter you will endure all of it. There will be cold days, rainy days, sick days, sunny days, bleak days, hungry days, quiet days, and lonesome days. Plenty of lonesome days ahead. But steady your hands, maintain your aim and stay the course. The light will come. This reads like a self help brochure and maybe it is. Because you know that no one can help you like yourself and that should bring you warmth and comfort. The clock is ticking.

fullsizeoutput_3

It’s all worth reaching for.

Advertisements

2017 in review

Overall 2017 was a very good year. Many highs and thankfully not too many lows. Although media in general makes it appear that the country and indeed the world is descending into chaos, I find that it has never been easier to be human. Food and water are essentially a given, shelter is available if you are able to put forth minimal effort. Healthcare is a human right in this country. It may be expensive, slow, and most often frustrating but it is near ubiquitous. After food, water, shelter and healthcare what else is there? Relationships, knowledge, and my favorite – leisure. Knowledge is easily accessible for now, however dependable sources and the age of spin should make a person cautious about what they see with their own eyes. Relationships prove to be the most elusive for me. The closest ones I’ll probably guard over zealously until the day I die. Maybe it was watching American Pie too much growing up or maybe it’s because of nostalgia. If I’m being honest it’s most likely that close relationships just make me feel really good and are the by product of sport, laughing, mischief, and some primal need for social interaction so I seek them out selfishly. I would like more and if you’re reading this then you’re likely on my short list. So here’s to you my friend! *winks and double guns*

Yup I just used that as a literary tool.

Although life is easy it is also very complicated. Try to help me not to get those two confused, friend. Lets laugh a bit more, not take things too seriously and call each other on our bullshit this year. Hopefully I’ll see you face to face in 2018. Let’s not keep this digital.

 

Best Songs of 2017

“Map Change” – Every Time I Die

It’s really my perfect song. Melodic-metal, scream-singing, brutal-beauty. To top it off Every Time I Die released a music video which provides a wide cross section of real America. We all know the people in the video. I have even been some of them and given different circumstances I could be any of them. The video made me cry with it’s harsh forlorn beauty. The song made me cry at the Carson City Off-Road while thinking about a friend and their family. And then ETID came to Santa Cruz and played it live. Start the video at 3 minutes if you don’t like metal. You’ll at least appreciate its honesty.

“Only For You” – Heartless Bastards

This was the quintessential road trip song. Heather and I listened and sang along to it during many highway sunsets. Plus I heard it first here at 2 minutes in. 20170721_141113.jpgDreamy.

“Cool” – Netherfriends

Finally, here’s the song everyone likes. If I could bottle 2017 into the feeling of a song this would be it. Netherfriends is a one man group who collaborates with all kinds of musical artists and released OVER 20 NEW ALBUMS this year. My favorite new artist this year. Fan for life. Good Vibes and truth.

 

Best Books of 2017

Behave by Robert Sapolsky

Ever wonder why we’re all assholes? Especially YOU and ME?! Well you’re in luck friend, because this is the book for both of us. Dripping with sarcasm and packing a works cited section that could kill a small dog if you dropped it.

The Haywire Heart by Zinn et al.

Most of this I learned at ASU and in Touro but this is a nice summary. Spoiler: cut the shit. No Alcohol. More sleep. Lay off the hard intervals [not yet]. And eat this: Hawthorn, Magnesium, Garlic, Iodine, L-carnitine, CoQ10. Overall exercise is great but you can over do it. So if you’re heart gets above 190 bpm or you pass out then knock it off.

I Am Jade Falcon by Robert Thurston

“A true Jade Falcon, despising her fate but going straight for its throat.” Diving back into the Battletech universe like it’s 1999. Sci-Fi is the best. I never much liked reading fiction because it’s too much like real life and not stimulating.

 

Best Movies of 2017

Logan

Where do you even begin? This one stayed with me. It was heavy and at times funny. But this one again made me cry. I’m a pussy. I am not like The Wolverine.

Baby Driver

Fun. Just damn fun. Movies like this don’t come out often. And the soundtrack is killer.

Blade Runner 2049

This may be the movie which makes me buy a TV. The orange scenes in Las Vegas are hauntingly beautiful. And in the end, the most real thing in the main characters life is the most artificial.

 

Best Memories of 2017

November in Arizona

This weekend had almost everything I could ask for. I saw both my parents all my nieces and nephews and almost all my sisters. I also got to hang out with my Aunt Vicki and my best freaking friend and a long lost buddy as well. To top it off I saw Joe Rogan live in Phoenix, got (too) rowdy afterwards and slept in my friends kick ass bus. I definitely got too drunk which resulted in a top 2 hang over of my life which is a big regret of 2017 because I had some plans the next day which I couldn’t make it through without vomiting in public. A large piece of my heart will always be in The Valley. Maybe I’ll be buried there.

Oregon

Not too far, but far enough. Oregon is swiftly becoming a favorite destination for Heather and I. What’s even better is that we can usually meet up with a friend or drag a couple friends there with us. In February Jim and Allison joined us for a tour of Portlandia… through the portal of McMenamins. 20170211_091209.jpgHow do I describe Mcmenamins? A cheeky and delightfully refined series of historic hotels, pubs, and restaurants throughout the pacific northwest that make you wonder if you’re on a light dose of LSD. They’re my favorite and usually haunted. In July we went to Bend, OR and met up with Logan (not The Wolverine either). 20170716_165229.jpgDude. Tubing. Eating. Laughing. Fun. Tubing down the Deschutes river on a blue bird day in July is my happy place. Having a friend built in to Bend is the icing on the cake. One of Heather’s favorite moments (afterward) was hitting an unexpected patch of turbulence and then submerging while the dog was “assaulting me and I had snot and mucous coming out of my face and people on shore went ‘OOOOOhhhhh!!'”. Well I thought she was rad.

Winning my first Pro Mountain Bike race

“There’s Brent Wood our overall leader.” WHAAAAAaaaa??? 6 hours into an 8 hour race I thought I was chasing a group ahead of me but it turned out they were just ghosts. I could almost see them dissolve into the misty forest. As a culmination of decades of sweat, blood, broken bones, fatigue and more than a few tears it was unexpected and I am proud that I did it on my own. A lot of other racers had pop up tents with team/friends/family to fill bottles and hand food to them. My teammates were racing and busy grabbing their own podium spots so all I had was a tote bag full of bottles and Hammer Gel stashed on the side of the course to pause at every 90 minutes and reload. It was long and lonely and hard. fullsizeoutput_2e1.jpegPrior to this I was wondering [and still do] what in the hell I was doing entering mountain bike races as a “Pro”. I have a job that only allows me to put in 8-9 hours per week on the bike while most guys at this level are putting in 12+. I felt validated to say I was a “Professional mountain biker”. Bonus for being in the beautiful middle of nowhere California on one of the most fun courses ever. It was beautiful. There’s a pond. It was my favorite moment on the bike all year.

 

Worst Memories 2017

It can’t all be sunshine and rainbows. If a person does not remember their mistakes and the bad times then a person does not grow and become a better person.

The Breck Epic

20170816_123121.jpgThere was one fun day out of six. I get it. This race tries to be hard for the sake of difficulty which I appreciate, but it foregoes fun descents in order to take a fire road to another mountain pass so we can take our bikes for 2 mile hike. No. That’s not bike racing. Instead, lets rip down a technical trail and find some rideable terrain. Let’s mountain bike. It was a week spent above ten thousand feet breathing out of a straw getting passed by 50 year old roadies going up hill who freak out anytime the trail goes down or isn’t strait. I have news for all of you endurance athletes: endurance sports are not that hard. You’re not a bad ass because you can pedal or run or swim fast. If a person wants to do something truly difficult then try a combat sport. When you’re tired and out of breath on a ride you might get dropped, but no one is going to strangle you unconscious. Wanna fight about it? I learned that living at sea level, I can’t compete at altitude and expect to do well.

Hand Foot and Mouth Disease

Part of working in the trenches of medicine. I’m sure most people who work in an Emergency Department are colonized with MRSA and afflicted with numerous viruses annually and we usually handle it in stride thanks to our unbelievably effective immune systems and vaccinations. 20170517_134702But, In 2011, a new strain of Coxsackie virus, A-6, appeared thanks to globalization.  This new strain has a different clinical presentation and a different age group of involvement. Basically it has a proclivity for adults and is more severe. It hit me pretty hard for about 2 days. One of those days was the Old Cabin Classic, which is one of my favorite races of the year and my local race. It was the most I suffered the entire year due to being sick and is in part to blame for missing out on a major goal I have- to win my local race. Not much to learn here other than to prepare for this coming year.

Getting too drunk in Arizona

I’m 32 years old. There is no excuse for getting too drunk. It’s not the act of over indulging that I’m ashamed of – it’s that I had plans the next day with a great friend and I had to cancel them. We had tickets to watch ASU wrestle and I pissed it all away. Additionally, I was a poor guest in the The Zelimir Dekker but thankfully John took great care of me and let me off easy like only a guy you grew up with could.

 

What to improve upon in 2018

More time with family and friends.

Life is impermanent. We’re all getting older until one day were gone and something steals our carbon, just like we’ve been stealing carbon from our food. When we look up at the stars and wonder about the universe, all we are is the universe in human form looking at itself. When either my life is done and dusted or someone I know is done and dusted I don’t want to look back and think that I should have been there or done that. So I’m coming to see you in 2018 (if racing and training permits) and you should come see me. I have a spare room and a wonderful wife who makes great food and coffee and a Redwood forest with an Ocean. 20170721_124846This is a genuine offer and I’m not just saying this.

Live the life of a Professional Mountain Biker.

I don’t mean the glamour and travel and results. I mean the training, the diet and the sacrifice. If I put in the work then everything else will fall into place. Call it FOMO if you want but my athletic ability is decreasing and I have a limited amount of time to compete as a Professional. And I do mean compete. Not just be in the way. I don’t want to be some chump. To do this I need your help. Specifically ask me how training is going and encourage me to get out on the bike. If we’re out to eat then encourage me to eat nutritiously. And if I need to go for a ride [which is every single day] then please encourage me to do so. In 2018 I’m getting a coach and a power meter to fine tune my training. I don’t want that to be wasted time and potential so I need you to call me on my bullshit.  This typically takes the form of rationalizing why I need to look at my phone/sleep which then leads to not training enough or showing up to races 5 minutes before the gun goes off scrambling like a cat in a bathtub to make it in time. 71384780-Old+Cabin+Classic+2017-779This is directly at odds with my first goal.

Become better at medicine.

I am fortunate to do what I do for a living. It can be a great source of negativity in my life – but in the end I get to help human beings in their time of need. I don’t take this lightly but we all have strengths and weaknesses and I need to appreciate and work on my subjective weaknesses. This means studying. IMG950584This is directly at odds with my first two goals.

 

Sleepless in the saddle

This may set the tone.

weave7
Photo Credit: Santa Cruz Bicycles crew at the WEMBO

“3 hours is a long time when you’re already on your knees.” 

The sun greeted our hollow husks two laps ago and is now broadcasting its radiance so that all of our nocturnal trauma is plain to see. I am proud of my hard earned abuse. It’s about ten on Sunday morning October 4th, 2015 and what my body began whispering to my brain in the dark last night has built like a crescendo to violent demands typically reserved for episodes of COPS. My body is in a trist with my brain and while my brain [backed up by my testicles] usually gets the better of these arguments – on this morning my brain is a bit pensive for one good reason. I’ve never pushed my body to this place before. You see dear reader, I have spent the previous twenty two hours racing a mountain bike named Turbo Slut 198 miles and climbing 27, 000 feet of Trinity Alps splendor during the World Endurance Mountain Bike Organization’s 2015 World Solo 24 Hour Championship.  Ten AM on Sunday is the first time I’ve peeled my ass from the bike seat. I’m laying on a fold out lawn chair with feet elevated staring through my left big toe while my IMG_3824brain is distracted with ‘why’. Why does anyone do this? Why did the timelapse night portion from the promo video have to look so cool? And my most pressing question in this moment is why the hell does my toe hurt SO BAD!? But in the tangential light of California morning sun some things are more obvious – my toe is visibly pulsating and I’m desperately looking for a reason to quit. Enter Heather; my fiancé, my friend, and the last person I want to disappoint because she just spent a sleep deprived night on a high school football field assisting a nihilist in annihilating himself at The Solo 24. I tell her I’m tapping out and she plainly tells me “No”, undeniably reasoning that the toe is not permanently damaged and there is still time for one more lap if I shut up and move… now. Her words galvanize what is left of me to rise up with all the grace of the Tin man and schlepp my carcass 5 feet over to the bike.

It is astonishing how much everything hurts. This is the moment where I realize I may have shaved a week off of my life and just so the universe can rub it in, I look up just in time to watch a gentleman from Australia grind past me. This particular Aussie has been in hot pursuit of yours truly since the initiation of this parade of pain and like a good sheriff – he got his man [me] shortly after sun up. Although the only bounty on my head is self-determined, the Aussie now claims second place while first place resides twenty two miles ahead with a Belgian. Prior to this moment I have never ridden for more than a tarmac smooth one hundred seventeen miles, or pedaled more than eight hours and while that may seem impressive it’s utterly disproportionate to this monumental task set before me. But the sheer romantic gravity of a gargantuan endeavor is what pulled me here in the first place. So how do I react when I am on the brink of destruction, depleted, torn, and dirty with one foot hanging over the craggy edge? Apparently I’ll react by doing whatever good people tell me to do and right now the best person in my life is telling me to straddle that Turbo Slut for one more round in order to salvage my solitary goal during this race: just keep going. So I kissed her goodbye, clipped in, and pushed off to burn whatever I had  left.

weave1
Photo Credit: Santa Cruz Bicycles crew at the WEMBO

After leaving the stadium an overwhelming sense of isolation engulfed the course, which was swiftly replaced by a profound hatred for hills. No, this hill. No, this 2.4 mile 1,514 foot monument of bleeding martyrdom coercing me to dismount and walk its steepest yet penultimate fifty feet. If there was a gun to my head then the hillside would be decorated a most acidic red because there was no way to overcome my seizing muscles and ride the entire forsaken thing. Alas, the grade relented and all that was left between my bone weariness and the merciful finish were nine miles of marvelous California dirt.

Twenty three hours prior I was in a trance on the same nine mile descent while shredding above my abilities on whoops, turns and catching air with Olympians, downhill (1)world champions and some of the best ultra endurance mountain bikers in the world. It was some of the most fun I’ve ever had and that fleeting euphoria is why I am a mountain biker. But this time the final plunge felt like holding twenty pound mits for Mike Tyson after he ate a dozen espresso and meth burritos. Painful and messy. Every. Last. Bump. Agony. I don’t remember seeing any racers that last lap but there are dream like memories of thanking the volunteers one last time and grabbing a Coors hand up from some friendly grey aliens at the top of the climb. After the final descent I rolled across the finish line with all the fanfare of a quiet fart during a job interview. Some people may savor the finish and a job well done but I had no desire to savor anything. I went straight to our pit area, pried off my spandex, lay down on the ground and slept.IMG_3840

Upon waking about an hour later I was incapable of doing more than groan and stagger around our pits looking for things to eat while Heather disassembled her temporary home. But I was better off than some. I watched with frozen empathy as a singlespeed racer went pale and completely unconscious a few meters down from us. By the time I zombied over to him with an ability to offer zero assistance he regained control over his body and the color was returning to his face. Racing that course for 24 hours on one gear had to be absolute fuck mothering madness.

Thanks to modern cell phone technology the cumulative damage is easy to measure: Average heart rate of 134 beats per minute over 23 hours of moving time while ascending 30, 204 feet across 211 miles. Other less tangible costs include radial nerve neuropraxia of the right hand for 1 week and deep chub rub usually reserved for busy gigolos. This resulted in 30th place overall and the bronze medal in my age group. The only adventures to smash me like this before were long wrestling tournaments in high school – which speaks volumes about the true intensity of wrestling.

weave8
Photo Credit: Santa Cruz Bicycles crew at the WEMBO

It’s been a month since my first 24 hour race and some answers have been found while others remain elusive. First off, I reaffirmed how fortunate I am to be able bodied. Secondly, at about 3am I learned that if a woman is willing to support me whole heartedly while I adventure like a child on a mountain bike for 24 hours then I desperately love and yearn to marry that woman. Third, this race has reinforced that a bleary eyed concoction of danger, pain, and sleep deprivation can reveal flickering moments that grant heightened clarity and are crucial to my version of a balanced life, and a mountain bike is a worthy vehicle to capture that clarity and perspective. Finally, I have learned that the only thing holding my Ibis Ripley back from ripping down a hill are the diameters of my testicles.

 

IMG_3844

Patterson’s Pub.

This is Don.

don

This is how a bar man should appear.

He should be strong of wit, jolly of voice and the understated man behind the curtain who ensures libations are never far away. After our own work days are done we indulge our follies whilst our conductor labors long into the night after ordinary folk have gone home. He is a friend to the work weary, daily patron and unknown traveler. Note the crisply pressed shirt. What you cannot see in the photograph are his shoes, shined with what we may conclude are years of pride in himself.

 

While much of this is hyperbole one thing is indisputable – the man knows how to pour. Each pint glass was pulled from a chilled refrigerator and wiped clean with a cloth. The glass was then docked with it’s predetermined beer of choice at a 37.5 degree tilt while the product was jettisoned direct from the tap, which is direct from the brewery, which is direct from an idea. As the container is filled it is brought about to be vertical. Standard fare so far, but what made this different was that there was minimal overflow. Instead of filling until the glass was overflowing and wasting a good thing, this pour was terminated just at the brim with only a few millimeters of froth extending beyond the meniscus which was finally excised utilizing a steak knife. The steak knife is an oddity. Oddities should be favored during leisure time.

 

While it is easy to make off with the booze at face value and carry on with the evening, one ought to address the subtext conferred by the effervescent potable. While not trying to put too fine a point on it – there is something charming about beer. Perhaps charming is too narrow a word. Fascinating? Invigorating? Encouraging? Adventurous. To each person this oft contemptible and sometimes revered liquid offers something different. In healthy moderation, a good beer is a great situation.

 

As far as the pub goes, it is an affectionate building filled with laughter and warmth on main street in a town with a foggy beach on a crisp day. It reeks of savory wood fired meat and you are invited.

A brave new world.

Testing 1… 2… 3…

Alright!

Sometimes I feel like writing and after prolonged and protracted supratentorial debates with myself and a little encouragement from you know who, I have decided  this will serve as the medium with which to record some thoughts and events I find interesting enough to share. This will be updated maybe twice per year and I refuse to push it on Facebook or anything else because lets face it Mom, you’re the only one who is going to read this thing.

😀