Monday, July 30, 2007

24 Hours of 9 mile = sore

This weekend I was in Wausau, WI for the 24 Hour National Mountain Bike Championships. I was supposed to be competing on a four man team, but a last minute injury required us to race as a 3 man squad. This meant a couple additional hours of riding for me, and the rest of the team. Unlike last year the weather was perfect, and we were ready to roll. Adam Clark got the festivities going with a blazing first lap, and had us in a good placing to start the day. I was next to go, and my first lap would be my first lap on the course. A good portions was the same as last year, but with a couple of additional singletrack sections that made for some sweet riding, I was a little hesitant in some of the tech sections. A couple of the sections were really bumpy, and as the day wore on took a toll on everyones back and wrists. I took one fall on the first lap on a blind corner, banged my hip pretty hard, but was back up and riding fairly quickly. Right after falling, I was passed by this guy. He was flying and went on the a really impressive finish. After my lap I handed off to Adrian Redd and we were on our way to our first time through the rotation. Next time through we decided to double up and go out for two laps each of the 14 mile loop. This was seriously tough, but I think it worked for the best, as it gave us some extra rest inbetween race efforts. By my night laps I was definitely fresher than last year, probably due to the additional rest. Kelly was asking me, "what you do between laps?". I told her that you pretty much sit around, eat, stay hydrated, and relax. With the team format it is really hard to sleep, as the time between laps doesn't allow for much more than keeping the tank full. The night laps ended up being a ton of fun. Night riding is all about focusing on the perfect line, and the rocks that scared you during the day, disappear into the darkness. It is really an amazing experience. My last lap ended up finishing at 5:30 in the morning. At this point our team was worn out. Missing the fourth rider finally hit us. We took a couple hours off, and Adam went out for a final lap. Our placing wasn't great this year, but we rode hard, and along with the two other XXX Racing-AthletiCo teams, we represented the best that we could, and had fun doing it.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Day 6

Today was the day we got in over our heads in the back country. The day started off nice enough with a Blueberry waffle, and some coffee. Our plan was to take the gondola to the mid mountain and start our hike. From the mid mountain we were to hike to 12,700' to the Wassatch Connection trail that went off the backside of the ski resort down to a valey, eventually leading back into town. On the way up we ran into 3 guys coming back down the trail. We mentioned we were heading to the Wassatch Connection, and they voiced concern about their being snow on some of the sections. We told them we thought we would be okay, and continued on. As we jumped onto the trail we ran into a few small snow crossings, that had pretty good footholes and weren't too scary.

As we continued on we ran into a snow crossing that was fairly steep with no footholes. We looked at the crossing, thought we could make, and started the crossing. I got about 3 steps and realized I had minimal traction, and sat down to figure out a plan. By this time Kelly had made here way out on the snow. I told her to try and head back off the snow. About this time I lost my footing, started sliding on my back, flipped over on my stomach, heading towards a large area of rocks. Right before I hit the rocks, I flipped over on my back again slid another 20 feet, and eventually slid off the snow onto some super loose rocks. After checking to make sure all my parts were still attached to my body, I looked at Kelly and told her not to move. At this point she was going nowhere, as she had her nails dug into the snow. After trying to figure out a plan, Kelly finally lost her grip and slid about 15-20 feet. Luckily she was in much more control, and didn't slide as far as myself. The slide also put her in a position to make it to the edge of the snow and onto the rock. At this point she had to make here way down another 20-25 feet on the really loose rock to an area where the snow was narrow, and she could make it to the side of the trail where I was. A half hour later she was able to cross to my side and our near death experience was almost over. We stil had to make it back to the trail, and the hike was barely starting, but we were off the snow. Looking back at the snow crossing, if I had slid another 10 feet, the snow passage opened into a 100 yard wide snow field. I would have slid 300 yards, instead of the 25 yards that I did. We were both really beat up after the event, with a ton of cuts and scratches.

That night, Kelly and I didn't sleep at all. The both of us kept playing the situation over and over in our heads, and how we could have been smarter, along with how it could have been much worse.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Tour de France sans Armstrong = Awesome!!

After watching the Stage 8 yesterday I realized how much better the Tour is without the Armstrong led meat grinder setting the pace. The current peloton is still trying to figure out what to do without a dominant figure. Riders are scared, or unwilling to show their cards, and this allows unpredictable attacks to gain serious time in the mountains. At this point I have no idea who will win the race. There are 10+ guys that all think they have a shot to win, and in reality they probably all do have a legitimate argument that they will be the one standing on the top step of the podium in Paris. If yesterday’s stage is a sign of things to come, the next two weeks of the Tour should be amazing.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Day 5

After getting settled in Telluride we decided to hike from Town Park to the top of Bridal Veil Falls. The hike started off fairly easy following the San Juan River, but As we got to the main trail the trail kicked up into a really steep road. The structure at the top of the falls was constructed to allow electric power to be produced by the falls. We found out later that the building was recently purchased and renovated into a summer home for a family. Even though the building is privately owned, it still produces electric power. I wasn't sure if I could get used to living right onthe edge of a shear cliff, but Kelly was pretty sure that the views were worth a little anxiety.

Day 4

Day 4 started bright and early, as we had a long drive from the Grand Canyon to Mesa Verde National Park. The drive was mostly through open plains and really straight roads. At one point I saw a police car coming towards us and I thought they were going to pull Kelly over for speeding, but it was actually just a lead car for a super wide load (shown below).

After making our way to Mesa Verde National Park we signed up for the "Extreme" guided tour of the cliff dwellings. These days the only way to get into the actual dwellings is in a guided tour. It was really amazing to think that the dwellings were built 800-900 years ago, and the Park Service has only done minor renovations to good portions of them.

Above is a photo of our guide, John. He was a really nice guy, lives here during the summers, and is a science teacher the rest of the year in Alaska. He also drove a 1972 VW Beatle and is the original owner.
After Mesa Verde we made our way to Telluride, which was about a 2 hour drive. On the way I saw a bear runnig down the side of a mountain towards a river. We turned around to get a better look, but unfortunatley the bear was nowhere to be found.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Day 3

We were now at the Grand Canyon and ready to check out the big hole in the ground. We were planning to do a good hike that day, and see how far we could make it down into the canyon, but with new boots, and blisters, we ended up limiting the hike to 3 miles down, followed by 3 miles back up. The Grand Canyon really is amazing, and every turn provide a new view. At night each minute changes the colors of the canyon and makes for beautiful photos. The Amish ladies in the photo below started their hike at 4:30 in the morning. That is way too early for kelly and I.

That afternoon we chilled out; had a few beers, and ate some nachos.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Day 2 started out with a drive from Phoenix to Sedona. We planned to hike outside of Sedona, before making our was to the Grand Canyon. The hike ended up being pretty tough due to the heat of the desert. Temperatures were easily into the 100's, and we were both out of water by the end of the hike. We were really glad to make it back to the car.

After the hike we headed on to Grand Canyon National Park.

Day 1

Day 1 started off with a flight from Chicago to Phoenix, AZ. After landing and picking up the rental car we headed to our hotel for the night. Recently we had heard about a pizza place in Phoenix that was voted the best pizza in the US. Being from Chicago we wer a bit sceptical, but we decided to check it out. The place is called Pizzeria Bianco, and after dinner Kelly and I both agreed that it was some of the best pizza we have ever tasted. The pizza is cooked in an 800 degree brick oven. we had the Wiseguy, and the fennel sausage they used was amazing. So if you are ever in Phoenix, definitely check it out.

More to Come.

Kelly and I are back from our road trip from Phoenix, Arizona to Denver, CO. I will be posting photos and such over the next couple of days.

For some reason blogger is not letting me put a title on my posts right now.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

If You... 60's R&B Soul check out:

  • Band of Bees (download tracks: "Listening Man" and "Chicken Payback")
...wish The Cure wasn't so depressing check out:

  • Shout out Louds (download tracks "Tonight I have to Leave It" and "Shut Your Eyes") LCD Soundsystem check out:

  • Tom Vek (download track: "Ain't Saying My Goodbyes") the Stone Roses and Charlatans UK check out:

  • Kasabian (download tracks "Sun/Rise/Light/Flies" and "Club Foot") Pet Sounds era Beach Boys check out:

  • Panda Bear (download tracks: "Comfy in Nautica" and "Bros Edit"

This is some of the music we listened to while on our trip through Colorado.