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Wow!  What an amazing weekend.  I probably should have ridden longer/harder/faster, but I got a lot of stuff done and introduced some new folks to the northeast trails.  Rudy from the UTEP bike club brought some friends out and I gave them a little tour.  We hit Mad Cow, looped back to the dam, then went back up to the “tire” to hit Stan’s and and the last bit of the Puzzler before the feedzone. 

The only reason Jen and I wore our knee warmers was because the wind picked up.

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Before we met up with these guys, the sun was blazing and the wind hadn’t picked up yet.  We saw a garter snake.  The views were amazing.  We were up on Sotol when I went for the camera and realized I’d left it on top of the car.  I rarely drive to the trails, but since we were meeting these guys, we figured we’d take the single speeds….which wastes some serious time on the roads getting to the trails.  We also had some errands to run afterwards.  We took the b-line back to the benzo and happily…my camera was just chilling on the roof. 

Good thing.  Jen was able to snap this sweet poser shot with me in my hummingbird attracter kit and not so matching yellow socks.

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The day before, Jen and I saw this fat feathered friend on a ridge line.  This is one of the fattest hawks I’ve ever seen.  I could see him pretty well, but the camera was a little lacking.  I refuse to carry a huge camera with a big ass telephoto lens.

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Thirty people have registered for the Puzzler.  That’s more than last year, and most of last year’s entrants waited until the day before the race to enter.  Hopefully that will be the same this year and we’ll hit our target of 50.

I’ve got some stuff for sale if anyone is interested.  I’ll send pics if you ask.

Hayes HFX Mag brakes with both fat aluminum levers and carbon levers – $50 for the pair

Surly Jim Brown Disc bolt on hubs, 32 hole, with freewheels 17-22.  21 and 22 are White Industries – $150

26″ Fox RLC 100mm disc only.  Will include 1st gen stan’s rim laced to DT Swiss Onyx disc hub with Revolution spokes.  Steerer about 7″. $350  BBB5 brake another $40.

Magura Hugin Rear Shock….almost brand new.  6.5×1.5.  Comes with lots of hardware to mount to any bike that uses that length shock.  Mounted to Jen’s Racer-X for about 3 rides.  Back on Fox for this season.  $125

I’ll be taking some of the university team members around the northeast trails at noon.  If you want to get a feel of the area without feeling completely lost, join us.  I’ll have maps and we’ll be going pretty slow. 

The weather has been insanely awesome and hopefully it will stay that way for a few more weeks.

Holy crap it’s been nice this week.  I probably could have gone without the knee warmers today and yesterday.  I finally remembered to put on sunscreen.

The trails in the northeast have been ridden more this month that they have in the last 7 years total.  This was the scene at Heinrich Park this morning.

heinrich lot jan 18 2009

These guys all seemed to think they were going to be riding the Puzzler loop.  They had some trouble with their map reading.  I gave them the map of the entire area, but it covers a huge area.  From the get go they were headed up the wrong trails.  It will be interesting to see how many of our brothers and sisters to the south decide to attempt this beast.

After our ride today I packed up the Christmas present and headed to Anthony Gap for some trimming.  People have been missing this cairn, so I cleared it out.  The husky didn’t even flinch.  It’s so smooth and not that loud.  It’s not very heavy either.  I forgot the harness and I was able to manage it just fine.

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I missed the cairn last time I rode out here.  So keep  your eyes peeled for it.  It seems to be one of the major “misses” on the course.

Looks like tomorrow’s weather will be the same.  I think we’ll crank out a big lap.

Jimmy Bowen runs his cattle on his land that borders the Franklin Mountain State Park.  This boundary is not fenced, so we frequently get to check out his cattle.  He keeps his female White Faced Herefords on this land.  They’ve been giving birth to lots of little herefords over the past few years.  Sometimes they look pretty tasty, other times…they look pretty boney.  Over the past few months we’ve been spotting this huge Brahman cruising with the herd.  Totally funny, because it doesn’t even look like the same species.

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I really like his ears.  They remind me of my dog.

What’s really funny is this guy has been working hard amongst his harum and now we are seeing the fruits of his labor.  There are now about a dozen little fellows running around.   They definitely don’t look like the little white face herefords, and they’ve got the funny looking ears.  I wonder if they’ll get the hump.

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It was a great day for a ride.  A little cold, but knee warmers and a good wool undershirt were all that was necessary.

After working 6 years of retail over 8 years ago, I still have a hard time dealing with all the crap related to the holidays.  I was a total grinch and I definitely can still be quite grinchy.  I definitely don’t like all the commercialism related to the holidays.  It always seems so wasteful.  Just give the stinkin’ gift in the box it came in….I don’t need your fancy wrapping paper.  My neighbors are like the griswolds.  I now most of them are on fixed incomes.  How can they afford what has to be a pretty high electric bill as it is? 

Just over the past few years I got into decorating our own Christmas tree.  Small steps.  We have one of those 3 foot tall fake trees that only cost like $15 in an after-Christmas sale.  Put a small string of lights on it and it’s good to go.

But wait!  That’s when the trouble begins.  You see, both my moms are very sentimental about Christmas.  Ma-in-law has been sending us tree ornaments for a while now.  My mom is huge into ornaments.  She’s even got other christmas stuff….Humels (sp?), angels, motorized ornaments, Christmas china…you name it. 

This year the ma-in-law actually sent us something really cool.  He’ll serve duty as much more than just a Christmas ornament.  In fact, he’ll be glad when Christmas rolls around and we set up a tree because he’ll be getting a break from being my form coach.  This is a perfect position for him.  My form is almost perfect and I really don’t need anyone to remind me that I’m “bobbing” or pushing too big of a gear when I’m riding a geared rig.  When I’m on the squat rack or doing deadlifts, he won’t have to say a word as my large mirrors provide all the clues necessary to indicate degradation of my form.  This is perfect job for him since he can’t talk.

Introducing my new brother….Wood Man.

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Wood Man is loving the new digs, but he has some concerns about El Paso as there is a high number of INS agents in the area.  Wood Man is fresh off the boat from Nigeria.  He was stuffed into a box and crammed into a container where he remained for about 2 months without food or water.  This was a bonus as it prevented him from having to wet or shit himself in the small confines.

He’s stoked to be out and I told him mi casa es su casa.  He was able to get in a pretty good ride today.  He checked out the range with the new backsplash Jen and I installed over the holidays.

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And after sending it off the top of the range, he showed how big wheels really aren’t necessary to negotiate the tough stuff.  Dude’s got mad skills.

woodman-sending-it-off-the-range        wood-man-showing-off-skills-in-the-rough-stuff

You won’t be hearing much from Wood Man, but he’ll make some cameo appearances through out the year until he gets to hang with the elk and the birds in our plastic 3′ tree.

Man.  I think I’m going to invest in a skycard so I can update my blog, check email, pay bills, and get directions when I’m traveling.  I went over a week without internet access.  Big mistake as I failed to plan our return trip.  Ooops.  And that made me grumpy….even though everything turned out well.

Here’s a quick wrap up of my trip.  We drove from El Paso to just past Abiline on Day 1.  We stayed in a Walmart lot and it hit about 20 degrees that night. 

Day 2 we hit Tyler State Park.  We rode that afternoon (first time in wool tights in over a year) and took off the next morning.  Only a few hearty souls were camping there.  It hit about 20 again that night. 

Day 3 drove to Birmingham and spent the night at Oak Mtn. State Park.  We rode the next morning and then headed to my mom’s in SC. 

Day 4 we rode Lynch’s Woods (seems like that would not be a very PC name in the deep south).  Lynch’s was covered in leaves but still rideable.  We had a good time trying to keep from drifting completely off the trail. 

Days 5 and 6 it rained.  So we didn’t hit any trails.  We really wanted to ride FATS, but it was closed. 

Day 7 we headed to my dad’s and hit Harbison on the way.  Spiderwoman was a treat….especially on the SS.  Everything else was kind of blah.  Below Jen is checking out some long leaf pine.  This species was almost completely wiped out by the timber industry who really liked growing loblolly pine due to it being a bit straighter and faster growing.

jen at harbison checking out long leaf pine

Day 8 we rode Marrington Plantation.  That was rippin’ fast as they use leaf blowers to get all the leaves and pinestraw off the nice sandy trails.  We saw this big fat bloated dead aligator.  It stunk really bad.  

bloated alligator                    leaf blower action

Day 9 I gave Jen a quick tour of Charleston.  I showed her my old school/church and checked out the Battery.  Later that day we hit Edisto Island.  It’s famous for its shells.  We scored a bunch of nice ones which we still haven’t sorted yet.  We’ll be making shell jewelry for everyone’s christmas present next year. 

Jen getting the Charleston tour        This is the corner of Broad and Church St.  ( I think )

live oaks over road  The roads to the islands have these huge live oaks growing over them.  They are quite nice during the summer.

campsite at Edisto  Jen can’t believe that palms grow wild.

horseshoe crab  This ancient creature was still alive.

 

the slide out  My dad’s camper has a slide (his girlfriend paid the additional charge for the slide)…..

rear awning …and a rear awning.  It’s a sweet rig.

Day 10 we headed back home with not much of a plan.  I got grumpy and Jen got mad at me.  We ended up driving a bit further than we planned, but we got to ride the ’96 Olympic course in Conyers on ….

Day 11.  The second loop of that course was a blast.  What a perfect single speed course.  Too bad no one was racing 29ers back then.  That course was fast!  We drove straight through Alabama and Mississippi and spent New Year’s eve in a Walmart lot in Lousianna.  Yee Ha!  Luckily it was pretty windy so our heater stayed on most of the night and we didn’t have to listen to all the necks firing off their bottle rockets. 

Day 12 we made it to Tyler again and rode a lap and a half.  Everyone we passed was in their freakin’ granny gear on a brand new high dollar rig.  We packed up and head across Texas and made it back to Abiline that night. 

Then we drove most of Day 14 back to El Paso.  How’s that for a wrap up?

I hope everyone had as good a year as I did.  Sometimes things seem really crazy and stressful, but then when I look back on it all I realize how cool everything was.