peak experience...

one thing I've learned over the years, is when to stop chasing it. when to step back, and let it soak in. whether it's trying to recreate that last singular powder turn, those superman climbing sensations, that loamy ripping bambi track carve or last week's race...learn to appreciate that moment for what it is, a singular unique moment in time. there will be others.

stop, and begin again.

been absorbing a lot over the last couple months, recognizing the weaknesses and imbalance of the body, the lack of white hot fire in the belly that gets you out the door on those days. last year was a.m.a.z.i.n.g. found the legs of my lifetime, had it dialed finally for once and had some incredible rides, incredible experiences. the trip to Breck, that solo ride thru WV, finishing with a win on the single at Teaberry. was all a long time coming, building from year to year to year for a solid decade, and also the one before that. all that learning, experience, had it somewhat figured out and applied it how I know how.

and then there was other waiting, wantings. waiting for one of those winters to finally roll around again. and it happened, Boo Yahh!, rolling all of that good vibe bicycling into an incredible WV IceBox winter for the ages. one of those once every 20 winters, finally one of those legendary seasons where we have real snow, real conditions, all. season. long.

don't wanna waste, can't waste the chance, next time it happens, I might be tickling 60. doubt I'll be able to rip it then, like I can now, so get after and take it all in, no matter what. throw a good bit of caution to the wind and chase that shit. could tell that the belly fire for on the bike exploits was diminished....what more could I do, I'd caught a good bit of what I was chasing.

So, on those days, those days of pushing limit of skillz on planks, catching an edge or tangling tips and subsequently tumbling & tweaking & torquing the connection points. hit the deck, do a quick inventory, realize there's nothing catastrophic, and fucking stand back up and get. back. after. it. yeah, sure, if I really cared about how I'd be riding next/this summer, I probably shoulda parked the planks in the corner after a couple of those incidents, after the first of how many starting back in January...but I didn't, because I wasn't fucking missing out on that cool wintery love, that season of a lifetime. fuck it, pay the bills later.

I took a lot of odd tumbles, felt a lot of goofy twinges, hit a couple trees pretty fucking hard, hitting the ground not quite as hard. and every time, there was that voice, that question, that doubt...should I sit up, soft pedal? nahhhh, fuck it, who cares about June, July, August? this is the here, this is the now...push on thru and deal with it on Monday, Tuesday, sometimes into Wednesday, it's nothing major...it'll be fine. And for the most part it was, I wouldn't trade last winter for anything.

Had loose plans formulated for this year, loose plans to help out a bit with TransPA, do a nice long tour along those sweet ridges that make the VA/WV border, maybe sneak into a 100miler towards the end of the season for shits n giggles. But the knee was still nagging when it would normally be rebounding. guess I had a few too many of those twists and tweaks, probably shouldn't have kept standing back up and pushing on thru. Well, yeah, sure, if I really cared about doing something in the saddle...but I really don't anymore. I've done a lot, enough for me, for now, time to let it all soak in. Really don't care about putting in a performance on wheels, just don't have the inspiration to get out and race, or push myself that deep into the already mapped and exhausted pain cave.

So, the knee was bothering me, my head wasn't in it anymore, couldn't find a reason to push thru the pain, the discomfort...so I didn't, so I'm not. I went fishing instead. It's a challenge, an old/new puzzle to play with, a passion reignited and another means to explore and see new sights, to explore and see old sights from a fresh viewpoint. Slowing it all down and finding new balance. Found myself stepping back from the events, not attending, period. Needing a break from the scene, how can you reboot if you never really unplug? Not willing to just 'ride' around a loop, especially after raging around the same just last year...13hrs to ride a loop you've ridden in sub-10 countless times? No. thanks. No stomach or committment to do the 10-20hrs a week it takes to be prepared. No inspiration to slum on the road in 100degree heat, when I could be chilly standing in knee deep trout water, exploring a new drainage, learning new landscapes.

And it's all good. It's the choices I've made, the path that's been followed. I do miss the lot of ya'll, hanging apres' sharing the war stories of the day, the communal slums and ripping razor's edge descents...this step back has revealed a great appreciation for the work that it takes, the work a lot of ya'll are still doing. Right now, I can't even fathom pedaling a bike around that Teaberry 40 loop, even at my chill gimp pace, nevermind raging around it solitary stem drooling focused thru that quiet place of time trial styley. I just can't. It's amazing the sacrifices you make, the focus & love of sport it takes to get there, and props to each and every one of ya'll still doing it. when you're caught up in it, participating, you just can't see it all, and boy, does it ever take a lot.....

So, that's where I'm at, how it is. Did miss you freaks at the TdB, and will be back around for more pedaling fun at some point. for now, I'm letting this gimpy hinge heal up proper, and it's coming along marginally decent enough. definitely improved since the spring, but there's no real motor to drive it right now....probably having another doctorly conversation soon, maybe investigate the power of magnets to see what can be seen....but I'm content with the wknd warrior 4hr Cupcake sessions, spinning over to the Letort & around town on the Jabberfixy and hiking up slippy streambed rocks or thru marshy meadows, reestablishing a bit of muscular balance in these one dimensional cycling specific stems of mine....it ain't exactly Yoga, but the tippy trippy sure footed balance that being a stealthy silent trout stalker requires has to be doing some good.

Will probably see ya in the finish chute if you come to Meeshow, I'll be ripping numbers, drinking beer & recording your times....good times indeed.


the hunt

Trout hunting, not fishing, hunting.

Trout are fun, challenging, they have personalities, territories, habits. Big fish claim their spot, staking out the better lies for feeding, the stealthier hiding spots. Big fish are old fish, and old fish eventually perish, replaced by the next, and the next and the next. The lies, the lanes, the channels evolve, weeds grow and encroach, fallen trees decay, but for the most part good lies are good lies. The deep holes are still there, but maybe a bit different now. Was out of the game for a while, bit over a decade since I stalked the banks of the Letort the way I do now, again.

The stream grows, changes, morphs, banks seem swampier, muckier, more of a challenge to get around without raising a ruckuss. But for the most part, the old beats remain the same. Memories of memorable fish seen, but never taken, never hooked. Recollections of seeing a few of those legendary browns on occasion, when they go on the prowl during the witching hour and into the darkness, working their territories.

Right place, right time, put yourself into that anticipated spot ahead of time, and you just might have a shot. Might, maybe, might, if you're lucky and it all comes together. When stars allign, when the moon winks and the weather trends in your direction, maybe, just maybe. Was out in that cool water the other night, enjoying Nature's sweet conditioned air, another world existing only a few blocks from oppresive townie heat. Getting reaquainted with a beat that I'd fish on occasion back in the day. Standing, observing, chilling, literally. It was good.

Find a fish working the surface, and work over that fish, eventually putting him down and off the feed. Good practice, always always always need casting practice. Pursuing first cast perfection, precision. Keep an eye on the sun and guess the time based on angled shadows, confirm with the time on the camera, shit, bit later than I thought...gotta move, gotta get down to the end of the other meadow. Retreat from the water and boogy on down, hop, skip, jump across the next meadow, then approach the water carefully above that downstream bend. Crouched head down amongst the weeds doing that fisherman ninja walk, playing peek a boo with the trouts.

Pop the eyeballs out of the cover and gawd damn, there he is, cruising the weedbed. Hot diggity dog, cruising thru the exposed eight, ten inches of water. Big fish, at least 18, maybe over 20, 100% wild Letort brown. He's not afraid of herons, kingfishers, turtles, he's top predator in this stretch, so the exposure as darkness falls is comfortable for him. Observe, watch, observe and watch. Watch him work the lulls in the current, those hidden eddies and upwellings that allow him to park motionless in the current. Watch him slide or tip and take in a morsel, then turn his flank to the current and drift to the next station, big jaw working on whatever it is he just picked up.

It's getting dark, going on 9ish, humid fog on the water obscurring my sight, but also shielding me from his. Back off the stream quietly, and hustle another 10yds downstream, creep back up to the edge, settle and breath. Unclip the little brown streamer, playing the hunch that he's looking for a meal, not just a snack. Top predator, remember. Scan the water and find that golden hued shadow hovering in the current. Qwik check over the shoulder to find that backcast snagging willow, then begin stripping off some line.

Get the line worked out thru the tip top guide and false cast out the length I need, keeping that unrolling line off to the side. Don't cast direct to him, reduce the chance of spooking. Work out the line, work out the line, then a mid air mend to put the fly on target. Drop it a bit upstream and off to the near side, verifying the distance for sure...damn, that's just about right, guess I'm starting to figure this shit out.

Fly hits the water, splat. Peer into the water and pick up that little streamer tumbling along, give it a small twitch and keep a peripheral view on that golden shadow. Then GO! He's on the move, spooked? please don't be spooked....oh shit, here we go! Not spooked, not spooked at all, he's got the fly in his sights, making a bee line straight for it. Fly drifting back towards me, drifting, drifting and he's chasing, chasing. And then into a glared shadow, I lose my window into that watery realm and lose track. damnit.

Is he still on it? Is he still interested? Can't. see. shit. Shit. Did he take it? did he, what's going on down there? Play the odds, the odds that he didn't take, that he pulled up short, that my presentation wasn't good enough for this smart old fish. Give it a twitch, a small strip of line to bring some life to the fly and suddenly there's a small wake where I think the fly should be, did he just take it?! Go for the set and the fly comes zinging out right past my head. Ripping up out of an immediatley boiling, churned up stream, big old trout all but exposing his back as he turns tail back into the current.

Mother. Fucker.

Boy, I sure screwed that up, yanked the fly right out from under his nose. Guess I need me another helping of that split second Jedi patience.

Another lesson learned, to be continued....


yo, Buck...

when are you gettin'
Hayden on a duallie????

if that doesn't bring a smile to your face....
(h/t fixieD)



where it's at,
how it is.

Was up on Martha's namesake
island for a bit of a celebration,
our boy Jake got hitched, took
the proverbial plunge. Congrats
you crazy kids!

Good times living with no
worries for a few pampered
days. Eating well, getting in
a bit of fishing in the salt, one
small blue in the boat, spinning
geared skinny tires off the back
and keeping it realz on the dance
floor. Gonna be a hard to top that one...

The 'cake road ride finished with
a ceremonial plunge, jumping off
the Jaw's bridge, wheeeee!...Really
wanna rewatch that classic movie
now. Lots of history on that small
chunk of land.

Couldn't hang for shit on the
ride though, more than just
an out of tune motor, sensations
from the gimped up hinge in
my leg aren't exactly confidence
inspiring when screws are turned.
Time for some serious considerations,
the R&R regime helps, is helping,
but I'm feeling that it's gonna take
some actual professional attention.
Was just a matter of time....can still
turn pedals at my gimp pace, can
still hike & explore the cold meadow
and mountain creeks where the
trouts are still eating bugs, so it's
all good.

To those at the TdB, miss ya'll,
much love, catch ya on the flip
side.....sure didn't miss those
five hike a bikes today.


feeling sick & speechless

if you haven't seen it yet,
you should really watch this....

BP Oil Slick has the latest:

(double clicky to jump over to Youtube, the embed
size is goofy on this bloggy format, sorry.)