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I have had a love affair with pine  trees since I was boy. I have always loved the mountains, the outside and I think pine trees represent all of this for me. When we used to travel to the Sierra Nevada I knew we had arrived when I could see the forest changing to pine. Though I love all pine trees it’s the Ponderosa Pine I have the most affinity to. I like its smell, its long needles and its large cones.

About 10 years ago I was headed out to Horse Ridge. I always take the old Highway just past mile-post 12,  and I noticed a few Ponderosas growing on the side of the road. There are eleven between Highway 20 and the trail head.  I don’t normally ride up the abandoned old highway past the Parkway to the top of Horse Ridge, but a few years ago I started to as part of a three-hour loop. There are some pine trees there also–15 as far as can tell–I just found another one this year in fact. It’s very small and I am not sure it will survive. It looks like some hungry deer tried to eat it. Here is a photo. So here is a challenge: Find all 15 trees, come into Sunnyside Sports when I am there and I will give you a $10 gift certificate.


I have not seen any trees other than Juniper on any of the single-track at Horse Ridge. I am pretty sure these trees along the road are from people dumping their yard waste along the old roads.
Thanks for reading.
PS– I work most Saturdays.

To start, this is not about defending the use of performance enhancing drugs.  I don’t normally use drugs. I barely drink alcohol, I use aspirin two or three times a year, and even though I have very bad allergies (hay fever), I haven’t used antihistamines for nearly 40 years.

I do have a story though. It starts with the many stories of athletes who take medication for asthma. I know many of you are skeptical. Why does it seem so many athletes have asthma? I don’t know but I do know asthma is on the rise. There is speculation as to why–the pollutants, the food we eat etc.

My story is that I have late-onset asthma. It started for me about 5 years ago. I was in France with friends and I had just gotten over a cold, however the cough stayed. Muffy kept asking me about my cold. I told her my cold was gone, but the cough was lingering. It just stayed with me.

About this time I went to my doctor for him to check on a high-PSA blood test I had.  I had prostrate cancer, and asthma.   I would have never guessed at the time that the cancer had the easy solution, and it would be the asthma that was the difficult problem.

At first the asthma was easy to deal with–a good warm up, take a little medication, and I felt normal. However it started to change for the worse. It got to the point that I never knew before a ride or ski how I would feel. My doctor gave me stronger drugs, but I was very hit or miss. Some days any little up-hill would stop me. Riding from work could be a chore. My doctor suggested I see a specialist in asthma and allergies.

The photo above is what he has suggested, to hit it very hard and very fast. Some of these drugs would not be allowed if I was an active racer. Chris Horner tried to get a TUE for one of these medications but was unable to. One of these drugs caused Alejandro Pettachi to be suspended for a year. The point is athletes aren’t allowed the same resources as non athletes to get healthy.

I don’t really have an answer for this. I guess I would suggest that when you read about all these athletes with asthma, don’t condemn them. Asthma sucks, it comes on unexpectedly, and it is unpredictable. I’m hoping these new drugs will help me. After three days I’m feeling like my old self. I skied for two hours today and was never out of breath. It’s the best I’ve felt in over a year.

I feel for the many athletes with asthma. I can recognize them when they finish. I’ve seen Katie Compton trying to breath when her asthma is acting up, I’ve seen Martin Jonsrud Sundby have a minor asthma attack almost every time he finishes a race. There is no proof that I can find that any of the medications I take are PEDS. But they could be. So most of them are unavailable to active athletes.

This past fall Therese Johaug received at least a 14 month suspension for taking a lip balm for her sunburned lips. The Norwegian Team doctor gave it to her. Years ago Jonathan Vaughters had to drop out of a race because he was stung by a bee and wasn’t allowed to take the medication a non-athlete would’ve  been given.

My story makes me understand better what it takes to feel good again. I’m not suggesting a change,I’m only suggesting that you not condemn all these athletes with asthma. Asthma a a growing worldwide problem and it’s no fun.

This is my first blog since the election. I’m sorry about that but my mind had been elsewhere. Thanks for reading.

I just returned from a two week holliday in British Columbia with three friends from Scotland–Steve, Steve and Kevin.

We were , of course, riding mountain bikes. We went to four of the must-go to areas in BC: Squamish, Whistler, Pemberton and the South Chilcotins. Riding in BC is nothing like riding around here.  Every ride is an adventure.  It’s wild up there.

A little background: I am part Canadian, enough to have a Canadian passport. I know a little bit about my other country, but I had never ridden in BC before this. You bring bear spray mounted on your bike, and don’t expect to see many other people. When the map says Black Diamond it means the whole trail is black, not just bits. I rode a Blue trail with over 50 switchbacks.

At age 65 I rode the most technical trail I have ever ridden. I took a float plane to a wild lake (Spruce) and rode out. But we didn’t see any Brown Bears. I was telling a friend that now that the trip is over, I would have liked to say I saw a Grizzly, but at no time during the trip did I want to see one.

The highlight of the trip was the float plane drop-off–flying in the clouds, going above them and the below them to find our lake. The pilot was getting ready to give up and fly us back when the lake appeared through the clouds. We landed and off we went.

My favorite riding was in Pemberton, a town trying to become a mountain bike Mecca–a town not quite there, which actually made it better–not crowded, and lots of trails.

I need to go back, do some rides we wanted to do but didn’t have the proper weather for, and repeat some rides that are deserving, so I could get the lines sorted–and maybe to see that Griz.


 Ok, this blog is more on the bike nerd side of things. It’s about the best way to lubricate a chain, which also happens to be the easiest. It’s called waxing, but it’s not from a bottle.  I use hot melted left-over candle wax.

A little history: Hot waxing chains is not new. I’m not sure when it started but I had friends in the 60s who did it.  My guess is it’s been around since chains were invented. The idea is you heat wax–I use a crockpot–put in a chain  for about 20 minutes, take it out, let it cool for about 5 minutes, and install the chain. For years my understanding was it kept the drive train clean, but it didn’t lubricate all that well. Then I read an article in VeloNews about chain lubrication. They hired a lab to test how long the lube lasted and how well it worked. What got my attention was that a waxed chain was up to 10 watts more efficient,  lasted many times longer, and  kept the drivetrain clean.

10 WATTS! That is what sold me. I sometimes use a watt meter and I know the difficulty of getting an extra 10 watts. At the time I was seriously bike racing and I said to myself, “I want those free 10 watts.” What I didn’t know is that if you wax your chain and change it at the proper intervals, you also don’t wear out drive train parts. I have four chains for my mountain bike. They all have between 3000 and 4000 miles on them. I have one cassette with close to 8000 miles on it, the derailleur pulleys also have 8000 miles on them. The chains show almost no wear on a chain measuring device. I save $200 to $300 a year on not having to replace parts. I save hours maintaining my bike because I never clean my chain or my drivetrain. Those photos are just after my ride today, I have never cleaned that chain nor that drivetrain.

I have been bragging about this to my coworkers for three years now, and now at Sunnyside we are waxing all of our rental bike chains. We are also going to offer this service to the public (you) for $10 a time. On a mountain bike one waxing lasts 7 hours, as compared to 2 to 3 hours for normal lubrication. What’s cool about this is that on a long ride your chain will be lubricated for the whole ride instead of half the ride. On a road bike one waxing lasts about 500 miles.

OK,  I can see a the wheels turning out there. Why not use a commercial wax based lube in a bottle? Well because in the same test that convinced me to wax my chain, the commercial wax-based lube came out on the bottom for durability and efficiency. Why is that? Well it’s simple. When you immerse a chain in molten wax, the inside of the chain gets lubed. When you apply a liquid wax to a chain, only the surface gets lubed. The inside of the chain is where the bushings are. If these are lubed the chain doesn’t elongate, which means it will not wear out the cassette, chainrings and pulleys.

A couple of more points of interest: This needs to be easy and simple. You will need a quick connect. SRAM chains come with them and KMC makes them for Shimano and Campagnolo. You really don’t need to clean your chain, or even wipe off the excess wax. You can even lube your chain with a traditional chain lube between waxings. All you have to do is wipe off your chain and throw it in the crockpot. The molten  wax will clean your chain for you.

OK, enough of this, time to go for another ride.

 I’ve been trying to write this Blog for a while now. I have a few rules when I write a blog, the main rule being no negativity and no whining.

With all the political upheaval going on, environmental disasters, and the huge consequences of the upcoming national election, it is not easy to stick to these rules.  When my mind is wondering whether I would really move to my other country, Canada, if the election goes a certain way, it’s hard to keep a positive light on life.

So here goes: One, I am thankful that Canada elected Justin Trudeau. After years of a conservative leader, Canada choose a path of enlightenment. They have a government that welcome refugees, and that now wants to be a leader in mitigating climate change. It is refreshing and promising that this could happen so close to the USA.

Two, I am thankful to live in a state where we take our drinking water seriously. We want it clean and we protect the watersheds that it comes from. Every time I take a shower, or get a glass of water I appreciate living in Oregon and not in an overcrowded desert that steels its water from other areas (Los Angeles), or some bankrupt Midwest city that has to get its water from the least expensive source (Flint).

Three, I am thankful to live in a state where most of us cherish our public lands. Where outdoor recreation is not an afterthought but a high-ranking concern. Where our governer supports our public employees, and asked for action to remove the trespassers from the Malheur Refuge.

Four, I am thankful to live in a state where the State Police are not feared but are looked on with respect. I hope the State Policeman who was involved with the fatal shooting near Burns knows that most of us appreciate what he had to do and that we know no one wants to be involved in a situation like that.

Five, I am thankful to live in a community that, for the most part, respects cyclists on the road. In many areas of the USA cycling on public roads is not a given.

Six, I am thankful to be in an area where volunteers do so much to enhance the lifestyle I have come to enjoy–The Meissner ski trails, all of our world class mountain bike trails, our local Symphony, etc.

Seven, I am thankful Bend has retained its core. I moved to Bend in 1974. It seems the population sign was just under 20,000. Now we are four times bigger. Is that bad? Sometimes, but I feel more good has come than bad. I will list.

Most of my friends

All of the mountain bike trails

All of the groomed Nordic ski trails

A real library

A real cultural scene

More quality concerts ( though a few too many outdoor loud venues) whoops!  sorry for the whine.

More bike lanes, in fact most of them.

Better grocery store options

Great restaurants

Instead of a polluting ugly double mill we have the Mill Disrict with a beautiful park and an open air shopping area. I’m not much of a shopper but believe this is a vast improvement over a river turned into a log pond.

Ice skating rink

So, yes,  I’m worried about our future. I’m just thankful the present is so good.


This year we have winter, last year we didn’t, the year before barely. We moved to Bend over 40 years ago for the winter. I was just learning to Nordic ski and Bend seemed like the perfect place to live– mountains nearby, but located on the High Desert. I loved the snow. We would wait every fall impatiently for the snow to come, and it would by the middle of November. Then in 1976 it didn’t snow. What to do? It left a bad memory in my being. Though we continued to have mostly good winters I never took them for granted after that.

Now I’m not even sure if I expect them. I’ll be honest, last year I had a great winter riding my mountain bike, not shoveling snow, and selling lots of bikes. Basically it wasn’t  winter. This year it just keeps snowing and snowing. I like it and we need it, I guess. I’m not really sure if “nature” needs anything. Being a long time conservationist I think, “What is good for the environment?” But really the environment will survive, although mankind may not.

But that is not what I started to write about. I’m writing about enjoying winter. We hike at least once a week, sometimes with Sorrels, sometimes with studded shoes, but we get out no matter what. Maybe our favorite hikes are in the winter. I ski three or four days a week. I don’t spend a lot of time in a gym, on an indoor trainer or other manufactured exercise. I try to do what is seasonal. I was at Horse Ridge this week on my bike and had a great time, but the truth of the matter is that skiing is better right now. Today p, Friday the 15th, was one of the best days skiing I have ever had. I’m glad I moved to winter, I’m glad I still enjoy winter. It’s magical out there. Plus I now have heated seats in the Mini so even the drive is cozy.

Get out there and enjoy!

  I’m nearly 65 (next week if you must know) I have a Senior Pass which allows free entry into National Parks, free parking at NW Forest Pass locations, I’m on Medicare, and next year I will start getting my Social Security. Even saying that seems unreal because I don’t feel old nor even middle aged. I still love riding my mountain bike, skiing etc. I do go to bed early, but then I always have. 
I do try to act my age somewhat. Fifteen years ago, after a pretty scary accident at Lookout Mtn, was when I started to act my age. I didn’t get hurt but I realized I could have. I told myself, it’s time to learn how to walk. When I get to a technical section that could leave me hurt I now walk. I would like to say I’ve never crashed since then, but I can’t. I still try to ride difficult sections and sometimes I fail, but I don’t ride sections that if I fall I will be seriously hurt. This has not been an easy transition, but it was a necessary one. I seem to have collected friends who ride pretty crazy stuff. Most are younger than I am and are just better than I am. I’m not afraid of trying stuff, and that is the issue. I just have to draw an imaginary line and not cross it.

When I was in Switzerland this fall there were lots of those moments. I was strict and I had no crashes, and I still rode plenty of technical single track. My ego has survived and I’m still riding strong at 65. 

Now, I am asking my friends and fellow Mountain Bikers to Learn to Walk, but with a slightly different purpose. In Bend we have hundreds of miles of trails, 95% of are quite easy. Let’s leave the other 5% alone. Keep them more difficult, someone is riding them, just not us. If you can’t ride a section please don’t come back and “fix” it. Just walk, like I do. Believe me if you continue to ride as you enter your sixties you will have to do as I do or you will end up seriously injured or worse. 

Take your ego out of the equation and walk those bits. It’s no big deal, if you learn now you will avoid that serious “wake up call” accident. 

Age sneaks up on us day by day. We can keep our fitness, our strength our muscle memory, but we can’t keep our reflexes, our eyesight and our balance. Don’t be tricked by your fitness into thinking you can still shred like you did 10 years ago. So learn to walk, don’t get injured and please don’t dumb down the trails, our trails are too easy as they are.

Thanks for reading

Don


  
As I sit in my chair in my new house enjoying the view of the sky and our back yard, I’ve decided it’s time I share my decision about retiring from bike racing. It was a decision made in July at USA Mountain Bike Nationals in Mammoth Lakes, California. I had a great weekend of racing there where I won two bronze medals, one in the 65+ cross country, and one in the 60+ Enduro. My preparation was good until a week before we moved.  I still had a couple of great races and at some point during the cross country race, which was first, I decided that the Enduro would be my last race. It came to me that after 50 years of racing, and over 30 years of racing mountain bikes,  I really had no more goals to reach. I have been a national champion, I was a pioneer and was on the podium twice at the inaugural Mountain Bike Worlds, I have raced endurance events and I even did quite well in cyclocross. My road career, well let’s just say it gave me a good start.

I’m not retiring from cycling, I’m not even stopping my weekly training regime. I’m sticking with my weights, intervals and medium-long rides. I am still going to try and improve my skills, though with caution.

There is no regret for me having raced for 50 years. The number of friends I have made, the challenges I have faced, the learning about training, the places I have seen and ridden. The pluses outweigh the minuses by a huge factor. And yes I will miss it.

Why then retire when so many masters continue to race into their 80s and 90s and even 100s? Health is one reason. I have never thought racing is good for ones health, in fact I believe the opposite. Being active, yes, but racing I feel puts the body through too much stress. I want less stress. Achievement? Well, in mountain biking older people can’t start this sport and be competitive easily. My guess is if I continue to race at nationals the same top racers will show up until they become injured, ill, or deceased. I guess this a bit morbid but I feel I have tested myself against the best and I don’t want to just keep repeating it. Injury? Racing is about pushing oneself to the limit, both up and down. It’s time I reined that in a bit. I take pride in my skills, but always pushing to go faster doesn’t seem prudent any more. As I said before I’ve won about all I can win and I just don’t feel the drive to continue.

Motivation is why I think  many people race. But it’s not the reason I raced. I raced because I was good and I was fit. I never entered a race unprepared. I was never one of those people who say on the starting line ” I’m out of shape, I haven’t been training”. I started every race in shape, hoping to win, knowing I would be fit enough to have my best race. I love being outside, I love riding my bike. I even like (not love) doing intervals on my trainer. I simply don’t need events to motivate me.

This racing retirement is similar to my Sunnyside Sports participation. I sold Sunnyside Sports I did not quit working. I have stopped racing but I have not stopped being in shape and riding. I went to Switzerland this summer to ride, I don’t know what adventures are in store for me, I do know there will be many more.


   As some of you know I just returned from a trip to Switzerland with my good friends from Scotland. Kevin organized this trip and when he said “let’s go to Switzerland,” I imediately thought,
“yes this will be good.”

Kathy and I moved this summer so finances were tight, but after the move and things had settled down I realized this was an opportunity not to be missed. I was correct. Riding in Verbier, Switzerland is amazing, scenic, difficult and exhilarating. I brought my knee and elbow pads as suggested and my cautious guardian angel so I would not attempt any thing I was not 100% sure I could ride. Only one minor crash and lots of walking kept me injury free.

I could write about so many things about this trip, like our wonderful hosts, Bike Verbier (do not confuse this with Mountain Bike Verbier, another company), who were amazing, I could go on about the scenery which is, well, just as beautiful as the photos of Switzerland show. Instead I am going to write about what really impressed me most is how different it is riding in the Alps and many other parts of Europe than in the USA. I want to emphasize the word different as opposed to better.

One is the combination lift, shuttle and plain hard riding uphill. In my experience in Oregon shuttles and lifts are to eliminate most of the climbs so riders can enjoy the downhills more. On our trip the combination of lifts and shuttles are to get to the best single track. We might get a shuttle from our starting elevation of 2600 ft to to 4 or 5 thousand but then we would have a 2 hour climb to 8000 feet, do a traverse go back up and then descend into a neighboring valley to be picked up again. One of our rides consisted of a shuttle, a grueling downhill to a train, an hour long train ride, a long 2 hour climb up a very difficult ascent, and the a shuttle home. We could still do unassisted rides from the Chalet we stayed in, but as we only had 6 days of riding we wanted to sample the best.

This kind of riding requires the best of the modern bike, I guess we call the Enduro bikes. Five to 6 inches of travel and really good uphill pedaling is a requirement, as are bigger wheels to help get over all the rock gardens, and the maneuverability to do the 100s of switchbacks on these trails. I rode more switchbacks in 6 days then I have ridden total in my 30 years of mountain biking. My Ibis Ripley was great.

The other major difference in Europe is access. I need to preface this by saying I am a 50 year member the Sierra Club. I believe in what they do, but as an avid Mountain Biker I also feel there is room for a different approach to trail access. In Scotland hikers and mountain bikers are allowed access to all trails, whether on public or private land unless one can show a reason to limit access. In the US we have a blanket ban on all trails in Designated Wilderness, whether it is shown to be harmful or not. Compromise and sharing are not things that we do well over here. I do not know the exact laws in Switzerland but we rode trails, very old trails up very high into the mountains. We shared these trails with hill walkers and even a class of School children.  All were friendly and willing to share. If you look at the above photos you will see a building on a ridge. This is a cafe in what I would call a wilderness. It’s only access is a two hour walk. If you look at the map it is located where the blue dot is. This would be similar to a cafe at Green Lakes. I am not advocating a cafe at Green Lakes, but it was sure nice to have a bowl of hot soup and a coffee at 8500 ft. In Europe this is allowed because they are not concerned about McDonalds putting hamburger stands at every hill top. That’s not allowed. Over here we would have a difficult time coming up with a law that would allow a small discreet cafe without opening up a fast food invasion of our most sacred and valued wilderness. I have mixed feeling but, again, it sure was nice to get out of the cold and wind and enjoy a hot beverage.

Enough for now, thanks for reading. If you have a question leave a comment.


   I’m in The Swiss Alps this week riding with Bike Verbier, an inclusive mountain bike guiding service in Verbier. Not meaning to get commercial here, but Lucy and Phil have a great service going–transfers, lodging, meals, transportation and guiding are provided.

Now back to my trip.

The last time I was in Switzerland was 1972. It was a family trip with Kathy’s family. I sat in a VW Westfalia in a seat facing backwards. We went to see the Matterhorn and the Eiger. No hiking, no scrambling–just looking.

I vowed to go back.  Now, over 40 years later, I’ve returned.  The top photo is The Matterhorn from Mont Fort, the ski area above Verbier. But this time I’m not just looking, I’m riding. We are taking lifts and riding for hours. Yesterday was over 4 hours. My legs are tired my brain is overused from picking the line I can ride. I am well chuffed to be back in Switzerland doing my favorite activity, mountain biking.

I’m with some good friends from Scotland and some new friends from Northern Ireland and England. I was worried about being the least capable (I list myself as a cautious expert. I only ride stuff I am 100% sure I can ride, and when I am riding new terrain I walk many sections if I can’t see an exit.) In this group I’m right in the middle, a good place to be.

We’ve had two days of riding bliss.  I never thought I would do a trip like this, but I am so glad I’m here. I have to thank my very special friend Kevin Murray for having faith in my abilities to join him.

I will share some more when the trip is done.