Who the Hell is maadjurguer?

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I like to ski, mountain bike, drink beer, cook and listen to any jam band I can get my hands on; all while making a complete ass of myself. Hopefully this catharsis is as interesting to others as it is to me.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Unplugged

Recovery takes on all forms....active recovery being the form I needed the most after a long and hard week of work on the bike.  A slower form of movement and an appreciation for a different pace has provided for a venue fueled by Friday-night leftover pizza and Saturday-night baked goods. It's a wander through time and space that I've learned to love once again.....unplugged from the bike for a day.....I rediscover why I fell in love in the first place.

Venturing out each Sunday for the past month, I've fallen for the Santa Catalina's all over again.  Her protected heart of canyons harbor such dense life zones and micro-climates, that to walk in her presence for more than an hour, will bring you to new worlds.....

I unplug from my routine...one foot in front of the other...no bike to pedal.   I climb on past the point where I stop thinking of the bike and start remembering the music.....the sweet, sweet music that only the desert makes when you absorb it for hours on end with no distraction.  It's the wind-whistling sound you hear when you hold your breath next to a saguaro and hear it speak back in tones nearly imperceptible......

I'd long forgotten this song....in fact, I'd forced myself to forget it.  Riding at paces too fast to hear, I moved beyond it's tune, only taking in it's sound when I consciously chose to.  Here, I am forced to listen to it exclusively....and I am moved.  I have unplugged my headphones and hit pause.....and in doing so, I have rediscovered something......something vast.....something amazing.

Things I tuned out, still speak to me....only now I can listen.....my self imposed distraction no longer, I listen to her babbling streams flowing over worn yet strong slabs of mylonitic granite.  Unyielding, yet transformed into smooth and curved lyrical forms from the ever-present influence of water flowing over her face for eons, she sings back.....

The tinijas altas, as I like to think of them, hold all memories throughout the seasons.  They hold the tune during the stanza of drought and in the crescendo of a monsoon storm.....they persist only through the graceful influence of water which has shaped this place....and us....for we are creatures from the waters and we are drawn to its music....always....

As I look up and focus upon the details of your skyline, the far-off pines at elevation come into focus above the cliffs and spires. Like keys on a keyboard, your white fingers of granite stand in contrast to the darkness of the evergreen forests which blanket your slopes.  Your fingers play upon the tableau in front of me.....I hear the chords you play within my soul....

Stepping back from the bike on these Sundays, I realize that we all need to unplug from the music that plays within us like a favorite song....and open our hearts to a new tune. Foreign at first, a new sun rises until we realize the landscape never changed.....it was us that was moving through it all along.


Sunday, January 26, 2014

The Irrational Circumstance of Unwarranted Fear

I’ve been itching to get back out on a bikepack for a while. I've been consumed by a work/training/social schedule and have been neglecting the most crucial part of any training program for a multi-day ride….the mental mind-melt composed of frustration, demoralization, empty fuel stores, exhaustion and the inability to turn that frown up-side down. Given all of this, I carved two days out of my schedule to break myself…and there is no better place to start out on that deconstruction process, than the AZT of the Canelos. 

A friend dropped me off on Friday morning at Parker Canyon Lake…a beautiful calm day with blue bird skies met me there with a gentle breeze out of the south and no hint of weather to harass me. The harassment would come at the hands of the first 30 miles. Rolling off onto that crumbly downhill from the trailhead, I heard the vehicle pull away as my thoughts turned to riding the 100 some odd miles and 10,000 plus vertical feet of climbing back to Tucson.

In the first 10 minutes, a tear in the fabric of confidence developed. A pull of the thread and an unraveling of the woven form of perfection found itself into my brain as I kicked off a lose boulder as I rode around a right-handed climbing switchback; leaving me on my ass and dazed, seat rotated 80 degrees to the right and my bag torn partially loose from my handlebar. "Damn", I thought, "not a good way to start".

As I continued on into the world of the Canelo’s, where dreams of flow are abandoned and lay in ruin, the hills did their thing and ate me alive from the inside out. It starts with that little tug, like a scab you just can’t resist picking….and pick you do, until your mind lies open and raw…vulnerable to the doubt.

Doubt that eats at you with every turn, climb and HAB. "Surely I should be making more progress than this"! The stresses of my life come spilling from the dam; busted and crumbling like the trail beneath my feet and tires…..I can’t hold the thoughts back any longer. This is an awful place to attempt to find peace; the crumbling topography that steals from you your energy, providing little. It takes from you, returning only pain if you let it. To find peace here is to let yourself be beat and accept it like the Light Brigade, "Theirs not to reason why....". Yet I purposely wonder this time, stubbornly holding onto the myth I constructed for myself that transformation can happen in the Canelo’s, knowing full well the transformation happens only after you finish the Canelo’s.

The flood from the dam overwhelms me as the sweat drips from my forehead. My cursing form searches higher, slower and begrudgingly onward. Unsatisfactory light, a dry landscape and lack of motivation create a scenario where the only purpose my 35mm camera serves is to weigh me down…..yet my thoughts are far heavier.

I must continue, because I have no retreat…..I was dropped here and to get home means I work my way across this fractured landscape. Up and over the initial ridge, descending into the first valley and being sucked down into the basement, only to heave back up onto the next ridge…a ridge I call Barbacoa. Named after the immigrants who leave their cans of shredded meat next to this shredded ridge of death on their journey north for better lives. I leave only sweat and effort…and a shredded psyche.

Still, I find much to be appreciative of in these hills; though fleeting in their joy for the few moments I study their rocky form, I find relaxation and peace before the toil begins anew. Flowing out of this maze of negativity, I am thankful for the opportunity to have traversed through here yet another time with nothing more than a broken pedal which I fix on the side of the trail.

As I make my way north to the Santa Rita’s, I stop at the Sonoita gas station and buy some burritos for the next day’s breakfast and lunch….tastes I know well from my previous AZT300 attempt. I know I will go farther this time without the death mud and sideways sleet that met me last time….but much work must be done to turn that thought into reality.

The singletrack of the AZT in the Santa Rita’s is much tamer than the Canelo’s and while it can be herky-jerky on its own, my perspective for having endured the Canelo’s earlier in the day is now altered. Every climb is fundamentally rollable, every descent is aesthetically beautiful and the flow in the grasslands of the Sonoran highlands is positively Elysian; me flying above it all like a raptor in flight. 


Moving beyond Kentucky Camp, I push into more HAB out of Helvitia Road, stopping to photograph the fading light of day…shadows which grow long in a light which warms by the minute. 

The filtered sun beams through ridges of juniper, casting an incandescent glow onto the tops of grasses which pulse like waves on the ocean I ride…each top glowing with the fire of a lantern element, golden and dream-like.

A dream which is interrupted by yet another primal instinct which starts creeping in….hunger in my stomach, a dropping temperature and a quickening of dusk. Bivy sites are studied on the topo chart, passed over when I reach them…and the process continues 3 times more….until the topographic expression on paper fits my perceived expectations. I find a bivy with clear line of sight of a valley below, on a pass which will capture the first warming light of day to warm my bones after a cold nights sleep.

A sense of calm now comes over me like a warm blanket….your toil is over for today. Now you dine on the falling day and coming stars….

Several times through the night, I wake as I often do….taking stock in the movement of Orion tracking through the sky….aiming at me always….

The dawn comes with a tangerine glow spread like a layer of marmalade over the craggy eastern skyline. 2 sparrows buzz my prone position on this hilltop, flying east and fast, issuing a whistling sound from the tips of their wings….I laugh in wonder, watching them fly onward into the coming dawn. Wisps of cirrus capture the movable veil of rose and amethyst that tell me it’s time to pack up and ride. As I stand facing east, moving my feet in motions to warm myself, the first ray pierces the limestone ridge to my east and shines onto my face….my chest begins to warm, and I smile.


The shadows of my hilltop project onto the hillside to my west….growing. This is my hilltop, I am the only human I can see…..all around me, birds, coyotes, bobcat and snakes share the view…but I control it all with my eyes in silence, contentment, and love……I control nothing beyond this, and in this realization, my sought after transformation is complete.

The rest of the day could be described as one continuous thread of flow and euphoria….the HAB comes and goes with not a single thought. Not positive, not negative…it just is. The joy I feel is confined to the day, the beauty and the love….the pollution of stress, the insignificance of worries and the fear of things I cannot control is now gone.

The irrational circumstance of unwarranted fear has left its mark.; a dichotomy in days, a ride of contrasts and a changed mind tell the story….a story I will forget someday, only to repeat the lesson anew…..I long to hold onto this lesson a little bit longer this time.

Monday, January 6, 2014

The movable veil

My mistress winter has taken me south to new trails. Trails seldom ridden and others familiar, yet new.  With all that the festering neon distraction has to offer most of humanity, I am reminded that I am not the "most" part of that failed equation.  I can't say "Never" when I say that I'll never live in Phoenix again, but my time away from the city has convinced me that it's a mass of humanity that is festering and is a significant distraction from the true matters of the heart.  The matters that create the passion, the art and the love within all of us; they must be followed, or we die inside a slow death.  I am reborn....once again.

On my path, I've started going long once again.  Let my unicorn socks be the proverbial gauntlet thrown to the ground...and this, my letter of intent. I will do The 300 once again.  This time, I have plans.......plans provided by The Mindful Athlete

A storm begins to clear up high above 7000ft, yet the desert below basks in the warm light....the change in perspective is simply a matter of where you look, how you look and choose to ride.

Looking up and climbing where you dream can get you away from the city and take you to some amazing places if you only dare to dream big enough....and pack a lunch for the effort.

These are new places where the gusts of wind and time have left the Arizona Trail quenched from the effort and ready for something new to make it's mark. My tires leave their imprint over the wind washed and rain dimpled dust left fresh from yesterdays storm. Climbing up here in search of my dream, I leave my mark on this trail again, for the first time, and it too leaves its mark on me.....smiles and feelings of amazement fill my soul with every twist and turn......

I climb up over a ridge wondering what is on the other side only to find beauty as expected, yet one which feels new.  The amazement I feel in the snow white needles of a cactus in the flat light leave me searching for the words.....

Other button cacti appear on the trail. If not for a feeling that I needed to slow down to soak it all in, I would have missed this beauty with the pink coral center.....

.....the heart of which becomes infinitely complex the more I focus and look within....the intertwined spines support each other in ways I tried to count, until I give up from the futility and realize that to appreciate the indescribable beauty of some things is good enough....just enjoy the moment that has chosen you to be here.

Trails that I've ridden before, also appear to be washed in a newness that have otherwise escaped my notice on past rides.....

The giants of the desert stand against a blue sky; a sky punctuated with the moisture flowing up from the south and crashing into the topography of a sky island at 9000ft asl......

The trail that I've ridden before, is now the most velcro-like, tacky surface I've ever ridden.  The faster I go, the more it grips me, holding me close to her surface.  I lean my handlebars over in ever tighter turns and yet I can't break my tires loose....she has a grip on me like never before and I yell out in amazement with every thrill bending turn around cholla and shindagger studded cliff bands....

These rides are the ones you never want to stop....where your food and water stores run low because you go out for another detour....and another. My mistress winter looks over it all, an icy redoubt from on high; pines frosted from the storm and shrouded in a movable veil of clouds and light...and inspiration. Never exposing herself for too long or completely, her mystery changes with every turn of the trail.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Succubus

I could not take any more....so I popped smoke and called for an evac out of the festering neon distraction. I had become combat ineffective, a shell of the person I'd spent so many miles building up. It's amazing to me that after a year of laying off the distance, the fire to go long never went out.  It ate at me, clawing my insides until I wanted to scream from the angst of holding it in. So I ran, packed the only things that matter to me, and went south to better trails; leaving behind everything else not required to bike, ski or take care of my dog. Nothing else would be required, because nothing else, IS required. I had compromised myself based on a faulty premise....so I fixed it. Every time I make a move, my footprint gets smaller, more refined, more efficient and reflective of the core that is me.  I am left now with everything I truly need....and it all fits in a truck and a trailer.

She draws from me a level of energy every time, the serpentine track of tan underlying a sea of grass. The sound of my freshly lubed Chris King Hub rings into my ear along with the staccato crunch-snap of quartz and feldspar sand beneath my tires.....

The intent in my latest move was to be closer to the siren that calls me toward the rocks.  I can't escape her, so I might as well join her....a fatal dance that I accept.  I'm a big believer of training like you fight, and fighting like you train. If I intend to ride 300, I will dance with her, every day, until I can read her every curve in my mind, anticipate her temperamental moods and lead with authority.

The climb up here was proper, out of the lower Sonoran Desert and into the Sonoran Highlands....her smooth curves cutting in and out of the ridgeline, traversing cliffbands and cutting across vertical curved reefs of Shindaggers....

As my mind wandered along with my bike, I find myself in that long state that I often seek.  A place where the time disappears and the shadows move around me as the sun arcs low against the winter sky.  It's a state of consciousness which is defined by nothingness....no worries, no thoughts and no pain.  Just breath.....heartbeat.....and pedal stroke.  How I long to live like this!

My lunch break is taken in a copse of Juniper which act as a windbreak to the cutting western blow, chilling me to the bone once I stop. I position myself between two granite boulders in the sun, absorbing the thermal radiation flowing from the mass, and chew on my lunch....working fast and hard to gulp it down so that I may get moving once again.....time spent stopped is time spent cold.

Turning for home, I cycle across the savanna, framed by massifs which hold the early winters snow just below an infinite sky blue.  A blue which drives the wind against me, slowing my return.....the succubus extracts her final cut for the day.  How I long to be back, paying from my body, her personal toll.

Monday, October 28, 2013

The abyss of time

The wind up here echos slow. It ebbs and flows like crashing waves upon the shore.  To be here is acquiescence....sweat dripping down to the powdered dust at my feet and tire. I count the drops as they fall from my head....an impact that makes a juicy thud in between the next wave.

I look up at the peak above me, squinting at the sight of it.  Grasses come into focus, the jojoba bushes holding fast to blackened masses of rock and cliff.  Climbing higher, my gaze finds ocotillo framing the ridgeline, cast against the blue of infinity. The sounds of birds hopping from bush to cactus on the slope in front of me across the canyon  fill my ears....they delight with whimsy....I, with strife.

To climb up here means pain......doubt....denial of comfort. I double over in the hike-a-bike, passing my saddle over into the worn cave of my right palm, gloved in leather, soaked in effort, and salted from the miles.  My calves strain as I tip-toe up the pitch, much steeper here than in most hike-a-bikes...I push this mass of technology higher.

My memory of all of this is much brighter in my imagination, much brighter than it will ever be.....I do not like this.  I want to take in the magic of the wind.  I want to hear the flute like sound a ridge makes in a pulsating wind.....low and earthy, she still speaks to me....yet I was in a hurry.

All I got out of my ride yesterday was a beat down....and I do not like this.  I spent the next day brooding, feeling tired.  I am unrewarded.....the schism is deafening.

I dream of the desert, yet can't have it on my terms.....I must have it on the open expanse of eternity...eternity....a word that does not truly exist for us short timers.  We live but for a fraction of a moment, and suffer for it's randomness. I must accept it within the terms of wind and storm, heat and still, dry and death....not deadline and commitment or plans and expectations.  I can't expect to find myself happy with a clock running, when eternity created the beauty in our souls....waiting to be unlocked, at the paring of a perfect moment, out there.

I was too obtuse to wait for it......

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Avalanche

I found the following piece of writing a few winters back, pasted to a coffee can within a snow cave that BGR had set up....fully stocked with booze, food and a radio that received the Navajo station quite well.....Black Flag followed by Hank Williams Sr followed by Parliament Funkadelic....it was quite the happening, with a full kitchen, sleeping berths and view of the dawn that never quit.  In any event, I've utterly failed at finding out who wrote this gem...if you know, please let me know so that I may give them due credit.  So in honor of the first snow of the season on the Kachina's, I give you Avalanche. The pictures, mine; the words for now, belong to the wind:

I dated an actor once
And asked her how to trust someone who made her living
At deception
She told me she was much less suave as a real woman
But the first time we had sex
The smile never left her face
The perfectly executed orgasm.
Photo - Troy Marino, Skier - maadJurguer

And yesterday in our town, an angel committed suicide
By swallowing the barrel of a shotgun.
She dressed in white and blessed us daily,
The preschool, the local potter's wheel,
The drunks in the bar where she sipped white wine.
After she died we read she wasn't an angel after all,
Just a mother of three from a small town in Arkansas.
Now we walk the streets looking over our shoulders
In case the blessings weren't for real either.
Photo - Troy Marino, Skier - maadJurguer

"What does it mean?" you asked.
When we passed the homeless man, again
Eight blocks, ten blocks, twelve blocks down
He was our oracle
With wild black hair and a Rolling Stones t-shirt
But I knew he was not an oracle, for he was John Kirby
Who carried a limp, blue backpack and kissed the hand of grace one night
But that was not right either
for Kirby froze in the cemetery
Last winter
Remembering beauty and talking to sparrows

During these long winters
The local avalanche forecaster tells us
We will see stability where we want to see it.
Tells us if we desperately want to make first tracks,
We will find safety where there is none,
With blessings, oracles, and second chances,
We step to the crest, turn our heads from the wind
And push forward
Ignoring the breaking snow at our backs

Saturday, August 10, 2013

The groundskeeper


the solitary solace i find in mind,
a noble fancy, the passage of time.
Windswept emotions cry foul before others,
mistaken in their magnitude they garner regret,
of the fun I have on wheels in spite of threat.


your sunrise comes blowing on whisper and glow,
scent of grass and pine, my pace slows.
but for a time when I breathe in the scene before me,
a calming of sorts, the quiet of morning, the still day transforming,
we'll never be the same, "this light is tremendous", i yell in mourning.

the earth exhales as the sun grows higher,
creating a symphony of light and sensation, my sweat starts flowing.
I stop for water, a drink of thought, a thought extreme
a notions fancy, a moonlight scream.

In your motion I see no other, a wisp of notion, a smell o'dream;
your scream for me now, to wander across body
is lightened by patience, an exercise extreme;
your mysteries unfold, a novels untold,
stories unknown, and action in bold.

a higher path is claimed asunder, a ride which transforms,
forged in thunder.
a thought that pierces beyond the mists,
a mind a'wandered
the deserts below the peaks uplifted', the canyons wont speak,
for you lie naked alone,

I am the groundskeeper, a seeker of truths, 
a bier of sorrows, you exist in mind, 
and alone you heed.
Yet in my mind a new truth exists,
the pedal that stops, the grounding in mist,
the dust that forms low, on my face and furrow,
is the last breath taken,
the show,
is over.