Sunday, July 27, 2014

Adventure Report: Mountain Biking

I went mountain biking for the first time on Wednesday. When I was in Colorado I would occasionally go to a skills park, but this was my first time getting on an actual path and mountain biking.

I would like to say first that I didn't fall. I almost fell. A lot. But I stayed up.


I went to Quarry Ridge Park near Madison WI. If you click on the links you can find out more about them, but I'll give a quick overview. It has a main loop, which includes a beginner section, and then an intermediate section. This includes some berms, two wooden features, lots of turns, and some climbs. At one point, you can choose to either go back to the parking lot, take a trail along the lake, or take a sandy climb up the ridge. From the top of the ridge, you can take three downhill paths down the ridge. The singletrack loops around the top of the ridge then back down. A connecting trail allows only the beginner sections to be ridden.


I took the Military Ridge Bike Path to the park, so I had a 7 mile ride just to get there. I was there around 10:00 on a Wednesday, so I shared the park with just one guy walking his dog, which was nice to not embarrass myself, but meant I would take extra care.  I did the beginner loop a few times, then moved on to the main loop. The first time around, I went real slow, and missed a lot of the fun stuff, like the wooded features. I had to walk my bike up the sandy climb because my gears were messed up and I couldn't down shift, and had little traction. I didn't really bother to learn many skills before I went, just the stance, so it probably serves me right. From then on, I took the shorter intermediate loop. It was a lot of fun. I probably never broke 15mph, but my skills improved a lot, and I can't wait to go again. Maybe try some downhill stuff.

What I learned

I learned a lot of techniques. Once I got home, I e-mailed a friend in CO who races and everything. He gave me a lot of practical advice.

While I was out, on a very basic level, I learned that braking on a downhill doesn't help much when you're on dirt. You just fishtail. So, I learned to let go of the brake and ride.

The most metaphysical thing I learned is "Trust your bike, trust yourself." When I went slow, trying to pick my way through every little bit, I had a lot more problems than if I just trusted my body to be able to compensate for any problems. I had to trust my bike too, to not fall apart under me and to compensate a little on its own. Trust has always been an issue with me, and I still trust no one really, but now at least I trust myself and my bike (a Specialized HardRock I got at an auction).


I will be doing more and more of these adventure reports as I complete more adventures. I'm still working out the format I want for them, so over time, you may see some changes and developments. Just ignore them or give me feedback (my email for this blog is jleopold.tri[at], the comments also work) and enjoy!

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Saturday, July 26, 2014

Commercial Media and You

One of the things that struck me the most about Yellowstone was that it was full of stores and hotels and other buildings. My exposure to National Parks had thus far been contained to mostly Rocky Mountain National Park and the Bad Lands. Both of these parks are on the smaller side, and are not major tourist destinations. I expected Yellowstone to be a bit more commercial. But this was simply outrageous. The entire thing was meant to cater to the casual outdoor tourist. In most of the land saved by the national government, the balance is between preservation (keeping things completely natural, think National Parks and Monuments) and conservation (allowing private use of public land, think National Forests). At Yellowstone, the balance is between preservation and commercialization, which takes a whole different approach.
An elk ruins a beautiful parking lot.

So, in this post, I will cover a history of commercialization in Yellowstone, based on a National History Day paper I prepared last year; the two medias; ignoring commercial media; using commercial media; and personal branding. Also, forgive the timing, I had problems with IE and have now switched to Firefox.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Prometheus Reborn--Now as a Page

Since this blog is taking a more personal development direction now, I made Prometheus Reborn, my essay on transhumanism and the drive to become greater as its own page. Click the tab at the top to check it out.

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Sunday, July 20, 2014

Back from Yellowstone

Today marks two weeks after I left on vacation to Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons. As with my previous vacation, it was a wonderfully creative time. This time however, I know what to do with my revelations. Share them. So, in the coming week or so, you can expect articles on:
  • Commercialization
  • Hiking
  • Wilderness
  • Yellowstone's personal effects on me
  • Determination
  • Overcoming fears
  • Body image
And of course, there will also be an adventure report, complete with stunning pictures. I hope that some of these posts will lead to further discussion and possibly series on media and the outdoors.

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Saturday, July 5, 2014

2-week Hiatus

I'm going to Yellowstone for two weeks. Should be some good adventures there. But, internet will be spotty, and I will be busy, so I will be gone for two weeks.

While that happens, check out some of the new blogs in the blogroll, or other places like /r/adventures to entertain yourself when you aren't out adventuring.

If you enjoy this blog, subscribe by feed and e-mail, so I can save you time by letting you know when a new post is up. To know what I'm all about, check out this post

Friday, July 4, 2014

Things Others Do That I Won't...And Why

I said in this post that I wouldn't be making any promises. I would like to retroactively add a qualifier. I won't make any positive promises. Promising to not do things, well that is what this post is for.

A Different Path

  1. Bloat your self-esteem. I hate to say it, but I won't do this. To be honest, it is a you problem. That is why there is that word self in it. Besides, if I do, you have no reason to believe me. Unless you already have self-esteem, in which case, you will buy what I tell you because you will know that it is true. Rather than tell you that you are great, I'm going to help you make yourself great.
  2. Go out of my way to motivate you. I don't like seeing all of the blog post that go "X number of quotes to motivate you," "X number of quotes to start your day," "X number of facts that will have you up and going in no time." Not only is there plenty of that available else where, but also comes down to leadership. I want to be a good leader, so rather than motivate you with quotes from other people, I'm going to motivate you with information and stories. Lead with action, right?
  3. Do the New Age stuff. I spent a 2 years involved in that stuff. It lead to a year of deep emotional and mental problems. That isn't to say that will happen to you, but I try to avoid it now, as I'm sure you'll understand. So, I won't be telling you to "Find your actual self," or "Use Chakras to transcend your existence." I'll tell you things to do, adventures to have, experiences to experience that may or may not help you do these things. I'll focus on the practical. If the New Age stuff works for you, please, please, use it.
  4. Claim my way is the only way. I find it ironic that the education system that tells us that we are all unique thinks that things only work if we all do them the same way. There are so many different contradictory systems for self-improvement out there that all have their own success stories. To me, this means that they all work for some people, but not for others. Mine will be no different.
  5. Tell you to just be yourself. If you are looking for self-improvement, or personal betterment, or anything else related to you and being better, then I bet you aren't loving yourself. There are some things you want to change. And if you just be yourself, those aren't going to be fixed. For school one year we went to a respect retreat. There, they told us to remember the 97 things right with us, and not focus on the 3 things wrong. That concerned me. If you read at a 2nd grade level, you might want to focus on that one thing wrong. As for being yourself in social situation, I still won't. Sometimes, sure, it's fine. But sometimes, its better to put on a face. If you are naturally an constant talker, you may want to put on a mask for your meeting with the CEO. Other times, it is just fun to pretend to be different in social situations that allow for it. Actors must act for a reason, yeah?

If you enjoy this blog, subscribe by feed and e-mail, so I can save you time by letting you know when a new post is up. To know what I'm all about, check out this post