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Showing posts from September, 2016

Into the North Wind

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I'm preparing to send out the first batch of "Into the North Wind" photo books. These feature a magazine-style layout for my story of cycling across Alaska on the Iditarod Trail in March 2016. It's been an enjoyable project, but the final stages are always grueling. I'll be glad to release this into the world, which is the best way of letting something go.

A brief summary of the narrative: In early 2015, I finally committed to a long-standing but intimidating dream to ride one thousand miles across the frozen wilderness of Alaska. As soon as I launched into preparations, things began to go drastically wrong, until I was standing at the starting line of the 2016 Iditarod Trail Invitational and more convinced than ever that Nome was a step too far. The rest is the story of taking on the most fearsome endeavor of my life, one tentative step at a time.

If you've read "Be Brave, Be Strong," this is a fitting sequel, with a lot of the same themes. I sent…

First days of autumn

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I was glad we were returning from Europe just in time to catch the peak of autumn in the Colorado high country, and hopeful that summer and all of its supposed air toxins were long gone. This apparently wasn't the case, as I'm back to sucking in the outdoors all over again. Maybe my breathing difficulties will eventually clear up, or maybe they're all in my head ... something I'm inclined to believe, as any discernible pattern or cause remains elusive. 
Last week in Italy, I engaged in 20 hours of moderate to strenuous effort, largely between 5,000 and 10,000 feet, over 65 miles with more than 26,000 feet of climbing, and had no issues, not one. Pretty much all I ate in Italy was pizza, bread, and pasta. My sleep was poor and I was stressed out for various reasons, but physically I felt fine. After three days in the states, I'd returned to struggling mightily and sucking on the inhaler I hadn't touched in a month.
 Full disclosure: I neglected my asthma medica…

Final day of Tor

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For the two weeks I spent in the Alps during both PTL and TDG, my goal was not just to wander around in beautiful places. I wanted to venture outside of my comfort zone, to the spaces where my heart rate spikes and my blood runs cold, to prove to myself I am capable of becoming the mountain traveler I want to be. I achieved this occasionally, although the teetering and vertigo and weird foot placements proved I still don't have a solid grasp on my own proprioception, and may never. By Friday morning, my legs were cut and bruised from mistakes made in relatively benign places, my quads and calves were sore from endlessly steep climbs and descents, and my mood and confidence were all but shattered. I headed out to Ollomont to see Beat at the final life base, and my hands were quaking for most of the drive. Great, now I'm apparently terrified of driving, too. I do love the Aosta Valley, but at this point, I couldn't wait to go home.

It was pissing rain and temperatures were …

More days of Tor

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My usual mode of operations for the Tor des Geants is to drive to each of the six life bases — generally hitting one per day — bring Beat some dry, clean clothing and other supplies, wait for him to sleep a few hours, fetch beer and espresso, and provide back scratches and moral support. He doesn't really need all this, but I value the overall experience of the "crew-person." This year the task was difficult for me, for personal and other reasons unrelated to the race. I spent much of the week feeling stressed or sad, as well as guilty for feeling this way when I was on holiday in one of the most wonderful places in the world, the Italian Alps. But this is life — we can't always control how or what emotions affect us, no matter how much we want to. 
Let's get the most embarrassing emotion out of the way first: Confronting past failures. I tried and failed to finish the TDG in 2014, after falling and injuring myself in a way that seems almost inevitable, because …

TDG 7, day one

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After we left Chamonix, Beat and I spent eleven days in Switzerland visiting his family. From an outdoors perspective it was mostly uneventful. I spent a lot of time working on the finishing details for my next book (photo book still set to be released Oct. 1. Kindle version will be out Nov. 1.) Beat brought home a cold from PTL that I ended up catching, and we're both fighting it still. I tried and mostly failed to get my running legs back with jogs on pleasant forest roads. Beat I and embarked on several jaunts up the "1,000er-Stägli" (which is actually more like 1,111 steps up a hillside near Olten, gaining 850 feet of elevation ... or about 78 stories.)

The goal is to climb the 1,000er-Stägli in twelve minutes or less. This is what you feel like after climbing the 1,000er-Stägli in twelve minutes or less. Then of course you run down the trail to try it again.

On Saturday we arrived in Courmayeur for Beat's seventh running of the Tor des Geants. This is my sixth…