Ah, who am I kidding? There’s no complication. Biking is biking. Camping is camping. Climbing is climbing. I’ve done them all in the worst kinds of conditions and at the end of the day I’ve burst through my front door with a big happy, dripping, frozen grin on my face.
|Summit of Foxfire, 1994|
Mark has been pestering me for weeks—nay, MONTHS—to bike or camp or climb. Sometimes I wake up at night hearing his voice ringing in my ears: “we oughta, we oughta, we oughta.” Okay Mark, I get it. Stop haunting my dreams. And stop staring in my window gesturing for me to come out with my bike. It’s creepy. Then Old Dave texts and tries to call me: “we oughta, we oughta, we oughta.” Yeah, Dave…you’re old. I’m old. We’re old. But we’re in better shape than our contemporaries. So I think it’s okay for me to call you old. Especially since you’re older than me J
Anyway, drag me outta the rabbit hole!
There has been a lot of text messages whizzing to and from my iGadget with phrases like “bikepacking, “climbing areas,” “I’m so fat,” (whoops, slipped one in from Jeff) “want to get into trad,” and the like. See, I have this amazing machine. It’s called an Xtracycle. I can load it down with camping and climbing gear and take off for destinations not so far thence from the Chainring family holdings where people have injected stainless steel anchoring mechanisms into the rock cliff faces to catch weakling climbers who fall. I want to be one of those weakling climbers! I want to fall! I want to frolic on the rocks and take whippers. I want to hangdog! I want to chalk up! I wanna spray, Ray!
The atmosphere in my cubicle is electrified. My brain is positively buzzing from synaptic activity. I could shoot lightning from my fingertips and start a fire to brew coffee. Well, maybe not. But I’m itching to climb. I’m itching to do an overnight cycling trip. Why not just combine the two obsessions and get it over with?
For those who don’t know anything about rock climbing this next section may not make much sense to you (if you’re still following this post you’ll do fine). Hang in there. I’ll try to reel it back in as quickly as possible.
A week or so ago I dragged out the tote with all of my climbing paraphernalia to take an inventory. Out on the table I piled carabiners (‘biners: pronounced beeners), cams (camming devices), chocks (chocks), slings (nylon webbing), ropes (duh), and other assorted accessories wherewith you can protect your biological investments against gravity should you choose to propel yourself above the hard surface of the earth.
I have fifteen cams which are still suitable for use at traditional climbing crags (trad climbing). For around $100 I can replace the nylon slings on all of them. This is necessary because the only way you can clip the rope into the cams is through one of the slings. My slings have far exceeded their shelf lives. I amassed my cams over a few years. Some are quite old. But the oldest nylon in my rack (assortment of climbing gear) is on my four remaining tri-cams. Tri-cams are curious pieces of protection. I’m not going to bother describing them, but they’re nicknamed “chickenheads.” My tri-cams are twenty years old. Nylon has a recommended shelf life of seven years. Hoo. Ha. That’s scary.
Anyway, speaking of shelf lives…I’m out of shelf…er, shape. In some ways I’m probably in better shape than when I was a hard core climber. But these days—while I have the cardio of a raging cheetah—I can’t do three consecutive pull-ups on the playground at the city park when no one’s looking. I won’t even try when there’s an audience. My gut hangs out in funny shapes. All the cool kids point and laugh.
There was a time when I had the contact strength to flatten a Volkswagen Beetle in one smoosh. I had grip strength to make the American Ninja Warrior team jealous. I could almost do a one arm pull-up for a brief time in my life.
|Back in the day before the cool kids made fun of me...well, as not much|
Now I’m lucky if I can curl a cheeseburger up to my mouth with one arm. Pass the fries please.
That must change! I’ll still eat cheeseburgers of course. I keep telling my wife I am just designed to metabolize cheeseburgers and pizza. I feel best when I’m eating nothing but a steady diet of both. I’m not saying I’m immune to the calories, no! That’s where ridiculous amounts of biking, hiking, and climbing come in. The fat just falls off of you. It once fell off of me. It will once again fall off of me, or get knocked loose when I go careening into rock cliff faces at a high rate of descent.
This post is a result of...you guessed it!...a text I sent to Mark:
"Dave L keeps nagging me to do an overnight bike trip, too. It might have to happen sooner than later. He's a climber too."
To which the CTL replied:
"Good deal. Let's make it happen!"
"Bike. Camp. Climb. Repeat."
I replied that we need to put that on a t-shirt. And so our novelty tee empire was born.
You would think that this kind of thing wouldn’t fester so long in my life. I’m trying to be a good husband and father and not running off at the drop of a hat to go on these little life adventures. But there’s enough time to make this kind of thing happen every once in a while for sure. And it won’t be much longer I’ll be draggin’ them kids along too!