22 December 2010

The Hut Trip That Was Anything But

Trailhead to Betty Bear Hut
Over the weekend I was headed to the mountains for a new experience, going on my first hut trip.  It is actually pretty sad that I had not been on one before so when Sean said he was planning one I was in.  Ron at Mountain Chalet hooked me up with a nice set of AT ski's, boots and skins for the weekend so that I could take full advantage of going up to the mountains for a few days.  The group met at 6 am Saturday morning in Frisco and headed out to Glenwood for a last fuel stop before heading to the trail head to venture to Betty Bear Hut.  After plowing through 10-12 inches of fresh powder for 30 miles we reached parking lot and got the things together and began heading off on a nice trek through a foot of virgin powder, thankfully it was a light and dry snow not wet and heavy.  We started a bit later than desired so we needed to keep a decent pace as we headed up the 7 miles from 9,000 feet to 11,100 feet.

Myself, Christoph, Chantel and Aron doing final prep before we skin and snowshoe to the hut

Getting the trail to look like this is hard work, your welcome guys.
As we traveled along and gained more and more altitude the group gradually got spread out.  We would stop periodically and get a drink and admire the beauty of the snow covered forest and mountains around us and quietly appreciate what we were doing.  After a couple miles the gaps were growing quite large between the group and at the halfway point Sean, Aron and I knew that some decisions had to be made to ensure the safety of the entire group.  Sean headed back down the trail to talk to Mike and Josh and give them the reality of the situation.  At the pace they were going they were going to make it to the hut well after dark and the hardest part of the trek was the last 2 miles.  It was safer for them to turn around and head back to the car and head home than to try to press it to the hut.  It is never an easy decision when it comes to denying someone something but safety was the biggest concern.  I was still concerned about them getting out and was debating on heading back with them to make sure they made it out.  There were a few other things on my mind as well, one was that I had to leave early on Monday to get back to work that afternoon and with the amount of snow expected still to fall it wasn't going to be as easy a trip out as anticipated so I would be leaving either super early on Monday morning or ski out late on Sunday on my own.  The second thing was that I didn't get the boots warm before putting them on and skinning up and so my shins were getting bruised and sore with every step.  With that in mind I decided to head back as well, it was not what I wanted to do but I would feel better knowing that Mike and Josh made it out and it would take stress off my shoulders about getting back myself for work on Monday.  The three of us headed down, Mike and Josh had no problems and would have easily made it had I not been there.  It was a tough not going through with the trip but such are decisions that are made.
Adam, myself and Sean deciding who will break trail next.

Once back at the cars we loaded everything up and decided to hit up the Glenwood Brewery for dinner before heading home.  The first 15miles of the drive out were cake just following the tracks we made when we drove in.  It was then that I noticed as I was driving my speedometer was not working, then the ABS light came on, then the revmeter stopped working, check engine light, oil pressure light all turned on.  Then the car just died and I rolled to a stop.  Josh and Mike pulled up behind me and I told them what was going on, Josh said that it was probably my battery and or alternator that was causing the issue.  After a couple minutes the car started and I drove about 400 feet before it died again, oh crap, there is no cell service still and it is starting to get dark.  Josh pulls around in front and we jump my car and let it charge for a little while.  Thankfully that seems to work the lights are brighter and all the warning lights are off.  Knowing that driving the car helps charge the battery and wanting to hopefully make it back to Glenwood to get the car checked out I tell Josh to keep my jumper cables and to catch back up and I will keep going.  I pretty much expected the car to die again before we reached the next small town of Basalt.  My Subi stayed strong and I reached Basalt before Josh and Mike had caught up.  Now what to do, do I continue to Glenwood  or try to drive in circles and wait for them.  I elected for the latter but missed them heading through town and we were separated as we were getting off of the small mountain road and on to HWY 82 back to Glenwood.  So I made to bad choices 1. leaving the only guys I knew behind with my jumper cables and 2 I didn't have their cell phone numbers to get a hold of them.

Nothing needs to be said.
Now I was gambling as I headed out on HWY 82 to hopefully make it the 20 miles back to Glenwood and not have the car die.  So far so good for the first 10 miles, then I started to hit stop lights and as I would slow down the car would start to die.  It made it an interesting drive as I was braking and revving the engine to keep things going, and trying not to come to a complete stop.  On one occasion I had to make a hard right turn on a red light did a loop in a dirt parking lot and shot back out on the highway.  Then about 3 miles from Glenwood the last shoe fell and the car died.  After a call to my parents and searching the grand old internet we finally found a tow truck and after a while got a tow to Glenwood which was maybe a 5 minute drive from where the car died.  After a few other calls to friends I managed to get a message to Josh and Mike and we got in touch later.  I was back in Glenwood about 8pm on Saturday all the auto shops were closed and would open back up on Monday and that is when I would know what was happening to my car.  My parents helped in finding and booking a hotel for me that was close by the auto shop and it was now just a waiting game.  I was hoping that the shop would be able to fix the car on Monday and I would be able to get out of there but I wouldn't know till Monday morning.

Mary at the Cedar Lodge was great letting me charge my cell phone in the snowplow truck on Sunday so that the auto shop could get a hold of me on Monday.  They had a nice continental breakfast which helped save me a couple meals, gave me info about the free bus that ran around town and had a computer so that I could access the internet and figure out what to do and let people know what was going on.  I spent Sunday lounging around watching a bit of football then took the bus downtown and to the hot springs, not a bad way to spend my Sunday considering what had been going on.  First thing Monday morning the Alpine Motors called and confirmed that the alternator had died.  Thankfully they had one in stock and they had me up and running and I was headed out of town by 10.
The route accomplished by the group minus Mike, Josh and myself.  We made it about half way to the hard left turn uphill.
As I headed back to the Springs, I thought about a few things, one is that it was a good thing I decided to turn around and head out with Mike and Josh.  If I had continued to hike in and left on Sunday I probably would have gotten back to my car alone and it wouldn't have started.  I then would of had to of skinned another 10 miles or so to the nearest house to get help, I would have definitely been in the dark then.  Or I would have left early Monday morning and then waited around for Sean and the rest of the crew to get out to then get help from them.  Either way Mike and Josh saved me from multiple hours of trouble by being there and getting be back to "civilization".   Next time we will leave a bit earlier that way we all make it to the hut and we will have multiple ways to get a hold of one another, radios are a very good thing when you are out of cell service.

So it may be a while before I can head back out for another HUT TRIP, but it is definitely on the pail list.

28 November 2010

The prep and the Fall Series

After Ogden everything focused on Maui and getting ready for the heat and humidity, which has been my biggest problem when racing.  It doesn't help being in Colorado either as the weather is getting cooler and cooler the closer the race gets.  My plan dress in layers and bike and run in the warmest parts of the day.  On the bike I had on my normal shorts and jersey and added thermal bib tights a long sleeve base layer, some times a thermal, then a light to medium jacket over the top and a skull cap under the helmet.  There was not one day when I didn't feel the heat and wasn't soaking wet by the end of the ride.  Running I was always in a long sleeve with a base layer underneath, gloves, a running touk and tights.  When I did a few track workouts I added a jacket as well since the workouts were in the morning.  I was hoping that all of this would help with my acclimatization for the expected mid 80's race temp with much higher humidity than Colorado ever sees.

In addition to my heat training I also jumped in the local Fall Series Cross Country races that were going on every other weekend.  The runs provided a great race scenario for me and I used them as a brick workout riding for 1.5 to 2 hours before hand and just about immediately jumping off the bike, (changing in to dry running clothes since my cycling clothes were soaked) and running the race.  The running races were great because they are later in the day and so it was easy to get in a good ride without it being to early or cold and then dealing with the warmest part of the day for the run.  There are a total of four races, two were before Maui and two were after Maui.  The first race was held about a mile and a half from my house in Monument Valley Park so it was nice and easy to do the ride and end at home then run to the race and back.  A unique thing with all the races is that they each have a unique feature, the first one involved running about 3/4 of a mile through the "river" that flows through Colorado Springs.  I was a fun race and I ended up 5th.  The next couple pics are from the race, because of the river run I elected not to wear tights, the long sleeve base definitely kept me warm on a beautiful October day in Colorado.
Paul (red shorts) and I in the melee of the start.

Running through the river.

The key is to find the hard ground and avoid the water when possible.
The second race was in Bear Creek Park, it is a rolling hilly course and the unique feature is a the wall you have to ascend at the end of the race.  It is about a 70 degree slope that you need to use ropes to help you get up and this year they sprayed it down so the bottom half was muddy.
 I am easy to pick out, Brooks is just in short and I am dresses expecting freezing temperatures.

Tights, check, long sleeve thermal base layer, check, touk, check, CRC race singlet, check

Sweating my arse off on a 70 degree day, check, hoping it pays off in Maui TBD

Jumping the stream before heading up the wall!
The final two races happened after Maui so I could just dress appropriately according to the weather didn't have to worry about trying to acclimate and I could let off the gas and have a bit more fun.  The third race that happened on Halloween was in Ute Valley Park and it is another hilly course with a bunch of up and down and the ankle turning rocks.
Cruising through Ute

Much more enjoyable when you back off the pace and are not overheating.

The fun feature at the end up and over hay bales across the finish line.
The final race was in Palmer Park, it is a great place to ride or run with some very fun and technical trails.  It is a very hard course as well with a lot of steep hills that you are going up and down.  It was a bit chillier that day so everyone was in some added clothing.
Chilly morning in the thick of things at he finale of the Fall Series.

Sean and I ripping it for CRC till Sean decided he had enough and left me in his wake.

Some hay bales towards the end for fun.

Not a bad place to run, some nice sites too.

Since these races I have run a couple of times and did a Turkey Trot Predict, where you estimate the time you will run and the closest people to their predicted times win turkeys.  Since I hadn't run much I had not feeling for pace and was way off what I thought.  It was still a fun time and nice to see my legs had some zip in them.

11 November 2010

Welcome to the new blog, and finally a bit of an update on the season!

Alright with an awesome new website going and now a lot more time on my hands supposedly I am going to try to keep a steady update on my blog through the off season.  Hopefully staying on top now will translate into when I am back racing next year and race reports will shortly follow races!  Overall is was a great year of racing for me, it started off a bit slow but it ended very well.  The last time I posted on my old blog I had just made it through the winter and was just about to start racing.  I had suffered a knee injury that was very hard to figure out and determine what needed to be done to solve it.  Thanks to a team of doc's we were at least able to get things under control and I could for the most part get through the year without sacrificing my running.  Here is a basic synopsis of the season:

April: After a leg opener at a road cycling race at the Air Force Academy I started off at Xterra West Championship in Las Vegas as the first important race of the year.  Had and excellent swim and was riding great when the worse happened, flatted on the bike while I was in 3rd.  I had to run a tube in the back tire due to a mechanical from pre-riding in the days prior to the race.  Of course that tube flatted and my spare flatted as well.  Will Kelsay save my day/race/season giving me a tube and air 15min later.  Got going and raced as hard as I could and managed to work my way back up to 10th, never give up!
The ridge home stretch in Vegas

May: Did a little sprint tri in Denver to hopefully take my title back at after not racing last year but didn't have quite the fitness and lagged on the run and finished 4th.  Later that month had a nice road trip to Waco, Texas with Will for Xterra South Central Championships.  I again had a great swim, but my legs just weren't there on the bike and I lost time and places.  A lack of a base on the run hit me yet again and I dropped a few more it wasn't horrible but not quite what I was hoping finishing in 7th.
Twisting bridge in Waco.

June: In early May I got a surprise email from Xterra asking if I wanted to go to Brazil for the first ever Xterra Amazon in Manaus.  That was an easy yes and it was an amazing experience.  I will post a long race report that I had written up in the near future.  Overall the race was good, fun and interesting swim, hard hot and humid bike and a tortuous run by the end and finished 5th.  For all the suffering I wouldn't trade the experience for anything in the world.  The following week I got to see the last of my best girlfriends from high school get married, another experience I wouldn't miss.  I followed that up with a trip to Richmond for Xterra East Champs.  I had a solid race with a good swim, an okay bike but a very nice run that really put a spring in my step and confidence that I just need to push harder and finished 6th.  The following weekend I headed to Utah for the Dinoland Triathlon again and defended my title there getting my first win of the year.
Diving in to the piranha infested Amazon

July: The month of July was all built around one race that just about every Xterra athlete guns for because we are just about all from Colorado we all want to do well at Xterra Mountain Champs in Beaver Creek.  Things had really gone well in training and all I could hope was that everything would come together for this race.  I had great swim and came out of the water first a good sign and just hoped things continued on that path.  Out on the bike I held the lead through the majority and came into transition in a fight for 2nd with Seth Wealing and Josiah Middaugh and we were trailing Nico Lebrun by only about 30 seconds.  I ran well but Seth was on top of his game and Josiah's fitness was a bit better than mine so I finished a very respectable 4th.  I have never been so sore after a race though and it wasn't until a massage 4 nights later that had me in the fetal position that everything finally got worked out.
Podium Xterra Mtn-Me 4th, Josiah 3rd, Nico 1st, Seth 2nd, Cody 5th
August: After Mountain Champs it was all about building toward Xterra USA Champs at the end of September.  I set things up to train through Xterra Indian Peaks which is just outside of Boulder.  It is an interesting race since it is a time trial start and you just have to go hard because you don't know exactly where you stand with everyone spaced out over the course.  I know I started 5 seconds in front of the next guy and as long as I beat him across the line by 6 seconds I would win.  I had the fastest swim and bike on the day and had a very good run that was continually getting better.  I successfully defended my title and racked up my third win of the year, the second was a minor mountain bike race.  Following Indian Peaks I did the Colorado State Senior Road Racing Championships to get in some nice hard training and was able to come in a respectable 5th after trying to solo the last 2-3km of the race and hold off a group of 4.  I also competed in Xterra Lory but had two flat tires and that ended my day there, but I did get to see my mom race her first Xterra and see her and my dad win their age groups.
Mom (Black Top) and Dad (#236) Xterra Lory Champs!
September:  I started off the month on a nice trip up to Whistler, BC, for Xterra Canada Championships.  This was a race I had been looking forward to every since it was on the schedule and had it not been for a last minute trip to Brazil this would have been the race I was the most excited about all year.  The riding in Whistler is renowned and it didn't disappoint and it was by far the most technical course an Xterra race has seen.  I had a decent swim but was quickly pulled to the front on the bike by Conrad Stoltz (I lead him though the swim so sometimes I get to jump on his wheel and enjoy trying to follow him on the bike).  I rode well but a mechanical issue caused a few problems and I wasn't able to keep up with the bullet train of Josiah, Conrad and Mike Vine on the bike.  I did manage to have my best run of the year and catch Conrad since he was a bit under the weather and grabbed my first true podium finishing in 3rd.
BC Riding-wood plank bridges
It was then on to USA Championships in Ogden, UT.  This is always a big race because it is the National Championship and it is the final race in the America Tour Series.  I was really hoping to knock one out and needed a bit of help from some other racers to improve my standings in the series with my slow start to the season.  I had an excellent swim getting out right at the front and was moving along well on the bike with Dan Hugo when Conrad flew by us faster than anyone could have thought, he was simply on another level that day.  I held strong on the bike but it was equally a very strong field and got off in in seventh.  I did set myself up well enough that with a less than stellar run due to some side stitches/cramps I did manage to hold my position.  I was #7 going in, I finished in 7th in the race and finished the series in 7th.
Dan and I chasing after Conrad
Well that brings you up to speed minus one race, World Championships.  I will bring a full race report for that one soon.  Hope you like the new site and I will keep you more updated here in the future!  Check back for my Worlds race report and my novel about Xterra Amazon.