Saturday, January 28, 2012


Fun day at today's Orcas Island 25K. I's beat; I'll write words tomorrow ...

It's tomorrow. ...

Above, the reason you do this race--to run to the top of Mount Constitution and check out the view which, even on a gray day like yesterday, one visited by falling ice pellets or rain or whatever it was that fell down upon us from time to time, is nothing short of amazing.

Here were are, walking to the start. Just 10 minutes earlier, I was freezing me airse off out there, but as soon as you walk out with a couple hundred others, it instantly feels 10 degrees warmer. That's Jeff Dewitt (I believe), Steve Roguski and John Clark.

Back to the top. Notice the snow. The amazing course was snow covered from about 1,800 feet on up, maybe 5 miles in all. Kinda crunchy, kindy icy in parts (especially heading down from the top), kinda runing-in-sand(ish) in others but really, not that big of a deal. Made it more fun in a challenging-slash-beautiful way. 

In all, my chest-mounted GoPro camera fired off about 700 shots, of which maybe 35 weren't mega-blurry. The above is just blurry, but somewhat conveys the early miles where the narrow, winding singletrack would get stacked up in spots. 

Titanium Cancellara (Scott Young) and those scrawny chicken legs of his. Poor guy took 4th overall and first Masters. The TC legend continues to grow. That's Steve Roguski in the corner. He had a killer race too despite having a couple health issues along the way. These two be tuff mofos, that's sure. 

Nearing the top of Mount Constitution ...

... ditto. You can see the tower in the distance.

Up, and up. In all, it was a 6-mile climb with the toughest part being a 1.7-mile stretch that climbs 1,300 feet.

Moments before the start when Rainshadow Running's impresario James Varner was giving out race directions, of which I heard nary a word.

One of the 665 blurry pictures but this one almost looks like it's intentionally blurry for artistic effect. Almost.

The first glimpse of "the view". When the big climb finally lets up for a bit, the trail momentarily swings out on the edge of the ridge offering up a glimpse of that spectacular island-mountain-B'ham view. Then you're back into the snowy woods for another mile before reaching the below--the snowy summit and aid station. 

Here's Debbie, Alex and Jacob, Glenn Gervais' lovely family, who were doling out food, drink and good cheer.

I like this sequence. Here I am with banana in hand ...  

                                ... here, I'm peeling the banana ...

... and here, it looks like I'm offering the peel to an innocent (and understandably uninterested) bystander.

Friday, January 27, 2012


Tomorrow, way too early, the Titanium Cowboys are heading over to the islands for the Orcas Island 25K. Should be great fun and great strenuousness but hopefully, not great pain. Or at least, not the kind of pain that lasts.

The route heads out from Cascade Lake, climbs up to Mountain Lake whereupon it hightails it straight upward to the 2,100-foot ridge that eventually leads to Mount Constitution--at 2,409 feet, the highest point in the San Juans. (That's the view of Bellingham and Mount Baker from Constitution.)

Orcas Island is one of my favorite places so, despite leaving B'ham at about 4:15 a.m. to catch the ferry, I'm looking forward to it. I'll wear the chest cam and be sure to fire off about 2,000 photos of which, hopefully five or six aren't blurry.

On the reading front, I’ve been quite enjoying "It's So Easy: And Other Lies" by Duff McKagan, former Guns N’ Roses bassist. Though I run to two or three GNR songs on my iPod and will admit that “Sweet Child O’ Mine” boasts one of the best guitar riffs ever, I wouldn’t consider myself a Guns N’ Roses fan per se. They just seemed like the epitome of the wasted druggie rock band who happened to turn out a few good songs before they flamed out from their own excesses. Which they were. So why would I care to spend any amount of time reading a book by their bassist? (I mean, a bassist for god’s sake, not even a guitar player.)

Here’s how I got there. Not long ago, I stumbled upon Duff’s name on the ESPN website. Apparently, he writes a weekly sports-music column, a quite engaging one from a fan’s perspective, and since he’s from Seattle, much of what he writes has a Northwest-Seattle slant. The site also had an excerpt from his autobiography and since I so loved Keith Richards book “Life," I checked Duff’s out. It's great.

The excerpt was all about how he was training for a 19-mile mountain bike race in Big Bear, California. He’d just gotten off a two-year tour from hell with Guns N’ Roses, he was a full-on cokehead and raging alcoholic (drinking 10 bottles of wine a day!), but when his pancreas burst, he realized he had to clean up. But instead of going to rehab, he starts mountain biking and working out like crazy.

Since the band is mostly kaput, he has loads of time so he also takes up reading, and becomes obsessed with all the books and authors he missed out on because he never finished high school nor went to college—Shakespeare, Fitzgerald, Melville and especially Hemingway. In short, he turns his life completely around. In the book, he gets into martial arts, starts a family, runs a marathon, enrolls at Seattle University's business school and more. It's redemption tale that’s really quite inspiring. Here’s a link to the excerpt.

Wish me luck on Orcas tomorrow!

Thursday, January 19, 2012


B'ham and most of Western Washington are stuck in a hellatious period of snow and ice and frigid temps and so of course I'm looking ahead to next summer already. And just a couple days after the soltice I know how I'll be welcoming in the summer: by schlepping the Tarmac Pro up the 8,600-plus feet of climbing that is the Chelan Century Challenge. One of my favorite rides ever! I just signed up for the 2012 event a couple days ago. Looks likely to be a Titanium Cowboy team assault too so I'm very much looking forward to it!

Click here for my report on last year's amazing ride.

Sunday, January 15, 2012


Here's a vid from yesterday's Masters B race. Fun, muddy, wet, mucky day full of falls and mechanicals.

Friday, January 13, 2012


Yesterday, the excellent Glenn Gervais invited me on a lunchtime CX ride with some of his co-workers from Logos Bible Software. Beautiful ride on a beautiful day. (For Jan 12, that is: about 38 to 40 degrees, some sun, no wind.) Our route: south through Fairhaven, across Taylor Dock, the back trails at Padden, a traverse of Lower Galby and down the pipeline, Whatcom Falls Park and back to downtown. Enjoy the vid!

Sunday, January 08, 2012


A true Owl-apalooza in the Great White North today. Saw about 30 Snowy Owls hanging out on the driftwood beaches of Boundary Bay. Incredibly amazingly beautiful!

It's very simple to get there too, about a half-hour once you cross the border into Canada.

From the border, follow Hwy 99 to Ladner Trunk Rd. (exit 20, I believe.) Head west for a few miles (not far) to 72nd Street, turn left and follow to the end. (Again not far.) Park on the side of the road, walk toward the obvious dike-top trail and start counting snowy owls.

Thursday, January 05, 2012


This looks like fun. (I mean, if you're into that whole running sort of thing, which we appear to be these days.) James Varner's signif. other, Candice Burt, is heading up the Bellingham Trail Running Series with races at Fragrance Lake, Stewart Mountain, Alger Alp, Sehome Hill and Raptor Ridge. Nice thing about these is that, like Varner's Rainshadow Running Series, they offer a short and long option. Fragrance Lake will feature a 10K and a 20K, Stewart Mountain a 5K and 10K and so on. To me, this seems like a perfect fit for B'ham. Way to go, guys!

First race is Fragrance Lake on February 12.

Sunday, January 01, 2012


This is one of those years when the snowy owls descend upon the Northwest in higher than normal numbers so the fam and I headed up to Sandy Point in the hopes of spotting a couple. Here they are: Hedwig 1 (above) and Hedwig 2 (below), both of which were perched atop folks' roofs across the street from each other right there on Main Street, Sandy Point. (Sucia Drive.)

They're incredibly beautiful birds that exude sort of mythical, otherworldy presence. About 15 years ago, Jen and I spotted 6 down at the West 90 Turn in the Skagit Flats and 22 (22!) up at Boundary Bay.

Above, Jen and Bake check out Hedwig 2 whilst Hedwig 1 hangs out across the street.