Monday, February 26, 2007



I’ve figured out what I’m going to forego for Lent.  No, it’s not riding bicycles and no, it’s not sugary snacks.  Somebody suggested I try a kosher diet for Lent.  I really like the juxtaposition of traditions it involves, but I’m not going to be kosher either. I realized quite clearly what I should forego for Lent early Saturday morning.  I’ll tell you what it is, but first a story...

Saturday was Mark’s birthday.  So on Friday Mags and I drove to eastern Utah with our touring skis and camping gear.  On our way we stopped at a taco shop where we both got veggie burritos.  We were going to throw the best birthday party that could be had in a yurt in the eastern Uinta Mountains.  I mean the best possible party to be had in a yurt, not the best possible party, which happens to occur in a yurt.  There is an important distinction there, because none of us are big partiers.  I’m not saying you’ve got to eat burritos before throwing the best party in a yurt either.  In fact, eating burritos beforehand could actually ruin a party.  Just ask my brothers.

To tell the truth, we stayed up late in the yurt drinking Cock’n Bull, eating birthday cake and reading aloud Henry David Thoreau.   Around midnight Mark and I went out for some powder runs.  It was windy and bitter cold, and the moon lit the slopes brilliantly.  But I’m supposed to be telling you about Lent, not my lame social life. 

This is kind of a backwards story.  Thursday night was league night at the bowling lanes.  I’m still flirting with that 200 game, in the same way that Dave flirts with Katherine, the college girl he meets in Breaking Away, i.e. hopeless. 

To boost my bowling score, I stopped for some flautas at one of my favorite taquerias on Salt Lake’s west side.  I love a good taqueria, especially the kind where I’m the only white person in the entire place.   That’s how I know I’m getting authentic Mexican food.  I’m always cautious of the places where the only Mexicans are the ones in the back washing dishes.  No bueno. 

Perhaps the food I had Thursday night and Friday afternoon was too authentic.  Perhaps my gut isn’t as invincible as it used to be.   Whatever it was, I woke up on Saturday morning with the worst case of Montezuma’s Revenge I have ever had.  It was the worst case I’ve ever had because the outhouse was 30 yards away from the yurt, and it was about 10 degrees outside.  The frigid dash across the snow got old after the third time.  By the fifth time my Lenten fast was clear to me.  By the seventh time I was pleading for mercy to la Virgen de Guadalupe

I don’t need a clearer vision than that.  No more taco stands for me.  I’ll keep on riding when I see a new taqueria.  The new taco shop up the street from my office will just have to wait.  For Lent this year, I am going to abstain from all of them. 

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Dixie and Lent

According to the first definition of hooptedoodle listed above, today'€™s entry is the hooptedoodleiest yet.  Warning: Bad literary analogies ahead.

My brother and I just returned from two days of riding singletrack in Utah's Dixie.  It'€™s fashionable for bloggers to list the trails we rode so here they are:  Stucki Springs/Bearclaw Poppy loop, Hurricane Rim/Gould’s/JEM trail loop, and Gooseberry Mesa.  I call them the Dixie Trinity: The Father (Poppy), The JEM and The Holy Goose.  The JEM trail is a 21 mile loop.  19 of those miles are singletrack; they're sweet salvation.   

Now for another bad literary analogy.

Riding all that singletrack felt like I was partying at Mardi Gras.  Perhaps if I'd ever been to New Orleans I would know better than to say something that stupid.  But I haven't been there and so I'm saying it.  But it begs the question, if that was my Mardi Gras, then Wednesday is the first day of Lent.  From what should I abstain? 

I first thought I should give up sugary snacks, for which I am a sucker.  I don'€™t buy them, but it seems like there's always some donuts, cupcakes or other refined sugary treat hanging around the office.  I'€™m weak and I can'€™t resist. 

But giving up donuts and pastries would be superficial because they mean nothing to me.   I look at the big picture when choosing my food.  A single food or meal doesn'€™t make or break a healthful diet. Almost any food, including the occasional donut or cupcake, can fit into a healthful diet, especially for a bicycle commuter.  Besides, I'€™m not Catholic so there's no guilt if I slip up, and Mags made two pies last night that I have to finish before they go bad.  The point is to forego something of importance, so giving up pastries won'€™t cut it. 

So help me out.  What should I give up for Lent?  What are you giving up?  Maybe you're giving service instead?  I open to all ideas. 

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Salt Lake City

I went to sleep Monday night to the sound of helicopters over my head.  Surely you’ve heard the news by now; six dead, four injured, hundreds traumatized, thousands outraged and left to wonder why.  I was a little surprised the helicopters still there on Tuesday morning when I rode by Trolley Square on my morning commute.  I guess our society demands round-the-clock updates from reporters live-at-the scene with no new information to share. 

Our house is less than a mile from Trolley Square.  We chose the house because it is an easy bike ride to many shopping centers, including Trolley square.    Some friends and family asked if moving so close to downtown was safe.  Monday night I thought maybe it wasn’t. 

Then I realized how wrong I was.  Part of the shock about Monday’s events was that things like this don’t happen in Salt Lake City.  It’s a safe place to live.  We have a squeaky-clean reputation here because we have chosen to be that way.  We’re fortunate to live in a part of the world where shopping is not life threatening, where people feel safe gathering in public, and where food poisoning is the greatest risk of dining out.   

Sure Salt Lake City will be a changed city after all of this, but it’s our choice if those changes will be for better or for worse. 

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Spring is coming

I saw a sign of the coming spring today.  No, it wasn’t the temperature of 49 degrees displayed on the marquee I rode by in the morning.  It’s not the restored view of the mountains because the inversion over the valley has finally cleared.  Nor is it that there is still daylight when I leave work.  It isn’t the melting snow in my yard, the unsolicited spring catalogs in my mailbox, or the students at the library cramming for mid-terms. 

No, what I saw today that told me spring is coming was people.  That’s right, people.  More specifically, people that were outside.  I saw kids playing soccer in front yards, teenagers flirting on corners, old men smoking and scratching themselves on porches, old ladies nagging them.  There was a line at the taco stand today.  I haven’t seen that since September. 

Ahh, yes.  I look forward to life outside again.  What signs have you seen?