Sunday, November 29, 2015

(Almost) a Decade of Stupidity

I just confirmed it: this year will be the tenth annual Bike, Bonfire, and Beer Exchange (I know this because I used all my fingers to count it out).

It started in '06 as a badly needed alternative to the put-on-a-tacky-sweater-drink-red-wine-and-exchange-cookies-while-listening-to-bad-Chrismas-music neighborhood holiday party. Our ingenious alternative is the exact opposite and follows a stunningly simple recipe: bikes, a bonfire, and beer.

Each year has brought surprises, like in 2007 when SF partied in shorts and flip flops, 2008 when DC drove DN's lawn tractor into the firepit, 2009's blowup doll and 14" snowfall, 2011's drinking beer from a used porcelain toilet, the ice storm of 2013, and "The Finger of God" which was visited upon us in 2014. I can't wait to see what 2015 will bring.

This year's event will be somewhere in or around the Lyndenwood Community. We'll have a ridiculous fire pit, a shitload of firewood, access via bike to the Marsh Creek trails, and an ample buffer zone between us and the nearest neighbor. We'll work on deets like menu (expect a repeat of last year's reindeer chili) and exact time, but right now we need to get the date nailed so you can advise the wife, husband, children that you will be busy that night and that they should not expect much from you the next morning either...

Click the link in my email (or in the Facebook group) to indicate which days work for you (Yes means good, (Yes) means could work in a pinch, and No means it doesn't work). Weekends and weekdays are in play.

I took half an hour to craft this email, you can complete the survey in only 30 seconds which is a small price to make your voice heard for one of the stupidest greatest biking events of the year.


P.S. Click this link if you want to bone up on 9 years of history of this iconic event.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Like Church

Click me for panorama from the Red platform at Ray's
2015. The best Thanksgiving ever. Not because it was unorthodox (it was) but because the Cleveland Clinic worked a cardiac miracle on my Mom. I can't say enough about my Mom's courage and strength (and sense of humor) and about the amazing people at the Cleveland Clinic. I have so much to be thankful for and I know it.

Now for the bike part... Thanksgiving week was spent driving to and from Cleveland, hanging out in family lounges at the Clinic, visiting with Mom, and sampling some of the local eats (I give Szechuan Gourmet five stars). But I did manage a break Friday afternoon to burn off some nervous energy with a visit Ray's Mountain Bike Park. $26 for admission and a hard tail SS rental. It was a rainy day during school break so yes it was busy but I still managed to work up a pretty good sweat riding some tight and twisty "single track."  The terrain is masterfully engineered. I usually try to keep my wheels on or near the ground when I ride in the woods, but these rollers were designed to put you in the air and bring you back to ground under control. And the gradual increase in difficulty from yellow to green to red to blue made it easy to predictably dial up the difficulty. But I only had a couple hours to ride, I can only imagine what a couple of weeks of riding there would do for my technical skills.

So if you find yourself in the neighborhood (Pittsburgh even), I highly recommend a visit to Ray's. And if you ever need to put your life in someone else's hands, I highly recommend that Clinic in Cleveland. And if you need to see an example of quiet strength and grace... well... Mom.


"Cycling is like church-many attend but few understand."
     -- Jim Burlant