31 March 2014


Wie Wasser von Klippe Zu Klippe geworfen 
Jahrlang in's Ungewisse hinab.
Though I always envied them and their well-coordinated ways, I was never a sports-kid growing up. I never played Little League or Pop Warner, and the truth is I really didn't want to.  I knew from the school playground that I lacked the innate abilities my friends possessed to catch and run and tackle and all else that was required to play ball-sports with finesse.  

But I've always loved to sing.  And it's my good fortune that many of my teachers recognized my passion for singing from an early age.  Despite the fact that my voice is neither golden nor unique, in lieu of membership on seasonal sports teams I have always felt at home as a member of a choir or an ensemble of singers.  I've been able to find interesting groups with which to sing pretty consistently throughout my life. 

Until quite recently I sang for several years with a small ensemble at our church.  It was also my great pleasure to sing for many years with the Master Chorale of Flagstaff.
Like water from thrown down from cliff to cliff forever,
Destined to disappear below.

We had the chance to learn and perform a number of great choral master-works during my time with the Chorale including Poulenc's Gloria, Bernstein's Chichester Psalms, Beethoven's Symphony No. 9, and Brahms' Schicksalslied (to which I am listening as I write).  

The Schicksalslied (Song of Destiny) is an especially awesome, evocative piece of music, and it springs to my mind often when I am out riding, especially whenever I am in the vicinity of streams of flowing water, as I was this past Sunday morning. 

I don't speak German, but I love the line Wie Wasser von Klippe Zu Klippe geworfen, Jaharlang in's Ungewisse hinab which I think literally means: like water thrown down from cliff to cliff forever, destined to disappear below

The Schicksalslied is an amazingly powerful and enchanting work to sing and the memory of rehearsing and performing it is seared into my mind. It will forever remain one of the high-points of my choral lifetime as well as an essential earworm while riding.

21 March 2014

Her mother's nose and chin

She has her mother's nose and chin and beaming, bright smile.  But I am pleased to say she seems to share my affinity for bikes and trails and the woods.

As I write this on a Friday afternoon before dinner time, I am pleased to report that I am some 16 hours into my week of riding, which is pretty amazing.  If all goes well for me between now and Monday morning, I should close-out Spring Break 2014 with something close to 20 hours of saddle time.   My hairy, old, off-the-couch arse will attest.

I've enjoyed a lot of nice mornings out in the woods the last several days amidst the quiet of the early spring season with almost no one else around.  But no ride has been as good, nor more memorable, nor more truly life-affirming than the ride I took for an hour with my daughter this afternoon up Schultz Creek on her brand-new, big-girl, 24-inch, 21-speed, bright-orange Specialized Hotrock mountain bike (the latest in a long series) which she shredded with such great skill and good attitude as to make me nearly burst with gratitude and pride.

08 February 2014

five hundred and twenty hours

I simply could not muster any stoke, despite 19" of new being reported for the week at Snowbowl, to go stand in long lines just to ski the same six groomers over and over this morning.  I don't know if I've grown spoiled, or if I'm becoming more misanthropic as I age, but the thought of massive bluebird-day Phoenix crowds and meager off-piste conditions, caused me to turn my back on my plan to ski the area today.

So I went fatbike riding by myself in the woods instead.  No lines.  No piste. Only perhaps three inches of warm wet snow with a bit of mud here and there.  Fine conditions for the fatbike.

I was in San Diego at a conference much of last week, so today was my first bike ride in February.

This means I am off to a very poor start for the month working toward my New Years Resolution goal, which is to ride my bikes for at least 520 hours (or an average of about 10 hours a week) this year.  Last month I did almost 26 hours of riding, including both my occasional commutes to work and regular weekend forays into the too-dry for January woods.  

But to keep on par, I really need to get to something closer to 42 or 43 hours on the bike per month.  That's gonna be next to impossible for February, I think.  And, honestly, as complicated as my life is these days, it is going to be a tough goal every month going forward throughout 2014. I am going to have to work darn hard during the spring and summer to make up for the deficits that I will surely continue incur during the remainder of the winter months.

Will I make it to 520 hours by 31 December 2014?  Only time will tell.  I know it's not likely.  But I'm sure-as-heck going to have fun trying!

14 December 2013

Flicker Down

Flicker down
There was a dead northern flicker lying in the middle of the trail I was riding this morning.

I don't know what killed it, but probably it hadn't been dead long before I came upon it; it's body was still limp and unfrozen as I moved it off the track, despite the day being quite cold and the snow firm and unthawed.

Finding dead things in the woods is always a bit unsettling.

Flickers are beautiful birds and one of the more common species of woodpecker in our woods.  Before today, I'd never had the chance to really examine one up close.  So, before I rode off, I hunkered down and took a good long look at its piebald plumage and strikingly orange cheek and tail-feathers.

24 November 2013

These woods

I love these woods.

Since the very first time I ventured out into them, on a spur-of-the-moment solo ride which took me from my studio apartment behind the bus station down the service road that runs along the railroad tracks, up the old dirt road past Tunnel Springs, across A1 Mesa, and back down road L10 through the Lowell Observatory's land, I've loved these woods.

I love the breadth of these woods, the depth of them, too.

I love the sight of these woods, the vistas, tall stands of old growth, and dense thickets.

I love the terrain and the geology and the history of these woods.

Most of all, I love the seasons of these woods. I love being out in them when it feels like you're there the very moment that the seasons have changed in these woods.

This weekend these woods turned from fall-woods to winter-woods.

My fat-bike took me there.  It was wonderful.

Did you know: Fat bikes sound super cool in the snow!  Press play and listen.   Mmmm. Yeah...

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