The Ragnar Relay went well for the first two legs, for the most part. They were hard and long, but I ran them in times I deemed acceptable. Unfortunately, the second leg, an 8.7 mile monster, was along a poorly graded road at night and I was transversing a slope for the whole thing, which resulted in my developing an IT band strain in my right knee. That meant that I couldn't run my third leg. I tried, made it about 300m before I had to stop and walk, and only made it about a mile of walking before I couldn't even do that anymore. I spent the rest of the weekend with my knee wrapped up hobbling around. My team covered for me, but it was really embarrassing, especially since they're all at least 15 years older than me. I'm the young one! I'm not the one who's supposed to be felled by injury!
Here I come, end of leg one...
And there my teammate goes. There are more pictures, particularly of gimpy me, but I'm waiting on the person who took them to send them to me.
Luckily it's turning out to be a pretty minor injury, despite the inability to walk for a couple days. My knee is getting better every day, at about 95% now and staying off it another week should do the trick. Also fortunate is that I don't have to run for the rest of the summer! It's all cycling now, gotta get in shape for the TS100 and collegiate racing season! Which is great, because running sucks!
Got my sinuses "roto-rootered" (as David put it) yesterday. Good times. Hopefully now I'll be able to breathe out of my nose like a normal person.
Let's do this!
Surgical clothing is just so stylin'.
Post op, just woke up from anesthesia, feeling what could only be described as "belligerently drunk".
Next week I fly up to Oregon and then immediately drive up to Blain, WA to run the Ragnar Northwest Passage Relay. It'll be a lot of fun, but what I'm most looking forward to is the end of training for it. I'm sick of this running crap, I want to ride. All signed up for the Tahoe Sierra 100 again and it looks like they're even going to improve the course this year, taking out some fire road and putting in more singletrack. Can't wait to hit it all on my 29er! And after that, I'll actually be around for some collegiate races this year, so I'll get to keep riding all autumn long.
After the relay, I'll stay in Oregon for my brother's wedding. Everyone's getting married! Craziness!
In any case, it's still a fun ride. The downhill is still oh-so-sweet. This being my second time out there, I did two laps. I may try to keep this tradition alive while building up to the Tahoe Sierra 100; each time I go out to Placerita, I do another lap. It was...hard. And hot. Hard and hot. I'm not in the condition I was late last summer.
View from the climb; Palmdale valley isn't so terrible from far away.
Brief rest at the top. Let my sweaty, tired, slack-jawed visage haunt you forever.
The new bike is magical. I love this thing. At some point I may try that trail that goes out just behind my bike over that ridge; only once I get bored of the descent I'm riding now, though. And that'll be a while.
The entrance to the singletrack. Finally some shade, just too late when I don't need it.
Once of the less well bermed turns. Seriously. I would swear that there are dirt bikes poaching these trails, the berms are so nice. I didn't see or hear any, so I'm not concerned; I just enjoyed railing turns.
I see a lot of this type of view in the summer. Yay exposed fire road!
Good singletrack cannot be valued too highly.
Thank goodness I live in a place with topography.
Am I the snake charmer or what? Not a rattler, looks like a gopher snake.
Never seen that warning before...but they do mean business. I'll get some pictures of the trail next time I'm out.
Well yeah, that's sort of the point.
PAT, I STRONGLY ADVISE YOU LOOK AWAY RIGHT NOW.
Cute little (3.5') guy just meandering across the trail. I started to switch my camera over to video and get a rock to throw at him to make him rattle, but he slithered over into the bushes and disappeared before I was ready. Probably for the best.
It is cycling season. Ski season officially ended when I put the thick summer coat of unscraped wax on the planks, put the cheat sheets on the skins, and stowed them all in the reasonably temperate closet. It is cycling season.
Alas, I'm fat and out of shape. Well, just out of shape. But I'm getting back into shape! With the new house, a whole new area to ride in has opened up to me, at least on road (so has mountain, but I'll get into that later). I discovered that it's only 2 miles from my house to the LA River Bikeway, which takes me directly to Griffith Park. In Griffith Park, I can ride big hills, medium hills, or little hills to my heart's content, all without dealing with cars. It's funny how fun road biking can actually be when you have the pavement to yourself. It's reasonably scenic there, too, as I get to ride by the observatory, the LA Zoo, the Hollywood sign, and just around a bunch of isolated nice hills. It's an incredible park. The only problem is that the equestrians have managed to get mountain bikes banned on all the dirt trails.
On its northerly "shores", the LA river has rebelled against its concrete enclosure and it's actually kinda nice. I see at least one heron every single time I ride by here.
On that note, however, there are plenty of other places I've found to ride that are close. Wilson Canyon with Carie was nice, but it turns out that Placerita Canyon on the north side of the ridge is way better. Sure, it's an exposed steep fire road climb in searing heat (that's just riding in SoCal, you get used to it, and if you're insane like me you learn to love it), but the descent is marvelous. It's not really technical at all, it's just fast, flowing, nicely maintained singletrack. Great berms for railing the turns. Amazing ride, only a half hour drive from home. In all it's a 12 mile loop, so I will probably be doing some 5-7 lap days out there in preparation for the Tahoe Sierra 100. I'm hoping to break 11 hours this year, we'll see.
Even closer is Descanso Gardens, a city park that features a lot more singletrack than it should (and mountain bikes are allowed!). While the loops are pretty short (~3-4 miles, 600ft vert), there are some great technical descents to be had there. There are some hilarious warnings in front of some of these trails; I'll get pictures of them next time I'm out. Even had a kit fox run across the trail in front of me at one point.
On the subject of mountain biking, I am loving the new bike. I am loving it even more since I converted my tires to tubeless. My riding buddy recommended this method to me and I followed it, though I was able to use a floor pump just fine despite their warning. 29er wheels are easier to do this with because you just use 26" tubes, which are plentiful and I already had laying around. All in all it only cost $15 for the sealant. With this, I dropped my tire pressure from 28/30 F/R to 24/26 F/R, and the difference is amazing. I'm riding a fairly low profile, low rolling resistance tire ideal for hardpack, but the things they grip stupefy me. While climbing up 20% inclines through moon dust, I just look down and am in disbelief at the terrain because they grip like they're on pavement. The traction on the way down is allowing my to ride descents without a second thought that not long ago would have made me walk. Cornering is amazing. Part of this is because they're 29er tires and the big footprint helps, but it was a noticeable difference after converting to tubeless. I'm not going back. Plus, with the super low pressure in the front, the ride is very smooth. Not just smooth for a rigid fork, but actually smooth by regular standards. As in 100mm travel fork on a 26" bike smooth. 29er plus tubeless = awesome.
Sorry for the lack of pictures, I've been exploring new trails so I've been paying more attention to where I've been going than trying to get the camera out. I'll get some more as I continue to ride through the summer. In good news, I won't have to spend August in Ohio after all, so my training for the fall mountain biking season will actually happen after all! As it turns out, there is a substantial amount of mountain biking in Ohio, though, which will come in handy next May-July, which I will be spending there.
Who's got two thumbs and the best girlfriend ever?
Yeah, you guessed it.
Because my usual network of trails burnt to a crisp last fall and then slid into nothingness over the winter, I've been looking for new places to ride. Something that's been on my list to check out for a while have been the very western edge of the San Gabriels above Sylmar, north of LA. This weekend Carie got back from Texas and needed some exercise to get the awfulness out of her system, so I used the opportunity to take her out riding. She's using my old mountain bike and not surprisingly it fits her way better than me. I'm using my new bike and love it, rigid carbon fork and all. The 29er wheels are amazing; it's hard to get used to them just rolling over everything even with a rigid fork.
As it turns out, the hills out there are pretty with a great network of trails. Less rocks than I'm used to, but a lot of loose stuff and very challenging. Very sandy in many parts. We had a great time exploring and will be going back to ride more soon.
Very nice hills for riding in the Sylmar area. The wildflowers are going crazy this spring.
Blooming wildflowers! The "wet" winter has given us a very nice spring this year.
At this point, I will issue a PAT STOP READING NOW BECAUSE IT MAY CONTAIN SNAKES notice. If you are not Pat, please proceed:
This little guy was lying across the sandy trail apparently unable to get traction. Once he got to the leaves he slithered off just fine, but his little "dance" was so funny.
Sorry I'm late getting this post up; it's been a busy time. This day trip was so great that I still want to put a trip report up even over two weeks later.
Carie was still in Germany at this point. I still wanted to get some BC in because the snow, while plentiful, was a week old and I was sick of the crowds at resorts. Plus, I love BC skiing. I contacted Carie's friend Adam, AKA Nano-Man (because of his awesome, awesome vanity license plate) and we planned to head up to Mt. Baldy.
We managed to get on the road by 7am, unusually early considering my usual companions (*cough*). We stopped by Noah's Bagels on the way out and hit the trailhead nice and early. This was key, as it allowed us to get to the summit early enough to still ski back on nice soft snow instead of the icy crust it turns into when the sun leaves it. We get melt-thaw cycles like crazy down here in SoCal and it starts as soon as the snow is laid down. I've been caught out descending after the sun has gone down before and believe you me it's no fun at all.
The pictures will tell the rest of the story:
The day started out beautifully. We skinned up the service road, then once the long ridge traverse up to the ski hut began we put on the crampons (because 3 miles of steep traverse is not so fun on skins). This, by the way, is Adam, AKA Nano-Man. Also note snow-yucca.
The chutes at the top of the ridge. The nice thing about the Ski Hut Trail is that you're in view of what you're going to be skiing almost the entire time; it's good motivation.
When we got into the bowl and started skinning, a fog appeared almost instantly and visibility went to nothing.
There were times in the bowl when visibility was down to 20-30ft. Existing skin track was nice, but finding the ridge isn't hard in any case.
Once we hit the ridge at the top of the bowl, we were out of the cloud and the views were fantastic.
Summit celebration! I've been on this summit a few times, but I still have yet to see the damn USGS summit marker. I'll take the snow anyway.
More summit R&R. The verdict is in: skinning up the ridge is much more pleasant than cramponing up the chutes, and faster too.
The chutes above the bowl. We skied Zen Chute on the far right this time (there was more snow than in this picture). It was ~40 degrees, 15ft wide, decent snow. Easier than I expected. I was eyeing Dostie's Dare for the next trip up there, though.
Dropping in; this is the first time I've tackled any of these chutes. It's amazing how scary they look when you're standing at the top of them.
The snow at that spot was really good; about 8" of fluffy. It was wind-swept at the top and it was sun crust below.
Starting to breathe easier here; once you're out of the chute it's just a big, wide open 35 degree bowl waiting for you.
Adam dropping in.
Adam charging the Bowl. It was sort of a sun crust, but still fun to ski.
Adam took a video of me in the Bowl. At this point we'd descended about 1500' from the summit and had another 2500' of continuous descent back to the parking lot. When there's snow, this is such a great mountain.
All in all, a big day with 4000' vertical. Almost half of that is the summit, the chutes and the bowl. Then it's a long traverse down the ski hut trail which spits you back out onto the service road. Cutting the switchbacks in the service road provides a last thrill before the parking lot. Add in a trip to In 'N Out on the way back and it was a great day.
I uploaded the GPS tracking of the route (in case you missed it on my last post). The GPS is pretty sweet in that respect, letting me know exactly where I went and which switchbacks I cut on the way down.
I've been busy lately. I've been skiing like crazy, taking advantage of the short period each year when there's snow in the mountains near LA. I've got my quals sometime this week (last minute rescheduling going on) and I've been preparing for those. I found a new house and moved the stuff into it. I built up my new mountain bike. Carie gets home tomorrow! This weekend we're flying up to Bend for some skiing at Bachelor. There's a lot going on.
I should give a detailed trip report of my day trip last weekend skiing Baldy Bowl, but I just don't have time at the moment. What I do have, however, is the GPS tracking data, complete with elevation profile, courtesy of a very awesome Christmas present from Carie. It was an awesome trip and I'll post pictures sometime soon. It's a burly day trip with 4000 vertical feet, but that continuous ski all the way back down to the car is oh-so-worth it.
Anyway, my point is that her list inspired me to write down my own goals for this year and how I'll achieve them:
Physical 1. 3 Backcountry Trips How: Harass Jeannie into meeting Carie and me in the Eastern Sierra for 3 weekends, one per month as long as there's enough snow 2. Ski or Hike At Least Once per Weekend in Winter and Spring How: Self-explanatory, but not having internet at the house should help. 3. Climb San Gorgonio How: Wait until spring when there's minimum of snow and Dry Lake is still a lake, most likely May. Prepare for mountain acclimation with BC trips and other hiking and skiing, at least three times a month. 4. Finish Tahoe-Sierra 100 in less than 11 hours (shave 1:30 off last year's time) How: Build up lighter bike, train like mad all summer. At least 50 trail miles per week, and 15 hours on a bike per week starting in May. 5 hours per week on a bike starting in April. 5. Qualify for Collegiate MTB Nationals at Northstar How: Same training plan as #3, race two non-collegiate races this summer to get cat upgrade, and race all collegiate races (including Super D to improve my descending) possible before nats.
Interpersonal: 1. Be more agreeable and nicer How: Limit myself to 10 minutes of arguing per day. Say at least one nice thing to everyone I see during the day. 2. Be closer to my family How: Send at least one e-mail per week updating my family on how I'm doing. At least one phone call per month. 3. Be more supportive and appreciative of Carie How: Can't share it here or else she'll know what's coming and not be surprised.
Also, I found a great new house in LA for Carie and me. It's up on a hill in a quiet place with a garden and nice views; it's perfect. I'll be moving in this weekend and settling for a while after that. Hurray for no longer being homeless!