Friday, July 22, 2011

Last Chair: 7/22/11

Okay, here's my tweets for the week. If you want to get this stuff in (semi) real time, follow me on twitter. And for that matter, friend me on facebook (where my presence is a little more family oriented and sometimes political). Here we go:

The Famous Internet Skiers have been busy, posting this report and this report, both from Utah.

I was into some of the more "intellectual" posts this week. Here's a post from someone who came back to bicycling after a long hiatus, only to find it drastically different. And here's a post on "getting back your inner ski bum" by patronizing local mountains and helping local people.

And here's a funny internet post that leads to a funny thread.

Video this week is from Nimbus Independant (there's a skippable ad at the beginning). If you like Rap music and huge air, then this is for you. If not, the Meatheads teaser must be coming out soon . . .

More Ski Videos

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Secret of Golf

My grandfather had two rules for golf. The first rule was “miss ‘em straight”; meaning, if you hit a bad shot, at least make sure the bad shot was in the general direction of the target. The second rule was “learn how to listen to the grass grow”. That one was a little bit more complicated. I guess I could have chalked it up to general weirdness (he also suggested washing your hands with “hot soap and water”), but I really think it was meant as more of a statement of grand philosophy.

I’m not someone you would call “relaxed.” I’m always thinking, fidgeting, or thinking about fidgeting. I like to be constantly bombarded with stuff – information, music, pictures, stories, etc. It’s not that I can’t relax (I relax with the best of them). I just seem to do a lot of stuff while I’m relaxing. Last night, after I got done mowing my lawn, I decided to just lay out on the couch. Before I knew it, I was drinking a beer, watching the Tour de France on TV, flipping back and forth to the Mets game, facebooking, texting Ace, and browsing internet message boards. Not exactly the tranquility that I had in mind. Since golf is a lot like life (but more complicated), I really have to teach myself to listen to the grass grow when I’m not on the golf course (since I seem to have learned to do it on the course – 37,38,38,38 for my last four 9’s).

One of the things that helped me this year is not dwelling on my last shot. It’s awful easy to screw up your next shot because you’re thinking about how horrible the previous shot was. In golf, your mind works better when it has a short memory: logical forgetfulness. The way I got there was a bit of a mental shift. Instead of thinking “I’m in this damn bunker because my last shot was so shitty”, I’ve started thinking: “Here I am in this bunker, how can I get this shot close?” It’s not a very drastic change, and it can easily be applied to other areas in life. Instead of thinking, “Damn, my relationship sucks because of this shitty thing I did”, it’s better to think: “Okay, here’s the situation I’m in now, how can I make it better?” The quicker you can make the transition from reflection to preparation, the easier it is to move on.

Another thing that has helped me this year is that I always make sure that I’m well fed (usually a sandwich before the round). And I always have a beer around the 4th hole. Somehow it’s easier to listen to the grass grow when I’m not starving and sober. Ace will tell you, when I’m hungry, it’s like a Snickers commercial. Also, it has been found that heavy drinking is more healthy than totally abstaining from drinking, possibly because of social reasons. So who’s up for a margarita!?!?

Finally, right before I swing, I think to myself: “It’s perfect”. I don’t know if this actually does anything, but I generally find that if I have a bad thought – “I’m going to slice it into the trees”, “I’m going to chunk this chip 2 feet in front of me”, “I’m going to hit it in that pond” – it almost always comes true. So, I figured that the opposite couldn’t hurt. I think this seems to work for me off the course as well. When I have a bad feeling walking into a casino, I generally lose money. But when I expect to win, I seem to do pretty well. I think this is one of the reasons that people accepted “The Force” as a possibility in Star Wars. The mind is pretty powerful, and it doesn’t seem too far fetched to believe that an enormous intergalactic planet-sized space station can be destroyed because some teenage kid trusted his “feelings” on the final shot.

I don’t really think that these steps are what my grandfather had in mind to improve your golf game. Otherwise, he would have just said that the secret is a short memory, food, confidence and alcohol. Wait a minute . . . Maybe that is the secret to a great golf game!! And a great date! For that matter, it might be the secret to a great business meeting, wedding, bowling tournament, poker game, bachelor party, sporting event, or parole board hearing! I mean, sure, this type of lifestyle might turn us into a nation of fat, forgetful, overoptimistic drunks, but some people would say that we’re already there. Which brings me back to the Grandpa’s first rule: As long as we’re going in the general direction we want to go in, it’s okay to miss every once in a while. Just make sure your next move is perfect.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Trip Report (MTB): Pine Hill Park - Rutland, VT

After 50 miles on the road bike on Saturday, we got back in the woods on Sunday. Pine Hill Park in Rutland is a great spot for us for a couple of reasons:

1. It's in easy day trip range, less than two hours from our house, and about an hour from our friends' house
2. The fast, flowy trails are a nice change from the rooty, rocky technicality of SMBA (which has been in great shape lately, by the way).

After a sweet breakfast at the Big Apple Diner, we pulled in around 11:30. It was hot. Really hot. And the way that Pine Hill is set up, you start climbing from the parking lot, and don't stop climbing until you get to the top right corner of the map:

We rode up and up and up (Lower Ledges to Upper Ledges to Droopy Muffin to Jersey Turnpike to Strong Angel to Stegosaurus).  When you finally reach the top, you're rewarded with a pretty sweet view:

We were glad to be done climbing for a while, though.  It was time to play.  We rode Overlook to Underdog - a fast descent with some fun features.  Then we climbed up Salamander to PA4J (really fun going from north to south).  All the trails were well marked and fun to ride:

They have a bunch of really cool bridges:

We rode Lonely Rock, Rembrandt's Brush, Halfpipe (favorite trail there), Sisyphus, Svelte Tiger, Vista Trail, and then we started making our way back down.  We got a lot of miles in, but it only took us about 2 and a half hours.  Must be getting a little faster.

Not much else to say about Pine Hill, except that it's pretty perfect for families, beginners, or just people looking to take a hiatus from breaking their bodies on crazy technical rocks.  I had the GoPro with me, so I shot some footage and made a little video.  I'm thinking that I'm going to start bringing my video camera mountain biking, just so I can get some different angles to break up the monotony if I decide to make a year end video.  Anyway, here's the vid:

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Last Chair: 7/15/11

Slow week on the old internets, but here's a couple of links that I found interesting (and posted on my twitter feed - which appears on the right).

Here's one that I didn't put on the feed: A really cool Trip Report from skiing Mt. Shasta over the 4th of July weekend.

For biking links, I liked this shirt from the Tour de France and this Trip Report from the Dolomites.

And for life/motivation: here's 29 life lessons learned from travelling the world.

Video this week is the teaser for the Tuckerman Ravine segment of the upcoming Warren Miller movie.  looks like they got some pretty good shots:

Edit: Damn embed isn't working . . . Here's the link, I'll fix mine when they fix their embed code.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Trip Report (MTB): Millstone Hill - Barre, VT

I seem to do a lot more mountain bike Trip Reports than skiing Trip Reports. I think there's a couple of reasons: 1. Most of my ski days are at one mountain, whereas my weekend mountain biking trips are a little more varied (on weekdays, I stick to the Stables) and 2. I'm still kind of new to this mountain biking thing. So these places might be kind of old hat for some people, but for me, they're new and exciting. Anyway, on with the report:

We decided to make our excursion to Millstone a day trip, which, as it turned out, was pretty ambitious. We drove the 45 minutes up to our friends' house, loaded our bikes into the big pickup, and drove 2 and a half hours to the trail center, pulling into the parking lot at around 12:30. The shopkeep seemed pretty cool, and directed us to "an easy sixteen mile loop that you can do in about 3 hours". The route was highlighted on the trail map, and marked with arrows the whole way around. We said it sounded good, geared up, and started riding. The initial climb was a little steeper than we expected, but we were rewarded with a pretty sweet view.

The fun part about this trail system is that there were several points like this - places to step off the trail, relax, and check out a sweet view.  Then, it's right back to singletrack:

Lots of fun trails, and lots of up and down (more than we're used to at SMBA).  There's some fun little spots to explore, including the Black Lagoon:

And the Green Lagoon:

The really "cool" parts are the areas on the trail map marked with a snowflake. In these areas, a breeze blows through old mine tailings that retain snow and cold from the winter (even in July!). Nice cool down on a hot day.  We cruised around the southern part of the map on a really cool trail called "Fellowship Ring".  Plenty more views:

After riding Boiler Maker (fun) and TNT (technical, some hike-a-bike, but doable if we worked hard at it), we had done about 8.5 miles of the 16 mile loop, and it had taken us 3 hours.  

We decided to just ride a little more, doing Zig Zag (a fun downhill trail) and Froot Loop, then heading back to the trail center.  First, though, we had to stop at Inspiration Point:

All in all, we did 10 miles in about 3 hours and 45 minutes.  Not bad, but I don't feel like we even put a dent in the map.  I  really want to go back and ride the northeast corner of the map, and there's some newer trails (like Rollercoaster) that look totally sick.  After riding, we drank some Maple Soda as a recovery drink:

To really get into this place, we need to spend a couple of days here - riding about 6 hours a day.  Apparently, there's a Bed & Breakfast in town with rooms for $40 a night.  Definitely have to put it on the calendar this fall.  On the way home, we stopped at the Inn at Long Trail for food and Guinness.  Here's a black lagoon I can really get into:


Friday, July 8, 2011

Last Chair: 7/8/11

Well, I missed another week.  Pshhh, whatever.  My twitter feed appears on the right, and this is the part of the week when I review my favorite links (most of which I just put up because I've been so busy).  Here we go:

I liked the idea of listing the Greatest 5 Moments in your life (inspired by this post).  These two bike photo trip reports (one road, one mountain) inspire me to go create some moments for my list.

This post is so awesome, it mad me mad.  Hot chicks, skiing, live music, and partying.  God, I miss skiing . . .

There are new teasers out from Matchstick, Level 1, and TGR.  The downloads are pretty slow, though . . . I must not be the only one missing skiing.

The video for this week, however, is the documentation of an epic trip. This is the kind of life changing experience that could make a top 5 list.

Bikerafting Alaska's Lost Coast: Yakutat to Glacier Bay. from lacemine29 on Vimeo.