Monday, February 20, 2017

Tree Hugger

When the stresses of childhood took me over, I took to the woods.  Once I entered the trail head in the back yard, the world changed.  It was a place to ride my bmx bike and jump off the big rock.  It was the place I did all the things I wasn't supposed to, like smoking cigarettes and using a magnifying glass to light dry maple leaves on fire.  It was were the tree fort was, and it was where my brother got stung by a billion bees after stepping on a nest. It was where we went sledding.  It's where I found peace in what seemed a very chaotic world.

Most of all, it was where I felt happy and safe.  No-one was yelling at me in the woods.  The air smelled better, and some how I just felt free out there.

Its not surprise that as I've grown up I've been drawn to any activity that is done outside.  And the more remote and or extreme the better.  Looking at my Facebook friends, the vast majority of them are from sports I've participated in.  BMX, Snowboarding, Running, Hiking, Motorcycling, Biking, Snowshoeing, Skiing, etc.  Being outside has brought me close to so many people, I can't imagine a world without these places to play, hide, test myself, recharge and relax.

I actually believe that the Earth and all the people on it are one completely connected organism.  And, I also believe that organism is what many would call God.  Destroying the Earth means destroying ourselves.

We can't let this happen.

Unfortunately many don't see the connection.  Many believe that the Earth is here for us to use for the expansion of man and the industrialization of the globe.  For some, money has replaced spirituality.  And in the name of money, the 45th President of the United States has decided that the Earth is just ripe for more exploitation.   By nominating and fast tracking Scott Pruitt, a well documented EPA critic, to the head of that very organization, DJT just handed Exxon the keys to an almost unlimited number of protected resources to lay waste. Dangerously short sighted if you think things like clean water and air are important.

We are witnessing the final takeover of our freedoms and rights by corporations in the name of profit.  Money rules.

I can't sit by and just watch it happen.  I need to get involved, but I don't know where to begin.  As I've said, almost everyone I call a friend is also an outdoorsman/woman of some type.  So tell me, are any of you as freaked out as me about this?  Are you already involved?  If so, how? 

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Fuck it, I'm voting from my heart.

I've decided what I'm going to do on Tuesday.  I'm not looking for a debate.  I'm simply sharing my opinion on my blog.  For those of you who know me and respect me I hope that you read and consider this point of view.  I'm done with the old adage of never talking publicly about Religion or Politics. We need to.

Look at that crowd!  Remember that hope?

During the primaries I felt an urgency for change and an optimism in Bernie.  I had some hope.  I had some hope that I wasn't the only one who can't stand seeing other people suffer and hurt.  I had some hope that strong values, solid ethics and a spirit of independence was at the core of being an American.  I had some hope that the golden rule, "Do unto others as you would have done unto you" was still the gold standard for how to live your life, no matter what religion you follow.  It seemed like we finally found a leader that would fight hard for those same principles.  A man who had been fighting that fight his entire career.  Bernie.  And it gave me huge hope to see America responding to his message.

His defeat as the Democratic candidate was and is disheartening. If I simply rely on my instincts, it seemed obvious that there was an event that immediately changed his direction and forced him to endorse Hillary.  Something just doesn't make sense.  And today new emails released show that he was "leveraged" to endorse Hillary.  Either way, it left a serious void and a lot of concern in the heart of this supporter.  I'm inspired by his sincerity and his genuine concern for fellow man.  I can't imagine anyone else as President now.

These last two weeks leading up to the election have been terrible. I cannot vote for either one. I've spent much more time thinking about my vote than in any other election.  I remember in 2008 feeling excited about Obama and his message.  It felt important to vote.  But it didn't have the same urgency that it does now.  We have more information now.  The question of voting for the lesser of two evils just doesn't make sense. You are still voting for evil.  That's not how this is supposed to work. I also have serious concerns with both Stein and Johnson, but I'll take either over the Red and Blue choices.

We've pulled back the curtain on the all mighty Oz.  We've been happily singing along in Munchkin land while our freedoms and rights were being stripped away under our noses. We've allowed ourselves to forget what we know to be true.  Truth has been replaced by fear.  And we've somehow become blind to our captures motives, even though they are repetitive and obvious.  The question that most people are asking right now, "Who will be the lesser evil, HRC or DT?", is born completely out of fear.  Voting for one just because you fear the other makes no sense.  There on the same side. We should be voting on who we want as leaders, not who will think will have the most hesitation before they push the Nuclear War button.  "Don't throw away your vote, you'll be the reason that XXXX wins!!" Scream both sides.  Yet all of us in the middle, who still have a shred of common sense, are sitting here going WTF?? How can we possibly be in this situation?  It doesn't matter how we got here.  It's what we have to do about it from here.  We're at a tipping point, so it's very important that were paying attention.

If you have your eyes even half open it's not to much of a stretch to believe that most of this election is completely out of our control.  It's a rigged show.  It doesn't matter who you vote for.  Just follow the money backwards.  My prediction is that Hillary Clinton will "easily" win in a landslide.   The  fact that I have fear of sharing my honest opinion tells me that it's time to give serious contemplation about the country we currently live in. 

So I'm going to be an American in the most true spirit that I know.  I'm voting for who I want to be the next President of our country.  I'm writing in Bernie.  And no, I'm not wasting my vote, I'm exercising my right as an American to voice my opinion. That's what it means to be an American at its core.

I want to see his name splashed all over corporate media, no matter how hard they try to manipulate it.  I want to send a message to the greedy fucks who control this country.  We see whats going on.  We are sick of our Earth and wallets being raped.  We will no longer send our children off to die in your useless wars. Your killing our race in the name of money.  There is no more time left.  A lot of us feel it. Think of how huge the crowds were at Bernies conventions.  We have real power. Don't give up now.  Don't let evil win. There is no lessor evil, it's the same. Please follow your heart, not your fear.  Don't hate hate, love love.  Please...

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Gravel Grinding the NH Northern Rail Trail

Goofing around on the Cannondale Slate 105.  Awesome Gravel Grinder.
So it's been almost a year since my last post!  I've thought many times about putting things up, but I've really been preoccupied with being in the woods.  I'm not "training" anymore.  I've decided that I don't need that kind of pressure in my life and it takes away from my enjoyment of being outside.  My new goal is to get outside every day for at least a few hours.  It's keeping me in shape my mind calm.

Yesterday, in preparation for a three day bikepacking trip, I decided to ride my first century (100 miles).   I picked the Northern Rail Trail to ride, as I wanted to be as far away from cars as possible.  I also had never seen the trail and was curious.  I loaded up my Cannondale Slate 105 and ended up starting later than I wanted, at 10:15.  I didn't care though.  I had zero time restrictions and enough gear to bivy overnight if I had too.   My goal was to ride 100 miles, for the first time.  I was determined to go slow, see the sights, and stop whenever I felt like it.  Here is my day in pictures.

Official Start time, 10:15

Coopers Cycle Supply in Franklin.  When I started NPD I bought a bunch of stuff here.  Love this place.
Pully Cart left from Railroad Days.
One of the many small bridges.
And one of the larger ones.

New England Covered Bridge.
Some tracks are still there.

Made me think of my brother Barry, who is a huge train fan.

There was zero pavement. 

Lunch at the Danbury Country Store.  Whoopee Pie and a Braggs Apple Cider Vinegar drink.

It's a very peaceful trail.

After a torrential downpour the trail was waterlogged for about an hour. 

There is almost zero elevation on this trail.  It feels flat as a pancake.

Artsy shot.

The tunnels were a bit hard to see in, but were fun.

I swear you can't make this stuff up.  I'll just leave that there.

Parking for lunch.  This is the "Old Tray Factory" from the 1700's.

I had no idea it was going to be this scenic.

Feels like being in the Whites.

Tunnel shot.

The Slate was built for this type of road.

Just more pretty scenery.

Stopped back at the store on the way back.  I had to eat a LOT to keep my energy up.  More than running.  The rear rack is from Portland Design Works.  Check it out.

Early train turntable.  Could only be used by very small trains.

The back of the train station you can see in Franklin.

A long day complete.  The longest I have ever ridden on a bicycle.  

Monday, September 21, 2015

Being Happy, the World Within

I've been thinking a lot lately.  About Hippy type things, like Peace and Happiness.  It seems that the more I study what it might mean to be alive, specifically how we perceive "reality" and where Consciousness stems from, I have realized that I know next to nothing.

And it has opened me up to the idea that maybe, just maybe, each and every one of us actually does have the power to make a difference in this world.

There is no world without, without the world within.  What you see in the world around you is really a reflection/projection of your reaction to what is happening around you.  And that you are in control of.  Most of us just don't know it or really believe it.  We live in a time where we have been brought up to think of ourselves as alone.  In our heads.  Separate. To find blame others or find fault for anything in our lives that is less than perfect.  That money brings happiness, so that is the only thing worth pursuing.

Because all we really want is to be happy.

Each and every one of us is connected.  Literally connected.  I don't mean by Facebook.  I'm not going to get into all the reasons why.  Read about Quantum Physics.  Read about Quantum Entanglement.  Read about the Holographic Universe Theory.  And, perhaps, listen to your heart.  At some level, most of us can feel it.  It's that thing that makes you feel good when you connect with a stranger.  Or makes you tear up when you watch a story about somebody in a tough situation and the community comes to their aid.  It is when we are at our best.

Here is a thought.  What would your day be like if everybody around you treated you like a well loved family member?  What if you knew that every person you encountered today would be pleasant and respectful towards you?   What if you were shopping for a car, and didn't have to worry about anybody taking advantage of your lack of knowledge?  What if people made decisions based on doing the right thing for others instead of monetary ones?

How much less stress would your life have?

"It's never going to happen" is most peoples first reaction.  "People are assholes"  I hear on a daily basis.  And I'm occasionally guilty of it as well.  But in studying a lot of metaphysical and religious topics, some of the same lessons repeat themselves over and over.  I'd like to focus on just one for this post.  Do unto others as you would have done to you.

The reason why the world is full of assholes is because everybody is waiting for the other guy to make the first move. 

Somebody has to start.  I have been working on doing this for the past few weeks.  And for whatever reasons I can't understand, it works!  I take it one person at a time, and try to practice as much as I can every day.  It is amazing what happens when you realize that you have the power to make the people around you happier.  And there are a million different ways to do it.  Don't wait for them to make you happy, you go first.  With no expectations of anything in return.  It feels awesome.  It feels like the way we are supposed to behave towards each other.

Does anybody else want to try this with me?   Do you have the courage to be nice to everybody around you?  If not nice, how about respectful?  How about the next time you want to yell at the waitress because your food isn't right, think about the fact that she could be your daughter.  Or sister.  Or mother.  Can you take the split second to put yourself in their shoes and try to be more understanding?  If nothing else, you will lower your daily stress and blood pressure when you realize that you don't have to be so upset all the time.

For real change you have to pay very close attention to how you actually feel about that person.  Being kind to somebody without actually caring isn't as powerful.  The change really comes when we can look at each other, every single one, and be open, loving and understanding to what we each are going through.  Because whether you know it or not, their struggles are yours.  And since that is the case, you have the power to make it better for everybody.  But it is a choice that has to start with you.  We are all connected.  

Please share your thoughts.


Thursday, September 10, 2015

Dear Running,

Dear Running,

I don't know how to say this gently, but I think I need a break.  It's not working for me anymore, and it is getting more apparent every day that you are trying to hurt me. 

Shhh..don't say anything yet.  Please, let me finish first.

The last 9 years have been wonderful.  You found me just when I really needed you.  My old love, Mountain Biking, and I had just broken up from a wounded knee.  I really wasn't ready to give her up, and now I think I need to go back. 

Even though you never said anything, I know you could feel that something was wrong after we finished the Vermont 100.  I've been fighting these feelings since then, and I just can't do it anymore.  I need to come clean.

I love Mountain Biking.  I'm sorry, but I don't think that I ever stopped loving it.  It's in my blood, and I have to go with my gut. 

I really hope that you and I can still be friends.  There would be nothing I would like more than to go out with you for a few hours and explore some new trails.  I hope you will still allow that once in a while.  The time we had together was special.  I'll always cherish it.  I will always love you.


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

No more shoe reviews.

I really enjoy writing my blog.  You wouldn't know that by my recent lack of activity.  But I've been thinking about it a lot lately.  I originally started this so that I could practice writing in preparation of writing a book.  If you have been here since the beginning you remember that I used to write more often, and mostly about personal issues.  Topics like my love of running and my obsession with finding out what type of diet and exercise will turn back the hands of time and keep me feeling young and strong.

One of the coolest bi-products of writing about running is that shoe companies have asked me to try their shoes and review them.  That development was really initiated by my friend Pete who writes  He has made the introduction to almost every company that has provided materials for review.  And I love it.  Or at least I did....

I approach most things in life like you would expect from a neurotic person with a Jewish upbringing  (think Woody Allen) and for the last 6 months or so I have felt a TON of pressure to get these reviews done in a timely fashion.  But I have failed on many levels.  I still have 5 or 6 shoes that I never reviewed, and I received them months ago.  Every time I see them I feel guilty.  Sure, I could half-ass a bunch and whip them out really quick, but that's not my style.  So it takes me a lot of time to write them up.  Like 3 or 4 hours to do it right.  And I just haven't been able to find the time.  The thought of those manufactures thinking that I took advantage of their generosity really bothers me.  But the pressure of always feeling like I HAVE to get this review done is killing my love for writing.

I have decided to no longer do shoe reviews here.  I will continue to write the Dirty Runner column for Pete (which I have not done in a long time either...) whenever he needs or wants me to.  And I'm really grateful for that opportunity.  Thanks Pete.

While running is still a huge part of my life, I have been focusing on my business more. This needs to be my first priority.  We are kicking so much ass and its exciting.  I'm at the shop more because I'm enjoying it a lot.  We are even in the process of opening our first branch location.  I'll write more about that as developments happen.

Even more than the business, I have been thinking about...well, thinking.  Trying to tackle some of the bigger issues.  Reading more books about the Law of Attraction, Alternative Thinking, Quantum Physics, etc.  It seems as the more I learn, the more I realize that I don't know anything.  And even what I do know is probably skewed, based only on my personal experiences.   Our brain only keeps information about what it recognizes and can fit into it's idea of what is important.  For that, it looks at what it knows from past experiences.  Anything it can't neatly fit into some category gets filtered out.  I want to know what I'm missing!  Just because we can't recognize something with our 5 senses doesn't mean it doesn't exist.  I love this concept.  It opens so many possibilities.

I have had an idea in the back of my mind for a long time.  For some reason, the timing finally seemed right to take some action.  I have started an on-line study group for people that are interested in learning more about alternative spiritual thinking.  Its like a book club, but with a specific type of book and discussions that take place on-line (although there is an actual once a month meeting for those who can attend).  We will study one chapter per week and then share our thoughts.

I started studying these alternative ways of thinking 15 years ago.  And I have applied them to create the incredibly abundant life that I enjoy today.  I see the potential in every person I encounter to do the same.  But a lot of people don't know where to start or how to take it to the next level.  I'm hoping that this project will be of value to them.  Judging from the amount of initial interest, I think it will.  Our first meeting was this past Monday, and we picked "The Master Key System" by Charles Hannel as our first book to study.  If you curious or want to join up, click on the pic below.  This is not a business venture and it doesn't cost anything.
The Discussion Board  Please join us!

So for those of you that only come here for shoe reviews, I want to say "Thank You" for reading and being so supportive.  But if that's the only reason you came here, you might want to take me off your blog feed.  For everybody else, I hope to write a bit more about topics that have a little more substance than just my love for an item that you wear on your feet. 

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Shoe Review - Hoka Huaka

Hoka always has funny names for their shoe models.  This new one is no exception.  It is not pronounced "Who-A-Ka", but rather "Waaka".  So lets just get this out of the way right now:

Photo Credit -
Waaka Waaka Waaka!!!  There.  You were all thinking it, now I've just said it.  So now, can we get onto the shoe review?

At the risk of repeating myself from previous posts, there is a certain type of shoe that I gravitate towards.  A flexible, light weight, low drop and well cushioned shoe is what I love to run in.  The Hoka Huaka fits that bill to a T. (Note: these shoes were provided as a media sample to me at no charge by Hoka One One).

Two or three years ago, this was exactly what I was looking for but nobody had put the two types (minimal and well cushioned) together.  For this review, lets just start at the front of the shoe and go backwards from there.

The green toe cap reduces volume a bit, but not in a bad way.  Feels performance oriented.

The toe box is wider than most Hokas, certainly wider than the Rapa Nui or the Stinson, but not quite as roomy as the Bondi.  One thing worth noting is that the height of the toebox is more performance oriented and is fairly snug in that regard.  The shape feels more rounded than the other Hokas as well.  The shoe fits true to size. I have never had any pinky toe irritation like I have experienced with some other more severely tapered Hoka models.

Speed laces which I proceeded to remove shortly after getting them.

The shoe comes with Hoka's speed laces as well as a pair of traditional laces.  I have found in the past that I can't get as good of a fit with the speed laces so I cut them out after I took these pictures and replaced them.  I can get a fairly snug fit but I would consider the upper to have a medium amount of room.  The construction is very simple, with an airy mesh that has glued on welded overlays for support. 

The nice thing about the upper is that it is pretty flexible (really flexible for a Hoka). 

Heel cup inside...

and outside.

The heel cup doesn't have a stiff counter and flexes nicely with your foot.  The inside of the heel cup is well padded and very comfortable.  I think that the fit is very similar to the Pearl Izumi EM N1, but a tad bit looser overall.

Very thin tongue.

The tongue is a very thin piece of  Leather and mesh that is what I would call "semi-lasted".  It is attached at the front of the shoe to the first three lace holes.  It has never has moved on me or let in a disproportionate amount of dirt and grit.

The all new RMAT sole is a thing of beauty.  Rather than the traditional squish of the Hokas built with EVA, the RMAT has a nice impact deadening feel with a great bounce.  This provides the best of both worlds.  It is much more performance oriented but it doesn't beat the hell out of your feet.  And it's lighter too!  Thats a win, win, and win. 

Hoka has this shoe listed on their website under both Trail and Road shoes.  I feel that is accurate as it is a true hybrid.  The traction is not stellar off road, but works fine for most circumstances.    There are three small areas that have little chevrons for grip, but they really don't do much in poor traction situations.  Running on the roads finds them to be smooth and grippy.   I have 62 miles on them at the time of this review and here is a picture of the wear so far.

Wear after 62 miles.

As you can see, the heel and toe chevrons are showing wear already, but nothing that I consider to be disappointing.  I expect a shoe like this to wear quickly if I run on the roads with them.  I would say that about 40% of my runs have been on trails, the rest on roads.  Much to my surprise, the three holes in the sole have never trapped any rocks.

To sum it up, my size 10.5 Huaka's are 9.7oz light...


Try THIS with any other Hoka.


and extremely comfortable.  Although I have a ton of shoe reviews to do, I'm having a hard time not putting them on my feet before every run.  I have been waiting for this shoe for a long time.  Well done Hoka.

Here are the specs as listed on Hokas website.

Catagory: Neutral light cushion
Geometry: 2mm Heel offset - (Heel 27mm, Forefoot 25mm)
Weight: 8.9 oz (actual for my 10.5 was 9.7oz)
Construction: Ultra lightweight no sew speedframe with racelaces, full length RMAT midsole, early stage meta rocker geometry with 2mm offset and stregic hi abrasion rubber zones.
Price: $150