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Showing posts from November, 2011

Culture shock

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As the three of us ran into the finish line together - Beat, me and our new Canadian friend Patrick - I absorbed the strange familiarity of the scene. Beautiful Nepali children twirled in rapid circles, world flags flapped in the breeze, and the November sun cast brilliant light on the 8,000-meter peaks towering over the valley. A race official draped a medal over my neck as an old man dabbed red paint on my forehead. We had come a long way in one week. Farther than I could yet understand.

Contrasting the celebratory scene was a memory from the night before the race began, in Camp One just outside of Pokhara. I stumbled out of my tent for the fifth time that night and sprint-shuffled to the toilet, making it just in time to experience the startling sensation of purging a nearly clear liquid out of two ends simultaneously. I have had the flu and intense food poisoning before, but I had never before been so sick to really experience what it's like to have a body reject itself. As I …

Links to the other side of the world

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Beat put me on a mandatory absolute taper after I complained of *slightly* sore knees during our ride on Sunday (hardly my fault. I believe it was Beat who coaxed me into powering that hog of a Fatback up 2,500 feet of hill.) Complete rest is working out for the best anyway as I've plunged into a whirlpool of things to do, including calling practically every pharmacy in Santa Clara County in search of a backordered typhoid vaccine.

And suddenly it's here. Late Tuesday night we leave for Nepal. There's about 36 hours of travel in there, but eventually, theoretically, we will end up in Nepal. Until two months ago I had never even ventured outside of North America and now I'm traveling to a region that is geographically and culturally unlike anything I've ever experienced. It's been a perspective-changing year of adventure for me, and this one is the largest of all.

The race Beat and I will be participating in begins November 20. The route covers 155 miles and 30…

Three adventures and a wedding

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A deeper exhaustion was setting in, the kind that seems to trickle through my veins like chain lube on a cold morning. Even simple tasks lagged beneath a slow drip of energy. Tiredness like this doesn't happen in an explosive burnout; rather, it seeps in through the cracks, the bike racing and the hiking, the sleep deprivation and the shivering, the calorie deficits and traveling, always moving. Bill, Mo and I didn't arrive in Draper until late Tuesday evening, and then there was lots to do — laundry and unpacking, hanging up wet camping gear, shower and important e-mails, dinner in there somewhere. My dad pointed to a pair of snowshoes and poles he had borrowed from his friend. "We can go hiking in the morning, if you want," he said.

I stayed up way too late writing a blog entry, which, like a diary, I use as an outlet for images and thoughts that I sometimes just have to get out of my system before I can sleep. But 8 a.m. came awful early. Maybe I haven't adjus…

Recovery in Zion

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My earliest memories of the outdoors — well, beyond a kiddie pool in the grass and Texas fire ants — take place in Zion National Park. There is something about evening light on towering cliffs in the Court of the Patriarchs that inspires a bewildered and lasting kind of awe, even in a six-year-old. I love this place. I sought it out frequently as a teenager and once crossed the entire park from north to south as a twenty-year-old backpacker. I still get back as often as I can, preferably in the late fall, after the crowds have gone and the canyon has erupted in a palette of primary colors — red rocks, yellow leaves and blue sky.

Bill had never visited Zion before, so I convinced him to take a couple of days after the 25 hours of Frog Hollow to explore the park. "Call it active recovery," I said with a wry grin. The three of us hadn't slept at all on Saturday night, I rode a mountain bike 169 miles and Bill cranked out an unfathomable 260. Really, what we should have done …

Twenty two hours

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Why would you want to ride your bike around in circles for 25 hours? I mean really, why is that fun? Or satisfying?

The truth is, I adore 24-hour mountain bike racing, because the experience can be anything you want it to be. If you want to get a bunch of your friends together and knock out some laps while you eat pizza and drink beer, you're welcome. If you want to don fairy wings and a tutu and race solo on a 37-pound fat bike, you're welcome. If you're a numbers geek who wants to test a well-crafted strategy, you're welcome. If you simply want to ride your bike a lot and feed your endorphine addiction, you're welcome. And if you want to race until your eyes bleed, you're welcome. I appreciate this democratic, free-spirited approach. The 24-hour race entices a full spectrum of enjoyable characters in a bike binging festival complete with live music, fire jumping and baked goods. Really, what's not to like?

The 25 Hours of Frog Hollow is touted as "the…

Six years

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That's how old this blog becomes today. Six years — that's about, what, 72 in Internet years? Arcticglass has become that old woman you see taking her little dog on a morning walk around the neighborhood. She has a bit of a limp and usually wears way more warm clothing than she needs, but at least she's still getting out there. She's the one who still remembers what it was like when you actually had to know some code to post any graphics in your layout, and recalls the days when most of the Blogger templates looked like a mixture of creepy wallpaper and Powerpoint slides. And yet, she misses those good old days, the days before Facebook and Twitter, when the kids had longer attention spans. Back then, she could still impress people with photos taken with a 2.1 megapixel pocket camera and posted as 112x200-pixel graphics, and people would actually read the story behind the photos (yeah, Flickr annoys her, too.) All the kids these days want to read is 140 characters of n…