30 November 2007

As Serious as a Heart Attack


29 November 2007

Waves? I Didn't See Any Waves

I'm a witness. There was nothing out there. Nothing. Flat. Zero. Nilch.

Oh well, I thought. Guess I'll have to get back on my bike. Today I hit the hills. I don't like hills. I've never liked hills. I'm a sprinter. I go fast on flat ground. I go backwards when the road starts to go vertical. Okay, that's an exaggeration. I can climb. I don't like to climb. Once I stopped racing, I stopped climbing. There's no need to punish yourself unnecessarily, right? Today I went back into the hills, dragging myself up this hill and that one. Funny thing, it didn't hurt as much as I thought it would. That's a good sign.

It's all about respect. When you paddle out at a localized break at which you're not a local, you know better than to fuck with the locals. You don't snake another guy's wave. You don't give the stink eye. You don't do anything that could get your ass kicked. Cycling is somewhat similar. I'll lay it all out. For years, I was the only woman in our circle who rode with the elite men. And I earned my spot. They didn't welcome me to the Sunday (i.e., fast/race pace) ride with open arms. Initially, they ignored me entirely. The ride would start and I'd be in the back, scared to death, knowing I'd be dropped at any moment. I spent many a Sunday riding home alone from God knows where. On rides like these, no one cares that you can't keep up. No one waits. You're on your own. I suffered. I cried. I cursed them and myself. But I kept going back for more. What's funny is I don't remember when I started to hang in, when they started talking to me and treating me as an equal. It took awhile. For years, I was the only woman who did this ride. I was the only one who could keep up. Eventually, others came and went. They tried and failed. I was still there. So when sista girl gave me the stink eye, it triggered something deep. She's part a new group meets at the location of that ride. They don't ride as fast as we did. And from what I could tell, they wait for each other. That's all well and good. That's the way it should be. But, you know what? That's still my house. If she can keep up, then I'll relinquish whatever skewed sense of ownership I'm claiming. I never dissed any woman who showed up at the ride. I was always glad to see that others were willing to try. Don't diss me when I make an appearance. I was simply passing through. If she'd ignored me, I wouldn't even be talking about any of this. I'd be complaining about the lack of swell and spending my time in the pool. It comes down to respect.

If it's not raining, I'm going to handle this on Sunday.

28 November 2007

Two Wheeled Sights and Sounds

I didn't even consider paddling out in the dreck today. Although I did go to the home break, I didn't do so to surf. It was my starting point for my bike ride. I'm in training again. It's not for a race. It's for an ass-kicking. When Soul Brother #1 and I rode the other day, we ran into a group of riders who were assembling in the neighborhood for their own ride. I knew some of them, but most of them were new faces to me. We chatted with friends for a bit. Then I noticed this woman giving me a look that surprised me because of the anger behind it. I did not know her. I did know the look. Obviously, she felt this was her domain, that she ruled that roost. I was not welcome there. And you know what? Instead of laughing that look off, I interpreted it to mean that sista girl was calling me out. In other words, my ego took note and responded. As Soul Brother #1 and I rode away, I said things that still make me laugh because they came from me as a cyclist (and that's not the person I am off the bike or on the surfboard). "Oh no she didn't! Does she even know who I am?" (Oh my god!!! The fact that I even let those words slip out of my mouth cracks me up.) "Does she think she can bring it?" (As in "bring the noise" or, in my parlance, let her legs do the talking.) "Oh, I'm coming back to handle this!" There you have it. I've got to school this girl. Why? Because I can. Because I still have it in me to put another cyclist in his or her place. Because this may be the last time I feel this fired up and, now that I'm in my 40's, I don't know how much longer I'll have it in me physically to kick ass.

With that said, I rode up PCH today for the first time in about six years. I passed many a surf spot. Do you want to know how bad it was today? Malibu was empty! I don't mean there were a couple of people paddling around for no good reason. There was no one out there. That makes sense though. There were no waves out there either. Every spot I passed was flat and deserted. My friends at the home break all said I'd made the right decision going for a ride rather than a surf.

26 November 2007

Remember What I Said About My Last Session?

Ditto. Today was pretty much the same.

24 November 2007

Get High and Surf

I finally experienced the joy that is surfing during the highest of high tides. After yesterday's surf debacle (where the author arrives at the beach only to find the highest of high tides and then searches in vain for a place to surf before going home unsurfed and pissed off), I resigned myself to surfing in whatever conditions met me at the beach today. Once again, the tide would be over seven feet when it reached its peak. I didn't care. I wanted to get in the water. I didn't even let the wind stop me. I was going in. Period.

I was the first one at the beach. I went to the shore and just stared. Then Bob came. The sun was out. The wind was offshore. He'd surfed yesterday in the same high tide conditions. He said he paddled out while everyone else stood around waiting for it go get better. It never did get better. He got his waves. They did not. We decided we'd go. Eddie probably would have slept in, but we were going. As usual, the shorter board stayed in the car . . . as did the leash. I'm following Alan M's suggestion that I go leashless whenever I'm on the longboard. With the tide being as high as it was, I would have gone leashless anyway. I don't think it's safe to surf in the high tide conditions with a leash. You're literally surfing in two feet of water and the last thing you need is something yanking your board back at you. If, by chance, you lose your board when you go leashless, it's not like you've got far to go to retrieve it.

In the end, I was satisfied. There were four of us out there. I thought surfing in this tide was a good way to work on board control. There's not a lot of room for error when it's that shallow. There were no long rides, no walking to the nose. Paddle, pop-up, bottom turn, kick out. Well, I don't exactly kick out. I kind of ease out of the wave. I'm not well-versed in the art of kicking out well, thus the reason why I don't do it well. It was offshore when we paddled out. When we surfed in, the winds were going sideways, making for unpleasant Victory at Sea conditions.

22 November 2007

Bring It!!!

I'm determined to get back on the shorter board. I took it with me to the home break yesterday. Then I spent two hours watching people on longboards get just about everything. I got a few, very few. Bleh!!! Bring the bigger waves! Now!

20 November 2007

Screw the Routine

Today I completely deviated from what I normally do on days when I workout. I've recently started lifting weights again. It was time. Even though I'm fit from swimming, surfing and cycling, my body was losing muscle tone. This is what happens when you hit middle age; you have to work for things that used to come naturally. Anyway, I normally will do my main workout first and then lift weights later in the day, my reasoning being that I want to give more of my energy to surfing/swimming/cycling than to weight training. This morning, I decided I'd go ahead and lift since I've moved weights back to the front burner. I didn't think I'd do another workout today, but decided it didn't matter. I'm no longer competing in anything. It's no longer necessary to train with an eye toward tapering and peaking.

Late in the morning, I decided I wanted to surf. I didn't think I'd find anything suitable and didn't care. I just wanted to surf without the burden of a crowd. So I headed to a point break that was, in fact, barely breaking. I paddled out anyway. As long as there's something to ride, I'll at least make the attempt to catch it. Even though it was small and tide was a bit too low, I enjoyed the session (especially since I managed to avoid hitting a rock). There were only about six of us in the water making the best of the dribblers. At one point, a guy I'd been talking to recognized me as the writer of this blog. As it turns out, it was one of Patch's friends. Nice guy. Bad ding. Rock: 1, FSacto: 0. We did our best in the little waves, smiling and calling out the two foot set waves. It was a relief to surf without a crowd. I stayed in for an hour and then ran over to my son's school to watch their talent show. Nice day.

18 November 2007

Why Can't Surfing Be More Like Cycling?

Let's go back in time. No, not in surfing time. I'm talking about going back in time in the world of cycling. To the time when Lance was kicking ass and was all people could talk about. You know what was so cool about that time? People still didn't give a damn about cycling. Oh, everyone jumped on the bandwagon to marvel over his ability to beat cancer and become a better cyclist than he was before the illness. Still, the Lance hysteria didn't exactly flood the roads with bikes. Those of us who were hardcore roadies kept riding . . . and suffering for our sport. (You can't be a serious cyclist unless you admit that you welcome the pain. If you ride, you know what I mean. If you don't, I can't really explain it.) The new riders either gave up or used the bike sparingly for recreation. I liked being a cyclist because it was different. It wasn't a sport that appealed to the masses, therefore we hardcore cyclists, with our extremely insular communities, could just do our thing together. Don't get me wrong. Cyclists, especially those who race, are a conceited bunch. You're not welcomed with open arms on a training ride where you're not a regular. Your legs do the talking. If your ass gets dropped, you'd better know your way home. If you cause a crash and go down, it's possible no one will stop riding to see if you're alive. (I've been a witness to that one. On one training ride, I was one of only three people out of about 25 who stopped to see if this guy, a rider none of us knew, was alright.) Still, there was a feeling of solidarity among the cycling community.

I can't help but compare my cycling experiences to my surfing experiences. As much as I love surfing, there's something about it (i.e., all that is the world of surfing as of 2007) that isn't right. I think I'm bothered by people seeming to care too much about surfing. It's not so much that surfing's gotten too big. It's that people ascribe too much meaning to surfing and the fact that they're surfers. What does it mean to be a surfer? In my mind, nothing in particular. What did it mean to be a cyclist? Again, nothing in particular. But if you ask a lot of people in the lineup what it means to be a surfer, I think you'll hear answers that will piss you off. Next time you're in the parking lot at a surf spot, pay attention to those around you. Which ones surf for the pure joy of it and which ones are there with something to prove? This is not about skill level. I'm talking about attitude. This attitude can be found in vets as well as in the ranks of the newbies. I can't put my finger on it really. Is it that surfing is the new measure of cool? Ergo, I surf, therefore I'm cool. It's the people who buy into that who bother me. Surfing does not make you cool. Surfing doesn't make you anything. And really, who gives a damn? Surf for the love of surfing. Stop buying into the mass marketing of a manufactured surf culture. Let surfing be what it is: paddle, pop-up, ride, exit. It's as simple as that. Now, people romanticize what it means to be a surfer. Are they trying to play the role? Look the part? Walk the walk? Talk the talk? People, there is no "role". Stop assuming a surfer must be a certain way. Give respect and earn respect. It's not hard to do. And yet, too many surfers make it out to be more than that. This is why I ask: why can't surfing be more like cycling?

I don't know if this post will make any sense. I couldn't clearly articulate what I wanted to say. I just wanted to try and put my thoughts into words.

14 November 2007

Making the Best of a Small Situation

Once again, the leash was but a memory. There is just no need for one when the waves are that small. I maintained that belief even though I didn't surf alone today. I met CYT at the pier. It wasn't as crowded as it could be. Still, there were enough people there to make me more mindful about surfing without a leash. No, I'm not going to report that I clocked someone in the head with the board. In fact, there's nothing to report except that surfing leashless is great. It makes you vigilant; you're mindful about the safety of others and about the fact that losing the board means you're going swimming. I lost the board a few times. On one occasion, a nice guy on a shortboard who was onshore put down his board and fetched mine. Thanks, Good Samaritan!

I can't say I'm enjoying these small waves. I expect tiny in the summer, not in the fall. And I'm anxious to get back on my shorter board. I'm also curious about the Bonzer (which I've yet to take down to the beach for a photo shoot). I'm not going to complain much. At least I can go back and forth between the two (i.e. shorter board and longboard). I'm not wed to the shorter board like some people I know (who get pissed off when the waves are so small that nothing but a longboard will do). Whiff, I bet you didn't even think about paddling out over the last few days, did you? You know, it wouldn't kill you to add a longboard to your quiver. I'm just sayin'.

13 November 2007

Don't Leave Home With It

Remember Karl Malden telling us not to leave home without the American Express card? "Don't leave home without it" became an unforgettable tag line. And while I'm on the subject of American Express, why is it that when you speak to someone in their customer service department you're speaking to someone in India? I recently called Sallie Mae to find out the best method for paying off the several law school loans they serviced for me. Isn't Sallie Mae supposed to be a psuedo-governmental agency? As in U.S. government? Again, why was I forced to speak to someone in India who could not answer my questions because they did not pertain to anything on the scripted list of items he could discuss? No disrespect to the folks in India, but outsourcing is wrong and its existence does not bode well for the future of this country's workforce.

Wow, rant over. All I was trying to say with this post way was that I paddled out without a leash once again. For the first time in forever, I surfed alone. I did not utter a word for an hour and a half. I only waved at people from afar. I separated myself from the crowd at the home break. I like my space, especially when there's room to enjoy it. Not once did I need to check and see whether it was safe to paddle for a wave. Not once was I forced to give a wave up to someone lacking in proper surf etiquette. All I did was surf (and swim). The waves were tiny. But there was enough out there to allow me to work on a few things. Walked to the nose a few times and fell (because the wave died out). Played around with different stances while doing bottom turns. It was a good day to experiment.

A Clayfin Original

And it's got my name all over it!!! Well, it's got my first name on the stringer. But I picked the fabric. Clayfin, being the talented artist that he is, was able to persuade me to leave the bottom completely white. He was right about that one. This thing is a beauty.

12 November 2007

Moonlight Tour

That's Peter Pinliner (a.k.a. Peter St. Pierre) showing Soul Brother #2 how it's done.

Peter Pinliner and Dustin instruct Soul Brother #2 in the fine art of using the airbrush . . . to paint a cardboard box. When all was said and done, Mr. St. Pierre had my little boy sign the box. Okay, all my little man could do was print his name, but even that made me proud!

As you can see from the pictures (which were taken by Clayfin), we did a mommy and son quick trip down to Moonlight Glassing to pick up a surfboard. You want to meet some sweet people? Go visit Moonlight. The St. Pierres are wonderful. Within five minutes of our arrival, Sally gave my little man a book about surfboards. Who does that? Most people, much to my chagrin, offer my kid candy. He doesn't eat candy and I don't like it being offered to him. Whenever he asks for a toy, I hesitate and often say no. When he asks for a book, I take him straight to the bookstore. So you see what kind of mom I am. Anyone who gives my kid a book is my new best friend!

"Where's the board?" Well, I'll let Clayfin introduce it to you. He shaped it. My verdict: it's stunning.

11 November 2007

Please Sign the Visual Petition!!!

Click on the animated link on the right side of this blog or click here.

Small, Windy and Cold

Yesterday's fun, playful waves gave way to not much to speak of today. Nevertheless, we paddled out. We were there and it was just after 6 a.m. (See how early you have to surf when you're the parent of a small child or two?) When we took a look, you could already see the texture on the water. Oh well. I went sans leash since it was small yesterday. That was a good decision. There was hardly anyone out at that hour and what waves there were didn't pack much punch. I lost the board twice—the first time because I forgot I wasn't wearing a leash, the second time because the lip jacked up all of a sudden and pushed me forward off the board. I can tell I've spent months in the pool. When I swam for the board, I got to it much faster than I used to. I'd look up, mid-stroke, wondering how much farther I'd need to swim. Each time I was surprised to find the board right in front of my face because I'd gotten to it in a few strokes. It wasn't much of a session. However, it was still better than sitting around the house all morning.

10 November 2007

I'm Moving Behind the Orange Curtain

Actually, I'm doing no such thing. But when I go down there to surf, I start to give serious thought to such a move. I kind of knew it would take a trip back down there to get me out of my surf slump (even though the slump started down there last weekend).

I don't know how many waves I caught. As I've said before, I don't keep score. I do know I rode every wave alone. Yes, alone!!! What a concept, riding a wave by yourself. I also got to go left on all but one or two of my waves. Finally, there were shoulders. I wasn't forced to pop-up and head straight for the sand. No, I could pop-up and make a bottom turn before deciding what I wanted to do. I could pump the board for speed if I wanted. And there was more than enough time and room for me to walk the board . . . badly. Nonetheless, I still had the space and the time. The waves weren't big. Who cares? The lack of serious size seems to keep people out of the water. That's fine by me. I'm paddling out whether it's small or kind of big. I'm not that picky. I just want waves. And I got them today, thank you very much.

08 November 2007

Is It Wrong?

Is it wrong to be a slave to the shoulder? Is there nothing to be gained from having discriminating surfing tastes? At some point in my surfing life, I realized that surfers often break into two camps when it comes to waves: those who pine for quantity and those who wait for quality. I fall in the latter group. It's not uncommon for me to utter, out loud, while sitting in the line-up, "Can a sister just get one shoulder?" I don't say it to be funny. Nor do I say it for the benefit of those around me. I always think the ocean might deliver if it can hear my plea. For me, surfing is not about keeping score. One good wave with a good, long shoulder and ridden alone (without five of my "closest friends") is all I need to make me truly happy. There are others who revel in the wave count. CYT, for instance, likes battling the crowds and getting wave after wave. In her mind, I think, that makes her the victor as compared to everyone else. And maybe it does.

I, for one, find no enjoyment in riding a wave just because it's there, especially when a break is crowded. For people like me, surfing is a mode of expression. You can't freely express yourself if the wave has no shape, if there are are people on either side of you while you're riding, and if you're avoiding all of the heads popping up on the inside. I'm not saying I'm some bodacious surfer who's a joy to watch. Don't look for me in any upcoming videos. Still, I do feel something indescribable when I'm on a wave alone working the shoulder as it presents itself to me. I also find that you can work on your style, work on your walking, work on whatever needs improving when you're riding a decent wave by yourself.

My last few sessions brought this quantity versus quality issue up for me again. There's almost no point in paddling out at a crowded break if you fall into the quality camp. You sit there waiting and waiting. Then when you go to paddle for a quality wave, you find that 500 other people are also paddling for it. Yeah, you can go ahead and pop-up. But where's the enjoyment in that? It's not like you can push all of these other people off the wave. One or two, yes. There are probably four people behind them. I've had other surfers tell me they reserve beater longboards for crowded days. Why? Well, if you're not worried about the safety of your board, you can take any wave you want with impunity. And, truthfully, I'd give serious thought to that kind of attitude if it weren't for a couple of things. First, it's actually not in my nature to be that kind of person . . . but I can be pushed into that role if need be. Second, I'm easily recognizable. It's not like such actions wouldn't come back to haunt me later. I'm not big, bad or scary enough to back up that kind of shit.

Where does this leave me? Well, I've given up on this swell. It's not all that and it's much too crowded in the water. I'm going for a bike ride today. I'll let the quantity folks have their fun.

07 November 2007

Make a List of the Positives

1. My board didn't smack me in the hand and render my thumb useless (like it did yesterday).

2. There was no sand between my contact lens and my eye, thus my vision was not blurred when I got out of the water (like it was yesterday).

3. My lock only got caught in the velcro at the neck of my wetsuit for half the session (as opposed to the entire session, like yesterday).

4. I saw two deer in the hills on the other side of PCH as I was prying myself out of my wetsuit after the session.

Those were the positives. Need I point out that today's session did not make the list?

06 November 2007


Few waves with shape.

Much wind. Chop. Spray.


Expectant of a decent swell.

Many missed chances.

Little fun.


Hard to articulate.

05 November 2007

How I Prepare for a Swell

I write down the tides and then commit them to memory. Ain't got no time for a tide book. Know before you go!

04 November 2007


On Friday, Soul Grandmother #1 began talking about what she'd buy us for Christmas. We declined the offer of a new refrigerator (since ours, which appeared to be dying some time ago, is now fine.) She prefers, she says, to buy us practical gifts. One year, she gave Soul Brother #2 a stove for his birthday (because ours died). Can you tell I'm her only child and he's her only grandchild? Anyway, I just went onto Sierra Trading Post to see if they still had the Body Glove Vapor 3/2 wetsuit in my size. Not only did they still have it, but I could also get 20 percent off (for being a loyal customer). This meant the wetsuit would cost a whopping $172! (And I can vouch for this wetsuit since I'm currently surfing in the 4/3 version.) I immediately called Soul Grandmother #1 and asked if she'd buy me a wetsuit for Christmas. (I'd buy it myself, but I'm told I'm hard to shop for and she prefers that I locate the gift and that she pay for it.) Yes, this is the exact same wetsuit I had in my hot little hands months ago and sent back. Well, they'll be sending it back to me . . . at a lower price. And Soul Grandmother #1 doesn't mind buying a non-practical gift as long as I help her find a gift for Soul Brother #1. Score!

03 November 2007

Damn You, Longboard Wave Hogs!!!

Oh, how one's perspective changes upon switching to a shorter board. By the time I got out of the water, I was sick to death of longboards. Can you believe that? This from the woman who's got nothin' but love for longboards.

This was just a weird session. It started out with me getting to the spot, only to get a call from my friends saying they'd left their parking pass in someone else's car. So I drove over to them, only to have one of them say I could just drive to the end of the lot and they'd walk over to get my pass. I drove back into the break, back to their vicinity to hand off my pass and then met them at the other end of the break. Since this is not a small beach, this rather involved parking pass situation involved a lot of driving for me.

Once we were situated, I wasn't sure which board to surf. It's basically a longboard break. I brought the log, but only intended to surf it if I saw ankle high waves. (My main board, the board I normally surf here, was still in the shop.) The set waves appeared to be somewhat peaky. I opted for my shorter board. There were waves to snag on that board. However, the place was more crowded than I'd seen it in awhile and 99% of the people in the water were on longboards. That left me, essentially, shit out of luck. One guy in particular took just about every wave there was. I pulled out of waves at times because he was already on them. Had I been on my longboard, I would have battled with him. On the shorter board, there was nothing I could do. I was only in for about an hour. I think I got three or four rides, none of which was good. It was a frustrating session, to say the least. Still, I stayed true to the shorter board. Every session with that board brings me closer to getting that board dialed in.

01 November 2007

Praise the Lord!!!

Wetsand has spoken: Sunday the 4th is when our next SW swell is due, but it's nothing like what we'll be seeing Tuesday into Wednesday.

Tuesday the 6th into Thursday the 8th is when our next SW swell is due. This one has some size to it.