Near and Fargo: New Mexico 20140831

“I haven’t ridden since May,” my friend said.

“Good.” “I want you fat and slow,” I replied.

The goal was just twenty-five miles of hilly, New Mexican gold. My house, north of town, east of town and then back into the guts of the city. But this was my first ride with someone else in roughly a year. I knew we would ride fast, too fast, because neither of us knew the correct pace. I on the Fargo and he on his road bike. The route begins straight up. Within ten minutes neither of us can speak as we gasp for anything we can. “I can’t talk anymore,” I said. “Give me ten minutes.”

Cold to hot and the sun begins to show it’s face. Strong enough to tan my arms through sun sleeves. Lips chapped. Legs on fire, but the conversation, when possible, is fantastic. That’s one of the great things about this pursuit. Time in the field. Time to think. Time to talk. Time to wonder if coincidence is really that or something far more.
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Heading west from a small bridge. “Now we have a nice, long downhill,” I say lowering into the drops and crouching just over the top bar. The road is rough, vintage New Mexico, with dirt, glass, broken road shards and other debris. The bike is so stable and rolls supremely over everything in my path. Rounding at corner at high speed I nail a medium sized rock lying in deep shadow. It fires off the tire like a gunshot into the brush but the bars never tremble or move.

By mile ten my legs are good. Solid. Ready. A short stop for a bite and then back to finish the ride. Done.
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“Will you ride with me now?” my wife asks as I roll to a stop in front of the casita. “Sure.” “Why not.”

Bikes on the back of The Duck and off south of town where the road ends and the dirt begins. She is tentative, still learning, but the trail is perfect. I air down the Conti’s but she doesn’t want me to TOUCH her bike. A short, steep drop and the trail begins. Twenty-five miles of rolling singletrack. It’s beautiful. Truly beautiful as the wind from the east assures us a tail wind on the return trip. A few steep, sandy dips but otherwise packed to perfection with the wet summer.

This is my first real trail work on the Fargo, and I’m amazed at how solid it is, how smooth. Even with the new tires, and the sand, the ride is fantastic. My seat post and saddle making strange popping noises, but I pretend they are bird sounds and enjoy the ride.

Near and Fargo: New Mexico 20140830

There are hills here. Oh ya, there’s that. First ride, out and back, 16 miles with a little over 1100 feet of climbing. Not much, but enough compared to Southern California. The air is clean here, so my lungs burn from lack of as opposed to quality. First light, alone and bordering on cold. Fall is winking at us from the shadows.

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Rivers of Earth, dried and washboarded cover the road. The silence or morning punctured by tire on powder, then back to silence as the wheels find tarmac once again. My seat post creaks. In fact, my seat appears to be broken, or sagging, forcing me to sit on the far back rim. Adapting is the key. I’m down to 157 pounds, and I’ve never broken a seat before.
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The community is still quiet. A ride quietly to keep the dogs at bay, a chance to bark missed as I slip by. The bike is so solid, so stable and geared for these places. Comfortable. Effortless. Me on the other hand, a temperamental creature. Unsure what I can do. Consequences around the bend if I go too hard. New meds are helping, but everyday is a maiden voyage.
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A tire change. Travel Contacts spin silently on the road, so smooth. And quiet. And when the road turns to dust they are just fine. Even in deepish sandy spots I roll across. Water bottles, x 3, go down rapidly as the environment sucks out all that I have to give. Mile after mile ticks by. I love it here.
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The return trip to Santa Fe is downhill and I mean downhill. No pedaling required for eight miles and all the speed your nerve can handle. The bike is stable, very stable and rolls almost as well as my road bike. At home others want to ride, so back on I go, legs somewhat in rebellion but luckily they are slow and I can follow and watch as the light turns to white-hot midday form.

For those of you wondering. This bike is far more capable than my cross bike, and more comfortable. This bike is also as stable as my old touring bike, but again, far more capable. I have it loaded down somewhat, but it doesn’t ride like a heavy bike. I can ride 40 miles on this and feel like I haven’t really ridden, not something I could say with my carbon cross bike or my old steel touring frame. There is something strange going on with the seat however, which is odd. The center part of the saddle collapsed to some degree, but shows no crack on the underside. Thudbuster seat post creaks like mad but I think this is common, and I still love having that small bit of give.I think there are nicer version of this post out there, and could be worth exploring. Rode Shimano my entire life, so still getting used to SRAM, but just as capable. However, if I was touring mostly I would go Rohloff. Tire change was huge. From 2.2 knobbies to Continental Travel Contact 2.0, which by the way they advertise as 700×50 but are actually 28×2.0.(Tire math is more confusing than high-school trig.)

An Outlet I’ve so Needed

You know me by now. I simmer.

As I write this my leg twitches and my mind races about the things I’ve been exposed to. Just in the past half day here at the Blurb office. I’m an interloper. “Why are you here,” people ask. “Ah, it’s hard to explain.” My journal sits near my left hand, slowly filling with what I need to get out, but filling FAR slower than ever before. At one point in my life what flowed on these pages was very much about volume. Violent quivers of things I just needed to rid myself of. But now things are different. Short, choppy blocks of notes more than prose. But they FEEL like they might be okay. Or good even. I really don’t know.
Recently a friend asked “Hey, do you know about Hi?” Minutes later I was signed up and “sketching.” This is free form, raw, literary expression and something I’ve never had before. Different from this blog. A community, described as “real-time” and I feel it.
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You see writing for me, real writing, the thing I do alone in the dark, has always been intensely private, veiled under the suspicion it only made sense to me. Maybe not. A few years ago I wrote something in the middle of the night, a piece about a drive by shooting. I made it up. The shooting actually happened, but I fabricated what I felt was really going down. I sent it to a friend who sent it to an editor and BOOM it was printed. Everywhere. “Have you written anything like this before?” the editor asked. “I have bins in my garage filled with hundreds of books of this material.” Not saying it’s all good, but I’m saying it’s there.

I’m not sure how I use Hi is how it was originally intended. I think for many it’s about making a mobile image and then sharing a thought. But as all of you know, I’m a film photographer, so I don’t use shoot digital unless I have no other choice, and I don’t make images with my phone. I dream of visiting Tokyo with processing tanks and a scanner and spending my late nights in the dark, the room periodically flooded by the slow burn of a scanner moving across silver grain. So, for me this site is about reflections. I have twenty-five-years of images, themed, stand alone and random. With each comes memory and experience and this is what I’m attempting to share.

Also, Hi is very much about community. So is Smogranch, but historically Smogranch has been photo-centric. Hi is also about imagery, but it’s the wordy part that I find most intriguing. Both for personal and professional reasons I’m spending far less time with photographers and far more with authors, so finding these folks scattered around the world, or in my hometown, has been illuminating.

So now I’m thinking. A lot. What does this really mean? Nothing? Everything? This word thing is in my blood. Gramps was full-time, full-on for thirty years. I have a sinking and painful suspicion my life is going to change. Stay tuned for the fallout. And those of you so inclined you should check out this site.

One Side to the Other

Images made within moments of one another. Wandering amid the masses of beach dwellers. Just shaking the dust off. A snap here, a snap there. Looking more than shooting. The distance is what is troubling at first, after so long in front of the screen, protected. Not here. Everything is open to the elements, including my eyes which dry and then water like a newborn. My depth is not quite right, but I know it and take visual precaution. My fingers tremble over the dials, a routine that comes back quickly no matter how long I’ve been away, and now, when I look down, the numbers are fuzzy. Yes, I’m that guy now. The one who lifts the spectacles to see what is so clearly right in front of him. Age destroys ego in most, and I can see myself leveling off in regard. “Know your limits,” someone wiser once said. Mine are clearly, or not so clearly, defined. I need no map to see the edges of the flat Earth. One boot hangs on the edge, but the other is dug in, braced and defiant.
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The camera allows me to become invisible. I know, I know, that’s impossible, but I beg to differ. A physical meditation if you pursue it long enough. I swear. You are there, and then you blend into the swatch kit of color that life provides. I turn one way and slow the shutter, pan through the railing. People running. A rangefinder so I need to compensate for not seeing clearly the frame I need to see. Who knows? And then a slow path to the other side where a woman in white strikes a pose for me, only not for me, but for someone I can’t see. Thank you.
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Spacing. It’s all about the spacing. I know this isn’t something that will live on paper, or even in my mind for any length of time, but this image deserves respect only for the spacing. The elements are there, in harmony with the environment. Open, sandy, spacious, limitless, broad, minimal. Ya, that’s it, broad but minimal. We all have a wheelhouse and this is mine. I like to dissect. Need to actually and when I do I’m so happy it feels guilty. A secret I tell to only myself. You want to know this feeling? Just go. Just go and press the button. Again and again.
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Poem from Mom: Rattlesnake

years of taking pictures
when our kids were growing up
probably thousands or more
different cameras lenses
big and little
the decision was
couldn’t give up the big lenses
one day I decided to put my camera away
wondered what I had been missing
too much time clicking searching
a lense for perceived perfection
I know now it must be in you
or maybe doesn’t exist at all
an expectation of just one more frame
did I see more with my camera
squeezed against my cheek
like a shotgun I don’t know
maybe I see it differently now
relying on only my lenses
the only thing I know is
I love those old pictures
rewinding the good old days
reminding me of so much forgotten
there is a new camera back on my cheek
still trying to get the rattlesnake
coiled at my feet