This June, I’ll be observing my 10 year cancer-free anniversary. That’s a big deal. It’s crazy to think how much I’ve been through in that time, much less to think about what I was going through during and in between treatments. I endured six years of chemotherapy and in June, I’ll be 10 years out of the woods.
The amiable Fat Cyclist has a pretty cool tradition that he started in an effort to raise funds towards cancer research called 100 Miles of Nowhere. Every cycling destination seems to have a gimmick for endurance racing, with centuries, 24 hour, multi-day epics and a hundred variations on those themes. Fatty, in his typically absurd nature, decided he’d do a 100 mile race…
-in his basement.
And thus, 100 Miles of Nowhere was born.
It became a tradition that his faithful followers began doing in their basements, and then around their blocks and in other ridiculous locations for a race. The key was creating a crazy specific race category for your event, one in which ONLY YOU could possibly win (eg; 27-28 Male half way through grad school and 10 years off chemo).
I want to invite you to join me to celebrate, raise some money and ride some great trails. My 100 Miles of Nowhere will take on Sunday, June 8, in (an admittedly, non-ridiculous and actually really, really incredibly fun location) Phil’s World, an ideal location for group multi-lap rides. A few things to point out about the gathering and the riding:
- Don’t be intimidate by “100 miles”! The great thing about a loop system like Phil’s World is that you can make laps as long and as short as you like. Teams are encouraged for 100 Miles of Nowhere, so if you don’t think you have 100 miles in your legs, share the distance with a partner or two. The idea is that every gets to ride as much as they like and have a good time doing it.
- We want a festive atmosphere! Please come with fun things for the “pit zone”, aka the parking lot, the destination that all laps will pass through before heading out for me. This means bbq’ing, tasty treats, beer, music, (we might even bring our aerial dance rig!) etc.
- Phil’s world requests a $3 donation at the trail head for all non-annual members of Kokopeli bike club. Let’s throw them some additional cash for maintaining such awesome trails. You’ll understand why when you ride there…
- Unfortunately, there’s no camping allowed at the Phil’s World trail head. According to the BLM website, there’s camping “just back from the access point for Phil’s World” which is where we’ll probably end up.
- While this blog post, RSVP process and donation system are all very sophisticated, this is going to be a relatively bare bones event. The spirit is to get together, ride and have a good time. We’re not catering this thing. Bring food, gear, costumes, everything you’ll need for 100 miles in a somewhat remote location!
- The Dolores River Festival is happening Saturday, June 7 and if you’re coming for 100MoN, you might as well come early and watch Joan and I perform at DRF!
We haven’t established a fundraising goal and I don’t plan to get an official donation site up and running. I do ask, however, that if you decide to participate (and please do!), please make a donation to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Heck, if you’re reading this and can’t participate, please donate anyway! I was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia at ages 8 and 13 and the research successes seen by this organization are partially responsible for me being here today.
More instructions will follow as RSVPs start to come in.
We hope to ride with you in June!
What’s your fondest memory of childhood?
I have so many great ones to choose from, it’s hard to pick just one.
There were all the family vacations to Moab, UT to ride the White Rim Trail over several days.
We went to Disneyland/world once each, and did the whole tourist thing.
And then there were lazy Sundays doing nothing much beyond watching the Denver Broncos with dad.
My dad taught me to love football. If you’d like to know about my prowess on the field, you’d have to ask Anthony Poponi or The Dave Noir (we played a few years of flag football together, and we were all pretty rusty. Actually, “rusty” implies that skill has decreased with time. Truth be told, we started rusty.) No, while I enjoyed playing football, I’ve come to realize that I’m much better at watching it.
I’ve always been a hometown fan. No matter the odds, you could find me pulling for the Broncos. And for a lot of my childhood, this taught me disappointment, then acceptance.
Until the season of 1997, when the Broncos won their first Superbowl (XXXII) in franchise history. The John Elway era ended with a repeat Superbowl win (XXXIII) in the season of 1998. And it was good.
What followed Elway’s retirement was a sad, winless post-season drought. On the rare occasion that the Orange Crush would make it to the playoffs, they’d likely be tossed within the first round. Opportunities were missed. My dad and I would watch, despondent from the couch, hopes high but expectations low.
After a series of greasy, could be plumber, cry-baby, (somehow fitting Orton in here), no prayer quarterbacks, my team has landed the prettiest girl at the dance. P.F.M. And he’s taking us to the Superbowl this Sunday. The Broncos are a new team with P.F.M. at the helm. While currently living in Arizona, I don’t have the opportunity to watch many games with my dad. But, without fail, we always talk about the most recent game over the phone.
A package addressed to me arrived on the doorstep yesterday. I eagerly took it inside and cut it open. This is what I saw:
That’s my Broncos hat from childhood. My initials and home phone number (!) have all but faded away, written on the inside with felt tip marker. This thing is from when I was single digits years old! And it came with a Dales Pale Ale stuffed inside it! And a chocolate bar!
I know the title of this post says my dad is cooler than your dad. Sorry if that hurt your feelings (or your dad’s feelings.) Your dad is probably pretty cool as well. But did your dad find your favorite childhood hat in the attic and send it to you since your team is back in the Superbowl? Did he stuff it with your favorite beer?!
My dad is super cool. We aren’t able to watch the game together this Sunday, but we’ll definitely talk about it over the phone.
Friends, what have you taught me?!?
A few weeks back, I posted A (non-)ode to Bad Coffee (which you should read for context before going on), a tongue-in-cheek gripe session about the chalky, bark-flavored swill I’ve been drinking during graduate school. It’s sold as “coffee” but I think it was mislabeled.
The squeaky wheel gets the grease. So far, the non-ode has yielded six pounds of delicious, high-quality, free trade coffee beans. Is more on the way? I’ll have to wait and see.
Attached to a pound from Durango’s Raider Ridge Cafe was a response poem, reprinted here without any form of permission:
An ode to Good Coffee:
Here is some coffee that is not shitty,
It will wash away your sad self pity.
It does not taste of bark or soil,
It will not make your tummy boil.
It is 100 percent Fair Trade, you see,
The beans are roasted locally.
It has the most delightful aroma,
It would even wake you from a coma.
The taste, oh my! It will make you swoon,
You may choose to add cream and stir with a spoon.
So toss out that cheap bad coffee swill
And dig out your trusty coffee mil.
Don’t fret about saving your hard earned dough!
I think by now you already know:
That some thiings in life
Are not worth such strife.
Special thanks to my bean providers, Dave Noir (from Kaladi Coffee), Mother Dearest (hooking it up with Camp4Coffee) and Tracey and Jarrod (of the aforementioned Raider Ridge Cafe). You’ve all reinforced the notion that I should bitch and moan until treats arrive to shut me up. I appreciate it!
Now, about the shitty beer I’ve been drinking…
“What’s it going to take to finish this thing and be happy when we’re done?” Sean asked in one of our many emails in the week before the start of the 16th annual Gore-Tex Grand Traverse. I had attempted the race three times prior and had finished once, so I became our teams de-facto expert on preparation.
I answered, “Maintaining a reasonable pace, remembering WHY we’re doing it, hitting the checkpoints before cutoffs, drinking beer when we’re done.”
Grand Traverse race preparation is a marathon. Honestly, it’s more stressful on the days leading up to the race start than doing the race itself. Gear, gear, gear. Spend all day at racer meetings and gear check. Try to nap. Eat and drink as much as you can, something that helps to prevent proper napping. Panic because you don’t have the right flavor 5-Hour Energy. Realize flavor doesn’t matter at 6am. Check, double-check, triple-check and quadruple-check your skin set up. Pack. Repack. Re-repack. Nap. Ugh.
After a day that passes in segments, it was time to head up to the start line. The start of the race is unlike any other event I’ve been a part of. Mostly because it takes place at the same time as the local radio station’s huge fundraiser, Soul Train. Imagine, hundreds of ski randonee racers lining up at the Crested Butte base area, preparing to ski 40 miles into the night, whilst hundreds of local crazies are halfway through their night of reliving the 70’s disco era. Afro wigs and headlights, bell-bottoms and speed suits, platform shoes and ski boots intermingled while Kool and the Gang echoed against the mountains. Quite the sight.
Sean and I made our way to the back of the pack aiming for a casual start. Our goal was to ski within ourselves and not get sucked into the racer mentality, risking too strong of a start and blowing ourselves out before the real challenge began. This strategy proved costly an hour into the race, where we had to battle recurring bottle necks through breakable crust over steep gullys and open meadows. Patients was key, as getting frustrated during this section of the race would only cause tension among teammates. We went with the flow and finally arrived on Brush Creek Road where the snow had been solidified and made travel much easier.
When we arrived on East Brush Creek, we decided it was a great opportunity to make up some time. I hadn’t expected the previous section to take so long, so we settled into a brisk pace and moved swiftly up to Friends Hut. Aside from a minor slip into an open creek (brrr!) the climb went well and we found ourselves at Friends an hour before the cut off time. We took the opportunity to replenish our water, to eat some food and to bundle up in defense against the wind that could be heard howling a thousand feet above. The climb up Star Pass promised to be steep and cold.
This is when I learned how hot Sean’s engine runs. From the start, he was wearing shorts and a t-shirt. He threw on a hoodie/windbreaker for a little while but complained of sweating and being too hot. Remember, we started at midnight. At over 9,000 feet and rising. At temperatures below freezing. He claims to have the metabolism of a 14 year old and this is good evidence. He used wind-pants and a windbreaker to head up Star Pass and later said he could have done without them. Wow.
We got to the top of Star and prepared to descend. I talked to a course marshal who told me we looked good for finishing. It was 7:20 am and we were about a third of the way into the race.
The drop down from Star Pass was a blast. The snow was choppy powder rather than the breakable crust we encountered earlier in the race. It skied really well, much better than the section did last year. We got down to the transition zone and joined about 10 other teams who had descended before us. There was a feeling of jubilation among the racers, because there were only two timed check points left, and those were well in the distance. With them so far away, it felt like we’d all surely make it to Aspen.
At this point, however, Sean began to cough. He had been suffering from a chest cold since earlier in the week. Keep in mind, this guy has one functioning lung. I knew his cold was going to be an issue, but it hadn’t seemed to bother him earlier on in the race. Maybe it was the cold air on the descent, but Sean was hacking severely from this point on. He had difficulty drawing a full breath and was constantly on the verge of vomiting I tried my best to maintain a pace that would bring us to the next check point in time without putting too much exertion on his suffering lung. We ended up pacing a couple of teams that were moving at a similar rate, which helped. I know how difficult it was for Sean to keep moving with his condition and he did a great job fighting through it.
The route took us through Taylor Flats and up Taylor Pass where the wind was fierce. We chose to keep our skins on for the brief descent which allowed us to climb up the subsequent Gold Hill without transitioning. Taylor and Gold are pretty short, but the steepness makes them true stingers. We put them behind us as quickly as possible.
At the top of Gold Hill, we ripped our skins for the third time and made the descent to the Barnard Hut. It was about 12:30 and at that pace, we were sure to make it to Aspen before the 4pm cut off at the Sundeck.
As we entered the checkpoint, a volunteer casually asked us how we were doing. “Fine except I can’t breathe,” replied Sean. The volunteer turned out to be a doctor and asked Sean if we could examine him a bit further. The doc was pretty blown away by our team, both of us being two-time cancer survivors, and offered Sean a treatment for asthma. I sat drinking soup and eating while the doc checked Sean out, wondering if we’d be allowed to continue.
Twenty minutes passed. I prepared our gear, refilled water and ate. I went to the medical tent to find Sean seated and inhaling from a tube that was releasing some sort of white vapor. It was making him feel better momentarily, but wasn’t curing the congestion and constriction in his chest. The realization started to sink in: the chest cold was winning and it didn’t look like our team was going to continue.
The doctor said, “Sean, I think we’re going to have to take you out on a snowmobile.” To this, Sean replied, “That doesn’t mean HE has to go out on a sled, does it?” Generally, teams aren’t allowed to continue without both members. The nature of back country travel is too dangerous for individuals to head out alone and the race organizers have stated that only teams of two are allowed to continue. Luckily, Sean’s very charismatic. He explained our mission, to compete to raise funds for Cancer Climber. He added that this was my fourth GT and that I was very knowledgeable about the course. The section remaining was very benign as far as back country travel goes, as it follows a jeep road all the way to the sundeck.
The decision was made to let me continue on. Not giving the officials a chance to rethink their decision (not that they would have, the route had no major challenges or potential avalanche danger remaining), I thanked Sean for his super-human effort, stepped into my bindings and began the final leg of the journey.
I felt GREAT. The pace we had been setting through the night was a finishers pace, certainly not a high-placer’s pace. We were strolling, largely because of ‘ole one-lung’s handicapping cold. When I got the go-ahead from race officials, I took off like it was a 100 meter dash. And continued at that pace. Up and over each minor climb on Richmond Ridge, plowing over the whooped out snowmobile troughs that have been known to make grown men cry and carrying past the heartbreaking flats between. I got in the zone and got to the sundeck in amazing time.
At the sundeck I ran into three other teams, in various stages of celebration and exhaustion. We knew we had made it, and everyone shared that stupid, aww-shucks grin of a school boy that got away with a solid prank, or maybe just stole a kiss from that girl he likes. Joy abounded. Jokes were made during the slow, much less urgent transition from up to down, and I eventually stepped down into my bindings and pulled on my goggles for the final decent. The decent into Aspen. A place where the beer flows like wine (unless they run out! Yeah, I arrived so late that the kegs had been kicked. WHAT?!? Luckily Joan was on hand to grab a PBR for me before I turned around and stormed back to Crested Butte), where beautiful women instinctively flock like the salmon of Capistrano. ASSSSSSPEN!
The descent was glorious. I reveled in the corn. I hooted and hollered as a overtook fellow racers, offering what encouragement I could in an effort to make their burning legs hurt a little bit less. I was there. I was going to make it! For me. For Sean. For Cancer Climber. For all the patients, young and old, going through treatment. Cancer Climber for the win!
My face was still plastered with that silly grin as I crossed the finish line. The journey was complete. Sean was there, arriving earlier via snowmobile, already in his signature flip-flops, to give me a big congratulatory hug. “Next time I won’t be sick,” he said. “Doesn’t matter,” I said, “We gave that thing hell for as long as you could. I’m amazed you made it as far as you did in your condition. Great effort, dude.”
Cancer Climber will be back to the Grand Traverse. We’re used to adversity, we can handle challenges. We met our goals we set from the start: Maintain a reasonable pace: check. Even if it was slower than we could have gone because of illness, we made progress and would have finished in time. Remember WHY we’re doing it: check. Especially through the dark, beautiful night, I took the time to think about loved ones who have battled cancer. Some have won, some have lost. Remembering those battles fueled my strides and with each step along the way, cancer patients were with me. Hit checkpoints before cutoffs: check. Maybe we didn’t proceed as a team past Barnard, but technically, we reached every checkpoint before the cutoff time. I guess the sundeck has a cutoff too, but come on. We did damn good. Drink beer when we’re done: check. PBR never tasted soooo good. Next year we’ll be more prepared and healthier. Look out, GT’14.
I’ve decided it would be a cool thing to start a new feature: Bro-files.
What is a Bro-file, you might ask? It’s a profile on one of my bros. Pretty straight forward. I’ll get a few out there to hopefully get my readers acquainted with some of the peeps I get into the great outdoors with. For this episode…
I first met JCarr at the entrance to Hartman Rocks. I think I made a good impression. You see, a few WSC bike team teammates and I were course marshaling at the turn into Hartmans. It was just past dinner time and we had imbibed on a few festy-bevs. And then a few more. We had just got the portable fireplace raging and started passing the whisky around when JCarr rolled up on his single-speed.
“Uh…hey. What are you guys doing?” he asked, suspiciously.
“Hey dude, you want a shot of whiskey?!” another member of the team asked (certainly not me, you guys) and offered up the bottle.
Nice to meet you, JCarr.
A bit later, we hired JCarr at the Tune Up (R.I.P.) as a mechanic. We rode together, skied together and worked together. We became friends pretty quickly, as most with such similar hobbies in a small town do.
What is JCarr known for?
Pretty simple. Cheesin’:
and Gettin’ wild:
We’ve had some good times together. He’s helped me train quite a bit for Kilimanjaro, while he trains for the Colorado Trail Race (something that I have little to a lot of interest in depending on the time of year. Typically, no interest before the race happens, lots of interest after it’s over.)
JCarr’s a super fast rider and always down for a new adventure. Sometimes they end up being misadventures, but there’s fun in that too. He’s always got something going on, and you can often hear him howl one of his catch-phrases:
“What’s going on YouTube? Changing tires??”
“I could be into that shit.”
He’s also a bit of a hillbilly.
Here’s to you, JCarr. Keep getting stoked. For America!
Have a very happy birthday. I have fun spending time with you. I hope all of your birthday wishes come true and you get the type of cake you were hoping for (probs cheese cake if it were me.) Let’s hang out later.
P.S. I hope everyone’s fourth of July celebrations are excellent. Be safe out there, kids!
We did some, *ahem*, trail work at Hartman Rocks yesterday.
At least, I THINK we can get away with calling it that.
Greg Moss from Denver’s 9 News came through and Dave Wiens from Gunnison Trails thought we’d show him a good time during the weekly trail work session. Now, what would constitute a ‘good time’ in terms of trail work? How about fresh out of the oven wood fired pizza (brought to you by the Dussaults Inner Fire Mobile, try the Figgy Piggy!) and a cooler full of beer? …yup, that’ll do.
From what I understand, Greg was in town to get a sneak peak at Gunnison and Gunnison’s accouterments for this fall’s U.S. Pro Challenge. I think a trip to Gunnison would be wasted if one failed to bask in the glory that is Hartman Rocks, so Greg was extended an invitation to Wiens’ work day.
Now, a certain blogger (definitely not me, you guys) may or may not have shown up a tad late (seriously, couldn’t possibly be me) and missed out on the heavy lifting. By ‘heavy lifting’, I mean ‘all of the work’. But you guys, I had an appointment and couldn’t make it on time! Really.
After we waited for the lightning and light rain to pass, the pizza-mobile was fired up and merriment ensued. I would most accurately classify the rain storm as a drizzle (Which brings to mind a favorite joke: Why does Snoop Dogg carry an Umbrella? Fo’ drizzle). A bit more substantial of a storm and it could have done some serious trail work for us. Either way, we’ll take the moisture.
Kudos to all parties involved during a most grueling and intense day of trail work. I promise I’ll show up on time for the next one. Especially if there’s pizza involved.
I’m not sure if I’m the only person who experiences this. Surely there are more of you out there and today I write to bring together those who can relate to the unique phenomenon of what I like to call: People Trees. You’re most likely to experience People Trees during a mountain bike ride, but it’s also possible during a trail run. People Trees only occur off-road, and (obviously) in an area in which trees are present.
I apologize in advance because I cannot provide authentic photographic evidence to support this post. Much like Bigfoot, Nessy and other Cryptozoological creatures, People Trees are impossible to photograph. You might try, and you’d probably get a nice, scenic picture. “It’s right there!” you’d exclaim to your friends, pointing at the photographed foliage. They might humor you, or depending on how many pints have been consumed, play along and stoke your paranoid ramblings. They’ll ask for tales of the encounter and listen to you embellish for upwards of five minutes.
So, what are People Trees? Picture yourself riding along solo, enjoying a peaceful afternoon on the trails. You’ve just climbed one of the classic hills at your local area and the trail begins to wind along a plateau. Out of the corner of your eye, you see it. Another rider, gaining on you. As the singletrack turns the other direction, you lose sight of the mystery rider. The trail doubles back and you catch the rogue rider in your other peripheral. The trail is demanding, and you can’t turn to look and find out if you know this rider, but you know he’s there. But he doesn’t seem to be gaining on you. Because he’s not a rider at all. He is a tree. You just got People Treed.
There are specific trees at Hartman Rocks that pull this trick on me all the time. King People Tree is that one (you know the one) on Top ‘O the World, just as you crest the climb. It sits just off the trail, and you pass pretty nearby. Once you put some distance on this tree, he becomes a People Tree. He’s perfectly sized to be a rider, and is even shaped like a guy riding a bike. Skinny (wheelish) at the bottom, more full and robust at the top (body). Don’t be caught unawares, this tree will People Tree the heck out of you.
A reward will be offered to any reader who can provide authentic photographic evidence of a People Tree. Even though I already said it is impossible, give it a shot. Beware, the People Trees.
I got the email yesterday. “What does your schedule look like for July 14-29?”
Here we go. Kilimanjaro.
To tell you the truth, I had started to become comfortable with the idea that I had not been chosen. I was still compulsively checking my phone for a new email, sure, but because I hadn’t heard anything on Friday I assumed I was staying local this summer.
I assumed wrong.
I’ll go into that a bit further at another time.
Today, I have to train.
I didn’t have any exotic goals on my list this summer. Climb a few 14ers, go on a few epic bike rides. Camp. Climb. Raft. Kilimanjaro? Yeah, right! Er, actually. Yeah. Right.
So it’s time to shake a leg. Burpies, hill sprints, take it easy on the beer.
Here goes nothing…