Showing posts from August, 2010

Lone Peak

On Tuesday, I received the call that I had been expecting, the call that I had been hoping for but also dreading.

“Your grandfather has decided to go on hospice,” my Mom told me as I ducked outside the office with my cell phone.

“And his treatments?”

“Those are going to end,” she said.

It meant my grandfather had made the most difficult decision of his life, the decision that meant his life. It meant that one thing that none of us were willing to voice, but we could say enough to acknowledge that there wasn’t much time. It meant that weekend plans and a few tanks of gas didn’t matter so much. I wrapped up my work at the office and hit the road Friday evening.

In my memory, my Grandpa Homer will always be a robust 60-year-old, swinging an ax in front of a massive pile of logs. I admit I cannot recognize him at 80, pale and gaunt, with scabbed skin stretched across his bones as he struggles to sit up in his chair. Disease stole his strength but not his spirit. I still see it in his eyes, spa…

Already with the guilt

It's been a simple week so far: Work, arrange apartment, bike, run, late dinner, arrange apartment, upload more photos to the Shutterfly archive, sleep. Yesterday I didn't get out of the house until 7:30. I rode my Karate Monkey 10 miles up to the Ravine Trail, parked, and began running. I knew I'd be out after dark as it was and planned to only run for 20 minutes or so. I turned on my iPod and started up the trail, wheezing a bit as I rounded the steep switchbacks. On a steep grade, the simple act of running at all, even slowly, calls for surprisingly exhaustive bursts of energy. I gulped air but kept my motion fluid, floating along the edges of the pain cave as flickering sunlight and shadows put me deep in a meditative trance. I can't even say how it happened but, just like that, I was suddenly at the SnowBowl overlook, two and a half miles and 1,000 feet into the run. A little farther than I planned. Whoops.

But the run down felt great, the ride home even better, m…


For my 31st birthday, I resolved to get more serious about running. Not only for reasons of fitness, but because of the opportunities it will ultimately open up (there are so many places where bikes can't go, and I can't go nearly as far as I'd like.) Every fall for the past three years, I've attempted to increase my running from near-nothing to at least something, and every fall I've failed early and often. I think this is because it's so difficult to motivate to be a beginner at something. Obviously I have to start short and slow, and it's lame to jog 5K around my neighborhood when I know I could spend two or three hours tearing up singletrack on my bike instead. So this year, I came up with the perfect idea - I'm going to combine them. In these early weeks, each time I plan a run, I'm going to meld it with a ride, and that way I can get my exercise and fun fix while building up necessary running stuff like stronger joints and feet of steel.


Dad comes to town

There's something about having a parent come to visit the place you choose to call your home that can make a person so much more ... on edge ... than usual. You want your life choices to be validated, so you want your home to put on its best face. Even if you fall far outside the mold and your parent has already accepted this about you and still loves you, you want to prove that you are a functional adult who has valid reasons for living in a place that's not your natural home.

Every year, my dad takes a week off to go on a hiking vacation with his friend, Tom. This year, they planned to spend their holiday in central Idaho, but decided to swing a bit northeast first just to visit me. Their schedule just happened to put them here mere days after I moved into my new apartment, which put me in the embarrassing position of entertaining guests with only the possessions I could fit in a 1996 Geo Prism, four of those being bicycles, the rest being clothing and miscellaneous outdoor …


Today's my birthday.
It seems as I learn and grow,
There's less that I know.


"There were times - especially on stages 3, 4 and 5 - where I was in the depths of a personal hell. Not exactly a pain cave, something different. I was desperately despondent and unhappy."

My friend, Jenn Roberts, wrote this phrase in her race report about TransRockies, which she and another friend, Sierra, completed in the Women's Division. I first met Jenn in June 2007, during the 24 Hours of Light, while I was trying to pound out as many laps as possible with a bad knee and almost no training, because I had been injured for the past four months. Needless to say, riding solo in a 24-hour race was an abysmally bad idea, and by the 1 a.m. "twilight lap" - my 12th - I was struggling mightily. Jenn was taking photographs at the base of the short, steep descent into camp. Since even 12 times around the block hadn't given me enough confidence to ride it, especially while I was being observed, I stepped off my bike and walked toward her.

"This lap is going to…

TransRockies, last days

My expectations going into TransRockies 2010 were admittedly much too small. Before I started, finishing the race seemed to be a non-issue. Even though the elevation profiles were off the charts for a bicycle ride, the distances seemed short and I was pretty sure I could jog them within the time cut-off (and a couple of the stages, I nearly had to.) The nature of the race meant I would be riding the entire thing with a partner and our only objective was F-U-N, which was, in my mind, an ideal way to approach this race. My largest concern was that the race course was mostly singletrack, which, despite my massive amount of mountain biking enthusiasm, I have relatively little experience with. (I didn't even take up mountain biking until I moved to Homer and then Juneau, both places where summer singletrack is almost nonexistent. So my historic biking experience is largely comprised of snowmobile trails, foot-packed snow trails, pavement, dirt roads and doubletrack.) The obvious way to…

Finished TransRockies

Keith and I finally rolled into Canmore on Saturday afternoon to finish the seven stages of the TransRockies in 46 hours and 32 minutes, which is only about 20 hours slower than the pros up front. We finished 11th in the Open Mixed division. I had loads of fun and learned a lot of valuable lessons, such as playing nice with others (not just my partner, but the 400 of my closest friends who were clogging up the trails.) I also learned that I have much I need to improve on regarding my technical riding skills - either that or become a runner and leave the anchor on wheels at home, because I walked way too many downhills this week. But everybody in this race did some bike pushing, from a little to a lot, thanks to biblical weather and more than 30 kilometers of shin-deep, cow-stomped, manure-flavored mud. (I talked to a few of leaders and they did those sections cyclocross style, running with their bikes on their shoulders.)

I'll try to write up an overview of the last three days whe…

TransRockies, Day 4

Computer battery almost dead. No time for words. But here are a few pictures from Stage 4 of TransRockies, middle of nowhere Alberta to middle of nowhere Alberta, traveling 65 kilometers in a rocking 7 hours and 34 minutes. This is epic stuff out here, more adventure racing than mountain biking, which is, you know, my kind of race. Photos ahead. You tell the story.