Check out the May 2014 issue of VELO Magazine (print issue) Faces in the Bunch article about some of my mischievous antics and some of the races I've done. Written by Addie Levinsky.


4/14/14 - 4/20/14

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Monday, 3/14/14  - Doc. Visit

Still feeling not so great, general dizziness and such. So, last Monday, I booked myself to see someone about it today - I never do things like that, which is probably not the most intelligent thing. The doctor looked at things, but we all stopped when they found fluid in my middle ear - probably from some sort of virus going on in my system. The next step is like, a complete and total MRI, which... not something I'm going to do on a lark.

Gave me a prescription to try some stuff to get the fluid to dry up - all the prescriptions cause dizziness themselves, so they're pretty useless. Dizziness, I should say, AND sleepiness. Managed to stretch a 1 hour nap into 16. And there goes my day. Stopped taking those.

Tuesday, 4/15/14 - Climbing

Probably because I lost like, half a day in a drug-addled sleep, I didn't have time to run/jump/play outside. Met up for climbing at Movement and had a grand time flailing on a 5.11c - a grade I haven't done in 16 years. Although, if memory serves, I did that grade at a pretty poor style then as well. New climbing partner tends to kick my ass. In a good way.

Wednesday, 4/16/14  - Green x2


Thought I'd, "take it easy" and do a quick trot up Green Mountain, which turned into a surprising PR. Sometimes taking some much time off helps recovery. After one summit, I decided to head up Green again, via GreenBear which was taking it easy, but this time because of being tired from the first summit.

Thursday, 4/17/14 - Freeway x4, Green

Going along the theme of, "Taking it easy", I thought I'd recon Freeway on the Second Flatiron, and see if I can't find the fastest way up, as one little project is to try to make a fast time up. After two goes at the route looking for, and trying to remember a route that gave the best mix of easiest to do and hard, but saves time once completed, I went for another go, and put in a good time of 9:47, for the route, which ain't bad! About 1:30 until I can beat Stefan's fastest recorded time. Perhaps I can come close with another recon, being a bit better on rock, and having some absolutely fresh legs.

Did another lap (this is usually when people notice that they keep getting passed by me) and wandered over to the South side of the... uh, "main"  Freeway route, just looking at stuff, making four ascents of the block o' rock in total. After that, I took a quick trot of Green Mountain, to check out the sunset.


Longs Peak, from Green Mt.



Friday, 4/18/14 - Nothin'

I had high goals of doing another circuitous route from Boulder to Denver via... I dunno Squaw Pass, but I got up too late, and decided to take the bus instead. My bike is in bad shape - I'm just waiting for a major piece of the thing to just fall off, leaving me stranded.

Band practice was canceled as I was waiting at the bus stop, so I scratched going to Denver at all, and worked a bit instead, picked up my climbing boots from Rock and Resole and penciled in doing Bear Peak 3x with the Rocky Mountain Runners the next morning. My new climbing partner also wanted to do some climbing outside, so I had in the back of my mind that I'll probably be cutting things short tomorrow, because a 30 mile run up mountains is gonna take a toll on my ability to climb.

Saturday, 4/19/14 - Sobo/Bear Peak, Boulder Canyon Sport Climbing

I managed to get myself up in time to meet up with the Rocky Mountain Runners, and did a pretty rare social run with about 5 other people. I thought the pace to be moderate - we were going out for almost 30 miles, but compared to other historical times recorded by Strava, we were moving. Everyone except one person bailed on the 3x attempt, and packed it in, after just one time.

I met up with my climbing partner and we headed up to Boulder Canyon, attempting to find our crag to climb. No idea what so ever that there were so many spots! I was under the impression the the canyon had a few spots, here and there, and not like: dozens of crags with many routes in each. Shows what I know.

We burned through a lot of time just teaching me how to clean the route after following, and only managed two easy climbs in, until it started to rain. Awwww. It was my birthday, so we spent the rest of the day/night celebrating, like ya do.

Sunday, 4/19/14 - Sanitas/Bouldering

This was basically a day off, but the weather which was supposed to be rainy again, was AMAZING, and I had to be outside, so I just wandered around Sanitas, looking for things I wanted to Boulder on. I was looking for a crack to work on, which is a tall order for the area. I found a few places, but not much. Relegated myself to just wander up to the top, taking the ridgeline most of the way, and leaving the trail to the throngs of people (until, well, the way back)

Later that night, I finally got around to the Big Bike Rebuild, changing out the cobbled-together drivetrain I've been riding with a 2x10 speed setup of contemporary vintage, and things are awesome, again.

Week total on my feet: 34.1 miles, 14,219 feet
Week total on the bike: 0
Week total on the walls: 3x


Although it was a rocky start, my week was salvaged a bit in the running/climbing department, although my biking was non-existent, sadly - and the weather is getting so nice to ride bikes in. Some pretty fast times (for me) while running though, but the best part for this week was in the climbing department, especially finally getting outside to climb on real rock, rather than plastic stuff. My time on Freeway was a nice surprise, I'd like to get the top spot in that, but squeezing 1:30 more out of a 800 foot climb is going to be a tall order.

3/25/14 - 3/30/14

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Sick! After a wonderful ride on Monday, I was down for the count, until about Saturday, when I decided it would be fun to try to summit Longs Peak again.

I can tell something's not right with my body, when I'm riding around 5 mph, confused as to where I'm going, and what I'm doing. No sneezing or coughing for me, my body shuts down in slightly different ways, I guess. Better to hang 'er up. Working is hard enough with such mental fuzziness. Probably for the best.

3/24/14 Boulder - Golden via Magnolia, HW72, Golden Gate Canyon

An absolute wonderful ride up Magnolia, starting a little before sunrise. Magnolia is known as perhaps the steepest road in Boulder County and indeed, it touches ~30% on some of the first switchbacks. I wasn't going for any speed records for this ride - although I made good time historically speaking for myself - I just wanted a nice good ride to Golden.

Ride was manageable up Magnolia to Highway 72 (views aren't bad, either!), and then down Golden Gate Canyon. Well, until I hit the inversion layer and snow flurries, and froze myself stiff. I brought warmer clothes to put on, but I guess I was too stubborn to actually stop riding, change, and thought, instead: "Well, coffee at the bottom will warm me up!" It did, to an extent, but I felt a little defeated from the cold the rest of the day. Winter may have ended at sea level a few days ago, but above 9,000 feet, it's definitely still very much winter.  

Spent the rest of the day helping friends put together IKEA office cabinets and such for an office remodel. Most happy to be able to lend a hand to these wonderful people. And hey: lunch and dinner!

I hit the bouldering gym on Wednesday (SPOT) and Friday (Denver Bouldering Club) for some OK sessions. Wednesday was def. on the tale end of feeling less than ideal - it's more than obvious the bike ride on Monday was a little too uncomfortable. I brought along my point and shoot camera to do some demo climbs to go for a... part in a commercial - one of the weird ways I try to scrape up money. If it sounds funny to go for acting parts: it is, but I've also gotten them before.

Here's my little demo climbing reel - no real impressive climbs or anything (around V1/V2)- it was embarrassing enough to film this, so glad the gym was almost empty:

Friday was a little better - I like the problems Denver Bouldering Gym makes. A little strapped for time, or I'd be there all day. Got a ride back to Boulder to help move a claw foot bathtub down from the second floor. Having some upper body strength can help with these sorts of maneuvers. 

One stranger thing I'm dealing with is that my feet are currently swollen, making wearing climbing shoes a little impossible to put on - not that it stops me. The last half hour on Friday was done in approach shoes. Toes felt like sausages.

3/29/14 Longs Peak Duathlon Attempt (stopped at Keyhole)

The forecast called for 25 mph sustained winds, with 55 mph gusts - not too good looking for a summit attempt, but god-damn, you gotta try. With that forecast in the back of my mind and all the mistakes I made despite my last successful attempt, I decided to just work on polishing how I want to approach this challenge.

Unlike last time, I had a huge dinner beforehand and something akin to a balanced breakfast at 2:30 am, before shoving off. Even put on sunscreen before leaving, and snacked regularly on the ride up to the trail head, even brought more food to eat throughout the day. Took much less gear this time, starting with my smaller backpack, but remembered to take an extra pair of gloves (three in total) and another extra pair of socks (also three, in total) and an extra pair of sunglasses - old school ski glasses with extra dark lenses; brought just my trail running shoes, instead of my much heavier boots. Squeezed all this in - the temps were supposed to be low, so I wagered that anything I was wearing was going to be for the entire day.

My system worked fine, but the wind was simply too violent, gusts seemed to come from every direction knocking you around, from treeline to the end of the Boulderfield. Once reaching the Keyhole, it was painfully obvious that going any more forward was out of the question, the wind was just at a violent strength.

At the natural choke point of the Keyhole, you could literally see a vortex of wind and spindrift twisting right above your head. I dared to peek my head out towards the West side of Longs, but I might as well have had entered another world. The wind was at a hurricane force, hitting the entire West face, sweeping anything not actually rock and mountain clear off. Sweat on my face and beard instantly froze, as the windchill made it feel at least 30 degrees colder than in the relative safe cover just on the other side of the ridge. It wasn't the biggest letdown, as I knew what the conditions would probably be, so I retreated without too much chagrin, leaving the Keyhole at around 11:30 am - much better time than last, which made a good consolation

Stumbled to the trail head in about 2 hours flat - again: much better than last. Decided to take the longer, harder way home via Highway 72 to Nederland, and then down Boulder Canyon. On tired legs, it was somewhat of a slog, but thought it wouldn't be the worst to do to get ready for my race next weekend, the time off in the middle of the week was a little unplanned and not ideal. Riding down Boulder Canyon was a bit of different story - never again on a weekend - just too much crap traffic and you go about Mach 3 on a bike anyways. I have, of course, said this same thing several times, but it doesn't seem to stop me from riding this road on a fixed gear, or with a trailer, so I don't give myself too much of a chance of following it in the future.

Knew I was getting exceedingly tired from lack of sleep (waking up at 2:30 in the a.m. does that, as I started yelling at people on the roads and paths - mostly imperceptible babbling. Ahh, the wonderful little details of +12 hour days. Got home before the sun set - much better than my midnight arrival last time.

1/30/14 - Recovery Ride


Just a short ride to try and recover from the day before. I think, "recovery ride" is any ride that the single speed mountain biker riding on a paved road, wearing the cotton t-shirt absolutely wrecks you on. This had to be actually one of my most satisfying rides of the year - just had the most enjoyable time looking around at all the incredible rock formations around me, and how this is such a special place to be living near.


Week total on my feet: 9.2 miles, 3,810 feet (ONE hike)
Week total on the bike: 163.8 miles, 16,634 feet
Week total on the walls: 2x

I guess for being sick for 3 days, this wasn't a bad week in the end - I'll take a > 20,000 feet elevation gain week any week of the month, of any month of the year. Wish I could have gotten on the trail a few more times, but what can you do. .

On Saturday is the Anti Epic 160, so I get to relax a bit and attempt to taper a bit. I'm not sure what to expect from myself, but I think I'm going in to simply survive it, and possibly camp out that night and hike Pikes Peak after a good day's rest. I'll have to ride home after that, but I feel it's best not to make too many crazy plans. On my TODO list this week is to rebuild the bike, as it's currently just a cobbled mess of components I've had kicking around the parts bin. I brought it to the bike shop to get some new things and the mechanic's diagnosis just repeated, "Yup: broken, yup, broken, yup - ", until we got through practically everything. Not the best idea to take something like that on a 160 mile race. 

Last year, I rode out to the race from Arvada, camped, raced the race, then rode back, all in two days - almost 300 miles. On a single speed. That seems like an overwhelming amount of riding to me, but maybe not. I'll be riding out again, but I'll probably start in Littleton and be mostly fresh for the race the next day. I'll be camping, but most likely at a friend's house, not too far from the race start. And I'll have 2x10 speeds, rather than perhaps: two choices of gear selection.

Oh, we're getting older, I guess (although last year I couldn't run a mountain marathon, or climb 5.11b, and now: I can). I'm a little unclear where my cycling is at the moment, as I essentially stopped riding from October to well into February, and just focused on running. Not that running hasn't benefited me, I just don't know how much crossover there is - I guess we'll find out. As cyclists like to say, I'm feeling, "good sensations" starting in my legs and what's an 11 hour day riding to me, really?

3/17/14 - 3/24/14

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This week saw a lot of consistent times out, with less rest days, as I start ramping up for my race on the 5th of April!

3/17/14 - Night time ride up Flagstaff

Starting the week off with an "easy" nighttime ride

1/18/14 - Sanitas Clockwise (PR)

Another lunch time sprint up and down Sanitas - better'd my time from last week, which is nice and was basically able to run the entire way up, which is awesome.

>

After work, I rode up Lee Hill Road for the first time in forever. Missed my turn to make it a loop and found myself on top of a hill with only one not saying, "Dead End": the way I came. Fairly chilling going down

1/19/14 Nightime on Green

Another night time activity - this time summiting Green. Some hilarious falls on some bulletproof ice - I've got the wounds to prove it.

Right after the run, I did another ride up Flaggstaff to the ampitheatre. Good times. Nice to be able to double-up something like that, so late at night, when you think the day might have been a writeoff.

1/20 - Boulder - Denver

Rode to Denver, from Boulder, using my usual route not through the mountains. Talked to my mates at Salvagetti about getting a new bike. Stay tuned. Only one small hill on the way, did alright.


1/22 - Sanitas, Flagstaff, Green

Managed to forget to lock my bike at Chautauqua (I mean, really: who does that?) and ran a good mile before I figured out that my pack was feeling a little heavier than usual, and it wasn't just my head. Was trying on purpose to run this one slow, to see if that gave me some energy to keep going to Bear and Sobo, after Green. Ha, nope. One theory is that I wasn't having the best day, another is that the weather (snow, freezing rain) just wasn't helping making it happen. Another is that I fearing running out of food. But probably I was just tired and going slow wasn't working for me. The jaunt to Sanitas from Chautauqua is like, an actual run, where you cover distance, and not just up and down, which is most likely what tired me out. I should probably run for distance one of these days, it could help things. Observe how lumpy my condition is.

Hoped this day was going to be a Skyline Traverse, but, oh well. My variation wasn't going to be much of a traverse, but more a linkup of all 4 mountains, by first descending to what feels like a natural starting point, rather than taking the saddle from say, Green to Bear and then Bear to Sobo - the latter is just 300 feet of elevation gain, instead of close to 2,000 you get, by starting on the Mesa Trail. It's a tidy little linkup and not to be taken too lightly. I certainly didn't get it happenin'!



Along with this, managed to hit up the climbing gym(s) 3x, Mon/Wed/Fri and both my climbing partner and I tagged a 5.11b. Small victories, I guess. Friday was a bouldering session - seems as if I could do every single V4 problem - sometimes racin' up them, but couldn't make much headway on anything V5 or over.  Hopefully, that's not my wall.



Above is one of those projects that took me half a day to stumble up, and then I could walk up to it, and polish it off - looks so simple on video, but it was so hard to make those slopers work for me. Always a weird feeling.


Week total on my feet: 28.4 miles, 10,902 feet
Week total on the bike: 69.6 miles, 6,712 feet
Week total on the walls: 3x



3/10/14 - 3/16/14

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These things that I destroy.

3/10/14 - Sanitas

Don't laugh, but I've started working at a shared working space. It keeps me on task, most of the time. The weather forecast said 70 degrees this day, and staying inside sounded like hell, so I thought I'd try that thing where you go do something active on your lunch break... thing.

At around 1:00pm, I nonchalantly left my desk, with my running shorts in my hands, and made it to the bathroom to change. I left the office, and stuffed the rest of the clothes into my bag on my bike, and shuffled to Sanitas, which is like, a few blocks away (it's sort of insane). Felt good, so I just thought, "well, let's go!" with the goal of Not Dying, while trying to make it to the top. Did OK! Didn't really pause at the top, and just let 'er loose in one of those sort-of-in-control descents, all the way back to work.

Grabbed my clothes, changed again in the bathroom and made like nothing happened. Which would have worked, but the cycling cap I had been wearing was drenched with sweet. It was sort of nasty, until I finally took it off. Anyways, great time going up and down, and didn't feel like I wasted a beautiful day

3/12/14 - Longs Peak Duathlon

3/16/14 - Full Moon Flagstaff

Longs Peak took it out of me - Thursday was sort of just this daze trying to recover mentally and physically, that I checked out for a few days, and just focused myself on my work - as, well I'm trying to save up for the Summer of Summers to End All Summers

Thought I'd take a quick spin up Flagstaff since it's like: right there! And my first race this year looms over me. Put in a good time - def. feeling fitter and fitter at each go at the hill. A lot of this is just my legs remembering how to ride a bike, as I should in general be in awesome shape, and I weigh about 10lbs less than last year, at this time (thanks(?) running). My bike is still heavy as all hell, but I guess that's a good thing, at the moment.


Week total on my feet: 17.0 miles, 6,628 feet
Week total on the bike: 113.5 miles, 11,743 feet


Finally reaching my goal of summiting Longs Peak in the winter, solo, with a bike approach (Duathlon!) was a good payoff for all the hard work of hiking and climbing and running and cycling I've put in. Great time riding up, but once I hit the trail, I felt like total and complete shit, which is a pity. I'm betting a lot of this was a function of not really eating a proper dinner the night before or breakfast the day of, and then just snacking on like peanuts and raisins throughout the day. After a 4 hour bike ride, glycogen stores are gonna be gone, gone, gone and the few handfuls of almonds I tossed in my mouth before shoving off wasn't gonna make too much of a dent. Nerves, man. They'll be other days.

Another moronic move was to not apply sunscreen - I got roasted. Even my (admittedly cheap) sunglasses helped little to ward off a serious altitude/hungry/sun exposure headache when up high. Nothing I haven't experienced before, but I haven't in a while, and it never gets funner. I've since bought a tiny bottle of the stuff, which I'll keep on my bike, at all days.

Only went climbing once - on... Monday? Nothing too special to note, except I've started down climbing some of the routes after I've climbed them. Good for the ol' endurance, which is sort of my Thing, so...


I'm a little bummed for taking 3 whole days off in a row, but the body needed rest, and the times on Sunday were good, meaning I've recovered. Would have been nice to sneak in a climbing session in there, but my middle finger isn't doing too well - I believe it's called, "Being Injured"?, so giving it a break seemed prudent as well. I dunno, I just wanna be moving 24/7.


This week - man, who cares, I'm just so happy to have bagged Longs. I could see myself doing a repeat of that, Knowing What I Know Now (it WAS my first time on the Keyhole route!), with a lighter kit and a more intelligent eating plan. I could see a quick trip up N. Arapahoe - riding my bike to the TH of course (Magnolia to Ned.!), as the hill looks not so much like a snowy avalanche of death waiting to happen. I also see a ton of cycling, as I try to get ready for a 160 mile bike ride on April 5th. It'll be a casual affair as "races" go (wouldn't have it any other way!), but I'd like to actually, I dunno: finish.

In one of my more genius strokes I signed myself up for a race the very next weekend, in Durango - no idea how I'm getting there yet, but if I get out there, I'd like to stay for a little more than just the race. How I'd get back afterwards - man: that is anyone's guess.

Longs Peak, Winter, Solo, Duathlon

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2:00 am is a hell of a time to wake up, especially when you went to sleep at a little before midnight, probably. I wake up, and think that my immediate surroundings seem almost Thoreau-ian, if the surroundings weren't in their own immediate surroundings. I'm wrapped up in a sleeping bag, sleeping on top of a beat up pad that has slightly less patches holding it airtight, than countries it's been placed on the ground of, in a room just  wide enough to outstretch my hands and not touch the opposite walls.

Around me are a few books, and containers of mostly clothes and a few pieces of choice gear. Not much else. I don't really have much else. Although when I close my eyes, I sometimes fantasize of a much more ethereal setting, I'm not in a small cabin in the woods, I'm in a very cramped, converted, "room" in a house - just big enough for me to sleep in - and afford, located in the outskirts of Boulder, CO - I'm living in the proverbial "closet", that so many others before me have taken residence. I've moved here recently because I love the mountains and being 10 minutes away by bike sure sounds a lot better than an hour away by bus.

I get up and start dressing. It's cold outside, well below freezing as it usually is in winter. I put on a my bike shorts, two base layers, and running tights. My legs look like deliciously swelled sausages, the type I'd love to eat right that very second, with some eggs, maybe some toast. I'm skipping breakfast - a horrible mistake, and continue dressing for the bike ride. I dress my upper body, and put the rest of the clothes I picked out in a small backpack. Double check I've got my hiking crampons and an ice axe. I slam some reheated coffee, throw a few handfuls of almonds in my mouth, and we're out the door.

The bicycle ride up to the Longs Peak Trailhead can be divided into two sections. The road to from Boulder to Lyons is undulating, but mostly flat. It follows the dividing line between the prairies and the mountains, running North to South. Once in Lyons and in St. Vrain Canyon, it's a stiff climb up 9,500 feet to where the turnoff to the trailhead is found: right on mile marker #9 of State Highway #7. The mile markers count backwards from Lyons, which adds to the psychological toil of gaining more than 6,000 feet in total you will have to complete by slowly turning the cranks of your bike at maybe 10 miles an hour, if you're really jamming it. A long way to go in the middle of the night, but quiet. There's hardly any traffic on this mountain road, and much of it is going the same place you're going - there's not too many other places to go.

I make it to the trailhead at a little past 7:00am and am astounded. Not only because that's a really good time, with my sleepy head, a heavy bike, and a load of gear, but also because my face is frozen - completely covered in ice, from huffing and puffing in then cold, and what seems like humid air. I'm picking icicles from my face, as I reorganize everything for the next part of this trip up the mountain.

frozen_longs

A few people are milling about - they saw me coming up as they passed in vehicles, and everyone's friendly in the entrance way of this overgrown outdoor playground. Two people are set to climb The Diamond, a tough goal for winter.

"That's pretty crazy", I respond.

"Yeah", one mocks back at me, "Wanna look at what you're doing?"

They have a point, and I can appreciate their gentle ribbing, as it creates comradery out of our fairly different goals on the same mountain. I realize that in time, I could attempt what they're doing if I wanted to, but for now, I've got my own ideas to work on.

I've yet to be successful at all this, although it's been a goal of mine this winter: summit Longs, by riding there by bike (and back) in Winter. One big push. Today will be my third try this winter. The weather has been the deciding factor. In winter, it's default is to be horrible on Longs Peak: cold, most always windy, sometimes snowing. Dangerous. On my second try, I was beaten back by winds so harsh, they stopped me from even walking forward. I was in total disbelief that wind could be that strong. Sure: maybe in a Charlie Chapman silent picture, you'll see the Little Tramp beaten down by wind, but certainly that can't be in real life, outside of a hurricane or Antarctica.  I was mistaken. Winter is drawing to a close and I'm running out of time. This could be my last shot, the weather could turn ugly once again. 

I start up, and immediately regret not eating a proper breakfast. I've had almost nothing to eat today, and my energy level is already really low. I imagined the night before of making a huge feast of half a dozen eggs, strips upon strips of bacon, and corn tortillas to wrap it all in covering my plate before taking off, but the kitchen at the house was in a state of duress from my roommates, so I sort of: gave up and ate something more modest, before hitting the hay. That quick bikeride up may have also been a little too quick - I may have burned all my matches, already. It's a rookie mistake to do, already to find myself in a state of trying to maintain my condition, rather than excelling after all the work I've put into becoming stronger since the beginning of the year. 

My boots don't feel right, I realize, as I trudge up through the Enchanted Forest. I quickly take them off to inspect, but find nothing.The boots are fine. My feet are what's the problem. They're numb from the cold bike ride in certain places, but not all over, causing the strangest of sensations. I choose to ignore it. It'll either fix itself, or it won't. If it won't, I can always go down. Well, hopefully go down.

The day starts turning out to be actually really nice. Sun's out, the wind is low. The East Face is basked in the alpine glow reserved for such rare days, and to those who are up early enough to catch it. I realize I may done the almost impossible: I have threaded the weather window needle between storms, navigating that with my own busy work schedule and all the other crap that gets in the way of such fragile little dreams.

I feel less than ideal, and everything feels too heavy - and my objective too far away.  I continue on, making it to the trail junction, and find the trail to Granite Pass filled with snow, making travel slow. Being impatient, I leave the trail and boulder-hop up the side of Mount Lady Washington, to take a shortcut, passing over Lady Washington's shoulder and into the Boulder Field (everything here has a name). The trails here are on the questionable side of meandering, and aren't specifically made to make my objective easier. The signs are well-known to also post the wrong mileages to their destination, further confusing matters. In wintertime, when the tundra is protected by snow, it's sometimes better to just forgo them completely.

My shortcut is shorter in distance, but eats up time, as my line is far from straight. I turn the corner of the saddle - finally, and get my first look at the Keyhole, my next objective. Between myself and the Keyhole is the Boulderfield, which sounds benign enough, but it certainly seems to be the crux of this whole jam.

The Boulderfield  lives up to its name (A field! Covered in boulders!), and is further augmented with a thin blanket of wind swept snow, making most of the boulders invisible. You walk a bit, hoping to you can hop from boulder to boulder, and then, whoomp! you find yourself plunging knee deep in snow, missing the mark, falling over. It's an energy draining ordeal and there's nothing much to do, but endure.  The North Face is just south of the Boulderfield, and allows a quicker and more direct way up to the summit, than the Keyhole route, which spirals three quarters around the mountain, following the weakness of the ledge systems of the Western facing side of Longs.

"If only I had a rope", I think to myself, "get right up this Mother". Then I realize my place: I have no rope, no experience using the rope: I don't even know where the pitch that makes, "The North Face Route" is. I continue my trudge. I'm happy to make it this far. The headache starts. 

I pause at the Keyhole - it's a very dramatic spot, as the entire mountain changes characteristics at this very point. I grab my camera, to turn it on but, it's dead. Looks like I forgot, "put battery back in camera" on my preflight checklist - you always forget something.

The ledges of the western side are dolloped with snow, and look exceptionally foreboding and untrustworthy, with no obvious way through. I check the time (later than I'd like), and how I'm feeling (headache, weak, tired, sleeping, hungry, but otherwise: OK) and decide to play a dangerous game of, "What can I go without", with my backpack full of gear. I decide, somewhat inexplicably, that my actual waterproof, warm winter pants can be optional at this point and that I'll just stick to long underwear and running tights. My hooded, warm, puffy winter coat also doesn't make the cut. They're some of heavier items, and if this beast is going to be finished, I've gotta get faster somehow.

My boots, I now realize, are soaked. The gaitors I'm wearing are useless, allowing only for snow to come in from the top, then working hard to keep the snow close to my feet, allowing it to slowly melt, trickling into my boots, soaking my socks. Each step is making slightly perveted squishy noises. 

It's a bad situation. I have an extra pair of socks I've brought, but decide not to change into them, I'll just soak those right through and have two pairs of wet socks to work with - I still have to get back down. And I mean back down to Boulder: I can't ride a bike in winter, from 9,500 feet, at night, with frigid feet. It's one of those, "Nothing makes sense" scenarios. The extra socks stay, too. And oh - that useless camera.

Beyond the Keyhole, the route follows a whimsical path of the various weaknesses in the otherwise foreboding landscape: The Ledges wind you around the mountain, without any gain in elevation to The Trough;  a wide, rocky couloir that brings exits you to the Narrows; a well - narrow set of ledges, which takes you to the beginning of the end;  Homestretch, a slabby bit of rock to scramble to the actual summit, the only real weakness to reach the summit - everything else is a true alpine pitch.

To help matters, the route is littered with bulleyes spray painted  on the very rock, so that you know when you're on route. If you see a bulls-eye, you're golden. If you don't, you could possibly become cliffed out. What complicates matters in the winter is that if you don't see a bulls-eye, you could be either off route, or the bulls-eye is close, but just covered by snow. It's a mind game, for sure. I have to remind myself that I've actually Never done this route before. It'd be easy to know the general feel of the route, but I'm just as lost as someone who's just beginning. It keeps thing spicy, and at this point, just another detail to work out. 

And sure enough, it only takes a few hundred meters, until I'm most certainly off-route, in a way where I don't know where, "on-route" is, except it's not where I'm at. I think. The landscape around me is surreal: there's giant pinnacles of rock that I could need to go through or around - and almost want to just for the hell of it. I look towards the summit, and there's a couloir, but not the one I want. On top is a rocky spire, that looks like a chesspiece. No one is around me, but the entire place feels very much alive, basking in this cloudless afternoon. This is what keeps me coming back to this place - it's one of the most beautiful mountains I've ever seen. The sun though, is terribly strong today, reflecting off all the snow. My headache is getting worse, and I feel my fare skin start burning.

Besides being off route, my biggest worry is the short stretches of snow slopes I need to traverse. There's no telling if they're stable, but I err on the side that they're most definitely not, and keep my time on them short and my footing nimble Avalanches are nothing to joke about in Colorado, and winter is not a very stable time for the snowpack. There's been about eight deaths by avalanche in Colorado alone this year. Big problems happen when snow is blown into gullies and couloirs, and become a wind loaded pile of snow, on top of another, unstable pile of snow. On the west side of Longs, everything is wind-loaded, if it wasn't it would have been blown away, by now. I keep that in mind. I tell myself that the snow wouldn't be there, if the terrain underneath it hadn't some sort of characteristic to trap it there - ie: there's a ledge underneath, or rocks or something. The parts of the face that are smooth and totally featureless, I notice, are without snow.

I get to a point in my route finding, that I'd definitely would need to pull some technical moves to surmount the obstacles in front of me. Getting to even this part required some, shall we say, creativity. My dull mind is slow to realize that this means that I'm very much offroute, and about to get myself into a jam, as some of these moves are too delicate to reverse in my conditions, and I look for a sneak of an exit, so I don't need to backtrack so far. I take it in stride, as I'm much more reticent to the idea that I've put myself in this position to start with, and anyways: all that rock climbing I've done this winter has given me confidence that I didn't have before.

I find one way down that leads to the Trough, but it requires nimble footwork in a no-fall area. To pull it off, I need to reach  with my right arm, while stepping with my right leg, pull my left leg in, bend that knee and push off with my left heel, while reaching for another hold with my left hand, pivoting on my right foot From there, I'm facing the rock I'm holding onto, and I'll have to drop down and hold onto the ledge with my hands I was just standing on. I go for it, since, what the hell, but my pack is too bulky and gets in the way, as it scrapes the cliff face. My balance is off and I can't swing my left hand over.

Now the problem is, I can't get my weight back to the starting point, as my left foot has fully committed to going foward with the plan, and my crampon'd boot is not agreeing with finding a better purchase, on the small foothold. It's of no use to make a contingency plan at this point: if I fall, I want a clear mind, so I instead just finesse my way back to the ledge. There have been times when I would have escape this sort of brush with danger, and then quickly hyperventilated until I was at the point of sobbing, unable to move from my prostrated position, but I'm well aware what I'm doing and accept it as part of it all. I'm at a temporary safe space, anyways.

I make a mental note: "Not the way to go". I look over about 10 feet away, and there's an easy way to overcome the obstacle I had missed, and I take it without much fanfare, reaching The Trough, which is a straight foward climb up, and feels very safe in comparison to the snowy Ledges. I imagine throngs of people on this part of the route in the summertime heat, but on this day, it's only me - I literally cannot see anything man-made on the horizon. It's a wild feeling.

The Narrows also come easy, as they're not as narrow as you may imagine, and are bare of snow most of the way. Homestretch looms, and I'm happy to almost be done with this. The snow on it has been sunbaked for hours, and slipping here affords no break for hundreds - thousands of feet down Keplinger's Couloir, but I plunge my axe down, take two steps, breath three, four, or five breaths, and repeat until I get to the summit, at last. 

The very top is something it hasn't been all day for me: windy, and I get cold almost immediately. As much as I want to linger and take silly photos, time is getting tight, and I'm now faced with dealing with my rash decision of going for the summit so late in the day: I may get stuck on the technical part of all this, after the sun goes down. I can't even sign the summit register, the canister the register should be in is cracked and broken.
summit_of_longs
I change into some warmer clothes: basically, the ultralight puffy jacket I did decide to bring. I take a look at my gaitors yelling some quiet obscenities, making due to try to get them in better shape. My boots are now completely soaked, so it doesn't matter anymore if the boots get any more moisture in them. Snap a few photos with my phone to say, "yup I was here" somewhat unceremoniously, and then I'm gone.

Now that I know the general lay of the route, the landmarks all come and go relatively quickly, and it warms up considerably, with the lack of wind. I make it to Keyhole and retrieve my cache of gear. I sigh, as I look at the Boulderfield. The shadow of the mountain casts itself almost all the way to Mt. Lady Washington's west face, and it's going to be race to see if I ever feel the warmth of the sun before dropping over to the other side.

It's close, but I make it with a few minutes to spare. From then on, I'm in shadow and it become cold, the wind picks up, and I descend the east side of Mt Lady Washington, stopping as spindrifts engulf me, from the wind that's picking up steam. It seems to take forever, as I'm tired, and my steps are awkward. I slip a lot and fall. There's no real danger, but it slows me down, and is frustrating. I'm starting to lose my sense of time, and distance - I've escaped falling off any literal cliffs, but I've plunged down deep mentally. Everything looks enormous around me - I always forgot how large Lady Washington really is. I imagine myself farther down the route than I am, and am let down when I find hard evidence that I'm not. My lack of sleep is starting to catch up on me, and my brain is bartering for a nap:

"Twenty minutes", it asks, "Just give me twenty minutes to lie down, somewhere. Over there is fine."

But I deny myself any sort of rest, knowing that the winds are picking up, the temperature is dropping precipitously, and I've got much more than the hike 5 miles out to the trailhead, before I can call it a job well done.

The hike through the forest is unending, and I'm now using my head torch the light the ways. I'm starting to hallucinate, as anything that isn't snow could very possibly be well: anything. I miss some of the shortcuts and yell at myself for doing so, but I'm too tired to backtrack, and too confused to even know if I'm on the right trail at all. I find myself most definitely not, but I just give in that down is a good direction to go towards. I have nothing to look forward to, but a 45 mile ride back to the house. My feet are still swamped with water. As I hike down, I'm executing in my head exactly what the steps I need to do when I get back to the bike, to keep warm, and better my situation. It's not life-threatening, but I can make the ride down either miserable, or just something I have to deal with, in my fatigued state. 

I reach the trailhead and begin my plan. Gaitors come off. The moisture on them instantly freezes, so I beat them across the picnic bench to break off as much ice as possible and set them aside. I take off my boots and quickly my socks and put the fresh, thick, dry pair I've been saving finally on,and put my bike shoes on right afterwards. I then put on the booty covers of the shoes, and then put on my snow pants, then the gaitors. My bottom half is relatively warm, but I need all the help I can get, as I'll reach 40 miles per hour, simply coasting down St Vrain Canyon. I layer up my top in a similar way: wool base layer, wool mid layer, puffy ultralight and my winter coat.

My gloves are my only other worry: like my socks, they've been soaked for most of the day. I've relented in taking them off at all - there's nothing to replace them with - no drier pair, so my only hope has been to simply will them dry enough, so the wind chill factor won't freeze my hands. Frozen hands: uncontrollable bike - no brakes, no steering. Somehow that plan works well enough, and I thank myself for not going exceptionally ultralight with my gear choices today. It could have been bad.

I don my baklava, helmet and I'm out of there, again unceremoniously. What was once so inviting with a rising sun and warmer temps is just plunged back into a harsh winter scene, ready to deny anything close to charity.  My hope is to make it to Lyons before the town shuts down to just get something to drink, water, a Red Bull: whatever. I'm out of water - there was a creek near treeline I had a few gulps in, but in my altered state, thought it unwise to bring any with me - could slow my already snail pace down. Now, it's going to be hours until I can have a drink again.

The highway through St. Vrain canyon is mostly desolate, but it's dark, and my batteries are failing on my lights. I decided not to pedal too much - and just coast, see how fast I can go down, brake as little as possible, and surf that edge of being in control. My whole mind is dim and to top this all off, my eyesight is failing. Contacts are dirty, having not been properly cleaned for who knows how long. The entire day of being exposed has done its number on them, and they're checking out. I let out one of those laughs you give, when you find yourself in these sorts of positions. Truly uncomfortable, but honest with yourself that it was your idea to do all of this. It puts a smile on my face, and I get a song stuck in my head, trying to sing along.

I miss the entire town of Lyons being open by five minutes, and take it that it's going to be another 15 miles till I get a break, and can drink something potable. The road is now fairly flat, with small climbs that all seem like their own mountains to my tired body. So very few lights, and no turns in the road, I lose all sense of where I really am. There's one hill right before Boulder, so I can't even see where town is. The only lights ahead of me, are on a distant mesa bump, halfway between Boulder in Denver, and it never seems to get any closer. Minutes slowly grind by, as I pretend to put forth effort of riding a bike. 

At last I reach the top of the final hill to the intersection of Broadway and Highway 36 that makes my "finish line" for this little challenge of mine. I'm not excited at all to finish, I just want to get home and eat something and home is still miles away and those miles seem tortuously long. The longer I try to go without food, water or sleep, the slower everything around me seems. I've truly have entered a new dimension.

I'm playing, and this is a game, but it's not very much fun. Before heading home, I stop at a supermarket I never knew existed and grab a Gatorade, a Red Bull and a Coke. I can only see in fuzzy patches, and the small talk the cashier is making with me is nonsensical. He tells me about an online survey about the store I can fill out to win money and I just want to point to the Northwest and tell him, "I made it!", but I don't want the security guard to throw me out. I realize I forgot to even lock my bike up outside and find myself in need to exit as quickly as possible. I get outside (bike's still there), down the Gatorade/Red Bull, and make the last few miles home. I strip down, shower, and fix myself those half dozen eggs, strips of bacon, and corn tortillas. I feel my raw face, sunburnt from the all day exposure, and I guffow to the gaunt image in the mirror, several pounds lighter than 20 hours ago when I left.

"God damn", I thought, "This is all going to hurt tomorrow."

3/3/14 - 3/9/14

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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

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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

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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

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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...