Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Random Rides and Unrelated Topics

I’ve been ridiculously busy over the last week and a half. In less than ten days I’ve guided the WMDR 4 times and the Ghost Ride 2 times. Pretty damn busy considering my workday essentially begins at 5:30 AM and usually doesn’t end until 9 PM, or later.

Guiding the Ghost Ride has been fun (there is actually real mountain biking on it), but it is disconcerting guiding people who haven’t ridden downhill, much less Bolivian single-track. The stuff is gnarly, and while you can bypass it everyone wants to test themselves and see if they can ride it; good if you know how to take a fall, bad if you don’t. I had one client lose their balance and fall the wrong way on some steep single-track; she landed on her head from about 6 feet up and then somersaulted another 6 feet. Luckily she was an experienced downhill ski racer so falling came pretty naturally and all she did was knock the wind out of herself (I told you I’d mention you Alyson!).

You can crash and still have a great time!

I can deal with falls like that. However, I don’t like it when someone has no experience and takes a fall and then lays there for 10 seconds without moving; that is when I tend to get a bit freaked out. I guess it goes with the territory; but take note, downhill is not like riding flat single-track on your hardtail. You have to turn your brain OFF and feel every subtle balance and weight shift somewhere deep in the sub-conscious awareness of your body. If you start thinking, you will crash and hurt yourself.

Yup, I'm at work right here.

Other highlights of the Ghost Ride have been yet another hero photo (thanks Ben); and meeting an older gentleman on the trail. Ben is practicing, and getting better, at speaking Aymara; so he chatted the gentleman up. I gave the old guy some coca leaves I had in my pack and in return he let me take a photo of him. It was Ben’s day off so I took the group ahead while Ben stayed behind and talked to him some more. It turns out the guy even knew some English because he used to work in a mine and they spoke English often when he was working. It’s pretty cool to guide this ride because the Campesinos are friendlier along the trail and we are more of an anomaly to them.

Pretty cool guy who was glad to get some coca.

In other news the re-built fork exploded because one tiny spring seal got mashed when the lowers were put back on the stanchions, so I had to re-rebuild it; however, now it is bombproof and working great. Yet, after using Gravity’s bikes for a few days while mine was down, I can definitively say I’d like something with more travel and more plushness; but 5 inches front and rear will have to do for now.

I’m also itching to get a new, better, and faster camera but that is a long shot here in Bolivia. I don’t make enough money to buy anything like that, especially in Bolivia where electronics seem to be roughly double what they cost in the states. From what I can gather electronics and motorcycles are the only things that cost more here. So if anyone wants to kick me a Nikon DSLR with a FF sensor I happily take donations.

I also just watched Zeitgeist: Addendum again. You can find it here. While parts of it, especially the last 2 minutes, can be quite cheesy I think it would benefit everyone to give it a view. Especially if it means spending 2 ½ hours watching something intellectually stimulating instead of the disposable reality/sitcom/drama crap that permeates television. Fundamentally I agree with most of what the film says, although it will take a significant shift in the ideology and paradigm of thought before visible large-scale change can happen. I think one of the most interesting observations the film makes is the inherent ethical flaw in our current conception of society and the system it adheres to. Negative ethical characteristics and considerations are built into our conceptions and are necessarily given a shade of grey so, in my opinion, we can sleep well at night while people around the globe die of starvation and disease. And the ultimate point of the film is it doesn’t have to be like this.

It looks like I may have tomorrow off so I’m going to try to do some more songwriting; possibly a sneak preview of my album may be forthcoming in the next few months. At the moment I have one song down and the entire album, it appears (because I’m in Bolivia), will be recorded with the mic built into my MacBook Pro. I’m using an acoustic guitar to record the rough tracks (and sing along to) and then I’m adding MIDI software instruments, mixing, and mastering in Logic Pro 8, with a few rough tracks put down in Garageband. I’ve recently discovered the beauty of Logic, and since I forgot my Digidesign hardware in the states I can’t use ProTools. It seems to be a blessing in disguise because I’m forcing myself to learn a new DAW and I’m not tied to ProTools’ archaic GUI and terrible hardware (although the built in mic in my laptop isn't any better than my mBox's junk preamps). Still, I have to give ProTools props for engineering one of the fastest work environments for straight recording; but I am getting better at Logic, and control of MIDI and composition is leaps and bounds better than ProTools.

And if you haven't checked it out the article I wrote about guiding the WMDR can be found here. It's had over 25,000 views which is kind of crazy. I never expected that many people to read it but I'm happy so many are enjoying it... or maybe they're just falling for the catchy headline!

In a nutshell, Bolivia is still amazing and life is great, so come and visit!


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  2. I know that many in my workplace in WVC, Utah who follow faithfully and check it every day actually read your acrticle, did not just fall for the catchy headline =]
    Infact, that's how I found your journal.
    Will you be posting your songs online for your readers to hear?