Monday, December 26, 2005

Christmas Recap

Best Christmas Gifts Ever:

Black Diamond AvaLung (thanks tina!)

Black Diamond Lightsabre bivy (thanks Mom/David!)
Our Paddle Sponsor Epic Paddles gave us some props on their site!

Friday I leave for Jackson Hole, WY. Corbet's Couloir, a narrow, rocky passage that requires a 5- to 20-foot airborne entry into a usually tracked, super steep mogul field awaits my arrival.

Jackson's Good stats
Base Elevation: 6311 ft.
Summit Elevation: 10,450 ft.
Vertical: 4,139 ft.
Skiable Area: 2,500 Acres
Longest Run: 3,8000 ft.
Annual Snowfall: 403 in.

Jackson's Bad stats
Single day lift ticket: $70 (absolutely insane!)
Season pass: $1945

Friday, December 23, 2005

Rest

Thank you! First off I have to say “thank you” to all of you out there that have been so positive and encouraging to me. It means a lot that you are all so positive and supportive about my life change. I’ve been amazed by the feedback. Thanks.

Since the Baja Travesia I've been trying to rest. It's been two weeks now and I'm feeling great, fully healed (with the one exception of my right heal blister). Even though I feel fine I know that my body needs this rest after an entire season of racing almost every other weekend. I've read it can take elite marathon runners two months to fully heal... well the Baja race was almost 10x a marathon distance at somewhere around 240+ miles, so even though I feel all healed up, my body needs this rest.


Some endurance mtn bikers never seem to take a rest - Sologoat (2nd at 24-Hour Wolds) and Jeff Kerkove seem to either be doing some sort of racing or cyclecross all winter. It doesn’t sound like they take very much time off at all. Crazy – but to each his own. It’s obviously working for these guys.

This rest period for me comes at a good time as I’m trying to get my life in order before I leave Seattle for Jan and Feb. I have one more day at Microsoft… which will consist of coming in, checking my email, boxing up any left over personals, then meeting with HR for my exit interview. I’ll turn over my badge and be out by noon Dec 27th!
Just three short days later, on Dec 30th I pack up the van and head to Jackson, WY where I’ll be taking the 8 day AMGA ski guiding course. After that it’s ski tour and train for the rest of Jan. I still don’t have a place to stay in Jackson so if you are reading this and you can hook me up with a cheap place to crash for Jan let a brotha know. I need one room with a bed, and enough space to setup my bike trainer and that’s’ about it really. Oh and access to a kitchen too. I don’t drink, don’t smoke and go to bed early (I’m so boring).

Febuary 1-20th I’ll be in Crested Butte, CO to ski and train. Feb 20th it’s back to Seattle. A couple of things are bringing me back at this time: The Life-Link Randonee Rally at Alpental (Feb 25th), and the DART adventure racing clinics we are doing for the Pro-Club (largest gym in the US).

Enjoy: I have to include a link to this SNL skit – so funny - Lazy Sunday - SNL Digital Short

Monday, December 19, 2005

Baja Travesia Photos

All Photos Couresty of Bernardo Rodrigues - see the rest of them here and you can read my race report here on MountainZone.com


Me on the 9,842 foot bike climb

DART Gregory on the bike climb

The VanGorders - gross!

Finish Line: Paul Romero, Matt Hart, Jen Segger and Cyril Jay-RayonJen's Cankles - Expedition Racing is ugly
Baja Travesia and Explore California Champs!

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Chasing the Dream: Step one - Quit Your Job

Yesterday, fresh back from my big race and big victory in Baja I gave my employer my two weeks notice. At 30 years old, I'm quitting my job after 7 years as a software test engineer at Microsoft to try and become a professional endurance athlete. Am I crazy? Probably. Am I scared? Yes. But what scares me more is not chasing a dream while I have a chance. I'd say 99% of people work a job because it pays the bills, not because they give a rats ass about it. I think most are scared to leave the comfort zone. I am scared to leave the comfort zone. The chances of me succeeding are slim, however I am compelled to try. I know of a hand full of adventure racers who are paid salaries to race. Most are ex-world champion athletes in other sports. Although I won my share of drinking contests in college I can not claim any sort of similar accolades - although the 1997 Boot-a-Minute Championship title I won with Geoff Fiedler was pretty impressive - I challenge you to find another 140 pounder who can put back that much Natural Light. But I digress.. For this to work many things have to happen. I have to stay healthy. I have to continue to win, with my team and as a solo athlete. This is the only way to further the relationships with the sponsors. Basic economics really, when I run out of the money I've saved and there is still no sponsorship money - the dream dies.

There was a time when the geek in me was in heaven at Microsoft. I was learning all this cool technology and it was very exciting. The resources to learn at this company are second to none. However in recent years that fire has faded as another one has taken it's place. And so on Dec 27th, 2005 I leave Microsoft to pursue my athletic career.

Wish me luck, I'll need it.

“Visions are worth fighting for. Why spend your life making someone else’s dreams?” Orson Welles

Monday, December 12, 2005

DART Montrail Wins the Baja Travesia Expedition Adventure Race!

I am just back from Baja, Mexico where my team, DART Montrail competed in the Baja Travesia Expedition Adventure Race. This was my first expedition adventure race. Before the race I never wanted to mention or talk about that fact. Not sure why, maybe for fear that it would make people not take me seriously, or uncover me as a fraud who had no chance of winning such an event.

Since I wrote a comprehensive race report for MountainZone.com on this race I'll spare you all the details... but I'll give you the basics. The race traversed the peninsula of Baja California - traveling more than 370km from the Pacific Ocean to the Sierra Mountains at 10,000 ft and back to the Sea of Cortez. My teammates for this race were Cyril Jay-Rayon and Jen Segger. We also had a second DART team racing as DART Gregory - Glenn Rogers, Ryan VanGorder and Jen VanGorder. This race was one of the most adventurous and challenging events I've ever done and we finished in 69 hours on less than 15 minutes sleep! Second place finished more than 9 hours after us. However we had no idea and my hallucinations had me thinking we were being chased down to the finish. DART Gregory finished a respectable 4th place after 3 camp fires - pretty impressive.

Paul Romero and Karen Lundgren of Team Sole where the race directors and they put on an amazing race. It's hard to say this race was harder than other races, but I finished this race so messed up that I would have to say - this felt like the hardest event I've ever done. There were times when we were putting up our own makeshift rappelling ropes in the dark, in a 10 foot wide, 6,000 foot high canyon that I could not believe we were on course.. no one on my team believed it either. We are an experienced team and we were freaking out, so an average team had no chance, and from what I saw no average team finished this race.

Highlights:

  • The dolphins swimming beside our boat on the first 50km (31 miles) kayak section.
  • The two DART teams riding the first bike section and the following trekking section together - it was just a blast to be out there with 5 other teammates pushing hard.
  • Finally getting out of Devils Canyon, which took 6 hours of down climbing and rappelling super steep terrain and loose rocks.
  • Arriving at CP15 and having them tell us we were in first place having passed Nike ACG Europe.
  • The 26+ mile run to the Sea of Cortez, I was holding my compass bearing the whole time and having the team running fast enough that we knew no one could catch us at this pace - no one.
  • Finally getting out of the boat at the finish, then having them confirm that we were first.
  • Going to sleep, getting up, going back to the finish line and realizing that no one else had finished yet and wouldn't for another 9 hours.
  • Cyril's navigation throughout the race.

Lowlights:

  • Being absolutely embarrassed by team Silly Rabbits (Salomon) Rick Barraff, Harold Zundel and Emily Durksen on the first paddle section - they hammered on everyone
  • Sitting in a cactus on the first bike section, oh the pain. Thanks Glenn for pulling the needles out of my ass. He didn't want to do it but I reminded him he has kids and to pretend I'm one of them!
  • Thinking at one point in Devils Canyon that we were going to have to bivy for the night and wait for a helicopter to come get us.
  • Hallucinating in the 104 degree heat of the desert after coming out of the 18 hour canyoneering section, I was absolutely crazy at that point on less than 15 minutes of sleep.
  • The Mexican Policia jumping out of his truck with a machine gun and coming at me.
  • After running a quarter mile to the last CP on the kayak section the rest of the paddle was pure hell for me. My asthma was out of control, I couldn't breath, but I couldn't slow down because we could see lights of another team chasing us down.. (or so we thought).

I have to thank my teammates Jen Segger and Cyril Jay-Rayon for being amazing athletes and teammates.

Sleepmonsters race report and picture gallery.