Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Stand-Off at Mission Trails - by Patty Mooney

We got a good mountain bike ride in on Sunday between rain showers. We San Diegans are reveling in the wetness because we have been suffering from drought conditions for oh, the last 25 or so years. Our "fire season" is now an annual event lasting several months during which we all stress and worry like the scarecrow on "Wizard of Oz." "Scared of a little fire, scarecrow?" screeches the Wicked Witch of the West. Um, yes.

Anyway, Mark and I hopped aboard our mountain bikes and rode into Mission Trails Park which is one of the largest urban park preserves in the United States, at nearly 5800 acres. There is always a feeling of giddy childishness as you swoop over the San Diego River (looking pretty full right now after all the rain) and begin the slow climb up towards the ridge. We bounded across mud and puddles and then we swerved left at the rusty barrels to ascend "Toby's Traverse," named for the man who shaped and built it to the tasty single track it is today.

Mark and I reached the top of the ridge then cruised along, stopping to look out at the surrounding views. Mark then pointed, saying, "Hey, do you see the coyote over there?"

"Where, where?"

"Over there! Look, there are two!"

I could almost make out two brown shapes against a palette of green, orange and browns. "Er, uh yeah."

Suddenly, they both started yipping like neighborhood watch dogs.

"Hee hee," Mark and I giggled. Then we yapped back.

We stood there chatting with the coyotes for the next few minutes, exchanging call for call. Then we boarded our mountain bikes, and sped towards them. Of course they immediately sprinted into the oak brush and disappeared. All fluff and bluff.

Still, it made our day. And adrenaline junkies that we are, we sped back down the whoop-de-doo trails, two gigantic grins on four wheels.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

30 Valentines Days Together - by Patty Mooney

Mark and I would like to wish everyone a fantastic Valentines Day. Today is the 30th anniversary of the day we met, so it is a very special day for us. In honor of this beautiful day, I will share an excerpt from my memoirs about how Mark and I met.......

On Valentines Day 1982, I stood on La Paloma’s theater balcony overlooking the empty seats before a play called ‘Pandora,' by Jack Barnard, was to begin. This play would be performed once only to raise funds for the World Hunger Project. The curtain would rise in twenty minutes. I’d better head to the dressing room. As I turned, my eyes caught those of a blonde man who was setting up a video camera. He grinned, the widest, most sparkly-eyed smile I’d ever seen. We moved towards each other, and shook hands in greeting.

“Hi, I’m Patty,” I told him.

“I’m Mark,” he replied. “Are you in the play?”

“Yes. One of the singers.”

“Are you nervous?”

“Yes, butterflies in my stomach. I hope I remember the words to all the songs!”

“You will if you want to.”

“I want to very badly! So you’re videotaping the event?”

“That’s right.”

“I can’t wait to see it.”

The theater lights went off and on again.

“Well, I’ve got to go get ready,” I said. “I’ll come and chat during intermission.”

“That’d be nice. I’ll see you.” Mark pointed at his camera and winked.

By the time the curtain lifted, I was happily poised on a scaffold with eleven other robed singers. And the play began.

When the curtain descended for intermission, the audience applauded lavishly. I hurried back to the balcony where Mark was changing videotapes.

He looked happy to see me. “You did great,” he beamed.

“Well, thanks! How’s it going on the video? I bet your shoulders are sore.”

“You’re right about that.”

“Let me.” I moved behind him and massaged his neck and shoulders. As a masseuse, I knew that most people loved to be touched. Massage had also become a great communicating tool for me. “Does this hurt? Relax.”

He was putty by the time I finished. “Thanks!” he sighed.

“You’re welcome. Massaging another is like massaging myself, so I feel more relaxed now, too!”

“I’d be willing to relax you anytime!” he said, winking.

I smiled. “Are you coming to the cast party?”

“Unfortunately I made another commitment. My mom is having a get-together. She’s gone all out, making heart-shaped hamburgers and pink milk. I’d like to come, though.”

“Oh, it would have been fun. I’ve enjoyed talking to you. Well, I guess I’d better get backstage.” I almost walked away, but something magnetic about him caused me to turn and say, “Have you got a business card?”

“Yes, I do, right here.” He searched his vest pocket for one and handed it to me.

“Look, it’s the same shade of blue as mine!” I reached under my robe into my pocket, slid out a card and gave it to Mark.

“Yes” he said, “and look at the logos. Yours is a nautilus; mine’s a pyramid. Both symbolize the same idea: an infinite movement in, toward self-awareness.”

I noticed a crystal pyramid on a silver chain around his neck and reached to inspect it. “Isn’t this the same pyramid on your business card?”

“The idea for my logo did come from this crystal, yes.”

“Very interesting. You believe it contains magic?”

He smiled. “As much magic as I give it.”

The theater lights dimmed, signaling that intermission was over and “Pandora’s Box” must resume.

“I’d like to talk more about that sometime. See you later!” I said, squeezing his arm.


“Yes, Mark?”

“Happy Valentine’s Day!”

“Happy Valentine’s Day yourself!”

Patty and Mark are still living "happily ever after, 30 years later.....

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Real First Underwater Mountain Bikers - Photo and Story by Patty Mooney

For today's "Retro Wednesday" blog post, a little history about the first Real Underwater Mountain Bikers (including me.)

Back in May 2006, Scuba Diving Magazine published the above article about a dive master in South Caicos who was cruising too close to the end of a pier on his mountain bike when he fell in. "Surprisingly he was able to stay on his bike and ride it on the sandy bottom." And thus he had "concocted" the new "extreme sport" of "underwater mountain biking."

When I saw the article, I knew I had to set the record straight, as my posse and I had been the first to ride mountain bikes underwater. 20 feet under, to be exact, off the west coast of Costa Rica in 1994, fully 11 years before this guy, Gerald Charles, claimed to do it in 2005.

Here's the letter I wrote to Scuba Diving Magazine which they never published:


Dear SDM,

My partner, Mark Schulze, and I were both intrigued by Martin Pepper’s story (in your May 2006 issue) about how Gerald Charles, a 32-year-old dive instructor in South Caicos had “conceived” the idea of underwater mountain biking after he’d fallen off the pier and found himself pedaling underwater on his bike.

Au contraire, the idea was first conceived by the intrepid mountain-bike team of Mark Schulze, Jason Borner and myself (Patty Mooney) over chips, salsa and beers one balmy evening at a tacoria in Costa Rica in January 1994. Mark and I were amidst an around-the-world video adventure with mountain bikes; Jason was our Costa Rican guide. We were discussing what we could do that would cast Costa Rica in an awesome light. The answer was to combine two of its most popular recreational activities: mountain biking and scuba diving.

The following week, we chartered a dive boat to take us to a site called Tres Sombreros, and covered the sequence on video from the boat as well as with a Hi-8 underwater camera. Jason, Mark and I took turns riding on a “sacrificial bike” 20 feet underwater on the sandy, rocky bottom (no coral). The underwater mountain biking adventure appears in our video, “Full Cycle: A World Odyssey” which garnered fifteen international awards. Over the last decade, stock-footage clips of our underwater mountain biking “jamboree” have appeared on Real TV, a Nintendo commercial and several corporate videos.

Just wanted to set the record straight on who the true pioneers of this “fledgling sport” really are. It was a one-time occasion, a farce, really; we didn’t think it was a good idea to regale it as a sport as it would be too easy for less-than-responsible divers to wreak havoc on the oceanic environment.
Sincerely yours,
Patty Mooney & Mark Schulze

Jason Borner, just before his underwater mountain biking experience. Actual underwater sequence can be seen on "Full Cycle: A World Odyssey" documentary trailer: