Sunday, June 3, 2012

Cycling Napa, Stumbling upon Ruins in Utah & Triathloning the Ironhorse

The May roundup, mostly in pictures...


Cycling wine country

After running the Grand Canyon, I headed up to Napa, California to celebrate one of my best and longest-lasting friend's impending marriage. Gotta love a guy who wants for his bachelor party a couple days of epic cycling and wine drinking. And that's what we did...

From the porch of our amazing hilltop house for the weekend.    (Photo by Ben W.)

Nice place for a bike ride.


...and tasting.

And lots of games...    (photo by Ben W.)
...some mind-benders...    (Photo by Ben W.)

...some we hadn't played since college...    (Photo by Ben W.)

...and others that formed the foundation of these friendships nearly two decades ago.    (Photo by Ben W.)


Estes and Rocky Mountain National Park

After the bachelor party, I went to Davis and to find a place for Anne, Dip, and I to move into in the fall, and I'm really happy with the place we ended up with. Meanwhile, Anne flew into Denver for a weekend with my extended family in Estes Park, so I jumped on I-80 for a drive that will surely happen too many times in the coming years.

We were going to ride Trailridge Road though Rocky Mountain National Park in preparation for the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic next weekend, but, as tends to happen at 12,000 feet, a spring storm came and dumped snow, so the road was closed. Some pictures from the morning before the storm:

The fam.

The now-a-tradition, jump-off-a-rock-wall-in-a-national-park photo...

...and the also-now-a-tradition, family-pretending-to-jump-off-a-rock-wall-in-a-national-park photo.

And a much older family photo tradition.     (Photo by Carl King)

We had what may have been the best meal I've ever had at the Fawn Brook Inn (free-range roast duckling with Grand Marnier, maple syrup, and dried cherries) in Allenspark, the town Julie and I's great, great, great grandfather founded).

Family at the Fawn Brook Inn. Who knew Austrian food was so good?!

I managed to sneak a couple of training runs in, including a nice 11 mile loop around Lumpy Ridge in Rocky Mountain Nation Park, a beautiful trail among rapture sanctuary.

Lumpy Ridge at dawn.


Mount Massive

After Estes, Anne and I packed up for some Colorado mountain climbing, Utah camping, and then Durango for the Iron Hose Bicycle Classic. Based on trailhead accessibility in the Civic, summit accessibility with Dipity, and southern aspects to avoid lingering snow, we decided to climb Mt Massive, Colorado's second highest peak at 14,421'.

Dipity and Anne, looking back on the valley they just ascended.

Dipity and I with Mt Elbert, Colorado's high point, in the upper-left corner.
Dipity's method for hydration and thermal regulation above the streams.


After a restorative night at the always-wonderful Valley View Hot Springs, we headed through Durango for the Utah desert.

"ATM, pinto beans, 24 hour gas" Can you guess what the local industry is?

Unfortunately, must of the splendor of southern Utah is in national parks (Zion, Bryce, Arches, Canyonlands) and so is off-limits to Dipity's sort. We ended up hiking canyons in BLM land, where millennium-old artifacts sit with little more than a note asking visitors not to disturb anything. Pretty sweet. Arch Canyon reminded me of Glenn Canyon, minus the flood.

Happy to be down from the cold heights.

This grass was around Bright Angel Creek in the Grand Canyon also, in both places quite a bit taller than me. Anyone know what it might be?

Anne with 1000 year-old structures that we stumbled upon in Mule Canyon.

Ancient(?) cave paintings in Arch Canyon.

Painted and ready for battle.

Three gods that watched over us while we slept.

The water was so salty/alkaline it was tough to drink.

Marshmallow flowers, one of the many beautiful dessert flowers in the canyons.


Iron Horse Bicycle Classic made triathlon

Apparently by Durango standards a 50 mile bike ride over two 10,000-foot passes just isn't enough for a weekend, so they've tacked on a 1500m swim and 10 mile run to make a "triathlon weekend" of the Iron Horse. And being unable to refuse a challenge, I signed up, never mind that my training has been 95% running this year.


The swim was rough. Between my total lack of swim training and the difficulty of getting enough oxygen at altitude in a sport where the opportunity to breathe is intermittent, by halfway through I felt my form deteriorating and new it was going to be a struggle. I ended up swimming a 30:47, 1:53/100, a full 13 seconds per 100 slower than my ironman swim, which was less than a year ago and three times longer. Technique is everything in swimming. I did, however, win my age division. OK, I was the only entrant in my age division. OK, OK, so 6 of 8 of the 14 and under girls who swam beat me.


The night before the ride, we had a wonderful pasta dinner party with some friends I hadn't seen in years. It was awesome to catch up with them, imminent bike race notwithstanding.

The team approaching the start.

The race was a blast. It has to be one of the most gorgeous rides in the world. It was hard, but not too hard. The wind was at our backs all the way up the valley to Purgatory. Up on the passes, those winds turned into crosswinds, which was terrifying, especially as they caught on my bladed-spoke wheels making my whole front end wobble as I descended at 40+ mph. I finished in 3:06, which I was thrilled with, but at the expense of some serious cramping in my quads. I suppose I got what I deserved, doing events for which I haven't trained.

From the top of one of the passes.    (Photo by Barak Naggan)

Post race coffee in Silverton.


The whole town was abuzz with the series of bike races, and it was tough to not go into full celebration mode after our ride. We went out for sushi with a bunch of old friends that night, and I made a half-assed effort to keep the celebration in check and refuel for the next day's 10 mile run. Not surprisingly, the next morning that effort felt less than half assed as we dragged ourselves out of bed for the 8am start. The run was almost as pretty as the ride, following the Animas River trail all the way through town before climbing up to the plateau on which my alma matter, Fort Lewis College, sits. I was really slow to find my legs, it wasn't until about half way through that I felt decent. I finished happily in 77 minutes, legs still intact. Trey got a nice little piece of pottery for placing in his age-group.

Trey and I post run.
After the run, we went and jumped in the freezing cold Animas River, and Julie showed me the brick she got in our names at the Durango Discovery Museum.

Tough to read, but that brick says "Michael & Julia Levy."
And then, finally, it was time to rest and recover:

Next up, five days recovery, then the Golden Gate Dirty Thirty 50k...

1 comment:

  1. Now THIS is living! Way to go, Mike! Don't ease up on the throttle. Yahooooo!!!