My Favorite Things (2009)
You may have noticed that 2009 has come and gone. 2010 is staring us in the face, blankly and expectedly, waiting for us to fill its pages full of wonder and awe and triumph. 2009 was a good year for me. There were challenges, and tragedies. There were great days, and some that were not so great. But the overall theme was one of improvement, forward progress, and a new found clarity and motivation in realms athletic and otherwise.
Listed below are some of my favorite things from 2009:
Favorite Ride: Without a doubt, the best ride of the season was the July 3 singletrack fury and frenzy in Park City, UT. The trails were empty and amazing and wonderful. Of that day, I wrote: “And yet, it seems utterly absurd to think that a loop on the Wasatch Crest and the Mid Mountain trails should be anything less than superlative. But even so, I found myself grinning stupidly from ear to ear, whooping, hollering and altogether having the time of my life on trails that were so perfect, and so immaculate as to conjure up wonderment as to whether or not I’d somehow perished and was now riding through the eternities in some sort of singletrack paradise. It really was that good.”
Even at the time I knew that that day was going to live on as one of those rare and remarkable rides. And after a few months, and many other superb days on the bike, it continues to stand out as the very high point of the summer season. As I said then, It really was that good.
Favorite Race: I had some fantastic races in 2009. As a sort of rebuilding year, I was uncertain how the season would unfold. But, and to my great surprise, I was able to regain a respectable level of fitness. And while I never found myself at the pointy end of any competition, I did discover that there were healthy and spectacular races within the races to keep everyone on their toes. Aaron and I had several back and forth events, seeming to judge our own fitness and condition compared to how far ahead, or behind one another we finished. Such was the case at my favorite race of 2009: The Park City Point to Point.
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that my favorite ride and my favorite race both included Park City singletrack. The P2P became an instant classic. 75 miles of pristine one-track, a deep field, and very good organization in 2009 will help make this race one of the premier endurance events in the nation. After the race (wherein I had a good, but not entirely satisfying result) I wrote: “…the day was, from end to end a demonstration of that elusive “it”. And a concrete answer to that perennial inquiry from outsiders: why? The intangible becoming reality and the mythical becoming historical. But, to be certain, it still challenged every aspect of my mind and body. From the long climbing to the exigent, arduous descending, the course came together to create a gauntlet of mountain bike idealism, like some fantasy encumbered dream from the mind and heart of a deranged and disturbed individual, a person rooted in a reality that simply does not connect with fact and common sense. In other words, a mountain biker.“
I’ll be back on September 4th, 2010 for the second annual race with my climbing legs ready to roll (and no, they don’t require entry into a random, fraternal, nepotistic raffle to determine who gets to race the event…no offense to anyone who enjoys the obviously referred to race).
Go to Gear: The Ergon GX2 Carbon grips were a pleasant, but not entirely unexpected surprise for 2009. I’ve been using Ergon grips for more than 4 years. I love them. I won’t use anything else. Recently I had started to favor the lower profile GE1 grip. It fit my hand better, and allowed me to get a solid “death grip” for those long or technical or high speed descents. The GX2 Carbon combined everything I liked about the GE1 with the comfort of the GP series, creating what I think is the ideal grip. In 2010 I will be flying the Ergon green as a part of the Ergon Factory Team. The GX2 Carbons will be on each of my mountain bikes.
Best (non-bike related) Purchase: In a way, I can claim that this purchase changed my life. It undoubtedly broadened my ability to explore the mountains, and thus enlarged my options for training, exercise, and storytelling. In addition, this equipment has given me an excuse to pry my face off the warm soft pillow at 4:30 AM and creep into the pre-dawn morning on several occasions. As if I needed an excuse to do that. Of course, I’m referring to my Alpine Touring (Randonee) ski gear. Backcountry skiing has surpassed my wildest expectations. The winter months are now spent praying for snow, rather than detesting, dreading and resenting it. It has given me an opportunity to see the mountains in an entirely new light – literally. I am wide-eyed and awestruck at the beauty and the serenity of the snow-laden Wasatch Mountains.
Favorite Random Discovery: I have plunged deeper into Libertarianism in the last several years (themes of which have played out in this space from time to time). And while I don’t subscribe to, or agree with all points of that movement (If I agreed with everything anyone said, I’d question my ability to think and reason. Some of you, especially long time readers, probably already question my abilities to do so as it is…), it is overwhelmingly becoming the “ism” that I most identify with. I firmly believe that solutions to nearly any problem, whether social, economic, or otherwise, can be found in individualism and the free market. But that is, I suppose, a discussion for another realm. I don’t want this post to become a political soap box (no more so than I may have already just made it so).
However, if you are interested in the history of the Libertarian movement, or want to read theories from economists that don’t sound like Paul Krugman, I highly recommend the book Radicals for Capitalism. Written by Reason Magazine Senior Editor, Brian Doherty in 2007, the book is an informative, entertaining and historical recap of the careers of men like F.A. Hayek, Milton Friedman and Ludwig von Mises, as well as authors like Ayn Rand and Rose Wilder Lane. There are certainly historical parallels in what we read in the newspapers today and what these classical liberals were writing, speaking, and lecturing about, and as such, I think makes for an educational investment well worth the time spent reading.
Finally, and just for good measure (and perhaps as a palate cleanser for anyone who has a bitter taste in their mouths after the Libertarian talk) I thought I’d spotlight one more of my favorites from the year 2009.
The Band I Enjoyed Most: My music collection could be considered a little stagnant (recommendations welcomed). And while I discovered a few new bands in 2009, the one I enjoyed most was not one of them. However they did release a new album during the year, which rekindled an old affection for their music. That band is Muse. And while their radio hit, Uprising, has gotten a lot of play (and I do like that song) I think the best and most inspiring music on the new album comes in the three part symphonic series, Exogenesis. It is unique, haunting, and for reasons I can’t entirely articulate, quite motivating for me (part three, especially) in pursuits both within and without athletic domains.
And so, there you are. A few of my favorite things from the year 2009.
2010, your up. Don’t Lemon your chance at greatness.
Exit Question: Your favorites?
rabidrunnerJanuary 18, 2010
Hello… found you on the Junkie sidebar.
Have you seen Muse live? You wanna talk Epic, see Muse live. They’re coming to the E Center on April 5. Ticketmaster still has tickets if you don’t already have yours. I too have enjoyed the Exogenesis suite on the uprising album – I believe I listened to it for three days non-stop
In regards to political orientation, I’m a pervertarian wherein our platform is the perverse of everything. I’m thinking about starting the pervertarian page on wikipedia.
jayJanuary 18, 2010
Man, I just have to tell you, when I was scrolling down your post on google reader, I saw that second picture (of you) and though it was me. I kid you not. I showed my wife and her facial expression said she thought the same thing.
Now any reasonable person would be able to tell us apart, I just thought it was pretty dang funny.
Grizzly AdamJanuary 18, 2010
RR: Welcome! I have not seen Muse live, but thanks for the heads up. I think I may see about going to that show.
Jay: I will take that as a rousing compliment!
KanyonKrisJanuary 19, 2010
Good summary of the year. Dang, we have it good here.
markJanuary 19, 2010
A comment on Libertarianism (for readers who don’t know, Adam and I are real-life friends that don’t always agree on things politically but still like each other–imagine that!): I like the idea of libertarianism and free-market capitalism. The high-minded notion of letting the market decide what it places value on is an appealing one. In practice, however, I think it’s spoiled by individual selfishness.
Free-market capitalism is more or less economic Darwinism. Just as the individuals and species that are most poorly adapted for survival die out in nature, the same thing happens economically to poor countries and individuals in totally free markets. I’m too much of a bleeding heart to take a “to hell with them” attitude towards the marginalized and down-trodden of humanity, and I don’t see churches and charities shouldering the burden without the aid of government. I wish people and markets found sufficient value in altruism that this were not the case, but so far we don’t have a good track record in that regard.
Moreover, as much as capitalists consider for-profit enterprise the most efficient vehicle for delivering any good or service, I disagree there as well. I think government, with all its flaws, is better equipped at providing infrastructure than free enterprise is. I truly brand myself a bleeding heart when I declare that healthcare is as much infrastructure–and therefore when properly structured MAY BE more efficiently delivered by government than corporations–as any road ever was.
Grizzly AdamJanuary 19, 2010
NOT ANYMORE WE AREN’T!
I think that people and markets have shown themselves to be rather altruistic in response to the earthquake in Haiti, and other similar disasters (Do make sure your donations go through a reputable source).
But what creates an environment where altruism can exist at all? Does government create any wealth, or do they only confiscate and redistribute it?
I believe capitalism is the greatest author of altruism.
I am no anarchist. And there are certainly instances where government involvement is worthwhile. But I see those instances as mostly falling in the realm of protecting liberty, rather than trying to enforce it. That is, governments usually fall into trouble when they attempt to equalize results.
But don’t be misunderstood – Libertarians are not heartless misers. They just tend to believe that the most valuable compassion comes from teaching and enabling independence, rather than fostering helpless dependency. (Give a man a fish…)
JeremyJanuary 21, 2010
Long time reader, first time commenter…
Keep up the good work! I look forward to more of your essay’s (hopefully someday bound). I enjoyed your best of: I agree on favorite ride! Perhaps I can get some beta from you on the PCP2P as i will be racing it this year. Recently I have been priced out of skiing in bounds. Not having many ski buddies that are motivated to put in the work required for backcountry and not really knowing where to start; what recommendations would you give? If you ever want to ride…I live local drop me a line! Oh, and If you like Muse you’ll love radiohead