3/3/14 – 3/9/14

Defending my rep. on the bike. 

Things are tough in the big city. Watch your back! 

This week sees me slowly getting back into riding a bike more than 5 miles at a time, as my next race is now in less than a month! And it’s 160 miles – I should at least, I dunno, try to finish it. It’s also been a week of stressful work demands I put on myself (as I am self-employed), so all the rides actually were after dark, and also just the same stretch of road. Not that the stretch ain’t good – basically living on a street with a nice hill climb is just another spoil of living in Boulder. Coupla times at the bouldering gym, but no roped climbing for me. Fingers hurt, but I’m getting ever so slowly better. Up to twelve pullups in a row! Woo.

3/4/2014 – Midnight Flagstaff Ride

 

I promised myself a ride after work and, “after work” just happened to be at 10:00 pm (big work day!). It also happened to be snowing fairly heavily once I was free. I thought it about for just a little bit but decided to go for the ride – a promise is a promise! Roads were snowy enough to make it hard to get a purchase on the road in some places. Got the police called on me while going up, although when they finally came to check things out, they were pretty cool about things. Brakes totally went out coming down. Replacing the pads the next day, I  found I had gone through the entire pad, and was braking using the bolt of the brake pad itself: metal on metal. Whoops. Terrifyingly cold by the time I got back home – my waterproof pants aren’t, and my actual good waterproof pants have gone missing, most likely they didn’t make the move.

3/6/2014 – Midnight Flagstaff Ride #2

Same ride as a few days before, and strangely, similarly the same time at night, but even more strangely the weather was so mild that I didn’t even have a coat on. Good time I guess getting up on my heavy bike carrying a load on some awkward legs that seem to have something still to ’em.

3/8/2014 – Green Mountain x3

My ridiculous idea for this run/slog was to see how many times I could summit Green Mountain, by as many different routes as possible (descending a cross country route).

Wanting this day to do some actual running (a rarity for me), I started up Gregory, a stiff route, but still mostly runnable. Made a nice time, given the conditions of a few inches of very quickly melting snow – happy with myself. Was chased by a group of much-faster runners than I, but somehow held them off. One dude had hiking sticks, how Euro. I’m sure the only reason they didn’t overtake me, is that they were waiting patiently for slower members of their group.

The next summit was via Green Bear, a much easier hill climb, but much longer, as you have to run three quarters around the damn hill to reach the summit. Legs were pretty tired as I tried to run as much as possible, but I promised to hike the next summit, which was via Saddle. Saddle is actually closed, but I wanted to check it out, as I’ve heard things like a, “15 foot impassable head wall” keeping the trail closed since the flood, and that’s pretty hard to believe.

The trail was closed exactly where I thought it would be, and the social trail workaround was about 50 feet before the major damage. Nice to be, I dunno, away from everyone. I don’t really suggest people make it too much of a habit of doing the trail (as I’ll try not as well), although I do hope I’m on the correct email lists, etc. to be notified come time when crews of volunteers can help out with rebuilding the trail. No idea where they are in the process, I’m sure there’s a lot to it (surveying, etc).

That was about all my legs could do, and the sun was setting, so I called it a day – was hoping for one more summit, but my legs were doing the buckling on themselves thing, so I called it quits. Got some tasty beer (good pain reliever!) at the Mosaic Cycles open house before NAHMBS and it was nice to be a little social and check out some pretty sweet bikes.

mosiac.jpg

3/9/2014 – Flagstaff

I had much loftier plans for Sunday – basically repeating the day before – but this time on Bear Peak, but my legs were laughing at me for that one, so I just decided to get a jump on the workweek and take another after work romp up Flagstaff, this time all the way till I hit dirt, which more than doubles your elevation gain, which is a nice thing. Traffic from dudes in jeeps yelling stupid shit at you is tiring, but a weird, bearded dude is an easy target for such abuse. Just another thing to practice keeping under control (my anger). 

A goal I’ve wanted to accomplish is to ride to the Longs Peak TH via a bike, and summit Longs Peak solo, and ride back, in one big push. In Winter. Yeah, it’s a lofty goal and full of complications. It takes me about 5 1/2 hours to ride 45 miles to the TH (the elevation total is around 4,000 feet gained – it’s a good bump!), which means to be realistic and as safe as possible, I have to leave very early in the morning, or even start the night before. 

My biggest threat is winter is almost over, which means my goal has a deadline, that I may not be able to meet. Until the next break in the weather, all my training is to essentially meet this goal, and to do it as fast as possible. Praying that the next coupla days gives me a good weather window to give it a go. If it’s not the wind, it’s now starting to be the precip. that’s falling on the massif – March is a very wet month in Colorado.

Looking forward to the more-near future, as the snow stabilizes much higher up, and the playground just up the hill (again) called The Indian Peaks opens up with all of its snow climbing goodness. To get the earliest starts to climbing, I’m guessing I’m going to ride up the night before, bivvy, and start the approach at sunup – most likely be back in town by early afternoon. I get goosebumps just thinking of all the fun to be had.

Week total on my feet: 17.2 miles, 8,032

feet

Week total on the bike: 51.6 miles, 6,836 feet


2/24 – 3/2

Ouch. 


Ouch.

Monday, 2/24/14 – Freeway + West Face

Tried out my new to me approach shoes: basically walkable shoes with sticky rubber on the soles that wears out really freakin’ quickly. Gave a somewhat wet and icy Freeway a shot in them. Somewhat terrifying, as anything that has ice, or really just wet is: Death. Shoes feel impossibly large, compared to climbing shoes, but they certainly are sticky. On friction climbs (like this) it’s almost a plus, as the surface area on the soles is so large, as you stick almost better than with rock shoes. Still, I found myself looking to stick my feet in little pockets and such and finding that that was a little impossible. “Smear” is the word for this shoes. Rounded out the morning with a summit of the West Face of the 2nd, which is rate I think around 5.0, and that’s for like a move or two. It’s a good 100 foot fall if you don’t stick it, but still…

Went to the climbing gym that same night, to climb plastic things indoors. Embarrassed to say, I felt the morning’s pursuits, which is somewhat a surprise. Freeway is like, an 800 foot route, but I’m pretty sure it’s been done no-hands before, and when you do use your hands (except for the first, say, pitch), it’s in a pushing off motion, rather than a pulling into motion.

Friday, 2/28/14 – Freeway x3 + Green

After a ridiculous (on paper) rest of three whole days, I finally got back outside again. I guess my excuse is, I bought a new laptop, and I gotta be on top of work, since these things don’t pay for themselves. Wednesday was another day in the gym, where I was able to send a few 5.11’s, without falling, for whatever that’s worth.

Thursday was such a beautiful day, which I totally was frustrated for missing, but so it goes. 

Friday, I visited The Spot to Boulder in the morning, doing nothing at all spectacular, and not nailing the project I had been working on. The final move is the crux for me, and trying to pull it just feels like I’m going to hurt myself. Sigh.

Friday afternoon, I lapped Freeway 3x, w/one summit up the West Face, then made my way up Green Mountain, for a quick summit, before night fell, which, gladly, is getting harder to do, as the days are getting longer. Finally figured out the right switchback to leave the trail, to begin Baker’s Way on the First, but wasn’t able to talk myself into trying it. The first pitch is the crux at a pedestrian 5.4, but a fall isn’t 30 feet and broken ankles, it’s 30 feet, broken ankles, and then sliding down the East face of the 1st for another 400 feet. Intimidating. Didn’t think it was a good idea w/tired arms. Also the reason I only summited the 2nd only once, as well.

Again tried out the sticky approach shoes and felt a lot better with them this time. My first time up Freeway, I decided not to traverse to the right as is the natural feeling to do, but rather, just kept going straight up. I thought I may just bump into  Dodge Block route, but I couldn’t find the sneak across the bottom of the Pullman Car, but rather found myself on the right side of a deep gully, doing moves that were a little over my comfort level. Holds get scarce, fast on these faces and you’re left kind of hoping that whatever you’re smearing keeps on doing what it’s doing. So very awkward. After a bit of reconning and getting myself in more and more trouble, I escaped by traversed up out of the gully and to the right, and back on route of Freeway. I guess the lesson to learn is that “bumping into” climbing routes is probably not the best way go about discovering things.

Sunday, 3/2/14 – Green, Bear, Sobo, Sobo, Bear Green

Missed doing anything on Saturday, as it was very uninspiring weather outside (snowing!) and I felt grumpy, so I just made the day a workday, as I basically took Friday off to run and jump and play, and the piper needs to be paid.

Sunday I didn’t feel very inspired or in the best of shape, as this week seemed to have been basically a wash, but got up at 7:00am to find really cold temps and more snow falling, so back to sleep for a few more hours. Still cold at 9:00am, but it wasn’t snowing, so I suited up for what looked like a day in the high mountains, but was in reality just my gear to ride a bike for 4 1/2 miles. I brought a princely amount of clothes just for the outing itself, I wanted a long day and didn’t want to freeze to death. Temps were in the single digits at this point.

Started up Green, but after a 1,000 feet or so of elevation, it started to get warm – really warm. I had to strip down to just one baselayer (I started with two, and a skin-tight top, and took off my wool hat, that I would constantly drop throughout the day. The clouds abated, and it was actually sunny! Strangest thing. After Green, I ran down, this time without even a shirt on (Spring can’t come soon enough), until I was very, very cold again. Clouds had come back and everything was covered in snow. Got back to the Mesa Trail and up Bear via Fern. Once again, as I ascended, it become much warmer – we’re talking 20-30 degrees difference! An amazing inversion layer for sure.

Tagged Sobo and down Shadow all the way down again to the Mesa Trail. At the trail junction, I traced my steps back up Shadow to tag Sobo once again. That made it three peaks tagged, while starting at the Mesa Trail – def. summits by far means, rather than simply taking the ridgeline and hopping between saddles. I can’t remember the last time I’ve done that, or if I’ve done that, but I wasn’t done with the day, so I did the quick trip to tag Bear, and then off to  Green. The plan I had aspired to do early that day, scheming as I do during my bike ride up to Chautauqua, was to tag Green/Bear/Sobo, and then reverse the entire route.

My mental state was fatiguing, and giving me a definite, “no”, and my legs were certainly agreeing with that, so what can you do: Instead of going down Fern, I took Bear Canyon down from Bear, and then up to Green via Green/Bear. That cut at least 1,000 feet of elevation and probably many miles. My body was faulting (finally) going up Green, and somewhat uncharacteristically these day, I had to stop my relentless forward movement and, I dunno, catch my breath or something, before finishing up to the top. The descent down from the summit of Green was nice, as it always is, knowing I didn’t have to climb up anything.

Felt so-so the entire day, and not so fast at all. Part of that was because I was schlepping so much gear: along with the 80 ounces of water, I had on/off two base layers, a  stretchy top layer, a bottom base layer and running tights, gloves, a puffy vest, a raincoat, a hat, phone, camera, a ton of food, a head torch, microspikes and my GPS. My God, I’ve done the entire Colorado Trail with less.

The periodically mild conditions were completely unexpected. Running starts to get a little questionable, at that point of gear-schlepping, but maybe Milo was onto something. Looking forward, with most likely half of Boulder, for Spring to come and having the trails filled with pretty girls and bearded dudes without shirts on. Probably one half for the other half and vice-versa.


Longs Peak, from Green

Green, and Bear, from Sobo


The Matron


Eldo from Sobo

Not a bad sight to end a day with


Ouch. 

Week total on my feet: 29.4 miles, 14,381

feet

Week total on the bike: 0.

I think this week I really outdid myself with the idea that it’s better to go up then out, not even breaking 30 miles of ground covered, but almost hitting three miles of elevation gained.

Other than Sunday, this week was almost a wash and I almost wrote it off as such, but it turned out alright. If I was intelligent with my running (which I stubbornly won’t be), I might actually find value in running some more distance, but oh, do I hate running distance. This was also one of my slowest weeks, but again: Sunday was long and slow from all the gear I brought and the other days had a ton of scrambling on fairly tame routes. Three days climbing, plus scrambling out of doors is really the unsung triumph of my week. The other silent monster is the problem any enthusiast have: how to fit the time to do it all. Surprisingly, I didn’t find myself out after dark on the trails. My guess is that I’ll find myself out once or twice next week doing just that.

I’m also getting very restless to get out and like, ride a bike, but again, if I’m going to ride, it’s going to be up and down things, and the conditions of the roads are so poor with the snow that will not stop falling. One of the reasons, other than my dislike of well, the running aspect of, “Trail Running” is that running up steep stuff is so similar to the biomechanical act of pedaling a bike, that I feel like I’m not losing absolutely all my hard-earned bike form. We’ll see about that theory, as my bike racing calendar is quickly approaching, and I’ve got maybe 200 miles on the bike for the year.

Another frustrating thing I gambled on, and lost was an attempt to ride out to RMNP and at least attempt Longs. The weather report would just be excruciatingly the same, no matter what day I checked. The short range forecast would be deteriorating, the long range, say 5 days out, would be a good enough window – sort of. The current conditions would be absolutely phenomenal, but those current conditions weren’t what was being forecast. The next day it would almost the same forecast, just with one more day ticked off. Entirely impossible to plan.

longs_peak_forecast.jpgSo next week? Try again for RMNP and just be flexible with my goals. May just have to relegate myself to being stuck in Boulder until even after April 1st. It’s fine and dandy with me, as I’m getting seriously strong just going up and down these mountains in front of me, while getting sort of proficient in climbing up things at the gym.

Did some basic bike maintenance on my bike this week as well – replaced my saddle which had now two cracked rails and was getting a little more than uncomfortable to ride. Still have to put on new brake pads, as I can’t really stop all that well, but the drivetrain now has gears that can be shifted into and out of! The current rig is quite the spectacle, with a 10 speed front ring, 9 speed chain, 8 speed rear cassette, 7 speed front derailer and 6 speed downtube shifters. Fantastically, it all works. The rear cassette low gear is now 30t, replacing my 26t, which I’m very much excited about.


2/17 – 2/23


Terribly strange resemblance

1/17 – Arvada

Started the week with a flat run, as I was still in the ‘burbs. Eyed the lone hill from my run the day before and thought, “There’s really no way anyone else should have a faster time than me on this thing”, so I made up a segment, and went for it. Surprise, surprise, I now own that segment. Somewhat embarrassingly, I beat up a commuter cyclist up the hill, and then once the hillclimb was over, I really needed to find a bathroom, as the Mongolian BBQ from the day before did not want to play nice with me, anymore. Ahh, running, who doesn’t love this most wonderful pastime?

1/19 – Green

Thankfully, back at it in the Boulder OSMP, with a run up/down Green. I probably had more planned for today, but got a somewhat late start.

1/20 – Bear/Sobo

Talk about late starts – this one started at almost 7:00pm. What was going to be a run at around 2:00pm, after working a bit, transformed to, “I don’t wanna run at all!” to, “Well, just on the roads near the house” to, “screw all that, we’ll run whenever, wherever!” – so, I battled the winds to get up to Leghigh as the last rays of daylight faded away and made my way to Shadow Canyon to summit Sobo and Bear. The wind up there was incredible, and I found myself unnaturally afraid that I was going to be killed by a tree blown down by the wind. Sounds silly, but the evidence of micro bursts doing just that were everywhere. Everytime I slipped and turned my ankle (I’m clumsy), I thought, “Well, this is it!” Tons of fun.

1/22 – Green/Bear/Sobo

Ran up Green, then back to Mesa, then up Bear via Fern. Fern was a slippery trail of Doom, so my initial plan of going down Fern, to continue S. on Mesa to Shadow Canyon and then up to Sobo (and then back down Fern) were quickly scratched, and I opted to just go up Fern once (instead of going up once, and down twice), and take my chances going down Shadow. Shadow was almost without ice at all, so it was a good call, even though I missed out on some elevation/mileage. Started out the day actually slow, and had a ton of pep to make the slog from the end of Shadow, back to Chautauqua, without any problems.

The scene in the park on Saturday is sort of a shit-show of a Lot of People doing Questionable Things. I can’t wait for summer. I’m one to talk with the whole, Questionable Things, but usually I only do it once and learn my lesson, but I’m very curious how one goes up an icy, treacherous trail without any sort of traction for their feet and think, “Well, I’m sure going down will be better/faster/easier/safer!” I’m falling on my ass with all the help I can get. The bummer thing about being silly this way is that the trails get cut left and right, which is contributing badly to the erosion of the trails. Bear after the saddle on Fern is about 4x as wide as it should be (and I remember it being, way back when), and it ain’t gonna get any better.

All and all, a fairly OK week, one road run, and 3 pretty good trail runs, a coupla times bouldering.  Friday’s session left me pretty destroyed and tired, so we’ll see how two days away will make me, as I get up to Movement to work on my amazing toproping skillz.

For the next week, I’m holding out that I’ll get some sort of weather window to develop where the wind isn’t at hurricane speeds and/or the avalanche forecast isn’t, “just stay at home, dude”. Wed. looked to be that day, but waiting a little while longer seems to be the way to go. Need to tune up/replace almost everything on my bike because running is sort of getting boring and I’m not too fast. If the snow stops falling, I’ll try doing some more flatiron scrambles. 

Week total on my feet: 41.4 miles, 12,845 feet of elevation
Week total on the bike: 0


2/10 – 2/16

A fairly mellow week – the Skyline Traverse from last week sort of took quite a bit out of me. I was also out of town for the last three days (brought my running and rocks shoes!).

Hoped to get into the mountains, but the weather (winds!) kept me out. Just as well. Always nice to get a little break. Good times climbing on fake plastic rocks indoors: Another few 5.11’s clumsily topped out on, some good intermediate bouldering problems uh… also topped out on, shaky-like.

1/10 – Green


Thought I could “recover” from doing the Boulder Skyline Traverse by “hiking” this route, with a 45 Liter pack with all the gear I needed for the rest of the day, so I didn’t need to make a trip home after hiking for working and climbing. That turned out to be somewhat a lot of gear to porter around…

I stashed my pack around the Sunset Flatirons, as I – well, had to get back to the big ol’ city to work, before making the summit, and I wanted to make the summit sometime that morning. My hope was that I could just fly down back, but my legs proved to not want to do that.  Bumped into the first person on this cross country route above the 1st ever. Nice to exchange pleasantries.

1/16 – road run


Hung out this weekend in Arvada with friends that are akin to family for me. I had a very overdue art project to work on, and just generally wanted to  hang out. My friend’s not feeling all too well (but, looks like they’re pulling through!) Really remarkable people, who’ve let me stay with them for longer than I really should have. Don’t know how I’ll ever repay them, even after getting this art project for them is completed! First: lemme finish the art. Sigh.

Slightly underwhelming in performance run for me on the flats. Calves were pretty sore afterwards, as pavement and concrete are usually not the types of things I trot on.  No real idea why I thought minimal shoes were a good idea to bring. Eyed a nice 10% grade on a hill going south on Lowell, decided that the next day (Monday), I’d give it hell. I guess, well: stay tuned.

Week total on my feet: 14.2 miles, 3,047 feet of elevation
Week total on the bike: 0.

Pretty “weak” week in general, but it’s no big deal, as these numbers lie. I’m not counting general cycling around, or – like this week: general riding around with a large pack w/40lbs of gear. I’m also not counting some leisurely hikes in the mountains, as that would be weird to record. 3x at the climbing gym is good stuff. I’m really happy at how I’m progressing.

Next week, I think I’ll kick some f’n ass. Tomorrow (wed) I’ll try to break 45:00 going up Bear Canyon to Green Bear, to the summit of Green. Got a few minutes to shave off, let’s see if conditions will favor my attempt. Love to get up high, but the winds are have continued to be as brutal as the avalanche conditions. Gotta get some work done on the ol’ bike to make it through the winter. Dreams of fancy new bikes for the summer…


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!