Thursday, December 17

Hurray for Ouray!

Been planning and hoping this trip would work out ankle wise for a while. Since the snow bike isn't here yet and the ice is in, I'm road tripping with Aaron and some other climbers down to Ouray, Colorado this weekend to play around in the ice park. Should be an awesome time! I'll be back Sunday and hopefully next week the hubs will arrive. They're on the way :) Frame should be following close behind.

Wednesday, December 16


What a wild ten weeks it's been. From a crazy self rescue to not knowing how bad I hurt my ankle to wondering if I made the right call for healing to pushing just how far and fast I could do my PT. I always felt like I was healing and doing the right thing but never having been hurt like this before, there were a lot of question marks. I got a lot of warnings and advice from friends and even random people and I appreciate and did listen to every single thing. But in the end I had to make choices based on intuition and what my body told me and so far it seems like I've done an okay job.

Today the doc (who is meh) and PA (who is excellent) cleared me for normal activity, including biking off road and climbing, with a caveat to give high impact things like running a bit more time. The bones have healed well and I'm not having floating body pain or any pain at all beyond soreness from pushing ankle back to it's normal range of motion and strength. The PT (who is also excellent) worked on my joint mobility again today and we've got a couple more sessions scheduled already. The strength is coming back well and it is sure nice to have. The range of motion is really good except in one area where I'm still a little ways away from perfect. My limp should go away once I fix that last area. I'm certainly not at 100% and it may be months before I get all the way there, but I'm confident now that I'm going to make a full recovery and be good as new at some point in the not too distant future. That's a big, huge, gigantic, amazing relief.

And I guess I just felt like I should shave off the goatee. It was a fun experiment but it's never fully grown in (up close it's a little patchy) and it's probably more trouble than I'm willing to put up with. Back to the baby face, back to firing hard!

Monday, December 14


Yesterday Brett and I wrapped up his year long project of a century every month of the year. Nice job Brett! He's less than 200 miles away from his other goal of 7,000 miles on the year as well.

I got my 12 in 12 last year and was on track to repeat until the injury knocked out October and November. A couple weeks ago I made a half-hearted attempted at getting November but a pretty sore tendon and knowing I missed October had me bailing at mile 80. Yesterday I had a goal to help Brett finish off his project and despite an okay forecast, we got tossed around pretty good by a stiff wind and colder than expected temperatures. Impending snow over our intended route had us turn back early leaving some route improv at the end. Just past mile 50 we hit the gas station for a bathroom break and Brett handed me a king size Butterfinger when I walked out. Those 500 calories helped strengthen my resolve and we put the Hump and the Wall behind us without any drama, added some bonus climbing and did a couple laps around the lake to finish off the century. Beer and wings were our reward and we earned it.

I'm a lot stronger than 2 weeks ago but Brett is a machine. He pulled into the wind 99% of the day and I'd have never done the full 100 without his help and that Butterfinger. Guess that's what friends are for, thanks!

Sunday, December 13


Someone thinks I have a lesson to learn repeatedly out of this injury. Thursday and Friday were good days but not great. Some lingering soreness in the arch of my foot was bothering me and I was wondering if I finally would stop progressing. Nope, not the case. Saturday I felt better from some rest and after baby doc stuff in the morning and a delicious breakfast at Root Down, Marni and I came back to the house. She napped and I did my PT and finally managed the elusive one legged calf raise! It has felt so funny not to be able to do that. Then on my bike ride I made it up one of my test piece hills in a great, normal time and even finally was able to ride over small obstacles and pop my rear wheel behind me accordingly. Sweet! I might be able to ride some singletrack soon.

I know I haven't talked much about the fertility stuff on here but I've really got my fingers crossed this month more than ever. Last month my numbers were down a lot from normal and the only explanation we could come up with was the injury. I was really hoping everything would be normal again this month and instead it was almost 4x higher than my best ever and off the charts good. Everything on Marni's end looks perfect too and I just can't believe it won't work this month.

All we want for Christmas...

Wednesday, December 9

Chilly Backyard Campout

It may seem silly to sleep outside when you're paying (a lot) to heat a nice warm house...where your wife and dog are sleeping in bed. But here in the foothills we honestly don't get that many nights where temperatures dip below zero, much less into the negative double digits. Heck that's probably happened less than 5 times since I've lived here. So while "real" camping it is not, sleeping in the yard at least is helping my body continue to develop it's cold adaptations without wasting gas driving to the mountains. Plus hopefully I'll be a little smoother with the whole system by the time my Fatback is ready. Not to mention it was a good excuse to sleep in my new pyramid tarp!
Temps were just at zero when I went out after 9pm and they dropped to a low of -11.7F by dawn. I spent much of the night not quite zipped up all the way in my -25 bag and skimpy sleeping pad but by morning I zipped'er to the hilt and snuggled down in way too many dollars worth of awesome down warmth.
Time to get up and start the day! I didn't sleep in the DAS parka but it was nice pillow. Marni stole it to wear to work this morning :) Temps are going to start warming up slowly now and I'm not sure we'll see negatives again down here in Westminster for a while but if we do I'll be sleeping outside. Got to get ready for Minnesota and Alaska!

And in unrelated news, I'll be darned if my ankle isn't slowly, slightly getting less swollen!

Tuesday, December 8


Quite the cold snap we've had this December in the Front Range! PT and cycling have been indoor activities with a very specific focus lately, especially since my fat bike frame has yet to arrive. That doesn't mean that I'm confined to the house though. The last campout got postponed to tonight when it was going to be colder and the hex tent has been staked for a while now, weathering the snowfall and wind like a champ. After Saturday's killer ride with Brett more snow moved in and we took to the trails on foot instead. RMNP was our original goal but terrible roads and a bad "fun to drive" ratio found us in Boulder instead. Might as well go scouting for ice lines right?Brett had only been here once before in the summer we we climbed the 3rd Flatiron but I think he still had a good time following footsteps in the snow for a few hours.
The sun even came out at times. There is ephemeral ice in the Flatirons and if there was ever a time that it's coming in, now is it. Hoping to find a way up at least one route before it all disappears but that will take some luck.
Yesterday Aaron and I went in search of some fat ice despite our lack of screws (errrggg) and made our way up to Mt.Lincoln and the falls. The ice was blue and fat. I hobbled my way up the hill, a bit less confidently than usual, but I made it. Aaron was a good sport for going out with the cripple. We eventually got a sweet top rope setup on the upper falls and lapped the heck out of it. My first lap I had cold fingers so bad from over gripping! Luckily a bunch of laps helped me remember my technique and the climbing was far easier than the approach. Aaron topping out a harder variation (WI4).
Me coming up the main vertical section (WI3). Hard to believe it was warmer up here at almost 12k feet than at my house. Other than swapping the belay jacket we never needed any other tricks to stay warm and I was wearing a cap1 base layer and a softshell.
When I got home Marni and I hung out and admired out sweet Christmas tree...
While playing with the next size larger boots I ordered. I think these guys will work this time. I guess they're a little large since they're basically a full double boot.
Yup I can pedal in them, now time to make the inserts.
Before you go to bed you've got to lay out everything to dry. It won't be long until you get to do it all over again.

Saturday, December 5

Another busy day

Today Brett pulled me around for a few hours and we managed 55 miles and a couple thousand feet of climbing on ice and snow splattered bike paths and roads. Temps were in the 30's but the sun was shining and it was plenty warm, even hot at times. I felt a heck of a lot better and stronger than just a week ago and I could still walk when I finished, a nice improvement. There is still a ways to go to get to 100% but I've just got to keep progressing. Tomorrow is supposed to be cold (high 12degF @ 5400 ft and colder up higher) and snowy so some snowshoeing is on the potential agenda. Otherwise I'll hit the trainer to keep the biking muscles on task. Then tomorrow night is another camp out.

My PT appointment on Friday at Kaiser went pretty well. They taught me a couple new stretches and gave me some stronger therabands for the ones I'm already doing. I got to ask them a lot of questions which is always helpful and we talked quite a bit about the swelling I'm still seeing and will likely be seeing for a while. They massaged and stretched the ankle out a bit more than I dare on my own. Afterwords they did some electrode therapy thing on my ankle while icing it to try to help with the swelling and hopefully that makes a difference. I've got more appointments scheduled for the next two weeks plus my hopefully last set of xrays and ortho checkup on the 16th. In the meantime I'll keep doing my PT and everything else that doesn't hurt the ankle. Too bad those ice packs are going to be my friends for quite a while longer, even when the bone is healed. It's pretty funny to have very lousy fine motor skills in my left ankle while my right is perfectly normal.

In exciting news, Marni and I got our Christmas tree tonight. We didn't get one last year and it's going to be a lot of fun to have a real tree again this year. Tomorrow we'll get it all decorated with our awesome ornaments and angel!

Friday, December 4

Fatbike Friday!

Just a quick Fatbike Friday post that I forgot to publish. Soooo much cool stuff coming, sadly none of it is here yet. Arrrg. Oh well. Sleeping out went well, a low of -3 deg F. No pictures because I forgot to bring out the camera. Luckily it's supposed to be cold and snowy on Sunday so I'm planning another one. This time it will be inside my new pyramid tarp (Golite shangri la 3) that I picked up at the sale for $67! Temps are once again predicted to drop below zero and maybe up to 6" of new snow will fall. If I can pick up my stove tomorrow I'll be playing with that too. I've used white gas once or twice but never owned a white gas stove myself. Should be fun and testing hot chocolate is always a good time. :)

And for on going "will it freeze" testing?

Reece's Big Cup - Awesome! Hard but thin chocolate shell and soft insides. Soooo good.
Caramello - Fail. I thought the runny caramel would work but it was way to hard for my wussy jaws. The chocolate was hard and it was not easy to chew and the squares were too big to suck on. Darn, I really like those things after the Tour Divide
Hostess Chocolate Chip Mini Muffins - Success! The chocolate chips are a little hard but they're tiny and the muffin part is delicious. Bonus for bite sized-ness. I foresee packing these into a big ziplock for ride and resupply food. Hopefully I can find a sale as they come in tiny packs.

Thursday, December 3


Things have been going well with recovery but it's not all roses every day. After hitting PT and working out hard for a couple days in a row my body demands some rest. I oblige but mentally it's tough since I'm used to stacking days easily. With the Arrowhead and Iditarod plus ice climbing season coming regardless of what I do, I want to be ready! Still I can't be ready if I'm injured so I continue to listen closely to my bodies desires. It's a fine line to be sure but to be where I'm at after only 8 weeks on a very bad break I'm pleased.

Yesterday was a big breakthrough day at least. In the AM I was able to increase my reps on all my PT exercises and finally was able to stand on one foot! By the evening I could balance for over 30 seconds. Some ROM stuff is still impeding totally normal walking, especially down stairs and up hills, so I'm hoping "real" PT tomorrow will help with that. I've ditched the cane however and the calf strength is coming back more and more every day.
Yesterday afternoon, the snow was falling lightly and I headed out for a few hours of riding and systems testing (15 deg temps, light winds and clouds) My Fatback isn't here yet so I took the Selma. Nanos aren't bad snow tires as long as we're only talking a few inches and the ride was awesome. It's so easy to forget the fun of snow biking at the initial cold snap every year but 20 minutes into the ride I was grinning from ear to ear and loving the slow churn of snow biking speeds (ha!). I was even able to clean every hill with careful SS weight distribution and my increasing left leg power. The PT has really been strengthening my ankle support muscles and now my left foot isn't greasing to the outside when standing up.
The gearing was 32x20 and that was great at 6-7 mph average unloaded. I'm thinking the 30x20 or 30x22 is going to end up the sweet spot on the loaded Fatbike but we'll see when it gets here and I load it down. I'm stoked for it to arrive and then my new Epic Designs bags and maybe a Larry up front! The RU Outside boots arrived but I decided the 13's weren't quite big enough so I sent them right back to swap for the 14's. I'll post pictures when they "rearrive" next week and I get started on the clipless inserts.
Clothing is still a question mark. I know I can stay warm, the key is just doing it with a nice combination of pieces that adapt to temps from 40 F to -40 F. I've lost all my post Divide food monster weight and it will take an extra layer at times to keep my body warm now. Of course that will also get better with cold adaptation but I'm not there yet for this winter. For the first time in 10 years I'll be playing with different layers on my legs though my top layers are fairly dialed (base, R1 hoody, LS jersey, softshell, puffy) minus playing with a few styles and fabric weights. I'm curious if the goatee is worth anything in the warmth department or if I should just shave it and not worry about the ice beard factor.
I also tested food for another Fatbike Friday post and that part was awesome too! :) Today I'm filling out applications and writing from bed while my ankle ices and rests. The swelling, while not painful at all, is still pervasive and mentally disconcerting at the least so I'm trying to keep it under control.

Tonight the low is supposed to be close to a record and in the -2F range so I'll be bivying on the deck or in a secret spot to test more gear. I might have to get the walkie talkies out again so Marni can check to make sure I'm still alive all night, haha.

Monday, November 30

Early AM

Four am and I'm wide awake. Try to roll over for half an hour and give up, why fight it? I'm certainly not lacking rest. My wonderful wife loves her sleep and holidays are all about catching up for her so I've been getting plenty of zzz's. It's a good thing too, sleep helps the healing. So I made a cup of tea, started a killer breakfast and sat down at the good old iBook.

Yesterday was a pretty darn good day. Lots of sleep, some great breakfast and a few hours of climbing in the gym with Marni feeling really strong and really solid on all the 5.10's. I've been doing my PT exercises with the theraband a few times a day since Friday (thanks Jenn!) and by last night I could actually do them all, at least briefly (ie stand on one leg). My walk still has a good hitch to it since I'm not yet able and strong enough to roll through the ball of my foot properly but it's improving with the exercises and I'm psyched about that. It will be good to leave the cane behind, if only so I don't have to hear "my grandpa has that same cane from the little children." The ankle itself feels really really good and once I fix the messed up bio-mechanics I feel like I might actually be closer to normal than not.

Last night I snuck in a bit over an hour on the singlespeed at dusk. Marni had lots of reading to do so I chased the dropping sun before procuring dinner and making desert muffins. The ride was really magical not to be too cheesy. Before I was even a half mile from home, doing a quick lap around the gravel path, I saw two beautiful coyotes. On several different occasions hawks watched and followed me as I made my way to the dog park, all the way to the back and around the singletrack loop for the first time. The sky was far too clear to be the day the weather men predicted and the alpenglow on the Front Range was well worth the rapidly falling temperatures. My ankle continued to show riding improvement and while it's weak still, I'm happy it just keeps getting better. As dark settled in fully I flipped on my headlamp, made a mental note to get the booties out of the closet and spun home. Just the freedom of being able to ride my bike outside again makes a huge difference.

Saturday, November 28

Fatbike Friday: The great boot conundrum

Sorry for the delay Brian! I managed five and half hours on the road bike yesterday thanks to Brett and Erik towing me around, followed immediately by driving up to the hospital to find my wife and wait for my new nephew Walt Berry. Congrats Betsy and Scott! That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it. However I think the boot problem is a good one so here is my current, excessively researched and currently in motion plan...
Winter boots for racing the Iditarod Trail Invitational (yes my name is finally on the start list!) are an easy proposition so long as you meet two conditions. Either A) you give you your clipless pedal system and switch to flats and/or B) you have feet smaller than a size 10 US.

I have solidly size 12 flippers and find clipless pedals to be a great advantage to me. Crap, now what? Over the past few years I've debated what to do about this problem, making due in Colorado down to -5F or so with extra socks and a vapor barrier system. However there was no chance in hell I was comfortable with this system much below 0 deg F making it a total non starter for going to Alaska or the Arrowhead 135.

Others have had a lot of solutions and MTBR is a wealth of information for those willing to do the digging. MikeC has posted his solution but with feet much smaller than mine, basing my solution off Lake Winter boots seems impossible. Last year I ordered a size 48 boot just to try and while they still come in a 50 wide, there was no way even that was going to be big enough for my ideal system. Others have glued on overboots, tried large SPD sandals with various liners, ordered some really neat Shimano shoes from overseas but none of those solutions hit the "right on" button for me. I've even called cobblers, sole companies and custom cycling shoe makers in a search for something that could meet the vision in my head.

So what is my ideal solution? If I could have just what I wanted, what would it be? Now take this all with a grain of salt as I haven't slogged it out yet in super cold conditions but experience so far with different events has taught me that my research goes a long way towards being prepared. My ideal boot is one that fits me foot, with a large enough toe box for good wiggle and swelling room without an exceptionally sloppy heal. It needs to have a certain amount of insulation built into the shoe, ideally with an inner boot or liner of some sort, namely an Intuition style closed cell foam or pacboot liner. I want the shoe to be functionally waterproof as much as possible. In the summer I feel the waterproofing is detrimental but in the winter I'll be using a vapor barrier foot system and with stepping into overflow at any time a real possibility, I want maximum protection without the weight and bulk of an overboot. I know the overboot system has fans but with coming across overflow or breaking through the ice a real possibility, I want protection all the time regardless of my notice. A built in or added on full time gaiter is important as it will tie into my pants system to provide a large degree of liquid water protection for short term exposure. A sturdy rubber sole for walking traction and lug blocks with enough width to support screw installation is also key. Field serviceable parts, ie shoelaces, are a nice bonus when compared to the BOA system which works well but does wear out/break. Inexpensive (custom cycling shoes run upwards of $1000/pair) and publicly available parts are a nice bonus too. And finally, I want this system to work with SPD style, two hole clipless pedals.

So how was I going to get this ideal boot to happen as it's certainly not something on the market right now? Good question. I started out by making sure I had all the pieces of the system that I knew I was going to use or a decent approximation of them. Most important was the VB insulated sock and pacboot liners mentioned previously on the blog. With these on my foot providing appropriate foot room, sizing charts measured me out somewhere near a size 52 wide cycling shoe. In a 52 there were only a couple options available, namely Sidi and Shimano. The Sidi's come in a MEGA/wide width but their sole is not conducive to walking and the plastic would take complete removal and replacement with a rubber sole to be serviceable. The Shimano shoes seemed plausible but after seeing them in person there were several aspects of the design that made them less appealing, namely the rachet buckles, the low cut and short height toe box. If you're an glue and overboot person they might work for those of you with a size 12 shoe or less (Shimano m086 ~$100).

With cycling shoes all but eliminated I was onto winter boots. I tried on several options at REI, checked out the race reports from past years and finally settled on some boots used last year by one of the Petervary crew, Tracey. Now after some good info from T-race and a quick visit to RU Outside I've now got some winter boots on the way. They look like they've got a great sole, they lace up for great control, they're waterproof with a built in gaiter and they have both internal shoe insulation plus a removable pacboot liner. Plus they had my guesstimated winter size (13) and one size up (14) in stock and on sale. Now there is one relatively giant problem with these, they're not clipless. What? Are you going flat pedals? Nope not without a big old fight.

After some emails and an offer of help from a local orthotics company and fellow cyclist, I'm going the conversion route. The internet is full of some ghetto and not so ghetto approaches to converting regular shoes to clipless duty. The key as I see it is to make a well fitting stiff insert that approximates the shoe's last to mount the cleat to. This will provide stiffness for pedaling but primarily provide a solid place to mount the cleat to with Shimano's SPD plates or t-nuts. The goals of the insert are to be as minimally conductive as possible, ie minimal metal use, to be stiff enough to reduce excessive fatigue to the mounting points, both pedaling and insertion/removal from the pedals, to be thin enough to not excessively add to the height of the sole reducing toe box room and fit the last of the winter boot closely enough that it can be solidly and permanently anchored to the boot. Doing this all in a reliable and professional manner is a tall order but I'm sure it can be done after dissecting all the cycling shoes in the house. With a bit of carbon fiber and epoxy, some expert help and careful retrofit work, I think a good and potentially universal solution can be figured out. More to come after the boots arrive this coming week and I sit down with my partner on this project.

Monday, November 23


Today is 7 weeks post avalanche and at least I'm getting somewhere. Tomorrow I have another doctors appointment and some more x-rays. Baring disaster I'm expecting the docs will start allowing me to do all the things I've been doing anyway the past two weeks, giving me free reign to keep turning the screws on myself. I really do value the doctor's opinion but I've got to balance their conservativeness with how well I can read my own body. I'm also hopeful they'll prescribe some PT so that I can get some help getting my range of motion and strength back in my ankle/calf. While my riding has been coming along, the ROM thing has been a major show stopper on walking correctly which means any significant walking at all. No walking means no hiking and that's a bummer. I can live with no running for a while longer but no hiking sucks big time since I can't get up into the mountains.

At least for the past two weeks I've been able to start working on my fitness. Walking in the boot, plenty of core work, some controlled rock climbing indoors and a healthy amount of the indoor trainer has actually brought me a long way in two weeks. I've done a few two hour rides and on Friday I managed a solid three hour trainer effort after walking home from Starbucks again (with the boot). Yesterday Marni and I went out for my first outdoor ride since I can finally unclip (very carefully) with my left foot. Much to both of our surprises I made it a solid two hours of pavement, bike paths, dirt and even a little snow riding in a few places. It took quite a while to warm up and my strength imbalance was more pronounced outdoors but it was still really nice to finally know I can get outside and also at least get around town to go to the post office, grocery store, bank, etc without the car.
Sorry last week's Fatbike Friday post got skipped. I was surpremely beat after my workouts and then spent most of Saturday out of the house with Marni. I'll have a good one this Friday and they should gradually keep getting better. My footwear strategy has come down to two options and I am close to making a decison. Goodies are on the way from Speedway cycles, a super sweet pair of Hadley 135/165mm hubs to be built into my 100mm rims for the Fatback. An unfortunate delay has the frame itself still awaiting my delivery but I should have all the parts here with low temp grease installed and ready to be hung on the frame as soon as it arrives. And by that time hopefully I can walk which means actual snow biking can take place.

So that's the basic rundown of how I'm doing. I've got a long way to go but at least I'm still seeing incremental gains and there has been a lot of progress in the past two weeks. Crossing my fingers for continued good news tomorrow and if so the ponies will keep getting dirty!

Thursday, November 19

Flying Wonder Dog

Poor Turbo, he must wonder why all the fun stopped so quickly. With me injured and Marni extra busy picking up the slack, his runs, walks and bally chasing adventures came to an abrupt halt. We've been trying to get better lately now that I'm more mobile and today I got him out for a good romp. He loves playing in the snow, pure joy. I rarely attempt to "correct" pictures from my little cheap Cannon digital camera but I liked this shot enough to give it a shot. I'm not much at photo taking or editing but if you click the bigger version I feel like it at least conveys the mood of Turbo and the waning afternoon, almost winter sunshine.
I lagged far behind the flying ball of fluff, walking and hobbling my way carefully to one of our spots. He wanted to go all around the loop to the dirt jumps but I sadly didn't have it in me yet. Instead I made it to one of the closer spots and sat there, snowballs in each hand, training any way I'm still able.
For the first time I'm walking with the cane outside in normal shoes. It's not pretty but there is only one way to get stronger. One step at a time, one day at a time. It does sure beat lying in bed.
newest member of the cane patrol

Wednesday, November 18

Keep fighting

Today was hard. I'm a bit sore and lacking motivation after my Monday and Tuesday physical beat down and a week in general of working hard at recovery. I knew the inevitable "step back" day would come and that helped me accept it but you always hope that somehow you'll just stop having them. The most exciting part of the day was getting my borrowed cane and hopefully starting to leave the crutches behind. Luckily I have Marni who encouraged me to a little active recovery spin which highlighted just how much I've gained in the ankle flexibility department in a week. Tomorrow is a self scheduled rest day with an option for easy climbing with Aaron in the evening.

Now time to get that ankle above my heart, close my eyes and let those healing hormones do their job.

(In actual bike news, my Sorrel PAC boot liners showed up today. I have a shoe they potentially fit in that's already clipless too. We'll see how that goes once I get my hands on said shoe.)

Tuesday, November 17

Exciting socks?

Always on the lookout for a good deal, a couple pairs of RBH Designs socks popped up on Backpacking Light forums in my size for more than half off retail. They arrived yesterday, fit nicely and at least look warm since Marni wants some to wear around the house. I've played with VB footwear before using plastic bags and the GoLite silnylon VB socks but these things seem right up my alley. They're a 3 layer laminated sock which eliminates some of the "multiple sock feel" that I hate in most people's winter footwear systems. More footwear items showing up soon and hopefully I can make a nicely working system with this stuff.

Recovery is still going well. I've been sleeping a lot lately, abnormal for me. I'm not sure if it's the increase in physical activity or the fact that I hardly slept for the first month of my injury but I'll just roll with it. Sleepy time is healing time. Today was a fairly easy ride and this evening Aaron and I are going climbing again at the BRC. Amazingly, climbing with my injured ankle in my mountaineering boot was excellent for my range of motion. I keep making strides towards bending it enough to walk in regular shoes. That is going to be a great day!

Monday, November 16


Sunset over the Sawatch Range descending into Salida, Colorado - Tour Divide 2009
Pictures of me riding the trainer aren't very exciting or interesting so I'm going to pop a few Tour Divide pictures in until there is something remotely interesting to post up. Today was another excellent ride, two solid hours on the trainer with some actual hard efforts. Yesterday's workouts really kicked my butt despite keeping the ride short and easy but they seemed to gain me a bit of new flexibility today which left me turning the screws on the bike a bit more. Walking is still laughable but it's improved over yesterday. I'm grateful for the past four years of riding as it's taught me a lot about reading my body. I'm pushing fairly hard but so far able to walk the line below any significant pain and I'm taking zero pain relievers.

Icing and elevation time has been spent researching and thinking about the remainder of my necessary winter gear. Footwear is the primary concern right now as I've been gathering most of the rest of the gear for several years. I am going to go a different direction with my stove, switching to white gas instead of Esbit or a canister so that will be a new learning experience too. Reading trail stories and Don's trail notes sure is motivating. It looks so beautiful and I'm thankful to have this carrot encouraging my rehab. Another good day down, just got to keep plugging away tomorrow.

Saturday, November 14

Pedal Therapy

Eating a cold hot pocket dinner in an outhouse, watching another rain storm pummel the trail, Tour Divide 2009

Riding this week has been amazing, even the first session measuring barely a few songs worth of time. Each day I've cautiously cranked up the trainer time and effort, looking for a place where my body or ankle would cry uncle. Today I rode for 2 hours and I ended the ride tired, a little saddle sore and sweating but amazingly my ankle never gave up. Tomorrow morning is the true test but each day I've woken up stiff as before but no worse for wear from the riding.

Sure it's an indoor trainer with only dreams of Alaska and crappy TV for company. Standing to pedal is still hard. I cannot unclip with my left foot and spinning much over 90rpms is still out of the question. But at least I can ride! And very shortly that means I can train again, getting stronger each day instead of weaker. When you've been laying in bed for 5 weeks, nothing sounds better than that.

Friday, November 13

Fat Bike Friday: Will it freeze???

Welcome to the first of my little series of Fat Bike Friday posts while I gear up for some fun winter riding and races this year. My first installment is called "Will it freeze?" and I put some tasty and random items in the freezer overnight for taste, texture and hardness testing. You've got to figure that everything on your bike, in your drop bags and sometimes even in your poggies will freeze. The big question is what's still edible and tasty? Let's see how the round one contestants did!

Contestant #1 is Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. One of my Tour Divide staples and something that Jill is also fond of lending it winter food cred, Reese's did very well in the freezer test. The chocolate hardened but the center stayed less than solid, warming up and becoming chewy quickly in my mouth. Taste was good with the chocolate slightly subdued and the texture was fine. Based on this information, it's possible that Reece's Big Cups might be the best choice when frozen. Further testing to come...

Contestant #2 is Peanut M&M's. Another Tour Divide favorite, the peanut M&M's fared exceptionally, tasting pretty much like a colder version of normal. They warmed super fast in my mouth and the limited chocolate content made them tasty but not hard to chew. 500 cals/king size pack and frequently on sale. Score!

Contestant #3 is butter. Yum good old butter. Now you non-winter sports people will think I'm crazy but hey I like butter and it's super high in calories per ounce. It's not pure fat with 20% water content but it's good in hot meals, rolled in brown sugar or just eaten straight up. How did it do in the freezer? It came out hard and I was worried but I bit off a chunk and it was great. Easy to slice or eat and just as delicious as normal.

Contestant #4 is summer sausage. I had high hopes for this one after reading some reports that it worked well. It came out of the freezer pretty hard and the bite test was a little discouraging. I sliced off a round and that worked better. It started out hard but quickly warmed up in my mouth and had a good taste and texture though not quite like normal. I think this one needs to be pre-sliced or cubed but it would be a great addition to a meal for fat and protein and salt and also a good "sugar cleansing" snack to help reset the palate when it goes into sweets overload. It's easy for me to OD on summer sausage but it might be a good drop bag item.

Contestant #5 was PB crackers. These little guys were a Tour Divide revelation and have made it into my regular rotation now. They're not a high volume item but they travel surprisingly well and make a great different snack from the normal stuff. The encourage hydration but are edible with minimal water too. How'd they do in the freezer? They were great! Pretty much indistinguishable from normal.

The Bonus Contestant was butter flavored Crisco. The Crisco was firm but still able to be squished and probably cut easily. The package I used for testing was not yet open so I didn't eat any. I may try an open package next time to try it raw and also drop a bit into a dehydrated meal. I'm skeptical but I like butter so maybe Crisco will work too? It is 20% more calorie dense, haha.

What other ideas do you guys have for the next round of "Will it freeze?" I'm thinking pure peanut butter, Poptarts, praline pecans, some sort of chocolate truffle ball, string cheese, Twix, a special non frozen but extra cal hot cocoa recipe I've been wondering about and the best ideas out of your suggestions. Leave a comment and I'll try them out!
In other news, new parts keep trickling into the house and once my frame arrives I'll give the rundown of my parts choices and post some pictures of the build up. Turbo is not amused that another really large bicycle is moving into the house but I sure am excited!

Waking up is hard to do

Every morning is the hardest part right now and today was no exception. The ankle is super stiff when I wake up and the normal feeling while sleeping evaporates instantly as soon as I try to put my feet on the ground.

But I'm so pumped right now. Last night I walked/hobbled very slowly and with the assistance of one crutch in bare feet for the first time. I didn't hurt which is the best part. This morning I got into the shower without resorting to kneeling on the ledge of the tub. Then I walked home a mile from Starbucks with one crutch and my boot and now I'm walking around the house in the boot doing chores without the crutch for the first time pretty comfortably. They're all tiny steps but so encouraging. On my walk home I really felt for the first time like I'm going to be okay eventually.

The Fatbike Friday post will be coming this afternoon and it's more fun but I just had to get this our there since I'm super happy right now. This roller coaster ride isn't over yet but I'll ride the highs when I can.

Thursday, November 12

Just a little more

Another trainer session today and still feeling really good. Hoping to hit a big milestone tomorrow but I won't jinx it quite yet. This evening I'm doing some heat and stretching on the tightest areas and then back to ice, Advil and elevate before bed. It feels so good to be doing something to get better and seeing improvements, even though they're small. Having my Ultrasport entry and check soon arriving in Alaska is really motivating. I think I'm going to print out some of the awesome pictures and hang them around the house for all those times I'm feeling down. I also ordered some boot liners today and talked for a bit with a cobbler. I'm determined to find a good solution to the winter clipless boot problem despite my size 12 stompers. Lots of ideas floating around and underway, we'll see which one actually works in real life.

Tomorrow will be the first Fatbike Friday post and I've got a fun little one planned!

Wednesday, November 11

Zoo Tired

Last night's post about taking the Kinders to the zoo got lost in dreamland. After "one crutching" around the zoo all morning and helping out in the classroom afterwords I was wiped out by 4pm. Marni and I made it home and into the house, a little dinner and both fell asleep in front of the TV somewhere around 7pm. I rallied to come upstairs and stayed awake a little longer but soon I was once again in dreamland preparing for another big day today.

This morning we were up early for another DR appointment and followed it up with breakfast at Snooze. I dropped Marni at home to nap and ran some errands including picking up my sweet new Speedway Fatback 135mm front fork from the post office. Then in the afternoon we watched some more of The Office with my foot up. By evening I was ready to give my first bike trainer session a shot. I felt surprisingly good after the big day yesterday but I was still pretty nervous. It seemed silly to don bike shorts for such a short session but I did it anyway.

I hobbled downstairs, put on my cycling shoes, clipped them in carefully and started to spin. I had the trainer set on really easy at first and it didn't feel too bad, if a bit choppy. I shifted up to the big ring and spun 60-80 rpms. My ankle was super stiff and I felt like my seat would have to go down. Thankfully it started to loosen up somewhat and by the time I hopped off I felt closer to normal. I can certainly put the power down on the pedals (relatively speaking) but it's going to take a little more ankle flexibility to do a longer ride yet. We'll see how everything feels tomorrow and if all is well I'll start inching up the trainer time each day. I can't believe I'm dreaming about watching movies in front of the trainer. Ha!
After I undid my shoes and hopped off the bike, no unclipping yet, I did my core work and a few sets of hangboard pullups. I have to admit, I'm pretty beat. Dinner, ice, elevation, a little vitamin I for me and then off to bed. I'm mostly encouraged but it's still a bit scary how stiff my ankle is. Just got to take the good with the bad and keep on working at it.

More to come and a special post on Friday to kick of some snow biking stoke!

Monday, November 9

One step at a time

So far so good. The bones are healing well and I'm cleared to start walking on the left leg with the boot on for protection. I can sleep and work on my range of motion stuff with the boot off. First I'll start with the crutches or a cane, increasing the weight on my left leg as pain dictates. So far the pain isn't an issue and I can do some walking unassisted though longer sessions like tomorrow's Kindergarten zoo trip will be crutch assisted just in case. After pressing them for a while on various details of what I can and can't do and more importantly why, she finally came back in the room one final time and pushed, pulled and prodded my ankle a bit more. I didn't wince once. Then she watched me walk on it. "You might be further along than we thought but give us two more weeks of healing and another set of x-rays." Not exactly what I wanted to hear but fair enough. She did say the boot would probably come off at that point which would be ideal.

The doctor was not in favor of cycling or other activities yet but the fears were mostly out of concern for a shock loading or crash on the still healing bones from what I could pry out of them. That I understand. More talks tomorrow with Jenn, the PT-inlaw, and I'll make a decision on starting to ride the trainer. Obviously crashing isn't a risk and the weight on the ankle is much less than walking unassisted but perhaps there is another medical point of view I'm missing. I don't want to make anything worse but I also don't want to sit around for 2 more weeks for unfounded paranoia. Even some low level enduro paced sessions would really help stem the loss of fitness too much further. Plus I'd be a lot less bored and it seems like it would help with my range of motion. You know you're bored when you're begging to be able to ride the trainer.

In other news I got to stab my wife in the butt with a needle!I'm not going to steal all her pictures but keep an eye out for her blog and Facebook for the details. That was a new one!

Sunday, November 8

The Score

Five weeks since the accident. Tomorrow we'll see how the bones are healing and I'm banking all my mental energy on good news. It's been quite a different month plus than I'm used to. Sure there was a little one legged shoveling of the two feet of snow.
But mostly hours and hours and hours of this. Well actually this was the good part. Usually it was me alone in bed with my foot up, drugged up and bored. I read and worked on as much as I could but the mental drain of the pain and unknowns ate at me quite a bit too.
The last few days I've tested the ankle just a bit with some indoor one legged rock and ice climbing. Nothing too crazy and no pain so far. At least getting out is good for the brain. Good thing because that helmet sure wasn't doing anything good for it.
Nor was this ice tool?? Haha. I might have Aaron do this to me if they give me 6 more weeks of terrible news.
I've lost an unscientific inch of muscle out of my left leg which is pretty weird. Turbo sure is ready to have his mobile daddy back and I'm ready to be back. At least I'll have more news tomorrow. I'm hoping the xray groundhog doesn't see any strange shadows...

Friday, November 6

Pulling Plastic

Yesterday was a good test day on the ankle. I cleaned the house and in the evening, Aaron took me down to the BRC to climb with him and a friend of his. I still put really limited weight on my ankle but I carefully tried out a few things to see how it felt. No pain last night or today so I'm pretty excited. I ended up climbing primarily one footed at the gym but luckily I could still top rope steep stuff up to about 5.10. The boot is worthless unless I can get the rubber bottom part on the holds and I didn't want to risk slipping off. If I have to wear it for a while longer I'll glue some sticky rubber to the front, otherwise hopefully I can just climb in my mountaineering boot which is much more stable and protective than my rock shoes while at least having some good rubber. I have a feeling it will be a little while until I can lead or boulder and risk a real fall but it felt good to use the muscles again and get pumped. I wasn't quite as terrible as I feared I would be. It was weird to be the center of attention climbing where I usually just fade right into the background.

Tonight we're headed down to Monument to hang out at a little indoor ice climbing competition and check out some new gear for this year. Good timing since the avy monster ate one of my BD Rages and I wanted to get some leashless tools anyway. Cobras are top on my list but I'm curious to see the Nomics as well and play with Aaron's Vipers. The new Fusions look sweet too but might be too mixed focused for me. The Ice Holdz guys are supposed to be there too which could be fun. I want to get some of those when I get the garage wall up.

Sort of lame blog I know but if I can get back into a regular writing groove then that's a good thing. I promise lots of bike stuff to come just as soon as I'm allowed to pedal for real. The trainer is already all setup and Marni and I will get the singlespeeds all cleaned up this weekend. Then hopefully in a few weeks the Fatback will arrive!

Thursday, November 5

Mojo Rising

After 5 weeks I'm feeling the end is in sight, the clouds are starting to break up. Just a few little tests have been super positive with no pain. I got to pedal a bike for a very short time, I put a little weight on the foot in the boot and I've been up all day moving my "office" back downstairs. I'm so sick of laying in bed and it's demotivating. I slept without the boot last night because it's just terribly uncomfortable and with Turbo banished from the bedroom until it's healed (sorry bud) it doesn't need protection at night. My range of motion sucks compared to normal but it's not as bad as my friend Scott's after his 6 weeks in a cast.

Tomorrow is Starbucks Date day, tomorrow night we're going to an indoor ice comp and gathering with my new partner Aaron and his wife and this weekend I'm going to get OUTSIDE! Then just cross your fingers for Marni and I as we both have scary DR appointments on Monday.

Okay time to get back to pumping Dr.Dre and cleaning the house. Oh and Jessie, Marni and I have a surprise for you! If anyone is bored tonight and wants to get me out of the house I wouldn't argue...Marni has class 'til 8:30.

P.S. Yeah NYY!! World Series Champs.

Wednesday, November 4

The Big Snow...Show?

I wrote this post last week when I first heard the news. Since then I've been on a bit of a mental roller coaster. On Monday I have my next appointment and x-rays and I'm really really hoping for good news. My mood has been improving this week the closer I get to the weekend because after 5 weeks spent more in bed than ever in my life, I have my first chance at getting back on my feet. Both of them. Even if (okay okay when) it's severely restricted activity I'll be really excited. While I've been down it's been the worst reported early season Colorado avalanche activity in a long time. There have already been 8 slides catching or nearly catching people. So glad I could start it off...NOT. Okay onto the original post...

I've been keeping busy the past couple weeks, well as busy as one can be when spending as many hours a day as possible with my ankle elevated in bed. Last night I slept until 5am and with a couple wake ups, managed to sleep in until 9am. It may sound strange but that's by far the most sleep I've been able to get in more than 3 weeks. (Last night I slept through the whole night for the first time with one small wake up) Marni is on fall break and Denver's first winter storm is in the process of dumping up to 18 inches (we got 2 feet) at our house with even more in the mountains. As is pretty normal, I pulled the laptop up onto the bed to check the morning emails. Facebook was going off with snow day comments and then I saw it...

An email from Bill Merchant. It could only mean one thing. I clicked on it with my heart racing.

Holy crap it was true! There was an email in my inbox asking me if I still wanted to do the Ultrasport, having emailed to get on the waiting list months ago and unfortunately gotten the very disappointing news that I might not get in this year. I immediately asked Marni and then with her approval, replied that I'd love a spot.

I'm excited about this race because it still scares me and because I want to visit Alaska so badly. The distance (350 miles to McGrath) isn't so bad, but the trail and weather conditions and remoteness of the course is what sets it apart. I feel like I've slowly been building up to this challenge for the past few years and I want to take this next step. I'm not even sure that I'm ready but I'm going to give it a try and I'm really happy to be part of the race. So now the Arrowhead 135 will be my big shakedown ride and then I'll be off to Anchorage for the big show.

Luckily my singlespeed titanium Fatback from Speedway Cycles is already ordered and I'm so pumped! A big thanks to Greg for helping get me on a top notch snow bike that will fit and Marni for supporting a bum like me and still letting me get a new bike. Sorry for all you purple lovers but the Pugs was too small and not my favorite color. I've got a lot to figure out still but now I really feel some urgency.

I can finally let myself start the planning spreadsheet and it is so good to finally have a nice big new goal!

More Ultrasport news to come. I'm still extremely excited and cannot wait to pedal again!

Friday, October 16

Charity Rides

Serious question blog readers...

In the past I have resisted asking for money for any of my races or trips. I have no reason to beg. I am capable of earning my own money and saving up to do what I wish with it but I don't begrudge anyone else's way of financing their dreams. I enjoy the freedom that I am beholden to no one but myself when I am "out there." I know my blog provides entertainment to people but I don't feel like it's a job and don't wish to turn it into one. To me it feels more like family, as cheesy as that is.

However if I let myself dream bigger, I could see planning a trip that perhaps costs a significant amount of money and time that would be followed of spectators via SPOT and other means. Charity riding comes in when I use that event following to raise money for a good cause. I'm sure we can all debate what's a worthy cause, but to me there are more out there that are truly worthy than I could ever give a significant contribution too. My problem with charitable fund raising for a ride always relates to taking any piece of the money.

Is it ethical to use a percentage of donated money, stated clearly up front, to fund a trip that overall nets a charity a sizable donation? Or could/should you ask separately for a trip costs donation? Certainly without the trip's entertainment value to spectators, the donations to that charity would be much less. But if I still could find a way to fund the trip myself, the charity would get that much more. The crux becomes, at least for me, if you use a percentage of the money for the trip, you could take more overall trips and raise more overall funds for charity. Obviously you would need to state your intentions up front.

But I'm torn. My gut is wary. What do you think? Do you give money to charity? What about fundraising events like I'm talking about? Would you give more or less if 100% of your donation went to the cause? Would you donate separately to make sure the trip got off the ground? Please leave a comment, you can be anon if you want. I only delete highly inflammatory anon comments which I don't really ever get.

You won't see a paypal button on my site any time soon but I do wonder how I can do the most good with my activities in the future. Much of my charity has been volunteered time, not money but all kinds of donations are good in my opinion. Those who can donate funds at this time, please give to Fat Cyclists's Fighting for Susan campaign. You can even get a sweet bike and vacation out of the deal...

Thursday, October 15


Warning: This post is not sexy, there are only two pictures and it's not much about bikes. But it's my blog so I'm posting it anyway.

Sometimes you really have to be hit hard and knocked to the ground, figuratively and literally, to be able to get up again with conviction. Nothing brings out passion like a fight.

And if those sentences don't make your blood boil inside just a little bit, I'm not sure we can be friends anymore ;)

To say things haven't been going well lately is about the understatement of the century. First the miscarriage, a week later I get swept off what should be an easy alpine mixed route by an avalanche and luckily walk out with my partner, each of us crawling and hobbling for 7 hours on broken ankles to self rescue. To be honest, I'm not sure I'd ever fucked up before bad enough to cost me my life. Pain in every single tiny step reminded me both just what I have to lose and just why I had been there. Some people would want me to quit, never step foot on snow again. But those people don't really know me. If it wasn't a passion, I wouldn't have been there in the first place. All I can do is promise to learn more, train more and continue to listen to my gut instincts. Fear of the white death grows stronger when you feel it's power.

Since getting booted up at the hospital, I've spent the last 9 days primarily laying on my back in bed healing. At first I was cursing pain meds that made me feel goofy and stupid. Now I loath insomnia worse than I've ever had. I cannot sleep more than a couple hours at a time without waking up aching and extremely uncomfortable. Weird positions cause new pains in a self perpetuating cycle. Sleeping pills are not the answer for me. I've never taken them and don't wish to now. I think there is a natural answer or maybe I just need more patience. My wife, family and friends are amazing as always. They've stepped up without hesitation to send me emails, pick up slack, calm me down and keep me sane. My thanks to them cannot be stated enough and they know who they are.

I have a long way to go. I've never been injured this badly before. There will be no shaking it off. No White Rim weekend a few days after an ultrasound on my leg. No couple extra Advil with my recovery drink. No hobbling around the office but still pedaling easily. After a week and a half of laying on my back as much as humanly possible, taking Tylenol and icing my foot, it's still very discolored and swollen. It's much better, but it's still ugly. It took me 3 days alone to be able to bend it to 90 degs in my boot and remove the two cheater heel shims. It took the rest of the week to be able to stand without screaming pain, very literally. I probably scared the neighbors a time or two. There have been plenty of tears. At least I can shower alone now and putting lotion on my injured foot afterward is cathartic. I apologize. I promise to fix it. My foot can't answer but it makes me feel better anyway. It's still hard to look at and touch my injured body part.

But I have to move on and move forward. My good buddy Dave promises I will wake up one day in much decreased pain and with a thirst for knowledge. I believe him and hope the pain fades eventually. It's not as bad now, but it's ever present. At least I don't have to scream or grit my teeth. I already want to move forward. Simple things like taking Turbo for a walk last night or being able to help Marni by emptying the dishwasher are small steps. It takes far too long to shuttle plates and bowls on crutches but I do it anyway. Marni and I sorted out the gear I was wearing and carrying that day, taking inventory of things to be cleaned, fixed or replaced. Bent steel crampons drive home the beating I obviously took. Today Bill took me out to lunch and I put on "real" clothes for the first time since the avalanche. It went well and I smiled genuine smiles. I'm looking for more things I can do. Moving forward on applications, planning races for when I'm healthy again, reading, studying, eating well and hopefully soon, exercise. Many have cautioned me against moving too fast, pushing my recovery. I hear that and do not want to cause myself future pain and suffering just to get back on a bike or my feet a couple weeks sooner. But I know that I recover faster than most and that there must be positive no impact things I can do now, or at least soon. Core work, hangboard work, crutch walks with Turbo...something. And hopefully those things will encourage healing in a multitude of ways.

So check back soon. There are more blogs to come. If I'm stuck in bed much longer I'll just have to go back in time and start telling some old stories. I know there are some good ones you all want to hear. In the meantime, give the phone a few extra rings or the front door an extra knock. I've been knocked down a peg on crutches.