Sunday, December 28, 2008

Double AA Workout

With the holidays in full swing, sandwiched by a couple of long work trips, time has been a little tight. Yesterday, Romney suggested a long ski in the Unitas for today so I combined two A workouts together. Depending upon the time of year this might not be practical. But given that I'm still in my first block of training, where A workouts still aren't as long and involved as they could be, it was pretty easy to strategize.

Warming up for an A workout should be un-hurried and thorough. We began with a family RUKE (run/hike aerobic outing) above our house. With the dogs appeased, I headed off to The Front, leaving Lisa at home to finish 100 burpees.
ruking is great for base aerobic conditioning. it's also quite social as you're never very out of breath. the goal is to keep moving with your heart rate up, but way below your LT. it's easy to train with others of different fitness levels with mountainous terrain. sometimes you're walking...
and sometimes you're jogging.
I warmed-up my upper body with about 30 minutes of bouldering. I began lapping some easy problems, then doing harder and harder moves but being careful not to pull too hard or get even remotely pumped, as this would interfere with the power investment that could be devoted to campusing.

My campus workouts still suck but are progressing slightly. I warmed up on the board with a few moves up with each arm, then followed it with two ladders of every other rung, with a one-minute rest in between sets. This was followed two sets of harder ladders or 1,3,5,7,9.

Normally, I'd rest 4 minutes and begin the most intense movements next. However, I'm not ready for super hard moves on the board yet, so I moved on to training-oriented movements that aren't quite at maximal power.

After a 2 minute rest:

I did two sets on each arm of 1-4-1s:

With a one-minute rest between sets, then rested two-minutes and did:

Two sets on each arm of 1-4-3-4s:

My climbing A workout was now finished and I moved into the weight area to work on lower body stuff. I generally add some core work to these circuits but I'd done P90X+ Abs/Core Plus the night before, so I could focus on explosive leg movements. I warmed-up by testing each movement with the right amount of weight and/or height.

Once organized, I did three rounds with no rest of 21 reps, followed by 15 reps, followed by 9 reps of the following exercises in this order:

Box jumps
Wall balls
Jumping pull-ups

Videos of these movements can be found here:

After a short cool-down, I was done; a short and concise workout providing a lot of bang for the buck.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Dog Shoplifting

Happy Holidays Everyone!

This is the best holiday video I've seen. It kind of reminds me of someone I know.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Road Trip

Man, the Internet can be a great tool. I lived most of my life on the road in the early 90s. During this time I climbed in about 20 countries and about half the states. I've climbed so many places that I often can't remember if I've been somewhere. I used to take notes (though most of this was about diet and training) and, occasionally, shoot photos. But I hardly kept any of it and what I've kept I'm not even sure where it is. With the net available, it's hard not to keep a log about what you're doing. It would be super cool if I'd had the means to keep a travel log like this:

Bus Trip II

This site logs the climbing career of two weekend warriors named Eric and Lucie. It's mainly centered on a two-year road trip they took, though it also shares a lot of their previous history. As life on the road probably seemed more fun than life in the office, they're now on part II.

They aren't professional climbers. Their tick list consists mainly of classic climbs around the world, at difficulty levels available to most weekend warriors. So, along with being a fantastic scrap book for Eric and Lucie, it's a great tool for most climbers because they share all sorts of photos and beta on these climbs.

As for me, if I ever lose my memory I'll start going the way of John McCain, forgetting even the location of a country where I once had a harrowing life and death experience.
heading out for a day in the Calanques, southern France
Wolfgang and Gernot with the woman who ran the "climbing shop" in Osp, Slovenia. You couldn't buy anything until you had a glass of wine with her.
lunch break in the Frankenjura, Germany
the timeless Grand Teton overshadows some early 90s fashion
topping out of the Verdon Gorge, France
Brett Stone, Buhl, Kid Dynamite; stylin' in Eldorado Canyon, Colorado
with Hans Florine, doing a first ascent in some canyon near Guadalajara, Mexicothe van parked under the Mexican Hat, Utah, on its first road trip. 20 years later, with some additional art work and Tuco the Rat, it's still going strong somewhere in the Mojave Desert (top pic).

Road Trip

Man, the Internet can be a great tool. I lived most of my life on the road in the early 90s. During this time I climbed in about 20 countries and about half the states. I've climbed so many places that I often can't remember if I've been somewhere. I used to take notes (though most of this was about diet and training) and, occasionally, shoot photos. But I hardly kept any of it and what I've kept I'm not even sure where it is. It would be super cool if I'd had the means to keep a travel log like this:

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Shaun T and Steve on Blog Talk Radio

Listen to onlinewithandrea on internet talk radio

I'll be on Blog Talk Radio on Thursday night, 7PM Eastern Time, with Hip Hops Abs creator Shaun T and host Andrea Garrison. Check it out:

This link will work for the live program as well as for the archive.

If you want to ask us any questions, the call-in number is (347) 426-3895

* This went really well. It's was LONG, a full two hours, and we never seemed to come close to running out of things to talk about, so Andrea wants us back. She'd also like me to come on with our other trainers, so I may become somewhat of a regular on this show. Apparently (I'd never heard of it), Blog Talk Radio is fairly popular. Paris Hilton was on last week--woo-hoo, no wonder we sounded so smart. I hope she'll consider a shorter format in the future. Fitness isn't really this show's focus and Andrea was quite enthusiastic about our philosophy and the effect we're having on people.

Anyway, following filming with BNN all day, then this interview and our company X-Mas party, my voice was cooked. After a week of non-stop interviews and meetings it's nice to get back to my virtual reality, where I can rest my voice and get some actual work done.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

ChaLEAN Extreme

We've just released a new workout program that's different than anything that's ever been on the market. Turbo Jam creator Chalene Johnson has, essentially, taken personal training home. Her new program comes with more than just state-of-the-art training workouts. It also comes with dvds and audio cds designed to train you the same way she would a personal client. I interviewed Chalene last week about Chalene Extreme. You can read the article here:

Taking Chalene Home

To read more about it, see some video, and what the program entails, go here.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Training Camps

Lately I'm just posting what my friend Sam sends to me. This is a pretty good article on off-season conditioning for professional cyclists from the NY Times.

Majorca Training Camp

Training camps are great, and not just for professional athletes. This is why our Beachbody trainers all hold them. It's nice to get people together where they can focus on training but also have some fun. This is different from competitions, where people might still have fun but there's always some pressure of the impending event. An off-season camp is different in that you aren't supposed to be performing at a high level, which further lifts any pressure.

reed looking stylish

Some friends of mine met a few weekends ago for some riding around Zion. The year before we'd all met to race in Moab. And, even though it was a "fun" race (meaning we weren't there to compete to win) the difference in the two weekends was astounding. Toasting after our first ultra-classic three hour ride of the weekend, there was no questioning what was on our minds. "To how much better this is than Moab," was all uttered in some form of unity.

me looking less stylish

At the end of the Moab race we all left wondering how it might have been if we'd raced hard. There was talk about taking it seriously the next year and, even though we knew we were there for fun, there was some angst. After Zion, we were relaxed, refreshed, and even though we'd ridden many hours per day, it felt like we'd been on vacation.

Now don't get me wrong; racing can be fun too. But not much beats getting a bunch of friends together in a great location for a lot of no pressure exercise.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

DZ Nuts

Dave Zabriske's got to be one of the strangest professional athletes in history. In the last year alone he's sported a handful of completely different looks, ranging from GQ to Grizzly Adams to sporting a crazy moustache that made him look like a porn star from the 70s. The days when he lived with another eccentric character, Floyd Landis, provided non-stop entertainment for those who enjoyed alternative flare. He's so in his own world that you can't even compare him to anyone--at least not an athlete. Comic book geek or Trekkie, maybe.

I interviewed him once when I was writing for Cyclingnews. I didn't know him and he was making a lot of comments that were, well, different than what I normally heard. It seemed like a weird interview but I ended up getting a quote that became the theme for the entire stage race. This is how Z is, subtle, offbeat, often unconvincing and, yet, almost always the one to leave an impression. He also happens to be one of the world's best time trialists, so we can look forward to getting used to him.

So, while the rest of cycling's elite are starting charities for children or illnesses or cultures that need more bikes, the Z man is lookin' after our junk. When was the last time you saw an ad campaign like this one?

Friday, December 12, 2008

10 in 10

I had planned on altering my birthday challenge goals as the year progressed. I'm may downgrade a few of my goals but, first, I'm going to upgrade one. Riding the 6 major local canyons is sort of the Holy Grail of endurance road riding around here. While out riding one of the lesser climbs the other day I got the hairbrained scheme of upping the ante for Holy Grail status. Similar to what my friend's Russ and Aaron did in the Bay Area, when they transformed the Berkeley Death Ride into our Seven Samurai (scroll down) and, finally, Aaron's unrepeated 10 in 10; I've come up with a Wasatch-style 10 in 10 that consists of riding up 10 canyons around here in less than 10 hours (cumulative climbing time only).

Here it is:

1. Little Cottonwood: the continuously steepest long local climb. Often the most unpleasant due to traffic and exposure. However, it's beautiful on a peaceful day. About 3,500' in 8.5 miles.

2. Big Cottonwood: the longest climb by far, and hard. Adding Guardsman at the end makes it REALLY hard but that's not how the "6 Canyons" is ridden, so we'll call it good at Brighton. 14 miles and a little over 3,800'.

3. Neff's Canyon: Obviously, the above climbs aren't happening in two hours of climbing time. Hopefully, time can be made up on the others. This short and steep leg breaker isn't on the main circuit, but with many ramps well over 10% in its two or so miles it feels brutal every time I climb it.

4. Mill Creek: a super aesthetic climb that's not too bad until the end. 2,600 vertical in 8.5 miles.

5. Parley's: No one does this one because it's horrible, but one has to approach Lamb's Canyon somehow. 2,300' in a little over 10 miles.

6. Lamb's Canyon: Nice secluded offshoot of Parley's. Rarely done for obvious reasons. About 4 miles and 1,300 vertical.

7. East Canyon: Climb up to Big Mountain via I-80. Might feel somewhat brutal by this stage. I think this profile is from the reservoir, which will make this one probably 2,500' in around 10 miles.

8. Pinecrest: Around three miles of nastiness into a box canyon. I have no stats but it feels brutal most of the way.

9. Emigration. The easiest climb on the circuit. 1,300' in 7.8 miles.

10. City Creek. Just getting here is going to feel hard by this time. Then there's around 1,400' in 5.5 miles to consider.

Monday, December 08, 2008

A-B-Cs of Training, Part III

Let's take a look at my current phase of training. It's 5-week block, will be followed by a transitional week, and then another 4-5 week block. Each block of training is subject to change based on the how the previous one went. In fact, each day's workout may change based on how I feel. It's important to keep this in perspective. Sticking to a conceptual plan when your body isn't responding is counterproductive. Of course, you must have the ability to know when your body is not responding and when you just feel lazy, and this takes some experience. But, basically, when something feels wrong it probably is. You need to train hard but, at this level, most of us are more in danger of over-training than under-training. Therefore, my motto is that if I don't feel like training then I don't.

Here are my weekly workout goals. It's going to look like a lot of time but I'll show you how I combine things so that it's not.

Legs - A, B
Shoulders - C
Core - A, B, C
Upper body synergistic B
Climbing - A, B
Forearms - B, C
Run - B, C
Bike - C
Yoga - A, C, C

This doesn't represent all of my exercise. Each day I do some aerobic hiking with the dogs. Weekends are, essentially, off for me to do whatever. This time of year it should be skiing, but last weekend it was warm so I went climbing (was probably my last opportunity for a while). For this phase the only thing that will change is that my running and biking will change over time. Biking form has more base and will trail behind running over the next two phases. More on this later but, for now, the point is merely to show how to combine A, B, C workouts for efficiency. All of this work will be accomplished in around an hour per day, on average, not counting the dog stuff and how I play on the weekends.

T - Leg A, w/forearm, shoulder, yoga, core, and run C - given the long rest needed between heavy sets, the down time is done doing easy movements and stretching. Easy run followed.

W - Climb A, Yoga C - stretching in between campus moves. This workout was short because it was my first campus session in a few years. Length will increase but being careful is paramount. Because it was short I followed it with a hard crossfit workout of 500 reps, so:
Core A, Legs B, upper body syn, B

T - Climb B, forearm B, Core B - Systems wall workout, w/ core, forearm, and stretching in the down time.

F - Yoga A

S - Run B, then went climbing for fun.

S - Long dog hike, easy bike trainer session (end of two weeks off of the bike)

This week looks pretty much the same, though any running distance may be replaced by skate skiing.

Of note, these two cycles will be my only time during the year where my gym work will be the brunt of my focus. Once I'm fully into outside mode, gym work becomes maintenance only.

I'll blog further on my individual workouts. These are just my workouts targeted towards my objectives. Yours should vary, but this should help you construct them.

Part II of this article

Part I

Friday, December 05, 2008

A-B-Cs of Training, Part II

For part II we’ll take a look at how to construct a training cycle.

When designing a training cycle you consider three main factors: your goals, your limitations (injuries mainly), and your base fitness. In my case, my goals are varied. I want to do some bike racing, do some multisports, and climb. Within these disciplines it get more convoluted in that I have some power-based goals (short gymnastic rock climbs) and crits), some mid-range goals (hard multi-pitch climbs, Olympic distance multis), and some purely aerobic challenges (adventures taking an entire day or more). I have two injuries to contend with: knee and shoulder. Both are doing okay but under strict surveillance and will require rehab-like attention. Finally, my base is sound. I’ve essentially had nearly a year of good base training. It began with a round of P90x and ended with a birthday challenge that didn’t do much to break me down.

The next step is to evaluate what you feel you need to work on. This is the big question when we’re talking about which energy systems you want to address. Here are three examples of three bike racers deciding what area needs work and how to best dedicate their training time.

Example 1 – a cyclist who never gets dropped from a group ride, can spend ample time taking pulls or trying breakaways, but can’t hold on in a sprint.

Example 2 – a rider who’s great on short rides, kills it whenever the group sprints for a target, but gets dropped when the pace increases in the latter part of races.

Example 3 – a rider who can both ride tempo all day and sprint but can’t drive a breakaway or time trial well.

Each of these riders has natural strengths that determine their weaknesses. Rider 1 will never be a sprinter. However, that rider can improve their sprint and use their endurance abilities to whittle sprinters out of the field. Power work can enable this person to win races from a select field and they should do well in stage races. Rider two will never be a stage racer but can develop their weaknesses enough to hang on and then use their natural power to win races. Since most races come down to a sprint, this rider has the potential to win more than anyone else. Rider three is the most versatile talent but has not trained properly. By increasing their ability to rider at threshold, they can become a danger to win any bike race on a given day.

The training timeline must be considered. Major changes can only be addressed during the off-season. If you focus on one energy system only, your performance in the others will drop. This compromise is often necessary. Changes in the phosphagen pathway are slower to obtain, so someone severely lacking may decide it’s worthwhile to only train this system and then make up their losses later, as it’s far easier to regain fitness than to alter your boundaries.

A timeline should then be created. The longer the timeline the greater potential for major energy system improvement. The shorter the cycle the more the need to overlap energy system training so you don’t lose fitness in one area. Again, it’s important to have a basic understanding of periodizational training and how timelines can be constructed.

Next time, I’ll address what I’m doing which should help you create your own program.

Here you’ll find my initial thoughts on this program, an explanation of its periodizational aspects, my goals, and my calendar with targeted peaks and objectives.

Here is part I of this article.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Great Lance Photos

Lance's comeback can only be good for cycling, especially in the US. His every move is being chronicled by the press. His web site,, keeps it organized and, if you follow the links in the news page you can sign up for Twitter and have him blog straight to your phone. He'll even tell you when he's being drug tested.

Okay, so this may be a bit much for even the most ardent fans, but there's some great stuff as well. Comebacks are always interesting, probably moreso to those who have spent some of their life in athletics. Big Tex seems to have a personal photographer with him at all times. If you go to Elizabeth Kreutz's site and click on Lance's Comeback, you'll be rewarded with some shots you're not likely to see on Velonews or CNN.

Besides the obvious stuff, like Lance having a better house (with nicer art), than most cyclists, a private jet, and that he rides his bike a lot, we are also privy some more inside information. I was happy to see him using Endurox and not Gatorade, like the press tells us (knew that was a lie). Interested that he does his crossfit workouts barefoot (as a test, I'd just begun this as well), and that, like most of my friends, he has a pic of The Champ on his wall. And, as Sam pointed out, am wondering how all that upper body muscle is going to serve him on the Ventoux. I'm guessing that when Dr. Ferrari sees this some atrophy will be in order.

Anyways, if you like cycling, this stuff is must see entertainment. Enjoy.

just like my training sessions, except the only ones evaluating my form are tuco and beata

i used to ride that airline, but they kept sitting me next to some illiterate moron with a texas twang

champs elysees, texas style

the champ's one of all our families, right?

except for the starbucks logos, this looks a lot like my house

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

A-B-Cs of Training, Part I

In order to train concurrently for non-similar sports I need to be very efficient. Oddly enough, I got a post about this just today on the Beachbody Message Boards, which basically asks if you can training different energy systems at the same time. The answer is yes, and here's how it works.

From the post I received:

There are three Primary Energy Systems.


The Phosphagen pathway would be used in a sprint (10-30 seconds)
Glycolytic would be used in a mid-distance run (30-120 seconds)
and the Oxidative in a distance run (120-300 seconds or more)

My question is, can you switch from one pathway to another without recovery downtime?

The running analogy would be the same for any given activity but seems easier to understand because, obviously, you wouldn't train the same way for a 100 meter dash and you would for a marathon, or even a long sprint, like a 400 meters. Those three distances perfectly exemplify events that target a specific energy system. But in order to excel at each, you need some proficiency at the others. The tricky part is that training one pathway interferes with the ability to train another. Therefore, a calculated compromise needs to be established as a training baseline.

Because there are all sorts of sports and, hence, all sorts of compromising situations, I won't go in depth here. Let's just look at the basics. Then maybe you can take a stab at how to make your own schedule.

It's important to note that at the extremes edges of these systems, an athlete may want to minimize their training in the other extreme. Powerlifters and sprinters generally hate endurance work. And this isn't because they aren't good at it but because it diminishes their speed. And life in the Phosphagen energy system is all about speed. Conversely, an ultra marathoner has very little need to ever run an all out 100 meter sprint. Explosive speed might help his or her event but this type of effort takes so long to recover from (the breakdown of fast twitch muscle fiber) that it lessens their ability to training efficiently.

Mountain climbing and bike racing are two of the most interesting sports to train across pathways for because, in both, the need for an efficient aerobic system (oxidative pathway) is essential but the ability to recruit high threshold muscle cell motor units (phosphagen pathway) is paramount for success at a high level. And the in-between arena, the ability to stave off lactic acid build-up at high outputs (glycolytic pathway) is what puts you in position for an attempt at victory in a race or to make the crux move on a long climb. What this means is that all energy systems require some attention.

In the big picture, you should train periodizationally throughout the year. The macrocycles that you would lay out would target individual energy systems. A common way to structure this is to first work on an aerobic foundation (oxidative), then work on absolute power (phosphagen), and then target what's called power-endurance (glycolytic). This may vary depending upon the sport. I've discussed this a lot in articles and on this blog so I won't go into it here.

The question I got was more about how to do this during one cycle. Again, some crossover should be addressed no matter what to target of the particular cycle is--if for no other reason than not to lose fitness in that area. An easy way to do this is to construct your workouts as A, B, or C workouts where each letter represents an energy sytem. Mine look like this:

A workout - Phosphagen. This are highly intense workouts. Recovery generally takes longer than 72 hours.

B workout - Glycolytic. Recovery in 24 - 72 hours.

C workout - Oxidative. Recovery within 24 hours.

A workouts generally consist of short bursts of energy and long rests. For this reason, it's easy to combine a C workout with an A workout. This is especially true if you are working on different body parts. An A leg workout can be done with a C shoulder workout, where the latter is done during the rest period between hard A movements.

This is the basis. I'll go into it in more detail, including how I'm structuring my current plan, next time.

Goals for 2009

Part of this year's birthday challenge is a series of 12 goals for the upcoming year. Some of these goals are very hard, while others should be easy if my training is going as planned. I'm going to make a few alterations in these as well. Essentially, everything is centered around an experimental training program I want to test. I'd like to try and train concurrently for high level (for me) riding, running, and climbing without having to dedicate all of my free time to it. This will mean a lot of overlapping training and should be interesting because the energy systems and body parts that need to be trained are different for each sport. I will, of course, sacrifice something off of the top level that I could achieve training for one sport. But I still think I can achieve a fairly high level of performance, and be close enough to my potential to race competitively.

A few of these goals are a priority. The top two are to qualify for Duathlon World Championships, which requires a top finish at one of a few qualifying races. The other is to free climb a grade V in a day. This is a build-up year for the following, when I'd like to have a go at climbing the Eiger and do a good world championship race.

Last weekend I was inspired by our trip to see Romney's sister in Vegas. Not by the town, which is horrible, but by the new guidebook to Red Rocks. It's the first book to cover many of the classic long canyon routes, which until now had been shrouded in mystery and lore. The author, Jerry Handren, did a great job of digging up old info and covering the history of the area. He, essentially, got climbers from different ethical camps to all chip in their route info and the result is a beautiful comprehensive guide that gives me something to do whenever I'm forced to pass through this veritable purgatory.

At the top of this list are two routes that go up the largest and most imposing walls in Red Rocks. The first is Brian McCray's Dogma, a grade VI 2,000' line up Mt Wilson. The second is the Rainbow Wall, which is being called by many people the best wall route in the world. My spring agenda is also going to include linking two grade IVs on Notch Peak in a day (the largest limestone wall in the US). It's an ambitious schedule. I'd better get training.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Romney/Edwards 08 Challenge

The Challenge

100% house to house self-propelled:

Climb 4 routes in 8 different canyons
“Run” 4,000’ up to 8,000’ and then back home

Ride at least 48 miles with 4,800’ of elevation gain
Carry all of my gear for 32 of those miles (until Lisa shows up)
Climb 32 routes (Lisa’s age in Feb)
At least 4 5.11s and 8 5.10s
Run/hike 4,000’ of elevation gain and 8,000 of elevation change in 8 miles
On-sight at least 4/8ths of the routes
Eat 4 pieces of birthday cake (Romney’s idea)
Drink 8 cocktails (Edwards’ idea)
Do the challenge supports only by the immediate family
Get to the restaurant by 8:48

Theme was an issue. All of my recent challenges have had a theme, and this one was beginning to seem contrived. Okay, so maybe the entire idea of a birthday challenge is contrived in the first place, but I digress. The old alpine theme didn’t seem appropriate given our long stretch of nearly perfect November weather and nothing else was coming to mind. In fact, I wasn’t even sure I’d be doing a challenge until a few days before it actually happened. So, in the end, I settled on what’s been the theme for my entire year: Romney and Edwards (and our family).

Training for one of my challenges I ran in Jason and Tiffany Campbell, who had been married that year. When I asked if they were doing a challenge Tiffany replied, “We’re doing the marriage challenge.” Given pretty much no one I know ever thought I’d be attempting that one, it would seem to be enough to suffice for 08. And while our marriage isn’t particularly challenging, life transformations have kept us pretty busy. For this reason I’ve planned a big year ahead and written it down. It was going to be my entire challenge but, as my birthday approached, I found myself with a bit of fitness, no injuries, and unusually nice weather. It seemed like a cop out not to find a way to suffer for a day. The theme became the same as ours is together: style over statistics.

We care little for the contrivances of the normal world. We didn’t get married to impress anybody, shock anybody, for tax purposes or certainly not to legally start a family. We did it only because we felt like it. It seemed like a good idea to explore life together. And as long as we can do it in good style, we’ll continue. And if we can’t, we’re both in agreement that we won’t let ego keep us together. We’ll be good together, or apart.

Now I just needed a stylish challenge. I really liked Trent’s self supported canyon challenge. With a little research I found that there were at least 4 routes in 8 canyons that I could ride to. Furthermore, there was an 8,000’ plus peak protruding around 4,000’ above our house. Knowing that with enough time I could finish, which contradicted the birthday challenge ideal that if you know you can do it than it’s not a challenge, Lisa added a speed element: I needed to get to our restaurant of choice by 8:48 (in hindsight, I should have started at 4am.) Kind of like our relationship, it was serendipitously falling into place. That didn’t mean it was all going to be easy.

Corner Canyon: Red Rock

Leaving just after 5am (4 would have sounded better and I’m remiss it wasn’t thought through) I left the house with all the stuff I’d need for the day and rode south. It was 28 degrees and still—as perfect as I could expect for Nov 22. The ride was chilly, uneventful, but a tad hillier than I’d remembered and I was 15 minutes behind schedule when I got to Red Rock.

I chose the 4 best looking routes: a 5.8 and three 5.10s, and did them self belaying on TR. The rock, supposedly quartzite, felt exactly like my old haunt Red Rock near Santa Barbara. I did this alone to let Lisa sleep as the ride to the next area was going to take a while. It seemed quite un-stylish drag her out here to belay me in the dark on four easy routes, and then make here wait while I rode up Little Cottonwood. Self belaying did prove to be slightly slower, and I was further behind schedule upon leaving.

Little Cottonwood Canyon: Lisa Falls

I’d actually chosen Lisa Falls prior to coming up with a challenge theme because it was high in the canyon and I thought I wanted more elevation gain. Turns out I didn’t need it, nor the miles (I’d be 10-15 over), but it themed out well in the end. It also provided a climbing challenge.

From the topo it looked like I could get four routes from one belay station. As slabby granite goes, it can be confusing to sort out if you’ve never been to the cliff. I few minutes after beginning I was hanging from a bolt looking around and trying to figure out where the routes actually went. I un-stylishly made it to the anchors (an ascent that wouldn’t count) and then spent some time trying to figure out where the lines were.

I finally figured out the puzzle of roofs, slabs, and corners and tr’d four routes: 5.7, 10d, 10b, 8+. We were now WAY behind schedule. My hope was that I could start making up time as the canyons were now closer together. Actually, I thought my chance was ruined but, to paraphrase a line from last year, “I don’t think we’ll make it. But we will continue on in style.”

Deaf Smith Canyon: Hornet’s Nest

I found this cool little canyon on I’d scoped it out and the routes didn’t look bad, though all were supposed to be 5.11. It was a weird type of quartzite/granite-ish mix that reminded me of some of the routes I’d established in the Southern Sierra. I liked it.

Unfortunately, it gave me trouble right off. Half way up the first route; an arĂȘte that was steeper than it looked, I was pumped. I nearly lost it high above the last bolt and had to re-focus in order not to fall. This mindset shift was exactly what I needed, because the next route looked a lot harder.

Lisa suggested I take a rest, rationalizing that if I didn’t and fell, it would end up taking longer and we couldn’t get further behind schedule. This turned out as sage advice. I felt great on my next go. The final two routes were done in about 10 minutes.

Ferguson Canyon: The Cathedral

A quick ride made up some time but another long approach lost it. At this point I was worried about the last 5.11 on the list because it looked like a slab. It turned out not to be and, in fact, much easier than the Deaf Smith climbs. I probably climbed these four routes in about 15 minutes. I ran ahead of Lisa on the trail, figuring she would catch me as I rode up Big.

Big Cottonwood: Dogwood

She didn’t. Beata’s no Tuco when it comes to directions and, somehow (though she’s been in Ferguson at least 10 times) she led Romney astray on the way out. It only cost us 5 minutes or so but it seemed ridiculous. At times B can be a perfect mountain companion but, occasionally, she behaves like a six-year old on a sugar high. At least she’s always cute.

I’d never been on the Dogwood slabs but the first one was anything but a mindless romp. The rock was as polished as glass, longer than it looked from the road (causing me to skip some bolts), and the routes didn’t go quickly.

I got faster, made up some more time, but we then hit another snag. Romney was bonking and I was getting pretty spacey. Support duty is not picnic (Bob’s chronic “I’m tired” from 03 comes to mind). We’d already done a lot of hiking and the pace of everything was much quicker than a day at the crags. Lisa hadn’t eaten and needed fuel. So she headed off to get some bagels for us while I rode off towards Mount Olympus.

Tolcat Canyon: Pete’s Rock

Originally I was going to the Sport Utility Crag but, with no approach, I thought Pete’s might be quicker if I could figure it out. This turned out to be a great decision. I hiked to the top and threw a rope down the longest and steepest section of rock. The four routes I did were, amazingly, excellent. Quartzite often hides the nature of its climbing. Most of Big looks nothing like a climbing area but, in my mind, climbs beautifully. Pete’s is historically significant but I’ve always thought that was out of convenience only. It looks like a giant pile of rubble. But I would say the four climbs I did (two were at least 5.10) would get 2 or 3 stars on the Wasatch scale. Climbing in the sun was fun, quick, and I was thinking there was now a chance that I could make it.

Mill Creek Canyon: The Itchy Stitches Wall

I’d been here once before—on No Star Tuesdays—and hoped to never be back. It was, however, the only current choice when one needed to climb four routes in Mill Creek. Perhaps revived by some calories, I felt good riding up the canyon. Then, luckily, the death scree ascent was frozen into place and went fairly easily. The climbs were sharp and nasty but went without a hitch. Soon I was flying down Mill Creek, amazed that we’d get to the final area before it was dark.

Parley’s Canyon: Iron Maiden Wall

These routes had a lot of stars in the guide but my friend Greg had described them as “slick and horrible.” They looked cool from the ground but the rock undulated, making it very hard to see the bolts in the fading light. By the time I was on route one, a headlamp was leading my way.

These were bad—BAD—routes to do in the dark. They weren’t exactly slabs, so you couldn’t just paste your feet, and finding holds was a ridiculous proposition. You’d have to fish around for a rough spot in a sea of dimpled marble. Getting to the anchors on the first route took a long time and, unfortunately, I’d have to lead two in order to climb four routes.

It was even worse for Lisa. Not only did she have to worry about me plunging out of the darkness, but the freeway was a steady stream of noise (too loud to allow communication), and it was propelling a consistent frigid wind into her face. How bad was it? Besides Beata whining up into the darkness at me (she never does this), Romney added, “This makes the Itchy Stitches place seem like paradise.”

The Final Push…

…For the summit was a sufferfest. Romney n’ Ratso took off to get ready for dinner and Beata and I headed up, away from home, onto the well lit slopes of Grandeur Peak. At night, Salt Lake lights up this mountain like a full moon making for a surreal alpine setting. My legs were cooked and the trail on the west ridge is like a stairmaster on the hardest setting.

Near the lower summit we had a dilemma. We were out of time. I called Romney for a strategy session. In order to make it to the restaurant in time, I could either tag the summit and have her pick me up at the trailhead, or turn around and try and get all the way home. As home is a good two miles or more from the trailhead, I wasn’t sure I could even do the latter anyway. I began headed up when sense got the better of me. Style. Wasn’t’ that the order of the day? To get a ride would be like descending K2 in a helicopter—might as well just go up that way. It would be far better to get back to the house under my own power. Given my approaches, I probably had the numbers I needed anyway. But the main point was to get back home the way I began, using my feet.

The descent hurt more than the climb. But the lower we got the clearer it became that there was a chance to make it. We sped up at the trailhead and ran home. I walked into the restaurant with 2 minutes to spare.

The restaurant was an epilog. After not eating much all day the beers (and some bourbon) and the cake were hungrily absorbed for their nutrients. It did include more themed serendipity. Among our friends was Marti, who’d introduced us, Erica, who house sat Tuco while we were eloping, and Lynn, who (and her husband Ben) were a big part of how I chose to move to Salt Lake. The place was also called East West and, now that I’m thinking about it, our relationship heightened while I was in Asia last year. So I guess it’s a challenge that all just fell into place. And the coolest thing is that it's only the beginning.

Friday, November 21, 2008

What I'm Doing Tomorrow

For those of you who've asked, here's a quick update on what I'm going to try tomorrow. This week's been busy. In fact, the year's been busy. As late as yesterday this was on the verge of not happening. But the weather seems to be cooperating so, what the hell; might as well get out there and suffer a bit. It's not nearly as ambitious as last year, but challenges are about where you're at right now anyway.

So here's the deal:

Climb 4 routes in 8 different canyons (so 32 routes), using my bike as transport.
Then run up a mountain, gaining at least 4,000' over at least 8 miles, and finish at my house.

So the entire challenge is non-motorized, save for the dinner part (hmm, maybe re-think dinner but it's hard to accomodate a bunch of people on a Sat night).

I must ride at least 48 miles and gain at least 4,800'. I need to on-sight 4/8th of the routes. All of these should be well eclipsed.

Then I need to eat 4 pieces of birthday cake (Romney's idea) and finish 8 drinks. Somehow, I fear the cake more, but the drinks have gotten me before.

So that's about it. If anyone reads this and is in town we're planning dinner at 8:48 at East/West. Call me if you'd like to join us. We have a very small group and they said they can accomodate more. Sorry about the bad planning but this is an off-the-couch challenge of sorts. The suffering, however, could be just as bad as ever.

My wife (B and Tuc where possible) is the only person joining me during the challenge this year. This year's been pretty much about us anyway, so that seems fitting. She'll drive, belay, and climb whenever she feels like it. So I'll be self motorized but not my support crew. This is a bit different from Trent's challenge a few weeks back but I thought this would be sort of boring for him, since my hardest climb is probably 11b or so.

I'd better try and get some sleep. Thanks for your interest. Louie, give a shout out to everyone at Hangar 18.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Shed Days

Reading this article about Oscar De La Hoya reminds me our days in the shed.

Oscar's Training Camp

As an athlete, nothing is as coveted as when you have time to get away from the distractions of everyday life and can train. Like they say in the surf film In God's Hands, "beginning tomorrow we train all day, every day.” It’s the mantra all true athletes yearn to live by.

Of course you don't train all day. In this article The Golden Boy echoes as much reverence for the frat life as anything else. But the romantic notion is that your entire life is focused on getting as fit as you can possibly be. It's a time you know that you need to seize. And not just because it's hard to find the time to live this way, but because you know, without a doubt, that you won't always have the motivation it takes to do it.

I've created these scenarios a lot during my life. From "Rocky" training in the hills behind my house as a kid, to the high altitude training camps I organized in high school, to "camp baseball", a dream that never quite materialized; I've sought throughout my life to get away from the world and just train. But nothing I've ever done comes close to what we refer to as The Shed Days.

In the early 90's, my friend Phil and I gave up our comfortable abode in Santa Barbara and moved into a storage shed. We wanted to rock climb as hard as possible and the reason was simple; to focus seriously on training. The shed was a bastion of simplicity in a hectic world. There was no phone, no internet, and very few bills. Only a few of our friends even knew where it was. During the couple of years it lasted we were probably more fit than we've ever been. But more importantly, we we're--as we often referenced--livin' the dream. We trained hard but we learned even more. It ceased to be about climbing, or even training; it was just about life. It was our Nirvana.

We often talk about going back. Of course we never will. Phil has a new gym he calls The Shed. We both still get after it from time to time, and I’m sure we always will. The limits of human performance has us both entranced. But we’ll never again have the singularity of focus that we did at that one point in time.

I can see exactly why De La Hoya keeps fighting. He knows that one day he’ll lose his edge, but he wants to milk the feeling as long as he can.. It's probably a guy thing. It’s certainly an athlete thing. And for those who roll like we do, it’s as close to the essence of being as we’ll probably ever get.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Old Alpine Challenge

I wasn't going to do a traditional birthday challenge this year but I've come up with something semi inspiring. I'm going to stick with my former idea of training for 12 challenges in the upcoming year but, also, I've got a fun little day out planned. The theme this year will be mountaineering. Not so far off from last year, I guess, but this time it's due to the weather we're having, which has had me delaying and re-routing my my concoction. Sure, bad weather is normal for this time of year, but it's been snowy and wet ever since I hatched this hairbrained scheme and I've felt like a mountaineer; hunkered down in my tent and waiting for a break in the weather for my shot at the summit.

Last week my itinerary was snowed in. Over the last two days a warm rain has melted the snow but now the rock is sopping wet. Tomorrow I'm off for three days to ride with the lads down in the desert. When I get back, I'll lie in wait for a break in the weather. If it comes, I'll give this a shot provided I don't need to be working. Mountaineering is expensive. Thus, most alpinists have jobs or are somehow bankrolled. As one of my friends put it after running out of money waiting for the weather to break in Patagonia, "I could support a full-on heroin addiction for a lot less money than this damned addiction."

Climb 4 routes in each of 8 different canyons.
Haul all of my gear with my bike.
Ride my bike to all of the climbs.
Run over 4,000' of elevation gain (and that much of descent) in 8 miles--this will be over at least one summit and provide an ample snow quotient.

Yeah, yeah, I know this is very similar to Trent's Challenge but it's a super cool thing to do.

I'll espouse on the mountaineering theme more in upcoming posts, as well as come up with a few more challenges to make the day creative as well as hard. For now, I just wanted to get it down so that I was commited to giving it a go.

“You don’t have to be a fantastic hero to do certain things – to compete. You can be just an ordinary chap, sufficiently motivated.”
- Sir Edmund Hillary

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Bobby J

If it weren't for Lance Armstrong a lot more people would know who Bobby Julich is. He was the first American after Greg LeMond to be a top notch stage racer in Europe, and came in third in the Tour de France the year before Armstrong won his first. In 2006, he had one of the best years of any any American rider when he won three major stage races, including being the first American to win Paris-Nice, a bronze in the Olympics, and second overall in the ProTour. He retired this season and will move into a managerial role with Saxo Bank (formerly CSC) next year.

Most likely because he always rode for European teams he never got a lot of press in the US. Most American fans were probably more aware of Lance's domestiques than Julich. This is too bad because I'm sure we could learn a lot more about the European racing scene from Bobby J than any other US rider. His 17 year career is re-caped with an interview here at Cyclingnews.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Obesity & Diabetes

An article appeared on the wires recently discussing the obesity epidemic and its link to the skyrocketing rate of diabetes. If you're overweight or live an unhealthy lifestyle it's a must read. I'm sure most of you reading are thinking, "well, duh". If you're not, you must be new around here. In case you missed it, here's the article:

We, as many of you know, have just released a workout program that's been approved by the American Diabetic Association. It's a re-vamp of a Kathy Smith program called Project You: Type Two. The medical world has been slow to trumpet the importance lifestyle plays in regards to diabetes (not all of them, of course, just in general and in making national recommendations for lifestyle as a preventative measure). This workout is the first to be released on a national level that specifically targets this problem. The fact is that all exercise programs target the problem because all will improve you health and decrease the likelihood that you'll become obese. And, just in case some of you weren't convinced before, the link between obesity and diabetes couldn't be more related.

I've got a reasonably scary article on obesity (and what to do about it) coming out this week. If you don't get our weekly newsletters, go to this page and enter your email at the lower right corner. You'll be required to opt in but it's free and you can easily cancel anytime. Of course, you won't want to:

If you'd like to take a closer look at Project You: Type Two, here it is

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Training to Train

Just finished my first easy morning yoga session since early summer. My legs are still sore from about 5 minutes of simple functional movements a couple of days ago. It's Nov 1st, which means the my pre-training training must now officially commence. After each summer, no matter how much I've raced or climbed or what kind of shape I'm in, I'm not ready for hard training. Nothing prepares you for the rigors of training except for training. In fact, the fitter you are the more damage you can inflict on yourself when you get back into the gym. After doing this many too many times to myself, I now begin my training periods with a rather long and boring prep period.

Starting today, each morning will feature some yoga and breathing exercises. Three times per week I'll do some functional cross fit movements, twice a week I'll force myself into the climbing gym to train on the systems wall. This way, when my training program begins in the last week of this month I'll be ready to work without having to worry about limping around for the entire holiday season.

pics: a big loop around tahoe from my parent's house. the base is good. now all i need is some power and technique.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Run & Live Longer

I'm pretty sure this study would apply to most fit people but it's always good to get some positive reinforcement. I would say the more important issue is quality of life while you're alive. Of course, this also improves but living longer is considered a sexier headline.

pic: suzy hamilton is ecstatic to hear that she's going to outlive most of us.