in quiet honor of...

ben; as no one else could, you will appreciate this.

spencer and i set out on another post canyon ride after work today, though with a purpose not entirely the same as our last (session a ladder-drop section until it got dark and then meander at high speeds back to the car).

today's ride was to start soon after we closed the shop today at 6:00 as the light in post canyon tends to wain quickly into the evening. we were indecisive as to whether we wanted to do a shuttle downhill run, a freeride-y long-travel bike run, or a cross country ride with just as much climbing as descending (old skool stylez). due to our indecisiveness and asshat customers, we didn't get out onto the trail until 7:00, finally deciding on a cross country ride with short travel bikes and spandex (real old skool stylez). it had been a while since i'd been on a bonafide fully pinned xc ride with a world cup mountain biker so i was a little wary. once on the trail, however, it all came back - the good times past all came back.

post canyon xc ride

there's this loop in post canyon, you see. this ride that spencer, ben and myself always did. this isn't the cute little "always" that is the ride that you would do maybe every couple weeks or so. no, this is the ride that the three of us did weekly, if not twice weekly, driving the trail farther and farther into deepened erosion until a gorge cyclists association was formed, the GFRA, to stem our process. spencer and i began riding this loop one hour late and already down on the light that we would have to finish the ride in the dark final stretch of the canyon, a singletrack trail by the name of Seven Streams.

post canyon xc ride

we went fast. i had forgotten just how fast we used to go on our little roached out bikes, lacking adequate suspension, braking power and, more or less, skill. as we wound through the old trees and over loose dirt, the memories had started to flush in. anytime we would pass something familiar, one of us would yell at the other, either behind or ahead, a memory connected to that spot. we would switch back and forth leading, following, twisting, turning, and, generally, making mince meat of this fine little path threading through old growth and new growth.

eventually our ride took us to the crest of the mitchell ridge trail. to our left lay more rolling singletrack. to our right the trail dropped into a hard left hand turn, a short sprint up a little right hander, and finally fell into the kind of scary fast descent that makes your eyes water and your brakes stop functioning correctly due to heat buildup. a twisty, slightly bermy, wide-open doubletrack loss of elevation that, no matter where or how much i ride, still ranks as one of the most childishly fun pieces of trail anywhere. spencer and i stop at the top to gather ourselves and catch a breather from the previous climb.

post canyon xc ride

there is a root in the middle of this junction on mitchell ridge. ben, quite some time ago in a magical display completely lacking focus and grace, meandered gently, nearly softly, into this root. it smiled at him, like a friend, and he must've smiled back because soon, in a sudden fit of noise and limbs, they were hugging. ben lay on the ground defeated, yet laughing. he had the most violent crash of the day not on the numerous rock gardens we had smashed through that i now look at with a wary eye. nor had he lost control on any one of the hideously fast downhills lined with strangely unforgiving oak trees. no, our good friend fell victim to an innocuous root, placed just so. (it should be noted that the key single word in this entire paragraph is laughing. that's just how it was.)

this was nearly many, many years ago.

spencer and i looked at this root this evening. we gathered ourselves for the decent, buckled helmets, clicked shoes into pedals, looked back at the root and promptly burst into a rage of laughter. we, at that precise moment of happiness, dedicated the ride to ben, wherever in the huge ass city of chicago he was or whatever in the hell he was doing. needless to say, that was the fastest elevation loss of the evening.

post canyon xc ride

later in the ride, as we stopped before the final fast descent to the car, spencer muttered, "so, this is why i ride." i think he was implicating the memories and the joy in that why. it takes a lot to be a world cup level racer, especially at 22 years old. there are huge ramifications to your social life, your school life, your love live and your work life. one beer at the wrong time could prove disastrous in the long run. one sniffle could mean missing the next race two weeks out and falling farther back in the points run. a missed training ride throws an entire fitness routine out of sync with itself and the planets. it takes an insane amount of dedication, one that i am in no way familiar with. for him to have said what he said, and to have meant it like i know he did, means a great deal both to myself and to those not present in physical but always in spirit.

we're torn asunder from those we love and the activities we love doing. i know that's a lot to say when you're freshly 21 and have a hard time finding much more responsibility in the summertime than making sure the bike shop floor gets swept everynight, but i'm pretty damned sure i mean it. there are ties that unravel and never get fused back together. people wander and not always do they come back. friends come from time to time but, in my experience, have mostly gone. as young peoples, for the most part, we have our health, sure. some of us have our educations, absolutely. there are even those of us who have made the final leap into respectable real jobs with an unparalleled enthusiasm or have already become embattled and bitter to the smallest percentage of a fraction of the wonders the world surely has to offer. most of the challenges we face, with a certain privilege i might add, revolve around not having correct change for the bus or proper bridge toll. but we still love. but we still miss and remember. and goddamnit to me that counts for something. everything.

post canyon xc ride
near the crest of mitchell ridge, one short of three.

pics n' things!


the straight dope

'La mort du Tour" and "ArrĂȘtez ce cirque" shouted the headlines in Thursday's Paris newspapers, and no wonder: "The Death of the Tour" or "Stop this circus" seem understandable responses to what more than one London paper predictably called the Tour de Farce.
-international herald tribune, jul. 27, 2007.

even the french papers are calling for a stop. the only thing that has led me to following the tour this year has been the global-media-worthy drug afflictions of the leaders. for shame.

pics n' things!

cycle renovation, pt. II

today after work i managed to horde some old bicycle workings with the hopes of getting the schwinn on its way. frustratingly enough, most of the 3 hrs i spent working on it after the shop closed only saw the fruits of a wholly unacceptable threadless headset assembly. this i frankensteined together from three different sets and various other randomlings hiding in our "Headset Parts" bin. (a note about "_____ Parts" bins: this is where little pieces of metal that have either been found on the floor while sweeping at the end of the day or weren't good enough to make the cut for a customer's bike in the first place go to die. these bins are the boneyards, the graveyards, the burning funeral pyres [see also: "funeral pyre"!] of the bicycle repair shop, i swear to god they are.) quite literally, nearly every cup, bearing, race and cap were cannibalized from other, far less fortunate headsets. the bearings are the rusted out nearly original pair from the schwinn resulting in a handlebar/stem/fork assembly (something which i'll be getting to rather shortly) that steers horribly at best.

though the majority of my time was indeed spent on this nearly fruitless aspect of a project that was becoming increasingly bleak with each passing minute and each passing sip (read: deep swilling) of pabst, there were a few other notable breakthroughs! notable among notables:
  • one fox float rlt80 suspension fork has been acquired and installed! though nearly destroyed and severely lacking in what one might usually consider some modicum of functionality, it at least gets the bike closer to mobility. it was formerly on the dirt jump bike of one of the mechanics and had been rotting in one of the shops more notorious dark corners before i saved it, cleaned it and promptly ripped the decals. with no decals, and the paint is much more of a battleship gray than shown in the link above, there is a certain utilitarian look to the fork now - sort of like any stock communist good.
  • while rooting about in the basement like a vagrant through a dumpster of day olds i happened upon a brand new and completely misplaced shimano deore crankset. cheap, heavy and expendable - perfect for the application. i'll be taking the outer ring and the inner ring off and replacing them with a bashguard that i already have to protect the 32t middle ring. singlespeed up front for simplicity's sake.
  • a new chain has been added along with brake levers, the front brakes and rear shifter. also, a new stem, handlebar, seat and tires have found themselves suddenly useful.
though thoroughly miffed after the headset problems, the bike is now many steps closer to being ridable. the next big find will be a front wheel for not only cheap but hopefully free. after that, new cables and housing will be all that is stopping the commuter from wandering the streets (rather dodgily, granted, but wandering no less).

pictures to come.

oh, and i cut my hair.


p.s. fixies are for the devil. as the article tells you, it's all image and rude hipster fucks with Chrome bags who've always been assholes to me (you can clearly tell that i've no personal experience with these bikes) (also! nothing personal ben, for the thought, though no more than a flash in the pan, crossed my mind.). also, they are now required by law, in oregon and many other states, to have brakes. singlespeeds, however = cool. pics n' things!


cycle renovation, pt. I

the plan:

as the 07-08 school year draws closer, so does another season of nasty pacific northwest fall/winter commuting. though i have a 3sp electra straight8 in bellingham right now and a giant glory dh downhill race bike on the way. thought these are both supremely fun to ride in their respective ways, neither will function as a reliable or practical mode of transport up and down the many steep streets around campus.

to fill the commuter gap, i went out towards the shop/garage area on my property in search of my first mountain bike - a factory modified (read "one-off mistake") schwinn moab disc. it was phased out of my cycling career a couple years ago but served without complaint through many long seasons of racing and riding. since it's mothballing, the components have been slowly picked clean by my brother. everytime he comes home he'll spend a while vulturing bits and pieces until this last weekend when he finally stole the fork and crankset.

the mission, before the summer is out, is to revive this poor and nearly forgotten steed before it is too late and gabe is scrapping the tubes for wind chimes. now, let's turn this thing into a simple 9sp. commuter.

broken bicycle

what we're looking at (other than a blurry photo):
frame, rear wheel & tire, cassette, rear derailleur, front derailleur, seat & seatpost, handlebar & stem, bits n' pieces of an integrated headset (ICBM, 1st generation), bottom bracket, rear brake

what's needed:
chain, brake levers, front brake, rear shifter, fork, front wheel & tire, axe the front derailleur, crankset, cables & housing, perhaps new headset.

i head back to work tomorrow and we'll get this party started when i go down to the basement and scrounge random old parts.

count on updates.

pics n' things!

sessioning "dropout"

there is a mysterious thing that happens when you ride bikes with friends. it is usually the case that one party will bring a camera, sometimes both or all parties will bring little digital devices designed to "Sav-A-Moment"®. there is usually some hubbub pre-ride or even a few minutes into the venture concerning these shutterbugs and how you all will take away a fine array of photos describing, as it were, the manner in which you spent your afternoon. but after the first few minutes, the cameras are forgotten. the excitement moves from chimping the pictures of the ride later to the actual ride itself. you all had planned to exchange images as though they were trading cards, "elliott's running-while-crashing shot is equal to some shitty post-EPO baseball player that no one had any respect for in the first place while spencer cleanly sending the second hit on 'Dropout' time and again is worth something like a Mays' rookie card."

but about a week ago, spencer and i rode up into post canyon, the local trail network in hood river, or, and got some snaps of the man-made stunts. for those of you who actually doubt that i ride bikes despite the fact that i work at a bike shop (not a very convincing argument in the first place, granted), here is the proof to the contrary.

sessioning "dropout"
my "serious" face.

sessioning "dropout"

sessioning "dropout"
spencer. red shorts. no shirt. all style. doesn't even fucking care if he crashes into a bush of poison oak and bees.

sessioning "dropout"
hot @$$ shot.

sessioning "dropout"

sessioning "dropout"

i just ordered my new downhill bike from giant and it should get here early to mid-august. bike porn pictures will immediate succeed its arrival.

pics n' things!


the ability to surprise yourself

two weeks ago, i woke up tuesday morning (my saturday, for those of you in the non-privy) bored. not true to form as in this is a usual action but true to form as in this is a place i would go if i were to do this sort of thing more often, i packed a bag and left for the coast. no goal, no destination, no plans. just some gas and a road bike.

i spent most of the time on the road not talking to myself, trying to not hear my voice for once - just to see if i could stop talking when i didn't need to.

my journey took me through portland first, as most often do.
along highway 26 until the 26-6 junction just after north plains. south but mostly west on 6.

wholesome livin', just south of tillamook. day 1.

i slammed into the coast at pacific city around 7:00 that evening and surfed with a friend from the bike shop who happened to be staying at his place wedged appropriately between lincoln city and cape kiwanda (neskowin, to be precise). and i slept, tired, full of damned good fish n' beer and happy.

haystack rock from cape kiwanda. day 1.

up at 7:00am to surf, yogi and ride my road bike north to cape lookout on the three capes scenic loop off the 101.

day 2.

cape kiwanda & dory launching in the background. day 2.

the journey continued north on 101 to tillamook. i had to revive past sentiments.
stopping at the tillamook air museum, cheese factory and tillamook country smoker.
north still. to garibaldi. around the smokestack and past an abandoned antiques store called "stuff & things".

day 2.

through rockaway beach, past the beach house my family has stayed in before.
the nehalem bay winery produces, i must say, a fine pinot (noir, thank you. dry & crisp, just like it should be).
9 holes in manzanita, another family beach getaway destination and one of my favorite stops. though blustery and despite my horribly unrefined slice, i couldn't help but smile.
still north, though the afternoon wears on. through seaside and a lunch of beer and fish and chips.
i double back on my steps after reaching astoria, the northern most point in oregon. south on the 101 until reaching the 26 on which i head east, towards portland.
there is the largest sitka spruce in the u.s. to your left. thoroughly disappointing.
timber. buxton. manning.
one hour and 45 minutes north but mostly east is home, trout lake.

= 507 miles. two days. not much in gas money.

kings of convenience and destroyer proved to be the soundtrack of the trip. oh, dear, i do hope i shall attempt it again someday.

pics n' things!


surprisingly, trouble free

this summer has been, surprisingly, trouble free.

i'm housesitting for my high school counselor while she and her husband ride in a week long bicycle tour from montana to british columbia. it's a neat place though severely lacking in personality. i feel like i could live there and drive, say, a 2000 dodge caravan with the little stick figure decals in the back window showing dad, mom, timmy, sally, and pea the cat.

the place also makes me feel lonely and hollow. i'm tempted to rip the nice little family magnets and drawings by 5 year olds off the face of the refrigerator and burn them in happiness' funeral pyre.

i accidentally napped in this massive chair in their massive living room for a couple hours after work. it's my friday and i'm finally downtown at 11:30. everybody is indoors and the streets are quiet. damned massive chair.

pics n' things!



so i did it. after years of hymning and hawing, i finally started taking yoga in hood river. by virtue of the area that i grew in and the people that surround me during the summer there is no reason it should have taken this long to get into it. despite julia's, my instructor's, insistence, it feels like i've started too late and i'm now at the point where i'm just jumping on the bandwagon and furthering my guilty pleasure of associating with the "active" lifestyle.

but here is where we reach a quandary. here is where the timeline of reality forks and an alternate universe is created, myself split between the diverging paths. as these two paths continue forward through time, they seem less and less interests and more and more lifestyles. during the moments of special agony, it feels like i must choose between the two.

the first is my outdoor self: the kid who wears flip flops and whatever else is comfortable (or less dirty than everything else on the floor), likes to hike and get grimy, can go without a tamed coif or shower for more than a day and takes the pleasures of a small town in with all of his heart. he'll drive 10 hours straight after work to sleep in the dirt in a parking lot in whistler just to ride his bike for a day only to get back to town only a couple hours before work. he's okay living out of a backpack. life, for him, is not a big concern: as long as he has the funds to support his activities and a place to store his gear, this elliott requires, actually, very little. just movement and the outdoors. he'd rather throw his cellphone away than have it get in the way of a good bike ride.

the second self is rooted in pure cosmopolitanism and fashion; this one wants skinny jeans, the tight t-shirts, hip shoes, the newest music, an obscure foreign film and only the finest beer. he'll only settle for the finest zegna suit and his shoes had very well goddamn match his belt. he might have a fast-burning fuse, god forbid the restaurant be filled up. things had better go his way, though with less of his actual input than he's capable of giving, or else. this is the mr. hyde.

however, and after that long tangent i'll hopefully be getting to the point right about now, perhaps this new yoga interest could be the connection. after the hour long class that i took yesterday, i felt better than i had in a long time. maybe it's just the new experience that is giving me the high (as that has been known to happen to me). maybe my chakras were aligned. whatever made it feel good, it doesn't matter. i'm going to stay with it. spencer's girlfriend, katie, took it for the first time yesterday as well and we actually were giggling quite a bit, akwardly enough (especially during "happy baby" pose).

yoga has been touted as connecting the mind and body. maybe the mind is my first personality, content with whatever path he is on as long as it satisfies his basic criteria of health and interest. perhaps the body is my second personality, more superficial, concerned with success and appearing successful and hip and all that crap. so here we are, perhaps at the two road's divergence still; perhaps at their convergence yet.

but, before anything else happens, i'm going to need a yoga mat.

-e pics n' things!


embarrassing moments

i recently found the most exciting and thoroughly frustrating emotion.

there are few things more embarrassing than standing in a bathroom and waving your wet hands. you're looking at the brand new, and most likely hideously expensive, automatic towel dispenser and wondering to yourself if it's going to spit out a towel before your hands have dried from flailing hopelessly in front of a black box on a wall. you look at the little green or red sensor as it blinks merrily to itself and it's difficult to discern whether this means that it's supposed to be dispensing or not dispensing. an interesting side note, one that will earn my ire at a later point: green and red elicit very different, and very consequential, actions and reactions in every other scenario - traffic lights, for instance. you never look at a traffic light as it blinks between red and green and expect something that isn't going to happen. red means stop. green means go. awfully definitive it seems. red and green have no place on ambiguous automatic faucets, soap and towel dispensers, or any item unsure of its stop/go future. a push for yellow is needed as these items of convenience are like the driver coming from your left at the intersection as you sit stopped: he/she comes flying up to the light that you can see has just turned yellow. there is a moment of panic as their car makes the subtlest lurch then rockets forward (to the best of said car's ability - the difference between a new bugatti veyron and a 1983 peugeot need not be mentioned, just the relativity of "rockets"). yellow is unclear. let's coup against yes or no and replace them with maybe.

so there you are waving your hands like an idiot. sure no one is in the bathroom watching you, but rather than serve as a comfort it only seems to exacerbate the foolishness of the situation. if you were being watched perhaps you would embrace the silliness of it all and become more cartoonish in your motions. but no. you're alone and you have a ringing cellphone in your pocket and your hands are wet. you hate putting wet hands in your pockets, don't you? while you're standing there you remember a feeling similar to this: that moment every person has while driving in a car alone where you, perhaps after a long day, begin having really loud, awkward conversations with yourself. you laugh hideously, fart, sing crudely or do just about anything considered socially deviant. maybe you even make some horrible remarks about someone. this is when it gets real and you snap back into consciousness and feel suddenly embarrassed. you'll even look around the car to make sure nobody else just heard that or saw that.

you know, i have become so lost in the quagmire of my own writing, the end goal has been completely lost. perhaps, someday, it will return to me and give this sorry post some reason to live.

-e pics n' things!


the skeptic

i'll scribble in the margins for all of lecture. i'll doodle in a moleskine all day. hell, i might even put down some coherent thoughts in my journal, old fashioned style, with ink and paper. it's rare, however, that i will elucidate entire frames of reference and careful consideration in the medium used by most civilizations since god knows when, most likely since we were picking fleas from behind each other's ears. no, these pages are usually relinquished to non-sensical streams of consciousness and unconnected images. i used to fill old spiral bound notebooks with drawings, stories and little clues into my head. those notebooks, either 70 or 80 pages each, would rumple at the corners, tangling and snaring at the spiral ends after all of five minutes after being pulled of the shelves that apparently held them in some sort of ion forcefield, protective against those bent on loose-leaf destruction. the covers of would collect scratches, ink circles from thought to be dying pens and small cartoon heads that seemed confused and perhaps not all comfortable with their current state: that of the poorly and hastily drawn. but those days, the days of licking the tip and bending the stiff paper, seem to have gone the way of the ever reluctant dodo.

now that my computer stays on my persons nearly all of my mobile day, it's hard to imagine a world without 8-bit information transference. i'll constantly be updating, or at least hopelessly checking, online accounts that i claim to hate having. these accounts are justified in my head with the tired notion of keeping me in touch with friends. is it just me or does that never quite seem to work out? what has taken the place of cracking the spine of a hardbound journal for the first time? or breaking the pencil lead for the umpteenth time because you're far too involved with what you're writing to care about seemingly costless carbon?

these questions, at first glance, appear a far cry from the sensibility of the medium of transference. i'll grant you, graciously i might add, that. but to counter this sudden bolt of intelligence i'm going to share something that may or may not completely pique your interest: not a fortnight past, i deleted my myspace account. "but elliott, isn't that the one you've had since high school?" why yes, perceptive (and oddly informed) reader, that would be the one. due to a ridiculously poor design, ugly templates, a psychotically slow server network, being owned by fox news corp. and existing most generally as a malevolent cancer to the internets, i canned my account. weary of complaining about the site and even wearier of it making its way into daily conversation with friends who also had accounts, i simply snapped. the unchecked hypocracy of labeling myspace as one of the worst inventions since the helicopter ejection seat while owning one myself simply could no longer stand when tested against scientific (common) logic.

this may seem odd and i feel someone could tell me that i'm paying an unwarranted amount of attention to a thoroughly useless story, but the truth is that this was actually quite the event. and it's only quite the event because my friends who also have accounts were visibly shocked (even the ones who emailed and facebook messaged me about it) when they got news that i decided i was too good for it all. some were personally offended, some were elated with the joy of persons who wished they could escape but had that omniprescient "tom" character watching over them and lording their lives, some could not have possibly cared less. who needs those friends of the latter persuasion anyway? assholes. but that's beside the point that i'm trying to reach.

the point is that by deleting this rotting leper of an online divertissment, i freed myself of one crippling crutch: the idea that i need websites to keep in touch with people. also, it has been of great importance to my newest moleskine, a little black companion that shadows me and lets me know whenever i'm feeling a little emotional, musical, critical or any other -al you can think of. i can doodle those poorly fated bubble headed stick figures and i can turn myself into anyone i prefer in my journal but mostly it just allows me to be me: my handwriting is ever indicitive of me, chicken scratchy in the most ruthlessly emotional moments and cold and calculated whenever i've chanced upon the frame of mind to think through something in a critical fashion.

i've always hated the word blog. it just looks like shit. it sounds like shit, too. and if it looks like shit and sounds like shit, it must be shit, right? well, not exactly. perhaps to an outsider this may look like an addict's attempt at covering up a kicked addiction but i'm convinced (and this must be the unwilling addict) that it's more than that. to serve as an accent to my growing notebooks, moleskines and margin notes, here's the aggregate of many of my thoughts, possibly neatly complied but most likely thrown onto the page in a manner, hopefully, befitting of my early journals.


-e pics n' things!