Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Dan Nelson

The family tree is growing, at least in my estimation. The last notable addition was Harse. Then for a while Racer employed several people who treated the shop like another job. There's not anything wrong with that necessarily, but that won't get you an invitation to family reunions. Spencer was close, but before we could make it official, he up and moved to California. Which leads us to Dan. From my best estimate, Dan loves to ride. He'll pedal anything with two wheels. He's fast too, consistently doing well in the local races. And he seems to love being at the shop. On more than one occasion, he's stayed really late getting things done without nary a word of complaint. Instead, he remained enthusiastic. Add to that the fact that he's not afraid to show up and eat like he means it at a barbeque, and I've got to give him the nod. So for what it's worth, I'm considering Dan as part of The Family. There's only one thing - Dan needs something more for a shop name than just Dan. I mean seriously.

Hawaii 07

As a word of warning, this post is only nostalgic, not bike-related nostalgic. Follow on at your own risk.

My name often inspires the following dialog, especially at stores where they read my credit card:
Cashier: How do you pronounce that?
Me pronouncing the entire thing
Cashier: Is that Hawaiian?
Me: Yes
Cashier: What island are you from?
Me: I'm actually from Southeastern Utah.
Cashier: Silence accompanied with a confused look.
Me: Thanks (as I'm walking out)

So, as I grow older, I struggle to connect with my Hawaiian roots.

It was too expensive for my parents to take all seven children to Hawai'i with any regularity. We went a couple of times when I was very young and I only have faded memories of those trips. So, what I learned about Hawaiian culture, I learned from my dad. I learned to savor poi, kalua pork, cuttle fish, dried aku, haupia, kulolo, laulau, poke, lomilomi, and the other foods as I grew up. But many of the other aspects of the culture passed me by. My wife and I have been over twice in the last two years and plan to make it a yearly tradition. One of the things that makes the long hours at work worth it is that the job provides the flexibility and means to make the trip on a yearly basis, with my kids and my dad.

When my dad gets back to Hawai'i, it doesn't take him long to settle back in as kama'aina. My kids had a great time, too. So, for posterities sake, here are my favorite memories of Hawai'i.

1) We went to the heau at Honaunau on the Big Island. The heau is a state park where an ancient Hawaiian royal village and an adjoining sanctuary have been restored. As we were watching some sea turtles, I noticed that the rocks seemed to be crawling with black crabs. I know that the locals eat them raw. I've never had black crab, so I asked my dad how they prepared them. He said, "They're raw, but not really raw. What you do is you take them and crack them, and then you put a lot of salt on them. You leave them in the salt until they're . . . . I can't think of the word in English. Until they're miko."

2) The night before the race we were driving back down to the condo on the Queen K highway. The rain was coming down and the wife and kids were sleeping in the back. My dad was sitting in the front seat. I was listening to IZ's (Israel Kamakawiwo'ole) rendition of a traditional favorite, Kuhio Bay. My dad doesn't sing along to music, especially in the car. In fact, the only times I've heard him sing is in formal settings, like choir practice. I noticed him singing along softly to the song, which turns out to be, among other things, about the beauty of rain in Hawai'i.

3) On the way home, the first leg of the flight took us from the Big Island to Oahu. The flight is short and the flight attendants don't really give you a choice on the refreshments, they just run by and throw juice cups at you. The juice was a passion fruit blend. As I was finishing my juice, I heard my oldest daughter say, "This juice tastes like Hawai'i."

4) And finally - this:

If you can't tell, I'm island sick today.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Amos Exploration

I rode Saturday with Brently and his eldest, Dan, and B. Riding with Brent took me back to the days of following a pure descender - Stu. Stu picks as clean a line as any body you'll ever meet and then rides that line with a smoothness that defies description. Those of you who have followed Stu down a rock-strewn single track know what I'm getting at. And to my own personal loss, I haven't ridden with Stu in a long time. That's why this is a particularly nostalgic post. Stu was something of a guiding influence during my early days at the shop. Stu was the first to welcome me in to the intimidating and somewhat closed circle of The Family while he was hanging out at the shop during lunch or on breaks. He always had great advice. One of the most valuable and enduring things I learned from Stu was how to treat people with different perspectives. Another thing about Stu is that when it so strikes him, he can put together a flowing dialog of descriptive adjectives and thoughtful metaphors laced with a surprisingly-fluid (yet definitely liberal) dosing of profanity. I've often heard from those who object to profanity that the use of such language reflects a limited vocabulary. They obviously haven't heard Stu tell a story. I think the Ralphie in A Christmas Story had an idea of what I'm talking about. Stu used to live in Provo. Then he decided his commute simply wasn't long enough and he moved to Elk Ridge. One afternoon, Stu had a great idea. He suggested we go find some trails down his way. We called Brent and the group was set. Stu and I grabbed our bikes at the shop and headed to an outdoor shop to pick up a map. After finding a map with enough topographical detail to be useful, we drove on to pick up Brent and were off. Benny Creek had always been a favorite. But there was a vast system of trails to be explored apart from Benny. In fact, little was known about the "other" side of the road. So there we were, at a parking lot armed with a map and plenty of water we started off. It was a warm day and we had the mountain to ourselves. What we found was a great combination of new (to us) smooth winding single track with the signature Nebo area technical sections. It has to be ridden to be believed. Canopied oak stands transition between open stands of quakies. Descending that we felt like we'd discovered the New World. Like the great explorers of the past, we named the newly found dominion. Actually, we named the ride Amos because the dominant geographic feature that ties several sections of trails together (at least on the map)is called "Amos Backbone." I got a little out of hand following Stu and Brently down and ended up clanking through a downhill rock bed, which taco'd my rear wheel. Brent and I worked out our best caveman mechanic wheel truing by banging the rim on a rock until it'd roll in the frame and we rolled out. Besides that, my memories of that ride are of big excitement, big sweeping turns, deep rollers while wearing a shit-eating grin all bathed in the golden glow of a late summer afternoon. That didn't wear off for days. I'm wearing it now as I think of it. Alright Stu, quit messing around with the motos and join us for a ride.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

I Do Triathlons, I'm not a Triathlete . . . Anymore

It's an ugly thing to realize something you've become always held in disdain and that you've drifted from something that brings you joy because of it. Tri-geek was always a dirty word around the shop. The negative side I saw was that people trained at the expense of the ride. Almost always. For example, not mountain biking because the ride profile spent too much time in HR Zones 4-5 on the climbs and then all the way back to below HR Zones 1-2 when I really need that time to be in zones 2-3. If you know what I'm talking about, you may already be headed down the wrong path. Not that some structured training might not help you out, but it was killing my soul. In order to stay in the right HR zones I found myself riding my trainer. A lot. Mind numbing and spirit crushing. I'd become an automaton. My wife and I recently completed the Hawaii Ironman 70.3 together. Our youngest turned 4 mos. old the day of the race. That race was worth it to run down the finishing chute with my wife. But that was when the triathlete that I'd become died and I got back to being me. I finished the swim a couple of minutes ahead of my wife and built a lead of around half an hour after the bike. Foot cramps and shin splints had me hobbling on the first part of the run until I sat down and worked them out. I could have pushed on and finished thirty minutes or so faster than I did. But why? I started racing to spend more time with my wife. Why not finish this thing with her, since she's stated this will be her only 1/2 for quite a while? I did and it was great. Last year my mountain biking season was cut short when I took a flier into a tree on Joy. This year, I'm determined to have a full mountain bike season and to not let training get in the way of enjoying the outdoors. A funny thing has happened since I made that determination. I've enjoyed my time outdoors, which so happens to be while I'm exercising. Runs are enjoyable. Swimming isn't monotonous. The mountain biking is lovely. With the Spudman grudge match pending, I should be doing some very focused training this Saturday. I've decided on a long mountain bike ride to Tibble with some of my very favorite ridding buddies - Dan, Brently Bob, B and we'll see if Ben can make it. I've got high hopes that this will be one of those memorable rides. After all, is there really such a thing as a really great trainer ride?