A quick note from G Danger:
Here’s your friendly neighborhood blogger reminding you that next week (June 8 to be exact), I’ll be riding 100(ish?) miles to celebrate my 10 year cancer free anniversary! And I want you to join me!
The details can be found in this post: http://wp.me/p2wWFV-dt
With 100 Miles of Nowhere coming up, a few people have been asking if I’m ready for a 100 mile effort. I’ve only ridden +100 in one day on a mountain bike twice before: freshman year spring break on the White Rim and the 2008 Leadville Trail 100. I trained a lot for the latter, and went off the couch for the former. What kind of shape will I be in for next week’s event? Umm…the shape I’m in now, I guess.
I’ve been riding a lot, training hard and am ready to celebrate. Really, I have been training. Some. I mean, more than none. Joan has been too. Some, really. We even have “evidence”!
For example, here you can see my bike, artfully posed to demonstrate thoughtful trail consideration:
And here you can see my sweetie getting her shred on, with a tasteful visual metaphor likening her to a desert flower:
Here’s definitive “yes-I’ve-been-riding” evidence in the form of a “selfie” with my sweetie looking over my shoulder. Of course we’ve been riding!
And finally, a contemplative “pre-action” shot showing the beauty of Moab, which was where we were riding. We were!
Yes, we’ve been training. 100 miles sounds reeeaaallly long right now, but we’ll put in a good effort. My uncle Mark, bummed he couldn’t make it to Phil’s world, has been harassing some of his friends to get a remote 100 Miles of Golden/Tabletop/White Ranch/etc going in his neck of the woods. He said it best in his cajoling email: “Yes, 100 miles on a mtn bike is a bit rough, 10,000+ vertical feet hurts, but so does chemo when you’re 8 years old”
He got that right. On both counts.
RSVP for the event here: http://gg100miles.rsvpify.com/?preview=1
Looking forward to riding with you!
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!
If an apprehensive vibe was felt on the first day of the hike, on the start of this day the nervousness was palpable. We knew we were waking up to the most physically demanding effort of the trip: First, we’d be faced with a climb up the Barranco Wall, a pitch that rises straight out of camp and gains 1,000 feet before you’ve even started to digest your breakfast. After that, the day becomes a long approach to high camp, dipping into the Karanga Valley for a spell and then soaring to 15,000′. Once arrive at camp, we’d be treated to a quick meal and a three hour nap before setting of on our midnight summit bid.
Climbing the Barranco Wall is very similar to Colorado’s Wetterhorn Peak: some exposure, a few hands and feet moves, but mostly fun stair-step type climbing. I’d consider it the most difficult climbing of the trek, if altitude was eliminated. Nothing more than easy class three makes it clear why so many people attempt this mountain each year.
Kyle, looking back from where we came. This was a really enjoyable section of climbing.
The porters impressed us further on this section, carrying tons of weight on old shoes and taking the most difficult path in order to get around us slow gringos. They’re amazing people.
Arriving at the top of the wall, we were blown away by the view of the peak. It was right there, in front of us, in all it’s majesty. Mt. Kilimanjaro, 19,341′ above sea level. And we were climbing it.
Boom. Thar she blows.
For the rest of the day, Kili loomed large above our heads. We dipped into the Karanga Valley shortly. Sean and I lamented the lack of a ladder bridge spanning the valley, which would have cut two hours and several hundred vertical feet off the day. Those Westerners sure can dream
..and regaining lost footage.
Topping out above Karanga Valley put us at Karanga Camp aka “Dirty Camp”. Because it’s gross. Lot’s of people get sick here, Sean said, and for this reason we made a quick lunch stop and kept moving. Onward and upward.
A quick break in the clouds to refuel.
We were working towards a ridge that seemed to get further and further away as time went on. I started to believe it was a mirage, but we finally crested it.
Dropping down the backside, we could see our work laid out in front of us. Camp was up on the next ridge, and we knew there was only one way to get there. Keep climbing.
Cairns on the final pitch.
After a long a tiring day we reached camp. We knew there were just a few short hours remaining before we’d have to get up and put in a solid physical effort once more, so each team member set to the task of making final summit preparations.
I made a few gear alterations and ate as much food as I could muster on an exhausted stomach. Terry told us she would not be accompanying us during the summit attempt as her health issues had gained the upper-hand. It was tough to learn our entire group wasn’t going to make it up to the top, but so it goes in mountain climbing. I deeply respect her decision and applaud her for having the strength to call it quits. More often than not, that’s harder than going on.
Sean took the opportunity to make a few people smile and break up the seriousness of the atmosphere by donning “Big Sexy”: a ridiculous outfit consisting of a red onesy (complete with trap door butt) and Soviet-style mad bomber hat.
I made sure to think about the reason I was up on the mountain. Survivors. I thought about friends. I thought about family members. I thought about those who didn’t survive. Most of all, I thought about my goal for the trip: to give just one current cancer patient something to look forward to. To let one patient know that he could do this some day. I hope I reached that goal.
I went to bed thinking about the climbs I’ve done in my life. Some were more difficult than others. I knew this one would be like nothing else.
This post is going to be a bit different, because I let my dog Friday write it. Well, not actually write it (her paws aren’t dexterous enough to type) but dictate and proof-read it for me. She’s approved the format and content, I was only the typing dummy. I, er, we, hope you enjoy it.
Written by Friday
HI I AM FRIDAY I AM A DOG AND I LOVE HIKING!!!!!!!!!
WE DID HIKING ON THE WEEKEND. IT WAS FUN!!!!!! WE DID HIKING ON MISSOURI MOUNTAIN AND MT. BELFORD AND IT WAS SO PRETTY!!!!!!!
THEN WE WERE ON TOP OF A MOUNTAIN. WE WERE ON TOP OF MISSOURI MOUNTAIN. I ATE BEEF JERKY AND I LOVE BEEF JERKY!!!!!!
WE WENT DOWN AND THEN WE WENT UP AGAIN. GARRISON LOVES TO GO DOWNHILL FAST. I LOVE TO GO DOWNHILL FAST TOO!!!!!!!!
TO GET TO MT. BELFORD WE WENT UP ELKHEAD PASS BUT THERE WERE NO ELK. I LOVE ELK I LOVE TO CHASE ELK!!!!!!! THEN IT HAILED AND WE ALMOST WENT BACK BUT THEN WE KEPT GOING.
THEN WE WERE ON THE TOP OF MT. BELFORD. IT WAS SO PRETTY!!!!
MAYBE WE WERE GOING TO DO MT. OXFORD TOO BUT THEN THERE WERE CLOUDS THAT MAKE THE LOUD SCARY NOISE AND WE WENT DOWN INSTEAD.
I LOVE WHEN WE GET TO THE TREES BECAUSE I CAN RUN THROUGH THE TREES AND I LOVE TO RUN THROUGH THE TREES!!!!! I AM VERY FAST!!!!
WE GOT TO THE BOTTOM AND GARRISON WANTED TO SIT BY THE RIVER. I WAS READY TO GO!!!!!
GARRISON HAD A SNACK AND I WAITED TO LEAVE. I LOVE HIKING!!!! I LOVE DAYS LIKE THAT DAY!!!!!!!
(Note from Garrison: I tried to explain to Friday that on the internet, caps lock indicates yelling, but she wanted it written that way. Even though she grossly overused exclamation marks, I think she has pretty good grammar for a dog and I like her simple phrasing. I’ll have to let her make posts more often. Good job, Friz. Regarding the mountains we climbed, Missouri Mountain and Mt. Belford are both 14ers and sit in the Belford Group of the Sawatch Range. They measure 14,067′ and 14,197′ respectively and are accessed easily off of US 24 outside of Buena Vista. Mt. Oxford, 14,153′, is often combined with these peaks and sits only 1.2 miles east of Belford. As mentioned, nasty thunderheads prevented us from the triple-header even though Friday had more than enough energy to get it done. We’ll save that summit for another day. -G)
(Note from Friday: I LOVE WRITING!!! WRITING IS FUN!!!! I LOVE HIKING MORE!!!!! THANK YOU FOR READING!!!!!!)
I feel like I’ve finally caught up after my trip to Africa. Caught up on work, rest, diet, everything.
That mean’s it’s time to play.
Weather willing, I’m aiming to hit some 14ers this weekend. Possibly hit the trifecta of Oxford, Belford and Missouri on Saturday. I hear there’s a pretty awesome meteor shower going on, so camping Saturday night could be sweet. Again, weather willing. (Tough to watch a meteor shower through the rain and clouds.)
Our August monsoon season is in full force. It’s been dumping water most of the day. We’ll see if that pattern holds through the weekend. If it does, no worries. I’ll find something to do locally. There’s always beer to brew…
This is a pretty late post for a Friday afternoon, but if you’re interested in joining me for some Colorado mountains, drop a line.
There was plenty of nervous energy in the air when we awoke on Day 1. We didn’t really know what to expect, but thought we had our bases covered. Sean had checked our gear out the day before. Some climbers had it totally dialed, others were planning on carrying a pretty hefty load, but Sean helped ensure everyone had what they needed.
We had met our guides the night before and were excited to see them again. Zaratours.com was the agency we went through and I recommend them completely and without hesitation. “A1” the entire way.
The bus was loaded with our gear and then our nervous bodies. The trail head sat an hours drive from Moshi town. As the pavement turned to dirt and the desert shifted to rain forest, casual conversation was struck up with the friendly Canadians hitching a ride. Sean’s story is endlessly impressive, but he would never tell it without a little prying. Luckily, mom was along to spin the yarn. I reflected on how much this guy has done as she sat and chatted up the Canucks. I felt more and more honored to have the opportunity to do this with the Cancer Climber Association.
Tanzania is a pretty cool country, for a number of reasons. One reason that sticks out to me is that they require all Kili climbers to be accompanied by a guide (and usually a number of porters.) We were no exception. Upon arrival at the Machame Gate, our porter bags were unloaded and weighed.
(Yes, dear reader, a porter carried my stuff. A porter will carry your stuff, too, if you ever do this mountain. I hope that doesn’t shatter the majestic image I’ve built up to this point. During the day, we all carried day packs with essential items. Food, water, extra clothes. Pretty basic. I brought a super light CAMP pack and hardly felt the weight most days. I’d be strolling along in my own little contemplative world when a porter would blaze past me, an enormous back pack strapped on his shoulders and an even bigger burlap sack balancing on his head. He’d be dressed in worn out dress shoes and sweat pants. And he’d be singing.)
Once the weigh in was completed, we snapped a few typical trail head shots and began our trek.
Mt. Kilimanjaro is not a fast hike. The motto on the mountain, as I’ve mentioned in previous posts, is “pole, pole” which translates to “slowly.” Guides will constantly remind you to slow down. While I live in Colorado and did my best to get in a good amount of high altitude training, I trusted their expert opinion and never balked at the slow pace. It paid dividends later.
The section from Machame Gate to Machame camp was pretty smooth and pedestrian. We stopped for a nice boxed lunch, but other than that moved pretty consistantly and arrived at Machame camp at 10,170′ in about five hours.
Our camp site gave us a beautiful and intimidating view of our ultimate goal. Kilimanjaro looms large in the distance, no matter where you might be. It stalks you. Only one thing to do: keep climbing.
Highlights from the 2012 Cancer Climber Kilimajaro Expedition.
Hakuna Matata …
Tembea pole pole
Kunywa maji mengi
Bwana: Respectful address
Habari gani: How are you?
Mzuri sana: Very fine
Wageni, mwakaribishwa: Foreigners, You are welcome
Hakuna matata: There are no worries
Tembea pole pole: Walk slow, slow
Utafika salama: Come safe
Kunywa maji mengi: Drink plenty of water
Our guides would break into songs and echo calls when you’d least expect it. It served as a big morale booster to call back their cries of “Koochie koochie!”, “Jip jip jip!”, “pop pop pop!”, and “daron daron daron!” It also let them know how gassed we were.
“Man, when you lose your laugh, you lose your footing.”
-Ken Kesey, One Flew Over The Cuokoo’s Nest
MattB is a guy you want to have around. A few phrases to describe him:
- Excellent Photographer
- Music connoisseur
- Computer nerd
Yup, when you’re stranded in the great outdoors MattB will stump you with music trivia, fix your broken digital camera and, after snapping a shot of your dumbfound expression, post it to every social networking site. Look, you’re on the front page of Reddit!
MattB was partially responsible for getting me on my first 14er (Wetterhorn Peak, 14,016′). Our families took a trip together after a great 4th of July celebration a few years back. It got me hooked.
He also introduced me to sardines as trail food. I was skeptical at first, but damn, a nice tin of fish, some mini bagels and a packet of mustard really hits the spot at 13,000′.
MattB’s not old, but he has seen me grow up in our small community. Here he is gettin’ rad back in the day:
What a punk kid.
He shreds on tele skis and a bike. Powder days are heaven, whether they’re white or brown.
Thanks for the help training, MattB. Let’s hit some more 14ers when I get back!
Really, though, MattB takes the most amazing pictures. Be sure to check out his site.
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!
The Darkroom. Everyone knows it, even if they don’t know it by that name. It’s the pits. The low point during an activity. The point at which you want to give up, go home and cower. It’s playing the pain game.
And it’s required.
You can’t have a great time in the mountains or on the trail without getting into the Darkroom once or twice. Inevitably, at one point during your ride, you’ll ask yourself: “Why the hell am I doing this? I’m miserable. My lungs burn. I can taste blood. I’m sucking wind and everyone is going faster than me.”
You’ve just entered the Darkroom.
It’s a dangerous place, this Darkroom. It can make you quit. It HAS made you quit. It’s full of hoodoos and demons and all sorts of doubt. It engulfs you and shakes you up. You can’t focus on anything but stopping and turning around. It hurts.
There are those souls out there who intentionally put themselves in the Darkroom. Society calls them masochists, I typically call them some of my more hardcore friends. My buddy EFreson calls it “Type A Fun”. Putting yourself out there, knowing you’ll soon be in an extremely uncomfortable environment takes a certain type. Admittedly, I’ve opened the door to the Darkroom on purpose from time to time. I get inside and wonder what I was thinking when I turned the knob.
“Ouch!” I say, “Why did I want to do this?! My legs burn!” as I make my way up a silly steep boot pack.
“What were we thinking when we thought of this?” I’ll moan as we bushwhack down an increasingly narrow runoff canyon.
“You thought this was going to be fun?!?” I’ll lament in the midst of a 70mph gust on a snowy, exposed ridge.
Luckily, most Darkroom experiences are with other people. You may be in the Darkroom, but at least you’re with other people. They can bring you up, unlock the door and get you out of there. It’s lonely in the Darkroom, and it’s valuable to have partners who know how to rescue you from the depths.
But I’m glad there’s a Darkroom. Cliche, yes, but how can we appreciate the good without the bad? Being positive and happy in the mountains all day long is not realistic. It just doesn’t happen that way all day. The Darkroom has a way of teaching you appreciation and giving you perspective.
When you get into your Darkroom, how do you get out? What helps? When have you willing entered?