Friday, January 27, 2012


Tomorrow, way too early, the Titanium Cowboys are heading over to the islands for the Orcas Island 25K. Should be great fun and great strenuousness but hopefully, not great pain. Or at least, not the kind of pain that lasts.

The route heads out from Cascade Lake, climbs up to Mountain Lake whereupon it hightails it straight upward to the 2,100-foot ridge that eventually leads to Mount Constitution--at 2,409 feet, the highest point in the San Juans. (That's the view of Bellingham and Mount Baker from Constitution.)

Orcas Island is one of my favorite places so, despite leaving B'ham at about 4:15 a.m. to catch the ferry, I'm looking forward to it. I'll wear the chest cam and be sure to fire off about 2,000 photos of which, hopefully five or six aren't blurry.

On the reading front, I’ve been quite enjoying "It's So Easy: And Other Lies" by Duff McKagan, former Guns N’ Roses bassist. Though I run to two or three GNR songs on my iPod and will admit that “Sweet Child O’ Mine” boasts one of the best guitar riffs ever, I wouldn’t consider myself a Guns N’ Roses fan per se. They just seemed like the epitome of the wasted druggie rock band who happened to turn out a few good songs before they flamed out from their own excesses. Which they were. So why would I care to spend any amount of time reading a book by their bassist? (I mean, a bassist for god’s sake, not even a guitar player.)

Here’s how I got there. Not long ago, I stumbled upon Duff’s name on the ESPN website. Apparently, he writes a weekly sports-music column, a quite engaging one from a fan’s perspective, and since he’s from Seattle, much of what he writes has a Northwest-Seattle slant. The site also had an excerpt from his autobiography and since I so loved Keith Richards book “Life," I checked Duff’s out. It's great.

The excerpt was all about how he was training for a 19-mile mountain bike race in Big Bear, California. He’d just gotten off a two-year tour from hell with Guns N’ Roses, he was a full-on cokehead and raging alcoholic (drinking 10 bottles of wine a day!), but when his pancreas burst, he realized he had to clean up. But instead of going to rehab, he starts mountain biking and working out like crazy.

Since the band is mostly kaput, he has loads of time so he also takes up reading, and becomes obsessed with all the books and authors he missed out on because he never finished high school nor went to college—Shakespeare, Fitzgerald, Melville and especially Hemingway. In short, he turns his life completely around. In the book, he gets into martial arts, starts a family, runs a marathon, enrolls at Seattle University's business school and more. It's redemption tale that’s really quite inspiring. Here’s a link to the excerpt.

Wish me luck on Orcas tomorrow!

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