26 August 2009

Better than Xmas: El Nino!

If my previous post, featuring lots of fun old skiing videos, didn't make you want to ski (and in Dave's case, buy a season pass) ASAP, this lengthy-but-fascinating discussion of the El Nino sea-surface-temperature slash weather-making-phenomenon and its potential impact on the 2009-2010 winter in northern Arizona should for sure!

This kind of thing makes me almost giddy:

"Since the Climate Prediction Center is forecasting at least a moderate El Nino, we have fair confidence we will see above normal precipitation this winter [in northern Arizona]. What does that mean in terms of snowfall for the higher terrain of northern Arizona? Most El Nino events produce near- or above-normal seasonal snowfall totals. Strong El Nino events produced consistently, and in some cases considerably higher snowfall totals."

You can watch NOAA's Powerpoint presentation on their El Nino forecast here.


24 August 2009

For my brother Dave so he will buy his pass

For the past several months, whenever I see him or play a round of Call of Duty 4 with him online and we get to talk a little (wearing our geeky little Bluetooth headsets, duh), my brother Dave has been hinting at the fact that he may not buy a season pass at the Snowbowl this winter. He and I have both been season pass-holders at Snowbowl for the last decade or so, during both ridiculously good and remarkably bad years, skiing faithfully, whenever we had the chance, regardless of the conditions. But, he's now a busy, successful up-and-coming exec at an important local non-profit, as well as a father and husband, and a graduate student at ASU, too. And he's feeling like he might be a little too busy this winter to find the time to get up the mountain to ski. I can understand that.

But, for some strange reason, perhaps because it's cooler out tonight than it's been in awhile, and because September (pass-buying-month) is just around the corner, the realization that I might not be skiing with him as regularly this season as we have in years past, just kinda hit me. And so, as a kind of coping strategy, I decided this evening to go through a few years of old video and salvage a few memories, and then upload them to the YouTube. We skied together plenty even before the advent of tiny, cheap video cameras, but for the last six years or so we've been able to cobble together the presence of mind now and then to remember to bust out the old Aiptek and shoot a little footage of one another.

I've put these here tonight for one simple reason: in hopes it will convince Dave to buy his pass. Lookit all the fun we've had...







2003-2008 montage

22 August 2009

Trailnation dot com

UPDATE: Trailnation.com is defunct and so are all the links below. Alas...

So, my first editorial (that's what they're calling it anyway) for Trailnation.com is online as of today. Don't care how many times it's happened before, it's always fun to see your own byline next to something you wrote, ya know.

Trailnation looks to be a pretty slick place, though rather targeted at the quad-crowd for the time-being. Might see if we can change that some... one of these days... Regardless, I'm sincerely grateful to old-friend Jeff Henson for giving me this opportunity. Hoping he asks me for more...

Fwiw, I really enjoyed writing it.

09 August 2009

This is the way the summer ends: The Teddy Bear Picnic

My friend Jim offered to make us a deal on his old Hitchhiker trail-a-bike-like-bike more than a year ago. And at the time we were excited about the prospect of using such a clever contraption to assist us in riding further and longer into the woods than we've been able to go as hikers and Euro-style kick-bikers.

In the end, however, we waited a long while to finally seal the deal with Jim (for a 6 pack of New Belgium) because we wanted to have our daughter riding more-or-less independently on her own pedal bike first, so that she would understand balance and handling a little better and thereby minimize her risk of getting bounced off and stuff like that. Well, she's been riding quite capably on her own for some time now. And, when I called Jim last Saturday to inquire about the bike, he said he still had it and that we were still welcome to come and take it.

After a few years of neglect (Jim's daughter is 9) the rig needed a little sprucing. But once regreased and polished up a little we spent the week working incrementally up to today's adventure: our first real shred in the woods!

Earlier this week we rode around the block one day, then up the Thorpe Park FUTS to the top of Mars Hill on another day, and yesterday, we made a figure-8 loop of the trails in Buffalo Park. But today, I'm proud to say we rode some real trail: From the improvised trailhead at Park and Paradise we rode up Jumps to the Back of the Buffalo, then up the first part of Lower Oldham, East across the Pipeline, and back down to the heretofore unnamed drainage above Jumps just below the Big Rocks, which my daughter has officially named The Teddy Bear Picnic.

And that's a fine name for a trail, indeed.

02 August 2009

New gig

One of the reasons I started this blog was to provide myself, rather selfishly, with a place to write. Since Bike Magazine closed its Local Knowledge section, to which I used to contribute a monthly column covering the Southwestern U.S., I really haven't had any substantial, paying, professional writing gigs, and thus I haven't had any real impetus to keep writing. Sure, like all (people who occasionally fancy themselves) writers, I have a few personal pet-projects that I tell myself I'm working on. But in my world, without the promise of pay, and/or the threat of impending deadlines, these kinds of things tend to just languish. Add to that a wife and a kid, obligations to my 'real' jobs, and the demands of life in general, and suddenly one day you just kinda realize: It's been ages since I sat down to write anything. Ergo, this blog: A place to write and a promise-to-self to make it both meaningful and regular, despite a lack of metrics ensuring a real audience; one always hopes that someone's reading and watching what I put here. Anyway, I like to think there is.

But, like all well-intended projects of this nature, sometimes life gets in the way. To a degree, I guess that's been the case for the past several weeks, beginning with my busted ribs and concluding this past week with an inconvenient summertime kiddie-cold that I acquired from my daughter.

But, I've also been remiss in putting stuff here lately because I've been working during my spare time developing a few new pieces of writing for a spot I've been given, rather unexpectedly, at a new website: Trailnation.com. I hadn't really been trying to get any writing work lately (I did submit an unsolicited manuscript to Mountain Gazette recently which got rejected), but I was stoked when one of the editors of Trailnation.com, an old friend, contacted me and asked me to be a contributor to the new site; apparently he'd stumbled onto this blog via a link to it on my Facebook page and I guess he liked the tone of a few of the older posts. Whadya know.

I've got a deadline in just about a week for my first piece and I've been told the nascent Trailnation.com website will 'drop' around the 18th of August, and also that a Trailnation TV show will debut on the Fox Sports Network throughout the Midwest region on the 22nd of August. I have no idea what sort of format the site (or the show, for that matter) will have, or even a full grasp of what the content will be like, only that they are striving to create a place where all kinds of trail users, bicyclists, motos, hikers, and equestrians will come together to share and discuss their passion for trails and the outdoors. I've been assigned the task of writing about riding bikes on trails. Sounds good to me! We'll see how it goes.

Hope you stay tuned.
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. -- Ed Abbey