I've definitely slacked off with the blog the last few weeks. I'll just blame it on the hectic holidays (like everyone else). The good news is I haven't lost all sanity and shot anyone, burned down any houses or carpet bombed towns filled with small children. Ah, I love the way the holidays bring all of humanity a little closer. Brings a tear to my eyes, just wish it was one of joy.
Bringing it down a notch and a little closer to home, the holidays have been pretty good to me. I kicked off the season with the Hoppy Holidaze ride into Baltimore with a gaggle of Outlaws and one Victor. I met the group at the 195 Park N Ride. I parked and we rode into the city for some beer, grub and kick ass music from the All Mighty Senators. First stop was at Max's on Broadway to get properly lubricated before the show. I must say, Max's has one fine beer selection. More beer on tap than any place I've ever seen and a mind numbing amount in bottles. I stuck with several different offerings from Stone Brewing Co., but, one word of caution, the smoked porter is VERY smokey. Like this thing sat over a campfire for a week smokey. From Max's it was off to the 8x10 to hear some music. Sitali was the opening band and they were pretty good. Similar to Fishbone, this trio had a big, fast sound infused with lots of humor. AMS came next and I knew I was in for a treat when a fluffy pink drum kit was placed front and center. I've heard of the band before and regret waiting so long to catch their show. It was in a word, AWESOME! Lead singer Landis Expandis has an energy rarely seen and the fusion of rock, soul and funk is truly unique. Do yourself a favor and check them out, you will not regret it. After the show we dismantled the pyramid of bikes and rolled out of the city in a very satisfying beer and funk induced haze.
Next was some fine family and friends fun when a group of us loaded up the (shutter) minivans and checked out the winter lights at Seneca Creek State Park. The kids had a great time singing holiday songs as we drove through the displays. Frank and Lisa invited everyone back to their place for mulled cider and baked treats. Most of the parents opted for adult style beverages over the cider and the good doctor keeps a fine selection at home.
Christmas eve, eve we decide to brave the cold and check out the National Tree down in DC. Again, this was a family oriented trip and the kids really seemed to have fun on the trip down. We had our own car on the Metro for a good portion and the wee ones wrecked havoc when the opportunity arose. Naomi braved the long line to see Santa as the rest of us checked out the sights. After their holiday fill the kids decided wrestling David was more fun than looking at some stinking tree and they took him to the ground with ease. On the walk back we searched in vain for hot chocolate and ended up getting juice boxes and coffee from McDonald's. Not quite the ending we were hoping for, but, the kids didn't seem to mind.
Christmas eve was spent at my sisters house, the kids did a fine job destroying her house before Santa's arrival. Next morning was spent watching the kids rip through a mountain of toys and then dinner at my brothers a little later in the day.
Saturday, feeling all that cheer around my mid-section, I was able to squeeze in a quick road ride while the family napped. The weather was nice and apparently a lot of people felt the need to burn those holiday calories off as well. I saw numerous riders out over those 21 miles.
Sunday was my "big ride" day, however, there was not much chatter from the gang about a ride. RiderX and I had exchanged emails about possibly hitting Raystown or Michaux, but, the weather had other plans and we decided to stay local and ride the Shed. A tentative plan in place I get a call from DaveG and then one from Tim. Dave wants to beat the rain and we think an early start @ 9 would be in order. New plan in place I catch wind of a ride from Sandflats at 10 and think we can hook up with the larger group as we head north towards Salamander. Timing was almost perfect as our small group of three roll into Sandflats shortly after 10. Ricky, sporting his signature red knickers, was just pulling his bike off the roof and Darius (true to form) was tinkering with his. Stoner, Camps, Bunky, Mike Miller, Mrs. Outlaw, Bek, Jojo, Anne and Lynn were also there and it was great to see everyone out and about. The only one missing was Tony and he's the one who suggested the ride the night before.
Tim and I help the Big Dog install some new brake pads while with for DC Tony to show. About 10:30 he's still not there and my original group is getting the itch to get moving. We are on a schedule and still have lot's of ground to cover. Hoping we will run into everyone out on the trail we bid everyone adue and head towards Salamander. Bunky and Mike jump on and we are now 5. The pervious nights rain has made things slicker than snot and I get thrown to the ground, hard, when my front wheel washes out over a log. My head, shoulder and shin all take a good wack and I require a few moments to regain composure. We roll all of Sally and then take Blue towards Super Sweet. The single track, with it's rock base, is solid enough, but, the fire roads and utility cut-throughs are SOFT and sap tons of energy as we negotiate around the trails. At the 3 way we convince Bunky to stay with the group and ride Super Sweet. I go down two more times on Rock Candy and seem to hit the same spot on my left shin each time. Still, even wet and slippery the trail is a hoot and I'm glad we decided to burn the elevation. At the road, Mike and Bunky turn left, while Tim, Dave and I go right. We decide to road it back to the lot, lick our wounded egos (and my wounds) and save ourselves for another day. The road ride out, however, is not to be taken lightly and some serious climbing lay before us. Running low on gas we pushed hard on those final pitches and finally made it back to the cars. My GPS was having fits that day and I estimate we covered about 20 miles, however, it felt more like 40. Tim and I finish off the day with a killer lunch at Poblano's, which needs to be put into regular rotation now.
The mailman delivered a special package that I've been anxiously awaiting. A new pair of Karhu Kodiak telemark skis and Hammer-Head bindings. These skis are FAT, much wider than my old Tua's and hopefully a little easier to ski. The last couple winters have been very frustrating for me in that I'm just not progressing with my free-heel technique. I'll have a couple good runs and then cross a ski, go down hard and twist a knee in the process. That's about the time I'm forced to put the planks away and bust out my trusty board. It also means I'm not spending the required time on my skis. I hope the new gear will change things up this winter. I guess I'll find out tomorrow when I put these babies to the test. Big thanks to Camps for lending me a couple DVD's of the free-heel variety. One was instructional and one was pure powder porn. Reviews to follow soon....or a trip to the ER.