Sunday, August 31, 2008

The China Chronicles

not your typical half time entertainment.

I’m back in the States—writing at 4:30 in the morning because my jet lag abatement plan got diverted by a flu I picked up on my last night in Hong Kong. I’d like to say it’s because I ran out of my Peak Health vitamins. In fact, it may be. But instead I’ll point to our waiter on our final night that, upon greeting us, coughed mightily into his hand and then wiped it on our table cloth. Jon’s cries of protest were met with laughter. We almost left but decided to run with it, as we both see a lot of humor in bad service. Turned out to be a mistake, but what can you do? If the food had been as advertised, it may have been okay. It turned out to be very below average. We won’t be recommending Isola, in the IFC building in HK, anytime soon.

The most popular shirt in China. Tranlated: Kung Pao Chicken. Okay, I thought this was funny, and would be particularly funny in the States where people wear all sorts of kanji with no idea of its meaning, but the Chinese went bonkers over it. It always brought a laugh, a smile, a comment, preferential treatment, and helped us breeze through security checks. I recommend one.

I’m finally feeling better and will post pics are report of the rest of our trip over the next week or so (or whenever Jon gets back from his trip, as some photos are his). It was a fabulous time. Big shout out to UPS, who sponsored us (along with hundreds of their best clients). As one of the Games’ major sponsors, they really did it up. We were inundated with food, drink, and Olympics for the duration of our stay in Beijing. It was all rather amazing.

don't forget to cheer. jon and i were pretty sure we would be attacked in our sleep by these creepy Olympic mascot monsters.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

One World. One Dream.

not exactly communist archecture

This Olympics is being called China’s coming out party. After a 45 billion (yes, billion, with a b), one would expect that things might be a little tidy but the Bejing we’re experiencing has had a bit more than a face lift. The layers and infrastructure is too deep to have been changed just for the Olympics. Beijing is a beautiful and modern city, with little to no resemblance to the drab communist state that we Westerners tend to visualize. Luckily, we had an avenue to find some answers about what’s been going on.
room with a view

Jon’s high school buddy, Michael, has been living in China since 1990. He owns and operates a production company here and has seen the country’s transformation first hand. When he arrived, it was still in all its red China dreariness glory. Michael was working on location in Shanghai when we arrived and flew in for a day just to show us around.
jon and micheal

Michael became interested in China’s history and culture, came for a visit, and never left. Now he’s well established, has a family, and was more than happy to brief us on the Chinese evolution. His Gung-Ho Films office is in a historic part of the city that’s funky, cool, and reminded me of an Asian version of any hip city in the West, with better Kung Pao.
where can we find a good kung pao?

“When I got here,” he told us in front of a small restaurant with cheap metal tables sat on a chipped tile floor, “every restaurant looked like this.” Now the place looked more like a homage to the days of old in the middle of a trendy neighborhood. We then walked to an area on a lake that dissected the center of Beijing. The quay was littered with bars, restaurants, and shops that oozed character. It was not what either Jon or I had expected to see in Beijing. It was exactly like the kind of place you try and find when you travel—an area frequented by educated locals and savvy tourists.

We’ve been told by the US media that all this change is a fa├žade for the Olympics. According to Mike, however, that’s not what’s happened at all. Things have been steadily changing since he got there, which is the primary reason that the Chinese wanted the Olympics so badly.
in search of street smarts

Later that night, we ended up on the street, kickin’ it with some locals. We chatted about China, how it’s changed, and what its future might hold. Like everywhere in the world these days, there was plenty of bad along with the good. With 1.3 billion people, China’s got more than its share of problems. But it’s hardly a world apart from what’s happening in the west, or anywhere else on our planet. The world has become a very small place. What happens on one continent directly affects what happens on the others. The Beijing 2008 slogan of “One World. One Dream,” may not have much to do with sport. But it definitely has a lot to do with the future of our planet.

jon in beijing, or is it paris, buenos aires, or salt lake city?

Friday, August 22, 2008

Kings Of The Beach

the block that got bigger and bigger

“I don’t think they should even call it beach volleyball anymore,” said Jon. “Because it’s really sand volleyball. Beaches no longer come into play.”

True enough. We were in the middle of Beijing, without a sea gull in sight, and about to watch the men’s “beach volleyball” medal matches. The sport that had grown up on the beaches of Southern California was now an Olympic phenomenon, played by countries world wide and at venues thousands of miles from the nearest ocean.

warming up as the crowd filtered in

Walking into the event, however, you’d never know it. The place really did resemble a beach. Right down to the smell of sunscreen. Music blared, bikini clad dancers paraded around, and the announcer spoke a perfect beach dialect of SoCal English. It was hard to believe we were in China. I even had to keep reminding myself that I couldn’t go cool off with a dip in the ocean.

For this reason, beach volleyball has become the number one ticket at these Olympics. And, somehow, we’d scored a couple. Not only were we there; we were a few rows from the action, right behind the players’ wives/girlfriends. However lucky, it was fitting if not serendipitous. Jon has played beach ball for years and had introduced me to the sport as well. Back in college we’d often roll out of bed, throw on some shorts, put a ball on the back of our motorcycles, and head to the beach. As long as we were in Beijing together, we had to be here.

"number one ticket in beijing" any questions why?

Also, in the small world that is sport, I knew one of the two American players. I used to work with Todd Rogers’ wife, Melissa, at a health club a decade or so ago. Back then Todd’s career was struggling as beach ball was going through an identity crises. Now here they were; playing for the gold medal in front of millions. Life can be so sweet sometimes.

we're a long way from GVAC, melissa

In their way were Brazilians. Lots of them. There were Brazilians from Brazil as well as Brazilians from Georgia, who had nationalized some who couldn’t make the Brazilian team. There would be no beach interlopers from places like Switzerland. This was an old school showdown. All it needed was a floating Cuervo balloon and the sound of crashing waves.

In the final we were treated to some of the best volleyball we’d seen. In a see-saw battle the Americans and Brazilians split the first two games. Rogers was amazing. By far the smallest guy on the court, the Brazilians would serve him every time. Yet his speed and savvy generally made this tactic look dubious, as over and over he’d use precision to overcome half a foot of disadvantage.

This actually put a lot of pressure on his partner, Phil Dalhausser. When the ball did head his direction, he needed to make the most of his opportunities. I suppose this could be frustrating but I’m sure they’re used to it. The Americans seemed calmer, more calculated. As the pressure mounted their tactics began to wear on Brazil. At one point Jon said that Dalhausser was “getting into their head” as his massive block seemed to get bigger and bigger as the match wore on.

In the final set it all came to fruition. Rogers dug everything and Dalhausser became a monster at the net. It seemed like every time the Brazilians set, they found Dalhausser hovering over them, ready to reject any shot down to the sand. After what seemed like five consecutive blocks, it was 9-1. Game over.

10 years later: todd and melissa look the same, but the crowd around them has changed

I was hot, sweaty, sun burnt; so I headed off in search of some waves to cool off.

Once Around

in front of the bird's nest

It's been a frustrating Olympics for our sprint team. Americans have dominated the sprints throughout Olympic history. We’re not exactly fading, either, but these Games have seen a rash of bad luck following our athletes around the Bird’s Nest—the incredible Chinese athletics venue—like some Haitian voodoo is at work—or at least Jamaican voodoo.

Voodoo aside, the Jamaicans have announced that there’s a new sheriff in town. The small island, know more for its music than anything else, has historically cranked out fast people. But these Olympics it’s reached ridiculous proportions. Beginning with Usain Bolt, the first man to set the world record in both the 100 and 200 at the same Games, the Jamaicans are cleaning up in the sprints. In fact, if the entire Caribbean was a country there’d be little left for the rest of the world do in these events. Each sprint final is filled up with representatives from these islands. From Cuba to the Bahamas to Trinidad to St. Kitts, it makes one wonder what’s in the water down there. Maybe the islands are so small that all you can do is run short distances. Whatever the reason, this must be the most concentrated region of fast twitch muscle fiber on the planet.

flag-clad 400 runners looking up at the new sprint Gods, or are they saying "is the Jamaican anthem really not a reggae tune?"

Thankfully, some of it is in the US. And even though our sprinters are being pushed aside, we’re still finding ourselves dominant at a single lap. It’s not an all out sprint, but not a distance event either; the 400 is often called the most painful event in the Olympics because it requires the ability to suffer along with a lot of white muscle fiber. And we’re good at it. Real good. The American men swept both the 400 and the 400 intermediate hurdles, which has basically saved face for our sprint team at these Games.

one lap too many: no Americans made the 800 semis

Our one lap dominance only seems to hold if ONE person is running, however. Last night we set an unprecedented record—that I doubt will ever be broken—of dropping the baton while LEADING both the men’s and women’s 4 X 100 relays. Both muffed exchanges came at exactly the same spot in each race, the final hand off. It was, truly, as if some voodoo was at work.

looking at the water cube where, obviously, michael phelps was the only one privy to any voodoo.


me, jon, gail

It's interesting hanging around Beijing because many of the "tourists" you happen to run into end up looking familiar. This is because you've probably seen them on TV. The athletes are here for more than competition. Most of them are here for the experience. So when you think you've met that guy ducking into a noodle shop, it's probably because it's LeBron James.

You also run into ex-Olympians. I spent a bus ride talking with Matt Biondi. The three time Olympian seemed genuinely surprised that I'd recognized him. "But you're an icon," is what I was thinking.

On our first night we had the pleasure of meeting, and then hanging out with, Gail Devers and her family. In case you've never heard of the Olympics, she's one of the most decorated sprinters in history. The five time Olympian and gold medalist isn't retired, but she wasn't here to compete either. Having just had her second child, she's here working with UPS as a spokesperson. As the night wore on, while watching the US track team struggle, you could see her competitiveness coming out. At one point she said, "where are my spikes? I need to get out there!"

In all seriousness, she is discussing a comeback. If she made the London Games, she would be the oldest sprinter ever, besting Merlene Ottey by a year. We, of course, offered to help her prolong "the R word," as she called it, for as long as possible. She sounded excited. So, hopefully, in 2012 she'll be at the Games as a spokesperson for us as well as UPS, while going for the gold at 45.

in front of our hotel

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Like Rocky IV, with Bikinis

We were here in the last great bastion of communism, to witness beach volleyball final in what promised to be a remake of Rocky IV, only this time with bikinis. On the side of freedom were Misty May-Treanor and Kerry Walsh, a couple of happy-go-lucky beach girls up against all odds against the modern version of the Big Red Machine. China’s players may have had names but, as far as we were concerned, they were players that had been stamped out by their Olympic production committee, as both of their sides had easily marched through the competition, only losing to each other, and both playing for medals.

confusion reigns as jon tries to make sense of the bracket

The Chinese had also rigged these beach volleyball finals so that it was raining. This was, of course, to give their side the advantage since they must have learned their sport in an artificial venue that could simulate any condition, as opposed to the pristine beaches of Brazil and Southern California. We headed to battle; ready to stand alone amongst the masses of the proletariat, 100% ready to risk our lives in the pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness. Then we walked into the stadium.

the weather was certainly a communist plot against freedom

China may still be communist but it doesn’t seem to lack freedom. It certainly doesn’t feel repressed. Its volleyball facility is an amazing venue. In spite of the rain, instead of exuding a grey communistic air, it felt like we’d walked into a beach party. Bikini clad dancers danced around in the rain, the beer was flowing, though it was only 9 am, and the big red machine was represented by a couple of cute svelte girls wearing tiny red bikinis. If this was communism, sign me up.

In the bronze medal game, the Chinese girls did dispatch the Brazilians with calculated precision. As opposed to any nationalized advantage, however, it seemed to come down more to the ability of the Brazilians to block—the same thing that derailed them against the US. They would have no such advantage in the final.

Our other story line inconsistency was that May-Treanor and Walsh hadn’t lost a match in pretty much forever. If anyone was going to play the intimidator, it was going to be them. On the games second point, the Chinese advantage in the opening match was countered when Walsh six-packed (a block where the ball goes right back in the spikers face) Jie Wang. If Ivan Drago was on the court, he was being played by Walsh.

Wang and Jia Tian played a great match. Their precision was matched with passion and they gave the more experienced Americans fits. In the end, however, team USA showed why they are the most dominant team in the history of their sport. When push came to shove, they always got the point. The Chinese had a lead late in game one but couldn’t hold it. In game two, it seemed like Walsh-May were going to easily put them away but, again, they made a spirited come back to, once again, take a lead late in the game. But that was all the Americans would allow. In the end, despite the rain, we could have been on any beach, anywhere in the world, watching some great athletes—in bikinis—having a bit of good old fashioned sport.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Let The Games Begin

How not to get sick on a flight: Immune Boost Formula and champagne

We're finally in Beijing. After a long but quite relaxing flight(s) we're ready to witness the spectacle. We began our trip watching the Games with a celebratory bottle of wine at Jon's house, when Bob Costas' said, "You can't possibly know what it's like unless you experience it yourself." Jon and I looked at each other, shrugged, and said, "Alright then. Let's go."

well, if Bob Costas says so...

We scored some great seats and a mere 14 hours later were in Hong Kong, a place we're both excited to get back and see. But there was no time for distraction. We had a to make a quick connection and, a few hours later, were in Beijing.

We love Oracle

The city sure has its happy face on. So far, it seems a far cry from the dirty polluted and overcrowded place that it’s rumored to be. Our accommodations are great; our event agenda even greater. We have tickets to a slew of athletics finals, beach v-ball finals, and the semis and finals for basketball. As long as we can shake the jet lag and get our sleeping hours on track it's promising to be a great time.

I've decided not to really train on this trip. I've been going hard since I began 90X in April and my shoulder, while it's gotten stronger, is still tweaked. I'm hoping 10 days of lots of walking and minimal impact will get it over the hump. Of course, I looked at the gym in our hotel tonight and am already jonzing a bit. So we'll see how that goes.

Anyway, things are going great. We met five time Olympian and gold medalist Gail Devers (and her family) tonight. But that's another story....

The Beijing airport looking absolutely spiffy

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

7 Days To Beijing

A week from now my friend, and boss, Jon Congdon and I will be in Beijing, representing Beachbody at the Olympics. We're pretty psyched. I'll be blogging whenever I can.

I love the Olympics. It's still one athletic event where, try and they may, commercialism and politics don't play a part. They do play a part in what we get to watch, for sure. From Munich to Moscow to the travesty that was trying to watch the Sydney Games in the US, the powers-that-be of the world try and inflict their greedy little paws on the Games. But that stories that tend to unfold--at least the ones that stick in our hearts and minds--are those of athletes who toil anonymously, often at great personal sacrifice, for a chance at one shining (and fleeting) moment. The Olympics is still the soul of what we call sport.

I wrote a short piece for our newsletter on 10 of the top stories to watch during this year's Games. Undoubtedly, there will be many more. The best, hopefully, aren't even on our radar yet. I can't wait to check out the spectacle first hand.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Crazy 8's

8-8-08 was the starting date of both the Olympics and the Outdoor Retailer trade show in Salt Lake City. OR is a biannual event where most of my friends get to come to town on their company's dime. Sure, they're here to work, but we always seem to find plenty of time for play. Generally, there's a fair bit of outdoor activities scheduled if, for no other reason than to sweat out the prior evenings toxicants. We had those this year, too. But we kicked off the show with something special, in honor of 8-8-08.

Last week my buddy Hans called to make sure I'd have a good workout concocted for us. A bit later I get a text asking if I knew it was 8-8-08, and suggesting a crazy 8 workout. Then I found out that the Chinese believed 8 to be a lucky number and we starting the Olympic Games at 8:08 on 8-8-08. Since a billion Chinese can't be wrong, I just needed a workout for us, that would include lots of 8s, to begin at 8:08.

Since my wife does cross fit, and neither Hans or I had done a real cross fit workout, I asked her to make up something hard for us. She came up with something where we'd do 8 rounds of 8 sets of 8 exercises. Each round would consist of 20 seconds of an exercise, followed by 10 seconds rest, repeated 8 times. We wamed up by practicing each movement for form and to get an idea of how much weight we'd use. It all seemed easy enough. So we began...

The 8:

push press (squat thrust military presses)
kettlebell swings
atomic sit-ups (fully extended body crunch)
one-arm kettlebell snatches
hanging knees to elbows

Of course, competition dictated that we both began doing way too many reps or using too much weight on our first set. The last few sets of most of the movements were brutal, especially since neither of us wanted to have the low number of reps. Soon, to the delight of Lisa, who was worried it wouldn't be hard enough for us, we were grunting and screaming like a couple of WWF wrestlers. By the end of a 40-minute workout we were bathed in sweat and pumped up like a couple of ticks. It seemed like a perfectly fitting way to kick off the Olympics.

Aftermath: By Sunday we both had a brutal case of classic day two soreness. Hans called from the show to ask if my stomach hurt. He said he thought he'd eaten something bad until he realized that his stomach muscles were just super beat up. He gave big kudos to Romney for her ability to inflict this on a guy who "has done a least a hundread reps of core work per day for years". As for me, I could barely raise my arms overhead. This didn't stop me from riding and climbing over the weekend, but it sure cut down on my ability to do them well. As of Monday I'm still hobbling around the house like I'm injured. I can't wait til our 9-9-09 workout.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

No Star Tuesdays: Round Two

Freeze Creek: Emigration Canyon

Topping last week's horrid routes was going to be a challenge. With Mick off backpacking in the Winds and Romney having been spoilt by the aesthetics of Ruth Lake ("I think I'd prefer to climb at good areas from now on"), I was up against what to do this week since I still wanted to get the dogs out, meaning that I'd leave the boys up in LCC to their offwidths without me.

Returing to the trusty James Garrett collection on mountainproject, I found a little crag up in Emigration that I felt might be the ticket. Most of the routes were given a star, but one star on MP equals no stars in any guide. Based on descriptions such as, "You gotta love this place for other reasons than the rock!", I felt that I'd found our crag. Now I just needed a partner.

My first call was fruitful. Erica was coming off a broken leg and jonzing to get on any rock. So when I mentioned Freeze Creek she didn't even balk. We left with the idea of doing the Freeze Creek routes and checking out the sandstone on the adjacent peak as well, but as it was NST, things would find a way to turn ugly.

Someone had erected a fence along the trail. Since there was a Mcmansion in sight, we figured it was there yard and followed a faint trail along the outside of the fence up into the wrong canyon. We didn't know it was the wrong canyon until we hit the top. Then, instead of heading back down and looking for the right trail, we followed a 4wd road and then a series of goat trails onto the peak above. I figured this would get us to the sandstone routes first, where we would find the proper trail back down to the crag. Always up for a little exploration, I didn't really mind walking a bit out of our way--at least that was my thought at the time. Erica was also game, since it could "make up for all the hiking I haven't been able to do."

At the summit, which probably took close to an hour to reach, I realized my error. The sandstone routes were far off on another ridgeline. Our intended crag was a thousand or so feet below us, with nothing resembling a trail. Just a drainage choked full of vegetation. Down we went.

Though our legs got a little scraped up (hamburger oomes to mind), the descent went without incident. The dogs loved it and we found out where the local deer slept, happening upon a series of flattened out hollows, hidden in the brush on the steep hillside. After 1:45, we finished the 15 minute approach to the crag. NST wasn't about to disappoint.

Erica's first comment was, "this is like climbing in New Jersey." The Garden State's dearth of rock meant that bad approaches through private land to crags that could fit into a large garage were the norm. Welcome to Freeze Creek.

I ran up the hill looking for a larger crag since Erica was convinced that we were at the wrong place. She kept looking at the description stating 40'. "Maybe if you count from here," she said, looking at where the rope bag was situated, about 15' from the base of our first route.

The warm-up was bad, but perhaps better than it looked. Still, trusting tiny coral-like rugosities, sorting through holds to find ones that wouldn't move, and gardening were ever-present techniques over its 20 or so odd feet of climbing.

Since it shared anchors with another route, we opted to TR. This route was worse. Not horrible, just bad. The bolts placements were very strange, and the jug to clip the second bolt, from where you'd hit the ground, fell off when I dabbed some chalk on it. Of course, you could hit the ground from the anchors and limping back to the car would probably be your penance, so it wasn't exactly terrifying.

The left climb--the one with the description written above--was actually the best. It had good climbing until the very top, where all of the limestone jugs were a mess. An oddity was a bolted on plastic hold that was worse than pretty much all of the naturals around it. I have no idea why it was added.

Finally, we tr'd the moves on a "project", which went free with a little cleaning. The bolt placements were a little odd, and one clip would be very hard, but the route would go free at around 12c, should anyone decide it was worth a trip.

As for us, we were out of light. Our return path took us through the fenced area and, according to Erica, was seven times quicker than our approach.

I should add a description of a 160' bolted traverse that Garrett aiding along the band of rock. He claims it will probably be freed one day. While I would agree that it could be freed, I would be shocked if someone actually spent the time to do it. I'm shocked he spent the time to bolt it. It's really the type of thing you could see happening in a place, like New Jersey, where there wasn't much rock. But here in the Wasatch, with thousands of routes within a 100-mile radius, it's baffling. But, hey, I'm not complaining. I love having options and couldn't be more appreciative of his work. Thanks, James!

All in all, my own version of NST is two for two. But it might be time to join Zac and crew before they run out of wide stuff. But I dunno, looking at those pics of pristine granite, I think they need to consider getting on some real scruff.

pic: Erica experiences some Deja Vu.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Epidemic or Crisis?

In this article, parents are now going to receive letters if their children are obese in the UK. Okay, great. That's a start. But at the bottom of the article we see that "Two thirds of adults and a third of children are either overweight or obese in the UK. The figure is predicted to rise to almost nine in 10 adults and two-thirds of children by 2050, which could cost the economy £50bn due to obesity-related ill-health."

Apparently they don't predict that the strategy will do any good. This is more than alarming. If this trend in the UK holds true world wide, I'm not sure the earth can sustain it, especially given that we may be trying to house over 10 billion people by then.

Is this an epidemic or crisis?

Pic: a half full viewpoint

Monday, August 04, 2008

P90X Pro Edition

Oh, wait, it already is the pro edition. Just how much more legitimacy could anyone want? This is from the Philadelphia Enquirer:

David Akers gets a kick from new regimen
By Matt Gelb

Inquirer Staff Writer

BETHLEHEM, Pa. - David Akers acknowledged he was embarrassed. The Eagles kicker is a perfectionist. He keeps diligent track of his statistics in practice, games and training camp. That's why his 2-for-10 clip from beyond 40 yards last season made him desperate to change something.

Then one day, while in Dallas during the off-season, Akers saw an infomercial for a new training regimen called P90X.

"I said, you know what, it looks legit because it's not some gimmick," Akers recalled. "It [involves] actually working hard and changing the regimen all the time."

He tried it for the sake of change. He did not intend to lose weight, but he ended up dropping 20 pounds and 6 percent of his body fat.

And his leg feels stronger. He has shown that in camp. Akers, out to prove last season was a fluke, has made two 60-yard field goals, including one yesterday.

"I'd be real happy if I was able to keep this type of power and consistency through the season," Akers said.

Last season, Akers lacked on deep kicks for the first time in his career. For a lifetime 68.1 percent kicker from beyond 40 yards, 2 for 10 was like a slap in the face.

Akers, though, was not overly disappointed with last season. He made every field goal under 40 yards that he attempted (22 for 22). Of the field goals he missed from beyond 40 yards, many were near-impossible kicks, he said. Plus, he was working with a new holder, Sav Rocca, which caused some headaches.

"You don't lose it just like that," Akers said.

The distance was not the problem. A 57-yard attempt in Week 14 against the New York Giants that would have tied the game banged off the right goalpost. He did not think he had a shot at making it from there, anyway.

Still, Akers questioned himself in the off-season. The 33-year-old cannot regain the strength he had as a younger player, but he wanted to do something new.

That's when he saw the infomercial for P90X, which boasts on its Web site that users can "get absolutely ripped in just 90 days."

"I liked it because it really worked a lot with the explosion of the legs," Akers said. "Jumping, cardio aerobic, push-ups, pull-ups, jumping back and forth, it's crazy. Yoga, stretch, tempo . . . it's all kind of mixed into one."

He convinced Eagles trainer Rick Burkholder, who said he lost 30 pounds on the regimen. "And he was standing on a chair doing it at first," Akers said. Burkholder has the injured Eagles doing parts of the training system.

Special-teams coordinator Rory Segrest sees a different Akers, who now weighs 183 pounds.

"He's showing really good leg strength right now," Segrest said. "He's hit them in warm-ups. He's hit them during our team reps."

The first day Akers came to camp, he was playing around with Rocca and long-snapper Jon Dorenbos. He said he nearly hit a 70-yard field goal. That's when he realized that maybe this regimen could pay off.

"There's something to it," Akers said of his new training technique. "It's not like, 'Hey, take this pill, you're going to lose 40 pounds of fat.' You bust your butt. It's tough."

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Epic Dreaming

I'm supposed to be asleep so that I'm fresh enough to climb decent tomorrow but, instead, I find myself pouring over maps and all fired up about my latest concoction. Romney and I did a little riding over in Park City today. Picking up the 2008 trail map, I think I've found the right trails and connectors for what's going to be the coolest ride I've ever done--or at least attempted. Who's in?

Seriously, you're blowing it if you don't come out for this. It's, essentially, an improvement on the original E100 course, which was one of the most beautiful race courses I’d ever heard of. That course rode most of the areas around Park City. This one will ride all of them.

Since the E100 was cancelled this year I've been thinking about this ride. I wanted to, at least, ride the initial E100 course that had been chopped over the years due to new construction and political silliness. The new map has provided a few missing links so that now I can add Glenwild, Flying Dog, Round Valley, and all of Mid Mountain into the fray.

Here's the original E100 course, in general:

Mine will add a couple of areas off the map, as well as what is here. There will be a few short paved sections, a few short easy dirt roads, and 95%--probably well over 100 miles--of perfect single track. It's going to be epic. It's going to be fun. It might get a little ugly. But it will be Nirvana. I can't wait.

I've still got to ride a few sections. First, in order to dial in the directions and, second, in order to ensure that I'm choosing the best trails. This route is about aesthetics, 100%. Every one of my favorite local trails will make it into the ride.

Here's the gist of it:

Part I

Each section can be found, with pictures, on:

Utah Mountain Biking

Begin on the Rail Trail, parking at the base of Skid Row, where our little excursion will end (hopefully). Ride across the street and begin the Round Valley loop. Then follow easy trails and connectors to the Glenwild Loop.

At the top of Glenwild, add on Flying Dog. Head back on 24-7 to the Team Cutthroat Downhill trail. Head out of Graduate to Blue Bird Way.

Part II

Cross under the highway at Jeremy Ranch, climb through Pinebrook to Hunter's Trail of Mid Mountain. Take this to Rob's. Descent to Rosebud's Heaven, and back up Ambush to Mid Mountain. Take MM to Red Pine Lodge.

Take Mid Mountain across to Park City. Climb Powerline to Shadow Lake. Drop down Keystone to Apex. Take the Alpine Loop to the Yurt, and drop down the switchbacks (forget their name) back to MM. Take this to John's 99, to the Empire Link, and back up to John's Trail. Descend this to 4:20, down Prospect, then across the single track right above town and down to Park City Mtn Resort for a break.

Part III

Take Silver Spur to Spiro and climb to Mid Mountain. Take this over to Deer Valley. Head up hill at Tour Des Suds. Take the right fort of Flagstaff Loop, and the right fork at Deer Camp. Take GS Trees and Naildriver down to Silver Lake Lodge.

Head back out on Mid Mountain to Team Big Bear. Climb to Flagstaff, but take left fork. Take left fork at Deer Camp and take Homeward Bound down to Silver Lake Lodge.

Part IV

Climb up to Homesteak, then descend Four Points to Deer Crest to Pipeline. Climb back out Village to Snow Top. Descend and climb to Solamere. Head down Gamble Oak, to Masonic. Turn right on Lost Prospector. Take this to its end. Descend Skid Row to an ice chest filled with beer.

I'm tired just writing this. Tired of all the possibilities of it all.