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Showing posts from July, 2009

I suck at tapering

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So the Soggy Bottom 100 is in less than 48 hours. When it comes to tapering for a bicycle race, I tend to be a bit unorthodox. Some people rest, fill their glycogen stores and hydrate. Others do easy spins to loosen up their muscles. I like to get up early after five hours of sleep and go for long, hard hikes. It may be a questionable taper strategy, but it sure does fire up the synapses.

I wanted to go real big today, but I had to be at the office in the afternoon, so I dialed it back to the longest Juneau hike that I have completed before - the Juneau Ridge to Granite Creek Basin.

From the top of Mount Juneau, there's a good view of the airport runway that will be the launching point of my doom early Friday morning.

It was ultra-hot today ... meaning it was in the low 80s. But the sunlight reflecting off the snowfields made it feel much warmer. Stranged to feel so scorched while walking on snow.

I tried for the Juneau Ridge five times last year, and every single time I was shut down…

Silver city

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My friend Brian and I had a great morning fishing for coho salmon off South Shelter Island. Calm waters, sunny skies, temperatures in the high-70s, kicking back on the boat and crazy arm-busting action for 45 minutes. We caught four silvers and lost two, and spent the rest of the time listening to jazz and working on our farmer tans. This fish is my first of 2009, a big ol' coho. Delicious.

On the way back, we pulled up next to a humpback whale that was just bobbing motionless in the blue water. We decided it was sleeping. Later, Brian wrote to inform me that "they don't really sleep like humans, but they doze with half of their brian sleeping while the other pays attention to breathing and danger." I wish I had the ability to do this. It would make for killer ultraendurance cycling times.

Master fisherman Brian with the four silvers we caught.

I arrived at home to find this letter from State Representative Cathy Muñoz. Not only am I a registered D, I don't even liv…

OK, NOW it's summer in Juneau

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For the past three months, my friends in Juneau have been updating me about everything I've been missing during the "best summer ever." Why, they asked me, was I wasting all of my vacation days in a wet and cold place like New Mexico when I could be somewhere sunny and warm, like Southeast Alaska? Well, I arrived July 16 beneath a drizzly wash of gray that hasn't cleared up for more than a couple hours until, well, until today.

My reintegration into society has also been a little on the drizzly and gray side. I had a rough go of my first week back at work - difficulty focusing, productivity down, more mistakes than usual. It's hard to transition from 12 hours a day on a bike to 10-12 hours a day in a cubical. It occurred to me that I was actually lucky the weather was gray, because it helped me keep my head turned away from the window.

I'm also still homeless. I've had a tough time finding an apartment that will allow me to have a cat, and where I can affor…

First week back

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I still need to write up the last chapter of my Tour Divide trip report. I'll be bummed when I'm finished. I've had a lot of fun writing it - like reliving it, in a way. My goal for the summer is to really dig in to my whole summer experience and flesh it out even more - which, for those who already think my blog is too wordy, probably sounds impossible. Believe me, it is possible. Writing about my life is how I process things, and right now it feels like there's a lot to process.

In the meantime, I'm trying to make the most of being back in Juneau while hammering out my 60-hour work weeks (my boss went out of town this week. Hopefully it gets better.) I've had a few chances to head up into the mountains. Last Sunday, I walked up Mount Juneau with two guys who were both named Dan. I just happened to meet the Dans at the trailhead. They were impressed with the pace I kept, so I think I may have just scored some new hiking partners for the ridge traverses that I…

Central New Mexico

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I awoke to the sting of raindrops hitting my face. I groaned loudly and fumbled with the nylon of my bivy sack until I succeeded in closing the zipper. A headache pounded in my skull and my stomach gurgled and lurched. My first thought was, "Damn, I'm even more sick than I was yesterday. I totally have giardia. I'm going to die out here." But as I began to emerge from my sleepy haze, I realized that the crappiness I was feeling wasn't nausea. I was really, really hungry.

The rain picked up intensity as I thrashed out of my sleeping bag and stuffed it in its drybag as quickly as possible. I had somehow kicked off my shorts during the night, but before I even bothered to pull them back on, I walked over to my bike in my rain jacket and underwear and tore into my food stash like a half-starved raven. I pulled out a mashed package of Grandma's Cookies and shoved the whole mass into my mouth. The I opened a package of almonds and inhaled those, followed by infuria…

Northern New Mexico

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I stood outside the Skyline Lodge for nearly 10 minutes, wracked with internal conflict. I held my icy hands against my mouth and listened to the echo of my breath, like an expanse of empty space. My shoulders quaked because I was still cold, but that hardly mattered anymore. I longed for the comfort of civilization, but I wasn't yet ready to face the happy indifference of everyday life - the vacationing people at the lodge, drinking beer, laughing and talking loudly about things that didn't mean anything to me. And they would want to talk to me, rolling in on a bike and caked in mud as I was, and I would have to describe a race that in that moment felt trite and meaningless. I craved deep solitude and escape even as my body begged for warmth and food. The little voice in my head demanded I march onward. "If you walk in that building, you're going to quit," it said. "But I have to go inside," I reasoned. "Dark's coming and it's not getting …