Bouncy Helicopter

Another week, another adjustment, from another classmate. This is four different classmates now in as many weeks, and I am overflowing with gratitude.

This week, another tweak to my chu-daiko showy arms on the song we’re working on. I think I’ve now adjusted my timing and punch; today’s feedback was a refinement of that. When I strike, I need to stop the bounce of the bachi, THEN do a sharp lift, instead of using the energy of the bounce to initiate the lift. Definitely more work, but way more controlled, and a showier show.

In o-daiko news, this past Sunday sensei introduced a new move: striking from a sideways stance, with our right arm doing a swoop down to up to helicopter into the next strike.

The left arm does something too, but we didn’t get that far. :)

I’m not yet at the point where I feel experienced enough to start helping newer students, but my veteran classmates are setting a good example for the day I’m ready.

Trek Dirt Series Mountain Bike Camp 2019

Dirt Series, take 3.

It’s been 8 years since my last camp. After the 2011 camp, I gained a lot of skills, rode a ton, did some races, and proceeded to ride very little for a few years.

I upgraded to a fancy new bike this year, and decided to shake out the rust with a clinic.

The format of the camp is still the same: skill sessions in the mornings and practice on the trails in the afternoons. Even though most of my sessions were review, I still got something out of each of them.

Straight Line Riding – I’m way more comfortable adjusting my balance on a plank now than I was before. The one surprise was when our instructor asked us to modulate our rear brake while pedaling for control. I’d never considered this combo and was skeptical at first, but then I tried it on a plank and it felt great! Super fascinating.

Downhill Dismount – I still remember my first Dirt Series where I learned the magic of dismounting behind the bike on a downhill. I haven’t needed it recently, and hadn’t tried it on my new bike. Buzz!! Hello, 29″ tires.

Slow Speed Drops – Basically pushing the front of the bike off a small drop. While I can do this easily, I couldn’t quite assemble all the instructions into how exactly our coach Lindsay wanted us to look until she talked about how Aaron Gwin’s head and torso remain perfectly still as his bike does goes full rodeo under him. With this in mind, I executed the next go around to spec. What drop?

High Speed Cornering – Attack position! Body forward, chest down, elbows up. Turn the head, torso, hips, knees; moon the outside corner. And then something totally new to me: Pedals level, not outside pedal down. Then something else totally new to me: inside straight arm relaxed, outside bent arm pushing down on the handlebar. Putting this one on my practice list.

Jumps – We worked on breaking my habit of landing rear wheel first, which had developed as a way of avoiding the dreaded endo. Coach Lindsay explained that this didn’t give you control, and if you had a choice, put your front wheel down first. After a couple rounds on the alligator ramp, she put a target for me to land my front wheel on. I adjusted my entry speed, trajectory, and pitch in-air, and stomped it. Holy cow!! I’d never even considered that I could target a landing that precisely, much less execute it.

Pumping Rollers – This is a skill session I’ve never done before. Coach Laurie did a great job of breaking down the arms, the legs, then putting them together. Keys to this? Attack position! Body forward, chest down, elbows up. Push forward and down with your arms after cresting the roller. Push forward and down with your legs close to the BOTTOM of the roller. Waaait… what? My mind was blown. I’ve literally been timing the leg push wrong all these years. I was fortunate enough to ride Endor in the afternoon after learning this, and holy cow, the rollers feel amazing when timed correctly.

Stoppies – This was not an official skills session, but one of the camp assistants was doing them for fun during lunch the first day. I mentioned this the second morning, and she showed me how to do them during lunch the second day. Hanging out with high school kids FTW!!!

A couple huge takeaways:

(1) Attack position! I’m not forward enough when I ride. Getting into attack position will let me turn better, pump better, Aaron Gwin better. The nice thing is, I’ve started noticing when I’m not forward enough on trail, and fixing it. I’m piloting the bike, not riding as a passenger.

(2) Deliberately doing something slow so you can break it down and learn exactly what it feels like to do it right. Following a perfect pace set by coach Laurie down Endor with zero pedaling and minimal braking felt so much better than going too fast, messing up, scrubbing speed, and pedaling to get going again.

I learned a couple new skills on my own while waiting in line during the morning sessions:

(a) Turning rear wheel lifts. Because I thought turning on its own was boring.

(b) One handed track stands. Because I track standed so much I needed a bigger challenge.

Using my inability to stand still to my advantage!

Current status: Trying to convince my Dirt Series friends to go to the Angel Fire camp this September.

30×30 Complete

The difference active contribution and gratitude became really clear to me after a few days.

I felt gratitude over all sorts of things.

I actively contributed for a single thing: other people. Every single day, without exception, my active contribution was for someone else: making something better for others to enjoy, checking on someone’s welfare, helping, teaching, sharing.

Making the world a better place, one small act at a time.

I had not expected this theme to emerge. I’m so glad I did this 30 Days.

30×7 and 30×30 work well together. Be grateful for what you have, and pay it forward.

30×30 Day 30

Wiping down the sink area at work with my paper towel, leaving it dry and clean for the next person.

I actually picked this up from our CFO. She walks the talk! I respect that so much.

30×30 Day 29

Sorting my compost, recycling, and trash.

Yes, it’s tiny, but so many people don’t bother.

I’ll admit, when I see someone walk up to a trash/recycling/compost trio and just throw everything into a single container, I judge them.

Samurai Blender Arms

I went to get a massage today. According to my massage therapist, my body is all messed up in all the places I feel distress when I play o-daiko.

One of my classmates was saying that after playing for almost a year, he’s still adjusting every week, trying new things and feeling differently sore afterward. Still settling in, like a house.

Got a good tip today from sensei: we should be hitting in an upward direction, not parallel to the ground. That got the arm extension on the backswing wheel going real good.

Learned a new showy arm sequence today that I’m still trying to master. I thought about how to describe it, and I’ve settled on “samurai blender arms”.

Interestingly, class got easier as we progressed. Was I warmed up? Was I accustomed to the pain? Tonight’s class was definitely not easy. I played so hard my shins sweat. Yeah, I know, weird, and TMI.

30×30 Day 28

On Tuesday, my taiko classmate was talking about how she was trying to start strength training, but there were no personal trainers available at her gym to show her how to use the equipment.

Today, I spent a couple hours with her going over all the muscle groups, how to use various machines, and what to focus on when doing each exercise.

Time well spent.

30×30 Day 27

There’s a busker who plays the accordion in downtown Burlingame on the weekends. I always enjoy his music and feel he contributes positively to the area. So even though I didn’t have any business to attend to on his side of the street, I made him my business, and crossed to drop some money into his accordion case.


We’re learning a couple new songs in chu-daiko class this year. One of them is full of showy arm movements, with lots of locking.

At last week’s class, one of my classmates gave me some feedback to adjust my showy arms. Despite my locking, my timing was off. “It’s like a punch,” she said. We discussed some more, and she explained that the entire song was about really fast movements.

Ohhh!! Punch, not flow. Sensei doesn’t always explain these things to us, so I’m really glad my classmate did.

My last two taiko posts were about feedback as well. This is from three different people, all solid veterans in our group.

I love this so much.

Elephant Adventure 43: Your Tongue

I quickly concluded in this exercise that our tongues are everywhere all the time. It helps us eat, speak, clean our teeth. It tastes, it detects and decides when we should swallow.

I few things struck me as I read the discussion:

  • The tongue works best when we leave it to do its job.
  • We couldn’t write sophisticated enough software to do what the tongue does.
  • It does so much, yet we don’t notice or appreciate it.

Those points to could be applied to so many things in this world.

Elephant Adventure 44: Impatience