Sunday, October 30, 2011

El Cap Report: “I Wake Up... Psyched”

Kevin: This spring with the water coming off the top. You're in the shade and the wall is getting skimmed by the sun, and there's a million water drops in the air, hovering. And then going down and coming back up. Incredible.

Tommy: The first time we saw it, we just stopped and were like, “wow, this is really beautiful”. Then it would pummel us and we're like, “It’s not so beautiful anymore.”

You're living in this vertical world. It's not like you're just going on a
little trip up the wall. It's like “This is where I live.”

VIDEO Part 2: BD athletes Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson attempting to free El Cap's hardest climb from Black Diamond Equipment on Vimeo.

Currently Tommy Caldwell is living on the side of El Capitan trying to free climb his five-year project. What began as almost a joke in order to get some cool stuff on film is on the cusp of reality. If he succeeds the route will be the hardest and most sustained bit of big wall climbing on earth, by far. Unfortunately, his partner, Kevin Jorgeson, had to pack it up for the season after injuring his ankle on an eight foot sideways dyno (see vid). So Tommy’s at it alone, belayed by his wife, milking the very short window between fall and winter when free climbing temperatures on El Cap peak.

kevin’s topo. click here for climbing mag's readable version. in one 9 pitch section 7 are 5.14, 3 of those 14+.

This week's Psyche is launching a little late because I needed to wait for the weekend to have enough time to read the entire transcript of a great interview by Dougald MacDonald about the history of this project. It’s a long read and probably too detailed to be of interest to most. But if you’re the type who gets captivated by accounts of people who attempt audacious things consider it required.

K: ...You go through so many mental states doing that
pitch. It starts with tips liebacking for 40 ft. Then you get the wet
section. You have to deal. Then you're trying to recover and it's wet...

T: Climbing like 5.13 totally like slimy wet.

Dougald: Kevin, you described [this] on your way out. You get to a jug finally, but the jug is soaking wet.

K: You have to figure out how to dry yourself out in the middle of these
hard moves. So it's been like 15 minutes and you're getting out of the
wet stuff and... and then you have to do this really hard crux at the top of the pitch. And it's this endeavor, you leave the ledge and you're like, “here we go”. You're in it. You give it everything. You know what you're getting into. It's gonna be like “full on experience”. It's cool. It's really cool. (But) It's intimidating when you're on the ledge.

Dougald: I would think, because knowing that you might have to do it more
than once, too, if something goes wrong.

K: Especially with that pitch, it has a really hard move at the top. You go
through a lot of scary and hard and wet climbing to get there. You
gotta like lift the car off the baby with that undercling move.

T: There's so many pitches... if you think of like heady single pitches
around... there are 9 or 10 pitches on this route above and beyond
anything I've done in that genre of climbing.

The interview covers not just the history but the physical training and other mental challenges involved with such an ordeal. It’ll probably make you tougher just by reading it.

T: There's gonna be a lot of times, and there have been a lot of times, where you're gonna be pretty tired. And you have to be like, “all right, I gotta suck it up and just do this right now” so, I try and do multiple workouts where I climb all day and then try and go do something hard at the end of the day. Not too many people do that, I feel like. Get a little tired, and then “I'm done”.

If you ever think your own personal projects are too daunting give it a chance over a cup of joe (or pot). It will likely change your perspective on what is possible.

T: I love the fact that it keeps me motivated to train throughout the year. I've always loved to have these looming goals. I wake up in the morning thinking about them, getting super psyched. And that's worth it, even if I never did the project, having that there is awesome for me. You have to think of it that way.

Check progress on Tommy's Twitter feed.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

P90X2 Prep: Block II

Remember back to the very first day you tried P90X? Unless you couldn’t do pull-ups this was likely one of the more devastating physical experiences of your life. The P90X Chest & Back workout was nearly impossible to be ready for. When Tony first proposed this workout I showed it to a friend of mine, who practically does pull-ups in his sleep (“I could do 100 pull-ups a day for the rest of my life and I wouldn’t count it as exercise”), who said that he didn’t think he could finish it in good style. My first attempt had me hyperventilating in order to keep my lunch down.

P90X2 opens with a similar proposition. Day 1, as I went into last time, is going to challenge you in ways you’ve not seen before but the real nastiness hits on day 2. Plyocide is so much harder than the original that P90X master and superstar Beachbody coach and all-around master of fitness Mark Briggs looked as though he was going to pass out during the Plyocide rehearsal. “I just wasn’t ready for that,” said the guy who devises some of the most intense P90X/Insanity hybrids out there. You have been warned.

Luckily the warning comes with some advice. Block I of our prep focused on balance. Block II will up the intensity. Briggs had been training with Tony’s One on One Plyocide workout, which is a decent practice session for the moves, but the final version is a whole other ball game when it comes to intensity. There is simply no way this workout isn’t going to hurt out of the gate but if you start adding a day of ever-increasing plyometric workouts to your training now and you’ll be ready to stave off utter annihilation.

Here are some choices along with comments. Of course you need to work with what you’ve got, so don’t feel the need to get all of these. Just keep increasing the intensity of your weekly plyo session right up until you shut down for the last couple of weeks before X2 arrives.

One on One: Plyocide – this workout is a bit of a practice session. Good training but slow cadence.

P90X Plyo - If it’s all you’ve got it ain’t bad. If you can waltz through this your body is ready for the next X.

One on One: Plyo Legs – The very first One on One workout is a good next step from P90X Plyo

Insanity Max Interval Plyo – It was surprising Mark got so slammed after doing this regularly because it’s still very hard.

Turbo Fire HIIT 30 – Will have you well used to any jumping that life throws your way. Any of the HIITs will prep you, so work your way up to 30 if you're just starting out.

Asylum: Overtime – adding this short workout to the end other workout will destroy you in just the right kind of way.

Asylum: Vertical – Shaun T’s version of Plyocide. If you can handle this with good form you’re ready for anything. Train to get ready for this workout though because "it's not Insanity!"

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Lord of the Widz

This week’s Psyche is one of the coolest things I’ve seen in a long time. It’s a climbing story—and an esoteric one at that—but its narrative could apply to any endeavor. Over the last month, two gentlemen of the Sceptred Isle made a tour of America’s hardest wide crack climbs that has changed that pursuit forever. But before we jump into the what and how of the tale, we need to step back to the beginning, where a plan was hatched on a Greek island paradise famous for its sport climbing and free diving.

Kalymnos is a perfect setting for our genesis because it’s the exact opposite of where we lead. It’s a place that makes the sport of climbing seem magical. The rock climbing is incredibly fun. The surroundings are ever better. It’s a land where masses of uber fit scantily clad men and women throw themselves at mega hard routes until they’re glistening with sweat before cooling off in the Mediterranean and then lounging on the beach with a beverage. The entire scene is not unlike what a mountaineer might dream up while trapped in an ice cave during a week-long storm.

Conversely, wide cracks are most climber's nightmare. Often found in the dankest underbelly of the mountain they are avoided like the plague. There is never a crowd to contend with, unless you count bats or the various creepy crawlies that inhabit such realms. And then there’s the climbing, which is like an entirely different sport and generally consists of wedging as much of your body as you can fit into a fissure, usually inverted, and then finding a way to let go so that you can make forward progress that often proceeds inches at a time. It can best be summed up in one word: sadistic. Juxtaposing the two is like comparing Lothl√≥rien to Mordor.

And thus it’s fitting that our heroes hail from The Shire, or England’s Peak District if you will. It’s a place steeped in history, where many a scheme to conquer the world’s highest peaks was hatched even though their own humble surrounding rarely exceed a few hundred meters. And, not unlike the race of Hobbits, locals of this region have snatched an almost absurd amount of success from under the noses of rocky heights denizens worldwide.


And so it begins. One Tom Randall, aka Randall of the Hump, and one Peter Whittaker, aka Peter of the Wide, whilst climbing in Kalymnos hatch an audacious quest, to conquer all of the most feared and notorious wide-crack climbs on the planet, and to let nothing stand in the way. Never mind that until this mad revelation they’d spend virtually no time attempting to climb such things.


Of course wide cracks of note barely existed anywhere near their homeland and, as such, they had a problem. But that didn’t stop Mallory, nor Shipton, Bonnington, Moffat or Moon. The lads would not be deterred and turned to their forbearers to guidance for which there was a solution steeped in lore. The English cellar.

Home improvements commenced and soon there was a gym, of sorts. More of a torture chamber. Kitchen counter tops, placed vertically with varying widths between, or just enough space of stuff various bits of body parts into, always upside down, in order to build muscle and tendon strength, lest we not forget pain tolerance, in order to turn this most magnificent of pipe dreams into reality.

Alas, this blessed plot, this earth, this realm... is too good to be summed up already. In fact, the Wide Boyz, as they are now called, are still at it. What is unfolding is a story for the ages. And since I’m recapping, those who fancy yourself intrepid can easily look ahead at a handful of blogs covering the story—the best belonging to our heroes, their court reporter, and, as always in matters of vertical ascention in fair Albion, UK Climbing. Or you can use some restraint and let it unfold here, like allowing your wine to breath instead of quaffing it out of the bottle—perhaps box in such a case. After all, even in the most grizzly of times we humans must do our best to remain civilized.

Of course a guy’s gotta make a living, so don’t be shy about clicking any link in this post. Who knows, it might lead to you getting fitter than you’ve ever been and hanging upside down like a bat a few thousand feet above a barren desert. But one can only dream.

Tom Randall is sponsored by Wild Country, RAB, Sterling Rope, Five Ten, Climb On and supported by The Edge Climbing Centre

Pete Whittaker is sponsored by Wild Country, Patagonia, Sterling Rope, Five Ten, Climb On

Travelling with the duo is photographer Alex Ekins. You can see heaps of trip images on his website: Alex Ekins. Alex is sponsored by Wild Country, RAB, PODsacs and Clif Bar.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

P90X2 Preview: Don’t Try This At Home... Yet!

P3 (Peak Performance Project) just sent over some videos of their athletes doing some of the movements you’re going to see in P90X2. Here one to whet your appetite on what to expect for your results during phase III of X2. Perhaps a little exaggerated, especially what you see what the last guy--college baseball player Crosby Slaught--is doing. Wow.

This might hurt to look at right now. As our bodies age and break down explosive movements become more and more challenging. P90X2 will build you back up to where you will be able to not only once again handle heavy plyometric forces but have them feel good. You may not be able to match the explosiveness of a 6’5” 200lb college junior, but you will feel a lot younger than when you started.

Here’s what P3 has to say on the importance of skater movements:

Learn to do this movement and you will feel and look more athletic than ever. Dr. Elliott and P3 Performance Specialists test and employ skaters (lateral plyometrics) with all of their athleticism (sports that require a combination of power factors: quickness, speed, explosiveness, etc) athletes, as they have been scientifically proven to improve lower body power, multi planar speed, and challenge hip and trunk stability.

Why I say don’t try this at home, yet, is important. Many of us can handle this motion right now but you always want to be careful when doing 100% effort plyometrics. As most of you know we use plyometric movements in all of our advanced workout programs. However, we never do them at 100% like we will in phase III of P90X2. They may feel 100% to you but we’ve always strategically added volume in order to keep your intensity at bay. You are about to enter a new realm....

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

It’s Not Birthday Pretty Hard...

...It’s Birthday Challenge.

Training for my challenge has commenced and it’s not pretty. Even though I have good base fitness, and very good particular fitness for, say, running and biking fast, I’m nowhere close to where I need to be in order to have a shot and what we’re planning on doing. I’d better shape up or it’s going to be down right ugly.

On Sunday Mick, who’d just come in 5th in a 100-mile trail race, and I decided to test our climbing fitness on the longest route in the Wasatch, Squawstruck, a 22-pitch, 2,000’ climb just down the road in Rock Canyon. Because neither of had climbed “enough” we knew it would be an eye opener of sorts. But we’ve both ton a lot of long stuff and figured that our historical prep would be enough. Not so much.

This blog spends a lot of time discussing training that you can apply to sports but not so much about sports specific training. And while getting the body prepped is vital, if you’ve gotta play if you want to win. No matter how fit you are if you don’t practice your intended activity it’s always much much harder, if not impossible. Not due to lack of fitness but specificity. Climbing, like most sports, creates specific breakdown that you need to prepare for. Hands, feet, elbows, shoulders, forearms, and back take the brunt of the work, along with the skin. Oh, yes, the skin. Un-prepped skin is the path of least resistance to pain in the off-the-couch challenger. Our body’s personal Maginot Line in the war of specificity.

Our goal was not just to finish the route, mind you, but to finish in comfort. We were pretty certain we’d get up the sucker. And we did; easily if the summit’s all that counts. But we got beat down. The four and a half mile descent wasn’t exactly a death march but we weren’t enjoying the fall scenery as much as we should have. Lots of things hurt; the above list, along with my hips and legs. And our skin, of course, which was totally cooked. At the car I lamented that we’d forgotten to put a couple of beers in a cooler and Mick said, “If I drank a beer I might not make it home.” Did I mention Mick just did a hundred? Cooked, I tell ya.

It was a good, little adventure day lasting about 10 hours in total. But it’s an ominous sign for a birthday challenge, given we’re planning to nearly triple the amount of climbing, quadruple the amount of hiking, and do a bunch of bike riding and exercises as well. I’m a month away from staring down the barrel at a major fail.

There’s a Birthday Challenge saying that goes, “If you know you can do it then it’s not a challenge.” And even though we’ve not announced exactly what we’ll be attempting (Bob is also slightly injured and Josh is in China) it’s going to be a frick load harder than what happened on Sunday. I’m not nearly prepared. But as the other saying goes, “it’s not birthday pretty hard...”.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Bike Commuting Makes You Happier, And Faster

everything relates to kevin bacon. everything.

Here’s a great little blog post on the pros of bike commuting by local superstar Alex Grant. It almost makes me miss the days of commuting in LA, when I used to race cars down Wilshire Blvd en route to the Beachbody office. Almost, of course, since I prefer living in Utah and the efficiency of working from home, but it’s definitely inspired me to use a bike for more of my errands.

Grant is a great racer but that’s got nothing to do with this article, which is about the different vibe you get when riding a bike vs driving a car.

I’ve always thought that bicycles can do great things for society and the planet. Switching to bicycles for transportation will lessen our carbon footprints and improve the overall physical and mental health of our society. I’d like to see a study done on the happiness of those who commute to and from work by bike versus those who drive in traffic each way. I don’t care how bad the weather is, I bet the bike commuters have less stress than those who drive.

I could not agree with Grant more. In LA, not exactly heaven for bike commuting, never once did I have a bad ride to or from office, in spite of many instances where someone would do their best to ruin my day. People in LA aren’t used to seeing bikes. The looks I’d get were mainly shock, as though I was some kind of alien--"Hey, dude, where's your car?" LA’s so bad that I once had an irritated guy yell “don’t ride on the bike path!” without a touch of irony. That said I drove defensively and never had a dangerous close call. And, in fact, even the worst day of bike commuting left me feeling great, which was pretty much the opposite of how I felt whenever I had to drive anywhere.

how to dress--fashionably--for winter commuting

Grant has a short commute in a bike friendly city with little traffic (though we’ve got plenty of nasty weather) and it still improves his mood. So much so that he credits his best-ever racing season in part to his commute. Not for training reasons but due to reduced stress.

It’s amazingly liberating to be out of the car. I was driving a lot as an outside sales rep – it’s the nature of the job. I have been working just as much and just as hard at the new business; but without all the windshield time, my stress level has gone way down.

How does this translate to racing? I feel like I have been riding faster than ever for the past two months: I pulled off my best finish at Nationals in July with 8th and managed 3rd at the Leadville 100 a couple weeks ago.

So get on your bike, or consider investing in one. You’ll be amazed at how much it will change your outlook on life.

Watch more video of Trans-Sylvania Epic Stage Race 2011 on

grant not commuting

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

P90X2 Preppin’

Part of my birthday challenge training will be to also prep for a round of P90X2 that I plan to do starting first of the year. I’m easily fit enough to begin it without any special prep but that can lead to some serious breakdown because the fitter you are the more hurt you can put on yourself when you start training in a different realm than you’re used to. This post will have some tips on how to prepare yourself so that X2 doesn’t cripple you out of the gate.

A good example of what I’m talkin’ about can be found on my original P90X blog from 2003 (before we’d filmed anything so I’m training off of notes—re-read it and noted that we’d yet to name the workouts, hence things like “Legs and Pull-ups” and “The Gun Show”). I’d just finished a full bike racing/multisport season, so I was fit. But I’d done almost no upper body training and needed to get ready for a birthday challenge, quickly, and the first few weeks were ugly. I was so broken down that I could barely get my arms overhead to wash my hair. Of course I adapted, eventually, and ended up having one of my more kick-ass birthday challenges that year but phase one was absolutely brutal. That kind of pain is not a prerequisite. With a little forethought you can avoid having this happen to you.

First I should discuss how variable the P90X2 program is. You don’t necessarily need to be prepped if you’re the type of person who’s able to use restraint. Every move in the program offers not only an easier modification but also a band only version that can be done in just about any hotel room. So we’ve set it up so that you can ease into it. However, if you’re the type who’s going to try and keep up with Tony, keep reading.

Secondly there’s a huge group of you who’ve done 90X over and over and are now doing Asylum hybrids. The only possible better way to prep is to have done the P90X One on One MC2 series cause, ya know, those were pretty much the test workouts for X2. If you’ve done P90X or more you are ready, fitness wise, though you will benefit if you add some of these workouts to your program. I also recommend taking a good two to three week long recovery cycle before you begin.

This prep phase will be done in three blocks and is designed for fit people who’ve been away from weight training for a while. This group includes athletes coming off of a season, cardio junkies who’ve been doing Insanity or Turbo Fire or something similar, or those who’ve been training with a general gym program or one of our intro programs, like Power 90 or Slim in 6 and want to start building some specificity for the types of things you’re going to see in X2.

If you’re still struggling in an intro program you’ll want to keep doing it. Harder is only better when your body is ready. Remember that our “easier” programs get the same results as our hard programs because they target a less fit demographic. If you’re un-fit, be realistic and milk the easier programs for all the results you can get. When you start to plateau—usually you’ll notice the program no longer feels as challenging—is when you’ll want to switch. Not before.

non-specific training has many benefits beyond happy dogs and great scenery

My schedule is going to have a ton of non-specific training: climbing, biking, rehab/prehab workouts. I’m only adding a couple of X2-style workouts per week for specificity in block one. For your own training you can keep doing what you’re doing and simply add a couple of workouts from the below list. The main goal of block one is resistance work on an unstable platform of some kind so get yourself a balance ball (45, 55, or 65cm) and some med balls or similar (basketball, football, or anything you can prop yourself on--chair, couch, bed--will work). Prior to the filming of X2 Tony had been working on unstable platforms for more than four years, which you know if you’re a One on One prescriber. It takes a while to get this stuff down. The earlier you get a jump on it the better the program will work for you.

Block I

X2 doesn’t launch til X-Mas, so there’s no rush. For the first couple of weeks swap out two workouts per week with something from the following list. I will put these in order of specific effectiveness in case you want to buy from the list. The goal is to get used to instability and increase your unilateral balance. Also, once a week do this workout and some yoga (any yoga).

P90X One on One: Core/Syn MC2, Total Body X, 4 Legs, Upper Body Balance, Base & Back

P90X: Core Synergistics, Legs & Back

P90X+: Total Body Plus, Upper Body Plus

Friday, October 07, 2011

Picos De Europa: Add It To Your Hit List

It’s incredibly apropos that I found this video for the Friday Psyche, as I’ve just returned from a trip that included a sneak peek at one of the more inspiring places I’ve been; Spain’s Picos de Europa.

BD athletes Adam Pustelnik and Nico Favresse make first repeat of Orbayu (8b+/8c) in Naranjo de Bulnes, Spain from Black Diamond Equipment on Vimeo.

When I originally contemplated trying to qualify for the ’11 Worlds it was due to some photos I’d seen of a peak called Uriellu, on a formation known as Naranjo de Bulnes. Despite its strange name—it neither looks like an orange or can be seen from the village of Bulnes—the peak, as well as its surrounding countryside, inspired me like few places on earth. My goal, should I qualify, would be to compete at Worlds and climb it on the same trip.

This dream was squelched by a mid summer’s mtn biking accident that left my hand unable to grasp a coffee cup, much less a mono, but I vowed to at least visit the area to see what I was missing. A while I didn’t get anywhere near its base, I was at least able to make a post-race hobble/pilgrimage to view Uriellu’s grandeur and toast to it with a bottle of the region’s beverage of choice, sidra.

the climber's monument to uriellu

Turns out my enthusiasm only increased in person.The area not only offers a lifetime of climbing opportunities it seems as though every single village, hamlet,and trail are enchanted. Spending some quality time here has moved to the top of my to-do list. I find it more than serendipitous that the 2013 World Championships will be held in Segovia, only a few hours to the south.

the enchanted village of bulnes

Thursday, October 06, 2011

12th Fastest 50 YO Short Course Duathlete In The World

My race didn’t go quite as planned as you might guess from the self-deprecation in the title. Actually it went very well given that I couldn’t run two steps 24 hours prior to the event. But, still, it’s not what I was envisioning whilst training. The title’s a play on an old birthday challenge video on one of Todd Mei’s challenges where everyone kept referring to Nate Emerson as “the 27th fastest ultra runner in the United States. 27th ain’t bad. Neither is 12th. It’s only bad when you could have gone faster.

so easily could have been 13th

“I’m running better than I have in years.”

Never say things like that. Especially right before a race. It virtually assures something bad will happen. And, sure enough, a couple of days after this utterance I’m pushing my training a little beyond normal (since, ya know, I was running so well and all) and, boom, one step too many. I knew right away what I’d done but didn’t think it was too bad. I’d aggravated an old soleus injury that manifests in the Achilles. I stopped immediately, walked home, and put my calf on ice.

Timing was pretty bad as it was during my last hard session before leaving for Europe, meaning I didn’t have time to see Geoff or Mike at Elite. Where I was heading, rural France, wasn’t going to have anyone to see either so I was on my own. This seemed fine as I know the rehab protocol well and I left optimistic.

hard to complain about lack of hard training in this setting

It improved over my two week race taper but not quite fast enough. Three days prior to the race I landed in Gijon and went straight to the Team USA medical team. After some consideration they decided on a light course of therapy. It was a gamble but given it hurt too bad to be competitive, and perhaps even race, it was worth a shot. A few hours later, as the team paraded down the beach to the opening ceremonies, my Achilles felt as though it had been replaced with a burning iron rod. I listened to the festivities at a hotel bar while icing my calf, figuring that my race was probably over.

But I had two days so I kept trying. Ice, therapy, ice, rest, ice, sleep, ice. Repeat. Miraculously, the day before the race it felt ok, at least to walk. So I put on my shoes and warmed up, going through my series of warm-up drills. A okay. I then ran a little in my Hokas (huge crazy-looking shoes with heaps of padding designed for ultra runners), which went well enough. So I tried my race flats. Step one, yes! Step two, damn!

In a last-ditch effort I went back to the doc (and chiro) for a more aggressive taping job and some meds. He said he’d found heel lifts in a random store (I’d already tried the local sports store) so I bought three different styles. I also picked up some compression socks on his recommendation. I was going to try every possible option to keep my soleus together for what I hoped to be about an hour of hard effort.

In the morning the pain was still there so I added some old school cast-style taping to the new-fangled physio tape I’d been given. I then quaffed down some new meds provided to me my friend Spider, that the team doc told me were now banned. Spider assured me that with a prescription they were legal (he is a doc so I had one) and that he’d been tested at Nationals while taking them, told them he was taking them, and was fine. Plus, I had to medal in order to be tested anyway, the odds of which seemed precisely nil even if I could run pain free given:

I had the wrong bike set-up for the hilly course

there was room for one wheelset so I gambled

I hadn’t been able to do a hard effort in three weeks

I could not warm-up properly since my bike was already in transition and I wasn’t going to waste precious steps before the race

I was running in what would look like clown shoes to the other competitors

admittedly the entire outfit is clown worthy

Then I added more tape outside of my compression sock, stacked two heel lifts inside my shoes, and was ready to square off against the fastest age-group athletes in the world. As the pic shows, I’m pretty confident.

About 400 meters after the gun my “race” was over. I started slow—needing a proper warm-up—and hoped if nothing hurt I could steadily speed up throughout the race. But after a quarter mile or so it already seemed as though I was far too far behind to be competitive. And my calf hurt. A lot.

But I really wanted to finish as long as I wasn’t going to do any lasting damage. My thoughts were that if I made it onto the bike I’d be in there, which I still felt was the case until I had to do the short transition run in bare feet. By the time I’d clipped into my bike I was no longer sure I’d even finish the bike, much less the final run.

As I rode it began to feel better. There was a 5k climb on the bike course and quite a few riders passed on my way up. However, I was able to keep them in sight and at the crest of the climb, with everything seemingly intact, I got to thinking I would finish and decided to race a little bit. On the downhill and subsequent flats I passed everyone who had passed me and quite a few more. For the only time during the race I was actually flying. It felt good, until...

I had just caught some guy coming into the last transition and we started our few hundred meter transition run together. I lost at least 100 meters to him over the course of my barefoot hobble. The last run, however, started oddly fine and in the first half I caught this guy and a couple of others. Then I felt a bad twinge up my calf and spent the last mile or two running slow and worrying about the hot poker someone had rudely shoved inside my calf. I got passed by a couple of Spaniards with nary a reaction but, upon entering the stadium, when I heard a guy closing quickly I managed to summon up a kick feeble enough to fend him off, which I’m pretty sure bummed him out based on the scream he let off when he didn’t catch me by the line.

the more i look at these the more i think that he really deserved to catch me.

I had no idea what place I’d finished and I didn’t care (I only found out when Bruce posted it on Facebook). All I knew was that it wasn’t last and that I’d managed to finish the race, which made me happy. I hobbled out of find Romney, who helped me into the med tent, where I needed to spend some time before starting our actual vacation.

romney properly holidaying

Lying in the tent I asked her—and myself—why I did these races when it’s so much more fun to climb, or ride, or just run through the mountains without a thought of time or speed or placing. I didn’t have an answer and started wondering how much money I could get for my bike in Spain (someone asked to photograph my bike—just the bike) so I wouldn’t have to cart it around. But as people wandered in and out of the tent, all psyched just to be at this event, no matter how injured they were or how they finished, the vibe grew on me. And I started wondering what it would be like to come to Worlds and have a race where everything went perfectly....

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

50 To 50, Plus One

“From now on, we train all day. Every day.”
- In God’s Hands

I tried this last year but all hell broke loose and, hence, my big plans got put on the backburner. Luckily—amazingly is more like it—Romney convinced more than 70 of my friends to take up the cause for me. The result was a fantastic birthday present with more than enough suffering and creativity to make up for my lacking fortitude. So what in God’s name am I blathering about, you ask?

A birthday challenge, man. You gotta feed the monkey. Man.

So today I realized that, once again, I’m 50 days from Just like last year. Until that realization I was considering, given my injuries (which have yet to be announced ), that I’d do something last minute but the serendipity of my revelation means, to me, that I’m meant to both train and rehab and fire off something epic.

So today was day one of my official 50 day training program. It was modest. An hour on the hippie rig followed by Upper Body Balance from the P90X One on One series. But nothing hurt too bad and I’m fairly confident that my injuries will heal up in time. It will test my rehab knowledge, which is part of the challenge.

Nothing is set as of yet. Only that there will be a challenge, and that it looks like it will be set in and around Mammoth Lakes/Bishop and involve Bob and Josh. Boys, you know what an epiphany is? A line has been drawn in the sand.

“So, the challenge is out there and we hope to see you some day on a big jump.”
- License to Thrill

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The Big Lebowski - They Peed on My Rug!

Monday, October 03, 2011

A Day In Spain

Just arrived home from the holiday/camp/race with plenty to catch up on but in the spirit of tranquillo let’s ease into things slowly. Romney joined me for the final week of my adventure. We casually sauntered across Spain, hiking, climbing, and wine tasting our way to Bruca and Alisa’s place in St Antonin Noble Val, France. One morning we woke up in the paradise that is Rodellar, Spain, and made our way north through fantastic scenery that also features some of the greatest venues for playing outside in the world. Since I haven’t gotten around to loading our pics yet I found a few videos to provide narrative for what was a most excellent day of climbing, hiking, touring and tapas.

Rodellar is a small village at the end of the road situated on a plateau above a canyon filled with some of the best rock climbing I’ve ever done. This entertaining vid shows a few highlights.

Viva la Vida Part 2 from Micky on Vimeo.

Rodellar is located in la Sierra de Guara, a Spanish national park that’s littered with a hundred lifetime’s worth of perfect rock. In Europe, mountain biking isn’t buffed out like it tends to be here in the states. Instead you explore ancient trails and roads built by Romans, Troglodytes, and/or dinosaurs. Of course each village you come across has a pub, meaning you don't need to lug around a lot of stuff. Here’s a taste of what to expect.

Las bellostas, Rodellar, Otin, Las Bellostas from alfons esterlich on Vimeo.

We then headed east towards the crags of Lleida, adopted home of Chris Sharma and the settling of Rock & Ice magazine’s No Spain No Gain issue. For some reason almost all the rock in this region faces south, making it a winter area and keeping our modest forays to the shaded flanks.

Sport Climbing in Catalunya, Spain (Tres Ponts, Terradets, Margalef) from Rock & Ice on Vimeo.

The northern part of the region snakes through Collegats canyon. It’s an traditional area steeped in Spanish lore, and slightly off the modern climber’s radar, but the setting inspired me more than any other in Catalunya. Along with many long traditional routes there’s a stack of sport climbing that’s all muy bonita! Here’s a bike tour through the canyon.

The river you can see looks like a kayaker’s dream and, sure enough, only 15k away the village of Sort is the most boating-crazed place I’ve ever been. It’s a ten minute drive to a region with more climbing the 95% of the world’s countries and I couldn’t find a mention of that fact anywhere. Just kayak (and some ski) stuff everywhere you look. There’s even a kayak art museum. Here are a couple of videos about Sort, home for our last evening in Spain.

Sort 2010, wildwater world championships - day 6: sprint team winners, June 12th 2010, Sort (Spain) from WildWater TV Italia on Vimeo.

Sort, Spain, Noguera Pallaresa river, promo-video W.W. Worlds 2010 from WildWater TV Italia on Vimeo.

Hasta luego Espana. You will be missed.