Sunday, April 13, 2008

Just a few of my recent "peeves".

We all have our little pet peeves. Sometimes pet peeves are with us for life. Some just come and go. Right now, the top three things that really frost me (in no particular order) are:

1. Bike dealers who continue to drink the Trek (and Specialized...but not to as big of a degree) Kool-Aid despite the fact that they get bikes rammed down their throats they don't need or want, open competing dealers a stone's throw away, and threatening dealers to pull their dealership if they don't kick brands X, Y, and/or Z out of their store.

2. My neighbor, who despite being a really smart gal, is allowing her normally indoor cat roam the neighborhood in effort to get it pregnant so her 10-year-old daughter can witness "the miracle of birth". Huh?!? Why do smart people do dumb things? With our local shelters filled to their respective brims with homeless cats, this is one of the most irresponsible things I've heard of lately.

3. Trail poachers! Yes, it seems like every trail system has them. One of my local trails, Lake Hodges, was ravenged by the fires this past October. It was closed for a few months, but is now re-opened for the most part. There are a few trails that have remained closed due to the sensitivity of the areas the trail passes through. At every trail entrance around the lake, there are signs that make it very clear that the trails will remain open while the landscape heals if...and only if...people stay on the designated trails. If people don't respect this, the trails will be shut down.

The trails that are closed are clearly marked that they are closed. So what do people do? They just make a new trail that circumvents the "closed" signs 10 feet down the trail. Or, they just hop over the caution tape to access the closed areas. This is evidenced the many tire tracks you see going right on past the closed signs...right over the caution tape in some cases. I tried to take a couple of pictures of this, but they didn't come out all that great.

What's up with this poaching BS? Do the rules apply to everyone but you? Do you have such little respect for the fragile environment and your fellow riders who might lose Hodges as a trail system because of your selfishness? Last weekend, I saw a couple guys go around the closed signs and ride away on a closed trail. Lame.

The signs at the trail entrances that mandate people stay on the designated trails also ask all trail users to help educate others about the importance of staying on the trails in effort to ensure we are able to keep riding there. So consider this doing my part: To everyone who rides Lake Hodges, stop poaching the trails. I enjoy riding out there as do many other people...please don't allow your selfishness to ruin access to this area for others. It's just not worth it. Stay off the closed trails. When the park rangers see all the tire tracks on trails that are closed, it makes all mountain bikers as a group look bad. Have some respect. Thanks for listening.

On a more positive note, I met a few cool guys out there at Hodges on Saturday. One was on a Xeon S (and loves it), one has a Xeon S on order, and the other was considering upgrading from his Iron Horse soon. Very cool! Thanks guys!

Ciao for now!

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Hello to an old friend

Today I spent a little time with an old Haro Xeon. I'm not really sure why I haven't ridden this bike in what seems like ages, but it certainly had a thick layer of garage dust on it along with a couple of not-quite-flat-but-close tires.

When go to take a ride, it goes something like this: I walk out to the garage and stare at the bikes on the wall for a few minutes. Then I decide which bike I feel like riding based on whatever trail I plan on going to.

This morning, I actually picked the super-sonic pink Sonix off of the wall, but discovered the front brake needed to be bled. OK, I'll bleed the brake. After pouring a bunch of mineral oil into the caliper and watching it flow through my little makeshift bleed kit hose after a series of lever pumps, I closed the bleed valve and capped off the resevior only to find that brake fluid was seeping out under the cap. After opening the resevoir back up, I found that the seal was roached.

Since I sort of value having a front brake, I had no other choice but to choose another bike. I've been spending a ton of time on either "big wheels" (650B or 29er) and my road bike, so I really wanted to ride 26" full-suspension. My trusty Xeon is the only other squishy bike I own at the moment, so off the wall it came and went straight on to my roof racks.

I headed out to Daley Ranch; a nice little trail system about 30 minutes south of me in the foothills of Escondido. Sure, a 6.3" travel bike is a bit much for those who are familiar with Daley Ranch, but there aren't too many 6.3" travel bikes that climb as nicely as a Xeon.

I can honestly say that I had forgotten just how much fun that bike is to ride. The Xeon is classified in the "all-mountain" category. A few of us at Haro agree that it's a downhiller's cross-country bike. This bike has admittedly been a bit of a challenge for us...people either "get it" or they don't. It seems that the "lycra set" just doesn't quite understand the slacker seat angle and the longer travel. Those of us who have more of a "gravity " background think this bike rules.

Daley Ranch is sort of mixed bag of climbs (some are particularly nasty), rolling single/double track, and some rutted-out technical downhill sections. What I love most about my Xeon is the fact that it's just so damn comfortable in wide variety of terrain and riding conditions. Even though it's been a couple of months since I've ridden a squishy bike, I felt right at home on my Xeon. I was having so much fun on the bike, I ended up riding far longer than I had anticipated. That's OK...what else was I going to do? I really didn't have anywhere I had to be, so I might as well just ride.

During my drive home, I kept thinking about how nice it was to visit my "old friend" and enjoy a nice ride. I think my Xeon will be seeing a lot more of the trail in the very near future.

Happy trails.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Don't just exist. Live.

Don't say I didn't warn you...this post has nothing to do with bikes. But that's's my blog so I can say what I want, right?

Sometimes life deals you a bad hand. Sometimes, life deals you many bad hands within a relatively short span of time. When you get dealt a series of bad hands at the poker table in Las Vegas, you just stop playing...but life just doesn't work that way. You can't just walk away from your bad hands and stop playing. You must stay in the game.

Sometimes I feel as if I have been dealt a few bad hands over the past few years. Just like that figurative poker table in Las Vegas, I chose to just "walk away" from the game in an emotional sense. My lack of blog entries over the past several months has been one of many by-products of this withdrawal.

Several events have contributed to me sort of "waking up" to the fact that I need to be playing the game of life just a little differently. I've realized that nobody is going to hand over the good stuff in life on a silver have to make the good stuff happen for yourself. Visualize it. Commit to it. Make it happen. Don't wait for someday...ever notice that "someday" never happens? I have. Carpe diem...seize the day.

I'm finally realizing that life's big rewards aren't easily attained without taking a bit of a risk. As a society, we spend entirely too much time worrying about trying to look good or avoid looking bad. Sometimes, you just have to be willing to look like a complete jackass from time to time. It's the only way we grow.

So the horse bucked me off. That's OK; it happens to all of us from time to time. I'm ready to get back on and ride it again. There's a real difference between existing and living. When you merely exist on this planet, your life runs you. When you live, you run your life. Don't just exist. Live.

It's time to ride.

Just a few pics from today's ride.

Today I did something I haven't done in a while: went for an afternoon bike ride. I usually ride during my lunch break at work or in the mornings on weekends. I used to ride as often as I could after work once Daylight Savings Time hit...I just love the low sunlight plus it sure beat just going straight home. For whatever reason, I've sort of fallen out of that post-work ride routine...but today I feel like I have fallen in love with it all over again.

This wasn't an epic ride my any stretch of the imagination; just a short 1.5 hour cruise on my Beasley SS at Lake Hodges. It felt great to get out there and enjoy some time on the dirt. Something tells me I'm going to planning far more post-work rides in the coming weeks.

I did manage to remember to take my camera along with me, so I snapped a few pictures. Enjoy!