2/3 – 2/9

Another week of searching for elevation gain, as the cold weather descended on the Front Range. The Boulder O.S.M.Ps were relatively vacated of any casual activity, as most people used common sense to realize that ascended even the modest peaks around town in temperatures well below freezing was not in their best interests. Of course, I am not most people.


 

Figuring out a usable clothing system to do my slow running/fast hiking/quick stumbling really wasn’t the issue: I have an amazing selection of wool garments from Icebreaker that seems to do me well. Running produces a ton of heat – and I produce a ton of heat just well being, so I’ve gone out with merely a wool under layer, a UL puffy vest and a freakin’ raincoat and have been fine.

Stopping while running has proved to be hilarious, as everything  instantly freezes up. My coat would sometimes just stay frozen, the bottom of which would become very rigid and that proceeded to dig into my hip and stomach, causing small scratches and cuts. Putting back anything on – say: a glove I’ve taken off, would remind me just how cold things really are. There’s not much comfort in placing something that’s frozen back on your body, in attempt to unfreeze it, and then have that soggy thing keep you warm. Best to just keep on keeping on. 

My biggest problems although were après la course: I don’t own a car, so I cycle from my house, to the park, and back. Once I’m done with a run, my clothes are wet from romping in the ice/snow/slush for hours on end, and I am sweaty. If I don’t plan ahead for the ride back, that all freezes up again – especially since the road from the park to my house is downhill and wet and I don’t have fenders. I’ve had to resort to basically bringing an entire change of clothes worthy of a mountaineering outing and changing in the bathroom. The hot air hand dryer blower thing has been akin to a minor god to me. Many a time has it warmed my frigid hands and dried out important items such as hats and gloves, as I offer it small bows and hand gestures similar to praying. 

Anyways, tons of fun.

No cycling really to speak of again this week: what’s sort of the point?, when the temp. is this cold, and the roads are this crappy? There’s nothing much funner than playing in the snow (and chasing your best up mountains) so that’s what I was up to this week.

3/4: Sobo, Bear, Green + Flagstaff

I’ve had the idea of doing a variation of the Boulder Skyline Traverse for a while. I’ve never  done some of the mountain peaks usually included: Flagstaff I’ve done only since last week, and Sanitas: not at all. Since I’m not car’ing it and I’m a total loser/loner, it also means I’ll be doing it as a loop, which means even more mileage. Anyways, testing out the route. Really, really cold today. Really.

3/5 – Green via 1st/2nd access, down Gregory Canyon

I probably had more planned today, but going was slow with all the snow, and I had a late start, working in the morning/afternoon. Decided to rest up for a day (or as it happens: two) and go for a, “really really long run – no foolin'” on Friday or Saturday.

3/8 – Boulder Skyline Traverse Loop

Rested up and got ‘er done on Saturday – not so bad! The only thing I really wimped out on is taking Fern Canyon to Bear Peak/Sobo, rather than Shadow Canyon, as it saved a few miles, and I’m not the biggest fan of running, if that makes sense. Still came out at 24 miles, which is a lot of ground to cover, and kind of an amazing route, as 99% is on trail.

I stopped “running” for all intents and purposes after Flagstaff – it was mostly power (or not so much) hiking from then on. The summit of Anemone seemed somewhat elusive, as it’s not really a summit at all! The ridgeline extends much farther NW (and away from the city of Boulder’s sight) and the, “summit” is, (I think?) to the E of where I kept wandering off. Sanitas was sort of unreal and worth doing a few more times. Once things dry out, I’ll be quite literally hanging out, as there’s bouldering opportunities all over the damn trail, from scrambling to, “I”ll never be able to do that!”. Always pleasantly surprised to see what incredible things are right under my  nose. There’s never going to be enough time to find it all.
 

Looking at my times, I started out pretty damn fast, given the conditions (snow!) of everything and then I just, you know, died. Which is fine. As mileage goes, 24 miles isn’t so much of a big deal. As elevation gain goes, 8,700 feet is a monster day.  As you see, it took most of my day. As things dry out and the trail gets faster (and I’m not like, post-holing for miles), I expect my times to get way better. I doubt I’ll ever be really all that fast of a runner – if I wanted to be, I’d, you know: run more and find more runnable routes, but that’s so not fun. I’m very happy at the elevation I can swallow up in one go.

Week total on my feet: 47.4 miles, 17,499 feet of elevation
Week total on the bike: 0.

So, the long day in the Boulder O.S.M.P was a go, and successful. For being a carless jerk, I’m expecting to be shut down from anything that’s not right outside my door for a while – which is fine for me: I’ve got plenty of amazing things to do right here and a lot of work to do, to save up for the impending summer. 

Got some good climbing in this week, too: my first 5.11 top rope, indoor, sports climb route finished in the last 16 years, with only a couple of a bobbles. Woo hoo. Of course, I pick the route that’s just filled with slopers. Sigh.

Don’t know what to expect from this week: maybe just try to hit as much elevation gain as possible, in silly-stupid ways, and await further opportunities to get into the high country.

I’m also fleshing out my “race” schedule for this summer. Expect Big Plans for late July – Rest of the Summer, but spring looks like this:

The Anti Epic and Dirty Double will be repeats from last year, both of which I did pretty well – 6th @ Anti Epic and 3rd @ Dirty Double.

When considering these times, take into account that I rode 100+ miles to get to the start of the Anti Epic the night before, on a single speed (then rode back to Denver right after the race!) and over 250 miles in a few days for the Dirty Double from Denver to Salida (via Loveland Pass/Hoosier Pass), hauling a trailer full of mountaineering gear. I’d love to know what I’m capable of in these races with fresh legs, but it’s probably not going to happen this year: I’ll be riding to most of the races again. I expect the races to be more stacked, as “gravel” racing gains in popularity and hacks like me get pushed to obscurity.

No idea how I’m getting to Durango – even for me, that’s quite a haul: around 400 miles one-way, probably more to do it in any sort of fun way (“fun” dependent on what passes are open),  but it’s near my birthday, so I may be hanging out a bit and “celebrating” it with an extended leave of absence: I believe the Chicago Basin is calling my name. We’ll see how accessible it is in the middle of April to mountaineering – no way am I paying for the train! So it’d be a long hike/ski in from Purgatory. Maybe the plan would be to fast-tour it, and send some gear to Durango, rest a day or two (work off the laptop?), race the race, drink some beers, and hike into the Chicago Basin, climb some mountains, hike out, and then figure out a way to get home. Who doesn’t love a challenge?!

The Mount Evans Hill Ascent is a road foot race, and would be my first road race ever. I’m planning to simply survive and no idea what sort of pace I can hold – 9:00 minute miles? I don’t do speed work, or any work on the road, so my only saving grace is that the 4,000-odd elevation gain from 10,000 to 14,000 feet will be barely noticeable to me, and since my anaerobic capacity should be incredible, I shouldn’t have too much trouble in pissing off some much fitter people, at least for a few miles. Maybe I’ll do it in a costume – Italian Alpini anyone?

I’ll most likely make it yet another excuse to hang out in the area for the week before, hike around, get in trouble, boulder about and see how fun it is to camp at the summit with a questionable amount of beat up gear. Come race day, I’ll probably wake up from sleeping on the summit, ride my bike down to Echo Lake, line up for the start, race the race going much-too-fast much-too-early, make it on my coattails, grab my summit bag, put on some clothes/eat some food, and traverse to Bierstadt via the Sawtooth (and then back!) and run back down to Echo Lake via the Chicago Lakes trail to the lodge, where I’ll eat all the food catered for the racers and figure out somewhere the collapse for the day. Sounds like heaven.

Anyways, to make all that “realistic”, I got some hills to walk,


1/26 – 2/2

Rest week! My legs were telling me it was time to finish up the training block and give the body a nice rest, so I listened. I also had a fairly important band practice and a big show to play on Saturday, so to keep myself sane, it’s good to not attempt to try to do too many different fun things at the same time. Try to fit too many things in, and you’ll most likely miss a few things you had planned to do, and that’ll make you feel less than ideal. You’ll just basically suffer mentally for it. Instead, I hung up the running shoes and focused on the band and with working. I’ve big plans for this summer, and those need to be paid for, somehow!

So, only one day of fairly easy running for me, and about three visits to the rock gym, as well as my usual 10-ish miles riding bikes all over town (ahem: “active recovery”). Top roped up an actual route indoors for the first time in, let’s say: 15 years, which is terrifying to type, but I do think it’s true. I’m using the same exact shoes I was using as a teenager. They’re in need of finally being replaced.

I took the top rope session pretty easy, finishing every route I started on, without a fall and topping out one or two 5.10a’s, which isn’t spectacular or surprising, but makes me feel pretty happy. Bouldering is going well – able to finish up V3 problems – again not newsworthy, but gives me a ton of confidence once I get out-of-doors again in a few months.

As a precocious youth, I was able to finish up a 5.11c top rope route with a good dash of sloppiness, and that seems to be something that’s within sight again.  If I wasn’t spending 20+ hours/week running I’d say, “give me a month”, but since I’m predisposed with excelling at something quite different, I’ll be happy to make some slow progress for the next few months and work more at the mental aspect of it all, which is what I really like.

1/1 – Group run up Flagstaff/Green


Another easy group run for me. Doing Stuff with other People isn’t something that comes easy for me – I’d much rather be alone, which may not be the most positive thing in the world, so when I’m on group anythings, I’m usually working on sharing the experience. To extroverts, that may sound really weird but – work on weaknesses, you know?

I also wanted to learn the routes up Flagstaff (which I’ve never run up, before) and was happy to be shared the route from the group organizer. It’s actually a pretty nice, runnable route up.

Week total on my feet: 9.7 miles, 3,260 feet of elevation
Week total on the bike: 0

Next week’s goals may be just a long run in the O.S.M.P., tagging multiple peaks. The weather is going to be fairly questionable, so hitting up higher peaks may be kinda dangerous b/c of avy conditions. If that’s not an issue, I may try for S -> N Arapahoe Traverse, getting to Ned. by bike via something like Magnolia (steep!)  but it’s not a planned thing. Perhaps a multi-day trip out to Breckenridge to do some slippery sliding on planks is in the cards?


1/20 – 1/26

Another beautiful week, with suspiciously similar mileage as last week.

1/21/14 – Freeway on the 2nd Flatiron x4


I’ve been bouldering a bit as of lately, but I finally hurt myself by doing too much, too quickly. So, still wanting to climb, but not feel as if I’m ripping the tendons out of my bicep, I made my way to the 2nd, to do four laps via Freeway. Stoked I’m now literally able to run up the route, getting my best time at ~ 11:31. The first time I did the route, I was pretty terrified of basically peeling off, and falling to my untimely death, but I’ve since chilled out about it all.

Some snow/ice on the start of the route, which made keeping my shoes nice and dry difficult. Learned my lesson on the second lap – managed to skitter down a good 30 feet, somewhat uncontrollably. No damage done, just a little embarrassing because of the hiker passing me. Anyways, I love this route and all the variations. Can’t wait till the route is again dry to try to beat my best time, once again.

1/21/14 – Bear Peak


After my day of doing laps on the 2nd, I met up with a few people to do Bear Peak at night: I almost never run with anyone else, and I haven’t actually done an ascent of one of the Boulder skyline peaks at night. Both were pretty damn fun. The energy I burned off from earlier that day, made it a lot easier to not act like the rabid dog I usually am on a run. Really icy on the route.

1/23 – Green, Bear, Sobo


What I remember of this day was the descent down Shadow Canyon basically twisted my ankle about a half dozen times. The late start didn’t afford me to do more this day – I wanted to bag Sobo, Bear and Green again, after descending shadow, but it did afford me some amazing light to view almost everything around me. Just felt really special.

1/26  – Longs Peak attempt.

With last weeks proof of concept of riding to the Longs Peak TH and then ascending a mountain a complete success, I rested up to attempt Longs Peak itself, having procured myself a new ice axe, after losing mine last year on James Peak.
 
The wind, on the other hand, had other plans. The ride in went well enough – although I was quite battered from going both uphill and against the wind for 4 1/2 hours. I also managed to crack the rails of my well-loved, well-used and oft-abused saddle only two miles into the ride. That would usually turn back most everyone, as the thought of doing any distance without, you know: a saddle is unthinkable. “BAH!” I muttered to myself, on the side of the road – not even out of the city of Boulder. I rejiggered the saddle, so the cracked portion of the rails sat on the seatpost clamps, thus holding the rails where they needed to be. It moved my saddle about an inch+ forward, which my knees protested about, but… it worked! 

Once booting up the trail, it was quite obvious that the wind wasn’t going to let me get too far. I had hopes that I could get through it, but my thoughts went from, “Well, when one of the huge gusts come, I’ll just grab anything close by and hang on for dear life!” to “I can’t even make forward progress!” The wind was so great that I literally could not walk towards the Keyhole and I was shut down right before Granite Pass. The sky was filling with lenticular clouds shaped like airships and flying saucers. It was an incredible experience. 

Rocketed home, now with the help of the wind in < 2:00 hours from the Trailhead to the Bustop in Boulder at 19.2 mph, with a top speed of 50 mph. A nice consolation for missing the summit of Longs, yet again (fourth time?), as the canyon on the descent is quite beautiful.

Once I got home, I found out Bill Wright was also on the massif that same day, having started about 1 1/2 hours before me at the trail head and was able to summit via the Cables route with two buddies.  He reports on the wind as well. Wish I could have started that much earlier, but I already had woken up for the day at 2:30 am! Bill writes about it, here.

And with that, I think this was a successful week. I was feeling it on that hike up to Longs, though, so the next week may be a way easy week for my legs, while I just climb indoors (it also just snowed here about 3-5″). My legs are a bit grumpy and I’ve been losing quite a bit of weight, recently. I should also put in some more work-work in, so that I can purchase a new camera without it being on my conscious!

Week total on my feet: 36.1 miles, 14,310 feet of elevation  (steeper week!)
Week total on the bike: 92.1 miles, 8,174 feet of elevation (one day of riding! – same as last week)


1/13 – 1/19

1/13 – Up Green, via the back of the First. 


Total ice rink on the trail between the 1st and 2nd – not even joking. Would have been faster/saver to climb the 2nd itself.

1/15 – PR Attempt at Green Mountain via Bear Canyon/Green Bear – Success!

 

Working on the very arbitrary and tidy time of 45:00 from the Mesa Trail/Bear Canyon Trail Junction. Have to cut my time by ~2:30 to do that. We’ll see. The route is runnable for someone like me, who’s not much of a runner and I managed to keep running, till the very end, where it seemed power hiking and taking enormous steps was a faster way to go. Felt great on the run, a little peeved it wasn’t faster, but it was pretty damn fast enough, if I look at my historical times. My fitness in running, especially running up things is ripening. Not breaking any records when a course is flat – but that’s OK.

1/15 – Cragmore TH-ish to Eldorado State Park, to Eldorado Summit, to Getting Lost, to a long run home


I had some pretty high hopes for this day, and of course I got up about 4 hours too late too see them through – not that it stopped me from trying. Rode the bike to the TH on Leighigh, and ran Mesa to its southern terminus and then ran on an actual paved road to Eldorado State Park. My first time there – kind of an incredible place – too many things to take in, and it was an absolutely beautiful day. I had made a permit to hike Eldo Mt., starting from Rattlesnack Gultch, but the trail was closed – a big surprise.

Not to ruin my day, I decided it would be alright to go for the summit (had that permit, after all), if I just didn’t use the trail, so straight up I went! The first few hundred feet were some horribly loose choss, and I was sending rocks of large size down with every few meters I made. Finally reached a faint climbers trail, to a ridgeline, and thought, well, it’s climbing time and proceeded to go up the damn thing. This being my first time in Eldo, I didn’t quite understand the immensity of just, you know, free soloing one of the rock faces that sprout out of the area like weeds, in my minimal trail runners. Power hiking up steep choss, turned to scrambled, which turned to climbing with moves I couldn’t reverse pretty quickly – but somehow I gained the ridge – it was not a good idea, as the damage from the flood was pretty apparent: lots of loose chunky stuff everywhere. And everywhere it seemed I was on top it.

As luck would have it, I gained the exact ridge I was aiming for (Northeast), just was lower than I was planning to, and was able to cross the tracks on the ridge itself, while the tracks took a tunnel. Things were nice till the summit, as I could scramble what I wanted, and hiked when I didn’t. Just too many trees to grab things – I must have lost my hat a dozen times on a branch.

Summit was nice enough, but the radio towers and building next to it, sort of soured the mood, so time to go down. Plan was take the N. Ridge down, and – f-it, the closed trail down, as there was NO WAY I was going to reverse the way I went down. Suicide. I was pretty confident in my route finding, although feeling like I was actually on the North ridge never accrued and it was well into a gultch going way too far to the west where I realized I wasn’t anywhere near where I wanted to be. What to do.

Rather than what you’re supposed to, reverse your direction, I decided to climb out of a very steep gultch, up another steep, risky, loose cliff, basically, to gain another ridge, and figure out where I was. Where I was, was many drainages away from where I wanted to be. And this is why I practice climbing: I get myself into deep water like this. In reality, I was having an absolute hoot of a time, but really kids: this is how people spend very cold nights in the sticks after getting lost. Made my way east and ran into the closed trail. I took in the view and my next objective: Shirttail Peak, which someone says there’s a Class 3 way up from the Eldo Side of things, and a Class 2 way down into the Shadow Canyon side of things, but it was almost 4:00pm and unknown terrain – especially after my ordeal gaining the summit of Eldo, at night seemed a little – you know: risky. So I bailed on that, and ran the road back to the Mesa TH, and looked at the map to figure out a way back to my bike that didn’t involve 2,000+ feet of elevation gain. I was tired and I needed to get back to town.

Found one, and found the energy to kinda/sorta run it. Made it back in plenty of time to not be figuring out things in the dark, grab a slice, try some new rock shoes on, and support Brendan Leonard, as he was doing a slide show type deal for his new book, which you should all read, as it’s really great.

So, 18 miles later, a new mountain summited, many hilarious situations I got into myself in such a small amount of time: I’d say that was a pretty good day, in the semi-rad tradition of everyday mini epics.

1/18 Boulder to Longs Peak TH, Mount Lady Washington




The weather was SO nice, and I hadn’t been on a bike ride that was more than 5 miles for SO long, I thought that maybe I’d try, you know, to ride to the Longs Peak TH and see if I could maybe summit a mountain. There was a meetup group that was carpooling, and leaving at 6:00am near my house, but I thought: “naw”, and I just woke up an hour so earlier to bike there. The meetup group convoy passed me, while I was negotiating a steep section on HW-7, many miles from the Longs Peak TH, which is richly demoralizing. I think they got to the parking lot at around 7:00am – took me another 2 1/2 hours. Which: hey – that was actually kind of cool.  9:30 am, and I can start a hike. In Rocky Mountain National Park! leaving, from my house! By bike!

I brought  a 30L backpack filled with warm clothes – I was getting ready to be in the jet stream for a few hours, as is the usual situation on the Longs massif during the winter. This stopped me from really running the trail, but didn’t stop me from power hiking straight up to basically the summit of M.L.W., ignoring most every switchback. Turned out to be a most beautiful day – slight breeze, but that’s it. I was down to my base layers for most of the hike, cursing bringing like snow pants and an extra coat. Kinda happy I didn’t bring an axe an crampons.

Surprisingly enough, not as soon as I crested to the top, I met up with that same meetup group, taking their summit shot! I had caught up with them, simple by hiking up faster. That was crazy. I left at the same time as everyone, but bounded back down – it was only 12:30pm, but daylight is still pretty scarce, and I wanted to get home before dark. Made it back to the trail head in like, an hour. Again: crazy. Three hours later, I was back in downtown Denver. So unreal.

Week total on my feet: 41.8 miles, 14,829 feet of elevation
Week total on the bike: 88.9 miles, 7,668 feet of elevation (one day of riding!)

Did a few days inside Bouldering, as well. Fun times. Great week for sure – can’t wait to try Longs itself, w/approach by bike from Boulder. Slim chance the weather will hold, but what’s not life without hope?


Watch Mike’s Colorado Trail Race Video!

Mike DeBernardo and I started on the Denver end of the trail this year on the Colorado Trail Race. Funnily, we found ourselves as the only two people starting out on the Denver end of the trail this year for the Grand Départ – everyone else – almost 75 people!  decided to start off on the Durango things for no other reason than to change things up. 

What that did afford both of us, was to meet practically everyone coming the other way!

 Mike had the foresight to bring along a camera to snap some footage of his time on the trail, and do some micro interviews with all the heavily sleep-deprived racers (while also himself being in similar conditions!). He’s finished editing everything together, and it’s ready to watch, below: 

You may see me in a few shots – there’s def. a “no hands!” to, “0 mph crash” courtesy of Yours Truly. Good job, Mike!


Colorado Trail Race, 2013

I’ve reported a finishing time of, 7 days, 2 hours, 57 minutes and 58 seconds. Happy to have just finished; a day past what I guessed for myself and two day past what I had hoped from myself. Story to be expanded, as my fingers heal enough, to allow me to type. Until then, I think the, “Before”: 


ctr-start.jpg


and, “After” photos tell an interesting-enough story. 


ctr-finish.jpg

There’s a million people that helped out along the way to make something like this possible, but especially! especially, I’d like to thank all the wrenches and everyone else at Salvagetti, as well as Greg at Bolder Bikepacking for getting the bike and the gear ready for such a ride. Enjoy the beer hauled from Durango, fellas!



Star Crossed

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Took a little spin on the Colorado Trail – admittedly, the first “mountain” bike ride I’ve taken since around April – not that I haven’t been riding bikes, or riding bikes in mountains, but somehow it’s all completely different to some that it’s bikes on dirt, rather than pavement. To me: not so much. That happens when your primary mode of transportation is your bike. 

Plan was to start from Downtown Denver, to Waterton Canyon (the start of the CO trail, proper), all the way to Camp Hale, then N. onto HW 24, left on Tigwon Road, all the way to the trailhead for Mount of the Holy Cross, where I’d meet up with H., who would have gear to do the snowclimb right up the Cross Couloir. In two days. Well, less. 

Continue reading…


Seven Peaks, Five Days

6/12/13 – 6/17/13

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The trip’s itinerary was to hit up most all the 14ers in the path between Denver, CO and Alma, CO, taking the I-70 corridor to Breckenridge, and then HW 9 to Alma. Ambitious, as the routes picked weren’t the easiest, or shortest: Bierdtstat from the East Ridge, then over the Sawtooth to Evans, Torreys via Kelso Ridge – and then to Grays, Quandary via the West Ridge – and then a final  push to do Democrat, Lincoln, and Bross. All in five days – all ridden to on a bicycle.   

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Evans Egis Attempt

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It’s getting warmer and I’m getting a little more comfortable with this
sort of travel. This next trip is without trailer, or racks/panniers: as
close to ultralight as I can in this dual-mode type of trip (cycling
to, climbing from).

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Attempt #4, Longs Peak

narrows.jpgClimbed on 6/1/13

Mountains can be easy to climb, or they can be hard. It usually has nothing to do with the rock and snow found on them. Only sometimes.

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