Thursday, November 12, 2009

Swope Trails on the Brain

Last Spring I started doing a little trail building out at Swope and got slightly obsessed. Well last Saturday I went out for the first scheduled work day on Phase 3 and had a blast. Travis Stephens, Bryce Lawrence, myself and a few others made a beautiful gully crossing and benched some trail leading up to it and away from it. I have been out two more times this week for multi-hour bench cut sessions by myself. I am totally stoked on getting that trail done. So much so that I ignored the blisters that I earned on Saturday.

And after working today they look like this.
Don't worry I will be just fine. Next time you are out enjoying a ride through Swope Park Trails just think about all the volunteers who suffered to make that place so kick ass. I would go out and see if I could get down to bare bone working on the trails over the weekend. But alas, I am headed down to Arkansas to climb for the weekend. See ya suckas later.

Reel Rock Film Tour

Next Friday the 20th of November, the Reel Rock Film Tour will be in KC. Hosted by The North Face and the American Alpine Club. It starts at 7 p.m. so get there (the North Face Store on The Plaza)for a good seat. Best part is admission is free, and there is swag to be had. Now wait, why the hell am I advertising this if there is swag. That just decreases my chances of getting some. I guess sometimes I am a Reel nice guy. Check out the link to the trailer, looks sweeeeet!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Vo Legs Full Speed Ahead

Last Spring my wife got the crazy idea that she was going to start running. It started by her wanting to the Trolley Run in April which quickly hatched into a plan of doing the Rock n Roll half marathon in Chicago with her sisters Angie and Ngoc. All summer she trained and once a week i would lace up my shoes to go out and do her long run with her. This consisted mostly of the Trolley Trail. A crushed gravel trail through the city that is boring as ever to run on but good for developing some endurance without suffering through hills.

August quickly came, and Bit was off to Chicago for the big event while I stole away to Wyoming for a climbing trip. She had a great time and finished in 2:32, meeting her goal of completing the 13.1 miles without walking (except for the one bathroom break).
Have Ipod, will run. With smile on face.

With One under her belt she quickly decided that she was going to do the KC Half Marathon and both Ngoc and Angie were in as well. Ngoc has been a runner for years while Angie and Bit had just taken it up this year. With a little confidence and much improved stamina for hills, Bit and I started doing some trail running as part of her training. I found great relief in this. I only moderately enjoy running, and despise the Trolley Trail after this summer. Now trail running is a totally different story. Going out to Landahl and Swope park for a jaunt through the woods is very nice. Bit quickly learned to appreciate the peacefulness of the woods, as well as the training benefits of technical trails with plenty of elevation change.

The weekend finally arrived and the house was taken over by the Vo sisters. Saturday morning the alarm went off at 5:30 and I set off to starbucks to get coffee while last preparations were made. I dropped a car load of Vo's off near the starting line then bolted home to grab the dogs. The pups and I left the house and met Jeremy and Zion to look for our respective runners up at Main & Westport Rd.. We never saw Trish or Ngoc in the endless crowd of runners. And I know I would not have seen Bit if she didn't coming running straight out of the stampede to give me akiss then sprint back into the sea of runners. She looked very energetic and was just ahead of the 2:15 pace group. Angie came by several minutes later rocking out to her ipod and not hearing me yell to her.

Dogs in tow I jogged over to Gillham and 40th St. to cheer them on around mile 9 and to hand out accelerade gels and sharkies gummies (sorry Ngoc). Again we missed Ngoc, but my Mom and Andy had been there for the last 20 minutes and said she went flying by. Bit made her brief appearance looking strong and still holding a steady time. Angie made her way to my support station getting her energy gels, which she said she really needed at this point. The course had been very hilly and there are zero I repeat zero hills in Chicago to train on. Everyone finished, having a great run despite cold and damp conditions. Bit finished in 2:16 knocking a whopping 16 minutes off her previous time, talk about leaps and bounds. I am sure there are going to be plenty more of these to come in the future.

Vo girls post race. Sorry Sean!

Sunday, October 18, 2009


I had heard of it and finally this year I experienced it first hand. Two weeks ago I met some other Team Ethos riders and competed in the Boss Cross Race in Parkville, MO. I liked the pain enough to do my second race today, the Boulevard Cup at Wyandotte County Park.

Cyclocross works like this. Take a road bike, make it capable of dropping loading docks and monster trucking over a ball of human and bicycle, slap some knobby tires on it, and be ready to ride this machine to the verge of technicolor yawning all down your jersey. It is usually held at a park on a twisty turvy coarse marked off by police type tape between wooden stakes in the ground, with occasional obstacles that require you to dismount and go over them on foot. The race consists of getting as many laps in a 30 minute period for intermediate riders, and 50 minutes for the advanced riders. Basically it is the most fun you can have on a bicycle in the absence of roots, rocks and benchcuts. The other huge perk is that after you are done racing there is hoards of warm food and cold beer all while watching other groups race. Because it is held in a park the course is very compact and makes for a great spectator sport unlike most cycling events.

Today brought beautiful weather, a very technical course and great friends to cheer on. Second race of the day had Travis Donn, Kevin Winters, Jamie Jeffries and myself duking it out with 90 other riders in a combined group of Cat 4, Cat 4 40+, and Junior Boys and Girls. The start was mayheim with several wrecks within the first 1000 yds. I redlined for 4 long laps having a great time with only one little tumble to get 19th out of 50 riders in my class. Travis Donn ran away with 1st winning by a comfortable margin. Kevin made his goal for the day by not DFL'in (dead fucking last).

Two other Ethos stallions Garet and Cameron raced in the single speed category with Cameron putting the hurt on his fellow racers grabbing 1st with Garet finishing ultrastrong in 3rd. We all had a great time cheering on everyone and drinking the Tank 7 provided by Boulevard, that stuff is the pics to come soon.

Travis justifying all the money spent on his bike!

Jamie schooling the police tape.

Thursday, September 24, 2009


Since I have been trying to post at least twice a month on my blog. Here is numero dos. My dogs have been obsessed with a possum that frequents our back yard. Here is a priceless photo of them wondering what to do with the nasty little creature.

The brown one went right up to it, sniffed it and took a big bite of it. The possum promptly bit her right back and spooked her. After that the black one was very hesitant to get to close. Specially after seeing the creature fight back and because of all of the hissing and stench it was projecting. I took the dogs inside.

15 minutes later I opened the back door to see if it was still there. The dogs must have been discussing possum sieging strategy while inside, because they burst out onto the porch and in a flurry plucked the vile thing of of the cable and each took to shaking and pulling on their respective end. It went immediately limp and Cooper (the black one) trotted down the steps towards the yard with his trophy in tow. i yelled for him to stop and drop it, which he did. The possum was doing what he or she does best and looked/smelled convincingly dead. I scooped it up onto a board to toss it over the fence. It's prehensile tail groped for the cables of the railing while it was being raised. Thunk, inside dogs.

10 minutes later the possum had finished acting and was nowhere to be found.

While on the subject here is a classic. Enjoy

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Too Good for Smithville Trails

Having heard about the trails for years and never actually ridden them. I had built it up in my mind that they were lame and not worth the drive up there when I could go to Landahl or BuRP in the same amount of time.

Well this morning I took a major hit to my ego. Yes, sometimes I am dead wrong. In this instance being dead wrong is pretty dog gone good. Travis and I headed to Smithville for a late morning start. He had ridden there twice before. The parking lot was nice and paved with an official trailhead marker and maps. We dropped in on the East side and rode all the way to Sailboat Cove then headed back sampling everything on the west side. Ninety minutes later we rolled into the parking lot with grins on our faces. The trails were plentiful and lots of fun. Tight single track through trees, rock gardens, and open fields. Big burmed corners, lots of low radius switch backs and alot more climbing than I had expected.

This is how all fast singletrack should ride. Shawnee Mission Park needs to take a few lessons from the northland dirt. psyched for next time!

Friday, August 14, 2009


My buddy Chris Johnson and I have been talking for several years about meeting up for a back country climbing trip in Wind River Range. The Winds are a popular hiking, fishing, backpacking and thankfully climbing destination. Cirque of the Towers is the main climbing attraction, rightfully so. The Cirque, as it is referred to, is a massive ridge of perfect alpine granite encompassing several alpine lakes, meadows, and more boulders than you can imagine.

After making the long drive across the plains I arrived at the trail head campground. Chris had just got there 30 minutes earlier and his truck had already purged all of the clutter and gear from the back onto the ground. We ate, drank, talked trash and tried to organize for the next day.

After a good nights sleep we began the horrible process of finding out how much our backpacks were actually going to weigh. Climbing gear, backpacking gear, and 6 days worth of food quickly added up to around 75 lbs. We should have brought a scale for justification. Regardless they were large, heavy and very uncomfortable. Luckily the first 5.5 miles to Big Sandy Lake has very little elevation gain and we were able to bang it out in less than 2 hours. We rested soaked our feet then began the rough and tumble trail to the Cirque. 3 hours later with aching hips we crested Jackass Pass to see the Cirque in all of it's beauty.

Chris on the trail to good times. the faint red lines are routes that we got to sample. From
right to left; NE Face of Pingora, South Buttress of Pingora, and East Ridge of Wolfshead

We established camp hung our food and started planning for routes.

After a late start the next day we stumbled up to the NE Face of Warrior I. My legs and hips were sore and stiff, and by 11 a.m. we were climbing. The first 4 pitches were mungy and not exactly what I had hoped for. Trip reports I had read online had rave reviews of this climb. The next 4 pitches improved dramatically and I lucked out and got the money pitch. 100ft of thin hands to hands on splitter granite followed by 50 ft of thin crack and slab climbing on and above rp's.

Me finally thinking that all the choss up to this point
has been totally worth it.

The following day we got up early (like you are supposed to for alpine) and boulder hopped our way over to the NE Face of Pingora in the dark. We got there at 6:50 to find 2 party's already on the route, and moving painfully slow. I have never understood how such slow people manage to arrive at routes so early. Chris and i took our time mulling around the base using the restroom and finally got started once the upper party was at the 2nd belay and the leader from the lower party was almost 1/2 way up the second pitch. The lower party's follower was having trouble making the face traverse moves off the first belay when Chris suggested placing a cam then clipping a cordelette into the cam so he could tension traverse. He did this then we unclipped his cam so he could reel it in. I gave him a 60 ft head start then lead up the 2nd pitch to share the belay with the lower party. They had decided to bail, yippee, so i waited for them both to get down and out of the way before bringing Chris up. We climbed efficiently upwards on pitch after pitch of the best alpine granite that I have layed my hands on in years. We caught the upper party on the 7th pitch and shared the last 4 belays with them. Around 1 we summited, snapped some photos then took our time on the descent with no eminent weather visible. Once at the base of the SW Face of Pingora we found a little waterfall and some dry grass with an excellent view.
We hung out for several hours to avoid the horrible mosquito's down in our camp. Around 4 we stashed our gear in the boulders since we planned on coming back up the following day for a link up of 2 routes. Once back in camp we found Chris's roommate Tommy and his friend Todd. They were supposed to be in the day before, and had gotten to the Cirque after dark, setting up camp within 50 yards of us incredibly.

The third day we woke up to rain, then sun, then rain and so on. Late morning we gave up on climbing and headed down to lonesome lake to explore and watch Tommy and Todd fish for dinner. By 3 p.m. the clouds had cleared and blue skies had returned. Chris and I hoofed it to camp, got food and water then blitzed up the trail to our gear. While retrieving our packs 2 like minded individuals walked by. One of them looked very familiar and we soon realized that it was Jeff, a friend of Chris's ex-girlfriend who we had climbed with in the desert several years prior. We caught up while scrambling to the base of the South Buttress of Pingora. Jeff and Drake chose some route left of the buttress proper and we took something to the right. 3 pitches later Chris was finishing up the gorgeous "K-Cracks" with some very threatening weather on top of us. It was around 5:30, we made 5 fast double rope rappels to reach the ground and ran back down to camp avoiding getting drenched.

The following day we climbed my favorite route of the trip. Wolfshead via the East Ridge III 5.6 unadulterated fun. Pristine Alpine setting, check. Perfect Alpine granite, check. Knife edge ridge, check. Massive exposure, check. Crazy gendarmes, check. Hand traverses on splitter cracks, check. Foot traverses on splitter cracks, check. This route dished out the goods pitch after pitch. Chris and I kept thinking that I had just climbed the "money pitch" when his next pitch would be even better. We approached via the gully between Tiger Tower and Pingora then traversed into the start. This turned out to be very easy and quite quick. The standard approach via the grassy ledges looked very wet and took some party's several hours as opposed to the 30 minutes for the gully. The photos do not do this climb justice at all, if I went back I would climb this route again in a heartbeat.

Wolfshead as viewed from the south.

We waited below Wolfshead till Tommy and Todd were done with the NE Face of Pingora then we all headed down to camp for dinner.

That night we had some snowflakes in the evening, and woke up to cold windy weather which quickly turned into moderate to heavy snow. We had planned on hiking halfway out, doing a climb on Sundance Pinnacle then making our way back to the trail head. Instead we scrambled to get camp broke then hit the trail before too much snow could accumulate. Thankfully the rocks were melting the snow and only a small amount was showing up on the grassy areas. By the time we got to Big Sandy Lake, we were below the clouds and it was easy hiking to the cars. Once back to the parking lot, beers, chips, cheese and candy were devoured. Jeff and his partner Drake soon showed up and the 6 of us went to Pinedale for calories. It was an excellent trip, and I am now psyched for a trip to the Bugaboos next summer.

Myself, Tommy, Todd and Chris right before the weather moved in.

Thursday, July 30, 2009


Better late than never! I have heard people say this about thank you cards, birthday presents, showing up for work, and menstrual cycles. I am now applying this to Blogging.

2 Weeks ago Bit and I loaded up a borrowed Subaru Forrester (thanks Mom) with camping equipment, dogs, food, books on CD and 1 bike for a week in the high country of good ol Colorado.
Got up Early on July 8th and drove till night fall to reach Crested Butte. Our friends Sean, Kelly and Seamus Burns had secured a sweet little campsite up Slate River Road Gulch in National Forest right next to a raging mountain stream. Within 24 hours our little spot in the woods became a full on refugee camp of temporarily dislocated Midwesterners. Andre, Jeanie and Erin Dory joined us as well Sean's friend James Alexander and Kelly's friends Amy and Kristin. For the next 5 days we enjoyed wonderful camp meals, with picturesque day hikes. Several days the guys weaseled some sweet single track rides in.

The first day we joined the Burns Clan for a short jaunt up Oh-Be-Joyful enjoying the views of several waterfalls and tons of wild flowers

Bit and Kelly happy not to be in the Midwest

The next day the whole crew headed to the Snodgrass Trail. The guys rode out and back on their mountain bikes grabbed the cars then drove around to pick up the ladies at the end of the trail. We ended the day in the town eating delicious pizza at the Secret Stash.

Day 3 Bit and I took the mutts up Gothic Gulch and did a day hike up one of the canyons that became a bush whack and was probably the worst hike of the trip despite. A majority of the trail was double track open only to hikers with mediocre views, bummer! That evening I rallied for a ride after the afternoon showers had passed. Sean, Andre, James and I arrived at the 401 trail around 6:00 pm and it started to sprinkle. Because of the weather we decided to ride up the trail as far as rain or time would allow then turn around and ride back. the standard route is to ride up Gothic road to Schofield Pass then climb a mile of single track for 7 miles of descent. We ended up making it about 7 miles up the trail with lots of gorgeous single track and unrelenting climbs. Sean and I were duking it out with the uphill grades on our single speeds and did surprisingly well. The descent was fast and flowey. By far the best trail I have ever ridden, and with a great group of friends. And yes the rain did let up.

The following day we all went up to trail 403 hiked up to the high point to enjoy the views and take some photos.

Afterwards Bit and I took a lift up Mt Crested Butte then hiked the summit trail to the top for great views of the Maroon Bells and surrounding mountains.

From the summit looking North

We went into town so Bit could get take a nice hot shower at the lodge the Dory's had just checked into. James and I snuck out for a quick spin on the lower and upper loop trails just outside of town, enjoying the nice rolling single track.

The following day we packed up and headed to Telluride for 2 days. We camped at the city park, which paled in comparison to our Crested Butte campsite, and got several hikes in that left from town. All the hiking was steep with exquisite views. The first afternoon we did a 3 mile round trip hike with 1600 ft of elevation gain.

The view was worth it!

Our final day we hiked up to Bear Creek Falls then headed back to the front range.

Our last day I took the dogs on 2 steep short trail runs/hikes to wear them out for the drive home.

It worked! Well!

That evening we stayed with Aaron and Becky Broyles at their newly purchased home outside of Evergreen. They have a cute house with great views, in a secluded yet accessible location. It was a perfect end to our trip, hanging out with some friends that we hadn't seen for quite some time, before making the drive across the plains.

Had a great time, and are already talking about going back next year.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Blinglespeed Makeover

Here lies the my rigid fork!

For the last 2 years I have been riding my only mountain bike rigid as a diamond in an ice storm. I had been toying with the idea of getting a front suspension fork for some time. And just recently broke down (i.e. broke the bank account) and bought a Fox Float 29er. It rides smooth, having had it's maiden voyage at Landahl last week on 20 miles of unrelenting singletrack. Goodbye old friend. Pics of the installed fork to come.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Chiggers-16, Jesse-0

Last Wednesday Jeremy, Jim Lassiter and myself left KC around 6 p.m. and made the short drive down to HCR for a day of climbing. We arrived at the Ranch just before midnight, meeting up with now professional photographer Andy Chasteen.

Thursday morning came to life with very cool temps and mildly overcast skies. We hooved it up to the east side to avoid the morning sun, and let Jer work Supersoul Sureshot. We had a great time warming up on long moderates while the air became heavier. Jer finally roped up for the main event while Andy found a nearby perch to capture some images. We moved down the bluff hitting several routes in the Far East. By late morning the high temp of 82 degrees had been reached and the humidity was becoming oppressive. The sun remained hidden, and despite the thickness in the air we all commented on how nice the weather was considering it was July in Arkansas. Every once in a while a breeze would kick up for 15 secs and it felt like someone had just turned an air conditioner full blast at your body. We eventually made our way back to Jer's project which he sent with mucho style and several grunts. We rounded out the day of climbing at the roman wall and then made our way back to the cabin.

By 2 p.m we were sitting on the front porch of the cabin sipping frozen Bud Light Lime's. Usually I am not a big Budweiser fan, but ice cold/partially frozen buds sure hit the spot. We chatted with Andy for an hour before hitting the road. 25 hours round trip saw us back home in KC, getting to bed at a reasonable hour.

Friday morning I came into work super early as a favor for a coworker. I clocked in at 0530 and by 0600 I started to notice I was itching just about everywhere. Little red bumbs covered my legs and other unmentionables. All that perfect weather distracted me from the fact that summer climbing in Arkansas still involves millions and millions of bugs. Four days later and I am still itching like mad. Next time I am coming armed with bug spray to even the score.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Oats, Shit and Wet Cabbage

For some reason I find British humor so much funnier than our stateside version. One of my absolute favs is Ricky Gervais. If you have never seen the original "Office" but you watch the american version, then you are doing yourself a huge injustice. Several years after "The Office" he did a 2 season show called "Extras." The premise is that he is an aspiring actor who bides his time getting gigs as an extra on movies sets. Each episode has a big name star as the guest who is in the movies that he and his female friend are an extra on. The big name star is playing her or himself but is either a huge a-hole or just plain crazy. The best episode stars Clive Owen who is starring in a movie as Lord Byron. This clip is the funniest thing I have ever seen, Bit and I must have watched this 15 times in a row. The woman playing the prostitute is Maggie, Ricky Gervais' best friend in the show. Enjoy.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Six Hours in the Saddle

This last Sunday Travis Donn, Cameron Chambers and myself drove down to Oklahoma City to compete in a 6 hour mountain bike race. Andy Chasteen (OKC local) had informed of us this race and invited the group down to crash at his place on Saturday night and race Sunday morning.

I had been dreading this race all week, because i really didn't think I was in shape for 6 hours of racing. The only other race I had competed in was last August at Landahl, which was a six hour race as well. At Landahl I had rode decent but my arms and hands were blown out after 4 hours, and the last 2 were hellacious. Up until May this year I have only done a couple of 2 hour rides, so I was excepting to suffer for the whole 6 hours.

We arrived at Andy's hip downtown loft around 11 p.m. and quickly found a sleeping space on the living room floor. Andy was hosting 3 triathaletes from Brazil and Sweden who were in town for a big money competition. Early morning found us stuffing our faces and departing south to the Clear Bay trails on Thunderbird Lake. 

The trails are a sandy maze through rolling hills of oak and poison ivy. There are a handful of decent climbs, very few rocks, and lots of bermed corners. Because of recent storms the race promoter had spent 6 hours the previous day chainsawing fallen trees and rerouting ne trail to avoid muddy sections. He warned us of several trees that he just wasn't able to get to and several long muddy sections. The tree turned out to be nothing and the mud was pretty benign as well.

After a lemans start the small field of riders sprinted into the woods. The first lap the corners were super loose. I had ran hard to get towards the front of the group and pushed my first lap a little faster than I normally would. By the second Lap Andy passed me looking strong. One of my goals was to keep up with him and try to beat him. Andy is an enduro beast, although he had voiced concern about not realy mtb riding over the last 3 weeks. One look at the size of his legs and most people would ask the court reporter to retract that last statement from the record. 

By the third lap, the loose sand had been pushed up into berms on all of the corners and things were fast. I had settled into a nice steady pace and was just concentrating on eating and drinking. Every once and awhile I would get a glimpse of Andy on a adjacent section of trail. I would look at my watch and see how long it took me to reach that location. It was always around 2 minutes. Lap 5 was the half way point, Cameron lapped me and asked me to "get on my space craft and hoover" as he blew by. Confused by his statement I plodded on. I ran out of water and rode one dry lap leaving my camelback to be refilled by Travis. 

Finishing lap 7, I came into our transition area to see Andy getting ready to head out. I refilled on water, slammed several sport beans then left hell bent on catching Andy. Travis and Cameron were racing as a team and by then had a commanding lead of 20 minutes on their closest competitors. Suprisingly my arms and hands were feeling pretty good. My legs were having some cramps occasionally that would go away after several minutes of easy riding. I caught Andy on a climb and kept pace with him for a while, the next climb he let me pass. Both Sean and Travis had told me that when you pass someone make a gap and push it. That is what i did for the next lap and a half. The cramps became much worse, I passed another singlespeed rider and pushed it even harder.  Travis caught me on the final lap and paced me for several climbs till my legs exploded. Finally I crossed the finish line, and was relieved that it was over, yet suprised at how well I had felt. Thanks to the Swope Trails, climbing and general riding everywhere else seems much easier. Like I said Swope Trails are "the shit."

I ended up finishing 2nd in the singlespeed division with Andy right on my tail in 4th.  It was a even better day for Travis and Cameron, they crushed all of the competition coming in 1st overall. Travis manned up and raced in CAT 1 and pulled some impressive lap times way to go bro. Also Cameron got the fastest lap of the day which earned him a little extra cash.  

Andy's friend Nicki took some photos of the race you can check them out here.  She was crouched in the woods towards the end of the 6.6 mile loop shooting. I can only imagine that she was covered in ticks and posion ivy by the end of the day. Thanks Nicki for providing the photos.

We all had a great time. Thanks to Andy for pushing me above and beyond my mental limitations, if he had not been racing I would have surely put forth a pathetic effort. Andy and I are already plotting our next enduro bike event. Did someone say 12 hour race?

Thursday, May 7, 2009

The Grass Is Always Greener...

Each year I have 1 enviromental New Years Resolution. In 2007, it was to stop using a gasoline powered lawnmower. I had read numerous carbon footprint statements about these stinky loud machines that we all use to keep our yards nicely manicured. After doing  much online research, I finally settled on the a Scotts' Reel mower. Yes, like the kind that you "reely" have to push to 
make it cut your grass. I have a small yard so it isn't that big of deal, you just need to follow a few simple rules:
#1- keep the blades sharp
#2- make 2-3 passes to get an even cut
#3- cut your grass often
#4- cut your grass more often
#5- did I mention that you need to cut your grass more than normal

As you might have guessed, I haven't been following some of the "Rules" lately. Having neglected my back yard the grass was way to tall to use the human powered mower. I ended up having to cut it down half way with my electric trimmer then borrow Jeremy's new electric mower. So from now on I will be more diligent about keeping up with the rules.

Some other things aside from composting and reel mowers that I have been doing for my yard to keep with my "greener side" of life, is no chemicals. I never have and never will put any chemicals in my yard or garden. 2 years ago I found a little device that massacres weeds and dandylions. It is called the Weedhound , this thing rocks. I got my mom one for her birthday last year and she spent 45 minutes in the yard poppin weeds, it is totally addictive. 

Thats it for today, I am off to enjoy the spring weather.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


Yeah, lately I have been slacking in regards to posting on the blogosphere, so here are some updates.
Most importantly Bit got accepted into pharmacy school at UMKC, yeahhhhh! Starting in August she will be a full time student in a professional program for a whopping 5 years, sucks to be her! But this is what she really feels is her calling so here we go. BTW, there were over 600 applicants for only 100 positions. 

I have been riding some now that the trails have been a little drier. Swope is getting closer to completion, and that place just rocks, there is a trail building day scheduled for both Sat and Sun this weekend. Again if you have not ridden at swope and you feel like getting a killer workout in, check it out at swope trails

Finally, I started composting last year and was stupid enough to put it next to my house. So all winter we had mice coming in to enjoy the heat. So I am in the process of building a fence in my back yard to have an 8' strip of yard isolated for a big compost bin and a shed for yard tools etc..
Here is a photo of the posts after being poured.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Free Time

It is some what of a routine for Jer, Travis and myself to meet mid-morning on a weekday for a hot sweet cup of latted mochachino carmel macchiato americano at one of the fine midtown coffee shops. We generally spend a ridiculous amount of time and money chewing the fat and avoiding something more productive. Why do we do this? Cause we can! 

4 weeks ago I joined Jer and Randy Braley at my favorite place, The Filling Station. Randy was expressing his wish/goal to make photography his full time gig, so that he would have more flexibility and free time with his life. While sipping my mocha at 10:23 a.m. on a Tuesday I deeply exhaled and broke the news to Randy, free time is highly overrated. Going to the park on a weekday is not very enjoyable when you are the only person there to enjoy the trees budding, and the flowers blossoming. If you were to go mountain biking by yourself at noon on a Wednesday you would not see another rider on the trails. Sounds nice doesn't it? Not really, what happens when you taco your wheel going through a rock garden, knock all of your teeth out and lose consciousness only to be dragged off by coyotes. Those things just don't happen in the evenings and on the weekends when the trails are clogged with cubicle workers. Climbing in Arkansas during the week is horrible. For instance, last week Jeremy and I climbed Tues-Thurs at Sams. We only saw one other group of 2, it gets pretty lonely sharing all of that perfect sandstone with nobody.

So for those of you who have always wondered what it would be like to have weekdays free. It is very highly overrated. Keep your desk job kid!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

The wind is not my friend

There is an old saying which goes, "May the sun shine warm upon your face and the wind be at your back." I would imagine that this comes from sailing. But it applies to many other things in life, mainly bicycling. This morning I joined Travis and Jamie for a road ride out to Olathe and back. The mileage total was somewhere around 47, but it felt more like 90. The wind was constantly at odds with us, changing direction every time we took a turn. Travis was charging down the road with myself and Jamie trying to keep up. Drafting seemed utterly useless because of the winds angle. By mile 35 I was fully bonking. Luckily Jamie wanted to stop at coffee shop, and with some borrowed money I filled up on a double shot espresso and a cream cheese muffin. The first several miles after the coffee I felt fresh, but quickly the buzz wore off and I was tired and in need of a toilet. So telling someone "may the sun shine warm upon your face and the wind be at your back," is much nicer than saying "break a leg." Particularly if referring to cycling. 

And please don't honk at bicyclists to let them know you are coming. You would have to be deaf not to hear a car driving down the road while riding your bicycle. And if the cyclist is deaf, he or she won't hear it anyway. Peace.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Arkansas DMZ

Just returned from a glorious 3 days in Arkansas with Jer and the mutts.  Having heard about the damage from the recent ice storm, I finally got to see the flotsam and jetsam first hand. One word- Awesome. I know that alot of people would not see it as "awesome." But the raw power of nature is always impressive to me. The combination of cold, hot, and moisture at a certain elevation range yielded what must have been 2-3 inches of ice. Which was obviously to much for the decidous and evergreen trees to handle. I would guess that 70-80 % of the mature trees were broken at 2/3 height and missing most of their major branches. Any tree that was near a bluff line or on a steep hill side were completely uprooted. The only trees that seemed completely unaffected were the samll saplings, young and green they are able to bend all the way to the ground without snapping.
The picture doesn't do much justice, but this is the trail between the Throne and Chickenhead Wall.

Tuesday we met Jer's friend Ben Rodda in Harrison and went cragging at Sams Throne for the day, just cruising on the classics and marveling at the weather. That evening we met up with Cole Fennel and his buddy Chris. Cole is in the process of writing a guide book for Arkansas Climbing. Yeah, I know that Boston Mountain Press just released a guide book last fall for Northern Arkansas, but just you wait. Full color, pictures of the cliff with color coded lines denoting trad or sport. The parts that he had completed looked quite impressive. If you have ever seen the new guide book to Indian Creek or Red River Gorge then you know what to expect. 

Wednesday morning we got a very late start leaving the campsite around 10. Jer, Cole, Chris, myself, 4 large backpacks, and three 50 lb dogs all squeezed into my Pontiac Vibe and screamed down 15 miles of twisty, hillybilly inhabited dirt roads to Stack Rock. I first visited Stack Rock last fall and had an inkling that it might be my new favorite crag in Arkansas. Incredible rock (even for Arkansas), remoteness, stellar views of the boston mountains, and you have it all to yourself. Stack Rock is for sure my favorite crag. Can't wait to go back.

puppies crammed in the back of the car

Remember how I said that we got a late start. Well that turned out to be a blessing. I finished my last route 5 minutes after the sun had dipped below the horizon. My arms had been cramping on the last 3 routes. So I was very thankful that we hadn't got a earlier start. Cole gave us the full tour which included lots o steep climbing, big moves and big whips. We hiked out in the dark, arrived back at Sams Throne around 9:30 and commenced dinner.Add Image

jeremy's artsy photo of some vibrant pine needles with me uglying the backdrop

Thursday morning we got moving early, broke camp before the forcasted rain arrived and headed down to get some action photos for Cole's new guide. We warmed up and cooled down on Dead Dog, by the time all of us had climbed it the rain was upon us. Which was fine since my fingers were raw and it hurt to crimp on anything. 

Can't wait to go back down to those ancient mountains and get my next lesson on perfect Atoka sandstone.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Skins not Snowmobiles

While visiting Ryan, He took Kevin and I for a day of back country snowboarding on Mt. Soppris. The trail to the summit is 8 miles long, so rather than skiing in that entire way Ryan borrowed some snowmobiles from a friend. Initially we were all excited about getting to ride snowmobiles halfway up the trail then skin the rest of the way. By the end of the day all 3 of us had sworn off snowmobiles for ever. Why you ask. They are heavy! You can only control the steering adequately when you are giving it gas! To cover off-camber terrain you must counter weight like mad!  When you get them stuck it takes 3 grown men to get them out! They get stuck quite frequently! Did I mention that they weigh alot! They cost mucho deniro, and they were on loan! I ran mine into tall stands of willows and aspens quite frequently. What should have took us 30 minutes to approach took us several hours. 

Here is a pic of Kevin and Ryan before the learning that snowmobiles suck.

Regardless, we left the snowmobiles at the halfway point and skinned 2/3 the way up the peak. Some of that distance was covered by Kevin and I on foot since the splitboards didn't traverse the hardpack as well as Ryan's skis. Some of that hardpack turned into crust which involved deep postholing. The following is a pic of Kevin up to his ass in snow and sucking wind. For the record there is nothing harder than to make upward progress on a steep slope of soft snow on foot.

Ryan taking everyone to the Colorado Gunshow!

Eventually we were able to enjoy a run of partially refrozen corn with a small face of nice powder before returning to the demon-mobiles. several hours later they snowmobiles were loaded on the trailer and we were able to say good riddance off them. Then of course we went and ate a 12,000 calorie meal at a local establishment.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Yurts vs. Townhomes

Just returned from 5 days in Colorado for Bit's spring break. The first 3 days we stayed with Kevin Winters at his town home and hit the groomers at Keystone Ski resort just across the road. The slopes were relatively uncrowded for middle March, and the temps were uncharacteristically warm with mid 50's at the base of the mountain and mid 30's at the upper peaks. There had been no snow in at least a week so the trees were a mess, but the blue groomers were primo. Bit boarded Tues and Wed with Kevin and I in the afternoon, and was carving nice s-turns down the runs despite not having ridden much in the past 3 years. Here she is tearing it up on Paymaster. Wednesday Kevin and I decided to get as many vertical feet in as possible. We hit the lifts right after they opened and proceeded to do 3 different runs over and over and over and over and over and over, taking the same lift (the fastest one on the mountain with the most vertical gain).  Bit met up with us for 9 runs then we pressed out several more to hit 60,000 ft. by then the runs had frozen over and we retreated to the local mexican restuarant for a 12,000 calorie meal. Got back to Kevin's place and crashed out.

After living the ski resort life for 3 days we decided it was time for a change. I am always a fan of stark contrasts, and let me tell you that yurt life in Colorado is about as stark a contrast as you can imagine. Enter Ryan Bradley! I met Ryan in college and he taught me to rock climb the old school way. I carried all of the gear and seconded all of the climbs and we never climbed in a gym. Eventually he let me start lead climbing and before I knew it my apprenticeship was done and we were both on to bigger and better climbing adventures. Since school we have maintained our friendship, and usually get to see each other once a year for a little climbing or he takes me backcountry snowboarding. 

Ryan had been teaching at a private Jesuit High School in Denver for the past 3 years and in fall of 2008 he took a position teaching Junior High science in Basalt, Co. Ryan had graciously offered to let us come visit him and take Kevin and I backcountry. Ryan has always had the most interesting living situations. In college he lived in a 70's RV for several years parking in random locations every night. Once he got his teaching degree he would live in the RV during the summers when he was guiding on Mt. Hood and an apartment during the school year. After that he house sat for people while they were out of town, then eventually ended up renting a room from a friend of his in a big house in the far suburbs of SE Denver. Once he moved to Basalt he found the deal of a lifetime for a bachelor who loves with the mountains, a yurt. If you don't know what a yurt is click here. This beauty is perched on a mountain side 15 minutes up a steep dirt road above Basalt.  From the deck of the yurt is a breathtaking view towards the mountains to the south. His only neighbors are  junipers, aspens and his landlords. The landlords live 300 yards below the yurt in awesome mountian home that they built for the most part by themselves and used a lot of scavenged building materials. Their house is completely off the grid and powered by a minature hydroelectric  set up that they built from a stream that runs through their property 365 days a year. I am getting sidetracked here, back to the yurt.  So Ryan lives in the 24 foot diameter yurt with 2 bunk beds and one futon bed. The rest of the yurt consists of a small table, desk, chest of drawers, a sink/small kitchen, small propane fridge, and several storage racks. There is a wood burning stove with a 15 gallon pot of water on top that serves as the hot water (the sink only runs cold water). If he is feeling to lazy to run the woodburning stove he has a propane heater. He has electric which is several batteries charged by solar panels and backed up by a honda gas powered generator. Did i forget something? Oh yeah, there is no bathroom right now. For guys it is as easy as enjoying the view off the deck. Gals, squat or walk down to the landlords house during acceptable hours. 

The bottom line is that I loved the Yurt, Bit isn't quite sold on it. But if you know Ryan Bradley then it would make sense that some Mongolian 1000's of years ago knew that this portable house that they developed would one day provide a white boy on the other side of the world a cozy residence.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Spring Break

Spring Break officially started for Bit on Friday the 13th, so my spring break started as well. Saturday i arose early donned my cycling gear and rode to Travis' for a road ride with 6 other guys. We followed the would be course for one of the stages of the Tour of Missouri. The morning started out cold and shady with flat roads to parkville then the rolling monster hills through the farmlands towards Platte City as a beautiful spring day emerged. By 1 in the afternoon i was back home with a sore ass and a ravenous apetite generated by riding somewhere near 70 miles. For snacks during the ride I made a concoction of peanut butter, honey, sweetened condensed milk, and raw oats. It was delicious, and kept me feeling pretty good for most of the ride, this will be my new standby for bike riding abd maybe even climbing. Headed to Colorado in the morning for several days of snowboarding. 

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


Well, recently I have been slightly obsessed with reading blogs of those that I know. So I thought that it was only fitting that I start my own post. Not really any exciting events for the day. It started at 5:15 am, rising early to take the dogs on a run in a 10 degree north wind. Left for an uneventful day at work, thank goodness. I am home and doing nothin'. In the future i plan on having much more interesting posts.