Thursday, January 31, 2013

Birthday Gift

Although I don't really care for going into Eddie Bauer stores and getting brow beat, I am a big fan of their First Ascent line of gear. I have several of their down jackets and vests and love them. My backpacking pack is a Mountainsmith Frostfire 5500. It's huge. One thing I've learned from bikepacking is that I don't need much stuff in order to survive and be very comfortable. Another thing I've learned is that you will inevitably bring more shit in order to fill a larger pack. I'd like to do some more backpacking this summer and I'm going to spend some time on 14ers as well and I've been looking at this smaller pack for a while now. This is the Alchemist 40. It's really interesting. There is an Alchemist 30 that's probably better for day hikes but I have my Osprey Talon I use on the bike and it's super comfortable and I'll use that for day hikes and summits of 14ers unless I plan on tagging multiples and spending the night out like I'll have to do over in the Collegiate Peaks. I was hoping this pack would work for overnight backpacking trips and I'm still playing around to see. So far I only have my Gore Tex bivy (the only one I totally trust) and a North Face 45 degree bag in there. 

This pack is 4.5 lbs. lighter than my Mountainsmith. As the name implies, it's 40 liters. The cool thing about this pack is that it's expandable to 55 liters with just a few simple moves. It's got an internal pad that can be removed to sit on or use as a 3/4 bivy pad. I planned on buying a super light pad this year but we'll see. I generally don't need much padding but I am getting older. It can hold an ice axe which is good because I'll need that for some early season 14ers. It can also hold a fly rod tube which will be good for backpacking. Another nice thing that I was hoping for (but I had to order it sight unseen) was that the hipbelt was going to be able to securely hold my handgun. Now I don't carry often but there have been two times now where I have been out riding or hiking and stumbled upon abandoned grow camps. It's a big thing out here and it concerns me when I'm out. There is no way to carry when using my Mountainsmith other than putting it in the pack itself which makes getting to it an issue. The hipbelt isn't real huge but I think it'll be ok with a full load. 

The negatives I see so far are pretty scarce. One issue is water storage. It does have water bottle pockets on it but they don't appear to be that deep and a Nalgene bottle won't stay so I'll probably have to end up using a carabiner to secure one to the hipbelt. Not ideal but I can deal. I might be able to put a bladder in the pack but it's not designed for it and there's no hole for the drink tube to come out but I can sew. Next up will be putting my stove, fuel and ti cup, water filter, hat and gloves, base layer, down jacket, and 2 days of food inside and see how it carries before I decide if I wanna keep it. 

Sunday, January 27, 2013

All the Latest

So my blogging has been sub-par lately and I'm not happy about that. I actually really enjoy this on a personal level. With the introduction of Facebook, this suffered. But I don't really care for FB. Never did. It's neat to be able to keep tabs on people that I otherwise wouldn't but it seems that so many people equate being "FB friends" with being actual friends in life. I personally think that society has changed a lot and I see it more and more with my students with the advent of FB, texts, and that sort of thing. We have lost that personal touch. For the people that mean the most to me...I'd still prefer to hear their voice or sit with them face to face and actually conversate. Don't get me wrong. I have met quite a few people with the other social networks that now exist but even with them, I'm glad when we cross paths in real life. It saddens me a bit. Oh well. Can't stop that freight train. 

Yesterday I changed the oil on the White car. It's a 2011 Legacy. I was alarmed when I grabbed the tiny little box that contained the oil filter. Isn't this thing cute? I've seen bigger filters on lawn mowers. After removing all of the plastic from underneath the car (more on this in a second) I realized I didn't have a wrench small enough to remove the old filter. Normally my wrench is never big enough. I had to go buy a new filter wrench. It was small and also cute. I call all of the plastic underneath new cars "discouraging plastic". The only real purpose I think it serves is to discourage people from working on their own shit. Most of the time, I would remove and discard this but since it's Heather's car, I put it all back together. 

After cleaning up, Heather and I had plans to go check out the ice sculptures in Breckenridge. We've done this the last several years and it's always a fun day. I will say though that it feels like the sculptures are lacking in recent years. It's either that or I'm just not as impressed anymore. There are some sculptures that completely blow me away and then others that I just walk past. It's probably all Facebooks fault. This was one that I thought was cool because it just had so many different angles on it. For some reason they caught my eye. They were all perfectly flat. I can't recall the story on this one or who did it.

On the way over I made a stop at the South Platte to see how bad things were. Super low flows. If we don't get some moisture real soon, it's gonna be a really bad summer in terms of fishing and fires. Reservoirs are low. Snow pack is low. Just awful.

This was one of my favorite sculptures. I love the detail on the bear. This was done by some Inuits I believe. The story was something along the lines of a young boy who gets eaten by the bear. His father or Grandfather comes along and finds the bear and cuts it wide open to get the boy back out again. Notice the icicles dropping off the teeth that look like slobber?

Sometimes in Breck it feels like people are trying really hard to look cool. I get that these are boots. But they're pretty silly in my opinion. As I tell my students though, if every person in the world was the same it would be a pretty boring place. Not my cup of tea but Im glad she's confident enough to rock them in public.

I think about my father in-law often. Every day. This is what made me think of him yesterday. He would have loved to have seen this. I can still hear him, "I'll be darned...aint that somethin'?"

Thought this one was cool too.

This Mongolian sculpture was probably my favorite. Love the lines. Love the details.

Also saw this lovely Land Rover while leaving Breck. I think it's a mid 80's 90 model but not certain. I don't know much about these. I think they are super cool but I'm sure they are poorly insulated, noisy, and probably have a really piss poor ride with that short wheelbase. That's not to say that if I had an extra 35 grand in the couch cushions that I wouldn't try to buy one. All that's in my couch cushions is bits of milk bones and dried canine slobber though so I don't have to worry about that.

The drive home from Breck sucked. Dumping down snow. Even though the white car does not have snow tires on it, it drives completely differently than the green Subie does when it's got all seasons on it. I have not disabled the ABS on the white car yet and it doesn't seem to be as sensitive as it is on the green car so I may not have to. Climbing up Hoosier Pass out of Breck sucked. There was a guy in a new Camaro barely making it up and a line of cars behind him. We were about 5th back and there was a flat bed tow truck behind me and another 20 cars behind him. The Camaro pulled over at the top but the mini van that was next in line was doing 20 down the pass and all the way into Alma. The jackass in the flat bed was on my ass the whole way down and on his air horn too. At one point he wanted to get around me and probably the two cars in front of me but I closed the door because it seemed like a bad idea that could have put us at risk and I hate when people do that. Finally both cars turned off in Alma and I was able to get some distance on the flat bed but it took forever to get home. As nice as the new car is, the green one simply owns the snow.

Monday, January 21, 2013


We started our second week of Insanity (first workout yesterday). Like I said before, I'm not really interested in losing weight and am honestly a bit concerned about how losing some weight would impact my longer distance riding but I can always increase my ice cream consumption this spring if a problem arises. So far my weight is the exact same but I have lost an inch in the belly but my beer consumption has also not been the same since we started (except for Saturday night which we're not going to talk about that or the whiskey that seeped out of my pores during last nights workout). I am now cleansed. 

The biggest thing I'm seeing from these workouts so far is the increased cardio. Normally I ride a 32x20 gear and on Saturday I was hardly breathing so that's nice. I'll order up a 19 and slowly step it up. 

This workout will last another 50 days and then I will have about 2 months to get ready for a ride that I have been wanting to do for a few years now but it just never worked out. I've been spending a lot of time lately, pouring over other folks' trip reports and thinking about the water availability as that's what's concerning me the most. This will be a cool summer because it's the first one in years where I won't be all consumed with riding to Durango and I'm super excited to move on to other things. 

Along with studying maps and trip reports, I have also been thinking about an issue that I had that was really an noticeable around Silverton this past summer. The issue involved serious swelling in my legs, knees, ankles and feet as well as in my face. I'm assuming that some of it was just over use and maybe some was due to diet or electrolytes but I do not know. This picture is in Waterton Canyon. It's not a detailed picture but every thing was fine. 

This is 400 miles later in Silverton. I believe that part of the issue with my face was due to the sleeping disorder. Even at home, when I don't use my machine Heather notices swelling around my eyes but this was really bad. My face felt tight.

My feet were really bad. Every time I stepped, my thighs and knees would giggle. They felt very tight and range of motion was very limited to where I could not bend down so that my calves would touch the backs of my thighs. Couldn't even get close before things just stopped.

This was in the hotel in Durango. Really bad picture but this is where Heather started cutting things like socks off because she couldn't remove them and I was way too out of it to help.

Can anyone help with what might have been going on with my body? Was it over use? Were my cells retaining water because of electrolyte/salt issues and this is just where I noticed it the most? I probably should have had blood work done right when I got back home to see if it would reveal anything but I didn't. This is just something I'm thinking more and more about as I research this other route. It is not anything like CTR and I won't be bringing much at all and don't anticipate that this will be an issue but just wonder. I know Mary Collier had what looked to be similar issues during her TD ride. I need to track her down. 

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Birthday Craziness!! I woke up and I was 40. I'm talking about the time I woke up in the morning and not the time I woke up from my afternoon nap. It happened so damn fast. I'll say this: I don't feel 40. We've been doing the Insanity workout program for a week now. As I said is very hard. It's a bunch of plyometric stuff and it completely flips your traditional interval training. In this workout you go super hard for 10 minutes and then you get a 30 second break before you go again. Most workouts last 30-40 minutes. During the intervals my heart rate has been up in the mid 180's which is really high for me. I'll admit the first few days were frustrating and I did have to take some breaks and watch how hard I was going but the last 2 nights I've felt great. Today was supposed to be a rest day but it was nice out and I decided to go for a small ride around town. Pretty soon I found myself on some hills and noticed that I was going way harder/faster than ever before and even had to stop to make sure that I hadn't swapped cogs on my singlespeed. Nope. Still running 32x20. I should have asked for an 18 and 19 tooth cog for my birthday. I did get a sweet gift but it hasn't gotten here yet so more on that later. I haven't considered doing a cross country race in eons but maybe I will this spring just to see how things go. I have 50 more days of Insanity though and I hear it only gets harder.

Weekend Update

The kitchen resto project is coming along nicely. Here you can see this first area that I started on is finally done with new brushed hardware. I'm pretty happy with how it's  coming along. Never mind the mess.  

While working on things last Friday night I enjoyed this delicious ale from the folks at Lagunitas. One of the nicest beers I've had in a while.

This is a picture of the frames on the other side of the kitchen with the first coat of the second step of the project done.

In other news, I love to work out but I've been struggling lately. As of last week I was doing 10 minute intervals but I knew the really cold weather was coming. I'm not sure what I'm going to do this summer. I'm sure I'll do a few longer races (I already signed up for the Salida Big Friggin Loop again and lately I've been spending a good bit of time studying the map and reports of the Kokopelli Trail and I'm intrigued about doing an ITT along the route). I am for sure going to do some more backpacking and back country fly fishing. I have also been spending some time on 14ers dot com. Anyway...I looked at P90X and considered getting it but ended up getting Insanity. Yesterday was day 6. It's a ton of cardio and it is super hard. I don't really need to lose weight but I'm curious to see what the results will be after 60 days. If I decide to climb some 14ers (which is something I want to do this summer) then I should be in real good shape for it. Heather has been joining me and she's a tenacious little MFer. It's been really fun.

And finally...I turn the big 4-0 today. I'm not sure how we're gonna spend it. We talked about having some people over for a Wii throw down. We talked about dinner. Right now I'm gonna for an easy ride around town and then I may work for a bit on the kitchen before we go out later on for dinner with some good friends.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Staying busy

It has been pretty cold up here in the mountains the last few days so there hasn't been much to do. The South Platte where I normally fish has low flows and it's an ice rink right now. The flows in Cheeseman Canyon are good but it's a decent hike in to spend the day biting ice off the rod guides every few casts. In between letting coats of paint dry on the kitchen cabinets, this is what we've been doing mostly. 

Every once in a while I scour the interwebs for deals and happened to find one on a Niner carbon fork about a week ago. I have always wanted one of these forks for my single speed but could never justify the price. I found a new 2011 one for $199 with free shipping and ordered it up. It arrived tonight.

Tang was the only color they had left. I really like this color but wasn't sure how it would look on my bike but thought I had enough Chris King mango stuff to pull it off. Honestly, I really didn't care what color it was. I can't believe how light this fork is.

I got it measured up tonight and cut down a bit. I know the stack height is really long but the bike was built with all day comfort in mind (and I still have neck pain every once in a while) as well just being a rock solid bike that wouldn't present many mechanicals. The orange looks a little odd but single speed is odd and well...spandex is even more odd so what the hell. I need to get another compression cap tomorrow as I managed to break the through bolt tonight. Don't ask how. I'm still shaking my head. When I run geared, I use a carbon Noir crank with orange accents so it should look pretty good if I ever throw them back on again. I also still have my carbon Orbea Alma and the fork will look great on there too. In the future the plan is to order up a White Industries ENO hub and run that frame as a dedicated SS too. I'd love to know how light that bike could be.