Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Front Door Turns

The best Saturday job I have ever had!  A bus ride and a lift ticket in exchange for a couple hours of skiing with kids who are way better than me!

Mornings in November come hard to this Pacific NW bike commuter.  The days seem to lose sunlight at an exponential rate and the long wet drab of the Washington Winter sets in with a definity that washes from memory the warm autumn days of September.  I must admit that getting on my bike and pedaling in the rain for an hour to and from work daily on the same route really doesn't feel like much of an adventure most of the time.  As much as I remind myself that it is all training for bigger objectives, Spring and the promise of sunny two wheeled adventures seems to far off to imagine and I  slowly regress into my Spartan routine of rain rides, kettlebell swings, pull-ups and beer consumption. Truly Living the Dream.

Wet again, I wheel my bike inside school and settle in to my morning routine.  One hot cup of bad coffee cut with a healthy dollop of heavy cream, a quick change into dry cloths and I plop down in front of the box to check my email.  Thirty-five not-so-surgical deletes in as many seconds reduced my inbox to a single point of interest:  Lake Forest Park Ski Bus.

Matt, I am putting together a Ski School opportunity in Lake Forest Park this year, would you mind putting a plug in your PE Newsletter?  I am chartering a bus up the the Summit at Snoqualmie for six weekends this winter and would appreciate your support,  inquired Brock, an involved parent at my school with a passion for skiing.

Selfishly, but honestly I responded;   Only if I can go too!  
And so started my career as a Ski Bus Chaperone.

You see skiing has always been one of those things that it has been difficult to wrap my head around.
The contradictions abound:  Load up the SUV and pump a few hundred pounds of CO2 into the atmosphere driving to the Pass all the while bitching about the warm winter and shitty snowpack, yet failing to make the connection.  For better or worse, humans habits are impacting our climate.  Why we as a global society refuse to address this issue in a real and rational way perplexes me beyond words.   But  like it or not, climate change is upon us and recreational pursuits like skiing are going to look much different 50 years from now than they do today.

Like climbing, skiing can be a very fossil fuel heavy pursuit and it is certainly hard for a guy who professes the virtues of small living and less consumption to justify a couple hours of driving for a couple hours recreation.  But also like climbing, skiing is a hell of a lot of fun and I can't fault anyone for wanting a little more that in their life.  When I started my Front Door Adventures project I never imagined that skiing would be a pursuit that I could pull off without a car.  The Ski Bus however, provided a unique opportunity; bike ten miles to Lake Forest Park, catch the bus to The Summit at Snoqualmie, ski all day, ride the bus back to the city and bike home.

Last weekend was my final trip up to the pass on the ski bus for the year.  A perfect day of spring-like conditions stamped a smile on my face that wouldn't subside even as I pedaled my bike and loaded trailer up Perkins Hill and rain began to fall.  It's funny how a day of pure joy makes my legs burn a little less on the ride home than a typical day at work.
I crested the hill into Shoreline and turned against a strong southwest wind that would blow in my face for the next seven miles back home.  I tucked my head, geared down and thought about the cold beer in the fridge at home.

I already miss my Ski Bus Saturdays and I am trying to figure out a way to get a few more days of guilt free skiing in without getting behind the wheel of a car.  It likely isn't going to happen very often.
As much as I like riding my bike and human powered adventures, sometimes I really wish I didn't give a shit about the environmental ethics of recreation;  things would likely be easier that way and I would undoubtedly develop into a much better skier a lot quicker.

But at the end of the day,  I do give a shit.  I give a shit about a lot of things.  I give a shit about the water I drink, the air I breath and the food I eat.  I give a shit about how I spend my time and the health of the city that I live in and the planet I occupy.  I give a shit about our rate of consumption and the resultant foreign policy that keeps our country involved in never ending world conflict.  I give a shit that our economic model values infinite growth over sustainability, and on a planet with finite resources,  that is by definition unsustainable.  Mostly I give a shit about the environmental and social legacy that my nieces, nephews and students will inherit from my generation.  I hope that they will be able to enjoy a day of skiing in the Cascades when they are my age.
I hold no delusions that living my life on a bike will have any significant impact on the future of our planet, but I refuse to throw in the towel and give up hope that we can save us from ourselves.  At the very least, at the end of the day I will know I did my best to be the change that I wanted to see in the world.

I'll manage to get a few good days skiing along the way in as well.

That's how I roll,


My life is filled with generous people.  Sean Nordquist set me up with skis, poles, bindings, boots and skins when I told him that I wanted to learn how ski! Thank you Sean!

Art is alive and thriving in the Pacific NW winter!

The B.O.B Trailer has opened the FDA possibilities wide open.

Traveling in style.

I quickly discovered that Hyak at the East Summit of Snoqualmie is the place to ski on the weekends.  A fun ski over from Central, short lines, and a sunny back side!

2 Mountain Dogs Ski Consultants/Alpine West Ski School  participants from Lake Forest Park.

The end of January Sobriety.  The Jolly Roger Christmas Ale was superb this year!