Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Mother's Day

On June 1st, 1997 a column titled "Advice, like youth, probably just wasted on the young", by Mary Schmich appeared in the Chicago Tribune. The essay, wrote as a fictional graduation salutation was later made famous by Australian film director Baz Larhamm, who set it to music and released it as the hit Everybody's Free (to wear sunscreen) in 1998.

The song, spoken word lyrics set over a mellow rhythmic beat, is full of useful life edicts such as, Don't be reckless with other people's hearts, don't put up with people who are reckless with yours, and Do NOT read beauty magazines, they only make you feel ugly. One of these verses that resonates most with me is, Get to know you parents, you will never know when they'll be gone for good.

It is not that I'm expecting my exceeding healthy Mother and Father to fall ill and die at any moment, in fact I fully expect to mooch off them for decades to come. It is just that a good friend of mine called the other day and let me know that his 39 year-old bother died unexpectedly in his sleep.

Get to know your brother, you will never know when he'll be gone for good.

You see, the word parents in this song could easily be replaced with brother, wife, niece, friend or student and convey the same message. No matter how you look at, we have a limited amount of time to live and the only meaningful thing that really happens in that time is our relationships with people we love.

I rode to Snohomish on Mother's Day and had a beer and bike ride with my Mom. We spent a couple hours hanging out and I learned a few things that I never knew about her. I gave Mom the gift of time and she said it was the best Mother's Day present that she'd ever been given. Go figure?

Livin' the Dream,


Crytogamic Carpet: Over 100 species of moss thrive here in the Great Pacific Northwest.

The emergence of the Sporophyte, a critical phase in the sex life of moss.

Edmonds-Kingston Ferry. Scuba divers barley visible as two black dots near the beach.

Flat tire.

A Mother's Day celebration started properly with beverages at Fred's Tavern.

This is the best photo I have ever taken of my Mom.

With close proximity to the gem of Snohomish County (AKA the Centennial Trail), the Snohomish Bike Shop is an excellent choice for a bike rental.

Stylish, sleek and athletic. Biking Granny!

Part of an excellent 10 mile country loop.

Friends far, friends near and friends estranged!

Field of love. Something really cool happened here at one time.

The mighty and muddy Pilchuck River, from Chinook Jargon meaning Red Water.

It is really terrible living here in Washington where it rains constantly.

Without my Father, Mother's Day would not have been possible. Mom thanks Dad daily for her Gift of God.

The Interurban Trail, previously the Interurban Trolley Line, is a network of paths, residential streets,arterials and bike lanes that connect King and Snohomish Counties. Three hours between Snohomish and Seattle.

More good news, beer prevents osteoporosis ! Drink up Mom!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Who's the Big Dummy?

My mind wondered....

I wonder if I crashed and the gas exploded if I would get one last big ride in the sky on a jet powered bicycle before an eventual unpleasant landing?...much more likely I would explode into little pieces though.....BUT, rolling with relatively large quantity a compressed gas kind of equals out the car vs. bike equation ...well not really, but at least it makes you a little less attractive target....

The path-side artwork of a mushroom cloud explosion yanked me out of the thought train and called out, Don't crash dumb shit!

The Erbeck Family recently acquired a Surly Big Dummy cargo bike and Aaron was nice enough to let me take it on a "refill the propane canisters" adventure to a conveniently located Lowe's Hardware.
Some might call me a be a big dummy for riding my bike everywhere I am able, but I sure have a lot of fun getting things done on two wheels.

Livin' the Dream,


Aaron , Luca and True taking The Big Dummy with Erbeck's deck-saddle conversion for a test drive. Custom machined handle bars, hand-sewed teak stirrups and 100% fun Dad! You really should enlarge this photo to see the expressions on the boys faces. Priceless!

Two wheels, ten gallons of propane and a small brain.

A feature that I see as a design flaw. The buckle is anchored to the frame with Velcro strap. On my way home the entire buckle separated from the frame while carrying a canister of compressed gas. The other two straps carried the load and I was able to re-secure the tank, but was not put at ease by the experience. While it would come at the price of versatility, I see a sewn buckle as a safer and more secure option. Propane or groceries, one never wishes to lose a load while riding a bike!

Nobody died.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Spring Training

Good Morning Matt. Get on your bike!

As you get older it is harder to have heroes, but it is sort of necessary.
-Ernest Hemmingway

In October 1995
Goran Kropp loaded up his bike with 108 kilograms of gear in the town of Jonkoping Sweden and began pedaling east. Seven months and 8000 miles later, he arrived at the Everest base camp in Nepal and proceeded to solo Chomolungma without the use of bottled oxygen or Sherpa support. He then pack up his kit on the bike and pedaled home. Frontdoor Adventures wasn't my idea.
In 2001 I attended a slideshow by Goran that detailed the epic and promoted his book Ultimate High: My Everest Odyssey. For two hours I sat and listened to a man poke fun at his beer belly and humbly downplay the mental and physical fortitude required to successfully pull off such an adventure. Don't take yourself too seriously was one of the resounding messages I walked away with.
I waited in line to have a poster autographed after the show. Goran greeted me with a hearty handshake and bousterous smile.

"What shall I write Matt?" he asked.

I hadn't really thought about it to much and spat out, "Train hard!"

"Perfect", he retorted and scribbled the message over a self-portrait of himself atop the highest mountain in the world . "Train hard", he bellowed and gave me friendly slap on the back.

That poster still hangs above the bench in my man space. Every morning when I go to the shed to get my bike, I am greeted by Goran's chipped-toothed smile and frozen beard. I am reminded that to accomplish great things, consistent small effort must be put forth.

On September 20, 2002 Goran Kropp died from injuries sustained in a rock climbing accident in Vantage, Washington. A memorial etched in the rock where Goran died reads, With a thumb up "Kropp on Top" Goran lives!
Goran Kropp is one of my heroes.

I have some plans of my own that involve a bicycle and the mountains, and although they may not be as grand as Goran's adventures, they embrace his spirit and get me out training on a beautiful spring day.

Livin' the Dream


Url, doing what he was built to do.

The one thing that keeps Seattle from being a world class city is transportation. It is getting better, as indicated by projects like the link light rail at the UW Campus. They can't happen soon enough.

Hydration is key to any successful athletic endeavor. Never pass up an opportunity to drink potable water...or beer.

Just in case you didn't get the memo, cars kind of suck and gas is pretty f'ing expensive.

Uphill with gear ;-)

Mt. Olympus by bike, what a crazy idea.

Long Ski Socks by Teko. A really versatile and durable piece of clothing. Pull 'em up when your legs are cold!

Overkill for the day hike at Sqauk Mountain, but the La Sportiva's need broken in for bigger objectives.

Squak Mountain State Park was donated by the Bullitt Family of Seattle for the greater benefit of the environment and community. The best any of us could leave behind is an environmental legacy.

A nice change of pace.

Rainier and May Valley from the West Summit of Squak Peak.
In July of 2008 Randall Nordfors biked from Lacy to Paradise, climbed Mount Rainier and biked home in under 20 hours. The man is an animal. I wonder how long it would take if you carried your own gear and stopped for a couple beers along the way?

New friends Gary, Sally and Chloe guided me from the microwave tower summit of Squak Mountain to some good views from the West Summit.

55 isn't old for a tree.

Nature's Sponge. The great Douglas Fir Tree.

Art is alive and thriving in Seattle...

even in the ditches.

Lots of rain and a little sunshine makes things pretty here in the evergreen state.

The second best institute of higher learning in the State of Washington.

Recovery meal by Flyers Brewery in Oak Harbor , WA.

I picked up a hot dinner date on a bike near Roosevelt.

Recovery Meal by Will Fernandez! Thanks Will!
Beast and Wild Asparagus from Idaho.