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We just finished moving into our new house on Lakeside Place.

This house buying, selling, and moving is really a story about friends.  From the builder, Jason Adams, who is the owner of Arbor Builders, to Aaron Henson, who I just talked to about a building permit for our back fence, this project has been about asking friends, dealing with friends, paying friends, and getting payed by friends. If I wrote about everyone involved this blog would be too long–more like a novel. So I am going to write about one friend who was here at a time when I needed him, Russell Crecraft.

I met Russell in a phone call, really before I knew him. He was a young man out of University in Texas, thinking about relocating in Bend to work for a new startup high tech company called APT. I really never knew what APT, now Microsemi, did–something to do with power supply. Russell, who is very clear and concise in his words, called Sunnyside Sports to ask what the bike riding was like in Central Oregon. I was handed the phone and I must have said the correct thing because a few weeks later Russell walked in the store, reminded me who he was, and basically said, “OK, where is this good riding?” I can’t remember the exact details but I do know I went with him on a few road rides and we became friends.

I introduced Russell to XC skiing and Mountain Biking also. We traveled across Oregon to many races, and even as far as B.C. for a ski race. He met a woman friend, really a girl,as she was only 19, Marla. They were married, had a family, and Russell became pretty much head honcho at Microsemi. We stayed in touch but his life diverged from mine and we didn’t ride together anymore.

The years passed, kids grew up and went to University,  and Russell retired and got back in the cycling game. He called me in the Spring of 2014 and wanted me to show him some of the new trails. We went to Horse Butte–I figured this would be a good place to start. We went out for about an hour and turned around. If you are familiar with the Arnold Ice Cave Loop you will know there are a couple of “technical” bits. On the way out it was simple, Russell dismounted and walked up the rocks. On the way back he was following me and since, according to him, I made the rocks look easy, he tried, crashed, and broke his hand. I was on an Ibis Ripley 29er with short and high stem, he was on a Trek 26er, with a long and low stem from the 80’s.

Fast forward a few months Russell took my advice and bought a new Ripley.  We are riding again together, just like 30 years ago.

When Russell found out we were moving last week he volunteered to help. And help he did. He was there for three full days in 100 degree heat helping.  Correction: I was helping him.  He would carry all of the heavy stuff, seeiming tireless,but like me he was pretty exausted after we were done.

I’m not really sure what I do to deserve all of the friends I have, but it must be the right thing. So thank you Russell, Gary, Mike, Eric, Cary, Jacob, Sanna, Chuck, Aaron, Priscilla, and Jason. All of you were friends before we bought this house but all of you helped us with the process.

I have a few more stories to tell in the future.

Don

This is Jody from the top of Maiden Peak. Her last day of work at Sunnyside was Wednesday. She is off to follow her dreams, see some new country and be closer to a friend. All of these are worthwhile and I am excited for her.

But it leaves an empty place for me. Jody is an amazing woman, and I can say working with her was very special. I don’t like change, it’s true. I’ve lived in the same house for nearly 40  years, and I have been married even longer.

So when a good friend and longtime employee leaves it is hard on me.

Here is what I’ll miss:

Her face first of all. Jody said it first but Jody’s face is exotic. I’m not sure what that means, but it’s true. A bit of European beauty in that face.

Her answers to my questions. She listens, and this is what our customers loved, and then she answers with her whole being.

Her style–In a day when so many athletic people wear what ever is on top of the drawer Jody is able to go from 70s rock star, to London waif, to Mod. A friend told me that teenage boys from Spain could make a T-shirt look good. Well, Jody is the same. Whatever she is wearing has a purpose and style.

Riding with Jody. We didn’t get out a lot but when we did they were awesome rides. On the downhills she would always disappear into the trees ahead of me, but with a big grin. There is more that I will miss, some that I can’t remember and some that words won’t express.

I hope the best for Jody in her new life. I am sure our paths will cross again, and I am sure some long rides will be in our future.

So long my friend. 

Every Spring I go through the ritual of clearing trails. Trees fall in the winter, and  I, and a few others, cut them in the spring. We use hand saws, not chain saws–This means we do not get the biggest blow down, but we get about 90% of all the trees blocking the trails. I have a 300mm (12″) Silky Gomboy folding saw. It has a stainless steel blade with very sharp,coarse teeth, perfect for our soft woods. I can cut a 15″ tree but I prefer the smaller trees.

I have a few rules, one is I limit the number of trees I cut per ride. If I cut more than 4 it is a work party not a ride. I don’t cut anything that could be dangerous. I try to keep the trails narrow.

Though I don’t mind cutting trees I would like more help. I have this idea that in order to be a member of COTA one should carry a saw with them. The other day I saw some friends at the top of the Whoops. They asked why I had such a big pack. I didn’t really answer, but the reason is I carry a saw, a real pump, a first aid kit, a space blanket and a spare jacket. I may have asked them how they had just enjoyed a tree free ride, trees I had cut the week before.

I don’t imagine most people think how the trees were cut. Do they think COTA has some roaming patrol that cuts trees, or maybe COTA has a paid staffer that responds to the emails informing them that trees are down.

Well COTA has neither. I would suggest the next time you see a tree down take out your saw (which you will have bought after reading thus article) and cut it. Join the small, but dedicated, group that maintains our trails in a low key way. Here are a few photos of this years trees.

Thanks for reading, Don

 

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A friend and customer asked me a few days ago if I wanted to go to Utah and race the Crusher in the Tushar with him. I politely said no, that wasn’t my type of race. He said,  “Why not? You like to suffer.” I answered,  “Well, not really.”

How to explain to someone?  Yes I like to go hard. Yes I like to race. Yes I like endurance races.  But no, I do not like to suffer.
I guess it is all in one’s head at the end of the day, and this is my head.
I have done 100 mile mountain bike races three times, but I will not do another one because that enters into my world of suffering. The first 70 miles are fine, then comes two hours of fighting pain to finish. Those who can overcome the pain usually do well (I did that pretty well). The problem was the after, it takes me a month to recover, and two months to start getting my fitness back. So for me that is suffering.
I can easily ride fun single track for 5 hours, but put me on a road bike on straight flat roads, gravel or not, and I get bored. I call that suffering.

A gravel grinder race, such as the Crusher, has hours of steep, unrelenting climbs, slow gravel-sucking climbs with mainly unrewarding descents. Not for me. Give me a classic climb in Europe with a challenging twisting descent and I am all smiles. I guess it is  like a movie or a good book. I could sit and watch a movie I like and three hours goes by like a flash, a movie that isn’t to my taste and those three hours seem like an eternity.
So no I don’t like to suffer, I do like to go hard on my terms. Please remember these are my boundaries not anyone else’s and I respect that.

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I was riding my Ibis Ripley last week with my friend Russell east of town when an interesting thought crossed my somewhat-warped mind. I was enjoying my late January ride because of some very basic scientific concepts:

Continental Drift, which caused the mountains of the west to form,

Gravity, which makes for some fun downhill riding, and

Climate Change, which means we are having a very dry and warm winter. The trail I was on goes to 5500 feet in elevation and would be covered with snow every other year I have lived in Bend

In the 17th century not all believed  Newton when he figured out Gravity, but today it is accepted, even by most Republican politicians, and certainly by all bicycle engineers. Continental Drift was more recent–really not accepted until the mid-20th century. Even when I went to University in the ’60s it was taught as a theory and not as a scientific fact. Human-caused Climate Change is now accepted as fact by most in the scientific community, but as we know, there are many in power who don’t accept it as fact.
My thought was,  “OK, what if the engineers designing bikes were as ignorant as our politicians and didn’t believe in Gravity? What kind of bike would I be riding?” Fortunately this is not the case and I have a great bike, but with a majority of Republicans running our government, and apparently not believing in human-caused Climate Change, the world I live in is  going to function about as well as bicycle designed without the laws of Gravity.
Since I don’t have the power to stop Climate Change I will continue to enjoy our crazy weather, but inside I am deeply worried about our world.

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I am reading a book called Quiet–it’s a book about introverts. I am one, in a big way. Not everyone knows that but believe it, it’s true, and I have known it most of my life. It is the biggest thing about me that my mom didn’t understand. Today is my birthday , and, at 64,  I am comfortable with being an introvert, it is the essence of who I am. The photo really shows my introversion, and my sensitivity. This is minutes after I have won Nationals in 2011, and what do I do? I find my friend Serena get a hug and start to cry.
Years ago this would have embarrassed me, but now I know it us who I am and being an introvert is not a bad thing.
If you are an introvert I would suggest you read this book. It explains us and it is nice to know we are normal.
Yes it is my Birthday today, I just turned 64. As a person who grew up with the Beatles this may be more of a milestone than 60 or 65. It is amazing that a silly song could have so much meaning.
Lastly I am not afraid of weather. Today I went out to Horse Ridge, east of Bend, to ride my mountain bike. It had been raining for two days and one might have thought it would be muddy, but no, it was ideal. Visiting Scotland often helps with weather fear. In Scotland you just get on with it no matter what, and most of the time it is great. A little rain, or even a lot is no excuse for not going out.

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Some of you may know I am not doing cross this year. I have missed cross before because of injuries and surgery, but this year it was because I just decided I wasn’t into it.
So here are the parts I miss. The racing, I love to race, the watching. I enjoy spectating and shouting words of encouragement, I don’t heckle. The friends. I have become friends with all my competitors and many others. A cross race is like a huge party, that lasts all day long. The training. Along with missing cross this year I am also taking a break from serious training. I miss those intervals.
What I don’t miss, the 6 hours of driving. What a relief it is to have leisurely Sunday’s. The crowds during the race. I have to pass over 100 racers each race. 1 every thirty seconds. Our race has become a race of passing not skill or endurance. I am not a good passer. I am too polite, and I do not have fast acceleration. I really don’t enjoy that part. I miss the days when my group started first and I had an open field to race in. I don’t miss the beer. I know for many beer and cross go hand in hand, but I don’t drink and all the beer bothers me. It would be like going to a party and you were the only one not drinking. Not so fun. This is not to condemn he beer, I just don’t miss that part.
In the photo, which I love and thank you Rob Kerr for taking it, it shows the best and the worst for cross. I am the person on top on my bike. I rode that section passing most of those riders. All of those riders were in a different group than me. It they hadn’t been there I would have passed the leader of my group and gone into first, but instead I had to pass these guys but not quite up to Ken who was in front.it seemed almost futile at the time.
This is not to complain about the Oregon cross scene. I love that so many are taking part but for me it has gotten just too big.
I may race again next year, but for now it has been great fun enjoying the Bend Fall.

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I was quite taken with this photo of me, I wasn’t sure why, but after some thought it is because it is me in my element. If you know me you know I love being outdoors. I love mountain vistas, waterfalls, trees, etc.
This photo shows me in that moment. Happy, Content. Outside.
I do love a cozy house, a warm house as my friends from Scotland will tell you. I like the feeling of a warm fire after a long day outside in the wet, or snow. I like a nap in my comfy chair after a long ride, I appreciate our air conditioning after a day in the heat. Those things come after the out-of-doors.
When I was a school boy I got spring fever badly. While sitting in class, I would think of baseball, riding my bike, a long hike. Sitting indoors was torture to me. I am still the same.
You can ask Kathy. I just get antsy if I don’t get my outdoor fix.
I was with my friends from the (still together) UK when this photo was taken last week. Thank you Kevin, Iain, Lizzy, Stevo, Steve, Andy and Jimmy for sharing my passion the last two weeks.

I have 7 friends from the UK visiting (though Scotland is voting at this moment on independence). I decided this year we would try some new trails , for me, while they were here. The first trail we tried was the Tire Mountain trail in Oakridge. We had Oregon Adventures shuttle us up to Kate’s Cutoff on the Alpine trail, but we took the Tire Mountain/Clover Patch variation on the way down. It made us forget we shuttled up hill. Almost 5000 feet of climbing and 30 miles later we made it down. This really makes the Alpine trail complete. Tough climbs and sweet descents. We lucked out as the Deception Creek fire was still burning but it was clear on the Alpine side of the Valley.
After a mellow day at home it was another adventure into Washington.
We camped on the Lewis River, about an hour north of the Columbia River. The Lewis River trail is not as technical as The McKenzie River Trail, but it has some tough climbs both ways and is very scenic. The camp ground was perfect. It had a pump for water, nice sites and it was close to the River for swimming and bathing.
The next morning it was off to Mt St Helens. This trail encompasses Ape Canyon, The Plains of Abraham and Smith Creek. Lots of climbing, riding right through the blast zone of the St Helens eruption, and finishing with a technical descent to the Smith Creek.
This was all new to me. I have wanted to check out Mt St Helens for a long time and this trail was perfect.
After a mellow day at camp we headed home via Hood River. Kev was scouting out possible routes on our map and he found 15 mile creek. This is a trail closer to the more famous Surveyors Ridge, which I have done.
15 mile was a scenic, expert level trail. Great descent, with a low gear climb. A great way to end our camping trip. Like I said new trails with old friends.IMG_0621.JPG

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Some of you may know I worked for the Forest Service for about 10 years back in the ’70s. I was an initial-attack firefighter. The biggest fire I did initial attack on was the Bridge Creek Fire in 1979.  The Bridge Creek Fire is the fire you see when you go to Tumalo Falls. I was the first tanker truck on the scene.  There were some smoke-jumpers a little higher up.

When I drove up the road it was through a very thick forest of Douglas Fir and pine trees–More like a west-side forest. The cliffs you see to the North were damp and moss-covered. When I drove out 24 hours later it was all black with ashes and burnt trees. It was different, but it was not terrible.  It is called Forest Ecology: Forests burn.  That is what makes them what they are.
I just read a book about avalanches. The writer explained that there are avalanches every day.  Only when humans are involved are they considered tragedies. It is the same with forest fires. If a fire has to do with humans–destroys homes, recreation sites or timber, it is  considers destructive. If it  just burns the forest, it is the way of nature. One of the issues around  the Two Bulls fire is that forest has been sitting there without much management other than fire suppression for the last decade or so. The forest got thick and when the fire started it spread like, well, wild fire.
Now don’t get me wrong, I am not condoning the actions of the pinheads who started this fire. I am just saying that fire is not in itself a bad thing. It is just part of the ecology of where we live. The photos here are both on the Mrazek trail west of Bend. The one is in the fire and the other is out. In a year or two the burned area will have lush grass, flowers and brush growing. It will be fun to watch it grow.
On a side note I was in our local USFS office a couple of days ago. It is located at the Old Bend Pine Nursery. I worked there from time to time when I was needed. I asked the receptionist if there was anyone around who also had worked at the nursery and I was directed to another of the desk people. When I started to talk  we recognized each other. It turns out I was her first boss. Then she went on and told me some things I had done to make her life better.  Believe me, it was not not easy being a woman firefighter in 1978. It was very heartening to hear that I made a difference to someone. Life is good.
Thanks for reading.
Don