Archive for ‘Play Nice’
by Jeff Cravens:
I got home from work while it was still light. I had been neglecting my bike trails. They were lonely and needed me. I told my children not to play with the knives or drive heavy equipment for at least 15 minutes. I hopped on my bike and shot down the trail at full, liberating speed. I had a grin on
my face the whole way across Boarder Trail, up the Balsam Root Spur, across Birthday Bridge, down Arrowleaf Trail and out Maple Lane. As I rode out onto the gravel road and started the long slog back up to the house, I was chuckling to myself. It had been a glorious ride. Mucho mojo. Groovitude on two wheels.
At home, I went inside and found that my children had not damaged anything or anyone. Lap 2 was calling my name. I went back out, put on my game face, and set my mind to break the speed record. After all, I was on fire. My previous run was the best I’d ever had. I had hit all the banks high, tossed my bike underneath me in the curves, and nailed all three jumps. What could go wrong?
I shot down the trail determined. I wasn’t going any faster, but I was working harder. Half way down Boarder Trail, the front of my bike decided to take a short cut down the hill. I hit the ground like a blunt Yard Dart 10 feet down the bank. Neither the bike nor I was broken, and the dirt bath was not going to interfere with the rest of the lap, so I dragged the bike back up on the trail and took off again. Before the next intersection, my subconscious wanted more dirt in my pants, so off the trail my tire went again. On this blooper, I managed to contain the wreck to the trail.
Back on the trail, I wobbled over Birthday Bridge and tried to conjure up some mojo for Arrowleaf. As I gained speed on the downhill, I felt better, then hit the Arrowleaf jump hard and sloppy. I barely held on in the big bank, and fought the bike through the S curves. I needed to get the flow back, so I released the brakes on the high bank to let it ride.
As I once again drove my bike off the trail (this time at high speed), it occurred to me that I suck. This wasn’t a dirty wreck. This one put me square into a batch of choke cherry bushes and weeds. I clawed out of the choke cherry, dragging my bike and apologizing to my shins, while checking to see if my eyes had been poked out.
I finished the ride with a bit more humility. Even so, I was shaky on the last bridge, and almost hurled my body into the woods on the Maple Lane jump. I coasted out to the gravel road with a little less skin and a lot more dirt than I started with.
As I meandered up to the house, I pondered the remarkable differences between the two rides.
The first ride was thoughtless and wonderful. The second ride was purposeful and horrendous. As I replayed the first run in my mind, I realized the real difference in the two laps… the smile.
On the first run, I had felt joy. I was simply happy to be out there. Happy to be alive and on my bike. On the second lap, I mucked it up with the idea of breaking a record, which wiped the smile off my face.
I think it’s the same way with every hobby. Whether you are a runner, a skateboarder, or a champion horseshoe thrower, we have to stop keeping score sometimes. We have to stop thinking and pushing. We have to do the things we love for the joy of doing them.
The joy is enough.
The joy is the reason we keep doing it.
The joy is pure gold.
(Ed. Note- You can see the video of the trail he’s describing HERE.)
Disc Golf. There are a couple of courses around here. Two I’ve played now, but they may count as one. See, years ago, there were eighteen ‘holes’ at this disc golf course, and about the time I quit going regularly, they’d added three or four holes to the ‘front nine’, which seemed nice. Rough holes. Lotta undergrowth and stuff.
Anyhow, flash forward to lately, and now behold! Where there had been eighteen holes, and then twenty-odd holes, now there are thirty six. Two whole courses, the East and the West.
The other course in town is in a more open park. Not so many trees, not so much erosion, and roots, and bridges, and fallen timber, and poison ivy, and mud. You can see why I haven’t rushed over there to play.
I expect the ‘crack’ of a disc smacking a tree at full force, thirty feet from the tee. Being able to SEE the hole from the tee? Crazy talk.
So, if you’re in the Memphis area, get yourself to Shelby Forest, out there North of town. Enjoy the time you spend in the shady forest, looking for where the heck that disc landed in all this… Hey, is THIS poison ivy, or is THAT stuff poison ivy?
Ah. Both. Good to know.
So, here the shot after my drive. It was a good drive. Can you spot the ‘hole’? It’s a metal doohickey with a basket and some hanging chains you can throw against. See it? You could click on the image, which will take you to the same image, then click on it again to make it slightly larger, then click on it again to magnify it in frame to make it bigger and easier to see. Wish I could do that on the course, of course.
Here’s a fine article the local paper had me ‘write’ about today- Free Comic Book Day.
You might have to click on the image a couple of iterations to get it up to a legible size. Who knows how these computers decide to display anything. It didn’t offer me the size option I wanted. Baffling.
So if there’s a comic shop near you, go in and see what they’re willing to do for you! Different shops have different deals.
It’s legendary among surfers, if I understand right. There’s a line you wait in until it’s your turn, and if you’re new there in some way, you might get pushed back in line a bit. There’s a code… an etiquette… to these things.
I haven’t experienced the surfer thing. I wanted to. I told my buddy Mike Ramirez, who had been a surfer before moving to Memphis, that when Hubris hit it big and got a high-money syndication deal, that we’d go to the beaches he frequented through college and he’d teach me to surf. Gosh, that was a long time ago.
I have experienced it in whitewater kayaking. At a play-wave, the downstream traffic has first call at the wave. You get out of their way as they come through. You find your place in line in the eddie at the river’s edge. You see who was there before you, checking both sides of the river. If there are two entry points to the play spot, you’ve got to watch and only get in when it’s Your Turn. There’s always going to be some jostling and some inexperienced boaters just aren’t going to be able to avoid jostling forward and back. Apologize. And let the guy you’ve jostled past slip around you to claim his turn at the wave.
Mostly, you’re not going to be called out for jumping line the first or second or even the third time… Mostly, you’d better move your ass on down the river if you’ve jumped line without looking as though you’re really really sorry about it and not at all the self-important jerk you obviously are. You hear stories about what happens to the cars and campsites of people who chronically and snottily jump line as a matter of course. DBAD, dude.
It happens at the skatepark, too, of course. I usually like to go so early that no one else in his right mind is interested in being awake. I’m not very good at scanning a crowd bunched up around the Serpentine or the Bowl and figuring out whose turn it is. Also, I’m not a very good skater and I feel like the little things I’m capable of are wasting other skaters’ time in there. Other skaters are usually really cool about disabusing people of this notion- they know everyone has their skill level, and don’t mind you learning. You’re using YOUR time in the bowl, not theirs. They don’t mind waiting their turn.
Even when the little kids with their TarMart bikes come and ride through the Serpentine. People watch and wait and, if the occasional kid seems to be slowly circling around at the end of the run over and over again, the kid doesn’t get an earful of expletive. There’s usually some teenager that’ll wander over and say, “Good run. It’s time to come on out and let the next guy in, okay?” and the kid pushes his bike out of the run. The next skater typically does something so amazing you feel it was worth the wait.
So. No matter what your non-team sport might be…Play nice, right?
Every generation has a name for it’s groups. The Archies (way back in the old comic books) could call themselves ‘gang’ and it didn’t sound like they were about to split some wigs and bus’ some caps. Peeps, Homies, Posse, Guys, Crowd… there are tons of terms, and I’ve only mentioned some of the recent ones. Julius Caesar, as a teen, probably called his bunch of pals something totally different. ’Dudes’, probably. Me and some high school buddies got called ‘the Motley Crew’ by an older person who didn’t know it was, horrifically misspelled, a band name already in use. If we had tried to make ourselves some shirts or hats, we’d have been beaten up by people our own age for not being able to spell “Mötley Crüe” correctly.
The last time I had a tight group of friends that spent all our extra time together, we were the Tribe. The way I remember it, we were all on our first big campout at the Nantahala river and woke up freezing. Before anyone went off to kayak the gorge, we hit the Nantahala Outdoor Center, and bought a hell of a lot of polyester fleece clothing. The comment was made that we looked like the “Turtlefur Tribe”. TurtleFur was a company back then. Might still be. I think we were probably wearing as much Patagonia brand stuff as TurtleFur, but… y’know… alliteration.
So the name ‘Tribe’ stuck to these four couples and a smattering of friends here and there that made up our kayaking/watching Xfiles/playing disc golf/hanging out on the weekends and holidays group. Mike Womack is an amazing graphic designer I’ve mentioned here before, and he made us a little logo.
Through random connections, we had window stickers and screenprinted shirts and stuff made. It was all great fun, and it seemed we’d hang out like that forever. But people and circumstances change, and children get born and folks move, and now we see each other occasionally… and I’ve put us into a Team in Hubris’s OutdoorFest.
I’m not making a big deal out of it… just a tip o’ the hat to the crowd… the group… y’know… my Tribe.
The old window sticker is still on my antique Jeep. The one on my Suburban rotted off. No %$#@.
Are you in the Memphis area? Got younguns who’d like to learn to skate? Got younguns who’d like to win a Hubris book or some stickers for being in a competition? Day after tomorrow is the first of the Clinic & Competition things at the Tobey SkatePark on Avery road behind the School Board Building, and right next to the dog park! Come on out, assuming there’s no rain. Ignore the cold, because if you skate around at all, you’ll be toasty warm! And there’ll be donuts and stuff. Come early and skate around a bit!
The other day, a friend of mine (Hey, Bruce!) said that he didn’t bring his kids to the skatepark because he didn’t know anything to teach them. I told him he had it backward. I learned from my kids! The stuff I thought I knew from skating plastic K-mart skateboards does NOT apply.
Anyhow, I doubt anyone will mind if there’s a Mom or Dad ‘helping’ with the classes for the little folks- while really the Mom or Dad is trying to learn to skate.
Come on out!
I’ve mentioned before the nice skatepark that was built here in Memphis a little over a year ago. It has one of those nice polished concrete surfaces that seems forbidding at first, but is really nice to skate on. But I just got back from a trip out to the Pacific Northwest, and where there’s that much snow, you do your skating indoors during the winter. It’s been a lot of years since I tried skating indoors. The last indoor park I went to much at all, I was taking a BMX bike after a few skateboard falls. Let me tell ya… I was worried more about skating an unfamiliar board than I was an unfamiliar park. I figured I had a really nice kickturn, so I could find some area where I could while away a lot of time just skating round and round. Maybe, I thought, I’ll work on riding fakey if I get tired of kickturns.
Well, not so much. Turns out that concrete is very forgiving when it comes to your balance point and the amount of friction it affords your wheels.
I fell down a lot indoors, and the kickturns in which I was so confident in were not right for a roomful of high-quality masonite, steel edges and slick concrete. The board slid sideways out from under me over and over again. I hate to admit it, but I lost my temper and my good mood quick. I’d like to think I could get used to masonite and all. I’d be a better skater for it- the finesse and control needed are exemplary. So… who’s got the money and the business plan to come into Memphis and build another indoor park? I warn you… we’ve had the low-end park (the Dark Side) that did everything on a shoestring, and we’ve had the high-end park (Cordova) and a couple of others, I guess, and they’re all gone now. I imagine that the profit margins on such a business are slim, and the insurance pushes the ledger toward the red.
Revolution Snow and Skate is the indoor skatepark in Wenatchee, WA (there’s an outdoor park, too. Not much play this time of year is my guess) An employee there pointed out that the skatepark is NOT how that business stays afloat- the storefront supports it, though I’m sure the store benefits from having an onsite skatepark.
Visit ‘em if you get the chance. Skate a little. Buy something. Tell ‘em we says “Hey.” Nice folks.
Just so you don’t think I didn’t enjoy my time there- When I couldn’t fall back on my routine skills, I learned to drop in, finally. It was a great day. Very exhilarating.
But I still can’t ride fakey worth a poot on masonite.
There’s a voting thingy HERE.
Hubris wasn’t nominated (He’s only two, and maybe I haven’t spread the word around the in’ernet as well as I could have. Yet)
But there’s a Write-In line that can be used to good effect (the effect being to spread the word of Hubris ’round the in’ernet)
and you can cast a vote for Hubris if you like.