2014 Bikepacking Year in Review @ Bikepackers Magazine

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Thanks to Bikepackers Magazine for mentioning my Tour 14er super ride in their 2014 Year in Review! My thoughts usually span quite the spectrum. I remembering it wasn't really all that long ago that I bought my first thrift store beater bike for < $15, and it didn't take too long after that for me to wonder if I could ride it from Denver, to Boulder (A whole 30 miles). After the intense pain in my legs diminished (as well as that large pizza was consumed, after landing back in Denver), I certainly was hooked. 

It's easy to fall in the mindset of, "Well, what's next - what's going to be even bigger?!", which isn't really the best way to go about these things. Instead, you should probably ask yourself, "What would be the most fulfilling thing I could do?" That may mean testing one's limits, but it could also mean just helping out someone else with mentoring, or just sharing yourself, so other's have a head start on their own (mis)adventures. I'm also critical over route selection and goal - it's gotta aesthetically be pleasing, the same way a drawing or painting is. Something that isn't easy to put into words - that's why you try to do those impossible things. 

If I looked at my time doing these endurance things, I usually fall into a pattern, where one year may be a huge trip; the next year is a series of smaller ones - and that may hold true this time as well. Those years of smaller projects is really a time when I'm working on weaknesses, rebuilding myself towards another goal that just may be too big. Either that, or paying off the credit card bill. 

Training Log - 12/01/14 - 12/07/14

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west_face_downclimb.jpg

Climbing, climbing and more climbing!

For a bike rider, I sure am clawing away up steep cliffs with my hands a bit. Other than getting an incredible base knowledge of how to deal with any type of cliff imaginable, it's a nice change from constantly moving slowly on my feet. I'm craving just that, but I'm pretty committing to see this project through. 

Training Log - 11/10/14 - 11/16/14

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I've fallen off of logging my "training". One reason for this is that I have nothing to train for! Which can be dangerous: nothing to train for (no goals) so no real idea on what to do. I'm not one for structured training anyways - I like to think of what I do outside as, "play" and anything that has to do with getting better as, "practice". Training sounds much too serious to me.  

And well, this isn't actually true, as there's a file on my Macbook called something like, "2015 Outdoor misAdventure Goals" and it's filled with all sorts of adventures, and maybe a real race or two. 

But before all that, there's one big goal coming in December: a 2300', 23 pitch sport climb that goes up to 5.12a called TIME WAVE ZERO at El Potrero Chico, Mexico!


Until I indulge myself in plans for 2015, the goal for ending 2014 will be to top out on this route, around Christmas time. 

As such, my time training - I mean, playing has been on vertical walls, learning this "Sports Climbing" thing, and seeing what I can get accomplished, in such a small amount of time. I'm about a month out from the trip itself, so there's not much more time left to get with it. I'm still running and cycling, but I've made climbing somewhat my priority for the past few weeks, which has been a nice break. 

Not to reveal all, but having the skill set to do Time Wave Zero sounds like a nice thing to have in the back of one's pocket, if what you like to do is like up killer routes in the mountains.


Tour 14er: 34 days, 12 hours - Success!

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tour_14er_final_map.jpg
  • Total Hike Mileage: 387.9 miles (624.265 km)
  • Total Hike Elevation: 154,727 feet (47,160.8 km)
  • Total Bike Mileage: 1,609.1 miles (2,589.6 km)
  • Total Bike Elevation: 151,335 feet (46,126.9 meters)
  • Total Time: 34:12:26:57

tour14_finish.jpgImage (and beer!) provided by: 14er.com user, glenmiz


Tour 14er is On!

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OK, time to begin!

Start time is scheduled for Friday @ 4:00am at the American Mountaineering Center in Golden, CO - There's a small chance I'll start a little earlier depending on how my schedule works out. Trackleaders has been kind enough to take the time to put up a Tracker for this, so you may follow along:

http://trackleaders.com/tour14er

I'll be riding/climbing this as a self-supported individual time trial - the goal is to  ride to, and summit all the named and ranked 14ers in CO (53, by my count, but it's a given thatn I'll do the other usual suspects). Goal is to better a time set by Roy Benton in 1995 of 37 days,  12 hours - the last and fastest self-supported, self-powered time I could find in my research. It works out to roughly 1.5 summits a day. My rules are here. It's a DIY thing.

My projected route is shown on the Tracker, but there's nothing to say I won't change my mind and take a different route - in fact, it's a given.  There's no course really, so there's no, "off course", so don't worry about that.

I'll also try to post photos while I go and you may follow me on whatever you'd like:

Instagram:
 
http://instagram.com/longrangerjustin

Twitter:
 
http://twitter.com/justinsimoni
   
Facebook:

http://facebook.com/longrangerjustin
   
My hands - and feet are going to be pretty occupied, so if you spot me while on your own hikes and take a photo please share them!  It would mean a lot to me. It's been great to meet people while on my training runs/hikes.

I'll be easy to spot: big busy red beard and most likely a bright red, "Salvagetti" bike jersey on and a tiny, gray casquette on my sunburned head.
I'll look - and smell like a thru-hiker, but my pack will be minuscule or non-existent. Hi-fives and smiles are definitely appreciated if we cross paths, but please don't meet up with me to explicitly give me any sort of support, like food. Or whiskey.

Thanks goes out to a very long list of people: Salvagetti for being a wonderful bike shop to me for over a decade, Greg at Bolder Bikepacking for making some amazing packs that have taken me across the country - twice, and my lady for hanging in there, while I go out to do my /silly things. And also for the belays at the crags, which I guess would also fall under, "Hanging in there". A few companies/individuals in those companies have been helpful with gear. Thank you: Selle Anatomica for making literally the best saddle in existence, BOA Technology for having me on their product testing group, Ultimate Direction for making some pretty sweet vests. I've gained much inspiration from far too many individuals to count, really - I'd list them out, but I don't want to forget anyone.

I'm not doing this to raise money for a non-profit or anything like that, but if what I'm hoping to do inspires you, my suggestion would be to give to the 14ers.com CFI fundraising effort (if that's OK with you, Bill):

https://www.coloradogives.org/cfibillm

If you're looking for a more humanitarian org., consider the Colorado Harm Reduction Action Center:

http://www.harmreductionactioncenter.org

Wish me luck! As it's been shown, this type of challenge is TOUGH. I hope I can myself make it back to Golden before all the Aspen leaves change.

6/9/14 - 6/15/14

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An entirely epic week:

Monday, 6/9/14: Sub hour, Green Mountain; up Amphitheater/Saddle, down Gregory (Strava)
'
Saturday I was only a few minutes shy of going sub hour up and down Green Mountain. Perhaps par for the course for some, but the psychological barrier of going up and down Green Mountain in less than an hour was too tempting not to try, as soon as I was a bit rested. Besides, my run up Green on Saturday was after a dozen+ pitches of Flatiron scrambling. Tired legs, for sure.

Happy to come in under the mark, but certainly not as fast as I can go; felt sluggish on the up, although completely out of control going down.

Tuesday, 6/10/14: Boulder to Summit Lake, Mt Evans, back to Echo Lake, (Strava)

Rode the bike loaded up to Mt Evans, to do a bit of recon/training/whatever for the Mt, Evans Hill Ascent - something I signed up for, not really understanding why - I don't like running on roads, I don't even particularly want a road up a 14er, but what the heck. Considering I had a fast (for me) run on Mon, a 83 mile bike ride today, and what I had in store on Wed, it's a wonder I was able to walk at all, come Saturday. Hoping for the summit for today, but it was 7:30pm, when I got to summit lake, and I needed to get some shuteye for the next day's 1:00am wake up.

Wednesday, 6/11/14: Evans Egis (minus Rosalie) (Strava)



For whatever reason, the Evans Egis, "route" occupies my idle thoughts: 11? summits, two over 14,000 feet, a little over 25 miles. It's a long day. Part of the allure is that the peaks you summit can all be seen from Denver on a clear day. Out on the trail at 1:45 am to severely windy conditions, but was expecting as much. Managed to do a pretty good job with summiting everything basically in sight, except missing out on Rosalie - just a route finding error on my part - the little peak I thought was Rosalie wasn't - some of the sub peaks are a little odd. Made it back to the gate @ 9:01pm, late enough to miss getting any water from the Lodge, or any food. It was a weird night camping in the bushes. The next day (Thurs.) I rode back to Idaho Springs, to do some work (Strava)

Friday, 6/13/14: Clear Creek Canyon sport climbing

Out of character for myself, I met up with my Lady, who brought gear for the rest of my trip. I usually just carry everything, but there was literally too much gear to haul by bike - and I had a race the next day. Our plan was to actually do the 2nd Apron of Evans, but our moods and the weather did not make it seem like a likely goal. After some regroup, we decided to go down to Clear Creek Canyon to do some sport climbing, where my Lady excels and I am the one who is certainly the student.

We started with People's Choice, 5.10d, 3 pitches, that she assured me was "only" seen as a 5.9+ by the local climbing community.

The overhanging dihedral, seen from below had me literally yelling out loud to her, for all to hear "I have no confidence that I can even attempt to follow this". But she didn't relent - and follow her: I certainly did. I even lead pitch 2 (5.5 - ha!), creating the anchor up top and belaying, actually being a first for me, on a multi-pitch route - I certainly am a beginner. Later, she confided that the position I had to be in (no ledge to sit/stand on, using a non-guide ATC to belay) was probably the most awkward way you can possibly belay. You see why I hang out with this one.

Somehow, I was again tricked into leading (5.10a), and Cracker Jack (5.9), until finally succumbing (whining) that I was too tired for anything else, I followed Deuces Wild (5.10a), which we did in one long pitch, and two raps.

Surprisingly, I stuck everything, and didn't fall once. Whatever caused that, I have no idea (luck).

Saturday, 6/14/14 - Mt. Evans Ascent, Sawtooth to Bierstadt (Strava)

81st place or something! Woo! I wasn't expecting much from this race - I already had a huge week on my feet and on the bike, and I've ran on a road, maybe once or twice this year, I just did this to do it. Got to about mile 12, before I succumbed to an asthma attack, and legs not really into running on hard pavement. Met up with my Lady at the summit and we hiked to Bierstadt via the Sawtooth, dodging a few storms along the way.

Sunday, 6/14/14 - Torreys via Keslo Ridge, Grays (Strava)

A wonderful camping outing at the summer trailhead, the night before and we were ready to do Keslo Ridge. Some interesting route finding lead us to some funny places, but we figured it out. It's good to bring an actual climber with you, but they do seem to check every single solitary hold, grumbling at how many are exceptionally loose, which of course is the majority. Did a little impromptu "this is how you self-arrest with an ice axe, but please do not even get into that sort of problem" lesson, and we made the summit of Torreys - probably my 4th time doing Keslo.
 
Week total on my feet: 59.4 miles, 22,745 feet
Week total on the bike: 96.9  miles, 10,505 feet

Big week! A half marathon up a 14er, 6 14er summits in total, ~100 miles of fully loaded riding, and a nice sport climbing outing. Sitting here on Monday, I'm happy to report that I'm not totally crushed, but happy enough to take the day off.



5/12/14 - 5/18/14

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Riding into Salida - beautiful views of the Northern Sangres, mixed in with the Southern Sawatch




- Boulder - Breckenridge,  105.6 miles, 14,372ft (Strava)


This was a huge ride, in terms of elevation gain.  Much of it coming before even hitting I-70. I was also loaded down for touring for the next week. Happy to have ended the day inside and warm, rather than outside and snowed upon.


- Breckenridge - just outside of Salida, 106.5 miles 6,950ft (Strava)

Took 9 to basically Hartsel, and then cycled the last half of the Dirty Double Fondo Route (the harder part), before camping outside of town. Beautiful night, full moon, warm temps.

12.5 miles, 67 ft (Strava)

Basically a rest day, but I still had to get into town! Happily, my friend Em bumped into me, and offered to host me, which was a little more convenient than camping somewhere else outside of town!

, Dirty Double Fondo 200k - 2nd Place!, 129.9 miles, 9,360ft


Not a bad little go at this Gravel Grinder. 40 minutes back from first, and 40 minutes faster than third - it's a wild world out there. Props to first place, that's quite the go at the course. Of course, I had wanted to race this race pretty well rested up, rather than having 200+ loaded miles on my legs for the week, but watchagonnado, Mr. Car-Free Lifestyle?

A little slower than last year, much more wind, for sure. But felt great, nonetheless.

Sunday, May 18, 2014, Salida - Shavano Trailhead, 14.4 miles, 2,777 feet (Strava)

Much like last year, after the race, I high-tailed it to the Shavano Trailhead to camp and hike up Shavano the next day. The Angel was in, I had a few more days to use before I needed to get back, and it's like, right there. No contest.  This is also the first part of Salida's Vapor Trail Race, a 125 mile CX mountain bike race, that starts at 10:00pm. Awesome race, and for me sadly, I barely made it to the finish, having what seemed be some sort of activity-educed asthma. Not cool. Still, a great, great course - almost a Colorado Trail Race, lite, but you get to start/finish at the same point. 


Week total on my feet: 0
Week total on the bike: 368.9 miles, 33,526 feet

Not to state the obvious, but this was a huge week on my bike, especially since everything, except the race was done loaded down for touring. Happy it went so smoothly, as I haven't ridden my bike as much as I historically do. Seems like running was a good enough supplement for the lack of riding. Happy to sleeping in the dirt again. Lots more of that to be done, this season.