the ümabomber

MAKING AWESOME HAPPEN ONE BIKE RIDE AT A TIME

ÜMABOMBED: The Revenant aka Die Hard Origins

diehard-revenant-origins copy

Critics are raving about the The Revenant—a remake of DIE HARD set in uncharted wilderness in 1823. Leonardo DiCaprio stars, playing a very hairy and rugged frontiersman named J̶o̶h̶n̶ ̶M̶c̶C̶l̶a̶n̶e̶ Hugh Glass. Glass and his half-native son are working with a crew of hunters and trappers based in Fort Kiowa, when Glass is brutally attacked by a bear after stumbling upon her cubs.

When the hunting party finds him mauled half to death, they agree to carry him home on a stretcher for a hefty cash bonus. One of the crew, John Fitzgerald, kills Glass’ half Native American son, drags Glass into a shallow grave and partially buries him, leaving him for dead. Although Glass has multiple wounds from the bear—wounds that go to the bone, all the way through skin and muscle—and although his ankle is either broken or dislocated, and in spite of the face that the bear slashed and/or bit a hole in his throat, effectively giving him a tracheotomy by canine, Glass manages to crawl, then hobble back to the fort to confront Fitzgerald and enact his revenge.

Along the way, Glass beats death-defying odds repeatedly—very much like Die Hard, minus the explosions. Glass plunges into freezing rivers, where he is tossed around in Class IV rapids like a rag doll. Miraculously,  he manages to not get his brains dashed out on a rock or down. He also miraculously doesn’t freeze when he climbs out of the icy river, and a small fire somehow miraculously dries his numerous fur pelts overnight. Glass fuses his the gaping hole in his neck by pouring gunpowder into the wound and applying fire to ignite it. Despite being very hungry and beat to crap, Glass liberates a native woman being raped by a French trapper, and steals a horse, only to be chased by the woman’s tribe. He charges the galloping horse off a cliff and plunges 300 feet to his…PSYCH! HE’S ALIIIIVE, MIRACULOUSLY!

The horse, of course, is dead as a pile of bricks.

At this point DIE HARD 1823 morphs and becomes STAR WARS, THE EARTH YEARS. Glass guts the dead horse, pulls out the entrails, strips naked and climbs into the warm carcass to weather a fierce storm setting in. The next day he climbs out of the fleshy tent to a bluebird day, and resumes his trip back to the fort.

Fitzgerald freaks out when he learns Glass is alive and is arrived at the fort. Fitz robs the fort, steals a horse and heads for the hills. Captain Andrew Henry plans a pursuit to bring Fitzgerald to justice, insisting Glass stay behind and rest from his injuries. Miraculously, Glass appears to be healing in record time, despite the fact that bandaids and ibuprofen haven’t even been invented yet. The two pursue Fitzgerald, until Glass says “I’ll head East and you head West and then we’ll get him real good.”Or something like that. The captain runs into natives who kill and scalp him. Glass continues, undaunted, and stages a very clever ambush. He and Fitz have one final fisticuffs and savagely beat, bite, and repeatedly stab and even slice whole pieces off each other. Glass wins, and shoves the dying villain into the river, before seeing a vision of his wife in the trees. The film ends ambiguously suggesting Glass goes to trapper heaven to join his wife.

This ridiculously graphically violent film is 32% longer than it needs to be. Leo is great in it—a force on the screen—but I couldn’t help but think that Tom Hardy steals the show. After the 3rd or fourth near-death experience/assault/trauma, I found myself laughing out loud in the theater. Had the filmmakers left out even just two of the near-deaths for Leo, there would still have been at least 3 or 4 gruesome and comically implausible survival scenes.

Yes, the movie was very well produced, without CG, which is quite a feat. And honestly both main characters were very well portrayed by DiCaprio and Hardy.

Rumors were floating around a few years ago about another Die Hard installment; Die Hard VI would be an origins story. The only real explosion in The Revenant was the scene where DiCaprio blasts his own throat with gunpowder, but other than that, it follows the absurdist action film formula.

I haven’t even mentioned how the film barely resembles the book—the only thing the book and film have in common is the bear attack. Taken on its own, the film is silly, overly macho, an all-you-can-eat buffet clichés. It is visually mesmerizing but emotionally devoid and although the scenes themselves were well-directed, in the end film suffers from another director’s  inability to leave anything on the proverbial cutting room floor. The result: a film that starts out strong and sensational, but ends up feeling rather dull and vapid by the end.

But hey, it’s Leo’s sevent Oscar nomination. All I can say is “Yippee-ki-yay, motherfucker. Yippee-ki-yay.”

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Ask Your Doctor…

batman robin vertical video smack

It’s that time of the year again, when millions of people break out their smartphones to record painfully long videos at holiday get togethers, sportsball games, and anytime their kid, cat, or dog so something (or nothing).

Thankfully, the vast majority of these videos never see the light of day. A few billion, however, get uploaded to Facebook and YouTube and an alarming number of these are vertical videos. The reason for this? Vertical Video Syndrome.

Vertical Video Syndrome—or VVS—is a serious condition afflicting millions of Americans. Symptoms include a stubborn refusal to turn the damn smartphone sideways before starting to record video.

Many people are unaware they are living with this condition. They haven’t bothered to consider that because human’s eyes are horizontally placed in their skulls, our field of vision is horizontal. VVS doesn’t just affect those suffering the disorder—it affects loved ones, family and friends as well.

vertical video is bad stop it

Hey girl… Every time you shoot vertical video a baby unicorn dies.

But now, there’s a cure.

If you or someone you love suffers from VVT, call now and the Ümabomber or one of her trained assistants will come to you and slap you silly every time you try to shoot vertical video.

That’s right—our caring and dedicated therapists will travel to you and slap the living shit out of you until you learn to turn your smart phone sideways when shooting videos of your dog slobbering on your newborn.

Serious side effects may  occur, including: headaches, confusion and liking it.

Ask your doctor if getting a clue—finally!—is right for you.

 

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What Women Want

I’ve been sitting quietly at Interbike, deliberating over whether or not I should say anything about #sockgate. Personally I think Jules has said it best, and has offered all too familiar and awful examples of WHY the sock debacle is a problem. Ditto Katherine Fuller’s piece in Dirt Rag.

Many—if not most— of my riding buddies are men and some think #sockgate is funny and say we should lighten up or “get a sense of humor”. I do stand up comedy in my spare time. My sense of humor is intact and pretty broad… and frankly, a bit crass at times. I’ve been a tomboy my entire life, mixing it up with rowdy boys and dirt baggers. And I’m realizing how so much of the bike industry—nay, THE WORLD— is full of men who just don’t want to grow up. That’s the only possible explanation for the continued imBROsition of such childish antics in a professional milieu.

Riding bikes has been a top priority in my life. When I moved to Bend, Oregon in 2011 friends assumed I was moving because I fell in love. I had fallen in love…with the trail access! Bend offers hundreds of miles of twisty singletrack right out the back door. There was no guy in the picture, my bike made me do it! I’ve also taken jobs in the industry—chosen passion over profit—when I could have worked in another industry entirely for much more money.

Most of the women who work in the bike industry tend to do so for the same reasons so many men do: because we love bikes. We love riding. And we love sharing our love of bikes with others.

When we are systematically and routinely depreciated because of our gender, it hurts in too many ways to list. We can’t just “lighten up” or “get over it” because this isn’t an isolated instance. It’s never an isolated instance, anymore. This treatment is endemic in the bike industry.

So many men I spoke with about the sexist double standards women face in the bike industry don’t “get it”. They don’t have to. That’s the benefit of male privilege. What disturbs me more is they don’t CARE to. At least not until they have daughters, or a woman they love and respect faces this sort of bullshit and they realize not caring is the root of the problem.

I’m not a militant feminist, or a man hater, or any of the other things I’m likely to be called by posting this piece. Jules’ and Fullers’ pieces paint the picture better than I am. If you want to understand why women don’t find things like sockgate funny, read their stories. I don’t have a solution to bridging the gender gap, but I do believe greater empathy and knowledge will be a good start.

Also… Dudes. Be excellent.

That is all.

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Booty Is In the Eye of The Beholder

Dear Ümabomber:

My exhaustive research, that has taken place over the last 12 years, has concluded that all asses look better while on a bike seat. Since I do not have the time to undertake Phase II of my research plan I am instead going to ask you: Why? What makes bike butts look better?

—B.B.

Dear BB:

Funny you should ask that. Just this weekend the World Naked Bike Ride took place here in Portlandia, where I saw many, many naked butts on bikes. Thousands, to be honest. Actually, more than 10,000 people rolled through the city, supposedly as a peaceful protest. What is being protested depends on who you ask. I talked to a few people, and came away with the notion that it’s sort of a protest free-for-all.

“Corporate personhood!” yelled one pasty-white, buck-nekkid rider. “Rape culture” said another woman, resplendent in green and pink body paint. “Oil dependence!” hollered a guy wearing combat boots and nothing else. According to the Portland event Facecrack page, the WBNR is a show of “support for human-powered transportation, safe streets and body positivity.”

By Surefire (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons from Wikimedia Commons

By Surefire (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons from Wikimedia Commons

Personally, I don’t see how getting naked on a bike makes the streets any safer or promotes human powered-transportation in any real and significant way, but that’s another story for another time. I predict many, if not most outsiders see the World Bike Naked Rides as debauchery on wheels. Indeed, many people seem drawn to it as a way to cast off inhibitions, get drunk and party—kind of like a sports ball tailgate party, only everyone’s on bikes instead of pickup trucks. And naked.

I think many of the can’t-look away/must-stop-gawking voyeurs who flock in droves to annual WNBR event, with their folding chairs and coolers full of Coors Light secretly worry that attending the WNBR will somehow make them want to also become gay. I mean, if Obama’s homosexual chemtrails haven’t done the job already.

READ: Obama’s New Homosexual Chemtrail Superweapon Tested on America, Causes Entire Country to Turn Gay

What makes butts on bikes look better? I thought of your question as these many clothing-free butts rode by. And while most of them were quite shapely and lovely, if we look at this from a body-positive perspective I have to ask you a question in return: Booty is in the eye of the beholder, no?

For example, I’m drawn to toned and athletic butts, personally. But I know plenty of men (and women) who like bigger butts with a little extra padding. More bounce to the ounce, you know?

Big Butts: A Bum Rap?

A guy I recently dated (very briefly) actually preferred a woman with no junk in her trunk. Now, I have a pretty plush posterior. Sure, I could probably drop a few pounds, and be more muscular and defined, but frankly I rather like my body the way it is. It’s not super chiseled, and I’m what most people would consider average build, but taller than average, standing at 5’10”. I’m pretty muscular and hella strong—especially on a bike. But the only way I’m going to have a ripped 3% body fat ultramarathoner physique would be to eat nothing but celery sticks and lettuce and drink only light beer (eeeuuuw, shudder) and run ultramarathons every day and what fun would that be?

Doesn’t each one of us deserve to be accepted and appreciated for our own unique physique? I thought about whether or not the quality of my life would vastly improve trying to measure up to this guy’s ideal, and in the end decided it wasn’t worth getting all butthurt over, so I gave him the boot. After all, my male friends tell me I’m a hottie, and it wasn’t like HE was a rock star Greek god.

In other words, one man’s junk in the trunk is another man’s treasure, right? When you say butts look better on bikes, I wholeheartedly agree they do. But maybe it has less to do with folks’ rumps, and more to do with the fact that bikes automatically make their riders appear sexier all over—sort of the ultimate accessory, one that’s both functional and fashionable.

The Science Behind the Behind

From an exercise physiology perspective, riders who rely solely on their quads to push the pedals are missing out on the powerhouse muscles of the glutes.  The largest muscle of the buttocks, the gluteus maximus, extends the hip, providing power with each pedal stroke. The smaller gluteus medius and minimus muscles make up the hip abductors, which allow for external rotation of the femurs and lateral movement of the hips. These smaller glutes don’t deliver power during the pedal stroke but provide stability, overall, and definitely contribute to a toned, shapely butt.

Casual recreational riders won’t necessarily experience the same booty-building benefits as hard-core enthusiasts or competitive cyclists. Regardless, nearly ALL regular riders will notice a more shapely behind, as regular exercise not only helps tone muscles, but also helps with weight loss.

Casual riders who want a more toned butt will have a hard time getting that effect unless they are doing significant climbing or riding out of the saddle. To improve glute strength (and shapeliness) just about everyone would benefit from adding squats and lunges to their daily exercise repertoire (for an extra fit fanny, leg presses and hamstring curls add even more definition).

Here’s the perfect soundtrack for your next training ride or dance party, with special Ümabombed lyrics, below.

I LIKE BIG BIKES and I cannot lie
You other suckers can’t deny
That when a bike drops in with a whole lotta travel
Ya get jiggy and come unraveled
I get sprung
Wanna pull up tough
Coz I’m shredding that trail so buff
And yo, those berms you’re roosting
Railing trail you can’t stop boosting
Oh baby, wanna hit those jumps
And drops and gaps and pumps
Are you pickin up what I’m throwing down
Time to schralp some browwwn powder
So, fellas! (Yeah!) Fellas! (Yeah!)
Has your girlfriend got the bike? (Hell yeah!)
Tell her to ride it! (Ride it!) Ride it! (Ride it!)
Ride that big phat bike!
Baby got bike!

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Building Skills One Grain of Salt At a Time

Dear Umabomber:

I recently started to get into mountain biking with my BF. He’s really good at it. He works in a bike shop and has been riding bikes his whole life and he used to race BMX style when he was a kid. I want to get better so I started going to the Burlington bike park to learn how to do basic things. Sometimes there is an instructor but most of the time it is just me and my BF and his friends. They are all really good bikers. But they try to tell me what to do so much that I get confused. They all have different directions for me to do the same skill. I feel really frustrated. I try to do what they are saying but it’s too confusing and it’s starting to be not fun. And I think I fall more when I do what they say anyway. I want to get better but I’m losing my patience. I’ve been following your IG posts at the Lumberyard and I thought to myself WWUD (What Would Umabomber Do?)

—Seattle Sara

umabomber jump post canyon

Dear Sara:

There are a couple of different things going on with the situation you describe that may actually be making it harder for you to progress.

First off, you should know, never compare yourself to guys who were skinning their knees and casing jumps as kids. They are at a level of riding it takes years to arrive at except for a select few. The muscle memory alone takes years to acquire.

Most mortals need regular practice at anything to progress—whether it’s mountain biking, BMX, playing classical piano, golfing, or painting. Comparing your riding skills to your boyfriend’s is like comparing Oprah to Einstein. Wait? What?!? Exactly!

The fact that you’re a woman who wants to ride a bike makes you a rarity in this culture and country. The fact that you want to ride bikes on dirty, nasty, rough trails makes you an even bigger anomaly. And the fact that you want to learn to do it better, so you can get even more skilled and rowdy with your bike puts you in a tiny percentage of the billions of female human beings on this planet. You are a rarity among rarities.

As you pointed out, I’ve been going to The Lumberyard to work on bike handling skills twice a week since January. Every Thursday night they have Ladies’ Night, with special pricing for women and free coaching. The two lead instructors‚ Shelby and Levi, both have a ton of professional experience as BMX racers and I’ve learned a bunch from their tips and advice. I am a fan of pro level instruction for just about any sport, hobby, interest or career development a person can do.

Like you, I become overwhelmed when I have to process too much new information all at once. I start over thinking and can’t feel what’s supposed to happen in my body. No surprise that’s when I start falling more. I learn best when I work on one new thing at a time. So I’ll get a pro tip from either Shelby or Levi, then go work on it for a week, and then I might ask the other one what their approach is for the same problem. Often they have very different ways of teaching the same skill.

Every so often a well-meaning park rider will offer advice to help me do better, which I don’t pay much attention to. Just because someone has radical skill on their bike doesn’t mean they can explain even the most basic maneuver. For example, probably one of the things I do best in this world is nap. I am a PRO level napper. I should be sponsored by Eagle’s Nest Hammocks, because I’m that serious about my naps. But I’ve met people who say they can’t nap or don’t know how to nap, and I can’t help them! Even when I SHOW THEM how to nap, they can’t do it!

So my advice to you is to decide how much you want to let in, the next time your boyfriend and his friends offer free advice. Politely thank them all for their input and tell them to give you some space. Be honest with them. They probably just want to be be helpful, and don’t realize they are confusing you by offering up TMI.

Bottom line? Take free advice with a grain of salt…including mine. Except this particular piece of advice which is always true, no matter who you are…

RIDE MORE.

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Send me your burning questions about bikes, business, riding, life, love, and the pursuit of pedal-powered pleasure. I don’t claim to have all the answers, but I definitely know how squeeze the crap out of the questions and make them squeal. Send me an email using this secure and anonymous email form, here.

Photo taken at Post Canyon, Hood River, OR, courtesy Kevin William Bailey.

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