Creek/Everest Challenge Race Report
Finally, here's a write up on
my challenge. I'll add some more as well. My friend Russ
"Titanium Man" Mc Bride's 508 tale, and maybe Kenny
Souza and Tinker Juarez (first and second place)
508 Report (you have to sign-up--free--at mtbr.com)
For the second straight year,
injuries have derailed my birthday challenge plans. Since I'm
off to Oz for my actual birthday, I'm trying to think of
something to salvage this year. Of course, it can't include
biking and I'm not in any sort of climbing shape. I can still
find something interesting and creative, I guess. Maybe
something at the Valley of the Moon soiree in early Nov.
Furnace Creek 508
I haven't really mentioned
that I'm signed up for the Furnace Creek 508 right after
Everest. Well, um, I am. Hurt my knee at Everest but I'm sure
it'll be fine. Should really get a race report up but, for
some reason, on events I've thought a lot about I often don't
write on them. I mean, 400 boulder problems is still one of
the hardest things I've done and I've never really felt like
talking about it at all.
This bodes well for the 508,
since I've barely given it a thought.
The weather cleared the the
race was superb. Really great fun with plenty of suffering. A
truly hard event that I was happy to finish.
In order to do Everest, I'd
skipped the World Duathlon Championships this weekend in
Australia. Here are some
I'll post a write-up soon.
I'm so psyched! On the way up
the eastside today I happened upon the Still Life Cafe, in Independence.
This is, by far, the best restaurant in the eastern Sierra and
probably the best place to eat in California east of Los
Angeles. It's run by a French couple and stepping inside life
becomes, instantly, as it should be. It's a bit pricey for
dinner, but not really when you consider it's similarly priced
to Whiskey Creek, with food that rivals a good French bistro
in France! Michele--the owner--and I were discussing the
dearth of proper gastronomy in the Sierra and his comment
summed up the "recommended" dinner that I had later
in Mammoth. "You go to a restaurant for a nice meal and
they serve you food like you would get in prison."
Yep, Giovanni's in Mammoth
Lakes. Avoid the pasta at all costs, unless you're pining away
for your prison days.
Oh, the weather's terrible.
Super high winds. The roads are a mess. Snow is predicted for
tomorrow. Could be exciting!
Tapering, of sorts.
It occurred to me that my
training has been almost entirely on the weekends. I do two
hard days and then recover during the week. Will be
interesting to see how this works. Spent about 11 hrs in the
saddle last weekend on various bikes. Not exactly tapering,
per se, but really fun.
Good Training. Very very
Great weekend of training.
Sat, did three crits. I hadn't done a crit all year and it
seemed a really silly way to train for some super long, but
doing a bunch of all-out sprinting. My ability to compete
certainly waned throughout the day but I managed to be
somewhat a factor in each race, taking the lead at times in
each and sprinting (loose definition) for primes in each. I
lost four sprint primes and couldn't even hold wheels in a
couple of others. This is a record. I usually win the primes I
go for. I lost them all to the SAME guy, who was clearly just
faster than me. But what the hell, I have not laid out a
sprint all year. Plus, my aim was not to crash and get some
exercise, so mission accomplished.
Sunday, met Jenn Long (who's
riding the 508) in Big Bear for some altitude, heat, desert,
and wind training. Big Bear was cold (winter's coming, for
sure) so we rode down the hill to the desert. The hill had
signs stated 11% grade, which got me wondering why I hadn't
heard of it. After a false flat, another 10% notice. We don't
have many over 10% grade signs around, so I was psyched
knowing we'd have to come back up it.
Down in the desert, we found
out heat as it was probably 30 degrees warmer. We rode for a
while, somehow keeping the wind out of our face, and then
headed back up. The run in to the real climb was miles of
gradual climbing up a straight-as-an-arrow patch of pavement.
This is always miserable (but good Everest practice). We
stopped at the top so Jenn could take off some clothes, which
was too late as she was already overheated.
The real climb was HARD. As
I'm riding, I'm thinking that either I'm having a bad day or
that it's the hardest hill in So Cal. I couldn't believe I'd
never heard of it. At one point, while crawling past a cement
plant on the lower flanks, there was a sign stating
"caution: 7 miles between 8-17%). Wow.
Near the top, I met Josh who
was riding out to meet us. He went to the top and then headed
down after Jenn. After stretching for a minute I followed him.
Part way down, a truck pulled over with Jenn in it. She'd seen
Josh but didn't know him so he was still heading down. Hmmm.
Jenn, overheated, cramped
badly and accepted some help up the hill. Saying I'd meet her
in Fawnskin, I headed down hoping I wouldn't have to climb the
whole thing again. Luckily, Josh had turned around at the
false flat and I only had to ride the upper third.
Fawnskin in a one-horse town
with one bar, one store, no gas, etc. The night before Jenn
(who lives there) was talking about the grumpy old lady who
owns the store. "She's great. You would think she's gruff
and bitter but when you talk to her she's super nice and knows
everything." I assumed the last statement a figure of
speech. But when Jenn was feeling down about bonking on the
hill, she said, "Don't be too upset. It's the hardest
climb in southern California." How she could know this is
a complete mystery as this climb is totally off the radar and
I'm pretty sure she doesn't spend much time on a bike seeking
out climbs. This is life as it should be; filled with
characters out of a David Lynch movie. Faaaantastic.
Dying a Thousand Deaths
Look at #47,
Ted Huang. the guy finishing two places behind Big George
(ahead of Lance Armstrong on the Pro Tour) and 8 places ahead of
Levi (winner Tour of Germany and 6th Tour de France) in the SF
Grand Prix. This is the guy who's Everest
Challenge comments were along the lines of "even though I'm
paper boying in a 27 I can barely get the cranks to turn over' and "this isn't a race.
It's a test of survival."
I'm riding in a 27 because using more gearing feels like cheating.
I anticipate a spot of bother.
45 George Hincapie (USA) Discovery Channel
46 Kyle Wamsley (USA) Snow Valley - Seal-On
47 Ted Huang (USA) Webcor
48 Esad Hasanovic (SCG) Aerospace Engineering - VMG
49 Scott Moninger (USA) Health Net pb Maxxis
50 Kirk Albers (USA) Jelly Belly - Pool Gel
51 Pavel Padrnos (Cze) Discovery Channel
52 Peter Luttenberger (Aut) Team CSC
53 Andrew Randell (Can) Jet Fuel Coffee
54 Jeff Louder (USA) Navigators Insurance Cycling Team
55 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Gerolsteiner
"I dunno Bob, but it
looks like Edwards could be in a spot of bother."
"Like the French at
Agincourt, Edwards is dying a thousand deaths out there right
Found the article. Didn't get
the quotes just right but you'll get the idea.
Last week's Everest Challenge
tune-up with Josh was, a-hm, pretty challenging. Oh-my-God,
this "race" isn't going to be a picnic, that's for
sure. We reconed the sections that I hadn't done. After which,
I decided to read all of the race reports and noticed that a
lot of sub 140lb neo-pro climbing specialists were saying
things like "it's not a race. It's a test of
survival" and "it was all I could do to turn the
pedals over, even though I was paper boying in a
27". So far, I've ridden everything in a 25 and am
seriously worried about my plan to only add a 27. Any more
gearing would take an investment that I don't want to make. I
know it would help, and may be the difference between
finishing or not, but somehow it seems sort of wimpy to not
ride with standard gearing. Okay, I know even Ivan Basso went
to a compact crank in the Tour and Giro. Still, it's a matter
of style and tradition. I've got two weeks to go, so I'd
better decide soon. My weight, a hefty 180. Sure, I could lose
weight too, but that would cut into my drinkin'!
Here's the "race"
breakdown of the climbs:
Mosquito Flat: approx
22 miles finishing at 10,200'. The air was pretty rarified but
this is a very nice climb. The first half up the old grade
isn't so nice, then the scenery changes and it's never too
steep. The last mile is the toughest, but it's not problem.
Must finish this without digging at all, which could be a
problem over 20 miles of consistent climbing.
Pine Creek: the start
is terrible--a straight not-so-nice exposed ride up through
Ravana. Then it hits a creek and might even offer some shade.
On a sweeping right turn it kicks to over 8% for a couple of
miles. This will be tough to 'cruise'. The last mile or two
South Lake. Grimness
abounds. The first, like, 15 miles, are mainly straight
through arid terrain, with each pitch getting steeper than the
last. A long 8-10% grade before the road forks is the survival
crux. Above this I'll make it, but it's 7 more miles. In the
last mile there are sections up to 18%. These were hard in
training. I can't imagine what it will feel like at the end of
this day, but I've read where a couple of Cat 1 guys were
Glacier Lodge: A
terrible climb, with a long straight exposed 8-10% section.
Since it starts day two it's all about getting through it
without killing myself. The last few miles are much easier.
The descent is bumpy, straight, exposed, and has death
Wacova: Didn't check
this one out but it's a weird arid desert climb toward Death
Valley. How hard could it be, since it's only 5%. I hope I'm
still around to find out.
Bristlecone Climb: The
save the best for last. 20+ miles of grimness. The lower bit
has 8-10% sections and should be hot. Then it's flat-ish for a
while. The last 5 miles are hard--really hard--probably
averaging 10% with sustained sections of 12-15%. This was very
hard on its own--just the end! I think it's the hardest long
climb that I've done. Harder than Figuroa, Alpe d'Huez, or
anything else I can think of. Josh says I should consider a
triple. He might be right.
Okay, this sleeping this has
finally gotten the best of me and I'm sick. Whatever. Let's
talk about the weekend. Reed's
challenge was pretty rad, in a Swayze sorta way. It
started well enough as we blasted off to San G. before first
light. The ascent was a bit slow (a very long a meandering
trail) and we didn't want to push too much, since we had a
long day ahead. Still, by 9 am we were at the highest point in
So Cal (11,000+'), with a view of our destination, the ocean.
About a hundred miles away as the crow flies, but we ain't
crows. We also couldn't see it, something that caused us no
concern at the time.
We were about an hour and a
half late at the transition but this wasn't too bad as we'd strategized
a way to make it back on the mtn bike. Our
"downhill" course started with a fairly major climb.
I offered to swap my wimpy geared bike with Reed for his
single speed by the Imbiber seemed determined to do the
challenge in the best possible style. He suffered on the climb
but made up most of 4 minutes in the next 7 miles of downhill
(nobody descends faster than the Big Engine). Feeling I'd hold
him up, I decided to bail after the next section of single
track, ride the road a bike, and meet back up with Reed at
Angelus Oaks. My "shortcut" was faster but forced me
to add another substantial climb but, what the hell, I am
training for climbing. Oh, and heat. The weather forecast was
rife with warnings about it being the hottest day of the year,
saying people should stay cool, drink, and not exert
themselves. Obviously, they're talkin' about ordinary people.
By Angelus Oaks, 2o miles of
hiking, 25 or so of mtn biking, I'm pretty cooked. And it's
not just the heat. There's a fair bit of smog in the air and I
can feel it, even though we're at nearly 6,000. We're now
further behind schedule, so I call Josh for a bike switch. If
we jump on our road bikes, we can still be to the ocean in 4
It took Reed a long time to
meet me and when he did he looked bad. Apparently, he had to
walk his bike up the "unsteep" hill and couldn't
breathe. Good 'ol SoCal photochemical smog. We Josh showed up,
Reed bailed straight away.
I, on the other hand, decided
that I should at least ride home. 2o miles downhill to Josh's,
then another 2o to Reed's place. As I descended, the smog got
thicker and thicker. My eyes hurt so bad that I could only
open one at a time. I could have stopped at Josh's but he
hadn't had much exercise and wanted to ride. 10 miles later I
could barely breath. During the last 5 miles of what Josh
called "one of the worst hours I've ever spent on a
bike" I was forced to slowly breathe in through my nose
and exhale through a shirt. It was disgusting. With a flat 50
miles left to the ocean, I'm not sure I could have made it and
had zero desire to try.
The next day, we skipped the
races and, instead, headed up to Big Bear for the climbing and
riding. Reed refused to come, which neither Josh or I could
understand since he opted to sit inside all day because you,
basically, couldn't go outside. It was so hot that a bottle of
mineral water buried in my truck exploded like a
Anyway, we ended up climbing
about 10 routes, mainly 5.10s and 11s in a couple of hours and
having a rather nice ride around the lake in perfect
Now, my rant for the day: I
just don't understand how people go out and only climb 3 or 4
routes all day unless they're climbing totally at their limit.
Hans' book has a chapter where some guys
"strategize" a way to get 10 pitches in... Jesus.
It's a simple as "don't sit around yappin' about all the
stuff you could do when you were fit" and you almost
can't not do 10 pitches.
Oh, also found a new food
challenge. The Big Juan, a burrito at this place in Big Bear.
I didn't try and finish it but don't think I could have. It's
possible it's a big as a Manuel's Special from El Tepayac and
they give you a t-shirt if you can polish one off in 45
minutes. It's possible, but would be no picnic. I was eating
mine until Wednesday.
Man, been having
a lot of trouble sleeping. Weird. I'll fall asleep fine and
the wake up and not get back to sleep. How come when you can't
sleep all night as soon as the sun comes up you can fall
asleep? Finally got to sleep at dawn, but was woken by a phone
call an hour or so later... sheesh.
challenge" started on Sat. It's not set, yet, but I'm
going to complete 45 things over 4 months, some of them hard,
with one as-of-yet undetermined challenge day. The 4 months is
because, in part, I want to assist 4 challenges and Ben was
going on Sat. Was a good day, though as these things go, not
totally smooth. Ben and I were running at 1am. After a Campari
on the rocks (part of his challenge), I went home and Ben
Sunday, I'd planned on some
hours in the saddle as a bit of a fitness test for me to see
how ready for the Everest
Challenge I was. I ended up having a fantastic day, as
well as concocting the Best
Ride in the Santa Monica's!
Thought I ought to update
this though, still, nothing seems worth reporting. Have been
training a lot, however, it's been random. Doing a lot of heat
training. Sat went mtn biking and climbing with Andrea in
pretty hot conditions. When she retired due to heat
exhaustion, got on my bike and rode up Mulholland to Stunt.
Really suffered at the top. No matter how I tried, I couldn't
get my temp to drop or my breathing to normalize. I guess it's
good training... Ha!
Next day I rode for a couple
of hours and then decided to try and race. Got killed, but
that's what happens when you don't race. Fun, though.
I have been putting in a lot
of fairly long days on the weekends. My weeks have been
terrible. Lots of work, plus film work, and lack of general
focus. My friend Dave Talsky and I climbed Mt. Morrison a
couple of weeks back. It's, in my opinion, the most beautiful
peak in the Sierras so it was nice to tick. Here's a summit
shot looking at Mt. Laurel, which Dave, I, and his wife Autumn
did last year.
Well, okay, this
year's been a disaster. Not really, just un-focused, too busy,
etc. Have been training but pretty half-assed. Some nagging
injuries haven't helped either. Okay, today's the day. No,
really, it is.
Yesterday I rode Figueroa Mtn
from both sides. This was a pretty cool day with about 8,000
ft plus of climbing. Didn't hurt too bad, either. Of course,
my pace wouldn't exactly have put fear into any peloton I can
think of. Haven't tried any breathholding--but have exercised
for it. Haven't been in the water once. Haven't bouldered once
and have a very bad finger. Was sprinting but an old injury
started to surface so I've backed off to build some more base.
Basically, I'm in decent fitness but that's all. Plus, I'm
fat. 185 this morning.
So the plan is to enter all
of my food and watch consumption for at least a week. That may
make this pretty boring but since I'm hardly posting anyway
it's basically for my reference.
I also need an exercise plan.
Thinking about training for all this stuff as well as the
Everest Challenge. Let's see how it goes.
Everest Challenge is 11 weeks
away. Plus, I've got some other stuff on the agenda. Okay, I'd
better think about this...
I've been sick for a couple
of days and am wondering if it's something more chronic as
I've had some weird health issues this year. I'm really bad at
this but someone should remind me to go to the doctor.
Anyway, ran (albeit I was
getting sick) a couple of days ago on the track and it felt
huge. I think tracks are a mile these days if they're 10
meters. Seriously, the concept of running 50 seconds quarters
was daunting, to say the least. So I went back and double
checked my observations after I failed on these events during
my 2000 challenge to try and gain a little perspective. Here
V4's - will make me get back into climbing shape. I don't
think it will be too hard with some proper training and rest.
What am I, insane?! I guess, having not bouldered seriously
since that time, this is what happens. I mean, I suck at
bouldering, really bad. Enough to truly make me wonder whether
or not it's even possible to get back in any type of shape.
X 400 - will make me use my spikes. It will be pretty hard but
sheesh. Those spikes have not been used since then. I've done
some running, but all distance. "Speed" work is
doing repeat 72 second quarters. Hmmm.
peaks - The original 23 plus 17 others. I have a new course
picked out that is harder than any of my older plans. I figure
I need to make it harder because during the longer, summer
days it will be easier. My goal is to break whatever the
altitude record for a day is. Will be hard, for sure.
I agree with this. Very hard.
walls in Yosemite - This will be fine. Arduous, but fine. I
may change my walls but, for sure, one will be Half Dome and
one El Cap.
it last year. Good day out. Could have been harder, though
blisters really slowed my down.
- meter underwater swim - since I did 50 without fins I am
confident this won't be too much of a problem once I get some
fins and practice with them.
breath hold - this one will be hard and I have no reference
point to try and be confident. It will make me learn a new
discipline: apnea training. I am looking forward to it.
thought about this until a couple of days ago. Now agree with
3 - Read a bunch about apnea training and now am
pretty psyched. My best breath hold ever is 3 minutes and I
haven't been able to equal that for 5 years (not that I've
really tried). So, let's see, am I supposed to truly be
confident that I can improve the best result by 25%? Hmm, I
might be living in freakin' fantasy land!
Last week Bob was reading
over my old journals and talking about how we used to suffer
like mad all the time. Reed and I were also talking about his
challenge this year. It's all made me pretty psyched to get on
it a bit this year. So let's see. I'm going to evaluate my
current chances and thoughts about each of my events. Maybe
I'll his the track tonight to get a better gauge on the
quarters, but for now:
Breath hold and swim - I
think I can do this and it's pure speculation. I ordered
Umberto Pelizzari's book. I'll be fine.
40 peaks - the only thing I
am training for. I should be ready for this, or at least as
ready as can be. Maybe it's impossible. No, nothing is
4 400s in 54 - If I had to do
this tonight I'd be hard pressed to do 4 in 74. I'm certain I
can get down to 4 in 64. 54 seems way out there.
40 v4s - Of all these events
I worry most about this one. I just am not psyched to boulder
at the moment. If I'm don't get--and stay--psyched than I have
zero chance. Hell, even psyched I might have zero