Monday, June 30, 2008

SD trip report to come

It was a heck of a lot different than last year! A more complete trip report to come...

South Dakota 2008

Water and mud were everywhere. Even got hailed on while out on the trail. Temps were mostly in the 80s with tons of humidity. Rained or hailed everyday at least once.

I completed the Centennial Trail in 36 hours (with a car ride around the wilderness area) and the Mickelson in 9.5 hours. I decided not to ride most of the connector route between the two on the southern end so that I could spend the day with my family. A total of 222 miles and 25,000 vertical feet.

A great tour with diverse scenery and trail conditions...more to come...

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The SD trip is ON!

The good news is that we're still going to try and make our trip...The bad news is we have to wait for the bodyshop to get the van fixed before we can leave. Hopefully, it will be done on Friday but I'm not holding my breath. We'll get out of Denver when we can and we'll do what we've always done and make the best out of our vacation. We've had hang ups like this before on vacations and what I've learned is that you can't really 'plan' a vacation. What I mean is that they never end up like the preconceived vision you built before you left. I like to think that vacations are not necessarily about relaxing but more about building life experiences. Let me give you some examples:

Summer 2005 - Wyoming
I was changing jobs and we decided to spend a couple of weeks in one of my favorite areas, NW Wyoming. The trip started out great, we did some camping and backpacking in the Bridger Wilderness (it was Aspen's first time backpacking) and then decided to head to Jackson to lay the ashes of my beloved dog, Maggie, to rest at a spot we had grown to love in the foothills overlooking Teton Valley. Maggie was the one that 'introduced' me to my wife many years back when I was at a low point in my life. I was calling my mom back in Ohio to wire me money because I was broke, didn't have a job, living out of a tent, and no plates on my truck. Misty agreed to hold on to my puppy while I talked on the phone (I didn't even know her name at that point). This was right on the main square in Jackson. Anyways, back to the story...We got up to the campsite, set up the tent, and headed back down the mountain to get something to eat...We still hadn't gotten Maggie laid to rest yet...Right in front of where we met, the car died...Coincidence or fate? I'd like to believe it was Maggie telling us we needed to spend a couple of unplanned days in Jackson on foot. Rather than wallow in our misfortune, we made the best of the unexpected time to explore Jackson with Aspen on foot.

January 2006 - Jamaica
A friend of mine from Montana Tech had decided to join the Peace Corps and was stationed in Jamaica. We decided to take a week and go visit him. We get to the airport to find out United's computer system was down. The lines were horrendous, we were destined to miss our flight to Chicago. Somehow we were able to weasel our way onto a flight but our luggage didn't make it and we had to sleep on the benches outside of ticketing at O'Hare. At some point in the night, Aspen threw up and the janitor had to come by and clean it up. The next morning we're getting our tickets when the agent tells Misty that her birth certificate is not valid for travel...WHAT?!?...Yep, we still need to get passports...Anyways, Misty could not get on the flight and being the considerate and caring person that she is, she suggested that Aspen and I continue on with our vacation and she'll fly back to Denver. That decision was hard enough on Aspen and I but we could only imagine how hard of a decision that must have been for Misty to make.

We made it to Jamaica but first I got lectured by the customs lady for not having a certified letter from my wife stating I was allowed to travel with my daughter out of country (I later found out that they could've taken Aspen into custody until I could produce the letter). My friend was in utter disbelief that Misty wasn't there. He kept waiting for her to pop out from around the corner and say 'surprise'! Still didn't have any luggage except for our carry-on bags (and mine contained mostly stuff for him and the kids he taught--4 microbrews, chocolate bars, crayons, coloring books, a change of underwear, and a toothbrush). We talk to Misty and find out that she's going to try and get a valid birth certificate and she plans on being on the island in a couple of days. Aspen was excited to be there and really wanted to go to the beach. We tried to convince her to wait until we got to our final destination--half way across the island. She was a real trooper while driving the 'no rules' roads full of pot-holes and quick swerves by only getting sick once (and she gave me plent of warning so there wasn't a mess in the car). We get all the way to our destination in Boston Bay only to be stopped a few hundred yards short of Great Huts. My friend tells us to go ahead that it's just a little ways up the road so Aspen and I head down the dirt road. We pass by the first wooden fence but I believe we need to go to the next gate. Aspen disagrees with me and says we went too far and should wait for Brian. We start approaching it and a pack of dogs stands on the other side of the open gate barking and growling at us. Within a couple of seconds, the dogs charge us. One goes for my ankle but misses and rips my pants. Another one gets around me and goes after Aspen. She turns to run and it grabs her by the calf and shakes her to the ground with her shoe flying off in the process. I will NEVER forget the image of her running and being shaken to the ground nor will I forget the feeling of dispair because I was not able to save her from this trauma. I quickly picked her up and we got away from the dogs. By this time my friend had arrived and people from Great Huts came out after hearing all the screaming and barking. The puncture wounds weren't bad but there was massive bruising. The manager at Great Huts said that we needed to get her to the hospital. I was sweating bullets...She got cleaned up by the nurse and I found out that there is no rabies on the island so I didn't have to worry about that, but I still had trouble sleeping that night. The next day I went to pick up Misty while Aspen stayed with Brian and a local boy her age. She ended up having a great trip (it's me who's still overly cautious around dogs I don't know) and talks about Jamaica all the time.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Bad News Day

Misty just called...She's been in a wreck and it's her fault...She can't find the registration or insurance card in the car...Thankfully, no one was hurt. I guess we might have to cancel our SD trip to pay for the repairs etc.

Read about a lady being hit on my bike commute to work on Monday in the daily camera:
Daily Camera article

Now I'm even more nervous about riding on the road...I truly feel sorry for both involved in this accident. Either as a motorist or a cyclist, there are certain roads and conditions that make me nervous to pass or be passed. It worries me to be riding on Simms but there really is no good alternative. Maybe this is the spark needed to get the shoulder improved on this section of road. The construction they're doing on Simms looks like they’re at least improving the shoulder on the corner. Cyclists simply want a little breathing room when being passed…That’s all. Most drivers and cyclists ARE courteous, it’s those few jerks that seem to stand out in our minds. Accidents happen whether you're in a car or on a bike. I pass three roadside crosses on my way to work on Hwy 128…I don’t know if these unfortunate souls were on bikes or in cars, regardless, being on the road is dangerous and these markers are a daily reminder of my mortality. If there was no malicious intent, I'm sure the indelible image of the accident will haunt the driver for the rest of his life.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Colorado Trail - Segments 1 through 5

It's been difficult finding time this week to blog about the great overnight trip I had with Marshal over the weekend. In short, we traveled from Waterton Canyon to Kenosha Pass in 2 days. I'll get the data off the GPS in the next couple of days. In the meantime, here's the pictures I took (and some video too).
Marshal on Segment 1.
CT 002
Great shot of Marshal on the start of the descent to the South Fork of the South Platte.
CT 004
Segment 2
CT 007
Segment 2 curves
CT 008
Marshal on Segment 3
CT 010
Hayman Burn
CT 013
CT 014
Relaxing @ Ute Ck B&B + Snack Store
CT 015
More detour--Reminds me of the truck/trailer that tried to see how close he could get to us on the road...Jerk...
CT 016
Segment 6 (I think)--almost to Kenosha (me)
CT 017
Marshal pulling WAAAY ahead on the home stretch
CT 019

Seg 1 descent

CT 020.avi
More of Seg 1 descent

CT 021.avi
Buffalo Ck

CT 022.avi

I really had a great time on this trip. I was trying out a bunch of new gear (thanks REI, US Bank, and my previous employer for letting me use my CC for expenses which resulted in a huge dividend this year) including a new thermarest, a snow-peak stove, and a new seatbag. All the gear worked great and I think it all resulted in a compact setup.
CT Ride 003
The stove and thermarest were SOOOO much better than trying to get a fire going to heat up water and sleeping on the ground in the bivy sack. The stove and 100g fuel bottle fits very nicely inside my titanium cup and it boiled the water in short order even without the windshield.

I felt great for the majority of the day, but I ran into the problem of not continuing to eat when I felt good and wasn't particularily hungry. It was much more evident this time than when venturing solo on other trips because Marshal is so consistent even after being on-trail for a long time. As we approached Wellington Lake, I was really starting to feel slooowww. The food we picked up that the little snack shop was a great surprise! V8, yogurt, and Reese cups...mmmmmm...They didn't kick in soon enough to help with Stony Pass, but on the descent I started to feel better. The cow elk that jumped out of the ditch to cross the road RIGHT IN FRONT of Marshal helped wake me up...Wouldn't want to run into her on a bike! Before we got to our turn off, it was time to turn on the lights. We ended up missing our turn on FR221 and dropped down into this quaint little mountain getaway community. Marshal stopped short but I kept going trying to find the way through...When I returned to where I left Marshal, he was gone...I rode back and forth and in circles for awhile and then I thought someone was shining a flashlight at me from up on the hill...I thought that was took me a couple of minutes to realize THAT WAS MARSHAL going back up the road. If he hadn't turned around so that I could see his red 'blinky' light I might still be confused in that valley...HAHA! On the climb around this little community towards Goose Creek campground, Marshal pulled out in front again showing his dominance when it comes to endurance. We found a place to bed down just before the descent into Goose Creek.

I pulled out all my sleeping stuff and my cooking stuff. I had bought a freeze-dried Kung Pao chicken meal for dinner. I specifically chose that meal because it contained over 1,000 calories...Problem was, it was full of brown rice and HUGE portions...As Marshal said, 'calories are only good if you can get them down.' So true...But at least the additional can of V8 I had carried from Wellington Lake tasted SOOO good while laying in the sleeping bag. I tried finishing the Kung Pao in the morning without much luck...The fauna got a free meal at least...

***LESSON LEARNED***I think I need to pack more calorie-dense foods. The rice was good but too filling.

I fired up the stove and had a nice big, sweet cup of tea before packing up and heading down the road. After filling up at the creek, the next climb ensued through more of the Hayman fire area. The dirt road was over way too soon and we hit the pavement...and the endless dodging of potholes and patches. The Ute Creek store was a very nice surprise...but once again...I sat for awhile and didn't eat a thing...I did, however, drink a couple more V8s. Then it was back on the road towards Tarryall Reservoir. The later it got in the day, the more traffic there was. Most were considerate, but of course it's the jerks that don't give you an inch that you remember.

The next surprise was a small bar/grill/store just before our turn off onto Rock Creek Hills Rd. I wasn't sure I was going to be able to eat but we decided to order (and split) a Philly Cheesesteak and onion rings (plus a Coke)...WOW...IT WAS DELICIOUS!!!! Not only did it really hit the spot, but it went down very easy. The lady at the bar was nice enough to let me use her phone so I called my wife and asked her to meet us at Kenosha Pass.

Back on the road with a full belly (well, maybe not full but very content) only to have a couple more 'near incidents' in the last 1/4 mile of pavement...Two times the cars that were passing us were also being passed...Doesn't take many incidents like those to remember why I don't like riding on the road. Anyways, once back on the dirt, that meal was sitting VERY good and fueled me well for the rest of the dirt road...But once back on the singletrack, the lack of eating enough was starting to catch back up with me. Marshal pulled ahead and motivated me to try to catch up with him the rest of the way. I ran out of water a couple of miles from the Kenosha Pass trailhead, but it wasn't that big of an issue since I knew the ride was almost over.

Misty arrived within about 1/2 hr with fried chicken for dinner. MMMMM.