Monday, February 12, 2007

More Years, Less Gear

When I first started to cycle and climb seriously in my early 20’s, I was obsessed with gear.

This was pre-Internet days. So like most people, I spent a lot of time skimming catalogs and reading magazines like Climbing. Also, many hours were spent in the local bike and climbing shops talking to the owners and other customers while eyeing and touching the new gear.

(Please support your local bike and mountain shops.)

I guess gear is important in the beginning because everything in the sport is new and success is often proportional to the amount of gear one has their pack.

“If I had lighter wheels, I could be faster.”

“If I had a no. 4 Friend, I could lead that crack.”

Plus gear is fun. It makes you part of a community. It provides you with an identity. How many times have you seen a biner clipped to a pack?

Anyways, gear is important as one learns their craft and gains experience. But as one gets more proficient, less gear is needed.

Watch a solid climber climb; they hardly place any gear as compared to a beginner who sews up a 5.5 crack. And the truly great ones (e.g., John B.) just solo.

This also applies to bikes. A talented cyclist on a DYI single speed can put the hammer down and beat most people to the line. There’s no greater joy in life than a single speed passing a $5000 Seven.

More experience allows one to travel with less gear, but I think there’s more to it than that.

As one grows older, I think most people just don’t want to deal with all that crap. As I head into the mountains these days, I tend to take less and less. I just want to get moving and enjoy my time.

And when comes to cycling, that’s the beauty of one gear bikes - less parts to break, more time to ride.

This all comes back to “one gear conquers all”, which is another way of saying that you really don’t need all that gear in life if you have the skills to get the job done.

Monday, February 05, 2007

How to Snowboard - RELAX

In climbing they say, “relax your mind and your ass will follow.”

In snowboarding I say, “relax your body and mind, and your board will follow.”

If you think of the snow slope as a giant ocean wave, then your boarding will approach a new level. And by relaxing your body and mind, you’ll get to that level sooner.

Go out to the ocean or rent a surfing flick, and watch how surfers surf. They don’t fight the waves because they can’t. You can’t fight the ocean. Nature always wins.

Good surfers relax and ride with the flow of the wave.

So the next time you start carving your way down the slope, relax and just ride the contours of the hill.

I have an old climbing t-shirt from 1986 that says, “Fight Gravity.” In snowboarding, your t-shirt shirt should say, “Don’t Fight Gravity.”

Once you get into this mindset, your riding will improve along with your enjoyment.

Go with the flow of the slope and enjoy the ride.

Surf’s up.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Snowboarding Roots

Roots – I’m not talking about the ABC mini-series.

As the title of the book written by Keith David Hamm says, I’m “Scarred for Life”.

I love skiing and for the last two winters, I’ve been working on my tele-turn. However, it’s hard to ignore your roots.

I skateboarded non-stop for about 10 years (1972 – 1982). I was heavily influenced by the Dogtown and Z-boys era. (Lately, I’ve been looking at buying a new long board.)

During the winters, we snurfed. For you younger kids out there, a snurfer was a small yellow wooden board, no metal edges, no bindings (except for the bike tubes that you nailed on) and a rope connected to the bow of the board.

No steering and limited turns only, just point it straight and ride it out.

Next came Burton boards. Early on, Burton boards meant the same thing as snowboards to us.

Throughout college, I skied (alpine, x-c & telemark), but in the mid-1990s, I started to snowboard again (on a real board, hey where’s the rope?). I snowboarded hard for 10 years and then switched back to tele-skiing.

But on last Wednesday, due to sore knees and an inner force to re-connect, I was back on the board. What a blast. It felt great. I just love cruising down the groomers, carving wide-open turns. It brings me back to my early skating days where we were just interested in walking up the biggest hills and enjoying the long/fast ride down.

Yeah, we spent time in pools and backyard ramps, but most of our skating was spent on the asphalt hills and that’s why I just love the slopes and not the park.

In climbing, they say that you are a product of your first climb. I guess this also applies to skating and snowboarding.

Once you’re in, you’re in.

I will always love skiing, but my heart and soul is with the snow surfing. It’s always a nice feeling going back to your roots.
p.s. My beloved snurfer snapped in two as I was trying to ride some bumps on a steep hillside (behind my favorite bar) during my college days. Rest in peace little snurfer girl.