Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Black and White

where did the mountain go??

I'm starting to really like and accept the fact that winter has returned, at least for a little while longer. The monotone look of the valley is really beautiful, especially when you get away from the houses and stores in town, and all you can see is white fog, and snow, and black hibernating aspens and willows poking thru the white.

There are all different shades of light that poke through the clouds. Last night at dusk everything had this odd blue tinge to it. Felt like I was wearing some crappy sunglasses with bluish lenses. The other night it looked purple everywhere.

Since I failed at doing anything outdoorsy yesterday, I forced myself to get out and find some exercise. With winds slightly more mellow, and temps 11 degrees higher to yield a whopping 20 degrees at 2:00, I decided to go for a bike ride. I recently put new tires on my bike, which has made riding even more fun and much much smoother on pavement. I rode through crappy visibility for 9 miles to pass CB South. That ride went so quickly, and lucky for me, I had no watch to neither confirm nor deny the fact that it felt like I rode those 9 miles in about 10 minutes. So 10 minutes it was.

Turned around to try not to overtrain a bit too much, although I wanted to go further, and was immediately facing a headwind. Oh man. 9 miles of it to be precise. I shifted into my granny gear, and didn't feel like I was making any progress. Of course I was moving, but I could have sworn that I could have hopped off the bike and pushed it at the same pace. Even worse, my toes had already started going numb, and now with my mesh-covered trail runners facing the headwind, things were going downhill fast. After cursing the wind for 4 miles, I noticed that I seemed to be bouncing with each pedal stroke. hm. That can't be right. My front suspension was disengaged, so I looked back at the rear tire. Sure enough, it was starting to look a bit flat. I reached back to feel how much air was in the tire, and managed to convince myself that the awesome WTB nanoraptors that I put on there couldn't have possibly allowed glass or anything through to puncture the tube, so I kept riding. Soon enough, I couldn't take it anymore, so I decided to pull over on the side of the road and add some more air to the tire. After taking off the valve cap, I noticed that I had left the presta valve in the 'open' position. Oops. Rookie mistake. Pumped it back up, and the ride became a bit more easier for the second half of the ride.

Lessons learned:
1) always carry bread bags to put over socks in case it gets cold
2) keep carrying the air pump!
3) check to make sure presta valve is shut before putting leaving shrader adapter on it to ride.

Monotone ninja costume for running in temps lower than 10 degrees.

Ain't too much runnin' been goin' down these days, sadly...
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Monday, March 30, 2009


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With a sore foot, bad weather, and bad roads, I made the decision to spend the day indoors. This wasn't a decision that I take kindly to these days, and sort of regret not putting on some extra layers of clothing and pushing through the tough weather. Trying to be conservative and give my foot plenty of time to heal left running out of the question. The recent snow/rain/freezing temps have left ice on the roads. The current snowstorm and brutal winds left visibility bad, making riding my bike seem even less appealing. My compromise was going to be nordic skiing for the first time since the cast was placed on my wrist, some 5 weeks ago. Temps seemed relatively mild at my apt, ignoring the reading of 9 degrees posted on the internet. Sure there were gusts of wind that had the snow blowing upwards, but then it looked calm...from my window at least. After driving down to town at the bottom of the valley, things changed. The wind was constantly around 20 degrees. It was somewhere around 10 degrees like NOAA said, and pelting me with wet snow. After walking around town a bit to run some errands, I decided I didn't want to ski. It wouldn't be very fun, and I wasn't wearing enough clothing to deal with it. Read a Krakauer article on canyoneering and ice climbing, checked out some books on bike touring across the globe, and returned to my calm, warm apartment.

Sunday, March 29, 2009


After running 3 miles on Friday only to discover that my foot still hasn't healed, I've had some more free time to focus on my bike trip that starts in 2 weeks. Today I decided to focus on finding some dirt roads to take out of Moab to get to the Burr Trail, some 170 miles away. MAP here Instead of the direct route via Hwy I was planning to take, I found some forest service roads that will take me thru the Needles District of Canyonlands , Manti La Sal National Forest (woods..trees!!!), Natural Bridges Natl Monument , then down to Glen Canyon Natl Rec Area for a crossing via ferry to get on the Burr Trail.

There are a couple of slot canyons that I intend to check out while passing by on the Burr Trail. There are dozens of slot canyons in the area of Grand Staircase-Escalante Natl Park, but most seem to be on the road parallel to Burr, Hole in the Rock Road. But still, there are 2 or 3 to choose from on the Northen end of the Burr Trail, and 2 right outside of the town of Boulder, which I will pass thru once I get back on pavement on the legendary Hwy 12.

No plans have changed to get from Boulder out to Bryce Canyon and then to Zion Natl Park. Not many options, and Hwy 12 is considered one of the most scenic drives in the country. I can tolerate the traffic for that! I'll backtrack a tad before starting to head south on House Rock Valley Road. I'm extremely excited about this section of the trip. For one, it is a pretty direct, quiet, dirt road that connects the small town of Kanab, UT to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. 'Nuff said. BUT...it also passes by 2 amazing natural formations, Buckskin Gulch and The Wave. Buckskin Gulch is the longest and deepest slot canyon in the world. The Wave is this really phenomenal and psychedelic multi-colored rock formation that is unlike anything I've ever seen in Utah (in pictures...). Both of these locations split from the same trailhead 30 miles south of Kanab. I plan to stock up on food, park the bike at the trailhead, and do a few days of hiking. Current thought is to hike the length of the 15 mile Gulch, then hitchhike back to my car. Then hike and photograph in the Wave. Then head south to the Big Ditch. Yes.

Haven't learned much else except for the existence of Horshoe Bend, just outside of Page, AZ. :::

Getting so excited for Utah these days. Not so stoked about trying to run 50 miles on about 10 days of training, if I can even squeeze that much in. Still going to try though.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Winter, again???

The equinox lied, and winter has returned.

It's incredibly beautiful out. So beautiful. Sadly I keep wishing for the dry ground that spoiled me last week for training on my bike and sneakers. Back to training in the single digits on slippery snow and ice I guess...
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I'm going to be totally worthless in Fruita in oh, say, 23 days. Thinking about running 50 miles is absurdly ambitious considering I've only run 11 miles since my marathon 2 weeks ago. Gonna try to squeeze in 10 mi tomorrow to see if the foot has healed yet.

Back before the serious snow hit 2 days ago, I went for a nice bike ride up near Mt Crested Butte to see a part of the valley I hadn't seen before.

nice switchback here:

Rode up Prospect Drive which goes under the Prospect chairlift on the backside of the mountain. I was really wishing my wrist weren't broken to glide down like other people were doing that day.

This side of the mountain was cool, different, and showed of a ridge I hadn't seen before. Always space for discovery in this valley, and all valleys really...

I've adjusted my brakes to perfection. The 500 ft descent was really fun. Luckily I stopped to take a picture, or I probably wouldn't have had time to avoid a patch of ice on the road.
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Monday, March 23, 2009


It's slowly coming together. I begged someone on Backpackinglight.com to sell me their compression sack to throw my down quilt and insulated jacket into and strap it to the handlebars. Got a cheapo wedge pack to go under the seat today that'll hold my tools and who knows what else. Should have a bit more gear coming in the next few days. After some typicaly indecisiveness, I'll decide how much space I'll need and pick out a seat post rack.

Then on April 11th, I'll step onto the loaded bike and start to pedal the 178 miles to the ultramarathon in Fruita. Excited doesn't do it justice...

Maybe I'll take a joy ride on this road while I'm recovering from running 50 miles:

Sunday, March 22, 2009

I'm Back...kind of

Finally, I walked around my apartment before work and realized that my foot no longer hurt. Time to run.

Ran about a mile on pavement, then was onto dirt. DRY dirt. I've done this run up Trapper's Way since January, and this is the first time that my shoes didn't touch snow. Oh I'm loving this season...

Who knew that taking 6 days off from running would make you out of shape?? Those first 3 miles were a bit tough, huffing and puffing. It amazed me that a week earlier I had run a marathon with relative ease. I was starting to wonder if I'd be able to make it the 4 miles and 1,200 ft to the top, then the 4 miles back into town. After that first half hour of running, I was into a groove and the rest of the run would be easy.

Started flying downhill. Downhills on dry ground are fun. I wonder how much longer i will continue to be amazed at the beauty of dry land? I was absolutely in love with my first real winter ever, but now I'm oh so ready for all of the snow to melt and summer to come in full swing with wild flowers and leaves on the aspens.

I managed to make my foot starting again. Argh. I still ran the rest of the downhill, but now I'm not sure what I should do. Surely the problem is that I didn't rest long enough, instead jumping at the first chance to run without pain. Maybe I'll do another short run tomorrow, maybe not. I'd like to get at least 50+ mile weeks in before the Fruita race, but really dunno what's gonna happen. Either way I'll be there.

'Till then I'll keep enjoying spring in CB and views like this of Red Lady:
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Friday, March 20, 2009

More Cumuli

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Today was a lame day. No exercise other than the downhill coast to work in the morning. Bum foot. Bum front brakes. Time for another full break. Was feeling slightly bummed about it, then looked out of my bedroom window. Now I'm fine:

Thursday, March 19, 2009


Another highway ride, more PERFECT weather, and an itching for exercice put me going south with the Jack's Cabin Cutoff Rd in mind. Some awesome glare was reflecting off of the snow to the west. Beautiful.

The Road is something like 12 miles from town. In addition to needing the fresh air and exercise, I wanted to finally test out some new cycling shorts that I got a few weeks back. Good stuff and no sore bum!! Got into a nice groove spinning and made it to the cutoff. With 12 miles to go back to town, I decided to leave the additional 10 roundtrip miles for another day when my knees are in better shape. Not sure exactly how far I can make it on the road since it isn't maintained these days:

Turned around, put the headphones in, and got a flat! Rode for a few minutes until I realized that the hideous spoke noise was signifying no air in tire. Damn. Got off the bike and started pushing, hoping to make it the 2 miles to Cement Creek Rd before trying to hitch. Just before I got off to start walking, this tiny roadbiker in yellow passed me with his fancy pants, fast road bike with skinny tires. argh:

I was really enjoying the walking and had even started to consider walking the entire 10 miles back to town when a van driving in the wrong direction asked if I needed a ride. I tried telling him that I'd just get a ride from someone going north instead, but he insisted since he had a ginormous van and friendly disposition. Got in and he told me he owned a business that returned lost luggage as well as being some sort of marketing guru for some oxygen enriched agua. I'd never heard of such a product, so he began to try to sell me what I could only assume was some sort of new-age snake oil.

First I did some stretching to prove how inflexible I was and some strength test, then took 2 swigs of this magical elixer. After waiting maybe a minute, he told me to do the same exercises. I'll be damned if it didn't help me stretch way further than normal when touching my toes and other silly tests. Is he some sort of freaky televangelist trickster to got me?? I didn't buy squat, but was intrigued and a little amazed. hm. www.theperfectwater.com is the ticket apparently.

My foot is still screwed up, and I'm really getting antsy about running and preparing for that 50 miler in a month. Maybe tomorrow????
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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Finally loving ashpalt

Remembering why I love living in Crested Butte isn't so difficult I'd say...

With a left-foot that was still nagging me, I took advantage of loads of free time after work for anther bike ride. I'd already commuted the 3 miles to work in the cold, and was ready for some warm weather and a longer ride. After realizing that it was just barely too chilly to be showing off my pasty-white legs in shorts this afternoon, the front tire was pointed south and I was heading for Crested Butte South. CB South is about 9 miles south of CB proper, and I figured a good distance that would make up for my missed 7 mile run. A few clouds in the sky and a view dominated by Mt Whetstone took over:

The 9 miles came pretty quickly as I'm getting used to riding a bike again, and getting in better shape as well. Soon enough I had gone 9 miles and turned east on Cement Creek Road.

The road goes thru a little valley carved by Cement Creek and the asphalt is quickly replaced with DRY dirt. I couldn't believe my eyes when I didn't see mud, and then remembered that for whatever reason, CB south is always drier, despite the fact that the elevation is the same as CB. After winding on this sidehill section, the view finally opened up and flattened out a tiny:

I'd never been this far on the road before, and was really blown away by those cliffs.

The road gradually got really washboardy, some potholes, but still fun. I only saw 3 cars and enjoyed the solitude out under the trees. Riding on this dirt road confirmed that I want to do lots of these on my Utah Loop next month. After somewhere between 3 and 5 miles, I reached the end of the maintained section. I had started feeling like the road would be melted out forever ,but alas that ain't the case. Snow started again so all of the 'slednecks' could have their fun.

I'd had my fun and it was time to turn around. But not before trying to ride on the snow a bit. I made it further than I had expected before losing all speed and coming to a halt. Maybe next winter I'll get some fat tires to float on the snow.
Views were sweet going back downhill into CB South. Looking back into the massive Slate River Valley where CB proper rests. Flattop Mesa is up on the left:

Finally, and sadly, the dirt ended and pavement returned. The pavement was fast though, and soon enough I was nearing the Highway again to head north. Still lots of snow on the ground, and damn is that valley awesome!

Still had 9 miles to go with really tired quads and a crappy headwind. Sweet views of Crested Butte kept me going, no problem:

A few hours later I rode the 3 final miles up to my apt on the mtn to fading sunlight. That made the grand total for the day 30 miles. Without a doubt this is the furthest I have ever ridden on a bike, and it was all for the joy of it all. Next time I'll get the timing down better and leave earlier since I had forgotten how dark the valley gets, and quick. Until then, the lighting around Gothic was good enough

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Monday, March 16, 2009


Morning Session

With a freshly risen sun, I decided to ride my bike the 3 miles, downhill, into town for the first time. This is something I've wanted to do for months, but never got around to it due to either extremely low temps, bike woes, or just laziness. A weather report online said the temperature was hovering around 20 degrees, and I worried that it would be COLD flying downhill making my own wind. Put a fleece sock over my right hand and it's cast, THICK glove on left hand, camera in pack, and started walking the bike down the stairs.

This was the first time I'd ridden my bike in weeks, and it was immediately fun. All of the peaks in the valley were capped in gold. I was surprised at how fast I was going, and that I had to constantly ride the rear break since I was afraid of going too fast and having poor control with my immobile left wrist. This steep section confirmed that it was infact steep, not just a figment of my fatigued mind when always climbing this same section at the end of a long training run. After a mile or so, the wind started getting to me. I had packed a neoprene face mask in my pocket, but decided to tough out the stinging in my face. There is a hole in my left glove which eventually made my thumb go numb. Within a half mile from work, I was just ready to be inside. Fun ride though, and I'll definitely do it more in the future instead of nordic skiing or riding the bus to work.

Afternoon Fun
As soon as I realized that the weather was incredible outside, I knew that I needed to hop on my bike again once I was finished working at 2:00. Originally I had planned on running, but not today. My hip had been bothering me all day, as well as my left knee and arch. For once I decided to listen to my body and 'rest'. This means no running, but of course I could 'Cross-train'. Like usual, I felt the need to be active and getting on my newly repaired bike seemed to be the obvious choice. I took off down Hwy 135 toward Gunnison:

Rode for a couple of miles, then decided to turn around. I"d need that energy for the 3 mile climb back up to my apartment in Mt Crested Butte. Before getting back into town, I crossed the bridge over the Slate River:

The climb wasn't quite as bad as I was expecting except for in that one spot which had me flying going downhill earlier in the morning. Those steep parts did have me questioning whether or not I would be able to do the 33 mile return ride from Gunnison I have been planning on doing in the near future...

Passed the valley that Slate River Road runs through and decided riding to the end of this plowed section would be my next bike ride. Maybe:
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Sunday, March 15, 2009


As a way to get some fresh air and loosen some tight, tight leg muscles, I went for a short run at dusk:

3 miles sounded like a good distance. Ever so slightly uphill to the Snodgrass Trailhead, then back down to the apt. Another good reason for the run was to try out my new hydration system. I was obviously frustrated with my previously beloved UD Wasp Hydration Vest at Salida yesterday, so decided to try out a handheld system which everyone else seemed to like. I typically don't like running with things in my hands, but I think I can like the strap setup with a bottle. Barely have to even grip the thing. Instead, the only annoyance is the sound of sloshing water, which eventually blurs into the sound of shoes hitting earth and occassional labored breathing.

So out the door I went with new $16 bottle setup and my hydration vest on for the sole purpose of carrying my lil point and shoot. I had watched the sunset from my bedroom window while on the phone, and new that the clouds would still be hanging around for fun until it got dark and I couldn't see them anymore.

Ran up to the trailhead, feeling fine. Muscles had stopped seeming tight. Bones all felt fine. I pulled the earbuds out of my ears and was amazed at how quiet it was. This is why I love living in Crested Butte. Today was the first day in 2 weeks where I've really appreciated this town. I was in Anchorage for a while, then 1 day with a mind clouded by pre-race jitters, then a race, and now this. Not a car around. Just a few birds, but really only the thoughts in my mind.

Walked for a bit instead of running. Tonight wasn't really training and I wanted to really spend as much time as I could on my way back. Scarp's Ridge was temping me for the umpteenth time to traverse it when the snow melts this summer. My mind wandered to what it will be like when all of the ground is dry and I can put together all sorts of trail runs through the wilderness areas surrounding this place. Inspiring.

Time to start getting serious about the Fruita 50 tomorrow. Until then I'll enjoy the 3 mile bike ride on my newly repaired bike down into town at sunrise tomorrow morning.
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