Wednesday, September 30, 2015


Rep Schmick's agenda and tactics to close a major portion of the JWPT have been pretty well exposed over the last few days.  Personally, I cannot interpret his actions as anything other than corrupt, and I cannot stand by and just watch.

I have been clumsily getting my feet wet.  At first, I felt like I was spinning my wheels. Then, recently, I feel like I have been gaining some traction.  But it could also go backwards.

There is a public plan taking shape, though.  It will be a battle, and an uphill one, at that.  But I am so encouraged by the roster of highly capable and influential people that are getting involved.

I wouldn't be throwing down, if I didn't think we could win this.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015



I don't know, I just read a couple of articles, but if this is what it appears to be, it is incredibly appalling.  Holy living hell.

No way I can stand by and just watch.  I am stupid dumb when it comes to knowing if and how I can influence something like this in any way, as a common citizen.  Guess I'm about to find out.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Busting Out

Of the rut.

It  went kinda like this . . .

Mr Speare and I had talked earlier in the week and recognized that we each had some free-time opportunity over the weekend.  We'd kicked around the idea of an S24O, possibly, but nothing had really gelled.  Then I got this text on Thursday:

"Crazy talk?  CDA visit and overnighter sat?"

Apparently it wasn't all that crazy, because we ramped up and hit it.  The Coeur d'Alene National Forest, that is.  Or CDA, for short.

This would not be a proper S240, but a drive and ride.  Thing is though, the drive is relatively short, given the reward.  Door-to-campsite takes about 2 hours, and we're working on whittling that down.  Once you're there though, holy hell.  You're in the middle of this awesome, vast, public domain forest, with shit-tons of roads of all kinds and qualities, that climb in and around through the never-ending and amazing peaks and valleys.  Nothing is flat and therefore nothing is vanilla - it's pain or pleasure.  Pain up and pleasure down.  Generally speaking.

Here's the GPS-furnished elevation profile of our ride.

Not super long, then. But a steady climb and an eventful descent. An eventful ride, actually, which was kinda-sorta the reason for coming, but then again, the trip was so much bigger than the ride; a coupla dudes got outta town, and unplugged, and recharged, in just a little over 24 hours.

Mr Speare beginning the descent, just after the summit.

It's super dry out there right now, and dust was one of the major themes of this short visit.

I chose to bring my Bucksaw.  There are pros and cons to that decision for sure, but I have no regrets.  Maybe it was not the optimal bike for the climb, but the descent was super rocky and rutty and this bike just killed it.  I had so. much. fun.

John skinned the cat in a whole 'nother way and had equally as much fun.

After north of two brutal hours in the saddle, which no man should have to endure, we were in need of some comfort and therapy.  And whaddya know,  a short path from our campsite led us straight here:

I had brought along a 32 oz can of  Sound Brewery's Monk's Indiscretion (rad name, btw), a 10% beer, btw.

While I was absorbing high concentrations of alcohol into my dehydrated system, Mr Speare set out to slay our dinner.  But alas, the river was seriously low, and fish were not to be found, so were were forced to revert to city-brought vittles.  Possibly that was a good thing.

A coupla glasses of the 10% ale started to set in and coincidentally, my goals for the evening began to take shape:

  1. Photograph myself skipping a rock; 'skipper' in one hand, camera in the other.
  2. Photograph one of those jittery bugs that walks on water.

With the point-and-shoot camera I brought.  To make it a legitimate challenge.  And without getting it wet and destroying it.

Best I could do then . . .

This next pic kinda captures the heart of the whole CDA deal . . . there are superb places to hang out right next to the rad aqueous artery that runs through the middle of it at around 2800', and then it is surrounded by killer forested mountains that get up into the 6000'+ range.  It is an amazing playground, and it is free of charge.  This last part sort of blows my mind.

The competition for time and energy in John's and my lives is not insignificant.  But the experience in the CDA has proven to be super rich, every time we've gone there.  I would be very surprised if we do not conspire some way of getting back out there in 2016, which in my mind, would necessarily include trying to drag along any of our friends who are willing to listen to our CDA crazy talk.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Without Apology

I suppose I should apologize for my absence.  But I'm just not feeling it.

What I would like to say is that it's great to be hanging out with you here again on this most humble of virtual venues.

I built a bike jump in my backyard starting last night and finishing up tonight, which is, I guess, the impetus of this post, if not the true subject.

The backstory is that the pump track that I put together about 3 years ago, with the help of friends, is scheduled to soon go away forever, with no trace left.  It has become time for me to "grow up".

Many would say that this sentiment is long overdue, and that a man my age was wildly immature for building it in the first place.

I would like to counter that notion with a little story from my way-past . . .

When I was 12, I "ordered up" a Tonka mobile crane for Christmas.  I was way past the age when a boy should be playing with Tonkas of any kind, but "Santa" indulged me.  The thing is though, this crane was an advanced piece of machinery, and there is no way in hell that any 8, 10 or even 11-year-old would even have a clue as to how to maximize its potential.  A certain amount of maturity was requisite, and I had it, and I knew it.  No apologies.  Did I play with it for the next 3 years?  Hell no.  But for the next 6 months, I was industrious as hell at the helm of that fine piece of equipment.  Not a lot of friends came around during that period, but whatever.

So, can anyone build a pump track?  Why yes, of course.  But can anyone do it well??  I think possibly not.  It might just take someone with a certain amount of life and technical experience, as well as a furious pent up need to commune with a weird bunch of freaks who have a latent desire to ride in circles without pedaling.  And an even stronger need to do it well, in order to please the freaks.

Could I have pulled this off as a younger man?  Probably not, I submit.  So my maturity empowered my immaturity.  Chew on that, if you will.  And in the meantime, let me once again refuse to apologize.  I have no regrets about "doing" the pump track.

So let us elegantly segue . . .

Work has been totally bugging me.  As in the need to show up by 8 and stay until 5.  Say politically correct stuff.  That type of thing.  It occurred to me just yesterday that the prescription was to build a jump on the pump track site.  Not sure why I didn't think of this sooner.  It turned into a 2 evening project.

Brandy was on board the whole way.  Unlike the rest of you bastards, she never questions me.

Once the jump was fairly roughed in, I employed the massive footprint of the Blackborow to ride it into shape.

Eventually, the mighty Bucksaw came out to play.  Brandy is the poster child for the axiom that negative attention is better than no attention at all, and as a result, I spent the entire jump session dodging her presence in either the approach or landing zone.  Despite the hindrance, I freakin' skied!  Wish I had pics, but alas, no other party was around to run the iphone cam.  You will have to trust me on this.

While I do recognize that this last-ditch effort to exercise my dirt-moving freedom is largely symbolic (as in flipping the bird to the maturity establishment), I am also quite intrigued by the scientific aspects of the endeavor.  I'm not a bike nerd in any respectable sense of the term and I actually get quite bored by a lot of bike nerdy topics, but the whole deal about the shape of the ramp and the launch trajectory is currently fascinating to me and is probably something I will be playing with over the course of the next few days.  So clearly, I am not a nerd, to reiterate.

The way that the jump works is that you have to go out into the street to get a start, and then haul ass down the driveway, swerving around the dog, and hope you get enough speed to launch.  My neighbors will be observing an overweight, middle-aged dude doing this over and over again, in the high-90's heat of the coming weekend, if everything goes as planned.

Super weird, then.

But the feeling that I need to apologize still eludes me.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Trippin' 5

On Day 4 of our vacay, the whole deal about dragging our bikes along finally started to make me look like the genius I clearly am, as opposed to the idiot I am perceived as.  We destined to Ocean Shores, where it was raining, which rarely happens at the edge of the ocean, but sometimes it just does.

We arrived in the afternoon, so there wasn't time to do a proper beach ride, but there sure as hell was a bit of time to get out and play.  I rung up Ward, who has a place down the beach a ways from where we were staying, and he rode up to meet us.  He's no fun to hang out with, as you can clearly see.

Meanwhile, Patty was getting her first taste of beach riding on her new fatbike.  She clearly hates it.

It was our good fortune to be able to kidnap Jacque out of the big city and drag her down to the beach with us.  She got her first taste of fatbiking and beach riding, all at once.  It was intense.  Clearly.

Ward is clearly the man.

It is clear to me that my massively powerful legs are too much for my drivetrain.  What to do about it is not exactly as clear.

Patty is clearly embracing the fatbike lifestyle.

If one thing is clear, it's that beach riding is all kinds of awesome.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

The Privilege Of Power

I had just gotten home from work around 7:00 this Thursday past.  I had my overhead garage door open, as I was shuttling some important nerdy hardware from my truck to my garage/shop.  Somewhere amidst this process, I heard this mildly startling, quite unnatural noise.  It was a loud, "cracking-popping" style noise, that gave me pause.  I looked around, but couldn't figure out what it was, so I logically continued with the nerdware shuttling.  When I was done, I hit the electric garage door button.  Nothing.  I hit it again.  And then one more time.  Still nothing.

Look, I might be a little slow on the uptake, but when I finally get it right, I get it right.  And I  had finally come to the conclusion that our power was out.  Smart guy that I am.

First things first, then:  Let's get a handle on whether this is a "me" issue or an "us" issue.  I'd rather it not be a me-issue, because that means something is really messed up with my old house electrical system.  Again.  I wasn't willing to face that reality unless forced to.

Cautiously looking around at my neighbors' houses during broad daylight, clues were scarce.  Not quite ready yet to play the fool by wandering next door and spitting out the age-old line, "Hey, do you have electricity?", I continued to peer through the cracks in my now drawn shades, for signs of activity in the street.

Slowly, surely, it became clear to me that I was not the only one affected.  Like I said, I may not have the quickest mind, but when there are throngs of neighbors progressing in front of my house in an east-to-west direction, on what should otherwise be a casual Thursday evening, leave it to my amazing deductive powers to conclude that maybe something is up.

So I joined the one-block procession.  Anonymously, of course.  And here is what I saw, at our destination:

Yeah, I know!  Holy living hell, right?

That vertical 12-15 foot high object with the scruffy top just to the left of the mustard house is the stump of the tree that snapped off and fell with precise perpendicularity across the arterial that is Bernard, thereby positioning itself in a very balanced and geometric fashion high in the air, by smartly utilizing the support of the utility wires running down the east side of Bernard, as well as those running down the west side of Bernard.  And of course shorting out all electrical functionality of said lines, in the process.

You can not dream something like this up.  It was amazing to behold.  And at the same time, the burning question in my mind is how this going to get fixed.  And how long will it take.  Panic had just now begun to set in.  I FREAKING NEED MY ELECTRICITY!!!

Desperation had suddenly become my new middle name, because I just couldn't envision that the operation of removing this bigass tree from the sky, on a windy night, made any sense at all, from the perspective of the actual needs of residents, vs the safety of the folks who would have to go up there in the dark, and the wind, and get this thing off the lines, and restore power.  I was absolutely certain that I would be taking a lukewarm shower in the morning, and that I would be unable to check my email until I got to work the next morning [GASP!]

But I would be wrong.

It took a while to get the right people and equipment staged up, but when that happened, shit totally went down.  I stayed up way past my bedtime, because I could not help myself.  It was just so fascinating to watch the process that occurred in the dead of night.  All of the following is going on between about 11:30pm and 12:30am.

The crew was unbelievably skilled and organized.  There was no shouting or frenzy of any kind.  It was a totally chill, yet appropriately urgent, orchestration of human and big-rig activity.  I don't know who was calling the shots, but that person was smart, and experienced, and everyone calmly followed the orders that had been communicated for executing a well-planned operation to perform a task that would scare the pants off of you and me.

According to the Avista website, about 750 residential customers were affected.  Power was restored at around 3:00am.  Word.

Avista gets a lot of public criticism over rate hikes and expense and all of that, but damnit, they are super-committed to keeping us all continuously fed with gas and electricity, which is something we cannot help but take for granted because they do it so well.

I'm gonna try to take is a little less for granted.