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. Dreamy.
“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
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.
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.
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. How 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). Dude. 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. Prior 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
There 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. But, 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. This 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. This 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. This is directly at odds with my first two goals.