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?