Sunday, January 24, 2010

Sandals in January and Whales in the Bay?!?! The Pacific Northwest is Crazy!

The other day, while riding home from work, I happened to notice some navy blue in the sky and below that, some true blue, and below that, a small strip of light from somewhere off in the Pacific where the sun was still up.

The significance of this is that this was the first time since mid-October that my commute home didn't take place under pitch-black skies. Another bit of significance related to this is that I've been living in Bellingham long enough for one season to leave, and another season to ever-so-subtlely show its bright little head. And all this whole while, I've left you loyal blahg leaders in the, well, dark.

This leaves me with trying to figure out a way to organize the past, shoot...four months, into a coherent little story. And this has been a very full four months, indeed--from arriving one rainy Thursday and asking Kyle at the Hub where I should go to buy a rain coat (his answer: "You moved here without a raincoat? You're a fucking idiot") to knowing exactly where to go to get an after work beer on a Tuesday, giving trail directions to folks more local than I, and where to walk to in my new raincoat to sit and drink cup after cup of coffee on a dark Sunday afternoon. I've even already put on an Alleycat (the Scratch and Sniff, won by, funnily enough, Bobby and Joe, two old friends from Seattle, neither of whom had any idea the other was now living in Bellingham til they both showed up at the race and decided they ought to be teammates.) In other words, this place is starting to feel rather a bit like home. Or as home as a place can feel to a shiftless young adult.

And this is somewhat weird, Adam Winton said this wouldn't happen, and a very large part of me is fighting it, is yearning for a return to Appalachia--but it's sort of difficult not to get distracted (and comfortable) here.

Bellingham is, to use a word I have successfully introduced into the locals' lexicon, the Jam. If only I could transport a handful of my homies from, uh...home, and certain large swathes of Pisgah National Forest (namely, Squirrel Gap) I would have no complaints whatsoever. Except maybe for the rain, and my job, and the overabundance of college kids, and true-bred hipsters (east have no idea! west coast hipsters are to east coast hipsters as grizzlies are to panda bears, no joke) and some of the Pacific Northwestern xenophobic tendencies...but I digress. I meant to be talking about why it's awesome here.

The hipsters here do not joke around.

And that I'm going to do in several thousand words, each thousand condensed into one photo courtesy of Google Image Search and my Samsung Camera phone (if I can figure this out.)
Here goes:

This is where to go to eat popcorn and laugh.

the bright blue skies in the background.

This is the inside of Caps, with two typical patrons.

Brother Zach, Victory Lap on his sailboat,
just before selling it and heading back to Ashetown

Art Shuster revolutionized my life, and so,
I named a trail after him on Galbraith.

My singlespeed and some mossy woods. Swoon.

Anyway, I just spent beyond my attention span's limit trying to find pictures that did this place justice, but I couldn't do it. The riding here is too fun, the hiking here is too phenomenal, the coffee here is too strong, the beer here is too abundant...A thousand words or a handful of shitty photos, it doesn't matter. Bellingham is a pretty cool place. Won't be staying here long, though, I don't think...but more on that later. I gotta go ride.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Wait, how'd I get here?!

Four weeks ago I had a going-way party, full of innocent fun, grilled hamburgers, Travis dancing in a wheelchair, loads of PBR and one balloon unicorn. A going-away party would imply some sort of going-away, which is indeed what happened, as three days later, I found myself cozily crashing on Casey's couch in Seattle (or, for poetic reasons, I should spell with a soft "c" as in Ceattle, to make for one hell of an alliteration.)

Literary devices aside, I left Asheville early one Monday in late September with a loaded-down pick-up, full of four bikes, and extra I-9 wheelset, and a bunch of useless crap that I somehow thought would be useful in my new life (and yet, I left behind my Cuisinart, which in retrospect was a terrible decision.)

Quigley had once told me about some MTB trails in Kansas, so of course I made that my arbitrary first stop of the trip. Total freak (or hipster, I can't tell) style, I crawled out of my truck at 6:30 am Tuesday morning in some parking lot in Lawrence, KS, got on my fixed gear mountain bike, bought some coffee, and went to ride the River Trail. Fast, flowy, and in Kansas--I recommend it highly. Post-ride, I went in search for breakfast, whence I became acutely aware that I had driven too far west and north to be able find a Waffle House or Bojangles ever, ever, ever again. At a seeming loss, I went into a downtown joint called the "World Cafe" or something ridiculous, considering its location in Lawrence, KS...and ordered an egg-and-cheese arepa. An arepa, apparently, is a Central American biscuit made not with butter, flour and love, but with cornmeal. Actually, it was pretty delicious, but Southern Pride (besides being a popular brand of chewing tobacco) makes me reluctant to openly admit this.

Flowy fun in the backcountry of Kansas
Loading up, driving on, I made it Gillette, WY the next night, had breakfast the next morning in Sheridan, at the same place we got cup after cup of coffee during our 2007 Booyah Tour. It was sentimental.

My next goal was to go mountain biking in Montana, as I had never been to that state, and judging my the name of it, it would have decent mountains. Decent mountains it had, but my premeditated stop of choice (Butte, MT) had trails that were 6-12 (depending on which local you asked and chose to believe) inches of snow. I was too hyped up on Mike-n-Ikes, bad coffee, Copenhagen, and Saltenes to make any sort of decision so I wandered around town restlessly for awhile, talked to the owner of the curiously named Beaver Bikes, bought more coffee, and drove on.

Autumn in Montana.
In Spokane, WA, having just seen a beautiful sunset over Cour d'Alene lake in Idaho, I talked to ol' pal Casey Gish, made the decision to push it to his house in Seattle, watched some guy accidentally splash gasoline all over the station attendent, bought a can of cream-of-chowder soup, ate it cold and did not like that decision, turned up the music a little louder, and made it to Casey's around midnight. Somewhere along the way, I caught myself in a moment of introspection--there I was, I happened to notice, blasting Rage Against the Machine, washing down Mike-n-Ikes with Mountain Dew, and I thought to myself that I have never felt dirtier in my entire life. Then I remembered that this was a pretty regular experience when I was in middle school.

Casey at earlier, more hydrated times.
Booyah Tour, 2007

Safely at Casey's, sleeping on a couch, not the bed of my truck, allowed (probably strongly urged) to take a shower, we caught up on life, the universe, and Warren Wilson College gossip, and the next morning we drank hella-good Anericanos in some alley in the U-District. He went to class, I drove to Bellingham, site of my new life for the next year, or whatever.

An hour-and-half and phone call to my mother later, I parked my truck in the visitor center parking lot, got a map from some volunteering retiree, and did the one thing that makes me feel secure wherever I go--I got on my bike and began pedaling, aimlessly.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Beginning of My Farewell Process.

Labor Day Weekend Play-by-Play:
  1. My mom flies down for the weekend from Sunny Cleveland, Ohio.
  2. I got to finish building my fixed mtb at ProBikes, when, suddenly, a dozen or so goofballs come in to help Sharma Michael build up his adult-sized big wheels. We drink beer and scavenge up old friction shifters, cranks, pedals, etc. Most are 8-spd, we test ride them, we are excited.
  3. Most of those same goof-balls relocate a few hours later for a house party at Juts. It's an awesome house party.
  4. I find myself on the front porch with some guy, and the conversation goes like this
Guy: "Used to be French Broad was the only beer served at LAAFF, but they've since
broadened the selection."
Me: "French Broadened, if you will."
Guy: "No, I mean, you can get other breweries' beers there now."
Me: "Oh." Refill cup. Walk back inside to the white-kid dance party.
5. Saturday. Recover from Jut's, go for a local 'cross loop. Love it. Take my mom on a field
trip to visit my friend Meredith at Maple Creek Farm, the southern-most maple syrup
production. We eat quiche and other delicious dishes.
6. I ride Bent Creek with Ryan Fisher, who is the jam, and the source of my using of the
phrase "the jam." Hadn't seen him in almost a year, we catch up, we say goodbye.
7. LAAFF! We race those bigwheels. The kids love it. The adults love it. We talk shit. Ol' pal
A.J. runs over my foot, I'm waiting for my toe-nail to fall off, but it hasn't happened yet.
Otto wins it all. We give our praises to Michael for being a genius. Here's some pictures:

Kyley Cross vs. Kylie Krauss. Keep it straight.

Otto vs. Adam. Hot damn. HottoAdamn. Or Something

Adam in the lead, right before Otto tears his soul out.

Small child in tires, smoking a stogey, apparently.
8. Shanna and Marshall host a post-LAAFF gathering, we bike around, keep Gabe from
partaking in a fist-fight, watch a music video from Major Lazer, it is amazing. We test the
boys' Ape-Indexes. Sean wins by, like, 6 inches.

Photo and special effects courtesy of Mac Hager

9. It turns into Monday, I say goodbye to my Mom, 'til next time. Do a low-key ride in Bent
Creek. A few of us gather to eat burritoes. Suddenly, it's back to a normal work-week.

Except that it's not. I found out sometime before Labor Day that I got a job in Bellingham, WA, which I promptly and confidently accepted, before realizing that accepting a job in Bellingham is a little different than accepting a job downtown. Longer commute for one. Anyway, looks like I'm, uh, two weeks. Paking up, heading out, it'll be good. I will sorely miss Asheville and the reason why Asheville is so amazing (i.e. the people, the bike riding, it being beer city usa #1, and it being generous enough to share that title with another city of somewhat lesser coolness and sunshine...) I've actually made up a little triad of happiness that is a graphical summary of my love for Asheville. It looks like this:

Skipped work on Wednesday to hike Linville with Ohio Rob. It was pretty, the Sassafras and Sumac are already turning red...subtle hints of fall. It rained on us twice, and stoped raining on us twice. We ate cheese and summer sausage and figs.

This past weekend, we celebrated Lexy's upgrading to Expert after winning times a million at BMX grandes. Slap him on the back, or on top of his full-face, next time you see him. Then rode Laurel-Pilot-Slate with Beth, and a round-about way up to Farlow, which was awesome...and there was huge group of good people on that ride. Four hours of riding later, we headed over to Beth's for a cook-out, which, again, is reiterating the fact that these people, these mountain, these Kosher hotdogs washed down with PBR are what I love about Asheville.

Shoot! I'm a sap-ass.

Two more weeks of living it up in the best (and oldest!! Booyah!) mountains in the world.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

General Emptiness

I've been making a tough time of it lately, in my own stupid head. Not enjoying things as much as my horoscope is telling me I will in the forthcoming weeks (or something), a little disappointed that its dark when my alarm goes off now, a little nervous about what I'm doing for a job in October, and realizing I'm still a little affected by that boy I love. Which is ridiculous, I realize, but I just kind of think he's pretty awesome in his own little way, and I kind of miss that. I've also been harshly introspective lately, and then Connor has to tell me to shut up after I already told myself that. I feel like I've been off on all fronts lately. I'm just trying to start some sort of dialogue (for myself, or you, too, if you happen to read this), and it comes across as an attack. And then, the other night, a group of us played Risk (you know, the game of world domination...) and the formation of secretive, conniving alliances and eventual back-stabbing irritated me to the point of sadness. I mean, it's only a board game, but it was like being in High School again.

I'm trying to figure out where I'm going with this, and all I can think about is something Lexy's mom said once, "All that matters is to drink beer and be nice to people."

I'm sure there are a few other things that matter, like little kids riding BMX bikes, good math education for middle schoolers, non-bleached paper products, and universal health care, but I think Mrs. Lewis says it pretty well with that quote.

Oh, and Lexy is racing at Grands this weekend. Wish him luck.

Anyway, as tends to happen anytime I find myself disillusioned and introspective, I've been riding the hell out of my bike(s). I built up a 'cross bike, with wheels and a frameset form Little e, and this is the best thing that ever happened to me (that's a parabole). Took the long way (3 1/2 hrs through the woods) from my work in Mills River over to Brevard the other day to catch up with Dan and Tina, and the pavement-gravel-singletrack-gravel-pavement palindrome that is possible (or at least more comfortable) on a 'cross bike is awesome, and opens up a whole wealth of new loops. Spent the rest of the week commuting on the townie, then rode Big Creek for the first time ever on Saturday, which is embarrasing to admit, but made for a good 4ish hour solo loop. Then Sunday, another 'cross ride incorporating the WWC trails and Montreat College's XC trails over to Pisgah Brewing for the Brew Crew's Summer Games.

And let me tell we've all suspected, Jut can throw a party, and throw it well. This was the best idea for (and carry-through of) a party ever: a good showing of Asheville bike people, $1 pints of Pisgah Pale, and recess games all afternoon (wiffle ball, kickball, sack races, shit talking.) The rain held, we only talked bikes about 1/8th of the time with eachother (we do have multi-faceted personalities!), and nobody really bothered to keep was awesome. I love that crowd, there are some true all-star people here in Asheville.

Keeping up with this trend of revisiting juvenile diversions, this Sunday is the Lexington Area Arts and Fun Festival and Sharma Michael is holding an adult-sized big-wheel race...I think 2-5 pm for qualifiers, and 5-6 for the actual game-face competition. I trust it's going to be amazing. You should come. Shave you legs and wear spandex, too. Get serious.

Anyway, fun times and friendships. Long solo comtemplative rides through Pisgah. People not liking what I write, me being surprised they even bother to read (much less comment!) about it. Making new friends, losing old friends, wondering why I'm not in grad school yet, wondering why I even bother half the time. Getting rejected from jobs, but having people tell me, "with all honesty, Kylie, you were one of the best candidates, and we really enjoyed interviewing you, but..." and hearing pretty much the same thing from the boy at the end of this last relationship. Funny how a relationship can so strongly affect your self-identity. (Oh, that really how you think of me?) It's scarry, having to re-evaluate yourself, force yourself to buck up and keep being you, especially when you don't really know where you're going with yourself. I don't know what I think about any of this. I'm trying to find the balance in all of it.

I guess I'll just drink beer and be nice to people. And ride on.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

For Once and For All

My housemate Charlie was telling me about his recent experience at a bike shop in Boulder, CO... I suppose first I should introduce Charlie, at least in the context of his relationship with bicycles. He has one, which he uses to ride places sometimes, usually to bars or parties, but he likes waterfalls and books more than bikes...though I think he genuinely thinks bikes are neat, and I certainly did see his eyes light up as I went into detail about all I had just learned about wheelbuilding. In other words, I think Charlie has a very healthy, self-aware relationship with bicycles.

Anyway, he was telling me about going into a bike shop with a friend, to do something innocent, like pick up new brake cables or something, and, also in the shop was a father with his daughter, presumably an incoming freshman at CU-Boulder, looking to buy a bike as part of the girl's back-to-school shopping list. The father said, "What do you mean? The more gears the better, right?" And the girl, rolling her eyes in the way that only spoiled 18 year olds can do to their parents that are just so uncool, said, "No, dad! I want a bike with just the one gear! Just the one!"

Charlie told me this story because he thought it was odd, verging on hilarious, and I'm repeating it because I think it's fully on the side of hilarious. And also because, a couple Saturday nights ago, I was riding downtown, I blew a red light turning left, and someone, from their car yelled, "Fucking hipster!" I looked back, and realized it was my ol' buddy Ian. And I wondered, (and I still wonder, because I haven't seen him yet to ask), if he knew it was me and was yelling that to be ironic, or if he didn't know it was me, and was yelling that because he really hates hipsters. Or maybe, worst of all, he knew it was me, really thinks I'm a hipster and was yelling that to be mean. I was, afterall, riding a fixed gear with a chrome bag, cycling cap and pants that I'd cut to make into shorts (which, to my credit, happens every summer, anyway).

Oh, god. I disgust myself.

But then another day, another ride, I got passed by an older-ish man in a car, and he slowed down to yell out the window, "Fixed hub! You don't see too many of those these days!" And I thought, "oh, if you only knew, buddy...if you only knew." But I was charmed by what, I assumed, was a genuine and long-lived appreciation for the fixed gear bicycle.

And so I'm admitting, right here and now, that I absolutely love fixed gears, I love them for many reasons, many reasons that are my own, and one, because like the Chuck Klosterman article I wrote about in my last Blahg post--how the over-abundance of choice ultimately makes us depressed, so you might as well keep it simple, at least for commuting and running errands and going from here to there. Nothing gets fucked up on a fixed gear. Every once in awhile my chain gets a little stretched and I need a 15 mm to shove my wheel back a little further, and sometimes I add a little bit of air to my tires, but that's it. Plus, if you've ever gotten up to speed on a downhill, did a half-assed skid to slightly slow down and a half-assed look to the left so you could at least tell yourself you made an effort to make sure no cars were coming, and cornered faster than you thought you were going to, didn't clip a pedal, came out of it smooth and at almost as much speed as you went into it, and your legs are going so fast, and the winds blowing against your cycling-caped head bedecked with the biggest smile you've ever smiled, and you have no where to go that evening except for some place you decided you had to go to just to give yourself an excuse to ride into town, and that's love. And that's why I love my fixed gear.

And I worry for the younger generation. I worry that they like fixed gears because they're cool, but they couldn't even tell you why they're cool, they just remember reading it somewhere, or they saw someone else with it, and that made it cool. They've never truely felt it. They're not in love. They just want to like it, but they're not even sure why they're supposed to like it.

And then there's the problem that I call Dave Matthew's Band Syndrome, which is when you know something is really awesome, but you can never bring yourself to like it, because everyone else is obsessed with it, and that turns you off. I've got bike-rider friends who will never go anywhere near a fixed gear because of their association with hipsters. Singlespeeds galore, but not fixed. They don't want to be lumped in with those losers.

But if you love it, love it. If you hate it, hate it. But do it for you own sake, and your own sake alone. Don't do it because it's cool, and don't not do it because it's too cool.

Do it because you never want to stop pedaling. Then shut up about it.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Learning Process

The other day, by which I really mean, like two months ago, I was in line at West End Bakery, and their tip-jar had a note on it that said, "Trix are for kids, but Tips are for Struggling Young Adults." Or something to that effect. Which made me think of the line in my header to this blahg, "young adult ridden angst" and it makes me think of the conversations I've been having lately with my young adult ridden friends, and a I'm starting to realize we all need tips. Not the monetary sort (which never really hurts, but tends to go towards beer rather than anything lastingly valuable), but the philosophical sort of tip, the advice, the direction, the reconfirmation that shit, I suppose we are actually doing OK.

Which may sound rather emo (to use an young adult ridden phrase), and may sound like a problem of decently-educated suburban youth, which frankly it is...but its apparent and its prevalent and as a young adult ridden young adult, I have no idea what the hell to do, or what the hell to tell my friends. The problem, as I see it, is that throughout school (and college if you so choose) you have a very clear idea of what the next step is. Starting in March or so, you start making plans for the summer...trips, a job that will make you enough money to last another school year, and then sometime in August, you look at the class schedule to figure out when you need to be back. And then you laugh, and drink coffee, and goof off, and stress about tests, then get a C then get pissed then get over it, then its Friday, then its Monday, and so on in this sort of repetitive, reassuring pattern...until you graduate with a Bachelors degree in something you don't really know much more about than you did four years ago, and you can't find a job, and no one's offering you funding for Graduate school, and even Americorps is freaking out with applicants. And so you say to yourself (and your friends when they ask, and maybe your parents if you're open and honest with them) "I really have no idea what the hell I'm doing with my life."

Which makes me wonder if anyone really ever does. It makes me wonder if that reflective introspection is good and necessary and should never go away. Part of me thinks this directionless wandering and constant drive for something more meaningful is good...but that's not to say its not frustrating. Which, leaving out the double negative, means it's pretty darn frustrating.

And so, whenever this conversations pops up amongst me and my fellow recent college graduated peers, I think of my conversation with my last hairdresser, "What do you do?" She asked. "Oh, I don't really know..." Then further on down the conversation she said, "You pick tomatoes and ride bikes, that's what you do." And that is what I do, in the most simplified nutshell of my life, and that's a good enough definition to help feel a little more settled. So I've repeated that in many a intimate bar or front porch conversations, and now I'm thinking of a certain amazing country song, and I'm thinking, of course, of bike riding.

The other night (by which, here, I really do mean, like, two nights ago) I was taught how to build wheels...and I built up my first wheel ever (write that down in my baby book, mom)...a fixed Surly hub, laced to some DT Swiss 4.2's. I love learning the process, the specific steps, the two hands full and a spoke with a nipple ready held between your teeth, the "this is how you do it, why? Just 'cause that's how you do it."

Having absolutely no artistic mind whatsoever (though, admittedly, I do rock at bubble letters and collages) I of course have to transfer whatever aesthetic sense that is trapped up in my human nature and apply it to bicycles. I don't like overt artistic-ness, which seems to be all the rage in hip urban centers, but I'm a sucker for the subtle examples of beautiful perfections. The scripted "Campagnolo" all lined up on chain rings, the ferrals and zip ties that strategically match some understated color on the frame, I was taught to do while building wheels, if you look through the valve stem hole, you can see the logo on the hub. Why? Functional? Of course not. It's just how you do it.

Someone, somewhere, in the flowchart of people teaching other people to work on bikes, decided that's how it should be done, so you learn it that way, and you pass that on to the next person who asks you how its done. And its arbitrary and you know it, but you'll still always follow it, just 'cause. And there's a certain reassurance in that.

Chuck Klosterman, who is amazing and you should go read some of his stuff right now, has an article about Johnny Carson's death, which really is more about the idea that the overabundance of choice ultimately makes up depressed. At first, you feel could pick anyone of these options, oh the wealth! But once you make a decision, you realize you have fewer people to relate to, because they all made individual decisions, too, and you'll always be wondering what would have happened if you picked something else, did you make the right choice? Oh dear. This is similar to another book I've heard about, but haven't read, so I can't vouche for it the way I will so confidently for Chuck Klosterman, called "What is the What" And essentially, from what I've made up in my head about this book, it's about the Dinka people of Sudan who's creation story is that God offered them either cattle or the what. They asked God what the what is, and He, being the sneaky bastard He tends to be in so many religions, said, "Cattle or the what, your decision." They chose the cattle, and the rest of the world got the what. So while they're all meeking out their livings as herders, there's a whole bunch of spoiled-ass middle-class kids sitting around asking themselves what the hell this all means.

We have too many choices. We don't know what the what is. We're confused. We're lost, We're alone. We have no answers. I have an empty crossword puzzle tattooed on my fore-arm to help get this point accross. We know jackshit, and we shouldn't pretend we do.

But we also shouldn't be intimidated by that. I know the logo's supposed to be seen through the valve-stem hole, I'll work with that. I'm riding my 'cross bike to Brevard after work today, I'll work with that. What am I doing for a job in October? Uh.....

Let's go ride bikes this weekend.

Monday, July 27, 2009


I just got back from an awesome solo trip to Colorado and I really want to write about it, but I tend to suck at this sort of writing. I can't think of how any of my experiences are relevant or pertinent enough to anything the reader (i.e. you) might be experiencing, and I really don't want to talk AT you. I want to talk with you. But that's not what the internet is for. I've also learned that people don't really ever read anything anymore. So I suppose I should just let the pictures do the talking.

Unfortunately, I don't have a camera

So, courtesy of Google Image Search, here is a photo journal of my summer trip out west:

The spontaneity got its start with my first night in Golden, which involved free beer at Ace-Hi because it was ladies' night, the meeting of a semi-local who took me riding right from town the next morning, and the purchasing of the largest, cheapest avacado I've ever seen. It was magical, and I never even meant to stop there. Here's a picture of the bar, as well as, what appears to be a very succesful greyhound named "Ace-Hi Rumble."

Then I drove a leisurely two hours to Granby, the site of the 2009 Mountain Bike Nationals. It was a party.

Next I went to visit my ol' bff Sarah, who is working as a climbing guide in Estes Park. I love Sarah very much, and I got to hang out with her little climbing co-guides, whom I now also love very much. Here's a picture of us having fun at an earlier date:

And here's another picture from Estes Park, of one of Sarah's climbing buddies on, I think a 5.10:

Anyway, I went on one bike ride outside of Estes that included (I dare say) some of the best trails I've ever riden. Not like a destination ride that everyone talks about or anything conventional like that, but rather...completely unmarked trails that no one ever talks about. But there were pedal scrapes on rocks and log pyramids, so apparently someone was out there riding. Such fun tight, technical singletrack that would pop you out at some great little vista then twist you back into pine forest, then up through Aspens, back up to a different vista, and back into pines. It was magical. I will forever hold that day's ride in my heart. Shit, I'm about to cry.

Next I departed Estes to go see what the hell the deal with Fort Collins is. I still don't really know, but I did have a good time there. Stopped on my way to ride something called the Devil's Backbone, which was over-used like Bent Creek style for a little bit, but eventually devolved (or evolved?) into really awesome, flowy, can't-see-anyone trails. I was in a Colorado Meadow. It was awesome. Then I turned around, goy in my truck, and drove the rest of the way to Fort Collins, even though I think I could have just mountain biked there on that trail. Stupid logistics.

Here's a picture:

And, apparently, a few other people also think this is a great trail, and you can buy a commenterative mug...if you'd like:

Well, like I was saying...Fort Collins is cool enough. You can ride from town, it's a college town so you have a good chance of meeting cuties (or "fresh young tenders" as one Asheville lady once put it), and you can stumble into New Belgium Brewery at any hour of the day (just because you have an hour to kill before leaving for Denver) and they'll give you four free samples of your choice of any of their beers, just for being you. I had a Tripple, another Belgium style thing, Adam's Ale (sort of pale, absolutely delicious), and a Dandelion ale. All I had to do for them in return was tell them what I would name my band, if I were in a band. I called it, "My Dog Dave" and drank four delicious beers. I thought this was the coolest thing ever, but then I realized I must not be the only one, since, according to Google Image Search, several other people have had (and thoroughly enjoyed) the exact same experience. But maybe with a different band name. Oh well. New Belgium is the People's Brewery.

While beering, I talked to some homeboy who recognized my Endless T-Shirt and told me about the "biking scene" in Fort Collins, I sent a post-card to Megs, because said homeboy talked to me about bike polo, went for a long walk to make sure those four half-pints wouldn't affect my driving capabilities, and got in the ol' truck to go see Little e in Denver.

Eric, or Little e, or Dr. Cutlip and I were going to go on a 4-5 hour ride, but my goal of riding so much that I wouldn't feel like riding at all when it came time to sit in a car for 24 hours came a little bit too early. I didn't have it in me at all. All heart, no legs. We rode for a little over 2 hours on some awesome trail outside of Evergreen, CO, saw a brown bear, switched out I got to ride a fixed Viscous 29er, and he got to ride a 26" geared Independent with a 3.5 inches of squish up front. I think the change was much harder for him. I'm going to address this issue in more depth in a later post...but for now, let me tell you what a fucking amazing rider Little e is. Little e is a fucking amazing rider. He never really bothers to take the smooth line, he just takes the straightest line, and even rigid and fixed, he makes it look smoother than riding a boardwalk on a cruiser. God is jealous of Little e, and so beyond himself that he was able to create something like that.

So I pussed out of a big ride, but we got to eat some Middle Eastern food, which is my favorite genre of food, and I had been (seemingly) living off fig newtons and beer, so this meal was all the more incredible. Then Lil' e took me on a ride through greater Denver...a 2+ hour, late night tour of the town on our fixed gears. It was awesome. I guess I hadn't been in a real city for awhile, 'cause I was dumbfounded and slack-jawed by all those skyscrapers. So cool! And just as magical as that ride outside of Estes. Just a different sort of magical.

With that, I got up early-ish the next morning, and retraced my westward drive eastward. Met up with Slowhio Robb at some McDonald's in southern Illinois for breakfast, as he was heading westward to go do the Colorado Trail Race (which begins Aug. 2, so keep him in your thoughts.) I made him sit at the Lego table with me, I think he was disgusted.

Then I got home, got out my townie, rode around Asheville, got a text from Alex that said, "West to East...what dreams came back with you?"

I told him, no new dreams, just the realization that I'm on my way to manifesting old (and current) ones.