Showing posts from April, 2016

The first week

After arriving in Boulder on Sunday, Beat and I quickly settled into new routines. Beat woke up early to run into work — the shortest route is about ten miles one way, along the rocky singletrack of Bear Canyon. He also tried two different routes over Green Mountain, because who wouldn't want to bag a peak on their way to work?

I've been getting up early as well to chase away an obnoxious woodpecker who has taken up residence outside the house, and feed the goldfish in the outdoor pond. They were surviving just fine before we arrived, but I've taken a liking to the fish and now think of them as "pets." Although I have several projects that should take priority, this week I found myself pulling a camp chair next to a window and working on my Iditarod book. I figure I can probably finish quickly if I keep momentum, and it's going well. Fun project in an ideal setting. I'm stoked on life right now.

There were a couple of trips to town, but mostly I hung out…

Eastward home

I warned Beat that Los Altos to Boulder is a really long drive. I explained that I genuinely enjoy sitting in a vehicle for hours on end, sipping gas station coffee and watching empty landscapes roll by, but I don't expect many people share my ability to do this and not become painfully bored. I also reiterated the high potential for weather-related drama along the mountainous route, although by late April I thought the worst would be over. Google would have covered Beat's flight, but he insisted he wanted to join me on the land route. We planned a two-day blitz of I-80 with a layover day in Salt Lake to visit my folks.

Beat decided to document the driving journey. Friday morning, we said goodbye to our last Bay Area traffic jam(s.)

A large storm front was barreling east on top of us, and the morning deluges became snow at Donner Pass. Chain controls and more traffic. So much for minimal weather drama in late April.

 It kept getting worse. Secretly I wanted to pull off the h…

I guess it's not surprising, but it's spring and I should leave

Packing, cleaning, doctor visits, one last run up Black Mountain. I wasn't really in the mood for any of it. Transitions inevitably build stress, and stress is bad for stoke. Temperatures were in the mid-80s, recent frolics through the grass left my face oozing with tears and snot, and my lung capacity was on the low side again. The parking lot was full at Rhus Ridge trailhead, which evoked a sigh of relief. "Guess it's not to be." Just as I moved to turn my car around, another car starting backing out.

Shuffling up the hot gravel fireroad, snot streaming everywhere, sunscreen leaking into my eyes. My stomach was irked after eating two apples, a quart of strawberries, an orange, some grape tomatoes, a bell pepper, and some ice cream for lunch (trying to clear out the fridge.) "It seems dumb to force this." Still, this strange sense of duty to my own nostalgia pulled me upward.

At the singletrack junction, gnarled oak trees and chaparral provided patches of…

These long goodbyes

I'm a nostalgic person. I value memories exponentially more than possessions. So when it comes time to pack up and move on to a new chapter of life, I tend to neglect the necessary chores in favor of revisiting people and places, shoring up batches of fresh memories. Friday marked the beginning of our last week in California. Although there is a lot to do, there's even more urgency to do all the things.

 My friend Jan thought it a travesty that in five years of exploring wide swaths of the Bay Area, I'd never managed to ride the trails in Water Dog Lake park. It's one of those smaller islands of open space in the suburbs. There are only about a dozen miles of trails, but they're refreshingly technical and scenic. Due to carpal tunnel syndrome keeping me off the bike (four weeks and counting, sniff sniff) I still can't say I've ridden Water Dog. But Jan did guide me on a fun six-mile trail run on Friday evening.

 Along the singletrack, an old road sign is …

Pre-empting the springtime slump

Ahead of our move to Colorado in two weeks, Beat and I have been making the rounds to say goodbye to friends in the Bay Area. One of the first questions they inevitably ask me is, "When's your next race?"

"Dunno," I reply. "I don't have anything planned right now."

I realized it's probably been nearly seven years since I finished one big event and didn't already have designs on another. (Only about a month passed after the 2009 Tour Divide before my friend Keith asked me to be the other half of his 2010 TransRockies team. So I'm not sure even that counts.) Sure, there will probably be another Iditarod. But that's a year away, and not set in stone. Summer is still wide open.

This was intentional, given my recent breathing issues. In just a couple of weeks I'll move from 300 feet to 7,100 feet elevation, where I'll face a host of new allergens to which I may already be susceptible (Recent history has shown me to be especiall…

Injuries are never fair

Ah, the post-adventure blues. I always experience them to some degree, but this particular bout has been both tempered by excitement about the upcoming move to Colorado (April 21!) and exacerbated by frustration about my hand. Carpal tunnel syndrome gets no respect because it's a "typing" (read: desk jockey/couch potato) injury, but it's more debilitating than I anticipated.

Unlike the other sports injuries I've had, CTS has managed to irritate all aspects of my life. With limited dexterity and almost no strength in my right hand, I have to sloppily use my left hand for eating, writing, cleaning, shopping. Driving is more difficult, typing is a mess, and don't get me started on my page design job at which I'm now at least 20 percent slower. Sleep has been fitful because I often roll onto my arm in some way that causes me to wake up with shooting pain in my three affected fingers. Although the throbbing and tingling comes and goes, there's nearly alwa…

Some of my Iditarod photos

This will be my last Iditarod retrospective post, for a while at least. I realized if I don't write a long-winded race report for my blog, I may not have a chance to share photos. (I will not join Instagram. I will not.) Although I'd like to make a post with a hundred photos (I love them all!), I decided to stick to one favorite for each day of my race, with a short description, approximate mileage, and time stamp. (I used my own GPS data to come up with the mileage. Most agree this is an under-estimate of actual mileage.)

Day one: Squall over Flathorn Lake, mile 29. 5:05 p.m. February 28.

 Day two: Morning fog on the trail to Finger Lake, mile 110.  9:11 a.m. February 29

 Day three: Rainy Pass, mile 171. 2:36 p.m. March 1

Day four: The Farewell Swamps, mile 209. 9:07 a.m. March 2

Day five: Only five miles to McGrath!, mile 301. 9:13 a.m. March 3

Day six: Leaving Takotna, mile 329. 2:49 p.m. March 4

Day seven: The long and bumpy Iron Dog trail, mile 401. 5:14 p.m. March 5

Day eight:…