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The thoughts of writer John Rezell, who will write about anything, anytime, anywhere. So pay attention.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Visit the ONWard blog at OutdoorsNW.com for Raz's latest writing

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Holden Turning Up the Heat

Posted by johnnieraz on April 6, 2018 at 1:35 PM Comments comments (0)

EDITOR'S NOTE: This is an excerpt from my book "A More Simple Times, How Cycling Saved My Soul"

CHAPTER 68: Holden Pattern

 

     “Some people create with words or with music or with a brush and paints. I like to make something beautiful when I run. I like to make people stop and say, ‘I’ve never seen anyone run like that before.’ It’s more than just a race, it’s a style. It’s doing something better than anyone else. It’s being creative.”

— Steve Prefontaine

      Without question, my favorite Steve Prefontaine quote challenges you to look at athletics through a new perspective. When the women’s 1996 Olympic Trials opened in the searing heat and humidity in Martinsburg, West Virginia with a time trial, there really wasn’t any other way to describe what played out. The best women in the land creating something beautiful.

     As the temperature soared toward triple digits the question became two-fold: Who would survive the day, and what impact would it have on the rest of the Trials?

      The drama began with another star from the 1984 LA Olympics looking for a rebirth. Rebecca Twigg rolled onto the course, and a fairy tale began. Twigg flew through the course, passing riders at an unbelievable pace. The PA announcers shouted updates, riling up the sweating crowd at the start-finish line. Twigg even passed riders who started eight minutes before her! She hit 30 mph on the rollers. Would Twigg steal the show?

      Mari Holden couldn’t allow that to happen. She wouldn’t allow that to happen. Holden’s only chance to steal the automatic Olympic berth would have to start with victories in her unabashed specialty — the time trials. Then she needed to combine those wins with some luck in a road race or two, which might not be difficult since the road races just might stick together for pack finishes.

      Something special fills the air when the tiny Holden gets onto her time trial bike and drops into an aerodynamic position. She transforms into a powerful machine — a human engine perfectly integrated with the bike — willing speeds from a bicycle that others simply dream about, or only manage on extreme downhills.

      With the crowd buzzing from Twigg’s sensational reports, the shocking news hit — silencing everyone for a moment, followed by a collective “ooohhhh.” At the time split, Holden zipped past 12 seconds faster than Twigg. The two-time defending champion creating art from athletics.

      Holden’s art displays raw heart for the beholder to absorb. She gets on her bike and leaves nothing to chance. Absolutely nothing. While many athletes push themselves to their limit, most appear to have a governor that won’t allow them to extract that last 1 or 2 percent, least they inflict physical damage to their finely-tuned bodies. Holden pushes beyond that, some how, some way.

      Her relentless charge, combined with insane heat and humidity, began to hit her in the final miles. Her usual steady straight as an arrow, efficient line became a squiggle. She bounced all over the road as she milked every last ounce of her essence out of the ride, delirious from the hellish conditions. When she crossed the finish line, she collapsed. She got placed on a stretcher, and left in an ambulance. Amid the chaos, she didn’t know that she won, topping Twigg by six seconds even though those in her support car estimated she lost about 40 seconds in the final 5K. In fitting tribute, her mother stood atop the podium to receive flowers and a medal.

      “I’ve never had anything like that before,” Holden said the next day, relaxing, at her hotel after getting hospitalized for dehydration and heat exhaustion. “I can’t remember the final 5K. Afterward, in the van, I was just freaking out.”

      Hearing her split invigorated her. She pushed harder. Deeper into the abyss others back away from.

      “I just felt like I was going hard, but nothing really out of the ordinary,” Holden said. “I pushed myself, but it was a course where you had to keep pushing because there weren’t any opportunities to just settle in. I thought I was going great, especially in the final 5K. I didn’t even know I wasn’t riding that well.”

 

Sun Downer

Posted by johnnieraz on March 18, 2018 at 3:20 AM Comments comments (0)


Drift Creek Falls

By John Rezell

     The marine layer drifted in and smothered the near full moon, extinguishing what little light that slipped through the trees slightly illuminating the trail, leaving Ridgely and I to hike the final stretch in complete darkness.

    It figures, I chuckled to myself. That marine layer already ruined the sunset, why not mock me some more? Having spent most of my life as a sportswriter, I should have been keeping score — this being two strikes and all. But no.

    I grabbed my cellphone and swiped it to bring up the flashlight app. Nothing. Strike three.

    I guess when I did a little cellphone maintenance the other day I zapped that app. Luckily I had reception, barely, so a few minutes later I had a new app and enough light to finish the hike.

    When we cleared the forest and returned to the parking lot of the Cape Lookout Trailhead the moon beamed brightly again, lifting my spirits. Just another day of adventure. I love it.

    We got a later start than usual, but the clear skies and temperatures nearing 60 called for action. Debbie had the truck for the day, so that meant I didn't have my usual collection of equipment for outdoor exploration — including my emergency flashlight — but we couldn't let that slow us down.

    Instead, some trucker in a hurry to the coast slowed us down. We lost nearly 45 minutes as traffic crawled past his overturned rig.

     We still managed to hit the Drift Creek Falls Trailhead with some sun peeking through the mist. A mile-and-a-half later, we enjoyed a spectacular view of the falls, raging in all its springtime glory — the sunlight creating a beautiful rainbow in the mist.

     I figured we could make it to a nice spot on the coast to grab a sunset shot. My initial goal was Oceanside, but along the way Cape Lookout grabbed my attention.

     I wasn't familiar with the options, but for once the trailhead signage offered everything you needed to know. There are three trails, the North Trail, South Trail and Cape Trail. North and South lead to overlooks. Cape leads to the beach, 1.8 miles down. Way down.

     With just one other vehicle in the parking lot, I knew I'd get a good secluded beach shot. So we went for it.

     The clock showed it was after 5, so time was of the essence. We had three miles under our belt and it's early in the hiking season so I don't have mid-summer fitness. Packing a healthy 15-20 pounds in my backpack didn't help either. But we went for it.

     We double-timed it all the way down the trail and made it to the beach in plenty of time. There I saw the driver of the other vehicle. I knew he had to be down there from the fresh footprints in the muddy trail only heading in that direction. We moved down the beach and were alone.


     A pinch of blue sky offered hopes for a decent sunset, but by the time the sun dipped below the horizon, the marine layer swallowed everything up to cast just a dreary gray across the landscape. It's not the kind shot that will make a postcard, but that doesn't do it justice.

    With Ridgely and I alone (the other dude headed up while he still had light) we listened to the waves crashing on the rocky cape, felt the Pacific mist on our cheeks and savored the solitude of sunlight disappearing for another day.



No rest for the weary with her around

Posted by johnnieraz on February 24, 2018 at 12:30 AM Comments comments (0)

NOTE: There is a somewhat disturbing photo below. Do not view while eating. Just sayin'

By John Rezell

     Coming off a tiring stretch of a long string of work days, my favorite chair called to me like ancient sirens. A day of chillin' sounded perfect. Time to recoup and regenerate.  In a word, I felt exhausted.

     Ridgely had other ideas.

     Let me preface this by saying that when it comes to getting outdoors and enjoying nature, Ridgely is beyond obsessed with it — as noted in the photo above. She's still like that today, even at the ripe age of 11.5.

     She grew up with us hitting the woods at least twice a week as I wrote an outdoors column for the newspaper. So her most recent role as a stay-at-home-during-the-week-while-I-work-in-my-office-dog doesn't sit well with her.

     She's the true athlete of the family. I'll ride my mountain bike for 2, 3 sometimes 4 hours and she'll run along. We'll hike for 8 hours and she's there every step of the way.

     Wait, let me rephrase that on hiking. She'll run 50 yards ahead, then run back to us. Over and over. So hiking, well, she usually covers about 1.5 times the mileage compared to the rest of us.

     How much does she love getting out? I have this red shirt I wear for most hikes. If she sees me put it on, she goes nuts. Absolutely crazy. Check out this video:


 

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     Back to my rest day. No red shirt. But that doesn't mean she wasn't going to drop some big hints of what she had on her mind. In essence, she looked around and saw Debbie and I sitting at home. That means no one was going to work. So it's time to play.

    She politely sat up straight in front of me and gave me her puppy eyes. I laid down on the floor to pet her. That's when she went full throttle on me.

    She literally did everything in her power to get me up. She grabbed at my hands with her paws, trying to pull me along. She shoved her nose, then head, under my arms to pull me up. Eventually she tried to squirm her entire body beneath my back to life me up.

    She gave an amazingly entertaining show, yelping and begging the entire time [again, watch the video above to get an idea]. Eventually, like all the girls in my house, she won.

     I pulled on the red shirt, and things got really crazy. I opened up the truck and had her hop in the back. She'll sit there for hours to make sure I don't leave without her. She got her wish.

    We drove up outside of Oakridge and hit the Middle Fork Trail for some mountain biking. It's my favorite trail next to the McKenzie River Trail. While the McKenzie River Trail is often populated, the Middle Fork is generally all mine. Especially this time of the year. 

     A few years back, round about this time during a winter with more snow and colder weather than we are having, I hit the trail with Ridgely.

     We climbed a steep hill, and when we got to the top. Well, take a look at what greeted us:


     When you are in the middle of the woods, miles from your truck, it's the kind of sight you expect to see in a horror movie. A typical horror movie would have a clean Elk skeleton. Nope. This was half-eaten. Only half. Something planned to come back for seconds. Or thirds. Or Ridgely and me for dessert.

     Every hair on my body leaped out of my skin. We stuck around long enough to snap this photo, then spun and vanished in a hurry. I kept Ridgely close to my side, and started singing quite loudly.


     Back to this year's ride. We were climbing the hill about to enter the Elk Zone. I noticed that some other mountain bikers had been on the trail within the past few days. Their tire tracks were clear.

     Walking up a steep section with water trickling down the center of the trail, I saw a very fresh, very large paw print. Cat print. Knowing what we know, Ridgely and I turned around and headed home. More than enough excitement for one day.

Flashback: My Favorite Photo

Posted by johnnieraz on January 26, 2018 at 5:15 PM Comments comments (0)

ABOVE: My photo from the 1981 Marquette-Notre Dame basketball game at the Milwaukee Arena.


By John Rezell

     Lord knows how many photos I've taken over the years.

     In the garage I have boxes of slides and crates of photo albums chronicling my life with Debbie up to the time digital photography took over, and countless bytes of photos floating in hard drives here there and everywhere bringing that story up to date — literally to the last hour.

     Growing up I wasn't much into photography, and the lack of photos from childhood back that up.

     Good cameras were really expensive. For most folks with budget cameras, film and processing costs were daunting. So much so that a roll of 24 or 36 shots would typically include pictures from Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, Memorial Day and finally get developed after summer vacation.

     Immediate gratification and photography weren't mates back in those days.

     Once I took my class in photojournalism in college, everything changed. Not just taking photos, but how to view life.

     It's sad that future generations won't know the joy of fumbling in the dark to roll your film onto a cassette, then later under red light watching an image appear from the ether onto a page.

     Nor will they know the agony of losing a whole roll or two of pictures to the cumbersome process.

     Or waiting a week for film to be processed.

     There's a lot to be said about technology and progress.

     When Debbie and I were married, our first significant purchase was a quality camera that cost about a two week's salary.

     We worked that camera hard for 13 years — it becoming a key element of my freelancing days — until it finally died on the most inopportune of times.

     On one of my most memorable assignments covering the inaugural Tour of China bicycle race, it slowly gave way, with me lining up shots of cyclists racing past at 30 mph then holding down the button and frantically following them until the camera decided to engage the shutter.

     Those photos from China are among my most cherished.

     Yet, if I had to select one of my professional photos as my all-time favorite, there is no contest.

     My first job out of college was do-it-all sports editor for The Jefferson County Daily News in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin.

     There I got to cover University of Wisconsin and Marquette University sports.

     So I sat courtside at the Milwaukee Arena on January 10, 1981, as the closing seconds of an amazing basketball game between rivals Marquette and Notre Dame unfolded before me.

     In the final moments, freshman Glenn "Doc" Rivers launched a 35-foot prayer.

     I clicked.

     I caught it.

     The place erupted and everyone went nuts. I continued to shoot away.

     Eventually Rivers literally climbed on top of the backboard. It was crazy fun.

     It was a Saturday game. Our paper was a Monday through Friday publication. Not only that, we had union guys who worked the darkroom.

     So I had to wait until mid-morning Monday before the film was developed.

     When they handed me the negatives, my hands were shaking.

     Please let it be in focus.

     Please let it be in frame.

     Please give me something.

     What I saw was an image that will last a lifetime.

   

Making of a Cover Shot for OutdoorsNW Magazine

Posted by johnnieraz on January 20, 2018 at 12:20 AM Comments comments (0)

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This appears complicated, but it's actually a blast.


Best Mountain Bike Trail in Wenatchee, Washington

Posted by johnnieraz on January 6, 2018 at 12:40 AM Comments comments (0)

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Glacier View Trail outside Wenatchee, Washington is a wonderful experience, especially when spring wildflowers are in bloom


Sneak Peak at What's Coming to OutdoorsNW in 2018

Posted by johnnieraz on December 30, 2017 at 12:30 AM Comments comments (0)

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It's really kinda weird to spend most of 2017 running around the Northwest and saving the stories and video for 2018, but that's the life of a magazine editor


Walleye Fishing in The Dalles

Posted by johnnieraz on December 23, 2017 at 12:25 AM Comments comments (0)

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I don't fish often, but when I do, I like to fish for Walleye


2017 Total Eclipse in Dallas, Oregon

Posted by johnnieraz on December 15, 2017 at 12:45 AM Comments comments (0)

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Watching the total eclipse in Dallas, Oregon will be remembered forever. Wow.


Gear Review: Orange Screws

Posted by johnnieraz on December 15, 2017 at 12:20 AM Comments comments (0)

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I'll never use regular old tent stakes again


Gear Review: Seattle Woolly Clothing Co.

Posted by johnnieraz on November 11, 2017 at 12:15 AM Comments comments (0)

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OK, so I'm hooked on wool now ...

Bavarian Dancing in Leavenworth, Washington

Posted by johnnieraz on October 15, 2017 at 1:50 AM Comments comments (0)

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My Austrian roots show


Review: Osprey Aether 70 Backpack

Posted by johnnieraz on July 29, 2017 at 10:15 AM Comments comments (2)

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My review of the Osprey Aether 70 Backpack

Review: Amphipod

Posted by johnnieraz on July 22, 2017 at 10:10 AM Comments comments (0)


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My review of Amphipod hyrdation choices.

Finding the Middle Fork Trail

Posted by johnnieraz on July 15, 2017 at 10:05 AM Comments comments (0)

By John Rezell

Here's my video [also on outdoorsnw.com] to show how to find the Middle Fork Trail and a great place to start an out-and-back.

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Middle Fork Trail in Oakridge: One of My Favorites

Posted by johnnieraz on July 8, 2017 at 10:00 AM Comments comments (0)

By John Rezell

The Middle Fork Trail outside of Oakridge, Oregon is one of my all-time favorite rides.

Check out this videos of the section beginning at Indigo Springs:

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Drift Creek Falls a Worthy Stop

Posted by johnnieraz on June 24, 2017 at 2:20 AM Comments comments (0)

     By John Rezell

    There are a lot of great hikes along the Oregon Coast, and Drift Creek Falls outside of Lincoln City is one of my all-time favorites.

    https://www.outdoorsnw.com/2017/05/razs-picks-drift-creek-falls-top-to-bottom/" target="_blank">You can read my story on the ONWard blog on OutdoorsNW.com

Cape Lookout Sunset Hike

Posted by johnnieraz on June 17, 2017 at 2:15 AM Comments comments (0)

     By John Rezell

     Eventhough the marine layer didn't fully cooperate, hiking down to the beach at Cape Lookout State Park on the Oregon Coast for sunset provbed to be an enjoyable adventure. You can https://www.outdoorsnw.com/2017/06/raz-picks-sundown-at-cape-lookout/" target="_blank">read my story in the ONWard blog on OutdoorsNW.com

Sightseeing on the Oregon Coast

Posted by johnnieraz on June 14, 2017 at 2:10 PM Comments comments (0)

    By John Rezell

    Ever wonder what happens to Lagerhead from Wisconsin when he travels a famous Oregon Craft Brew Ale Trail?

    You can https://www.outdoorsnw.com/2017/06/smooth-sailing-to-find-rugged-coast-beer/" target="_blank">read my story in the ONWard blog on OutdoorsNW.com

     https://www.outdoorsnw.com/2017/05/sightseeing-on-oregons-north-coast-beer-trail/" target="_blank">You can view my slideshow here

The Most Amazing Thing ...

Posted by johnnieraz on May 21, 2017 at 12:40 AM Comments comments (0)

Wild flowers bloom on the Glacier View trail outside

Wenatchee, Washington. Photo by John Rezell

By John Rezell

From the Glacier Trail

     The views of wild flowers flowing up and down the rolling hills as they seemingly come alive, reaching up to majestic peaks sometimes bathed in sun but more often smothered by storm clouds, proves as breathtaking as the task of pedalling a mountain bike along this magnificent singletrack.

     For the past two hours I've been chugging up climbs, jetting down hills, stopping repeatedly to start or stop my GoPro, and snapping countless photos. Although this should be a physically demanding workout, I feel as though I'm floating in a wonderful dream, tireless, feasting on nature's pure beauty.

     I've come to this stretch of the Cascade Loop in Washington state on assignment, to write about this invigorating place for my magazine, OutdoorsNW.

     I grudgingly accept that it's time to head back when the wind whistles across the rolling hills and blasts me with a tremendous gust that nearly shoves me off the singletrack, and hail pecks away hitting my helmet and sunglasses.

    Even this nasty side of Mother Nature pumps me up, and I soar down the face of the mountainside beaming inside and out.

    Typically a song will pop into my head as I find a way to capture the entire experience.

    I literally laugh outloud as I hear Steve Martin strumming his banjo and reciting no truer words for my life:

    "But the most amazing thing to me is,

     I get paid for doing this ..."

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