name: steve edwards

born: november 22, 1960

occupation: make fat people thin and healthy and then try and kill them with excessive exercise. make movies no one watches.

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Steve's 2005 Challenge Blog

I started this year with the idea of doing old failed challenges. However, I've ended up on my bike and attempting to knock off some California events, just in case my days in the Golden State are numbered. Actual challenge still to be determined, but here's what I've been up to.

Oct 23

Furnace 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)

Russ' 508 Report

Tinker's 508 Report (you have to sign-up--free--at

Oct 20

Birthday Challenge

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.

Oct 2

The 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.

Sep 26

Everest Challenge

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 pics.

I'll post a write-up soon.

Sep 23

Still Life

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!

Sep 20

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.

Sep 12

Good Training. Very very good training.

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.

Sep 9

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 now."

Found the article. Didn't get the quotes just right but you'll get the idea.

Climbing to Hell

Sep 8

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 are easy.

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 walking. Jesus!

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 potential.

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.

Sep 1st

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 hours.

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 grenade. 

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 weather. 

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.

August 17

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. 

August 15

My "birthday 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 carried on.

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!

August 9

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.

July 11

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...

May 5

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 it is

40 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.

HA! 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.

4 X 400 - will make me use my spikes. It will be pretty hard but I'm confident.

Again, 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.

40 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.

Yes, I agree with this. Very hard.

4 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.

Did it last year. Good day out. Could have been harder, though blisters really slowed my down.

80 - 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.

Whatever. I guess.

4-minute 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.

Hadn't thought about this until a couple of days ago. Now agree with the above.

May 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 impossible...

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 chance. 

May 2 - Okay, I had my first bouldering session yesterday and it was a friggin' joke. Truly, the worst day bouldering in about 15 years. I suck, big time, and could not do 1 V4 right now, not to mention 40. My friend Josh said it was just that I didn't want to. He's right, but only to a degree. I'm only good at bouldering when I go bouldering. Climbing is no substitute. So this 40 V4 thing is completely impossible to envision at the moment.

We did manage to have a good sports day though. I ran for an hour through the mountains. Then Josh and I rode for an hour at altitude. Then we scrambled up some peak--about another hour of intense ascending/descending. So, all in all, it was a good day out. Even if I'm the worst boulderer on the planet. I can't believe I did 400 boulder problems in a day. I couldn't do 400 problems in a month right now!

April - Made the decision not to go to Italy. It was hard but I haven't been training and would have gotten smoked anyway. Now to train for... Thinking about finishing all of my old failed challenges this year and focusing on the Sierra. Unfortunately, the latter goal helps with only one of the former. Work has been insanely busy as is truly getting in the way of serious training. However, my minor injuries and overtraining (all from campusing) seem to be healed up by the end of the month. May will be better... HA!
March -  I went from climbing better than I have in years to being totally overtrained. Damn. Considering not going to Europe. Don't have the time off (corporate silliness) plus I'm way more psyched on the Sierras this summer. After all, I may not live in Ca forever and there are some major routes I'd like to do before I leave. 
Feb 2005 - Got smoked in my first race but the main point was to motivate me. However, I ended up far more motivated for the climbing area I was at the day prior. Hmmm, maybe the World's will get put on hold. Started, sort of, training a bit though. 
 Jan 2005 - Started my first true climbing training program in a long time--a decade, I think. My buddy Ben and I are campusing once a week. It's great, just so long I stay healthy. Have done precious little endurance work as I'm more psyched on climbing at the moment.
December 2004 - I hurt my shoulder climbing so instead of a birthday challenge I re-focused and did some endurance stuff. In November, I managed--barely--with 3 weeks of training to earn a spot on the US Duathlon Team for a spot to compete at the World Championships in Italy next spring. Next, I finished the Balance Bar 24-hour adventure race. Neither of these things was even remotely as hard as a birthday challenge but it's still a decent month of exercise. What's funny is that some people are really impressed by the adventure race. For me, it's felt like a day out with my friends. Go figure.