The desert is a magical place. Maybe it’s the harshness of the environment and the lack of any extras whatsoever, but everything you experience in the desert seems that much more connected, somehow. It’s like your senses are amplified. Sounds and sights become stronger and more vibrant as time goes on (and it goes on in the desert, but at a different pace). You start seeing nature in a different light, and boy is the light something to behold out there. Night in the desert seems darker at first, but actually, you see more. Stars are brighter (on really clear desert nights you can even see distant galaxies with the naked eye), and come moonrise, you are in for a treat. As dawn draws near, the sky fires up in multiple colors, and as you crawl out of your tent, the air is pure. Nothing like cooking breakfast in the early hours of desert silence (if you can get your campmates to shut up for a second!).
If you haven’t been, go. Here’s a little motivation:
What you sow, you shall reap – or in this case, what you build, you shall ride! Up until a couple of years ago, I used to join in the chorus with my friends when they’d complain about how we don’t have bike-park-like features to ride anywhere, and how cool it would be if we only had some better jumps/berms/trails to ride, or how they’d “love to hit that drop, if only the landing was a bit better”…
Well, good trails and fun features don’t build themselves. If you keep waiting for “them” to build better trails, you could end up waiting a long time. So no more waiting – to your shovels! It’s amazing just what you can slap together with a few rocks, some dirt, and a bit of time. Yeah, it might mean actually building some days instead of riding (I have friends who until this day still call me to ask if “that new feature is done yet, we’re itching to try it”, and when I tell them “well, we could finish it in a couple of hours if you joined in the digging”, they go “well, you know how it is, we get so little time for ourselves, we prefer to ride when we get a chance”…).
We already had 2 fun runs at my home trails, the “Zichron Trail Project”, or ZTP for short. We decided we needed to step up our game a bit for the 3rd one, and thus “Top Gun” was born. It’s taken about 3 months, working weekends and the odd early morning during the workweek, and it is now rideable from top to bottom. There are still a couple of bits to fine tune, but stoked to have such a fun place to ride, more or less out my backdoor…
Post-processing is always an interesting topic, subject of much (and often animated!) discussion, and for those of you who don’t usually dwell much on it, or consider that your camera’s standard JPEG output is plenty good enough, I offer this simple piece of evidence – the first image is the JPEG straight out of my Nikon D7000, the second image is the result of a few tweaks in Lightroom 4 (the beta version, which incidentally is quite an exciting upgrade to this excellent piece of software):
Working down through your image processor’s menu takes you through various exposure, color, noise reduction, and other useful corrections. The results really are quite impressive. This is not what most people would refer to as “photoshopping”, as it does not involve editing of the actual pixels (i.e. actually changing the “content” of the picture), but rather adjustments similar to those made in a darkroom when developing film. In addition, if you shoot RAW, you can actually recover under- or over-exposed images to a higher degree as well. I was going to say a lot more about the subject, but as the old saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words, and I think the picture above has plenty to say!
…you make lemonade! It’s been a rainy couple of weeks here in Israel, which means most of the trails are a muddy mess (the dirt here doesn’t really pack down when it rains, it gets very sticky and basically not a lot of fun to ride a bike on). What better time to hit up a pumptrack or 2, while waiting for the return of the sun? Especially since that time is never that far out – in fact as I’m sat here writing this, the forecast says the trails should be full on this weekend already!
Pumptracks are cool, because they typically hold up even when it’s pouring down. So we spent a couple of hours navigating the puddles and railing the turns! The water made for some creative photo opportunties as well:
Yep, this is it, the whole thing, and not just the tip. That is really the whole point of this site – at any given time, people come across other people on the internet, typically in a most sporadic and ad-hoc fashion. Checking out a picture on Flickr, following somebody on Twitter, reading a Facebook wall, or maybe having a discussion on a forum. What we see of people through any of these interactions is typically never the whole enchilada – a quick glance at a video here, an out-of-context remark there. What if you wanted to know more about that person? Link all these scattered bits of information together – wouldn’t that be nice? Or at the very least, convenient? Well, here’s your chance – beyond the tip, this is my site, and if you’re curious about what I get up to, then stay tuned!