someone says you can't do something. That just gets me psyched to
try and do it,
- Hans Florine in Wall Rats
they be eaten by sharks; speared by natives? Mike had no
idea." - The Endless Summer
This is just how I felt, I
had no idea whatsoever what to expect. All I knew was that I
wasn't overtrained, it hadn't started raining, none of my
injuries were flaring up too bad, and I was going to try. None
of the events on my list seemed too bad in and of themselves,
it was just a matter of stringin' 'em together.
I got stuck in the office with
the last-minute work and my support team, Bob
and Ratso, decided to put a dent in Sat. night's party stock
before I'd even arrived. This probably wasn't the best plan,
as Bob's schedule would mirror mine for the next two days,
making "jesus, I'm tired," a remark very reminiscent
2000's "I'm tired too. Tired of all the possibilities
of it all."
5:00am, Nov 21, 2003 - I'm up
before my alarm goes off, doing yoga breathing exercises. In
training, I hadn't been able to get a good breath hold but
though that with a slow heart rate in the am I should be able
to make 2:43, which is .20 less than my best.
right: "jacques mayol does 3 hours of yoga before diving,
I can have 5 minutes now." OMMM.
the 2 specks in the middle of the road are steve finishing the
one, or was it ball twenty?
only i weighed twice as much and were a foot taller, i'd take
shaq's job no problem.
I did around 2:30 to warm-up.
I didn't have an official clock on it and was surprised. Also,
happy. 2:43 went fairly easily next go.
Did some yoga and set-off
running, trying to be quiet to allow Bob some extra rest. Finished
in 28:30. I had to keep reminding myself to slow down as I'm used to
running miles under 6:30. But this was no triathlon. I had 43
hours ahead of me.
My friend Chris Huntley was
waiting for me with a bag of baseball and a couple of gloves.
I hadn't thrown a ball in years, though I throw rocks
regularly. Chris wasn't about to do me any favors either. It
took me a while to learn that he'd give the inside corner, but
not the outside, and I probably through an entire game of
pitches before 43 strikes were in the bag.
Next up, free throws. Despite
one of those double-enforced playground rims, this went
quickly and easily. Spent far too many years teaching these
mechanics to ever lose mine. Now, if I had to make them in a
Then it was home to load the
van. Chris went to work and Bob took over support duties.
Kenji had also been there to rebound but had his own support
task ahead, getting the backyard ready for Sat night's soiree.
A little behind schedule,
Friday morning's traffic wasn't about to do us any favors. By
the time we were at Conejo Mountain we were already an hour
behind. Planning to do as much mtn biking as
possible, I hadn't recon'd the trail because it was a fire
road. It turned out to be steep and rugged, making very slow
going. I stopped after 4 miles to climb.
This went well, and I ticked
12 routes in very little time, no falls. Back on the bike for
another 4 miles, getting to the van still one hour (and now 2
miles of biking) behind schedule.
it wasn't going perfect, it was way too early to panic. I
jumped on my road bike and sped off towards the coast. I lost
Bob when I passed him as he was looking for the camera
but we were able to connect without losing much.
My bike's freewheel then
started making all sorts of noise and seized up. Luckily, I'd
brought a spare set of wheels, which were race wheels and
faster, so I probably made up the stop with extra speed.
The weather was behaving
well. I rode into a head wind towards the coast, but once I
turned south/east on PCH, it became a tailwind, yee-haw. I flew by an area where I'd hit a severe
headwind in last
year's challenge, thinking how much less I was suffering,
at least so far.
The surfing spot was 4000 PCH,
a place known as Staircase and favored by me because it was
good for dogs. We met up with Denis Faye, who was also packin'
the infamous King Pin fritters, that had been Fed Exed from
Berkeley by Hans
"i can't even look. get back on your bike. you're supposed to be
better. this isn't birthday pretty hard..."
Despite Bob's claim that it
was a "terrible idea," I fired off fritter number
one before hittin' the surf.
Don't know whether it was
because I suck at surfing or fritter induced, I did start to
cramp rather bad around hour one. I still kept trying to catch
waves but one particular place kept cramping worse and
We than had an issue with the
rangers, whom I heard "never came down on the
beach". This caused one of us to keep going in and
tending the dogs. In the end, we cut the session an hour
short, but not as much because of the rangers as that we were
running out of light.
20 miles of biking, a volleyball game to play,
and not wanting to ride PCH in the dark, I took off at a
frantic pace. I drank as
much E-Load as possible and, thankfully, didn't cramp too much
and pulled into the 76 Station
next to Duke's, in Malibu, just before dark.
We sped off
towards the court trying to find a quick fourth. Unfortunately,
the most eligible, Reed and Kenji, were busy imbibing back at the El
Matador and didn't want to be disturbed.
This meant it was 2 on 1
volleyball. Me, being both the challenger and the more
experienced player, got the solo side, and a lot of extra work
to bump, set, and hit all myself. A spirited game turned ugly
when it became too dark to see. Either way, we were well in
excess of 43 points, and I was ahead, HA! Final score was
around 35 to 27.
seen any big
guys lately? not too many at 10pm on friday
Gold's Gym in Venice was next.
Not only is the place hilarious to hang out in, it's also
inspirational. Plus, had a Concept 2 rowing machine which I
was going to need in lieu of a kayak.
This seemed like a long road
ahead. In an attempt to stave off lactic acid accumulation, I
started off using very light weight and doing a lot of reps,
mainly sets of 30.
This wasn't impressing any of the big guys at Gold's, I'll
tell ya. Sets of 30 are hard for most people because they
never do them. Thankfully, I've done a cycle of 30 reps ever
year for more than a decade. The downside to long sets is that
they're slow, and what might have impressed the big guys was that I was
in that place damn near 4 hours.
I'd done 86,000 pounds before
and knew it wouldn't be a problem, given sufficient time. I
was using my legs a lot, and they were cooked. I really didn't
want to do any arm work, nor any small muscle groups at all,
knowing I'd need them later.
By the time I'd polished off
the weight, Bob was pretty bored. As I started on the rowing
machine, he took off with Tuco and I got stuck rowing for 36
min 11 sec (6900 kilometers) to a bunch of TV's playing
nothing but Michael Jackson gossip. I tried, in vain, to get the staff to change the challenge but
they claimed they couldn't. Uugghh!
After rowing, it took about
15 minutes doing yoga to enable me to stand fully erect. Then all I had was a
sets of pull-ups, hanging straight leg raises, bar dips, and
push-ups. Thankfully, my arms hadn't been engaged too much and
had enough reserve to see me through.
at the car, the Little Guy was guarding the fritters for me.
I'd eaten very little all day and quickly polished off another
one. We grabbed a burrito on the way home and after eating,
Bob and Reed hit the sack whilst I setting in for a fairly
long yoga session. I was doing okay but incredibly stiff.
I also then traced the source
of my "cramps" during the surf. Apparently, the
board had hit the inside of my right thigh during a wipe out
and I hadn't noticed. This was the area that was cramping so
bad, and there was a large bruise.
My friend Melissa
Packer, a yoga instructor, had given me some restorative
postures which I followed to the letter. By the time I
went to sleep, I felt pretty decent.
like a dragon
guarding his treasure, tuco makes sure the fitters are
breakfast of champions (kanji = fight with conviction to win)
This morning I WASN'T up before
me alarm, which took me out of a very deep and sound rest. The
weather had changed and the wind was rippin' outside, but
there wasn't time to even consider its possible effect.
We started the ride at first
light. Bob had a mechanical right at the start, Reed went back
to help, and I was alone. I came back to meet them at the summit of
Westridge, an old missile station. It offers great views of LA
that, on cold windy mornings like this one, are stunning. Then we headed west on dirt
Mulholland. While one of the easiest mtn biking trails in the
area, it's not even close to being flat and we were going
either up or down the entire ride. At some point, I again forged
ahead, really enjoying the morning. LA never
looks better than during Santa Ana's.
At a sign near the turnaround
I noticed that mile bike odometer was short of the mileage on
all of the road signs--great! Too late to amend, I was
destined to ride more than necessary by a few miles and there
was nothing I could now do about it.
another fritter and a half as we headed up the coast.
telling Bob that the fritters weren't too bad, right before I
said something about feeling hot and nauseous. He then
commented that I made the same comment each time I ate some, which I'm sure was true. At least I only had one to
Pulling into the parking lot,
we were in for the worst point of the challenge... no surf!
The tide was too high and the waves weren't breaking. Daylight
was burning and there was no time to look for something else.
I was going to go paddle around but Bob said, "If you're
going to bag something, this is the one."
With 31 routes still on the
agenda, I couldn't hesitate. Climbing being by far the more
difficult thing to do, I decided to head up the hill. Besides,
if I just wanted to paddle around, I could do that just as
well at night.
While it seemed like things
were going well, this was going to be the crux. Climbing 31
routes in a day is hard in itself. At Echo, it's even harder
than most places. And I wasn't going to get onto the rock til
nearly noon, giving me about 5 hours of light.
Reed dropped me at the
trailhead with just my own gear and no rope. Ratso and I ran
in, hoping to meet some friends with ropes. Sure enough, Jeff and Kelly were at the very first climb about to
start. They allowed me to lead it and toprope the next one.
Two routes done in about 10 minutes.
Then, like clockwork, my Chad showed
up. He allowed me to climb first and he would
only climb routes I thought were good. We polished off 9
routes pretty quickly.
By this time, Reed, Jesse,
Kevin, and Sandie were there and had some routes set up. They
allowed me to climb right through. I did the three routes they
had set-up in about the time it took Sandie to climb the one. I was cookin', but I was also getting tired and
still had 17 routes to go. Plus, it was hot and I was a bit
short on water. How did it go from freezing to hot?
Bob had left
to put gas in the van but had arrived finally. We headed off
to the east side of Echo, which has some multi-pitch climbs
that are low-angle so that I could get some weight off my
arms. I hadn't done most of them so had no
idea what to expect. Chad and another friend, Ike, followed us
over and put their rope on a long 5.10. On our first
route, Bob and I epic'd, or shredded, really. We didn't have a
long enough rope to lower off the second pitch, so I ended up
tethering the rope to one anchors and climbing around on some
loose rock to fix it. This greatly amused the folks below,
who heaped shame on us and belittled our chances for success
using such tactics. So it was a little dangerous. I didn't
have time to f^@k around.
toproping the route the Ike and Chad had done, I used the same
rope to do an adjacent climb. My arms were tired and it was
pretty steep and loose. This was the closest I came to falling
all day, which would have resulted in a long skin-grating
pendulum. Thankfully I didn't rip.
Bob and I went
back to work on the multi-pitches using some weird tactics to
make up for our short rope, causing Chad to say, "I don't
know if I'm watching two people that are really good at what
they're doing, or two people about to kill themselves." But
our dubious tactics were quick, and we do know what we're
doing, even in a delirious state. One example of
this was when we were too high to double our rope and rappel,
so I lowered Bob down an adjacent route we hadn't done. He put
some quick draws on it and clipped the rope in. Then I down
climbed it on lead, pulling the gear once it was above me.
Piece o' cake.
Soon I had
only 5 routes left. Jess, Kev, and Sandie had a rope on three,
then I Bob and I went to finish it off on two more routes I
didn't know. This was a great way to finish, since I
had to focus a bit more on the climbing. My arms were pretty
thrashed and I would have fallen had I not stayed focused.
pitch 42 in fading light. one to go!
I ended up just making my goal
of 3 out
of 4 being 5.10. I led more than my requisite 50% and the
hardest route climbed was 11b (three of them).
All I had left was to run the trail
out, and then do it again. I ran out and was greeting my a howling
wind in the parking lot. I ditched my pack and started running
back in, passing some climbers who said, "what'erya doin',
some sort of Eco Challenge?"
By the second lap, it was
dark. I kept tripping on rocks but know this trail pretty well
and never augured in, which was still just blind luck.
finishing my last fritter, I contemplated getting back into
the water, but both Bob and Reed though is was absurd. There was no moon
and I couldn't really surf. I have a hard enough time when
it's light. I'd just be paddling around in the dark.
So it was off to the party.
Since I was late getting
there, Kenji had taken over as host. Actually, he was the host
all night as I was rather indisposed. To ensure
that we had 43 recorded guest, he was forcing everyone to sign
above and left:
chad "quint" horton
Chad "Quint" Horton
had volunteered to man the Q. He just caught a 511lb Mako
shark, which would make up the bulk of the evening's menu. If
fact, after climbing all day and cooking all night, Chad left
the party and went straight to his boat. That's a dedicated
Deb Merlo and Jesse Fasy were
also an integral part of the food prep, with Deb making 43 of
the "best cupcakes in the world."
The party exceeded all my
expectations, and also proved that I could, if necessary, cram
43 people into my guest house.
While the crowd humored me by
watching my film, Wall Rats, I finished off my last few
hundred push-ups, crunches, and leg lifts.
Strangely enough, I felt
pretty good even though I'd eaten almost nothing but fritters
during the challenge. In fact, during the course of Saturday I
ate nothing but a Clif Bar, and apple, and 2.5 fritters up til the party.
how karen and arnould
looked to everyone else
and how they looked
I had to finish drinkin', not as easy a task as it sounds. But
I finally did manage, right at midnight, to down my last
martini and final beer.
While I was under the
impression that I'd finished the challenge except for the
surfing, I'd totally forgotten about a few events: roshambo,
juggling, and massages. Heck, I'd even been playing roshambo,
I just forgot to finish it off. Or maybe I did and didn't
remember. Oh well, whatever...
the el matador, full up
the morning after.
after a few
rounds with leon spinks? was boxing even part of the
I've got to head out for
England and will finish this upon returning. I should have more
perspective then anyhow.
Thanks to everyone who came to the party. It was a pleasure
Special thanks to:
Chris, Denis, Ike, Jeff, Keli, Kevin,
Melissa, Reed, Sandie
I spent the
next day wandering around the Getty with Jeff and Keli. I was
sore, especially trying to walk down stairs, and my brain
certainly wasn't functioning 100%. It was one of those lazily
blissful days you spend with friends where you never feel ancy,
even for a second, about being somewhere else or not getting
passed these out at the party. slightly amended the list later
on, so this one's more inclusive.
Films That You Absolutely Must See
kenji mans the bar
Since that challenge I haven't really
stumbled on any pearls of wisdom about the meaning of it all.
While people were saying it was impossible, it certainly
didn't feel that way. Time was an issue, and daylight even
more so. If there had been any surf at I would have finished
all the main elements, except some things I forgot than don't
matter much. In many ways, I didn't suffer as much as I have
in the past trying to do an excess of one thing. But, I don't
know, maybe I'm just used to suffering. But I feel pretty good about
it. So it must
have been pretty hard but all that matters is that
is was fun. Hey, isn't that the last line spoken by Cpt Kirk?
andrea and lou
below: maybe he really is mack of the yead. reed, flanked by
molly, sandie, jess, candice
down down: diana, steve, cheri, chris, mason (steve may not look
tired but, oh, if you could see his eyes up close!)
I'll leave you
with some words of wisdom from Steve Schneider, spoken in the
film, Wall Rats (coming to a mountain film festival near you).
in your next adventure."
make sure you're adventuring."
This might have been a bit
harder than I thought as it's nearly a month later and I've
hardly done any exercise, nor have I wanted to. I'm writing
today only because last night was the first time since the
challenge that I've been at all restless. Normally I can't
sleep if I go two days without exercise. Since my birthday,
I've been climbing 4 times and run about 3 miles, slowly.
I've been asked
about whether or not I succeeded on my challenge, which was
something I hadn't really considered. Success, at least in
terms of completing the itinerary, is never really an issue
with me. It's something to strive for and when it's done, it's
done. The point is to challenge myself and I'll let historians
decide whether or not I have been a "success". For
me, the journey is enough
since I'm starting to recover, guess it's time to start
thinkin' about what's next...