Sunday, December 14, 2008

We are happy to report we are NOT the only folks on this street w/o power! Now we just hope everyone else around is as comfortable as us

Ice Storm 2008


Life in Maine....Were tough here right? The transformer across the street blowing up, woke me from a deep sleep at 2:30 am on Friday Morning. Boom, Boom, Boom, as a few more popped off...Time to go to work I thought. Being the caretakers of our little humble cottage as well as, our friends and former neighbors house now that they live in North Carolina. I knew with no power and LOTS of rain water coming down and on the ground already, that I had to get the generator running and sump pumps hooked up to power. Our new neighbors renting the house next door were not home, so it made it easy to bust into the house at an early hour and run the extension cords from both pumps out to the generator. I was a bit hesitant about getting a LOUD generator going so early but, I had little choice. My second priority was to move our cars closer to the garage since we usually park under a very large tree in our front yard. The sound of trees cracking echoed up and down the street, partially drowned out by the sound of heavy rain falling. I ran for cover into the garage several times, wondering if I was in the line of fire of the loud cracks and crash sounds all around. I witnessed several very large branches fall from the tree out front and rip down our power line from our house to the telephone pole along with the cable for our TV/ Internet. After that and now a bit pumped up, I ran inside telling Steph (who had laid down for a little more sleep...) "Its time to get up" - "I know" she said. "A tree just fell on the house". Which is actually exactly what it must have sounded like from the inside? It was pretty intense at this point, roughly five AM. We almost thought we should move our cats over to the neighbors house, but we waited it out. We kept up a pretty intense schedule as the morning went on of running the generator every half hour to drain the sump-pump wells from both houses.

The Carnage showing our power line ripped from the house.



Stationed at the generator.

As Friday went on, we learned of the devastation all around, well over half a million people without power between New Hampshire and Maine. We actually were looking pretty good considering that news, we had got our camping gear out and made coffee on the little MSR stove, we got our coolers out and cleaned out the fridge (anticipating the long haul without power). More importantly I guess, we had and still have heat. We run on propane so our heat source continues to work, the fan that circulates the hot air is electric but, were staying warm just fine.

I ventured out around noon to get gas for the generator and ice for the coolers. Long lines both in and out of the store. I waited in line for about 10 minutes, only to be told they were out of ice...
Steph went out later in the day to try and get some Christmas shopping started as well as a pile of candles. While she was out, the power came on....well for everyone else around us. This was good news in some way, it meant that I could stop running the generator and plug our sump pump in from the garage since that is wired to the main house here, and the Humphrey's house would be self sufficient again. We had tried to make this a positive situation by thinking we could get sushi take out for dinner. Any excuse we need to use is just fine, but to no avail...SAKE was closed, as were half the businesses and restaurants around the Portsmouth and Kittery area. Frustrated and tired from working all day around the flooded casas, we decided to head home and
cook some veggie burgers and combine that with chips and salsa....Wow, some of the finest veggie burgers I have ever had....or at least in a long time.

Here I am cooking some dinner up, sitting in Harry's basket, being kept company by his friends.

As I write now, Sunday Three PM. Our power is still out! We are the only house on the street down and apparently according to what the local news paper is reporting, the only house in Eliot, Maine. They list the towns locally that are without power and how many customers...They don't even list anyone in Eliot so we must be the only ones and well below the radar. I am running on someone's internet connection and we have been getting by charging our computers next door and keeping the house lit at night with candles and our Exposure Lights. We actually had our Sushi meal last night with Tom our neighbor, who insisted we stay with him, but we stayed home since we're warm. As the day wears on, I don't see us getting hooked up until tomorrow or later. We are planning to eat Flatbread pizza and salad for dinner but, mostly for the brownie sundae desert!

Exposure Lights MaXx D...keeping the house lit up.

We've actually been making the best of our "down time". Cleaning the house and going through some stuff in storage. But honestly, it's getting old quick.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

The Charm ?

Sunrise from near the top of Kancamagus Pass, a beautiful start to the day.

As the saying goes, "The Third Time is a Charm". Yesterday was the Third time I set out to do an Ice Climb in Franconia Notch on Mount Lincoln, appropriately it is called "Lincoln's Throat". Back in December 2006, myself, my friend Todd Ringelberg and two other friends, Tim and Jeff tried and came very close to climbing this route. We broke free from the main drainage too early and ended up climbing a short interesting ice gully and then with a lot of determination, but not much reason, bushwacking up the unnamed and trail less west ridge of Mount Lincoln. What a BRUTAL trip that was. At one point, I seriously thought I was going to collapse from exhaustion! We were surmounting little rock ledges, pine trees and chest deep snow drifts. It was an EPIC by all accounts. On our second attempt, Todd and I were stymied by the deep snow of Winter 2008 and enteri
ng the drainage too low down from The Old Bridal Path hiking trail. We tucked our tails back and headed home. After reading reports from other folks who climbed this route just last weekend, I rallied Todd and we decided to give it another go. Lincoln's Throat is not necessarily an "Ice Climb". Climbing this is more of a mountaineering adventure and a non-typical climbing up a mountain. The amount of roped technical climbing is small in comparison to the whole trip. The start is from the Lafayette Place Trail head, where the Old Bridal Path and Falling Waters Trails begin. You hike about a mile up the OBP at the "hair pin" turn and descend down off the trail steeply, through thickets and pine trees to the Walker Brook which drains off of Mount Lincoln. Once your at the drainage, you navigate up along the stream bed which gets significantly steeper the higher you go.

The train of people climbing up the drainage.

The day began at 4 am. I made a thermos full of coffee for the climb and a huge mug for the drive. On the road by five, the drive was pretty quick. I caught the sun coming up by the time I hit the top of the Kancamagus. Then, as I was coming off the Kancamagus Highway merging onto I-93, I saw the RIngelberg mobile creeping up the road, good timing! We knew we were behind at least one party of two as we saw them leaving when we drove into the parking lot. What we didn't expect was, the hordes of people who also intended to climb this route on this day, it was an International event! Besides Todd and I, we met two Canadians, and a group of Russians (7 in the party) and another couple of Americans behind us. The Russian group steamed past us, clogging up the drain shall I say. One of the Russian ladies came by us and said " So much for peace and quiet, there are seven of us, and a few more people, we thought we would have it to our selves" Well if you ask me, a group of seven is not my idea of Peace and Quiet lady...Not really wanting to race all of them to the base of the "climbing" we let most of them go by us and we slowly made our way up higher, stopping to put crampons on and to take out our Ice tools. We waited and waited and waited for these people to climb through the throat. Some in their own party broke off right up the low angle slabs to the top. All this waiting and the day is coming closer to an end.

Ice Climbing is 90% waiting and 10% climbing usually and while your waiting in the cold you can only dream of summer as your digits begin to freeze....Usually you get impatient with your buddy as he leads the pitch and you freeze. My feet got really, really cold and I kept trying to "swing" them to get the blood flowing again. Finally the coast was clear and I heade
d up. Todd belayed me from a snow ledge we chopped out and I was able to find a nice nut placement. Ok good I thought, a bit of protection in the system. I climbed the snow higher right to the base of the ice. It was very brittle and hollow. I just could not get a screw to bite very good anywhere. I tried climbing up higher, searching for a good placement. With the most difficult moves right in my face, I just could not focus and climb through. So I backed off and went back down to Todd, who had moved up to my nut placement and was now belaying me from there. Back at the belay, we swapped the necessary gear and I found a spot for another nut and secured the anchor a little bit more. Todd was now at the base of the ice and actually found two fairly good screw placements to give him mental confidence to climb through. He worked it out in fine style I must add and moved higher up near the end of the rope and set up his belay. I was REALLY cold at this point and became impatient (like I mentioned earlier) I hastily dismantled my anchor and moved to the base of the ice and the screws he had placed. I was not a happy climber at this point...Really feeling the cold feet or actually I could not feel them which was the problem. I yelled climbing before I even knew if I was on belay or not and got an ANGRY sounding "Hang On".

Todd- Placing an ice screw at the base of the Throat.

Todd- through the difficulties.

Finally, I was on belay and climbed through quickly to see if I could get some warming of my feet and blood flow going. I am so glad I did not lead it, my first climb of the year and I was not ready for the difficulty. Thanks Todd, nice work! I arrived at the belay and moved through pretty fast. Looking up, there was a large snow slope that was not very consolidated the higher up I got. I put a runner around a small tree to give me some protection and ran out the rope as far as I could. The timing was perfect as there was a nice thick pine tree I used for an anchor. Bringing Todd up went by quickly and we wondered how much further to ridge line it was...?

The sun setting over Mount Moosilauke.

We swapped one more full and one short roped pitch and I was on the Franconia Ridge hip belaying Todd up. The views of all the mountains around me were incredible. I took quick note; The Presidential range far to the east with a very white Mount Washington dominating the view. The Pemigewasset Wilderness, the Owl, the Bond Cliff range seen in the immediate foreground with Mount Garfield and the Twin Range and a towering Mount Lafayette up the ridge immediately to the north. Due west Cannon Mountain, the HUGE wall of Cannon Cliff and the Kinsman peaks.

Todd climbing up the final snow slope.

It was 3:30 when we topped out and we knew we should move quickly to our descent on the Falling Waters Trail. We hiked down off the summit just enough to get out of the wind and decided to put the rope away and get rid of some of the technical gear. The hike down to Little Haystack was uneventful but, very enjoyable while daylight faded and the white mountains lit up the sky.

On the summit of Lincoln with Mount Washington and the Presidential Range to the East.

Just below the summit of Little Haystack we met a Canadian guy who was with some other folks down the trail that we met later. They were doing a nighttime traverse of the Franconia Ridge, Falling Waters north and down the Old Bridal Path. It must have been a great night for it.

Mount Lincoln from Little Haystack.

We hiked the 3.2 miles from Little Haystack down in about two hours. Along the way I felt an incredible burning on my right big toe. We stopped and had a look, my toes were numb from being cold earlier and they never really fully thawed. I had a nice blister on the underneath of my right big toe. Moist to the touch, it was tough to say though if it wasn't just a friction blister. The numb toes were the concern along with that. When I got home last night I soaked my feet in water and have several times this morning. Besides numbness on all my toes on both feet, the pads of both big toes but more so the right, are harder to the touch, scaley feeling and I have some nice blisters, only water blister though, no blood filled or "black" colored ones. I'd say Frost Nip for sure (numbing) and some minor Superficial Frost Bite (blisters). I am having a bit of a tough time walking and have to keep my toes pointed up. Hmmm...where is my vicodin from last years kidney stone battle? I had a small bit of frost nip on my right index finger about 12 years ago from a day of hiking in Subzero temps (actually on my last New England Four Thousand Footer, Carter Dome) and it took over a month for the numbness to go away and my skin cells to regenerate a bit. It's weird but, the skin peels in this area several time a year and can look discolored and swollen when my hands get real cold.

We celebrated the days accomplishment with some excellent food at the Woodstock Inn. I had a HUGE cheeseburger with fries and started things off with classic french onion soup that hit the spot. The drive back up and over the Kanc was nice, the snow on the peaks lit up the night sky. After the effects of a full belly took over, the rest of the drive home was tough, I had to pull over for a quick cat nap. In the end it was a very long day for sure. I saw the sunrise and go down and covered a lot of terrain during that time.

Here is the GPS track image from Motionbased.


View Larger Map

Also more pictures from the day-
Lincoln's Throat


Thursday, November 20, 2008

A Taste of Winter


Bitter it was, my first taste of the winter to come. Before too long, I felt the blister forming on my Left heel. After a two hour hike, I was at the floor of Huntington Ravine on Mount Washington. Freshly fallen snow covering all the rocks on the trail made for difficult hiking. I have wanted to climb the hiking trail up through the Ravine all summer and it just never happened. The first section through the huge boulders on the floor of the ravine was quite spicy and the caverns seemed 'deeper' to me since the last time I climbed through. Quite deep, when I think of the snow pack that develops in that section during a good snow year. Moving up higher through the massive boulder field known as the "fan", I suffered with the pain of the out of touch muscles used on this type of terrain. I always seem to wander up my own path here and it's never easy!

Approaching Central Gully and rock slab section of the Hiking Trail.

Arriving at the first rock slab at the base of the head wall, I stopped to put my crampons on and pulled out an Ice axe. I tried to envision the difficulties above, knowing that after this first bit of rock slab, I would be on the 'trail' to the next crux. I guess I forgot just how much scrambling on rock slabs there was on this trail, add fresh snow and this is technical climbing! Feeling kind of sketched out, I also felt lured to the climb and committed to the amount of risk I was taking. Tiny blue patches of sky appeared through the falling snow and fog, tempting me to push on. Winds were light and the Ravine was eerily silent and gravity was very heavy, or maybe that was my pack? At every hard looking section, I gained composure and climbed the least line of resistance with great confidence. At one point, thinking this whole time that I had the ravine to myself, I looked down and saw another climber below. We acknowledged each other with a quick wave.

The top of Huntington Ravine looking across the Alpine Garden.

I topped out at 1:00 which was three hours after I started from the floor of the Ravine! A long time for sure, that definitely ruled out going to the summit. I was beat and knew it would be a long descent. The footing was horrible walking across the Alpine Garden. The light snow that covered the rocks on the trail and poor visibility made it tough and I met the ground a few times. Quite a few people had gone to the summit when I got to the Lion Head junction or so it appeared from the tracks in the snow. I headed down thinking how nice it would be to just descend straight into Lobster Claw gully to Tuckerman ravine. Battered and bruised, I continued on. In the end, it was really enjoyable going through the summer section of the lower Lion Head trail plus, I was glad to be back in the trees. From the top of the Ravine to the car, was done in two and a half hours. I was on the trail seven hours and a half hours car to car.


Pinnacle Gully- Building fast with the huge flow of water.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

To be American...

To be American...To be American today I am proud. To be part of the historic Presidential Election of 2008 and to move forward with Barack Obama I am so very proud. The People of the United States have spoken for change, change we need desperately! Our World image is shattered under a Failed Self Righteous Republican Presidential Administration lead by George W. Bush. Barak Obama has the intellect, professionalism and power to persevere and extend a hand to our advoceries, putting diplomacy first. I dream of World Peace!

I believe Barak Obama will do many good things for this great country of ours. It won't be easy I am sure of that but, I firmly believe he will put our best interests with regard to the Environment, Economy, World Image, Health Care and Equality for all Americans to the top of the list.


I am humbled by John McCain's concession speech calling for uniting behind our President Elect and only hope his words will be followed by actions of moving forward and putting his country and people of, first. Forget the partisan stalling and waste of taxpayer money. Get the work done and lets all prosper and take care of each other.

To be American...Today I am Proud!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

A Delicate Ending

Just finishing up our MOAB trip here with two incredible days. We ended up getting a great nights sleep after the 24 hour race. We awoke Monday morning 10/13 to Utah Blue sky. It was pretty chilly in town, around 30 degrees. We got coffee and breakfast at Eklictica Cafe downtown Moab and the headed over to the Chili Pepper Bike Shop to meet our Coyote Shuttle Driver for our ride to the start of the days Mountain Bike Adventure! We had heard from a few people about the Hazard County ride to the Porcupine Rim and with what we heard, we knew we had to give it a go! I have posted a slide show on the blog to highlight the day, I'll keep this part brief.

This was and Steph would agree, probably THE best Mountain Bike ri
de we have ever done in our lives. As you can see in the photo above, we started right in the heart of the La Sal Mountains. Our shuttle drop was at 9800 ft and we climb gently from the parking lot to 10,000 ft where the picture was taken. Our shuttle driver Jesse, who ironically was the same driver we had on a shuttle ride back in 2001 on our first visit gave us a quick briefing on the ride ahead. I looked at one of the guys from Boise, Rich and said "Mountaineer's Rule" after Jesse asked us to stay together to make sure everyone made it down ok- Suggesting we would make new friends and have a great experience. Well that proved to be so true in the end.

The first section of the trail is called the Hazard County Trail. It is about 3.5 miles of some incredible single track with many switchback turns and technical rock garden sections, but nothing too terribly difficult. You cross the La Sal loop road (w
hich we actually drove the day before in the car) and then you continue on the Kokopelli trail which was just awesome....Super hard packed and fast with water bar style jumps that you could get some sky on. At one point coming into a corner, we lost the group and thought maybe we missed one of the critical sections or a turn....We had to brake hard, there were about 15 cows on the trail leaving little room for two tiny bike riders....The Cowboy guy rallying them gave them direction with a couple of quick Ya, Ya's and a crack of a whip. We ended up catching up with the group because someone got a flat tire. They were stopped right in a section that had been burned from a recent forest fire. The destruction was pretty amazing with a very unique fire line. Some how we ended up on the wrong trail than what was described to us. We rode over the green cattle guard and took a right on a trail that was just amazing, single track right along the rim of Castle Valley, eventually we ended up at the traditonal start of Porcupine Rim but, we did not have to do the nasty 3 mile climb to the rim view point. Not sure how that happened but, it was well worth it. In the end we rode 29 miles back to our car parked at Chili Pepper bike shop. 22 miles were on trail and we dropped 6400 feet from the start...We climbed very little. Our group mostly stuck together, the five the did had the best time with a lot of laughs and memories to last a life time. The slide show tells a good story but, we capped off the day with all you can eat pizza and salad, beer and drinks to celebrate a safe memorable day on the stellar trails of MOAB with newly aquired friendships, good people and good times.

Tuesday was to be our last day in town with also having to drive back to Denver. Steph suggested we start with smoothies from a place she saw during our stomps through town. We did that and then visited Rim Cyclery and a few gift type shops for some small presents. We had wanted to hike to the Delicate Arch on our last visit and we did not have the time, so this day we made time. The hike starts from the trail head about 13 miles on the road the goes into Arches National Park. It is a 3 mile round trip and a pretty mellow hike. Here are a few photos from our adventure to Delicate Arch.

Delicate Arch with a delicate shadow

A delicate Lady...

The firey Furnace, Arches NP.

We got back to the car after the hike and had to disassemble our bikes and put them back in the hard cases for the flight home. Then we hit the road for the seven hour drive back to Denver. Steph snapped this next picture of the full moon as we were getting near Vail Pass in Colorado. We stopped at The Red Mountain Grill in Dillion, CO for dinner and then drove the rest of the way to our hotel near DIA. A great trip with memories to last a lifetime! Thanks for reading.



Friday, October 17, 2008

More MOAB

Steph and I can't seem to get enough of this place. We visited back in 2001 and loved it. Since then we've dreamed about a return someday. Thanks to my work relationship with the Cannondale Mona-Vie Pro Cycling team, we were fortunate to have this trip. I last mentioned we were heading out the hotel door to ride slick rock. With breakfast and coffee in our bellies, we were at the trailhead. It was a bit chilly with the higher wind gusts around town and even more so at the start of the trail. We dressed apropriatetly and knew we would probably be shedding layers as we were shredding sections of the trail. On our last visit, we had not done the "Practice Loop" which the guidebook says is a good introduction to the Slick Rock trail riding. Allowing amazing views of the canyons below and the La Sal mountains, we rode many off camber sections and steep descents into and on exposed little rock ridges to the next technical sections of the trail. No beginner riding by any means, at least in my humble opinion. After two miles of the practice loop, we merged onto the main trail. We opted for the "easier" direction at the junction of the official loop. We both commented that yes, Slick rock is cool and all but, we surely were more impressed with the previous days riding in Fruita on the fast hard packed dirt trails. We probably would not ride Slickrock again if we go back to MOAB...There is just too much to ride in that area. Don't get me wrong, we had a great ride. Here are a few more photos from that day...

Steph tearing across "Swiss Cheese Ridge"- The wind almost blew us off!

Steph at "Shrimp Rock"

Wheelie, Wheelie, Wheelie Fun!

After our ride we headed over to the 24 Hour race venue and it was perfect timing to meet up with our contact Matt, who was just heading out for a ride on the course. We got the lay of the land and then headed back into town for dinner. Both starving from the days effort, we decided to eat before a shower and call it an early night knowing full well the demands ahead of staying up all night charging lights for the Cannondale teams.

Saturday (race day) brought higher winds and dust all over the MOAB valley even up into the La Sal mountains...I never could have imagined how bad it was. I have experienced the wrath of the wind and a dry land at Sea Otter every year but, this was bad...We should have packed our ski goggles!

Gusty and Dusty!

We arrived two hours ahead of the start of the race and were instantly assulted by the desert sand in our faces and covering every inch of our clothes. There was a lot of down time in the first few hours of the race and Cannondale Mona-Vie was well on their way to a win right off the bat. German rider Ben Sontag set a blistering first lap time followed by Bart Gillespie who ended up setting the fastest time in lap two of the race, which actually he beat in lap six by one second and held that time throughout the rest of the race. No one even came close to beating it. As day light faded, I had the charge station set up a ready to ride. Working with a Pro Team is something I have dreamed about for many years working as a bike mechanic...My chance was now and I was organized and on my game.

Bike after bike, I set up bar mounts for lights and aimed them for maximum forward visibility. The riders, Ben, Bart, Alex, Bryan, Issac, Matt, and many more were really cool and into the Exposure Lights. They just make sense...No Cables, No external battery packs, No cord connections...Why would you want anything else? Ok- Work Plug installed....After all this was a work adventure more plugs to come! Exposure had sent us a special fleet of the new 2009 MaXxD lights for the team. They have actually been using the Enduro and Joystick all season.

Night time fell and the cold air set in. Cold to the bone!
Steph had an opportunity to go out for a ride on the course with Elena Hall who was on one of the Cannondale Mona-Vie Just For Fun Teams. Elena crashed about two miles in because of someone who fell in front of her. Well, she lost her light and sheered part of her clamp. She asked Steph, What am I going to do? Steph, who I must add was helping me with tech support for the race stepped up in fine style....She said "You are going to put my light on your bike and go on" She helped Elena get that set up and off Elena went. Steph back tracked on the course and found the light thanks to some very honest folks spectating. She came back into the pit and I got her a
new clamp and off she went back on the course. I started to worry about her around 11:30....Bad thoughts were going through my head about her breaking an arm or worse and then she rolled in with a smile ear to ear! No worries, it was wasted energy!

Cannondale Mona-Vie kept raising the bar for the other teams to chase them on. Bart Gillespie set the fastest night lap around mid-night and no one beat that either. These guys were very impressed with the MaXxD lights. They are extremely bright and allowed them to maintain a very fast race pace right on through the night. The only rider not on Exposure Lights due to a previous long standing contract with another light brand for 2008 was David "Tinker" Juarez who was racing this one in the Solo division. Tinker is an absolute machine! I was a silent observer of his pit stops. Rose, Tinker's mom was providing his support. When she anticipated his arrival, ther
e were two mechanics on his bike and changing his battery pack for his light, Rose would give him food that he had a couple of bites of and then he was back on his bike, not stopping for more than five minutes per lap for the whole race. He would at times get a new pair of shoes or a new helmet or a quick change of clothes. How he does it is just beyone me? Tinker is just an incerdible rider and a bike industry legend. I hung out with his Mom and the mechanics, Ryan and Carl around the space heater talking about his race. She is also amazed at how he does it. He is incerdibly driven and that was very obvious as he continued to storm on out back on the course.

Tinker at 7 am after a long cold night.

I am proud to say that the Cannondale Mona-Vie team (pro1) won the teams division and the pro2 team took third place. Mona-Vie pro1 was first overall and pro 2 was fifth overall. Tinker enden up second place after an incerdible solo effort. Bart Gillespie was crowned King of the race setting both the fastest day and night laps. That is great for Exposure Lights. We provided the team with top notch professional support and it was quite an honor.

Here are some stats on the race:
The Pro1 team completed 21 laps, traveled 313.11 miles and climbed 28,560 feet.
The Pro2 team completed 19 laps, traveled 283.29 miles and climbed 25,840
feet.
David "Tinker" Juarez completed 16 laps, traveled 238.56 miles and climbed 21,760 feet.

The Cannondale Mona-Vie/ Exposure Lights Pro Teams on the podium
Photo courtesy of- Matt Ohran.


Congratulations to all of them for this amazing effort....and a big Thanks goes out to my employer James and Exposure Lights USA for making this possible for me to be a part of. A special thanks goes out to my lovely wife for staying up all night with me and helping provide the support for the team. Being a small part of this event has helped me live out my dreams and make them reality.

Steph and I pretty "charged" at 3am in the Cannondale Mona-Vie pit.
Photo courtesy of- Matt Ohran.


Friday, October 10, 2008

Western Frontier

So, I actually thought I would be updating all week....HA! With running around Colorado's Front Range visiting Bike Shops, enjoying Boulder and driving west to MOAB, I have not been able to even make any time to update. I guess there will be TIME for that when I get back to Maine. Plus, we are having way to much fun to spend time on the computer updating the blog...But, quickly here goes. After three days of work, it was time to play. Here are a couple of photos from our bike ride in Fruita yesterday. WOW, WOW, WOW!!! It Kicked Ass!

The view of Horsethief Bench Trail from Rustlers Loop

Steph with the Colorado river below.

We rode about 12 miles and it was just amazing...Fast, flowy, dry dusty trails that were so much fun. We are now about to head out to the infamous Slick Rock trail and then to the 24 Hours of MOAB venue to meet up with the Cannondale Mona-Vie guys and check out our home for the race.

Jim Morrison said it pretty well..."The West is the Best"

Monday, September 29, 2008

Back to Maine- Interbike/Vegas Wrap up.

Boy was I ready to be home! Don't get me wrong, the Interbike show is and was great, I met a lot of really cool Industry folks but, I was DONE with Vegas. There is only so much I can't take of all the money getting wasted, the ding, ding, ding of the slot machines, the cigarette smoke, the drunk people and the Mexican guys and girls flicking the porn baseball cards at you or anyone, even little kids. Who brings their kids to Vegas? I am not sure just who or why for that matter but, to each their own to do what they please. I thought about the wasted money part quite a bit as I watched the Fountain Show at the Bellagio earlier in the week. With the amount of money getting poured in and out of the city of Vegas on any given night, you could probably make a bit of headway on the National Debt this country is dealing with. It made me sick to my stomach or maybe that was the Vodka, I don't know for sure. I did not gamble a stinking penny and for that I am glad.

James and I tore down our booth on Friday night and put all of our stuff on our pallet to be shipped back to New Hampshire. It is amazing how quickly the Union Guys and Gals move in and start tearing the place apart. After working hard all 3 days talking about bike parts and computers, we were just numb. We took a cab back to the Treasure Island and got our luggage from the Bellman and a drink from the bar and sat outside and sorted our luggage. One group of people walked by and a Lady looked at me with strange curiosity...."It is a yard sale" I said, as my suitcase and bag were laid all over the ground with clothes, shoes, aero bars, bike computers and other fun goodies wrapped in bubble wrap waiting to be packed efficiently in my bags. She laughed, "I was just looking" she said, and did not seem interested in making a purchase. We had checked out of our room that morning and we had a red eye flight back to Boston Friday night so, I had few options on where to get my stuff packed up. We quickly took advantage of the lobby bathroom to clean up a bit. The Casino was full of people on this Friday Night.

I was making my rounds at the bike show at one point Friday afternoon and I ran into Katie Compton and her husband Mark Legg. They walked past me and I noticed the Spike Shooter logo on their shirts. Spike Shooter is their Major sponsor. Ironically, I had searched my address book to find Mark's email and ask him to stop by our booth since we sponsor both of them with U.S.E. Spinstix. As we walked by each other, I tried to connect eyes with either one of them and as I walked past, we both turned around at the same time and I had the opportunity to introduce myself to them. Katie had won the Cyclocross race on Wednesday night, so I quickly congratulated her on that and we chatted a bit about her upcoming World Cup Cyclocross aspirations and how she will be racing in Europe for most of the season. I told them about the new design of the Spinstix and asked them to stop by the booth so James could meet them and they could see the Stix. That was really cool meeting Katie and Mark, they are both very genuinely nice people. I also went over to Tara Llanes's booth to wish her well- If you remember from a past post, I visited her at Sea Otter last April and was struck with emotion as the reality of seeing her in a wheelchair hit home. She is such a bright light! I told her I have been reading her blog updates on her recovery and wished her all the best. She had a big smile and thanked me for coming by. I am not sure if she remembered me from Sea Otter but, I felt compelled to pay a quick visit and wanted to spread some love and healing energy her way. I hope she can someday ride a bike again...seeing her really made me think of my childhood and the issues I had. I am fortunate to be able to do the things I do....

So I am home with my lovely wife and furry friends, it is so nice! Now we prepare for our up coming working vacation to Colorado and Utah (I'll be the one working). We leave on Monday the 6th, (Tuesday is our second anniversary!) and we will be in the Denver/Boulder area as I meet with a few dealers and hopefully some journalists at Velo News. Thursday we will travel to MOAB, Utah for the 24 Hour race on the weekend. Steph and I will be hanging out with the Cannondale Mona-Vie Pro Mountain Bike Team as they defend their 24 Hours of MOAB Championship. They are sponsored with Exposure Lights and we will be up all night keeping their torches light. Tinker Juarez should be there also so that will be a huge honor to be in his presence ,as well as the other Pro riders. Plus, we should be able to get out for a few laps on the course ourselves. We have a couple of extra days either side of the race and hope to ride Porcupine Rim, Slick Rock and maybe get a nice hike in at Arches National Park or Canyon Lands. I have set a goal of helping Stephie find her Mountain Bike Soul she lost on our last trip to MOAB in 2001.I am looking forward to the drive across the Rockies to the Western slope of Colorado and desert of Utah. We are really pupmed to get back out there!
I'll have updates all next week and photos also.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Interbike begins

Phil Liggett- a Legend, an Icon, a great soul.

So Day 2 of the 2008 Interbike show is well underway and as I sit and type this, Bike folks of all types file through the aisles. Many have a "glazed" look on their faces as they move from one both to the next checking out all the latest bike gear, clothing, bicycles, and other stuff. This is the place to be if your in the Bike industry. Once a year bike people of all personalities converge on Las Vegas, probably one weirdest places to have a "bike show" in my humble opinion. More seriously, it does have all the facilities for just such an event with plenty of nightlife to last a lifetime.

We arrived on Monday after a tedious journey. First we circled JFK in New York as VIP's were whisked in and whisked out safely under the close watch of security details. The pilot mentioned President Bush was the reason they kept us up in the air. We made our connection without issue. We were able to meet up with our counterpart Petra (from VDO-Germany) at the airport and all hopped a cab to our respective hotels, her The Mirage, us the The Treasure Island. Checked in, dinner and nighty night.

Tuesday we set up our booth and then ventured out for dinner at Trader Vics in the Aladdin Casino. We walked back to our hotel taking in the Fountain Show at the Bellagio. We even saw a Michael Jackson impersonator who looked JUST like the freak....WEIRD!

Day one was a whirl wind....People trying to get our attention relentlessly (in a good way). I have been fortunate to meet many people from the industry over the years and probably the highlight was meeting Phil Liggett yesterday. He was speaking with James my colleague and I noticed him and got wobbly knees....star struck, I asked him for a photo and he so politely accepted my request. I told him how much I enjoy listening to his Tour De France commentary over the years. Meeting him was truly an Awesome experience. We had a great day on the booth meeting and greeting with our dealers and prospective dealers. It was nice to put a face with some of the voices I hear on the phone on a day to day basis. Petra, James and I all had a craving for Sushi last night so we went out to SushiSamba a restaurant at the new Palazzo Hotel. The Sushi was INCREDIBLE! Out of my "BOX" I tried some new rolls, my lovely wife would be proud and would have been in Sushi Heaven if she were with with me. (Some day sweetie!) After dinner we went to the Lamborghini dealer in the hotel. The $10 admission fee was well worth it for having never seen one in person. My favorite car cost only a cool 2.5 million dollars...YES 2.5 Mil!!! When the lady told me that my jaw hit the floor. The average price of some of the other cars was $250 thousand. A drop in the bucket! She did tell us that the $10 admission fee could have been applied to the purchase price of any car of our choice plus, we would get a FREE Lasagna!!

..Back to work, more to come!

SJ

Monday, September 22, 2008

Sin City

So here we go to Las Vegas for the annual Interbike Trade Show. Stay tuned for updates this week as I check in from the city of Sin. I arrive tonight with my colleague James probably just in time to rally with Petra coming from Germany and get a cab together to the Treasure Island Hotel. Tomorrow is set up day for our booth and then we work the show Wed-Fri and fly back on the red eye Friday night. I'll have some photos and stories to tell as I examine all the new goodies for bicycles...Highlights for me will be he new Shimano Dura Ace group, anything from Chris King, Mavic and a few more fancy trinkets that I anxiously await seeing.

More to come....
I better watch out for Aliens!


Thursday, September 18, 2008

Slither and Slide through Life

"God damn-it Harry" I am sure were the first words out of Steph's mouth this morning when she discovered Harry had injured a Garter Snake in the garden. She woke me up just before leaving for work saying " Are you getting up soon, I have to leave" "Oh and by the way, I have a Snake under warm towels that Harry tried to kill. Can you take him to The Center For Wildlife on your way to work"? I admit, I was not thrilled at all about handling a snake and the thought of the whole process of driving out of my way and dealing with it just made me grumpy. Selfishly, this was my first reaction. I had just been woken out of a deep sleep....But, as I poured my coffee I began to realize, Steph will never cease to amaze me with her love for nature and wildlife. Most people would have just let the Snake die or let their Cat finish it off. It's not Harry's fault, it is part of his nature to catch critters, mice or snakes, Harry does not discriminate. I began to think....There is a chance this little guy can be saved and rehabilitated and released and I could not just go to work while the little snake died in our garage.

We have been through this before, many times. Steph picked me up at Logan Airport back in 1999 (when we were just dating). I had taken a trip to Colorado with some friends for some skiing and climbing. She said "Oh hey welcome home" and all that, here is a kiss and a hug, "By the way, we have to rescue a Sea Gull in the middle of I-95 that I saw on my way down here, he looked injured with a possible broken wing". I was thinking the whole way up from Logan, How is this going to go down? Were going to pull over into the median and rescue a Sea Gull? This woman has to be out of her mind? At the same time, I was humbled by her willingness to put her life in danger by jumping out of her car on a very busy highway to save this bird who many refer to as a rat with wings. Well she did just that, she knew exactly where he was on the highway and without a care but for this gull, she pulled into the median and quickly said "get in the drivers seat and get ready to drive". She hoped out, grabbed the gull, ran around the car and got into the passengers seat and said "go, lets go, oh and don't look at him he can peck your eyes out. Anyway, we saved this gull we so appropriately named "Denver" and he was released from The Center for Wildlife after his wing was repaired. The good folks who volunteer their time at the CFW saved him and now he probably scans the beach for crabs or french fries at the local Mickey D's.

I am not sure of the status of the little snake as I sit and write this blog but, I am happy knowing I have someone as compassionate and caring as Steph in my life who has taught me to give back to nature by trying to help in times of need. I am happy I made the minimal effort to try to help this little snake. He is a small spec of life in this large world. Sometimes it's the little things in life that matter most.


Monday, September 8, 2008

Allagash Adventure continued

If you have not read part 1, click here then come back and read the rest. I have had time to reflect and greatly miss the lakes and the wilds of Northern Maine. The dents in the car from the big tree falling are fixed and still as I write, I visualize the Great Blue Heron as he and his friends fly by us as we emerge onto Eagle Lake. There were three Herons, I think that is a close as I have ever been to one, he was about twenty feet in the air about ten feet from the front of my boat.

Photo above - A suspicious string of clouds that only threatened. Remote and beautiful, Soper Mountain can bee seen in the distance.


Our paddle to Pillsbury Island is about two
miles from the stream and we make good time. We arrive to the first camp site which looks nice and open. Another party is camped at the middle of three camp cells, thankfully there are a lot of trees dividing the cells. The weather continues to improve and then fully clears and warms significantly. After quick lunch consisting of fresh mozzarella, basil, tomato, on pita bread, doused with Olive oil and a side of Cape Cod chips, and we make a break for the Trains. This is about a four mile paddle round trip. We make our crossing from camp on still water and light winds. Steph spots a motor boat in the distance and gives me a very annoyed look. I am thinking it must be a Ranger or Warden since your only allowed a 10 HP motor or less on some of the lake sections and other parts, no motors allowed at all. Our wilderness experience was only briefly interrupted by Ranger Paul and another Ranger whom we never got the name of. Actually, we never did get either of their names. It is only after our trip that I saw a picture of Ranger Paul on some one's photo web site, that I recognized him and now know who he is. We starting chatting and eventually, they wanted to see our camping permit. They were both very friendly, even offering directions to the trains. The one nameless Ranger kept taking pictures of us, oddly with his camera. In the end, he offered to take pictures of us with our camera also, he took a lot of good pictures and captured some good facial expressions.

Let us go laughing!

We continue our mission after the Ranger encounter and arrived at train cove (as it is called) pretty quickly. It was right where Ranger Paul had said, "Look for the big beaver dam and you'll be right there". It's not hard to imagine what took place many years ago in this working forest that it was back then. Train cars sit rotted away on rotten tracks with large trees growing right through the middle of them. There is a lot of debris remaining around the general grounds, old rail car wheels, wire cables and piles of wood planks from other decaying old cars.

The Trains sit idle since 1930

Departing Train Cove
We made our way back to our campsite and had a couple of drinks before making our dinner. Switchback spaghetti, cheese and bread, Yummy! We stayed up for a while and checked out the sunset and all the stars that were constantly popping into our vision.

The next morning we awoke to warm temps and crystal blue sky. After a quick breakfast we loaded our boats and took off heading back to our car parked about 6 miles away on Indian Pond. We both were not looking forward to the hard effort of the portage we had done the day before and discussed finding the easier route. We toured around Eagle lake and where Chamberlain empties over Lock Dam into Eagle. What a neat area of the lake. Someday I plan a trip down Chamberlain into Eagle via lock dam and back, just for fun!


As we arrived at Indian Stream we had to exit our boats and pull them up the stream against the knee deep current. We arrived at the culvert and decided to squeeze through laying down on the stern of our boats and pushing ourselves through the culverts. About 500 feet up, I noticed a trail on the left that appeared to go towards Indian Pond. In fact, I had actually been to this very spot the day before but, I did not see the stream flowing through the thick forest. We portaged our boats and celebrated our endeavor with cheese and crackers and a few chocolates. After a quick 2.5 mile paddle we were back at the Indian Pond campsite and the car. A quick loading of the boats and camping gear and we were on our way out of the wild..

This is the worst part, I dream of another day spent in the Allagash Waterway.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Olympic Gold!

American Kristin Armstrong has won Olympic Gold in the Women's Individual Time Trial. Among other selectively chosen gear for her TT bike, she is also using the U.S.E. TULA Aero bar. This is one of the products (pictured) that the company I work for imports and sells here to the bike shops and boutique 'cycle' studios in the US. This is great for American Cycling and a very well known British Manufacturer but, I also celebrate this with my colleague James, he worked closely her trainer as well as her bike mechanic. A great team effort. Having the smallest possible connection to this is pretty cool.

Most of all, congratulations to Kristin for all her hard effort and living out her dreams.

Photo: Graham Watson

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Allagash Adventure

Steph in the rain on Indian Pond.

Allagash- A lake named by Abenaki Indians as, "Allagaskivignanmook" or "bark cabin lake". Many of the other lakes and streams in the area bear native names as well. Allagash Lake is a major source of water for the entire Waterway.

Introduced to the North Woods of Maine and the Allagash Waterway area by my Uncle Paul at a tender age, I have fond memories of those days and the magnetic lure just keeps getting more powerful every time I return.

The Allagash Waterway stretches 92 miles from Chamberlai
n Bridge, at the junction of Telos and Chamberlain Lakes, to Allagash Village, where the St. John and Allagash Rivers meet. About 45 miles or so is Lake water, with a couple of small narrow thoroughfare sections leading to the next Lake, then at Churchill Dam it continues north on mostly river. Protected by the State of Maine since 1970, for the ambitious, it is a true wilderness experience. Heavily traveled, it is not purely untouched, but what really is these days? Certainly there are places to "get away from it all". Even still as I enter, I unwind and recharge. When the time comes to depart, slight depression sets in and I begin to dream of the next journey to the wilds of this area.

Steph and I started planning our recent trip last September, when we paddled Telos Lake to High Bank campsite and spent a quick one night out camping before going to Baxter State Park for some hiking and camping. I met a Ranger at Chamberlain Bridge at that time and asked her some questions about an access point near Indian Pond, specifically at Indian Stream, where it dumps you into Eagle Lake. She gave me some very valuable information to help in the planning. Come to find out she was the Head Ranger for the Waterway. I never did get her name...

We were both on vacation the third week of July and decided we would head to Indian Pond and explore the stream into Eagle lake and hopefully camp at Thoreau, a State campsite on Pillsbury Island on Eagle Lake. This is the furthest North on the Allaga
sh that Henry David Thoreau traveled back in 1857 with his two guides. As influential as he was to the preservation of this waterway, and even though it took 113 years, it is right to have a campsite that bears his name.

After a seven hour drive, hungry and a touch grumpy, we arrived at our campsite on Indian Pond. Arriving later than we would have liked, we quickly set up camp and take command of the picnic table for a quick meal. As it has a lot this summer, it rained hard all night. I must remember to seam seal the rain fly in the tent!

Old growth pines and rocky shores line the edge of Indian Pond.

We woke up to continued rain showers and pressed some Java, YUM! While eating breakfast, the clouds began to break and we had a couple hours of sun. We took the time to dry out the tent and decided based on the forecast; we would wait it out that day and paddle on Indian Pond, as well as, investigate the drive down the road further to Indian Stream. We made it about a 1/4 mile from camp and we were stopped in our tracks by a flooded section that probably would have come above the floor boards of the car. Having slightly abused the VW on the approach the night before, we decided we would opt for plan B, and the next day, paddle the three miles down lake to the stream and portage to Eagle Lake.

Loon eggs on an unprotected nest.

We were on the water by early afternoon. It started to sprinkle as we got in our boats but, we pushed on. Paddling into a cove south of camp, we quickly spot a Moose feeding in the water. We keep a comfortable distance as she looks on with great curiosity. Just as we start to get further away from her, a loon pops to the surface just off to our right about 25 feet away. She stayed on the surface for about 15 seconds and then returned underwater to make a quick get away. Nature thrives here and it energizes us in an instant! We continue to explore some other coves well across from our campsite. The shoreline is very rocky with thick forest all along. We spot a beach on a near by island and decide it would sport a good spot for a little snack. As I am paddling swiftly for a classic beach landing, I notice the eggs pictured above and back paddle hard to keep from landing on them. Steph snaps a photo as we hear the cry of the loon and quickly paddle away. Within a minute a loon emerges and tends to the nest. Indian Pond is a peaceful place to paddle. We will return! Apparently, the good word for you fishermen is the brook trout are in abundance on Indian pond...Hint, Hint, Roy Boys!

This tree narrowly missed our neighboring campers tent during a bout of intense weather.

We had stopped at LL Bean the day before on our drive north. I have wanted to buy one of those hand crank radios for weather reports, listening to "classic rock" and conveniently for catching Red Sox games. We tune into WTOS and the song "Crazy Train" by Ozzy Osbourne is playing...I say to Steph, it is a sign, we will get to the trains!! The weather forecast was looking grim with Tornado warnings for our area and calls for heavy rain. After a great day on the water and an excellent gourmet camping meal, we head for the tent. I had my I-pod on for a bit while Steph was reading and I began to fall asleep. So I took off the head phones and we were getting ready for lights out, when all of a sudden, it was like a freight train was passing right outside our tent. After all my travels in the Mountains, I have never heard wind so loud. We started to worry a bit about the possibility it was a Tornado. Having to nearly yell to communicate with each other, we wondered should we make a quick break for the car? The rain was pounding and in a flash the wind was gone. We jumped out of the tent and noticed the tree pictured above had fallen. Debris was all over our car and we were unsure of what had just taken place? Our neighbors had gone to town for supplies and fortunately so. If they had been around, the tree would have crushed their jeep! We sat in the car, parked in the most open space the camp site allowed for about an hour, then decided it was probably safe to retire for the night. The rain pounded the tent all night but, it remained relatively calm otherwise. We didn't notice the dents in the roof of the car until we got home!

Steph pulling her boat through thickets!

Friday morning brings brighter skies and no rain! Wooo Whoo! We have coffee and breakfast and get our gear ready for the trip into Eagle Lake. Our camping friend Alan had given us some beta on where to find the stream at the end of the lake. The three mile paddle is pretty quick and a Bald Eagle greets us in the cove. He sits strong and stout on a tree limb watching us and then flies away. It was a little difficult finding a place to land, we look for the dead trees clumped together and I go onshore to see if I can see the stream. The forest was so thick! I could not see the "culverts" that go under the logging road. I could not see any stream? We scour the map and find a small stream and game trail that just dead ends in a bog. Back in our boats, I am determined to find the road. I land again and find some old logging cuts and push through poison ivy and picky bushes. After about 200 yards in, I find the road. I return to Steph who is waiting with the boats on shore and describe our portage to her...She stares at me with some question in her mind. We pull the boats up on shore and empty mine and carry all the gear in a large duffle, like carrying a back pack. I am pulling my boat through the woods, over downed trees, through the game trail to the road. What an effort! We hike down the road about a quarter mile, find the stream, leave the gear and go back for Steph's boat.

This is Fun!

Indian Stream.

We float down the stream laughing and giggling with spirit of wilderness all around us. I picture a bear in the stream around every corner or a moose feeding. We enter the South end of Eagle Lake and it is instantly obvious we are in the Allagash. The smell, the feel, the look, the sound, it is pure nature in Maine. I love this place!

A Great Blue Heron greets us on Eagle Lake.

Sit tight....Part 2 of our trip coming soon!