Saturday, December 6

Put up or ?

Pancakes and omelet done, hot cocoa done, bag packed, time to roll. I'm headed for Long's Peak with Bill Wright and company. Guess we'll see how I do today, anticipation is great.

Our camera situation sucks so I'm not sure there will be pictures. Bah. Maybe I can return the target camera that is not working. I didn't drop it or spill on it this time!

12/4 Training:
Bike 8 miles

12/5 Training:
Bike 48 miles
Hike 3 miles with Turbo, boots no pack

Funny Stuff:
Badass of the Week

Wednesday, December 3

Let it snow!

First bigger snow fall of the year at least in Denver, Pugsley is probably giggling. This photo is from Thursday morning and it's supposed to keep snowing all day. In fact I already dug out my winter tights, hard to believe it's taken until 12/4 to use them this year. I don't even know where my booties are? Usually they're continually lying in the shoe pile by this point. I hear those up north are getting a few inches more than us too. Alright time to stop listening to fox's techno and go ride.
Wonder if I'll shovel the driveway in these later? Wonder if I'll get to use them for real this weekend? Oh man this picture is now making me laugh...who knows why?
12/3 Training:
Run 5 miles with Turbo, Tempo pace
Bike 16 miles, form and drills

Tuesday, December 2


Is it human nature or a sickness, to want to be challenged, to want to attempt things you aren't sure you can do? Is it a product of our easy life in modern society, where dinner is now in the fridge, not a uncertain hunt for wild game? I suppose I can't answer those types of questions easily but that unknown factor is certainly what drives my passion.

This past weekend I stood at 13,600 feet on Mt.Elbert. I looked a few hundred feet below me and saw a friend wave their poles at me, the other two no longer even in sight though the blowing snow. I knew instantly what they wanted, probably what 99.9% of the population would want in those conditions. It had been so peaceful below treeline, ha. And I'm sure I sighed in resignation, so close to the summit, probably 30 or less minutes if I ran. But I choose to come with a group, a safety net or convenient excuse maybe, but also a commitment worth honoring. Go as a group, stay a group. The cold wind was blowing consistently above 40mph with frequent gusts around 70mph. Snow was blowing all around me and I couldn't even stand up at times without my poles. I saw the others get blown to the ground a few times. But I was warm, strong and moving fast even above 13,000 feet. My gear was perfect and despite carrying a heavy training backpack the hike felt like nothing. Before I relented and ran down the mountain I turned to face the wind head on. It felt good to raise my arms and scream into it's endless power. It felt powerful to stand there taking it full on with no problem, my gear and fitness dialed perfectly through experience, from prior failure.

So what next? Further and higher? Yes that is good but it primarily tests my endurance which I know is there. It also tests a genetic predisposition to higher altitudes which at some unknown level may shut me down. So if not more then what? Technical challenge and commitment I guess.

Some people probably don't understand the desire to keep increasing the difficulty. They ask, fairly I suppose, where does it end? Does it end when you die on something so difficult you can't complete it? I guess that's possible, I don't really fear death, but I definitely don't seek it out. I am grateful to be alive. I love my wife and my family and my doggie and each trip I desire to come back to them safe and sound.

Not long ago I made a solo day trip to attempt Solo Flight, the 4th class route on Lone Eagle peak deep within the Indian Peaks Wilderness. Lone Eagle is the peak pictured above. I left pre dawn and hiked fast. More than 5 miles in, coming down the west side of Pawnee Pass I faced deep unbroken snow in the dark. I hurried on mile after mile to the base of my climb. When I got there, I made a stupid mistake and didn't read my notes. I hiked up verglass covered 3rd class rock and grassy slopes until my gut told me the view ahead seemed wrong. I stopped and read my notes, quickly realizing I could not see Triangle Lake and was on the very wrong side of the mountain. By the time I safely descended back to Crater Lake, I was out of time. Sure it was still early but there was no way I was going to get up and down Lone Eagle by my turn around time. So I tucked tail, ate some food and hiked out. I did get to enjoy a beautiful peaceful lunch sitting on the shore of Lake Isabelle and a beautiful wilderness area all day. Is a 23 mile and 6000+ foot day a failure or a spark that keeps passion burning bright? I'm pretty sure it's the latter and I must follow wherever it leads me.

12/2 Training:
Hike 4 miles with Turbo, 40lbs pack and supersuitboots
Ride 18 miles, SS w/ tall gearing
Climbing gym 3 hours (onsight all =<5.10's, onsight one 5.11, worked/floundered on a few other 5.11's)

Good Stoke:
Canada's The Wild Thing goes free at M7 WI5 depending on your definition of mixed being free

Monday, December 1

Winter training begins

After a couple lazy months of no structure, I'm getting back into some regular planned activities. My main goal over the winter is to work on biking speed and power while rounding out my general physical fitness and spending a good amount of time doing endurance work that is not solely bike based. My next big trips are still yet to be determined but hopefully a good mix of cycling, hiking and mountaineering. I'd love to do some ultra running trips but my knees aren't quite ready to run over a couple hours yet so long foot trips will remain primarily hikes for now.

12/1 Training:
Run - 3 miles with Turbo, moderate pace, rolling off road terrain
Pullups - 2x5 narrow, 2x5 wide
Situps - 5x10
Pushups - 5x10
Bike - 16 miles on the SS, hard urban (stop light, stop sign, etc) determined efforts

Sunday, November 23

Little Victories

It's been about 3 months since I got back into climbing again with only about a month of anything even remotely resembling serious attention. Lately darkness, cold weather and lack of any other "bum" partners has led me to being a twice a week gym rat. I've climbed up to 5.11- and been really solid in the 5.10's but hey, it's the gym on top rope, so I can't put any serious weight behind that. This weekend the weather was finally warm enough to climb outside so after debating attempting the first flatiron (easy but long), Marni felt better about trying some single pitch routes instead.
This afternoon saw us hike into the Amphitheater from Chautauqua with a few old routes and some new ones on the agenda. I am rocking the new UGH smiley on my helmet :)
Marni got to try out her new R1 hoody I snagged used off of BPL. Wifey likes hoody's.
We started off in the Amphitheater proper and I led a quick pitch to play with my new hex's and setup an anchor at the top of the west bench.
Then I popped down and Marni did a few laps to get used to climbing outside again.
Once she had done a few laps I headed back up to the top and belayed her up from the top anchor. It sure was a pretty day for climbing even if it was still a bit chilly.
I cleaned the anchor and we moved over to the third pinnacle. We'd climbed here before but I'd only top roped the 5.7 route "Trident" while Marni had climbed the 5.4 "Thin Crack."
Today I headed up Trident on lead and despite having no gear to protect the roof itself (I only have passive pro), I sent it easily and without falling. With the crux down I slotted another piece to Marni's happiness and sent the rest of the route. Another quick 3 piece top anchor with some bomber hexs and I lowered off for Marni's turn.
Me placing some gear above the roof.
Woohoo, go trad climbing. I'm much better at keeping my head cool now compared to when I first tried climbing as a college freshman. Marni got her first in person look at what trad leading really means today though. After I lowered off, Marni was bold and decided to try the same line. She's climbed a couple 5.9's in the gym so she must have felt brave and I knew she could do it. When she got to the roof, I think it was bigger than she thought! She kept going though and after one fall, she sent it on her second try. I climbed the line once more to clean the anchor and hiked around the back of the third pinnacle to get back to Marni.

The sun was going down and it was getting cold but I had one more line in mind. There is a line called the Red Wall that I tried years ago when I first started climbing and never made it to the first bolt. Apparently it was rated 5.10c but on Mountain Project it's downgraded to 10a. Nevertheless it would be my hardest outdoor lead by far.
The line has 4 bolts to the top anchors with the first bolt way off the ground. I climbed the start slotting a couple so-so nuts to protect an early ground fall. I clipped the first bolt and felt really excited and also pretty committed as I was now higher than I'd consider soloing. A few more moves and with my freezing right hand on a solid hold, I blew my feet. I called "falling!" and Marni caught me. Nice, first (recent) lead fall out of the way. Marni lowered me back to a solid stance and I tucked my hands under my armpits. They finally warmed back up and I ignored the flapper now adorning my right middle finger. I regained my highpoint and continued up. It was a long way to the next bolt but I made it and clipped quickly. Another bolt, then one more with Marni cheering me to the top. Finally the top anchors and a tiny ledge was in sight. Another good move brought me up and I clipped. Woohoo! I made it!
Marni took my picture while I was at a good stance and then she lowered me down to clean the line. She pulled the rope and we hiked out. My first 5.10 lead in the bag! Holy cow, I honestly wasn't expecting that.
It was fun to climb something for once I wasn't sure I could do and Marni rewarded me with a 0.75 BD Camalot at Neptunes. One piece at a time I'll get a trad rack.
We snagged some groceries and headed home. Riding on Saturday and some climbing on Sunday, that was a nice weekend.

Friday, November 14

Friday Reading

Fall is a time for reflection and I've been doing plenty. Where I've been, where I am, where I desire to go. Then how to get there is the next step.

Some interesting reading for the day. Don't forget, you are in control of you!

If you think you haven't yet done enough, and you could do more, you might begin to understand that, the more capable you become, the higher the mountain rises ahead of you.

Afternoon addition:
I also liked this article. Suffering has been my strength but I think I was a bit lacking in a few ways last year. Many areas improved but a few probably went backwards. I'll have to work on that.

"When a person trains once, nothing happens. When a person forces himself to do a thing a hundred or a thousand times, then he certainly has developed in more ways than physical. Is it raining? That doesn't matter. Am I tired? That doesn't matter, either. Then willpower will be no problem." - Emil Zatopek

Tuesday, November 11

White Rim this weekend

Thinking about a desert camping weekend with a little WRIAD on Saturday. Anyone that's interested, drop me a line to get the details. Denver people I can possibly help arrange transportation.

Monday, November 3

Kicking it into fall

To say I haven't been training lately would be a big fat lie. I have been, just not like normal or primarily on my bike. I've been running (starting to feel great finally), rock climbing, hiking and getting out on my bike when people or a particular ride strikes my fancy. But with winter approaching and Denver's lingering warm weather, I'm loathe to spend any time indoors or outdoor time on the same old rides. Soon enough, winter will limit my choices. Give them purpose or give me something new. So we were off to Fruita to ride with friends and enjoy the fall colors.Lots of time to goof around on jumps and work on technical skills. Something that I often neglect during those training binges where getting hurt from a fall is especially bad. Moore fun IS more fun and maybe I finally found a few people who will give it a repeat with me :)Plenty of time to hang around the campsite at night and take part in bike toss and barrel racing debauchery and a few beers.Did I mention we were having fun jumping demo 29ers? In light of this and other recent experiments, it appears I will have a 29er of my own to test out during the winter.But since we can't stay in Fruita all week, we had to return home. Never fear, there is plenty to do near our house. Like climb the 3rd Flatiron which I've done a few times recently.Once with wifey.
Once with Josh.And another time with (another) Dave. I didn't want to neglect the big mountains either so Marni and I climbed La Plata with the pup. Turbo loves the snow as much as ever and so do I. I'm still getting my cold bones for the year though, they became quite fond of t-shirts and shorts weather this summer. Time to buckle down and get my Polish side ready for rides below freezing, snow groveling and brutal winds. None of that however on this day.14,336 feet above sea level with my sweetie! Numero 16 as a couple and numero 14 for Turbo. Plus KNITWEAR (for mom) ;)A little careful off roading with the Element. I really can't ask for a better single car for an active, outdoor Colorado couple. Mountain mobile, hotel, bike hauler, almost 30mpg if I'm nice to it and Honda reliability.And when you're sweetie is at work, a little 103 mile day ride to Rollins Pass (11.6k), is a good substitute for company.If all that makes you tired or you get the sniffles, you can always curl up in bed and get plenty of more stoke reading these. (I need issue 17 plus 0-8 and 10-12 please...)Tomorrow's excitement...the ZOO with Marni's Kinders.

Friday, October 24

White Rim 2 day Gearlist

Okay I've had a bunch of requests for a gearlist, which for once was not preplanned in Excel. Yes I do make most of my gearlists in Excel because I'm a big dork. I'm going to try to post up what we brought, I might forget something since it's from memory. Feel free to ask questions.

Chris Clothing
Knee warmers
Smartwool socks
Smartwool lightweight long sleeve zip-t
Full finger gloves
Cycling Cap
Marmot Hooded Windshirt
Fleece Earband
Golite Rain knickers (home chopped)
Underwear to sleep in
Nunatak hooded down jacket

Marni Clothing
Shorts x 2
Knee warmers
Smartwool socks x 2
Montezuma lightweight long sleeve baselayer
Arm warmers
Cycling cap
Smartwool beanie
Golite Virga rain jacket
Golite Reed rain pants
Underwear to sleep in
Smartwool lightweight bottoms to sleep in
Montbell Alpine Light hooded down jacket

Black Diamond Firstlight w/ 4 stakes
Western Mountaineering Highlite (Marni)
Montbell Short inflatable pad (Marni)
Nunatak 3/4 quilt (Chris)
Cheapo blue foam torso pad (Chris)
1/8" Gossamer Gear Nightlight folded over to share for feet
Ultralight Esbit stove setup (BPL ti stove/pot stand, Sterno can pot, alum foil lid, ti windscreen, mini bic, DQ long handled spoon, Light my fire spork)
4 x 2.5L or 3L Platypus bladders (Marni carried hers, I carried 3 in pack/frame bag)
1 bike water bottle on Chris's bike
First aid and emergency fire kit (4oz)
Toothbrush and mini tooth paste
Smallest MSR packtowel
3 Butt'r packets
Sunscreen mini tube
4 Single use wet wipes
SPOT GPS tracker
Tiny Black Diamond LED headlamp

Nathan 759 (Chris)
Black Diamond Flash 9L (Marni)
Epic Designs frame bag (Chris)
Epic Designs seat bag (Chris)
Small sized compression sack on the handlebars (down items + tent poles + blue pad) (Chris)

Day snacks (apple, bars, candy, goldfish, powerchews,etc)
Lunch of turkey/ham sandwiches, pringles, candy
Dinner of mac and cheese (marni) or alfredo pasta (chris) brought chicken packet but it didn't appeal to us so we didn't open it
Snickers for desert and some pringles too I think
Breakfast of cheese danishes and hot chocolate
A few emergency electrolyte tabs
Vitamin I for Marni ;)

Monocog (Chris) w/ Stans tubeless
Trek Fuel EX7 WSD (Marni) w/ slime lite tubes
Ultra enduro toolkit (2xtubes,multitool,chainlube and rag,spare bolts,cleats,kevlar spoke, minipump,patch kit,spare disc pads) (Marni carried on bike)
GPS on both our handlebars for bike computer use (ETrex vista and Geko 301)

Also brought a camera and 2 spare rechargeable AA batteries (camera and ETrex) which we usually wore around our necks on a lanyard. Temperatures were probably mid to low 40s at the coldest, upper 70s at the warmest and no rain, very little clouds.

Alright I think that's everything but I'll try to update it if I remember anything else. Overall it all worked great as it's pretty close to my usual setup for the two of us. I ditched my rainjacket for a hooded windshirt and wool shirt combo because the forecast was clear and I was confident I could stay warm without it. Don't leave rain gear at home unless you're very confident in your abilities regarding keeping yourself warm. I made sure Marni had her full rain gear. The setup is not as light as one could go but plenty of food and lots of clothes to keep Marni comfy and warm. Plus I could spend all day everyday making and buying lighter gear but at some point you just take what you have and go use it outside.

I don't think I'd use a platypus in a frame bag again, maybe a dromadary with the tougher fabric. I was worried it would leak and I did put one pinhole in it at the end of day one. The firstlight is a great tent for two as long as you're under 6" tall and don't mind being close. Others might find it cramped but we like it a lot. It's pretty bomber too as we got lots of wind on our previous Koko trip and even with only 4 stakes and no guy outs it worked great. I'd bring 4 more stakes and some line if I expected really windy conditions. I'm still planning on experimenting with a Henry Shires Tarptent to lose some weight there but the firstlight serves many roles in our house so it's unlikely to go away. It's quick to setup, light for a freestanding and essentially bomber western USA tent and packs small being singlewall.

The Nathan pack rules for heavier pack weights and Marni said she liked the flash which I also used on the CTR. I have chopped the waistbelt off that one but not the Nathan. The Epic bags are awesome and I could never do a trip like this without them. The extra storage for soft goods and the tent(!) in the seatbag plus the large food storage of the frame bag is great. Then I can pack most of the heavy but dense water mostly on my back where it's safe. I also had some MP1 tablets with me for treating river water in an emergency.

Hope that helps some of you. A couples list is a bit trickier than a solo race list (easy don't bring anything, then leave more at home) but it's a lot more rewarding to do a trip like this with your sweetie!

Monday, October 20


The White Rim road and I have a somewhat twisted relationship. If a road had gender, I think this one must be female as there is no other way our history could be so dysfunctional. The first trip I ever took around the rim was a success despite a riding partner's hypothermia and subsequent emergency fire starting. Other trips have had beautiful weather while last years attempt by Marni and I to ride this together ended up with the Element teetering on a snow covered cliff, both of us working hard to keep it together and get out safely. We've even come close to death in a narrowly avoided huge tan cow/car collision. But this ride has a strange combination of beauty and a desolate feel that keeps me coming back and also wanting me to share that with my friends. It's both accessible and serious. And now after a year of trying and a few recent weeks of bad weather, I've gotten to share it with Marni.

Friday was a whirlwind day of packing. Last minute weather watching, calls to the Canyonlands visitor's center and route deliberation left me running around all day with no lunch. Finally with Turbo safely at doggy day care, last minute food procured and Marni picked up from work we both relaxed. The drive to Moab is familiar to both of us by this point and autopilot quickly took over with Marni pulling the big driving leg of I-70. We rolled in after dark and tried to sleep in the Hotelement. Marni snoozed all night while I tossed and turned, energized by the coming adventure and the bright moon reflecting off of everything.

Dawn came and we both downed some blueberry muffins before getting dressed and driving into Canyonlands NP. We stopped at the visitors center, packed up and said good bye to the Element for a couple days. Wanting to start at first light and make the best of the now shorter days offered us a brilliant view of the sunrise over the La Sals.
My Epic Designs seatbag and frame pack helped me haul all the food, water and gear we would need to ride self supported without my back wanting to kill me. Despite hauling ~10L of water on top of everything else, my pack was a reasonable ~18lbs which the Nathan 759 hauls pretty well.
Marni took my Black Diamond flash pack with her day supplies and we both sported the red knee warmers. ;)
Dropping into Shafer we got to see these guys. What a wonderful surprise and only the 2nd time I've ever seen them!
Marni was pretty excited to drop into the canyon and it never disappoints.
She's that little dot down below me as Shafer stretches out to the White Rim road.
It didn't take us long to reach Mussleman arch and it corresponded nicely with a snack break. Marni ventured out while I snapped some pictures.
Then we had a nice good morning arch hug shadow.
From here the road rolls up and down and through lots of gaps to unveil new terrain to the view. We had it all to ourselves as the supported touristas were still sleeping.
Even early on, the sense of scale began to sink in a bit but Marni was determined.
We kept rolling, stopping for snack breaks every hour and alternating camera person. Big views all around kept the miles rolling under our wheels.
Aerobunny does white rim.
It wasn't all smiles as Marni's knees were bothering her but she's a trooper and pushed on with some help from vitamin I. Any offer to turn back was quickly rejected.
I can't say I blame her. There are worse places to ride.
We rode in silence and we chatted. Adventures like this that push one person's boundaries so far are difficult. But for us, each one we come through makes us stronger and neither of us would have it any other way.
I loved getting to share one of my favorite big rides with my favorite person in the world.
Plus she was kicking butt!
The stretch of riding to Murphy's Hogback is tough. It climbs a bit and it seems mentally further than sections between previous landmarks but we were both still going strong.
Where we'd been.
Where we were going. Yes there is a road up the side of that. Well dirt and 4wd anyway!
The call of our lunch stop was strong and we both pushed up the hogback.
Now this is a nice lunch spot!
Tired but ready to fuel with sandwiches, Pringles and candy!
We chilled for a while and enjoyed the views and food. Before too long though the trail was calling as we had a ways to go still before dinner and camp.
At least this section gradually begins to give back all the elevation you gained up to Murphy's and it goes much more quickly.
It was hot as the shadows stretched out. We both played the water drinking police and stopped every 45 minutes for more snacks.
Shade was nice wherever we found it, even next to the Potato Bottom privy. Smiles motivated by M&Ms and mini Luna bars.
A little more riding and some sand kept bringing far away landmarks closer.
A little more climbing brought them closer still and to the last highpoint of the day.
A little descending brought our tired legs to camp as the shadows stretched out.
Now the ponies could rest and so could we.
I cooked up dinner and we ate Snickers for dessert. We readied our gear for the morning and marveled at the stars from our cozy tent. Sunset brought about bedtime and the end of a long but wonderful day.
Alarm clocks brought about Marni's least favorite time of day, morning. Somehow I coaxed my puffycoated friend out of her sleeping bag with cheese danishes and hot cocoa.
We ate and watched the sun rise all around us.
We reapplied our bike clothes and packed up camp to hit the road. Big weekend trips require a certain amount of haste to return before Monday AM.
We were rolling by the time it was light out and both a little stiff and sore. Butts and legs usually complain in the AM but a little pedaling and they remember their tasks.
A little sand riding...
and a little sand walking.
Picture to compliment our similar Kokopelli photo.
We both enjoyed this part along the river.
I think the beauty plus lack of climbing made for a nice warm up to the day.
Soon enough we arrived at the bottom of Mineral Bottom road. It was here we got stuck last year and Marni was eager to find the spot where the old Element met the canyon wall. I was just happy to make it to the top loaded with 2:1 gearing.
Yep we came up that.
Marni on top of the last big climb.
Of course after the switchbacks, there is still 13 miles and 1000 vertical feet of dirt rollers to reach the pavement.
The section is pretty but it gets a little long in the tooth at the end of the loop. My favorite is to do it first.
Nevertheless we popped out on the road eventually, stripped off our knee warmers and pointed our bikes down the final section of our ride.
9 miles of road led back to the visitor's center and our car.
Landshark says goodbye to the White Rim for now.
Marni says enough of the pavement already.
Give me danish! And Pringles! After 102 miles and 6000+ feet of climbing, I think she earned them.
We changed, threw the bikes in the car and pointed it down to Wendy's. 6 hours and a couple ice cream snickers later, we grabbed the pup and collapsed at home. White Rim mission accomplished!