30 December 2016


I keep relocating farther from my job. First I walked to work, then I rode a mile and a half each way, then it became three. But I still commuted by bike, all year, regardless of conditions. I only drove if it was raining or if I had to run errands or as a special treat to myself.

Winter commuting sucked. It usually made me really sweaty and really grumpy, with numb toes and a protesting drivetrain. I postholed through thigh-deep snow on the "short cut," splattered my bike and posterior with a choice blend of salt, grit, and mud, ate shit on ice, and wore holes in the crotches of all my jeans.

And yet.

I kept my riding skills extant, if not honed, all winter. I was fit enough to crash fat bike group rides and races. I didn't have to scrape my stupid windshield every day or drive nervously on treacherous roads.

But now I live six miles away, which is just long enough to bail on riding. Especially when I stay at the office until dark, and it's really cold, and I have to go to the grocery store, and the ice is too bad, and twelve miles a days will ruin my jeans even faster, and you can let excuses pile up until you haven't ridden in a month. So I rode the other day, in eight degree temps, with a sinus infection, and it absolutely sucked.

And that's why I experience irrational resentment towards people who drive two blocks to work. You don't deserve to live so close if you're not going to take advantage of it! Go live in the countryside and I will take my rightful place as a townsperson. You love the rat race! 

If you are a person who drives two blocks to work, consider yourself chastised. This applies to all.

08 December 2016

In Praise of LDS Friends

I was recently moping that my fella doesn’t like the same kind of adventures that I do. A lot of couples function as each other’s primary backcountry partner, to varying degrees. The most extreme version of the outdoor couple speaks only in plural pronouns and is always posting summit selfies, arm in arm.

With more reflection I realized that I’ve never dated an adventure partner. My college boyfriend was the one I rode bikes with the most, but he was really into “training” and I openly mocked him for it. Before I moved west I dated a guy who was pretty good for a long trail ride, but he was so cold to me and so disaffected that the fun part, the bullshitting in parking lots and at intersections, was missing.

I could never date a boy that doesn’t do things, but I also don’t need a significant other for a backcountry experience. I’m kind of a hack but I’m self-sufficient enough to fix a flat, solve a problem, navigate, and keep myself warm and fed, without leaning on a person that is committed to supporting me because of some sort of relationship contract.

Tyler rides and he taught me how to ski and tour, but we have different priorities when we go outside and the breach seems to be widening. Thus the necessity of the “let’s do something” friend, or LDS friend, with apologies to Joseph Smith.

My father was my first LDS friend; he taught me how to ride, I taught him how to run, he taught me the importance of bringing a beer for after a run, and almost every Saturday at work, we’d have the conversation: “Do something this afternoon?” “Sure.”

I think that’s what makes a great LDS friend: say yes first, plan later. Spread a map out on the table and trace a potential route. Know that trying and failing is better than not getting out at all.

I had a lot of mountain bike adventure buddies, maybe because Pisgah breeds people who want to go lasso as much territory as possible into a brutal loop, and then drink novelty-sized Dos Equis afterwards. But running is more intimate and there’s less gratification, if you live for adrenaline.

I was overjoyed to find another LDS friend in Tahoe. Rebecca Duffy and I rode the whole South Lake trail system, her on an old beater Gary Fisher, not as confident on descents but just so down. We chased ideas across Desolation Wilderness. “We should create a Fallen Leaf Rim Trail, we should connect these peaks, OK I’ll steal some chips from the kitchen if you get a wilderness permit.”

The cliché is the boyfriend ditching his chick to get after it with his bros, but what if there’s a minor gender shift? I have a new LDS friend now but going off in the woods alone with a dude can be an awkward platonic proposition. Tyler totally gets it—he knows that since he’s unwilling to do the nonsense I want to do, he can’t be possessive and he can’t stop me from playing outside or I get all sad and bitchy and hard to be around.
Fortunately my roommate is also someone who is always down, even at dawn.
Pic courtesy of Cy
Yeah, I wish I had a great LDS lady right now, but I haven’t found one yet, someone who has a wide-open schedule and goes the same speed as I do and doesn’t already have a boyfriend who fulfills all her outdoor needs.

Maybe I’m just not the kind of person who gets that from a relationship. It makes me sad, but maybe it also sets me free.

02 December 2016

OMG Opening Day

We all sit restlessly, thumbs up asses, waiting for ski season to start in earnest, building dumb little snow features off the backyard deck and proving to ourselves how deeply uncool we are. I feed the rat with long slogging wet-footed runs and we indulge in smelly hot springs and big gatherings and too much beer.

We are creatures that play outside but we forget that our moods are so reliant on the seasons, wondering where this listless apathy is coming from. We live in an oblivious sad fog until, hello, suddenly It Is Winter and Targhee, after a two week delay, gets a massive storm and starts spinning lifts and it’s dumping all day and we are all the happiest sons of guns you’ve ever met.

Opening day is usually a party scene but we’re all skiing so hard that we don’t have time or patience for beers. We are reveling in sobriety, lap after lap, hunting down those moments of flotation, snow blasting our faces, each of us starring in our own ski film with songs playing in our heads as we slow-mo through knee deep powder and yes it is early season and our bases are cheese-grated by lurking rocks but we don’t care, it’s so worth it.

No one waits for each other but it doesn’t matter because there are enough of us that you always find yourself in the (nonexistent) lift line with a friend and everyone is covered in snow and beaming.

My legs usually cry early season but the slogging runs have worked wonders and I can power through the day and ski so much stronger than I’m used to this time of year. A lot of people have quit by lunchtime to retire their noodle legs but the snow is still accumulating so on we charge.

In front of the fire at home we are all buzzing and glowing and drowsy, tempers realigned, souls rejuvenated, purpose rediscovered. Oh yes, we remember, we live here for this. We voluntarily give up stability and creature comforts and wealth for this and my god it’s so worth it.

Only took one lame picture all day because...powder