Wednesday, February 28, 2007

With lots of time hanging out, I should have cleanned the house and garage but I went to the Goodwill and got books instead. They sell for $2.00 used. A great deal but I will soon run out of room in my house. (with five kids, a wife, dog, cat, 8 birds, and who knows what else).

The first book was probably the biggest dissapointment. I was recommended Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser. It had some interesting history on fast food chains but beyond that, it was rather empty. He clearly has a political bias and I generally try to stay away from those books. He also infers that fast food resturants are the cause of our country's demise. Now if the public didn't demand the stuff the stores wouldn't exist. Now his critique about the quality of the food is the biggest no duh. Like he was telling you something you didn't know. Does he really believe that people don't know that the stuff is bad for you???

Finally, the meat packing industry. If anybody wants a good book on this subject, read The Jungle by Upton Sinclair. I worked for 5 year as a meat cutter. I wasn't in a packing plant but I worked side by side with some great guys. I have the scars on my hands to prove it. My hands still hurt when they get cold. I worked out of the union hall at many different shops. Some were good and some weren't. The ones that asked me to do things that I considered questionable, I would not return. Once again, if you shop based on price alone, your going to end up buying crap.

Finally, he could have chosen any industry and come up with bad stories. If he wants to be a muckracker, he needs more schoolin.

The Korean War by Max Hastings. This book was written in the late eighties so it has none of the current politic bias involved with the current war. What is amazing is that this book could have been written about Vietnam or Iraq. American has good intentions but there are always unintended consenquences and democracy cannot withstand war for long. All three wars were or will be fought to a stalemate mostly because the political will of the people changes. The only difference is that the first two were started but Dems and finished by reps and this one will most likely be finished by a dem.

My best read was Black Hawk Down. You got to read this one. It was gripping. I couldn't put it down. It was so sad. Once again good intentions gone awry. Sure it was about the military but it was much broader. I think that every person who wants to join the military should read this book. I hear there is a movie as well and I might have to get it.

That's all I got.

Lord Cromwell

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Baja Travesia

Now I getting pumped. We have all been training hard. Below is a copy of the most recent racer update. I included only the canyoneering section. i think that this is going to be the crux of the race. This section will most likely determine the winner.

6. Ropes/Canyoneering – All ropes gear MUST be in good condition and MUST be UIAA approved. Gear that is in poor condition will NOT be approved and we will not hesitate to forbid a team from starting the race with bad gear. The Ropes/Canyoneering course at this year’s race is serious business. You must be prepared to rappel and use your ropes gear in many challenging and potentially dangerous situations. Do not come to the Baja Travesia with less than 20 rappels under your belt (not just gym rappels). You must know your gear and your teammate’s gear. You must have used the gear before you arrive – no tags on your gear at the check-in please. The Ropes Skills and Gear Check will be very strict. Any team that shows any doubt in the use of their gear or the demonstration of ropes skills will NOT be allowed to race. Do not take this information lightly, we cannot and will not let any team start the race who gives us any reason to doubt that they are 100% prepared for the ropes section you will encounter. Now all that being said, if you take the time to prepare and come with ropes experience you will enjoy the ropes and canyon like no other race you’ve ever seen. The canyon will test every team’s ability to work together and problem solve. If you are all prepared to help each other you will have the absolute time of your life. We made the first descent of this canyon and it was absolutely incredible. You will be some of the first human beings ever to descend this canyon, an opportunity you won’t want to miss.

If you are uncomfortable swimming we offer you the option of bringing a PFD in the canyon section. There will be some swimming sections that are unavoidable. A thin neoprene top is recommended for night time swimming in the canyon. Teams need to be prepared for the swimming sections. Though they are all quite short there are some things you must consider:
How to keep your gear dry
How to warm your team mates who get cold from the water
How to avoid a heavy pack when you get it wet
We have made it very clear in the race description that Canyoneering will be a major element of this race. This section will take from 20 to 30 hours and the good news is that water is abundant throughout. Most teams will opt for a sleep during this section and there are many, many nice camping options (nice is of course relative).
As we have mentioned this is completely unspoiled, virgin terrain that will require the utmost care in low impact and haul out your waste ethics. The only piece of trash we found in this canyon was the remains of a helium balloon. We want to find it that way following the race.
A secondary back up headlamp has been added to the gear list for the Canyoneering section. Every athlete must have a backup light. Shoes for this section should have good traction in wet and dry conditions. Your altimeter will be a very, very important tool in this section. A back up altimeter is required and a third is highly recommended. Sturdy gloves are also very highly recommended for the canyon section. The rocks are rough and eventually wear down your hands. The best gloves we found were the blue plastic coated gloves that you can find at Home Depot or your local hardware store. These gloves are good for rappelling and give you some added
traction on the rocks. You will likely spend a good deal of time sliding on your butt in the canyon section to scramble down some of the slick rocks. We recommend you get your team mates to wear some sturdy shorts or face looking at their bare butt during this long section.
The climate in the canyon ranges from open air alpine breezy conditions that can be near freezing to shaded, wet canyons to sweltering dry hot, exposed to the sun. You will definitely want to wear long sleeves, hat, sunglasses and sunscreen to protect you from the sun. The heat and glare off the granite walls can be extremely intense.

Monday, February 26, 2007

There are some things that I don't like to do in the rain. I don't mind running. I just throw on the Alpha SL and don't even notice. Biking is absolutely miserable. Even though I now have fenders, the cold wet wind means that I will be cold and wet no matter what. Now paddling is somewhere in between. It was real cold and windy this morning. I knew that I should go. I hadn't been in a week and it really wasn't too bad. But getting on a cold wetsuit really sucks. I himmed and hawed and was finally ready to go in about an hour.

The current wasn't too bad but the wind from the south was huge. From my house to the NE tip of fox isl I was sheltered a little. The wind was still 10-20 but because the channel is narrow, the waves couldn't build too much. Once I rounded the NE corner, WOW.. the waves had 10 miles to build from the south sound and they were huge. Being a wimp in the morning I opted for a semi dry top over my wetsuit which turned out to be a good choice.

Paddling along the island is nice because I mostly stay within 50 meters of shore so there is no risk if I go in. On this leg of the paddle I was taking 3-4 foot swells straight on. BAM I would go over the first in a set, drop in the trough, and then right through the second taking the full force of the wave on my chest. This is as fun as riding my mtn bike down fawn ridge with no risk of pain if I roll off the trail. I would occasionally look at the GPS and see that I was making little progress but it didn't matter.

Around Gibson Pt on the SE tip of the island, I went from straight on to taking them at the beam and then riding them from the stern quarter as I head NW. This is another great ride. I would paddle out to the middle of the channel and turn in to take em right up the rear. Paddle hard, catch the wave and just keep it straight.

It was a longer paddle around the isl than usual but it was a great day. As I was paddling, I was thinking that it would be great for JVG. She would probably hate it at first but with a good stable boat it is great fun

Lord Cromwell
I can really understand how an influenza outbreak could spread rapidly and kill millions. I read a book about the epidemic of 1917 and how it would spread just by close contact and some would get it and others wouldn't just because they were randomly lucky.

Over the past couple of weeks my family has been a laboritory of germs. Two of my kids got it first and I knew it was just a matter of time. Their schools have had 20% of the kids out sick. I take alot of supplements but this stuff is nasty. It finally caught up with me last Sunday. A couple of years ago I got sick and just trained through it. I ended up getting pneumoina. So with baja coming up in a month, I decided to lay low last week and hopefully get better.

I have been planning on going with the family up to orcas island for the fat ass 50k. I didn't want to miss this race because it is so beautiful up there. In addition, it was a whole weekend event so I would get to hang out with friends and family. Up until Friday, I wasn't sure if I was going to do this race. When I got up on Friday, the crap in my lungs wasn't as bad and it seemed to be moving to my lungs, so I decided to go for it.

I went out real easy and chatted with Roger, Franklin, Murry, Scott, and Brandon. We did a 9+ mile loop and came back to the start for our drop bag. Everyone seemed to daudle and apparently Roger got lost so I ran the rest of the race by myself. What a beautiful course. nice swoopy trails, hard climbs, and if it wasn't a blizzard at the top, the views would have been great. I would like to go back and bring my bike and boat and spend a week up there. the only problem was the ferry it was massively backed up. We had to wait three hours!!!

Well since I was sick, i read a few books and will get some reviews out later.

Lord Cromwell

Sunday, February 04, 2007

What a great weekend.....

Sarah and I went on a road trip. We left Saturday morning for the O-meet up by Lake McMurray. I had a great run but at the farthest point out on my course I ran into her and knew she shouldn't be out that far. I showed her were she was on the map and then went out looking for her when I finished. It's tough. The course level below her is too easy and this one is a bit too hard.

After that, we drove up to Snoqualmie for Roger's winter adventure race. I wanted to get up there that night before and take advantage of the Hyak Lodge. It is always nice to have time to hang out with old and new friends. We watched PQ ate and even had a couple of beers. We didn't have any maps to do but we couldn't go to bed early because you never get any rest before an adventure race.

This is the first "A" race of the season and the first time I have raced with RVG and Aaron in a long time. We were also lucky enough to scoop up Georgia for this one. RVG and Aaron have been doing alot of racing together in the past year and they have been kickin some butt. I was a bit nervous going into this race. It is always the same. You never want to let your teammates down. I know that I have putting in the time effectively but the pressure remains. On top of that, RVG offered the nav job to me. Now we are all good navigators but it is efficient to only have one lead especially in a sprint race. How could I saY no? But that always just increases the pressure.

Roger put together a great course. His course lay out was nice with no unnessary out and backs. Nice loops with great control locations. They were mostly in strong features like hilltops or beside lakes. There was also a nice mix of routes from long bearing runs through the woods to fast compact trail runs. The legs were intermediate navigation but the close in control finding was always generally easy. We ran without snowshoes for as long as possible but were finally forced to put them on when we got to the Hyak Ski area. It was fun trudging through the snow in the back country.

We held the lead for the entire race. But it is always hard to know how much of a lead you have so we all kept pushing. You are always only one bad nav error away from losing the race. Finally toward the end, we completed a loop and found out that we had a good enough lead to win.

I think that the best part was the plastic squares that RVG brought for us to sled on. At the end we needed to go down Hyak ski area. Those things were unbelievably fast. In a minute, RVG was at the bottom yelling and waving at us. That was a blast.

An the special test? Throwing snowballs at a soda can pyramid. RVG and Aaron handled this no problem. Momar came in second with manny's and Steve Wart's team close behind.

Thanks Roger

Lord Cromwell

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Evening at Cromwell

This is what our deep water port looks like on a nice evening. It took me a while to figure out how to post pictures so I thought I would start with a good one. The other night I was doing something on the computer and the room just got real orange.

As I said before, I spent many years in the grimy canyons of New York. Whe you are there in the middle of it, you forget the beauty that is not there. It is like the frog that is slowly boiled.

I'm glad to be back
Where did you find that antique?

That is one of the comments i heard when I did my first triathlon. I was too cheap to buy a bike so I used my wife's Schwinn Varsity that she got for gaduating high school in the mid eights. BTW the tri was in 2003. I started in the first wave so there were lots of guys passing me as my knees kept hitting the handlebars.

That was how I felt yesterday. My daughter Laura got straight A's so I took her skiing. We rented gear for her and I used the old Solomons circa 1988. Nice straight long 210cm downhill boards with matching green poles. There was nothing even remotely close to what I had on the slopes. When I was a kid in the 70's old folks would show up with leather boots/bindings and we would laugh at them. Now I am the fooool.

We had a great time. Unfortunately I dressed for a trail run or snowshoe and was a bit cold sittin on the chair that kept stopping. I now understand why I migrated away from downill skiing. Too much time in line and on the chair doing nothing.

We will do it again may over winter break

Lord Cromwell