Saturday, May 30, 2009


In Southern Scotland there are numerous mountain bike opportunities, some on private land and some on public land. The most popular are called The Seven Stanes. Stane means stone in Scots. This was a marketing idea to connect the areas which are located on Forestry Commission Land. These trails were funded by the government of Scotland and are maintained with money from the the Government of Scotland. In Scotland they think of Mountain Biking different than our government does. For them mountain biking does Social good. It gets people out in the out of doors exercising and  it gets families out together ( all of these areas have all levels of trail difficulty so everyone can participate). Mountain Biking is also all about economic development. In Scotland Mountain Biking is more popular than fishing, hunting and golf combined. The government recognizes this and now mountain biking brings in millions of pounds to the Borders in Scotland. 
These trails are all designed with a lot of care. Some would say too much care. They have to build these trails to withstand all weather. In Scotland this means lots of rain. When they build a trail they have to lay a layer of bedrock (this is just like we build highways), then they add all the features on top of this layer of rock. It is expensive but effective. These trails are used 12 months a year. They are loads of fun and very challenging. I can ride about 98% of a red trail, the black trails are another story. They are doable for me only if I walk around the biggest jumps. 
The photos are of 5 of the 7 Stanes. In order we have the Meteorite Stane from Glentress, the Heart Stane from Dalbeattie, the Ghost Stane from Mabie, the Talking Head Stane from Ae, and the Gem Stane from Kirroughtree. These are the 5 areas I got to when I was over in Scotland this month. 
If you are looking for a marvelous holiday in Europe but can't stand the idea of leaving your mountain bike think of southern Scotland. It is called The Borders and Dumfries and Galloway. You can do culture, castles, walking, beautiful scenery, history and of course Mountain Biking.
If you want more information let me know. Take care.

Sunday, May 24, 2009


I did not pick the bike business it picked me. I went to school to be a forester (when I found out that meant cutting trees not saving them I changed majors). I did work for the Forest Service for 10 years, but in the end the bike business took me away. At the time it didn't appear to be a great career move. Bend was in a recession and bikes were not what they are today. But that was then now is now. 
I rode by Phil's trail head this morning and there were cars parked all the way to Skyliners Road. These were all mountain bikers. These are all people who make the bike business viable. I feel really blessed to be in a business that is holding its own during these tough times. I won't say we aren't feeling the downturn, but all in all Sunnyside is a very busy place every day. 
I don't feel smart or anything, as I said I didn't pick this business. I have bicycle disease. I love bicycles. This morning I watched the Giro live on the Internet, and then out for a solo mountain bike ride. Tons of people were  having fun on the trails. I remember when it just 12 of us riding mountain bikes. Thanks to all of those who share my passion, those at Sunnyside, those in other stores, customers and non customers, everyone. 
Like I said I feel blessed that I was chosen to be in this business.

Thursday, May 21, 2009



 It seems like only a couple of days ago that I was leaving from the same airport, on the same flight returning home. I remember thinking that only two days in Scotland with my friends wasn’t nearly enough. I didn’t realize then that I would be returning for the World Mountain Bike Conference in just a few short weeks.

Well the Conference was cancelled, and I just spent 9 days at the self made World Mountain Bike Holiday.  Andy Wardman was my guide. He was the first Mountain Bike Ranger at Glenn Tress a few miles from Peebles in the Borders in Southern Scotland, a position he still holds today. I have described most of my adventures in previous blogs so I will not bore you with more details. Yesterday, my last day, Marty, another good friend who lives in Fife, took a day off to spend with me and Andy. Since it was the last day we went to the jewel  of the 7 Stanes Glenn Tress. Glenn Tress is the first mountain bike destination in Scotland, it is the most popular and some would say it is the best. I am not sure if it is the best as every one of the Stanes I went to was superb, It is good though, with a lot of variation. Trails for the beginner, the pro and riders like me with lots of experience but like to keep the tyres close to the ground. We wound our way up the red trail to almost the top of the area. Great views of the Tweed Valley were to be had. We stopped to take a photo of the Stane. The one at Glenn Tress is a meteorite. There is furrow behind it so it looks like it just landed and should be smoking. It rained to make the day more special and afterwords it was lunch (tea*), cakes and coffee at The Hub. We also washed our bikes at the customary bike wash. Every area has a bike wash even if there are no toilet facilities.

Then it was back to home more tea and talk and then Marty was off to home. What a pleasure it is to have friends who take time off work to visit.

Ros asked me if there was anything special I would like for my last meal. I was thinking some fish and chips would be a good way to end my holiday. Off we went to the Joe Jacks, the preferred chip joint in Peebles. We had take out. They don’t use news papers anymore so we had some very cute boxes. On the way home I saw a man walking with his baritone horn to practice with the local brass band, and then in the distance we could here piper with his bagpipe playing. I was definitely not in Bend.  I would be remiss not to mention the tear that fell from my eye as I realized I would be leaving my good friends and my other home Scotland. I am looking forward to coming home, being with my sweetheart,seeing my mom, seeing my kitties and going to work. The rain and the wet are tough for a Bendite. I had to buy a new kit just so I could keep riding. The bike will need an overhaul and my clothing will need to dry out. I do wish that Scotland was closer though, both that the Scots could visit me more (and have a chance to dry out) and we could visit them.  When you travel next don’t leave for some better weather (we do have the best anyway), go to a country that will welcome you with great food, wonderful roads to ride, castles to admire and some of the best mountain biking in the world. I will return for sure.


Wednesday, May 20, 2009


I am sitting in Peebles, Scotland finishing a 9 day mountain bike holiday and I just found out that Steve Larsen died suddenly while doing a running workout a few blocks from my house. 
I knew Steve since the late 90's when he first moved to Bend. I don't have anything profound to say, I don't think there are any lessons here to learn. I am just shocked and sad. He was always friendly to me and our store even when he was sponsored by others. I was seeing him more this year as he was taking his son Massimo to many of the mountain bike races. I spoke to him the day before I left on this holiday, it was about how much fun it is to mountain bike race and have such good trails close to home. 
Life is so sudden and the unexpected can happen at anytime. I will miss Steve and I send my condolences to his five children and his wife Carrie.


In Great Britain Sheds are a big deal, they are our version of the 4 car garage. The difference is over here we have a  country with very strict land use laws. The population is pretty steady in Europe and new subdivisions just don't exist. Instead you see buildings converted into flats, and semi-detached houses. There is not the luxury of a garage, much less a double or triple garage. What we do see are sheds, lots of types of sheds. There are books about sheds, pre built sheds, old sheds, new sheds etc. All of my friend over here are avid cyclists and they all have bikes, mountain bikes, road bikes, commuter bikes. They add up and you see them stored in ingenious ways. Hanging from the kitchen ceiling, high in the hallway, in the second bedroom, or just plain in the way. The best way is to have them in the shed. Andy just moved to his flat last July and one of the first things he did was build a shed. His is the newer looking one next to his wood pile. All his bikes hang in there, there is a place to work on the bikes (we overhauled all his forks and shocks), it has an alarm and a sturdy locking system. 
Living in the States we are spoiled. They do so much here with less space. The bonus is there is almost no urban sprawl. The hills all are all wild around every town and village. The one sub-division around here (which everyone points to when I tell them they have strict land use laws) is very small and contained. We rode our mountain bikes in the forests and farms between the Selkirk and Interleithen. Only a couple of farm houses to be seen. 
I am not sure I would give up my spacious house with a garage and a large storage area for a flat and a shed, but I would appreciate the open space and no urban sprawl
Our City Council just approved a new Urban Growth Boundary. It was based on the idea that in Bend we need bigger lots and bigger homes. So once again we sacrifice the last open space we have with large trophy homes. I wonder if we will ever learn that there is a limited amount of space left on our planet. Maybe sheds are the answer. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


If you look closely at these photos you can see a "buzzard" sitting in the tree, it the dark spot in the middle of the photo. In the other photo if you look in the upper left you can see the buzzard just after it attacked Pete. A few minutes earlier it swooped down on me and almost hit my helmet. We left the area thinking we were safe and then I heard some shouting, then something hit my helmet. It was the black wraith. Hawks seem somewhat noble and beautiful, but when they attack you they are evil and dark. I felt like one of the hobbits from Lord of the Rings. I wasn't sure what to do. My friend Kevin was with us and he is over 6 and a half feet tall. I went and rode next to him for awhile. 
We were doing an epic ride that day so we still had a long time to go. I let the adrenaline race through my blood and off we went again. This time it was a long switch bike climb with a gorgeous descent through trees and meadows. There was even an old castle we went by. This is not Oregon. 
We ended up riding for almost 5 hours, we did one climb that was so steep I had to stop and rest. What a day. I have three more days and Andy is taking me to some other areas to ride. The weather is going to get worse so we will be ready for some rain and mud. Next blog will about something completely different.

Saturday, May 16, 2009


Real Scottish weather showed up yesterday, mist, rain and wind. You can see by the photos that the sun had left us and a huge storm from the South had descended on The Borders. I have to say I wasn't really bothered by it, I came prepared for rain and the wet (I even have a fender on by bike). Somehow the clouds and the wet bring out the beauty in Scotland. It wouldn't be green without the rain. The trails we were on yesterday were about 6 miles from where I am staying in Peebles, they were designed by my friend Pete Laing. The trails are on Forestry Commission Land and, unlike most of our trails in Oregon, they were funded and built by the Forestry Commission. They are designed to be all weather trails. It is quite different over here because to make an all weather trail in Scotland means the trails are built on a bed of crushed rock. This allows for drainage, but it  is also very expensive. It has all paid off in Spades for the tourism of the Borders and Scotland. Mountain biking is more popular than golfing, fishing and hunting combined in Scotland. It is the number 2 tourist activity in all of Scotland. 
After we were done riding and visiting the local bike stores it was back to the flat to make some pies. We were having a big dinner at Pete and Ali's house and I had volunteered to make some pies. Not so simple after I remembered I wasn't at home. So off to the store to buy the necessary tools and ingredients. Pastry roller, flour pie plate etc. In Great Britain they use weights instead of volume to measure. So converting from metric weights to cups was a challenge. The first batch of pie crust was a disaster. It felt like there was too much and not enough butter. I managed to get the crust into a cake pan but it was just fundamentally wrong. I was making two pies so I refigured all the amounts and tried again. More failure, I then looked at the flour package. I had gone shopping right after my ride and I still had my contacts in. When I have my contacts in I can't see up close. The package said in big dark letters Plain White Flour, but in the light small writing there were more words, wheat and gluten free. Back to the store for more flour and a lightning quick rolling out of the doe and back in business we were. Ros took Kathy's job of decorating the pie. 
It was great to see old friends again.  Every time I have been over to Scotland Pete and Ali have hosted a dinner for me. It makes me feel quite special. I was able to catch up with Ron and Kate, my friend Kev's parents, to see Paul and Anne again (I just met them last March in Mallorca) and of course hang out with Kev, Vicky, Pete and Ali. Good times. It is a rest day today so Ros and I are taking it easy. 

Thursday, May 14, 2009


This trip was supposed to be me going to the World Mountain Bike Conference. The conference was cancelled so Andy and I decided to have a World Mountain Bike Holiday instead. He is taking some time off of work to show me all the best trails in Southern Scotland and I am following along. My bike arrived around 2pm yesterday and as we were continuing the jet lag mountain bike cure (evening rides) it turned out fine. We met Steven, Ian and another Andrew in the  small village of Newton Grange, about 8 miles south of Edinburgh. Edinburgh is the capitol of Scotland with a population of nearly 500,000. So what are we doing riding mountain bikes 8 miles from an urban center. Well look at the photos with the sunset (you can see the skyline if you look hard and the photo with the yellow Rape Seed. This is were we rode. It was awesome, wild and full of surprises. A little urban riding but mainly it was farm road and single track, some huge jumps (I skipped those) and sweet downhills. It is ironic that Scotland has more open land close to its urban areas than the United States. Someday I will get into that a little more but as a teaser John Muir would recognize his birth town of Dunbar in Scotland but not his home the SF Bay area.
We had a great ride, some pizza afterwords and to bed just at midnight.
Today we were more normal. A short drive south to Dumfries in the morning. When we arrived we had a coffee with Andy's girlfriend Ros. Then we enjoyed the trails at Ae. There is a 24 kilo red (difficult) route. Then some lunch and more coffee with Ros then off to one of those old fashion hardware stores. This was one of those stores where the people that work there know more than the customers. They had all the stuff we needed to overhaul Andy's shock and fork, plus a few more esoteric items.
I rode my longest elevated boardwalk today We think it was around 400 to 500 meters. If I looked at the cracks between the planks it was hypnotic. I made it and got a picture of Andy finishing it out. 
I also found one of the best uses of a clear cut, mountain bike trails. The stumps make great jumps and features and you can see your way ahead on the trail without all the foliage. Southern Scotland has 7 mountain bike areas, they are called the 7 Stanes. Stane means stone. Each area has its own stone and this "Talking Head" is the Stane for Ae. Pretty cool really. 

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


What a good way to start my accidental mountain bike holiday. The flight over was the usual never ending 9 hour ordeal (unlike my last flight when I was sitting smugly in business class).  It was the typical cramped seat, trying to sleep while the neighbor refused to shut her shade on the window, and the crew not being as friendly as usual. The flight ended and after a transfer to another flight I ended up in Edinburgh. Andy was right outside the gate waiting for me and I was excited to show him how small a suitcase I got my Trek Fuel Ex into. I figured out a few years ago that it would be quite easy to take a full suspension bike and remove a few bolts and put it into a normal suitcase (This save around $400 round trip). This was my first attempt. Well the bike didn't arrive. It is hard to figure how it could have been misplaced as I had lots of time between all my flights, but on the other hand it is hard to figure how these airports keep track of the millions of pieces of luggage everyday. They did track it down and it will be here at around noon today.
We still had to complete our first day mission though, the weekly night ride in Selkirk. I have done this ride every year I have come to Scotland and I didn't want to miss another chance. I borrowed one of Andy's bikes, bought a new pair of Bontrager shoes ( I was going to get a pair anyway at home) and off we went. Pete decided today was a good day to ride The Eildons Hills. These are the three hills between Melrose, Galashiels and Selkirk. They are the symbol of the Borders. The Borders is the area of Scotland which lies in the southeastern part of Scotland, between England and Scotland. I have hiked up the Eildons at least three times but this was my first time on a bike up them. You can see by the photos how beautiful they are .
To make a long ride a short story, the normally two hour night ride ended up being a four hour ride. Ali of course had soup and cake waiting for us at 11:30 at night, along with a big smile. I had forgotten my jet lag hours before (a 4 hour night ride is the best jet lag cure I have used). I felt at home. It was like I had ridden with these folk every day forever. 
I am truly blessed to have all these great friends.

Monday, May 11, 2009


Sorry no photo today, I was busy racing not taking photos. I won, this my third victory this year. That is a lot for me. A little background though. They changed the age groups this year to 55+, my race age is 59 (60 for cross). At my age 4 years is a pretty big deal. We try to stay strong, healthy and fast. I think I can say I have done that.  I was asked after the race how many in my group. I thought about that and I thought why is that important. Is is the numbers or who is there? There were 5 in my group. 2nd, 3rd and 4th were all with in a minute of each other. Vince who was second beat me here a couple of years ago, he is a stronger climber than me, I am more steady. Ron is always strong. Rick who was fourth was ahead of me at my favorite race Bear Springs. The fact I could be ahead of them means I had a good race. Some of my old competitors don't race anymore. One was out skiing with his buddies, one was camping with his girlfriend and one was watching his son ( Carl) finish second in the pro race. Does that make my race less because they have chosen another path. I don't think so. I still like to go hard on my mountain bike. I battle whoever I am with. Yesterday it was with a racer named Mark who will be 55 next year. I beat him, after giving it everything I had, by around 5 seconds. In a two + hour race that is not much. I had to dig deep for that though. This is the first time I have won at Chainbreaker. I have had numerous podiums so it did feel good. This is race is so hard. There is no rest, the first half is kind of up and second kind of down. Pedaling about 98% of the time. No rest. I was tired and satisfied. Now- a 10 day mountain bike holiday in Scotland.

Saturday, May 9, 2009


You may of noticed that I like ride my bike, both road and mountain. In Bend, I prefer to mountain bike because the trails around here are so awesome. I like to ride by myself but riding with friends is special, in fact on Monday I am headed off to Scotland for a mountain bike holiday with Andy, who is not even close to 30 yet.
Yesterday I was out riding with two of my good friends in Bend, John and Veronica. You might notice there is a slight age difference, John is 61 and Veronica is 30 (today is her 30th birthday in fact). I don't party with Veronica (maybe once), but we do ride together. I actually don't party with John either, though he has been my best mountain bike friend for almost as long as Veronica has been alive. The truth is I don't party at all. The point of all this is, make sure what ever activity you do it includes all ages and sexes It is important to hang out with older and younger people. It is also a good thing that you include friends of both sexes in your life. If your only friend of the opposite sex is your partner you are really missing out. It gives you a good perspective on life. It also makes you feel younger if you are getting close to that 60 mark. 
Maybe I am just blessed to have such good friends, I don't know. I do know it is great to have such a variety of friends. 

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


A couple of days ago I won the 55+ Oregon State Championship Cross Country mountain bike race. The winner of the Pro men was Carl Decker, long time friend and fellow Bendite. In the youngest age group, my new teammate (age 13) William Wodrich, was 3rd. So what has that to do with numbers. Well here goes. While we were waiting around for results I introduced William to Carl. I mentioned that William is the same age as Carl was when he (Carl) and I started to race mountain bikes. Carl mentioned to me that he is the same age (34) as I was when we both started to race mountain bikes. I hope you can make some sense of that. The other note of interest is the last time I won a State Mountain bike championship was in 1988. It was in Corvallis and Carl, his dad Mike, Gary and I all drove over together. We have doing this along time, and having fun every minute of the way.

Monday, May 4, 2009


This may seem like a story of bragging but I don't see it that way. It is more of a story of hard work, dedication and longevity. First of all an apology to William for the out of focus photo. The photo on the left is me receiving the OBRA State Championship Gold medal. It was a proud moment for me. I realize that I have had my share of success throughout the years but winning a gold is very special. I have a total of 9 OBRA medals: 3 Gold, 4 Silver and 2 Bronze. That is out of 30 years of racing. The first medal (a gold) was in 1988 at the state mountain bike championship held in Corvallis that year. That was a good year for me as I went on to win two medals at the World Championships. The next gold came in 1998 when I won the State Cyclocross race in Bend, and 11 years later comes my last medal. I couldn't have won this medal if I didn't have some help. Most of this help comes in the form of other racers. When I won the first medal it was in the Veterans division. The age then was 35 +. There were no other age groups. Yesterdays race was in the 55+. That didn't even exist one year ago. We have a 55+ group because there are still some older dudes out there that think young and that mountain biking rocks. 
The other photo is of William Wodrich, he is the youngest member of our team. Though I have fun I think he has more fun. I asked him how he did and he said awesome (he was third), and then he told me he endoed five times. The endoing was part of the fun. Young and old that is really the key to what we do out there. It brings us all together. The last photo is just a reminder that even a State Champion has to wash his own bike. Take care,