Sunday, September 27, 2009

Sand, Blisters, Bikes, Ropes, and Fun

Whenever I get a call from Bob Bills it always means something fun is going to happen. This time it was a weekend in Zion National Park and Moab. My week was complicated by my procrastination, mixed with school work, so lack of sleep and lack of time made me crave a weekend away.

The body's internal clock is really an amazing thing. How do I know what time it is when I am asleep but in the day I have no real grasp on time? Really... I wake up within a minute before my alarm goes off. How? I don't know. 4 a.m. rolled around and I grabbed my pack and rode out to the freeway to meet Bob and his friend Frederico from Chile. We stopped at McDonalds and grabbed some grub. The stuff is amazing... how is it that a breakfast burrito can not really taste like a breakfast burrito and seem totally fake but still taste good? I hopped in the driver seat and let Bob attempt to work as Frederico slept in the back seat. We eventually pulled into Zion and grabbed our permit for Pine Creek.

We met up with Steven Nyman and his fiance Robbin making a group of five. Starting into the canyon we hoped it wouldn't be too cold because we didn't bring wet suits. In a 90 degree day those canyons can be fairly cold thanks to the lack of sun. The flash floods that roll through leave some big amounts of water that require some swimming. The first time you drop into one of the pools it can be surprising.

Before the last two rappels out of the canyon we caught up with a group made up of all 60+ individuals. As we sat enjoying the view we talked with them about how they got into canyoneering. They all took a class together last year and have been taking trips every couple months since. You really have to admire people that still have the drive to try new things continuing the exploration of life at that age. Many fall into a rhythm of monotony doing only that which is expected of an older person.

At certain points in the canyon you just had to stop in awe of the power of time and of the sheer force of nature. Canyon walls towering hundreds of feet high only separated by a few feet, looking like they could only have been hewn by the hand of God. Massive logs pinned high over head between walls during flash floods look to hold the walls apart so they don't close in on you. All of this is missed by those on the highway near by. They drive by not knowing what amazing sights lay within reach.

Finishing the canyon we headed to a little pond with a waterfall for some swimming. We spent a little bit of time washing off and then it was off to Moab where another early morning awaited us. I ended up sleeping almost the whole drive over.

We grabbed the 7:30 a.m. shuttle from Poison Spider bike shop up high into the La Sal mountains. The trail drops over 7000 vertical feet in about 33 miles. Starting in the cold mountain air at 11,200 ft. in the fall aspens and ending down in the red rocks of Moab. The trail was amazing and brutal. My hands fell apart during the ride and were raw by the trail's end. It was an amazing journey through a variety of climates. At one point on the ride I unknowingly came within a few yards of a massive black bear. I didn't see him until he took off running, but when he took off I was a little surprised.

Hanging out after a long ride out side of the Poison Spider Bike Shop


This is where I saw the bear. He was just hanging out right in this area then he took off running.

Up top at 11,200 ft after climbing up 1.000 vertical in a mile, ready for a long decent.

Swimming at the frog ponds.

Pine Creek's last rappel.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Weiner On Belay

This one is from my phone this morning. Don't worry Penny (the dog) was in a harness so she was safe. The dog is pure evil so I am sure if she fell the devil himself would come up from the very depths of hell to catch her.

Brandon wanted me to show him and his buddy, Mark, a few new places to climb so we went to a few walls this morning. This was a great part of the morning. It is getting cold... my fingers went numb by the second bolt. Feeling came back toward the top but it was cold none the less.

Monday, September 21, 2009


Fall brings with it the best climate for climbing, beautiful scenes of color, and the anticipation of snow.  Although school piggybacks itself into the season, the change in pace allows for it.  I pay closer attention to the weather watching the temperatures drop, I slowly acquire my new gear for the winter season, I make plans for backcountry trips and adventures, I play snowboard videos instead of skate videos at work, and I get more excited every day for what lie ahead.  

The real thing that spurred my winter "bug" was that I bought a new snowboarding pack.  I am setting up a split-board and am planning on riding a lot of backcountry this year.  Next on the list is a new avalanche shovel, probes, and an avalanche transceiver.  We are also planning a trekking trip into the sawtooth mountains.  It is wilderness protected land and that equals no snowmobiles which then interprets into untouched powder and miles of lines.  Hopefully the trip pulls together.

Tomorrow is the first official day of fall and I welcome it.  

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


5 a.m. seems earlier every time I see it. Laying in the darkness I shake off the dream that woke me up before my alarm. My anxieties that accompany race day come out in my sleep, I dream of things going horribly awry. Months of training, money, and time all shot down in a single folly. Drifting in and out of sleep I finally give up and head down stairs to pound some pancakes into my hungry stomach.

Preparation. It consumed most of my thoughts for the past week, pushing homework and my usual routines aside. Race day preparation is different. A nervous/excited feeling hangs in the air and I try to not think of what lay ahead. Eric and I pull up to the starting line and look around at what we are up against. When we finally get underway I shiver in the cold and follow our escort out of town praying nothing goes wrong. No flat tires, no crashes, no getting sick, no bonking, and no quitting.

As a team joined up at the front of the pack the drove the pace hard all the way into Preston, ID where I ditched my arm warmers and grabbed more food. The pack stayed together over all the major climbs and we seemed to swallow up all who had gone out ahead of us. We hit the king of the Mountain where I lagged a little trying to keep my heart rate down. I hit the summit realizing my folly so I had to push myself hard on the decent taking some risks and then pedaling myself back into the group took some serious effort but as soon as I caught them I was able to recover. It was a scary few minutes of all out in an aero position hoping no one would drive the pace up while I tried to catch up.

The race seemed to blow by and I continued to check my newly purchased Casio making sure I was taking in food and water every 15 minutes. Star Valley is usually the hell of the Lotoja for me, but this year it blew by and we were in Alpine, WY before I knew it. The climb into Jackson seemed easier than I had anticipated, but it was at this point (30 miles to go) I really was needing a pee break. To no avail when we got to the last 10-15 miles my group broke away from the peloton driving the speed up to around 26 mph. We formed up a nice pace line, all taking turns at the front. My silent plight was not helped by bumps in the road, but my desire for the finish grew with every kilometer.

Eric and I had discussed him leading me out if it came down to a sprint. We hit the 2K sign and the pace was going really strong. When we hit 1k a guy tried to go for it but Eric locked onto his wheel. He pulled passed him with a little less than 500 meters and then when we got closer I stood on my pedals and sprinted for the line. My legs were a little wobbly by this point but I was able to push through to the line where I barley beat the guy behind me. It was a close sprint but it put me on the podium. Two riders from our category had about 4 minutes on our group and they had a strong ride deserving the top two spots on the podium.

This was my first time on an actual podium so it was a cool experience. I hope it happens again... sooner rather than later. It wouldn't have been possible without my parents there helping me and Eric pulling me into that sprint. It was a great race and I am really happy with my time.

206 miles in 9 hours 26 minutes with and average speed of 21.8 mph. The winning time was 9:02 and I came 19th place overall.


Earning third place.

The Peloton

Early in the morning.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Trilogy Buttress Round Two

Note to self:
Starting this wall after 7 am in the summer is a horrible idea.  

Scrambling to find another person to complete our team of four guys, I called my friend Mike to see if he would be down.  He left work and came out on our little excursion.  The plan was to go do trilogy buttress again.  We arrived and started the approach way too late (9:30 a.m.).  After sweating our way up to the wall we found what little bit of shade remained and got ready to climb.  Mike and I split the first pitch into two so we could cut down the rope drag.  Brett and Robbie did it in one using up a full 60 meter rope.

Arriving at the top of the first wall we looked at the next two and decided we should call it a day.  We really didn't want to endure anymore sun and it was the only place where we could turn back.  We tied two ropes together and rappelled off the side of the face.  The day was considerably shorter than we had planned but we were all glad to get out of the sun.

We ran into the taliban up top...
The thumbs up means it is time to go.
A long way down.
Just trying to show the top of the rappel.  It was hard to hold the camera and go down so I cut it short.  I thought I was going to drop the camera.