Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Hype(rdrive), Hype(ractivity), Hype(rventilation)!

Devil Take Hindmost has been up to a few things this summer, most notably maintaining radio silence. DTH wants to assure you that is has been healthy and strong, it has been alive and active, it has been steadfast and pure of heart, and whatever other adjectives you feel might belong. Just because it has been silent does not mean it does not care about you. It does. 

There is some pretty big news about to appear over the horizon. DTH has been quiet for a while in order to make this news--news that DTH may not be able to survive, at least in its current form. Don't be sad. Should DTH meet its end when this news rises into the sky and changes the lay of the shadows on the land, don't fret. It will be reborn in new and flashier iteration, like 007. However, it's also possible that DTH will stay right where it is, so that it can continue to facilitate the spreading of pictures like this:

You might be wondering what this bit of news might be. It is not yet fit to print, but it won't be long now. Let's just that it makes me want to do this:

Until then, ride bikes and stay awesome.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Shorter of Breath

When I was in college, I tried to read one hundred pages per day. Occasionally, however, I started a book that was so good that I forced myself to read it slow, put it down every ten pages, and bury it under schoolwork so I wouldn't be tempted to read more. Those were the books I loved, that changed me, that I wanted to read for a lifetime and never finish.

Until recently, no trail has moved me in the same way, but I've spent four days in Crested Butte pushing my easiest gear, covering ground as slowly as possible. I was a saturated sponge trying hopelessly to suck in more, to internalize a liquid that was somehow making me a better sponge.

Four days, countless miles, many pizzas, more beers. Flowers. More flowers than can be described. I rammed the things I saw and the smells of the forest deep down into myself like a ball into a musket in order to keep time from passing, and yet here it is, the weekend's end, time to return to the city. At the thought of this, something about the size and density of a musket ball catches in my throat.

I had many favorite albums before I bought Dark Side of the Moon in eighth grade, but none that I'll admit to liking. Dark Side of the Moon was the first album I loved for its own merit and not because I was a weird kid who liked pretty bad Alternative. In Crested Butte, I've encountered Dark Side of the Moon everywhere. In other words, if I hadn't already fallen in love with this place, the sirens are singing. Everything under the sun is in tune.

Snodgrass: Pause
If other mountain bike trails were candy stores, Snodgrass would be Wonka's factory. A part of me will never finish that trail, and is sitting there still, amongst aspen and lupine. My trail partner and life buddy Rebecca addressed me several times on that ride, but I could not hear her. There were too many flowers. All of that said, don't get too distracted by the scenery, as there are a few aspens that will help you trim those 785 handlebars down to about 730.

The Lower Loop: Rewind
When my trail partner and life buddy Rebecca and I made it to Crested Butte in October, the Lower Loop was the only trail we rode before an impending snowstorm let loose. It was every bit as beautiful the second time, only this time it was lupine blue instead of aspen orange. It was on this trail that we experienced our first Crested Butte traffic jam, which is where you encounter other riders on a trail after five o' clock on a weekday. It was just like sitting behind a bus on Speer Boulevard for forty minutes. The trail put me in a state so intensely zen that I actually enjoyed watching an NBA game while eating a burrito as big as my head.

The 401: Fast Forward
On the second day, we rode a trail that I've read about but was not at all prepared for. This is not kicking around on a piece of ground in your hometown. This is climbing on a dirt road through a valley so scenic it would kill those weak of constitution to above 11,000 feet and ripping a mountainside open with one long gash that's less than one foot wide, traversing a sixty-degree slope. On one hand, it's paradise.

On the other hand, paradise just isn't this good.

Crested Butte Mountain Resort: Play
Forty-pound bike. 200mm of travel. Ski lift. I learned more about steering and jumping a bicycle in one day than I had in three years. It was:

Lupine: Skip Back
Day four began with an endless two-mile descent through Elysium on the way to breakfast. The only thing better than riding your bike to breakfast is riding your trail bike to breakfast. The trail is similar to Snodgrass, with its gentle decline and purple flora. When you arrive in town, whatever is not right in your life will be lost, just another flower in the dust behind you.

Doctor's Park: Record
About twenty minutes southeast of town, this was the ride I most often heard talked about by the locals. "It's worth it," they kept saying. "It's worth it." Worth what? "The Jedi Trees make that trail so worth it." The Jedi Trees? I remember a lot of Stormtroopers dying in the forest of Endor. Death by impact fireball puts a sour cap on a pretty good long weekend.

What are those Jedi Trees worth? One hour climbing on a washboard. Another thirty minutes on a "fire road" that is more difficult to climb than a descending escalator. False summits. Sand. More climbing. Then the climbing gets steep.

Was it worth it?

Jedi Daniel is ready for the swamp. The force is strong with this one.
Suffice it to say that I didn't have the willpower to stop and take a picture. Even though I knew I would want to write about this trail more than any other, I could not force myself to stop. I've recorded images of every inch of this trail in my brain, and you are free to use your Jedi mind tricks to view them.

Here's how my trail partner and life buddy Rebecca described the ride afterwards.

"Well first there was these pointy rocks that were all covered in powdery moon dirt, and I was up in the air forever because of the whole moon gravity thing, and then I finally landed and there was this part like fishooooo fishooooo fishooooo where things went by that I didn't know what they were, and then there was this wreck I almost had, and then those trees where all the Stormtroopers died were flying by so fast, and then we were going even faster so fast that we went to plaid, and that unicorn with the golden horn appeared, and then there was that part that was like buddabuddabuddabudda and I ate this bee because I was trying to slow myself down with my mouth like a parachute, and the bee didn't even care, it was like, hey lady! but I couldn't hear it because I was going so fast!"

I grew up in a small Colorado mountain town where there wasn't much to do other than read and explore the wilderness. Watching the mountains change color as the sun rises, or a bird pin a spot in the air on a gusty day--these are activities familiar to me. Maybe it's that I've been away for too long. Maybe it's my age. Whatever it is, as I inched through the mountains of Crested Butte, I couldn't escape the feeling that, for years, someone else has been living my life in this small mountain town while I've been captive elsewhere. There isn't much I can do about the dirt from which I came, but it'll be my failure if this dirt I am covered in now at the end of a very long weekend isn't the dirt to which I'll someday return. 

Sunday, June 23, 2013

A Long, Long Weekend

In the near future, I'll have a full briefing on several days of incredible riding. Pucker up!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

I'm Asking Only Because it's Important

I'm about to ask you a question that you may hear several times a day. I'm going to try to do it without using phrases like "good cause," "free gift," or "tax-deductible." I'm also in the awkward position of trying to justify why mountain biking, of all good causes, deserves your tax-deductible donation just as much as cancer research or anti-human trafficking organizations. Keep reading to learn more about your free gift.

On June 15th, 2013, a bike race called the Bailey Hundo will take place. The cool thing about the Hundo is that the organizers want it to be more than an opportunity--of which there are many--for racers to ride their bikes. They also want it to help grow some very important things in the community. It's a race, but it actually does something other than make a bunch of sunburned people very tired.

What does the Hundo do? It supports Trips for Kids, the Colorado High School Cycling League, and COMBA (Colorado Mountain Biking Association). Why is it important to get underserved, urban youths on mountain bikes? There's a long list of reasons, such as fitness, building confidence, and getting to see parts of this incredible state that aren't Denver. You can read more about Trips for Kids here.

It's important to stress that these charities aren't just breeding the bike racers of tomorrow. Cycling can change people for the better in countless ways, not to mention that dirt may be an antidepressant (even if dirt is not, riding your bike is (proof below)).

"Help Levi help cycling help us all!"

Riding bikes is so good for people that I feel comfortable asking you to support cycling advocation. Here are a few ways riding bikes has been good for me:

1. People are like dogs in that if we don't get enough exercise, we become neurotic, not to mention heavy. This is what happens to my dog when he stays with my mother-in-law. He needs lots of exercise so he can focus his tiny mind on shedding under the couch. With child obesity being the problem it is, and P.E. classes being dropped from the curriculum, getting kids into riding bikes is doing them a huge favor.

The future of canis lupus familiaris without cycling.

2. There were a couple of years after I moved to Denver that I never got out of the city, and my mind filled with smog and I forgot who I was. Being on a bicycle in the middle of the woods is a good way to hit the reset button. You can't sweat the small stuff if you're busy doing some actual sweating.

3. There are plenty of times when the trail in front of me seems too difficult, unridable, and yet with a little effort I am surprised to find myself on the far side of the difficulty. It's empowering. When you turn around and see that you've ridden something very difficult, and realize the only thing that pushed you through was your own mind and tenacity, you also realize the potential you have to achieve in other areas of you life. I wish I'd learned more about this when I was a kid.

If you decide you'd like to donate, there is a link below that will take you to my Bailey Hundo donation page. Also, if you donate anything, I'll send you some stickers.

If you donate $20 or more, I'll make a wallet for you out of a bicycle tube. I don't have any pictures of them, but it's similar to these. It make take me a few weeks to make them.

If you donate $50 or more, I'll make a hand-stitched notebook for you. The papers will vary. It may take me a month or two two make them.


Thanks for reading. Click here to donate.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

When is it Okay to Wear Matching Sweaters?

When I was in middle school, my parents bought me a brand new winter jacket. I can't remember where they found it, but it was warm and awesome and I loved the thing, and the first day I wore it to school I discovered that my friend's parents had bought him the same new winter jacket in a slightly different color. This is not the kind of thing that goes unnoticed on a middle school playground. In fact,  it was called "totally gay"on my middle school playground.

The emotions tied to this particular memory have become somewhat confused for me, as that friend of mine turned out to be totally gay, and because the guy who bullied us just bought this:

I have no idea whether that thing is cool or uncool, but I guarantee you that the former bully thinks it is. Obviously he's grown emotionally to the point that he can accept when two things look alike.

This has been on my mind lately because several times in the past week I've accidentally dressed to match my bicycle, which makes me feel kind of like this:

It's unclear to me whether dressing to match your bike is cool or uncool, though it's certainly uncool to dress to match your car. Usually when I've seen riders dress to match their bikes, it's because they're paid to do so and are all riding together in a paceline. Let's investigate how cool it is to be a bicycle chameleon when you're riding alone.

Example #1:

Looking good/dorky, he cleans the technical firepit section.

Example #2:
Surging ahead, he drops the garage.

I'm still not sure when it's okay to coordinate and when it's not, because we as a society don't have clear rules about this. It's confusing. Wearing the same jacket as your friend seems to be  socially unacceptable--unless you're Brittish and startled.

You can also dress like your buddies when you're in the aforementioned paceline.

One meat cube on this douche-kabob wasn't grass fed.*

I have one roadie friend who frequently sermonizes on the importance of aesthetics. He'll wear anything on his bike, as long as it's lycra, and any color of lycra as long as it's white, and any shade of white as long as it sears your eyes. He puts a lot of thought into how he and his bike look together, and he looks good when he rides.

My question teeters on the abyss of the form/function argument, and I wonder if--in the case of cycling apparel--an object satisfies both form and function at the same time, why not wear it? In the case of cycling apparel, "it's too expensive" is probably the answer.

So, I've decided I'm just going to find the most rad-tastic kit I can find and wear it all the time.

However, that kit matches my bike, too.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

How Well Does Your Bell Emote?

Your bell, do you love it? How does it feel about you?

Though I understand why they are important, bells are difficult to buy. In the city, they are important safety equipment. Ringing a bell is a cheery way of saying, "I'm behind you and I'm completely out of control." In the mountains, bells are handy communication devices. Should you come up behind another rider on a climb, all you have to do is ring a bell instead of trying to speak through the phlegmy buildup in your throat.

However, whenever I'm buying bike accessories, that extra eight dollars always sends the purchase from the territory of affordable to expensive, and I know I'd have to stand there at the register counting pennies for an extra ten minutes, and I always decide I'll buy a bell some other time.

That time has come.

When I first saw these bells, I got so excited that I bought one for every bike I own. In fact, I got so excited that I forgot how many bikes I own and purchased more bells than I can use.

For comparison's sake, most bells looking something like this:

Is that bell excited by a sherd turn? Does it like beer? How does it feel about your garage? Gaze into its stoic, mirrored carapace for as long as you like. You will never know.

We left for Fruita the day after it snowed nine inches. How did my bell feel about it? No question.

You don't need any buddies telling you that your four year-old Avid Juicy brakes (see above) suck (which they do). You need a bell that will keep you committed to not using brakes at all.

You don't need a life coach. You don't need a training partner. You don't need your ego stroked or your posture complimented or any of that. You need an enthusiastic bell. It will make your life right.