Friday, April 28, 2006

Barkley Marathon

I've been thinking about the Barkley Ultra Marathon lately - it's 100 miles and 52,900 feeet of climbing. Only six people have ever finished this race. How bad ass is that? Here is a Fox Sports article on it.

I have also been discussing a double crossing (running) of the Grand Canyon with Krissy - 94 miles, 23,000 feet of gain, what an epic adventure that would be. For years I've wanted to mtn bike from Fruita to Moab on the Kokopelli trail in under 24 hours - 140 miles of beautiful mtn biking trails. Just kicking around some adventure ideas. We'll see what I can fit in with racing coming up really quick... May is packed:

  • May 6: Krissy is racing in the Miwok 100k (63 miles) - I'll be pacing her last 20 miles (we'll get to hang out with the Copsons in SF too!)
  • May 13-14: US Rogaining Championship - We'd do the 8 or 12 hour race rather than the 24 hour which we both want to do. Krissy will just be coming off Mikwok 100k and I have my big 24 hour mtn bike race at the end of May to prepare for.
  • May 20th: TRIOBA Sprint Adventure Race. I was going to skip this to rest but NIKE ACG might be there. It's on their schedule.
  • May 27-28: NORBA Northwest Regional Championship/WA State 24 hour solo mtn biking Championship.

    I'm am getting excited to race!

Sunday, April 23, 2006

DART-nuun Primal Quest Training

Big fun weekend of
training for my adventure racing team DART-nuun. Not long and hard, but very specific – riverboarding and ropes training. Since this years Primal Quest will have a 5 + hour riverboarding section team DART-nuun decided that we should prepare for it.

We started Saturday with a hike up Mailbox peak. Then we met our riverboarding sponsor Art from Emergency Rescue. He designs riverboards and gear for riverboarding and was a wealth of knowledge. He taught us how to read the river and maneuver the boards through rapids. It was a blast!.

Sunday we met our ropes guy Pat,
and hit our secret ropes training spot to work on ascending fixed ropes, switching over to our rappel and rappelling back down another rope with a figure 8. Yeah for some reason Primal Quest is requiring us to use Figure 8’s rather than ATCs. After a failed attempt to paddle, RVG and I hit Tiger Mountain for a couple hours of Iverson and Preston trail. Great weekend.

Friday, April 21, 2006

SMB Fitness Test

OK I’ll start with my excuse. This was a big week of training. I had four days this week with over four hours of training and yesterday I rode 60 miles. So today was the Sound Mind and Body Fitness Test. I work at this gym twice a week teaching cycling class… yeah that’s right, headset, lycra and all. They have strict guidelines about how fit their employees have to be, we are examples after all right?

I really had no idea what I was in for when I arrived. To pass the test your score had to fall within the acceptable range of fitness. My goal was to top the charts in everything and score the highest ranking if I could.

1 Mile Run: We started with a mile run on the Burke Gilman trail, a marked ½ mile out and ½ mile back. I ran that the fastest of the group in 5:27 but I can certainly run faster, (see above excuse) seriously my legs were tired.

11 Pullups: Next we did pull-ups, to get the highest score you had to do 11 – piece of cake.

11 Dips: No problem

Stretch 21 inches: Feeling a bit tight from my ride I was still able to manage 22.5

Situps: 3 types, straight up, hands behind head and with a stick.. highest score if you could do it with the stick and your elbows out – wasn’t very hard actually. This test seemed to be off a bit.

51 Pushups: You had to do 51 pushups in under two minutes with your chest hitting your partners fist every time down to assure you weren't cheating. I just did them all at once without resting then callapsed after 51. This was pretty hard.

Back extensions: With someone sitting on your legs you had to hold a back extension straight out for three minutes to get the highest score. I think everyone was able to do this one.

Go give it a try and let me know how you rank!

Monday, April 17, 2006

First Ride on the Turner Nitrous

My best buddy and bad ass mechanic
Matthew Noell (picture from '05 NORBA Nationals with his son Wilder) has been putting my two new Turner bikes together for me. I’d love to say I have been helping, well I guess I have, but Matthew does most of the real work. The last touch for the Nitrous was putting the front derailleur on. I took care of that on Monday before I hit the trail with my new Nitrous for the first time!

Tiger Mountain’s Preston Railroad trail just reopened on April 15th for mtn bikes. I ride this trail more than any other.
It’s close, it has some climbing, some wicked single track and some challenging technical riding – it’s perfect and fun. Last year I would do some race pace training by trying to ride the 13 mile loop in under an hour. I got as close as 1:06, but I still think it’s possible. I am not the fastest out there so someone must have done it - If you have let me hear about it in the comments. This year I’m going to do it. I wasn’t feeling particularly good today and I climbed the road in 24 minutes.

The Nitrous is amazing, super nimble and a blast to ride… precision.

Worst fork ever
The frame is only 4.5 lbs. With all my carbon FSA components on it the bike is amazingly light. I am itching to take it to DHZ and weigh it. First impression: fastest XC race bike I’ve ever been on, the RP3 had absolutely no bob on the climbs and the bike is meant to go FAST. I can’t say the same for my RockShox Air Titanium. Bought it a few years ago and got a lemon. I’ve spend about $340 getting this fork rebuild on three occasions. By the time I finished the climb up the road to the trail head it was bottoming out and had no air in it.. POS. Clank clank clank all the way down. I now only buy Fox suspensions, they might be a bit heavier but they are simply better products, just ask your local bike shop guy.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Walk 7,778 miles across the continent?

Today I met and ran 20 miles with GoLite's Andrew Skurka. In July, 2005 he became the first person to walk the entire 7,778-mile transcontinental Sea-to-Sea Route (fast packing averaged 23 miles a day). Taking just over 11 months. He's a friend of a friend, so after the run we then went and watched him speak about his epic journey at REI in Seattle. Very cool guy, great talk, go check it out - tour schedule.

Friday, April 14, 2006

DART-nuun takes second at Cal-Eco 24 Hour Race - Auburn, CA

Eager to start the 2006 season we decided to head down to Auburn, CA for the first

Cal-Eco 24 Hour Adventure Race. The team was comprised of Aaron Rinn, Jen VanGorder, Ryan VanGorder and myself. Saturday morning we arrived at Folsom Lake ready for our 1:30pm start. We were all a bit nervous for several reasons; Jen had actually said to me, “what am I doing racing with you three? What have I gotten myself into?”. In the airport the night before Aaron was sick and throwing up. We were all still in base training mode, which just means none of us had gone all out race pace since last season. Plus I had never raced with Jen or Aaron, although we train together enough for me to know it would be awesome.

We knew there would be a competitive field at this race. Team Salomon Silly Rabbits was the previous season’s series champions and Team Subaru was there as well. The competitive juices started to flow as we lined up – every team sizing other team up. With an “ok you can go” Dan Barger sent us off on a short orienteering section in

the park. There were four checkpoints and we only needed to get two. Easy right? Well we did nothing right on this section. We went to basically the two farthest CPs away from each other in a snap decision. On the way to the first we were sprinting even though we had over 17 hours left to race. The mud on course was shoe sucking. Within four minutes of the start RVG in two strides had lost both Montrails in the mud. His momentum kept him running in his socks for the next couple of steps. I laughed and thought to myself that won’t happen to me.. then of course it did. Actually I lost both shoes on two occasions during this race (and one mtn bike wheel).

Back to the O section: We got the first CP without issue however our pace was red lining Jen so I put her on tow and continued to hammer. That became part of the problem as we way overshot the next CP and wasted a good deal of time. When we arrived at the boats for the kayaking section there were depressingly few left on the beach. With 38 teams (largest in Cal-Eco history) in the four person co-ed category we had just put ourselves in a hole.

We then paddled across the lake and jumped out of the boats for the next CP. As we got out of the boats we saw Salomon Silly Rabbits getting into the boats with at least a 30 minute lead on us, and they were in 2nd place at this point. Team Subaru was long gone. In our haste we went up the wrong peak. But we figured it out, got back in the boats and started to pass teams as we paddled to the end of the lake. We were about 3 hours into the 24 hour race and already over an hour behind 1st place, and 30 min behind 2nd in 28th place. We had some work to do.

From there we hit the trail with lightning speed, taking turns towing as we passed teams. Now were in the chase and it was so much fun! The next few hours of trail running we really gained some ground. As the night fell for the next orienteering section we had a decision to make, take our bikes with us or do it all on foot. This was a strategic decision, we took our bikes and trail shoes. We would ride as close to the CP as we could with our bikes then ditch them and do the off trail running/bushwhacking to the CP. Aaron and Ryan were navigating really well and I started to get this creepy six sense about where the CPs were. For the rest of the race I would pretty much be the one that found every CP. As we neared I’d look at the map or just have Aaron where to tell me to run. Then I’d do my freak out, frantically sprinting around the area until I found it.

On our way to our second to last CP a team was coming up to the area from another direction, it was Silly Rabbits. I saw the CP first (creepy 6th sense again) and sprinted for it, which led them in the dark right to it because of my headlamp. That was there last CP of the section. We still had one more which we found with relative ease. When we arrived at the TA we were told we were now in 3rd place. Very good news. Team Subaru who trains in the area still had an hour lead on us that we couldn’t seem to chip away at… but Silly Rabbits was in striking distance. Within 10 minutes of starting this foot section we caught and passed them. That didn’t last long as we couldn’t decide which route to take. This run mostly on the Western States trail along the American River and it was just beautiful. It made me want to do the Western States 100 (another one on the list).

From here we had a few checkpoints to find on our bikes. We were riding pretty well but I didn’t feel like we were riding fast enough to catch either Silly Rabbits or Subaru. When we arrived at CP8, which turned out to be the crux of the race, Silly

Rabbits was still there looking for it. Sweet! Our two teams spent the next couple hours looking around the same area together. Then Silly Rabbits pulled a fast one. They regrouped, to “look down here at some tracks on the left that Subaru made.” “On the left side of the trail? That doesn’t make any sense” I said. They sort of lied about finding it, walked their bikes around the corner and were gone! Hey it’s a race, no hard feelings right? I eventually stumbled upon it and had to call RVG over to punch the passport that he had. He had walked by that section a couple of times, as we all probably had. I think the CP was slightly misplaced and it was on one side of a tree trunk, very hard to see.

Either way we hit the last TA to hear that Team Subaru had dropped out. Apparently they couldn’t find CP8, or CP10. Whoa. Here is what I don’t get. They had just under an hour lead on us and Silly Rabbits. So why weren’t they still there looking for CP 8 when we got there? By my math that means they looked for it for under an hour and gave up. That is not very long, it probably took us a couple of hours to find it. In the end we were able to make up some time on the hour run up to the finish line but it was not enough as Silly Rabbits finished about 39 minutes before us in first. We finished in 17:39 at about 7:30am Sunday morning... DART-nuun finished a strong 2nd in our first race of the year.

I have to say that being a mountain biker I would have enjoyed more biking in this race as we probably ran 40 miles during it. Overall however it was a great race.

Special thanks to Joe, who was the best support crew ever!

See the results here and pictures here and here... as well as a race report by Silly Rabbits here.

Great race Rabbits! You'll be going head to head with DART-nuun again at the Mighty Mo Expedition! I won't be racing but we have a strong team comprised of Jen VanGorder, Aaron Rinn, Glenn Rogers and Ryan Fleming.

Thursday, April 6, 2006

Dimitri Kieffer

Here is a great article in the Seattle Times about a crazy French buddy of mine Dimitri Kieffer. He and another adventurer just became the first to cross the Bering Straight on foot. I first met Dimitri during a local adventure racing group training years ago. After an entire day of trekking/running he and I were the only ones in the group interested in another 12 hours of mountain biking in the rain. That was the first time I had ever witnessed someone actually falling asleep while riding a bike.

Tuesday, April 4, 2006

Skiing Legend Dies

"Extreme Skiing Legend Doug Coombs Dies" - I met Doug Coombs this winter when taking my AMGA ski guide course in Jackson Hole. He seemed like a great guy, and everyone in the class idolized him for his many accomplishments. I guess if you live by the gun you die by the gun. It's a little disheartening when a skier like this dies in the mountains... is it just a matter of time?

"Here is a report from Matt Farmer on the accident involving Chad VanderHam and Doug Coombs. If you are not interested or uncomfortable with reading the details of the accident please do not read any further.

La Grave, France 16:45 April 3, 2006
Christina Blomquist, Doug Coombs, Chad Vanderham, and I, descended from the top of the Telepherique de la Meije to ski the “Le Polichinelle” Couloir.
This route maintains an average steepness of 40-45 degrees through a series of three successive couloirs linked by leftward traverses at the base of each chute. The couloirs get progressively longer, from approximately 40 to 100 meters, before a final leftward traverse leads to mellower lower angled gullies which feed back into the apron below the couloir. The base of the third chute is approximately 3-4 meters wide and exposed to the top of the final cliff which is about 50 meters high. Below this cliff is a small couloir to the right and a 15-20 meter cliff to the left which both end up at the top of the snow apron below the main couloir system. 30-40 cm of untracked light snow was well bonded to a base of firm neve. General stability of the snow pack was good and the hazard rating for the day was a 2 on the French scale. Weather conditions were beautiful, the sky clear and blue without clouds or wind.
Chad descended the first couloir and waited to the left of the base as Doug skied, followed by me and then Christina one at a time. Doug traversed left and skied the second chute followed by Chad, then myself and Christina. Chad led the third couloir which curves right out of view of the starting point. Doug skied next and was subsequently followed by Christina.

Just as Christina entered the middle of the top of the third couloir Doug yelled up that “Chad fell, come down with a rope.” I traversed into the middle of the couloir to the point at which I could see down to Doug who was side stepping down a rock rib below and right of the constriction at the base of the couloir. Christina and I saw Doug yelling Chad’s name while side stepping down and attempting to see over the cliff to his right. We saw his skis slip on the rock and he fell out of view over the rib.

I skied down to the constriction and carefully continued down softer snow left of the rock rib that Doug had been standing on. I continued along side the rock rib, sidestepping down and right on snow to within 2 meters of where Chad’s ski was sticking vertically in the snow at the top of the cliff. From this vantage point I could see Chad’s body approximately 150 meters below on the apron of snow below the cliff at the base of the couloir. Doug’s body was also visible, motionless, but sliding slowly down the apron coming to rest about 30 meters beside Chad.

At this point, 17:29, I called the Haute Alps rescue services for a helicopter and then (17:33) called a local guide friend to confirm the helicopter dispatch and set other resources in motion. I directed Christina down, through the crux constriction, and left towards the exit into the mellower gullies that feed back into the apron below the central cliff at the base of the third couloir. I side stepped and boot packed 15 meters back up to the left exit and proceeded down.

I arrived at Doug first, at about 17:40, as he was slightly higher on the slope than Chad. I repositioned Doug, who was lying on his right side, bent at the waist and facing up hill with his skis off. There were no immediately obvious major injuries or deformities. He was pulse less, with out respirations. His eyes were open, pupils fixed and dilated. His lips were yellowish gray and his right ear purple. I preformed rescue breaths and CPR for approximately two minutes by which time Christina had arrived at Chad and declared that he was breathing. I left Doug, who had no indications of response and moved downhill 20 meters to Chad.

Chad was lying face down in the snow with his feet facing up hill. We carefully reoriented him and opened his airway. His breaths were regular and deep, his pulse strong and about 90 bpm. He had much coagulated blood in his nose, his eyes and lips were slightly swollen and discolored. Chad’s pupils were equal and responsive to light but he was unresponsive to shouting or pain. Christina returned to Doug while I maintained Chad’s airway, giving occasional rescue breaths, until the helicopter arrived at 18:03. Three members of the PGHM were lowered to the scene with their equipment and began administering an IV to Chad. We installed an oral airway in Chad’s mouth and placed him in a rescue sled. By this time Chad’s facial edema was pronounced but his breathing and pulse were still strong and he had begun to move his arm and squeeze my hand in response to my own squeezes. As the doctor began administering medicine to Chad, I returned to Doug to resume CPR. The helicopter returned in 10 or 15 minutes to transport Chad to a hospital in Briancon, 30 kilometers east. At this time one of the two remaining PGHM informed us that the doctor had already declared Doug dead. We replied that we knew and continued CPR for another 20 or 30 minutes. The helicopter returned and transported Christina and me back to La Grave. We were met by Jean Charles of La Meije and brought to where many of our friends had gathered. While debriefing the current situation with them the local police arrived to take a statement and during this process we were informed that Chad was dead as well."

Saturday, April 1, 2006

Good day out

Today’s training with Jen Segger and Glenn Rogers: (long and slow.. well at lease we got the slow part down)

3:30am wake up, on the road for Chuckanut at 4:20am
4 hour 20 min Chuckanut Mountain Run – 22 miles 4,200+ climbing
1 hour 30min Lake Padden mountain bike (we planned 4 hours but Lake Padden didn't have the terrain we thought it did.. we learned it's a better place to run than mtn bike)