Showing posts from December, 2016

2016 in numbers

At the end of the December I like to crunch my stats from Strava, and see how far the year took me. Even before the end of 2015, I knew I wouldn't come close to eclipsing last year's numbers — 5,000 miles of riding, 1,700 miles of running, 850,000 feet of climbing, and 41 days of moving time. And it's true, I didn't come close — to any number but the moving time. In 2016, I *still* spent nearly 41 days on the move despite logging a paltry 2,747 miles of riding, 1,491 miles of running, and 638,701 feet climbing.
Wow. I knew I'd become slower, but I really had no idea.
Of course, Strava can't take into account sheer effort — moving through snow, battling gale-force winds, or high altitudes. Strava made a mockery of my *hardest day on a bike ever* by estimating a power output of 5 watts and energy burn of 217 calories — because it took me nearly 15 hours to ride 33 flat miles (into a 30-40 mph headwind atop fragile snow crust of a frozen Norton Sound.) Strava doe…

2016 in photos

2016 ....

Well, it's been a year, hasn't it? I'm among those who share the view that, from a political, environmental and cultural perspective, this year was a downer. I may be among those who wonders if 2017 will be The End, and whether I should stock the bomb shelter for nuclear winter (which may not be a concern for me anyway, because I might just fall through thin ice on Alaska's Tatina River and be gone by March.)

However, from a personal perspective, 2016 was a very good year — health issues notwithstanding. I realized my decade-long dream of riding a bicycle to Nome. Beat and I moved to Colorado. We gained some local mountains and learned to love them. After three months of carpal tunnel syndrome, I now have strong appreciation for pain-free existence. The adventures continued. And now it's time for my annual photo post.

In these posts I pick a favorite photo for each month. These photos have a particular theme of my favorite places in 2016.

January: New Ye…

Actually home for Christmas

For the first time in six years, and only the second time in twelve years, I didn't spend the holidays in the far north. Beat didn't have the time off work for a trip to Alaska this year, and it's becoming harder to justify the time and expense for "gear testing." I was more disappointed than I expected, but it did open up an opportunity to travel back to my actual hometown — Salt Lake City — to spend Christmas with my family. 
 Of course, no trip home is complete without a few hardy hikes with my dad. On Friday we trudged four miles up to what is possibly the prettiest place in the Wasatch Mountains — Broads Fork basin.

 Temps were on the warm side — mid-30s — and the wind was fierce. We climbed more than 3,000 feet before turning around.

 Much fun was had while we ran in slow motion down the steep slope. To me this feels like pedaling a bicycle, pumping my snowshoes into knee-deep powder. These days I feel only fleeting nostalgia for snowboarding, as aging an…

Week 9

I intended this to be my last big week before a longer taper for the Fat Pursuit race on Jan. 6. Given the unpredictable nature of both the race and my performances, I figured being "well-rested" is my best chance. I have no doubt that I possess the endurance and experience to get through 48 hours of whatever happens in those mountains, but can I traverse 200 miles in that time? I think if conditions are as good or better than they were last year (smooth but soft, a bit of a grind at 5mph), then I can. But if they're worse, well ... I am closer to reaching acceptance about my limits.

Last week's training was all over the place in terms of weather, trail conditions, and my own strength. But it was a beautiful week, scenery wise.

Monday: Mountain bike, 3:37, 25.8 miles, 2,993 feet climbing. Weightlifting, 0:35. Temps were in the 40s and everything was either slushy, muddy, or icy, so even descending was hard work. The mountain bike was a good choice for the snowy secti…

5 below in paradise

Most of the Rocky Mountain West experienced a cold snap on Saturday that we had a little taste of — temps between -10 and 0F, with about 6 inches of "cold smoke" snow on the ground. Temps climbed to 61 degrees in Boulder on Thursday, so I know a cold snap here is as fleeting as it is beautiful. Beat and I ventured out in the afternoon for a four-hour, surprisingly strenuous hike on a loop that normally takes me closer to two and a half hours. We didn't see anyone else out there, although we had a set of tracks to follow. I was congested from my Friday allergy shots, and wasn't having the best day physically — but it certainly was a gorgeous outing.
 Heading down to the West Ridge trail.

 Bear Canyon in the frigid shade — temps were almost certainly below -10 in this sunless canyon.

 Working my way up the ridge of Bear Peak. My pace dropped to a crawl. I took my mittens off and unzipped my jacket, and still continued to sweat profusely.

 Oh, but views.

 And hoarfrost…

2016 Iditarod playlist

Earlier this week, an acquaintance mentioned he was putting together a Spotify playlist with music that I cited in my book, "Into the North Wind," and wondered if I had a few more to add. It seemed like a good idea for a blog post, a kind of follow-up to my "Iditarod playlist" of 2014. As I mentioned then, I enjoy listening to music during long solo efforts, and generally the reasons are the opposite of overcoming boredom or shutting out the world. I see music as a means of connecting my often drifting mind with the present. Music also disrupts negative thought loops, and keeps me cognizant of beauty when tedium and fatigue sink in. I keep the volume low and believe I hear most of what I need to hear (such as an approaching snowmobile or dog team. Dogs are pretty quiet, but I can hear them.) However, I usually only listen to music when I'm feeling good — it tends to spark anger or annoyance when I'm not.
As usual, I downloaded a bunch of music before the r…