How to torture your relatives.

Saltlick-20130109-00082IMG00242-20100809-1556IMG00243-20100809-1600photo My father had a great saying whenever I returned from one of my adventures. I told him about the event, the adverse weather, the rain, the snow, the cold winds, whatever. My dad said, ” Kind of sounds to me like hitting yourself in the head with a hammer. It feels so good when you stop.” He was right in a way. For some strange reason, I like foul weather. I have all the Gore Tex gear. I was always fascinated with weather and for reasons that I can’t really put a finger on, I always did better in events when the weather and the conditions went to hell. Snowstorms in the Month of Mud Mountain Bike Races, torrential rains in NORBA events, wicked cold weather and snowstorms on ski trips. I liked it when the weather was a factor. Even today, I try not to let weather ruin my fun. I put on the foul weather gear and go for it. Around here, if you don’t ski or run or ride in the rain, you don’t get much activity. Even when you go away, you run the risk of bad weather in any season and I always try to prepare for it and enjoy it in a quirky way.
Now that attitude does not necessarily apply to my family. Take my sister for instance. She is game, but I have tortured her in many ways on many different trips. We stood at the top of the Cirque at Snowbird in a raging snowstorm and our friend Mike Smith took a header down the slope and didn’t stop till he hit the bottom of the run. I looked at Molly and said,” You’re next.” She also gave me the deer in the headlights look when she started to see the snow slide on High Rustler at Alta after a harrowing trip accross the High Traverse. I made her ski on bullet proof ice at Killington,VT, then drive 5 hours to Sugarloaf, Maine to ski on ice balls the size of baby heads. It’s not that I am a tough guy or anything like that. It is just that I like to ski and will do whatever it takes to slide on snow. My sister likes it too but not to that degree. But she was a trooper in all that adversity. One year I took Molly and her husband Ray on a charity bicycle event which seemed tame enough except when we were about 5 miles into the event, the heavens opened up. They were soaked and hadn’t ridden a bicycle very much. As they were sopping wet, they faced a daunting hill and Ray quipped,” Looks like a walker to me, Molly.” I felt badly as they pushed their bikes up the hill while I tried to lift their spirits telling them that the rest stop was not far away. Yes- I tortured Molly and then her husband had the good fortune of being tortured by the jagoff brother in law. Again, not that I am vindictive or tough, or anything like that. I just try to make the best of adverse situations. Sometimes my positive attitude gets me a “Go suck an egg, Pat.” But eventually after the day is over, the furor dies down to a few laughs and good memories of athletic and meteorological torture.

You have seen the picture before of my wife skiing in the freezing rain. I have also had her and my son out in raging snowstorms in places like Eldora, Colorado. They try to smile and embrace my zeal. But oftentimes it generally breaks down eventually and a trip to a fire and a hot drink is in order. I have taken my wife on 4 hour hikes here in the Laurel Highlands to see a scenic overlook between Rt. 653 and Seven Springs Resort. She also was subject to a 6 hour hike in Nevada with the master of athletic torture, Eric Durfee, only to be comforted by Eric’s wife Helen and the teenage comments of my son Jack who endured the hike as well. But the views of Lake Tahoe and Reno were spectacular. Those views were a little lost on them at the time, but the pictures that are on our coffee table remind them that whatever doesn’t kill you makes you strong. They laugh but they think, ” What a putz.” Unfortunately I put the icing on the cake two weeks ago when Janet and I went hiking on our local trails and she fell on a rock and broke her elbow. I am not mentioning that the leaves will be changing soon and the hiking will be spectacular when she heals. I also am not mentioning that it is not far from ski season around here. I might leave that one alone while the poor soul is still in a sling. You see with not much effort and a lot of positive energy, you can torture your family on outings to the point where they question whether they will ever go anywhere with you again.

Maybe I do hit myself in the head with a hammer? Maybe I torture my family. But even my cynical teenager says, ” Dad- I know your heart is in the right place.” He will be off to college next year and I will be limited with potential torturous outings with him. However, my lovely wife will always have the opportunity to participate in “fun outings” only if she wants to do it. Sometimes I have pushed her and she responds in a positive way and has a good time in the great outdoors. But I will be discerning in the future. But, then again, our good friend Debbie Sagan says,” Hey Pat, we are active people. Things happen.” She just got over some broken elbow issues herself and is back on the trails running with her pal Mary Jo Neff. Deb fell and got hurt on her bike a few years ago and now competes in and wins triathlons. Torture is a state of mind. You either embrace adversity and grab the experience for all it is worth or you punt. Nothing wrong with punting, but you might just miss a good time in the rain, snow, or heat. One thing I know, my sister, my son, and my wife will always have memories of the crazy outings that they have participated in with the 58 year old kid. They did real well. They just don’t want to know details of the amazing adventures I have had in really crummy weather. “Hey- my head feels good now?” Thanks for reading.

12 thoughts on “How to torture your relatives.

  1. Bill Day says:

    Tell Janet we hope she heals well, on second thought she may not want to heal at all because she will have to go back to the “McCloskey Camp”. Is Mary Joe Neff married or kin to Jack Neff, also a runner and sports car enthusiast?
    Enjoy the Blog!

  2. Pete hilton says:

    Can’t ever think of a ride we did, rain or shine, that I regretted doing. Just do it! Thanks Pat

  3. J.R. says:

    Great post Pat! I saw the FB post of Janet’s banana bread and it seems a broken elbow is not enough to slow her down. By the way, Pete quoted you, just last week, on this exact topic. We ran for over an hour in the thick humidity and he said, “Pat will quickly remind us that we will never regret having done something because of the weather”. Keep them coming.

  4. Your life is so challenging, I love it! : ) Thanks for sharing!

  5. david helmick says:

    Good writing. Enjoyed the read. -D

  6. Art Bonn says:

    Just heard Sharon use your line the other day “can’t let the weather spoil your fun” when she went out to run in the pouring down rain the other day. Your enthusiasm is contagious. Sorry about your elbow Janet. You’ll be healed and ready for ski season before you know it. Ooops!

  7. Cuz says:

    SOOOooo much said to you Paddy Mac, all in the “Curran” look on Jan’s face. Priceless! Slainte! Cuz-I-L

  8. Bill says:

    Learned very early on when hanging with the Mc Machine you are out for the duration weather or not .so prepare for anything and roll on .the cold ,rain or heat is all apart of the chalange .

  9. Bill says:

    a update for you pat had a few hours to get a ride in,
    , can we say down pour ,mud , a flat tire and helped out a biker get his muddy bike on his roof rack …and yes i am wet but after you are so wet you can not get any wetter ah what a feeling !

  10. Hutch says:

    A hiking friend told me “There is no bad weather, just bad clothing”! So true! I only wish Pat, you had skiied with me in the rain a few times. The weather is warm, the snow is soft and lubricated, the lift line is short. As long as you have a good rain outfit, rubber gloves, and rain-x on your goggles a great ski day can be had! You and I did enjoy the beast on a “variable condition” day last year! Still can remember how our Stockles were the only skiis in the ski rack! Wonder why! lol Hope Janet is doing well, she sure is a good sport!

  11. DebS says:

    Yep, back at it! The year of the broken arm, past years of torn ACL, banged up face,,,,etc.,etc.,etc. when they dig me up in 1000 years, they will wonder what happened to that chick,,,she had a blast!! George is a good nurse! Remember, we took Art to the ER for a broken collar bone after one of the Zoo Crits, went to have dinner and then went back to retrieve him! MJ had her bouts too, broken bones off the road bike in Adams Twp. an angel with a pickup takes the 3 girls (Jan fell into poison ivy too!) and their bikes back to Stone Field! Good thing we are healthy and heal well!

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