Showing posts from July, 2014

Forever pace

After failing at last year's Petite Trotte a Leon, I did some soul searching about whether I was taking this endurance racing hobby too far. Months later, I told friends that I still couldn't decide whether PTL was a valuable learning experience, or the worst thing I had ever done to myself. I joked that exploring limits is a lot less fun when you find them. I've gained so much personal enrichment from confronting difficult and frightening situations amid the parameters set by racing — which extend far beyond parameters I would have ever set for myself. But how far is too far? During PTL, an onslaught of technical terrain near the edge of my capabilities, constant focus on navigation and maneuvers, perceived dangers, internal and external pressure, and sleep deprivation drove me halfway out of my mind. It pushed me into some dark places I never wish to visit again, whether in a voluntary situation or real trauma. I race to gain control over my Monster, and PTL only reveal…

One more for the road: Gear and training post

I realize that I promised no more South Africa posts, but that's before I remembered that I wanted to do a Freedom Challenge gear and training post-mortem. Shortly after the race, Liehann asked me what I would change about my gear if I were to ever try this again. The short answer is: Not much. As for what I would change about my training, the short answer is: Lots.

My bike is a Moots Mooto-X YBB 29" titanium soft tail. Here are the specs:
Shock: Rock Shox Reba RLT dual air, QR
Group: Shimano XT 2x10 (XTR shifters)
Brakes: Shimano XT
Wheels: Mike Curiak built Stans Arch + DT swiss 240s hubs, tubeless
Tires: Front: Bontrager XR3 team issue 2.30 Rear: Maxxis Ikon 2.35
Tubeless setup. Shimano XT skewers.
Seatpost,stem: Thomson elite
Handlebars: Ritchey wcs aluminum riser
Headset, BB: Chris King
Saddle: Terry something (probably Butterfly.)

This bike was my dream bike when it became mine in April 2012. It is still my dream bike. I'd be happy to never get a new mountain bike,…

And then it was summer

Back to California. Happy to see Beat. Jet lag. A thousand e-mails. Work catching up. Heat. Try a five-mile run. Side stitch. Downhill walks. Rest days. Book edits! Photo downloads. Blog, blog, blog. Pet the cat. Evenings with Beat, who's shored up all this excitement about next year adventure scheming, and there's five and a half more months left in this year, and still he teases me because I say I'm not ready to think about it, not just yet. Tired. 
We decided to go for a hike. 
It seems everyone's training for late-summer mountain races, and the group was headed to Yosemite for a thirty-mile loop around Buena Vista Peak on Sunday, July 13. In the week since I returned from South Africa, I attempted two short (five-mile) runs. Both did not go exactly well ... my cardiovascular system was working much too hard, I got a horrible side stitch at mile three that limited my breathing capacity and forced me to walk the final two miles downhill. This was the gauge for my fi…

Last South Africa post, I promise

Liehann and I finished the Race Across South Africa on July 1, and returned to California on July 5. We'd given ourselves a buffer in case it took a few more days to reach Diemersfontein, and also so Liehann's girlfriend Trang could come out and spend time with him and his family in Somerset West. Those extra days near Cape Town were a whirlwind. With Trang and Liehann's friend Evelyn visiting from California, there was lots of touristing to be done. And of course Liehann wanted to visit his friends in town. I struggled with the rapid shift back toward civilized life and mostly just wanted to escape into the mountains, but I was happy to spend a few more days in this beautiful country. 
Trang, Evelyn and I all weighed in on our preference of tourism opportunities. My list was long and included Table Mountain, but with the time crunch, we could realistically only choose one. So I lobbied for my top choice — go to the coast and watch penguins. It's intriguing to see exo…

Race Across South Africa, part eleven

"When this is all done, I'm going to set my alarm for 4:30 just so I can turn it off and not get up," Liehann announced as we downed a cold breakfast of granola and milk in the chilled cabin at Trouthaven. 
"Strange that this is the last morning," I agreed ... although, silently, I wondered to myself if it really was our last morning on the Freedom Trail. Sure, there were only 54 kilometers between here and the finish at the wine farm of Diemersfontein. And sure, only 12 kilometers of that was even supposed to be full portaging, although I had heard rumors that this was a direct-line estimate and the reality was probably closer to 15 or even 20. Coen said the portage alone would take seven hours. "That means it will take me twelve," I lamented. 
 We planned to leave at 5:30 a.m. sharp. Sunrise was just before 7 a.m., and 5:30 was about the earliest we could leave to cover the first "easy" kilometers of riding in the dark before first light …

Race Across South Africa, part ten

As the schwack around the Osseberg slipped farther into the past, our days on the Freedom Challenge route started to become more friendly ... dare I say civilized? After we exited the rough doubletrack leading away from The Ladder, our cues prompted us to "turn left ... and now you start the run into Cape Town. Most of the difficult navigation is behind you. You only have three more portages, you have a fair amount of easy riding, and you have a few glorious downhills and the first one starts now."
Even though we arrived very late for the couple at the farm house of Rouxpos — 10:20 p.m. — they still prepared a fresh pot of tea and heated up a hearty dinner for us. There was a lovingly personalized lunch for the next day — homemade fudge and fruit roll marked with the stamp of Rouxpos. And, as a special surprise, dessert was a hot waffle topped with ice cream. Liehann was especially thrilled about the waffle, and raved about it as one of the highlights to look forward to whe…