Small

Real deal (you guessed it) tomorrow because I’m (yep) tired.

Smoked the first half, old knee issues came back a bit near the top of the Gold Bar climb, so I decided to hike the rest to be safe. Succeeded, though I had to run the technical bits of the Poison Spider descent; blowing by jeeps on foot is way too fun. Ran a 7:46 according to my watch, breaking my goal without really trying. Knee issues hypothetically put to rest, I think I would have been an hour faster.

I’ll be back next year.

The course was awesome and brutal. Bill, who has ran over 50 50 and 100 milers, said it was harder than most 50 milers. I clocked 4.4k of up, and a hair less than 5k of down. The course websites figure are I think rather off.

See ya.

Penultimate; good night, and good luck

Don’t expect to see a computer until Sunday evening, so, off it is. Yesterday and today are final prep time: finished up a bunch of odds and ends at work, sat around, am finalizing the iPod all hits all the time list, and will eventually pack. M is unemployed at the moment, so delegation is the name of the game on that last one.

Also relevant, food and rest. One obnoxious byproduct of the “taper” is excess energy and difficulty getting to sleep at a reasonable hour. I can’t really think of a clever fix, next time I may moderate the taper a bit to try to deal, or go climbing and try not to get hurt. Food is something that’s been a big deal in a demonstrable way for this sort of thing, thus lots of fruits, veggies and garlic for the last 48 hours. Tomorrow evening, perhaps sushi in Flag? I’ll eat sushi every day when I win the lottery.

The ADD is kicking in, off to pack and annoy myself trying to calm down.

Best for last: best start to the season for Chris, Dave, Dave, Jill, Dejay, Pua, Lynda, Kathleen, Doug, Randy, Marie, and quite a few others that escape me. Strong energy all around on Saturday! And just know, Saturday at 7pm I’ll be kickin it with free 4% in the beehive state!

Fyodor sez: Suffering is the origin of consciousness.

Antipenultimate Evening

Suffering becomes beautiful when anyone bears great calamities with cheerfulness, not through insensibility but through greatness of mind.
-Aristotle

Happy Valentine’s all! I think I did ok and suggested M pick out a new tree for the deck yesterday, an Arizona Cypress. Romance is in idiosyncrasy, in the details.

Game time is approaching. Working on lots of sleep, minding all the details, and finishing up work. The later is proving most problematic, as we had a field trip today, one tomorrow, new grading protocols, and I have training on Friday. I will soon be a certified instructor in restraining children, a mark I suppose that I’ve been doing things well. And the usual pile of 80 essays to grade; I will not be assigning an essay the week before a big weekend again.

The bike will I think work out with the gears, I spent an hour filing and refiling the Endless to make it play well with a derailleur. I squared the tall teeth off, then rounded down the corners. It needs more work, but the principle is sound. Kinda freaky how easy it is to file alloy. The Surly’s still have a periodic skip, it seems to have something to do with the powerlinks, which makes no sense. Nothing visually wrong, at this point it’s periodic enough that I’m going to let it wear in and see what happens. I really have no patience with technology, and while the multi-gears will in the end be a worthwhile and satisfactory use of effort, right now I just want the ease of one gear. Moreso, I want to not be messing with the bike setup every few months. Lets see how that plays out. The tension between tinkering with the bike and tinkering with your self.

Also of note of mtbr.com today, a trip report in passion of a solo two day White Rim trip earlier this month. The salient quotation, for a newbie ranger: “What we are finding [sic] is that the bikes damage the road more than these 4×4 trucks here….[speaking of his own Ford].”

Bullshit. I find it impossible to think of an empirical case that could be made for this. I think the damage is rather psychological (good on ya Chris and Dave’s!) or phantasmagoric. I intend to rim the Whitey this coming winter as often as possible.

Some stolen highlights:

My expert analysis tells me that those are motorcycle tracks going up the “closed” road, though I would welcome second opinions on that count. This is surely a case of a nasty societal trend getting me up in arms when it happens to hit me in the junk, but I’ll run with it. “FTWR!” anyone?

One more:

Sounds like the rider had some mud issues in places. Not conditions I’d pick, but it sounded like a great trip. Ignorance can indeed be bliss.

Lastly, the “unsupported” debate as mentioned below continues. As usual, the meaningful and delicate distinctions are being lost amongst the words. To be brief, it is of greater consequence to conquer yourself than whatever medium is allowing you to do so. This is not something the world in which we live encourages us to understand. Sometimes ultimate success in this respect is bailing, but with integrity.

Get psyched. Method: iTunes, U2, “Sunday, Bloody Sunday.”

“And the battle’s just begun…”

"Rules" and the new game of endurance racing

The grand master Mike Curiak put up a question on mtbr.com’s Enduro forum, and in typical fashion has generated some rubust debate. It inspired me to take a stab at a more direct version of the rules for the KMC:

1) You are physically on your own. All food, water, and supplies must be either carried by you alone, purchased from a store off-route, or filtered from in situ sources along the course. No “coincidental” prearranged support, psychological or physical. If you bonk, get lost, or have a major mechanical or injury, have the knowledge, wherewithall, and ability to get yourself found and saved without the assistance of others.

2) Follow all LNT guidelines. No gel wrappers left on the trail!

3) Be a good citizen. Interpret #1 within reason. If you see fit to give a fellow racer directions, mechanical assistance, water, a tube, or moral support, do so. Similarly, do not expect or feel entitled to any of the above. It’s nice to have good neighbors, but there isn’t a law mandating it.

4) Obey all laws, natural or man made. Don’t be mean to hikers, cut off cars, or ride bikes off trail. Be especially aware of this within Grand Canyon National Park.

Any suggestions are welcome.

Beaver

My bike parts arrived, including the Sugino-specific Blackspire Ring God. This is not a weight-weanie part, just begs to be beat against pine and granite. The 25t Endless cog is enormous, we’ll see how 7075 alloy wears compared to stainless steel.

Update: the guard fits beautifully, and everything else went fine. The shifting is funny, and I’ve put up the project for the evening at that. The Endless teeth may be too tall to function properly in this way, necessitating a grinder. The Surly ring has a hiccup periodically that doesn’t make any sense to me. I’ve yet to compare tooth profiles to conventional cogs out of a cassette, therein may lie my answer.

Tomorrow.

Grand Confluence Circumnavigation

I’ve had this one as an idea since college, inspired by the first time I rode the White Rim, and this September is reserved for it to happen. Thus, I put up this summary for consideration and inspiration, in case anyone would want to join.

In summary, circumnavigate the confluence of the Green and Colorado, staying as close as possible to the rivers while staying on dirt roads and trails, starting and ending in Moab. You’d take Potash to the White Rim, the WR to Queen Anne’s bottom, cross the river in a small raft, ride through the Maze district, hike-a-bike down to Spanish Bottom, cross the river, hike up Red Canyon, ride through the Needles and finish up on Lackhart Basin and Kane Creek. The whole deal would entail 300-350 miles of riding, and would likely take 2-3 days.

I plan on September of this year for several reasons, first of which is that I need one of these:


The Alpacka raft. Five pounds, room enough in the larger versions for you, a pack, and a bike. Expensive, but purported to be very durable. I’ve had bad experiences with Wal-mart rafts.

The second of which is having a combination of good temps, long days, and low water in the river. All of which point to late September.

Water will obviously be problematic. You’ll have three, maybe four sources: the two river crossings, Indian Creek, and perhaps a spring in the Maze. There’s also the Needles visitor center. Lots of water to be carried the first day, one of the reasons why I’m inclined to start in the dark, and then try to do the ride in two days.

The most brutal section of the ride will be the twin hikes down to and up out of Spanish Bottom. The hike down on the west side I’ve never done, the hike on the east in Red Canyon is four miles, a good 1.5 of which is a rough trail up a very steep talus slope. I’ll need a good system to strap the bike to the pack.

My fitness should be rockin’ by then, so two rough 14 hour days in a row will not be out of the question.

Anyone?

Actually "racing"

SSAZ was the first “race” I’ve ever done on a bike, one of three races of any kind I’ve ever done. I ran in one high school cross country meet before getting injured, and limped through the Chicago Marathon years ago (getting injured in the process). So, I’ve never liked the idea or the execution of racing. This weekend, insofar as it was a race at all, is starting to change my mind.

Part of my issue has been the organized aspect, I stubbornly like to do things my way and the “rules” of soccer games never seemed very fun. Too much to remember. While climbing, running, or riding I am accountable to myself only, and that is rigor enough.

The other side is pushing yourself, and in this even the strongest (not me) need help. This Saturday, I rode most of the race with three others, none of whose names I remember. We were each stronger at different times, able to lead the way while the others drafted through route finding, lines up technical climbs, and searching out sand traps. I was certainly faster because of them, even if it was repeatedly getting gapped descending Milgarosa.

I rode the 40+ miles in a little over 5 hours, including the 6 mile neutral roll-out on pavement and the subsequent “meeting” before the race start. I have no idea how long that put me for the “race” itself, the victory lies in my being able to pace myself, keep on the gas even through to the end, and feel tired but not burnt the day after. Milagrosa made me feel small and incompetent, but that was due in part to the inertia of a choice I made early on during the descent to be cautious and not risk crashing. The season is young, though I certainly want to cultivate some greater confidence on such terrain.

In summary, I feel strong and competent.

I also want to write about Randy. Randy’s from Moab, I presume works in a bike shop, and is dating Marie. Marie is the six foot tall manager of the Red Rock Bakery, and was when M worked there years ago. Randy might be skinnier than Marie, which is a formidible accomplishment. He was riding a beat up black Karate Monkey, one of four present (mine, another guys brownie, and Nick from Surly’s), fixed with the very cool Level rear hub. WTB (new) drop bars, front BB7, shiny brown B-17 on Thudbuster, beat to shit Shimano DH cranks, and a “One Less Titus” sticker. He also had the brilliant idea I invented to put Oury’s on the hooks on his bars. It was an awesome bike, and I really wish I had been even vaguely strong enough to stay with him to see him ride the tech sections. Randy, however, apparently finished second on the day (this info is not guaranteed), and likely had a 10-15 minute gap on me by the first singletrack. Hope to see him again, maybe for the Rim Ride.

Singletrack, valued as “buff” in a similar sense of “flowy” for a climbing routes: meaning easy, but hard enough to not be boring. We had some buff singletrack in sections, but most of it was more entertaining. Like eroded to crap jeep roads, fall line descents and climbs, 6x6s freshly laid as waterbars, and the wash. When I and another guy got to the start of the wash, we thought Dejay might have been fucking with us. Pink flagging led into a corral, and at first the exit was invisible. Soon we were riding down a trail that really didn’t count: deeeeep gravel creek crossings, a continuous 50 yards of baby heads, flood-corrugated and polished chunks of granite and limestone. I had some eureka moments of technical competence here, the high water mark on the day, sand-snaking every gravel section and stream crossing without dabbing, making most of the baby heads, and cleaning all of the gnarliest rock ledge before stuffing my front wheel into the sand and falling over sideways (not much momentum left at that point). It was totally unpreped for bikes, and gorgeous therein.

The rest of the day went very well. I had most of a beer when we got back to the “aid station,” and drank and ate exactly the right amount. I endured the Milagrosa descent with a reasonable amount of cursing and resentiment until I had to stop 100 vertical feet from the bottom when a Cholla ball tagged me on the back. An inch to the right and it would’ve got my pack. Instead, I had to yard on my shirt on either side to pry enough of it out of my back to remove the shirt, pull the cactus off the shirt with small rocks, and move on down to blessed pavement. The last miles were a fine victory ride, due to the fact that we managed to not get confused in the subdivision and rode no bonus miles.

Once back M de-spined me, and after 90 minutes of hydration and some pizza I felt fairly human again. Enough to enjoy the full social, video, swag, beer experience. M enjoyed the bar ride on Dejay’s fixie, and had enough “fun” braking with her legs to complain about being sore yesterday. She also spent half an hour discussing the marriage-industrial complex with Pua Salwicki. Heard of her? The rest was business as usual.

So, on to this week, where I intend to do almost no physical activity. The intend psychological boost is in effect, as watching without watching the fast guys this weekend makes me want to swear of ice cream and start doing sit-ups. Ambition that presents itself with a ready and compelling excuse is a beautiful and welcome thing. This Saturday should be more of the same; the field for the Red Hot is full; the first name on the email Darcy Africa.

I’m leaning heavily towards the Highline 50 for April.

SSAZ ’07

Is a done deal. I’ll do a full essay later on, but right now my brain’s a bit fried, and I want to do, nothing.

Met some great people, rode a great course, beat myself up. Drank beer, hung out, got an enormous amount of random swag.

Dejay Birtch did a great job putting it all together.

Signing off for the weekend

I do need to go throw the gear together, or take a nap, or keep fiddling with iTunes.

Whined a bit getting up, had a big breakfast, dropped M off for her last day at her present job (boss is a flake, long story, so very good riddance in my book), and knocked out 2 hours of trail running at a casual pace, grooving out to the new toy.

I’ve had philosophical objections for ages concerning listening devices and long hours in the woods. Music is certainly an insulator, but I think that’s a valid choice. I had the iPod on for about 70% of the run, more to test the earbuds (comfy) and revel in the new old music than because rocking out was essential to my training paradigm. Now I just need to get more than 6 songs.

It seems to me that when being outside, in whatever form, becomes routine that things change enormously. Not in physical fact (though that’s tangential, and likely) but mentally. For instance, I’ve spent enough nights camping in various forms that just going camping as an activity really doesn’t hold much appeal. Its a means, whether that be saving money, getting away from people, saving time, or having unobstructed access to the night sky. (I am routinely impressed by how little light pollution we have here on the edge of the city, the 0100 stars on our porch are tremendous.) So to with music. Why not bring it out into the living room?

Doug Robinson wrote great words about this in A Night on the Ground, A Day in the Open concerning his days pioneering the hippy climbing scene in the Sierras and hauling a boombox up to a high camp so he could listen to The Rolling Stones. The damn thing probably weighed 15 lbs. The shuffle is sort of back to the future moment for me; I never imagined the possibility of such a thing in my first decade on the earth.

Allright: time to go explore the dark side of the state.

YEAH!

Spoiled kid that I am.

So, why am I awake at nearly 1am for the first time since New Year’s? My new iPod shuffle and ITunes. I am digital.

First thing I could think of; all the high school I haven’t heard in ages. So I’ve got my Chemical Brothers, my Letters to Cleo, my Rage Against the Machine, as well as my Ani and Miles. Happy.

The iPod is art. Japanese functionality, even in it’s exquisite gift wrap and doubled and glued white card. My favorite part by far is the spring.

And mines custom etched: facilitating pomo manifest destiny.

Next week I’ll write more about what that means.

Out, for the weekend.