Jaguar Shark
He’s got hydrogen psychosis, the crazy-eye!


Pretty in Pink

Haven Angelina Bartlett
1 week old.


I turned 45 on September 6th. But that was Labor Day weekend and that seemed like a busy weekend to try to do a good challenge. So I decided to do the challenge the next weekend. After hashing it out and trying to figure out what exactly to do I came up with the challenge. It was a 2-part challenge. Part 1 was a weekend challenge:

In 45 hours I would run/jog/hike 45 kilometers(28 miles), ride my bike off 45 obstacles and climb 45 boulder problems. I knew I could do the boulder problems and the obstacles. I wasn’t sure about the run/jog/hike, especially since I wanted to do it all in one go if possible.

Bob decided to join me and let me know that he was going to try to get here Friday September 9th with enough time and light to get a mountain bike ride in. We  got our stuff ready, had an oat soda or two and headed to the trail head. Immediately I got a quick huck off the slab in.

Obstacle #1

We quickly headed out for the ride. It was a pretty good mix of riding and hitting stunts. We got some good trail riding in and I got to ride some fun stuff.

George's Drop

This is one I helped build and it’s pretty spicy.

Homeless Drop

This roller is so good you can do it from both directions. The picture’s a bit blurry, but I kind of like that about it.

Steep gumdrop foller

We finished up and headed home. I think we had almost 20 obstacles ridden, so it was a good start to the challenge. We rode into a nice sunset on our way to the car. 

Sunset at Sycamore Rocks

 When we got home Amber had made us some delicious stir fry and then we sat on the patio and watched the lightning and hydrated with a few more oat sodas.


Saturday morning we had a little bit of a leisurely start, probably hitting the road for the first run around 9am. I have a loop I do from my house that is either 3 or 4 miles depending on how I do it. We did the 4 mile variation and I took it easy and walked up any uphills, knowing that my legs were going to get hammered and I’d need all the help I could get by the end of the day. The run went well. We grabbed some supplies for the day and went out to the next leg. This was a long 12 mile run in the desert. Pat joined us for this and we got busy. It actually has a fair amount of climbing at the start, so I walked a lot of that and then tried to job as much as possible.

The weather was pretty amazing. The were some clouds in the sky and it was pretty cool. I think it was the best weather I’ve ever had for a birthday challenge. You could see a potential for rain but it seemed like we might not get any where we were. So I called myself lucky and kept going.

At somewhere around mile 10 total I told Bob that we had done 10 miles and he was guessing that we had already done 16. I think he just normally goes by time and since his pace is faster than mine he assumed we had ran farther than we did. Oh well, I figure the gps doesn’t lie too much.

Pat and I running towards Bell Mountain.

Bob and I cruising on a nice downhill section.

Somewhere around the 11 or 12 mile mark my legs started to worry me. I was getting these little shocks in my thigh muscles that are usually a pre-curser to cramping. Sure enough, not too long later I started to get little cramps. Most of them were on my abductor muscles on the thigh and they weren’t too bad but it kept me from running too much. I would run a little bit, walk a little bit, run a little bit, etc… The last 4 miles were pretty grueling and by the time I got back to the car I was feeling pretty hammered. Another 12 miles didn’t seem so feasible right then.

Feeling Dead

 We headed home to resupply, grab some bouldering gear and rehudrate. I have had some good luck with pickle juice helping me on bad cramping days, so when we got home I ate the rest of the pickles in the house and drank all the juice. I also had some sports drinks, water and a beer. I had planned on doing all the running in one go, but Bob and I decided that it might be better to go do some bouldering and then do some more running after that.

We headed to an area called Airport Rocks and started playing around. It’s always fun taking someone new to an area. Bob was exploring and looking at things that we hadn’t paid much attention to. Unfortunately it seemed like someone had recently had a big paintball battle there. I couldn’t believe how many paintballs were littered on the ground and the stuff on the rocks was still wet and slimy. We had to skip a few problems and I definitely slipped on a few problems due to wet fingertips or shoes.

Paintball splattered boulders aren't perfect for climbing.

We also admired the graffiti. There was a whole lot of it promoting 4:20 and smoking weed, as well as the gratuitous sexual references. We liked this one a lot.

We weren’t sure whether she was supposed to be a ‘Tard or a Turd but we liked the amibiguity of it.

We managed to get 35 Boulder problems in and decided to get some more trail running in. Just as we were getting in the car there was a very loud clap of thunder. We figured we were safer in the car, so we hopped in and took off.

We were back at the Slab for some trail running and it seemed like we were going to be alright with the weather. But as we started to jog up the trail it started to rain slightly and we could see lightning in the distance. As we continued to run it seemed like the storm and lightning was coming towards us and the rain was getting harder. Bob said that it was my challenge, so he’d let me decide what to do. We kept going but then it just seemed like a bad idea to keep going so we turned around. Fortunately it’s mostly downhill to the car so we made good time. Unfortunately it was really starting to rain so we got soaked.  Still we did get another 3 miles or so in, which got me to 19 total.

We quickly left the storm behind, since everything was pretty localized. But when we got back home it was just starting to sprinkle there. Drats. We still had a little light left, so we decided to do another short run and figured that we could handle getting wet if that’s what happened. The rain stopped almost as soon as we started, so we didn’t have to worry about that. We got four miles in and finished as it was getting dark. 23 miles down, 5 more to go. Time to clean up and get some dinner.

We went to Viva Maria’s a favorite Mexican Restaurant of ours and had some margaritas and way too much food. By the end of dinner both Bob and I felt like crap. I think we had done too much exercise to digest our food properly and we felt like we had huge food bombs in our guts. Bob and talked about putting some beers in his backpack and going for a walk to get another couple miles in. So we did. The moon was almost full so everything was pretty well lit. We were also hoping that walking would make our stomachs feel better, but it never happened. In the end, we just kept walking and I finished the last five miles I had. 45K of running/jogging/walking down. Time to sit on the patio, watch some more lightning and relax before heading to bed.

We were pretty leisurely again on Sunday morning. I had 10 more boulder problems and 25 more obstacles on the bike and we figured we could get it done without having to stress too much. We headed to Horseman’s Center and the Napkin for the bouldering and Pat met us there.

Tubby ticking #39

Pat was bouldering well, even doing some of the circus routes. This one is called “Belva Rocks” and you can only touch the rock with your feet, knees, and/or head.

I couldn’t do it that day, but this picture is a very good reminder of why I want to lose 45 pounds over the course of the next year. But Pat floated it.

The most notorious problem on the boulder is “The Sound of Gummy Tapping.” It’s not that hard, but I broke my ankle falling off it a few years ago and our friend Josh broke his wrist falling off of it many years prior. Neither of us had a good spotter. Now we refuse to do it without making sure we are spotted well.

I finished the bouldering in good style with an ascent of a fun endurance problem that is still waiting for a name from Pat. Only a bunch of bike stunts to go. I switched over to my biking gear and started playing around on the rocks at Horseman’s Center. It was fun cruising around and looking for things to try. It went pretty quick and soon I was almost done.

In the video on this one you can see my front wheel wash out, but I was able to save it. Definitely scary. Bob thought I was done here, but I was pretty sure I had one more.

That was the last one, but I did one more for good measure. Challenge completed. I was tired but satisfied and feeling good. We headed home and a few hours later some friends joined us for a BBQ at our house where Amber and I made pizza on the BBQ. We hadn’t tried it before but it turned out pretty good.

Here’s the video of most of the 45 stunts on the bike. Like usual they always look easier on video than when you are staring them in the face. Why is that?

Now all I have to do is lose 45 pounds quickly. I’ve started working on it, but there’s a long ways to go.


Candace turned 27 on Friday June 24th. She had decided that within 27 hours she would ride 27 miles on her mountain bike and run 27 miles. I was trying to convince her that she should also drink 2.7 liters of beer or at least 2.7 beers but she wasn’t going for it.

The plan was for her to do some running early in the morning on Saturday the 25th of June. Then her and Andy would hop in the truck and meet me and some other riders at the Gray’s Peak trailhead at 9:30am where we would do the Hanna Flats trail with the optional loop up to Gray’s Peak. That should give Candace about 15 miles of trail riding. Then she was going to switch back into running mode and run part of the way around Big Bear Lake. We would then head to Running Springs and ride to the top of Keller Peak and take the Exploration Trail back to the car. Then Candace and Andy would go home and she would run a bit more that night and then finish up in the morning.

While I was getting ready Saturday morning I got a text from Candace. She had just ran 10.25 miles and they were heading up the mountain. We all met at the Fire Station after we figured out that we were meeting there instead of the trailhead and got ready to go. The group was Andy and Candace, Jeff and Katie, Mike and Courtney, Wendy and myself. The first part of the ride is paved and then fire road to get out to the Hanna Flat Campground. There is about 400 feet of elevation gain here, but it feels like more. Somehow two of the girls took a wrong turn and went missing. Their husbands went back to find them. Eventually Jeff rode back to where we were waiting and said that the girls would be back soon. Suddenly we see Mike riding past the campground. We all yelled for him, but he was pretty far away and had his headphones on. Jeff took off after him to chase him down. But it’s pretty fast downhill there so it was about 2 miles before he caught up to him. While we were waiting for Jeff and Mike to return the ladies got back and Candace, Wendy and I started riding again and figured the others would catch up to us later.

As we got to the start of the trail we saw this on the side of the trail.

Neil was up at Snow Summit doing a demo but had ridding the trail first and had left some little surprises for Candace. Very Cool.

The trail is awesome and we made decent time with a few regroups. At one regroup I decided that I could make a log ride. I piled up some limbs that had fallend off another tree for a ramp and gave it a go. The first one I didnt’ commit and didn’t make it on the log. The second time I got up on the log, but was a little off balance. I endo’d off the log, trying to jump over the bike at the same time. I got a few scratches from the thorny bush I ended up in and hit my shin on some part of the bike. I also impaled my arm with a thorn and haven’t been able to get it out yet.

Then Katie and Courtney showed up and Courtney had some new scratches to show off. The trail was loose and sandy in places and she had slid out in one of the sandy spots.


We continued on to the turn off for Gray’s Peak. Here we found another one of Neil’s surprises.


Katie and Courtney headed back to the car instead of doing the climb. I started up with Candace and Wendy and quickly got dropped. Then I was passed by Jeff and Mike. Andy rode with me for a bit, but I was too slow and he quickly got bored and left me behind too. I struggled on the climb but eventually joined them at the top. Everyone was sitting on a rock outcrop enjoying the beers that Jeff had carried with him.

Soon we headed down. I think it was 4 miles to the trailhead from here and it was awesome riding. There was enough rocks to make it interesting without making it too hard. At the bottom we found that Mike had broken the carbon frame that Jeff was borrowing from a mutual friend. Mike already had a reputation for breaking stuff and this will add to it. Some more trail pictures.


We rested at the trailhead and enjoyed some cupcakes and beer while Candace got ready to run.


Candace started running and we all headed for burgers. Hey, it’s not our Birthday Challenge.

I think it was about 5 miles to the Burger Depot and we were just finishing when they arrived. We headed over to Running Springs to climb up Keller Peak.

This climb was about 6 miles long and climbed almost 2000 feet. I was having a bad day and was dropped about a mile in when it got steeper. As I got near the top I could see the tower on top and was checking out the sun in the pines.

I was almost to the summit when they started heading down. I was taking too long and they were getting tired of waiting. Can’t say I blame them. We regrouped at the start of the Exploration Trail.From he

From here it was lots of fun killer singletrack with some techy sections thrown in for good measure. Early on I was trying to follow Jeff too closely and ended up off the trail and in a bush. The bush saved me from a long slide, so “Thank you, Mr. Bush.”

After that it was lots of fun trail.

Near the bottom Andy stopped and picked up some stuff that had fallen out of Wendy’s seat bag and told me to go catch them. I raced ahead and when I caught them they were stopped. Candace was lying in a heap in the trail and it looked bad.

Candace said that she kept her eyes open the whole time. She endo’d over a rock and then handplanted off another to keep from augering into it. She landed on her camelback on a smooth section of trail. She was fine apart from a lot of dirt and some minor scratches. Very lucky.

Shortly we were in the parking lot celebrating some great riding. Candace’s hair was looking fantastic so Andy documented it for her.

I ended up with close to 4000 feet of climbing, with all of it above 6000 feet. I was wasted, but Candace had to go home and do some more running.

I got a text the next morning that she had finished and she was pretty excited. She completed her last run at 7:45 with 15 minutes to spare.

Then I got a text shortly after that: “2.7 beers before 27 hours was up…no longer sober haha” What a great way to finish a Birthday Challenge. Great Job Candace. I think next year you’ll have to make it harder.


I kept my exercise regime going through February and am feeling pretty good. I still want to step it up a bit, but it’s hard to get up earlier in the morning so that I can squeeze in longer workouts. But here’s the tally for February:

8 bike rides, totaling 63 miles on the bike.

2 3-mile runs.

4 days of Power 90 Strength.

2 days of Power 90 Cardio.

1 day of Yoga.

1 5K Snowshoe.

4 days of bouldering.

1 Family Walk.

5 rest days, including one day where Amber was sick and I watched Levi and helped out at home.

My weight has pretty much stayed the same. It seems like I have been hovering at 231-232 for a while. I’m hoping to get below 230 soon, but it hasn’t happened yet. I am adding some muscle I’m sure, so that’s part of the equation.

We spent the last weekend in San Diego so instead of doing any real exercise I walked around Sea World for a few days and explored San Diego some. It was a nice relaxing family weekend and we were pretty happy with how well Levi slept in the hotel.

Levi and Daddy checking out the fishes.

Levi loves to run around and sometimes I let him take off so he can have some fun and burn off some energy.

Amber didn’t want to chase him, so she tried out his new leash. I was prepared to hate it, but he seemed not to mind and he loves dogs (it’s disguises as Pluto) and it did keep him from running away. So I guess it’s alright.

March is going pretty good so far. I have ran twice and took about 5 minutes off my 3-mile time. Which isn’t too impressive, because I’m still running damn slow. But I’ve gone from 12 minute miles to 10:20 min/miles, so that’s good. My hamstring hurts today, so I’m going to have to watch that, since running seems to aggravate it.



Grondhog’s Day came and went and I guess we are having an early Spring. That’s not really perfect since we had the mildest January I ever remember. We had a good storm right around New Year’s and it’s been in the 60’s and 70’s almost every day since with no precipitation. Good for exercise but not so good for the plants.

I have continued to exercise and am definitely feeling more fit. This past weekend Amber, Levi and I joined two other couples in Big Bear for a Snowshoe Run. But since there hasn’t been new snow in over a month, snowshoes were optional. We’d already rented ours, so we figured we might as well use them. Levi joined me in the Child Carrier and had a great time. It was 38 degrees when we left Apple Valley but as we pulled into Big Bear at 7,000 feet it was almost 50 degrees. Crazy. But at least we wouldn’t be cold. We all walked the course very leisurely with the exception of Candace who decided to run it at the last moment. She won the 5K by a large margin and got a nice pair of Atlas snow shoes as a prize. Way to go Candace.

Chad, Laura, Andy, Candace, Levi and Me.


Exercise update:

In January I got at least 30 minutes of exercise on 29 days and took 2 days off. I ran 3 times for a total of 7 miles. I rode my bike 7 times and got 78 miles in. I also went bouldering a few times, did some Power 90 and Hip Hop Abs a hike or two and many family walks around the neighborhood. My weight is about the same, but I might have lost 2-3 pounds. But I definitely feel stronger so I think I probably lost a little fat and put on a little muscle.

So far for February I have exercised 9 out of 10 days. I am going to try to get more running in, but it’s probably what I’m the least motivated to do, so it might be hard. Time will tell. I’m also going to think more about my diet and see if I can drop a few more pounds.



I’m still on the exercise plan, so that’s a good thing. Actually it’s a great thing. Nothing special, but I’m still getting on it so I’m happy about that. The last week consisted of a few bike rides, a few mornings of P90, a couple family walks, a few hours of bouldering, one 3-mile run, and two days of hiking around the desert. I even did a short campus board and pull-up routine yesterday. How odd.

Tuesday was the local time trial. I had given blood that morning and my legs felt dead. I cut the course a few times, but had a good time and got my heart rate way up.

Chuggin along during the TT


I also got out in the Jeep for a fun day on the rocks. I’m still amazed by what these vehicles can do.

On 3 wheels as I get set up for the Notch


Levi continues to grow and is more active and more talkative every day. It’s awesome.

My parents get to spend a fair amount of time with Levi and he loves it.



Well, I finished the first week and I’m pretty much still on target, which is good. Sometimes it’s way easy to mess up a resolution and then it’s easy for me to get discouraged and then just blow it off.

I managed to exercise every day of the year so far, which is my basic goal and as stated before I don’t really care what the exercise is. The day playing in the snow with Levi and friends was a pretty good example, as were the two days where the only exercise I got was a simple walk around the neighborhood with Amber and Levi.

I also got my first run of the year in. I don’t really run, so the fun part of this will be that I should be able to see a fair amount of improvement. Yesterday I mapped out a 3 mile route. It’s got a little bit of elevation change in it, but certainly not enough to say that it has any climbing. It’s on the local trails, which should keep it interesting. I did the 3 miles in 36:10, so I’m obviously not fast. I jogged the first mile and then took some short walk breaks between runs after that. It felt good and my legs definitely felt tired last night. Cool.

I also got a little (very little) campusing in this week, a couple of bike rides, a couple of walks and 4 times with some Power 90.

My weight is about the same, but it was 233 this morning, so hopefully a good week will help bring that down some more.



So a bunch of people have been talking about doing more exercise this year. Sounds like a good idea to me.

This is basically what I sent a few friends:

Exercise 30 minutes 6 days a week. Pretty much anything counts as long as my heart rate elevates some and I’m using my muscles. Today I ran around in the snow for an hour playing with Levi and sledding. Yep, that counts. I guess one part should be that at least one of these days has to be a family thing or with Levi at the very least.

 Drop weight to at least 210. Currently around 230. I’d like to be under 2 Bills, but I’m not sure how realistic that is. (Edit: 235 and 28.5% body fat this afternoon).

 I’d like to run more/some. So maybe at least one run a week, as long as I’m not injured. I hurt my hamstring twice last year and both of them took about a month to feel good again. Not sure exactly what I did, but I think it was from doing Yoga and not sure what caused it, but likely a muscle imbalance or some other injury that I haven’t dealt with that is causing it to get hurt when doing Yoga. Not sure what to do to make it better.

 I’ve been enjoying bouldering this fall and would like to keep climbing. Bouldering works better than roped climbing because Levi can tag along better and it doesn’t take as long to get a complete workout in. I’d like to be able to boulder V5 again, but that might be too easy, so my goal would be to do a V6 that I haven’t done previously (not sure how many of those there are, but not many, but still, it should be a problem I don’t know).

The daily exercise will certainly be the hardest but I think I can squeeze in a half hour before work in the morning without waking Levi and without having to disrupt the family schedule too much. I’ve got the original P90 and the Power Half Hour videos from which will be good for this. I will probably try to find some other stuff in the same time frame. The P90X stuff is too long for me to do it before work because I just won’t wake up that much earlier, even though that would probably be the easiest place to find time.

So, let’s see how it goes. So far so good, but then it’s only day 3 of 2011.




Lisa sent out an email to a bunch of like-minded folks who happen to be Steve’s friends. She wanted to see if they would consider doing a challenge for Steve for his 50th birthday on November 22nd. I said “Sure” and then decided to try to complete my 44th BC, which I failed miserably on not too long ago. Of course, the number changed to 50. I explained it to Amber and she just laughed and said I was crazy. She said that there was no way I could do 50 miles on the bike if I couldn’t even do 44 for my challenge. But she’s not really a Birthday Challenge kind of person, so I tried to ignore her as best as possible and get to training.

So I wrote Lisa: ”

“For my 44th birthday, I recently tried to ride my mountain bike 44 miles, climb 44 boulder problems and do 44 jumps of at least 44 cms. I failed miserably on the bike ride but managed to do the other stuff. So, for Steve’s 50th I’m going to ride my mountain bike 50 miles, climb 50 boulder problems and do 50 jumps of at least 50cm, spend 50 minutes playing outside with Levi and give my wife 50 minutes of back massages in a 50 hour period.  I’m leaning towards Nov. 6th and 7th for the challenge, but it might come later.”

I got some riding in with a few longish rides and went bouldering about once a week. I played with Levi lots and gave Amber a few massages of very short duration. I figured I was ready.

I started relatively early on Sat. Nov. 6th and drove out to some trails that my friend Chad made. His goal was to build some trails near his house that would tie into some other trails in the Honda Valley area. I figured that between the two trail systems I could get 25-30 miles and a good start on my challenge. Chad was hoping to join me, but couldn’t, so I wandered off on my own to try to find his trails. They are pretty new and not burned in very well. I found the start of it and got moving. But then it dumped me out on a fireroad and I went the wrong way. This would have been okay, but I came across a orange painted rock, which is how the trail was marked. So with new confidence that I was going the right way I plugged along. The trail headed downhill and then entered a canyon and it just didn’t seem right. I had been following some tire tracks but they had mostly disappeared, so I decided I must be offroute. I back tracked and headed the other way on the fireroad.

I had tried to call Chad a few times to figure out where I was supposed to go and he hadn’t answered. Finally he sent me a text saying that he had lost his voice. So we spent a while sending texts back and forth with him trying to tell me where to pick up the trail. I was headed the right way and with Chad’s help I found the rest of the trail. I did some extra easy riding while I was out and didn’t have any real problems besides having to fix a hole in my tube and tire from where I impaled it with a large stick. Leave it to The Big Engine to pierce a tire with a stick. Uggh. I was also low on food and drink, but I kept riding since I didn’t have much of a choice and was looking for more miles. I ended up with 34 miles for this section and was pretty happy. I didn’t feel too bad and figured I could do the rest of the miles from my house.

Here’s my bike next to the singletrack.

Here’s the garmin connect info for this part:

I got home and rested for a while and refueled. I didn’t get going as quickly as I would have liked and took my bike light with me because I figured there was a good chance I would finish in the dark. I had taken a bunch of salt and potassium tablets as well as some tums and some pickle juice in an effort to stave off the cramps. I wasn’t sure how well it was working because I felt like I might cramp at any time for the first 3 miles. But strangely after that I felt pretty good and was able to keep moving. I was certainly riding slowly, but I wasn’t cramping and it was good. I rode the last 5 miles or so with the headlight on. I got home and my computer told me I was a half mile short. I rode around the block and my odometer said 50.2. Awesome. Amber snapped a picture and then I called it a day.

Before we went to bed I gave Amber a short massage. It felt like it was 20-25 minutes but it turned out to be only 10. Uh oh, 40 more minutes of massage might be harder than I thought.

The next morning I planned on heading out to the boulders after breakfast, but Amber wanted to go run some errands because it’s hard to do them during the week when she’s watching Levi. I said okay and she took off. I figured this was a good chance to get some time in playing with Levi. So we headed to the backyard and started playing.

First we played with some leaves and Levi tried to figure out what they smell like.

 He ran around some more and then Levi picked some green tomatoes and tried to eat them. He loves tomatoes, but he hasn’t figured out that the red ones are the ones he should pick. He bites the green ones and then spits them out and then usually picks another green one. Whatever, he seems to like it.

I also picked some ripes ones and cut them up for him so he could eat them. I think he likes it.

Amber was gone a long time. In fact I decided I was going to have to just go bouldering with Levi. I took off and fortunately he fell asleep in the car. You can drive right up to the boulders, so I parked close and left him in the car with the window down.

I got 13 boulder problems in before he woke up. I tried to let him run around while I bouldered, but the area was littered with broken glass. Levi was fascinated by it and wanted to pick up each and every piece. There was no way I could take my eyes off him, so I packed him back in the car and went home.

Amber did eventually come home and I headed back out for more fun on the boulders. I managed to get in all 50 problems before the sun went down. But just barely. I had my camera with me but forgot to take any photos. So just before I left I climbed one rock with my Jeep and took a picture of it

I got home and still had 50 jumps to do before I could finish up with Amber’s massage. I got on the bike and got the jump in position. By this time the sun was setting. It was a beautiful sunset as I got ready to jump.

It quickly got darker but I just kept jumping. I took a couple self portraits but it was hard to time the jump with the self timer. But you can see the conditions I was jumping in.

Amber came out to check on me and took a better photo.

I finished the 50 jumps shortly after this was taking and I didn’t manage to crash once, which was a big concern.

I went in and relaxed for a while. Then it was time for Amber’s massage time. It was only 40 minutes but it felt way longer. My hands were cramping up and my shoulders were very tired. But I finished it.

That was the first birthday challenge I had completed in a long time. Thanks for the inspiration Lisa and Steve. You can see more of the challenges here:  There are some very impressive challenges there. It’s certainly a testament to the kind of friends that Steve has.

Now it’s time to start thinking about next year’s challenge.


I did my first Birthday Challenge on my 34th birthday.

I was in better shape then and had a great time. I was exhausted by the end of it, but also triumphant. I haven’t really put a lot into a Birthday Challenge in quite a while and this year was no different. Last year I tried to ride 43 miles on the mountain bike and climb 43 boulder problems. I wasn’t super motivated and quit pretty early. In fact, I don’t know if I even tried any boulder problems. This year I decided to try the same challenge, except it was 44 of everything of course. I also added 44 drops of at least 44 centimeters (~17 inches) to the challenge. I didn’t ride my bike much this summer and I haven’t been climbing at all, so I wasn’t really any better prepared than last year. Oh oh.

Andy and Candace decided to join me for the challenge and Pat and Chad were also going to help out where they could. I already had more support than last year, so that was a good omen. The ride was planned for Sunday Sept. 5th and the bouldering was going to be on Monday the 6th.

It was fairly warm for the riding, but not as bad as a few days earlier. We got off to a typical late start, leving the house at about 8:30. We should have started at 6am, or even done some of it at night. Oh well, live and learn…maybe.

We rode from the house and pretty soon I started to find things to jump off. Some of them were fairly challenging, which made it more fun. This one had a very short take off ramp and a bad angle. But it did have a stuffed pink unicorn, so what could go wrong.

Another one.

I wasn’t riding as fast as I would like, but I had a bunch of technical stuff at the beginning of the challenge, before some later stuff that would be good for adding mileage. At about Mile 12 Chad met us with some supplies. While we were standing around eating there was a super loud gunshot that went off right where we were standing. I got pelted by a bunch of sand from it and we all tried to figure out where to take cover. Then we figured out that it was my front tire. I exploded the tire and even severed the bead. Good thing it happened when I wasn’t flying through one of the rocky sections.

We got back on the bikes, with me on Pat’s bike and Chad and Pat heading to my house to pick up an extra wheel (we all had different front axles, so I couldn’t just borrow a front wheel from someone). I’m doing okay at this point, but starting to feel tired. This could be bad.

On the other hand, Candace didn’t really look tired. Amber called her Kick Ass Candace, which is pretty apt.

There are a ton of fun technical sections out at Sycamore Rocks. I didn’t think I could ride all of them and complete the challenge, but I figured that I needed to do some or I would feel shame. This is Set Free Ledge.

Can you see the line?

Andy’s Turn

It was shortly after this that things started to go South quickly. I started to cramp. Bad. At one point I almost fell off the bike and I couldn’t find a way to position myself to relieve the cramp. Stretching didn’t help and if it did then I just started cramping somewhere else. I found that if I walked it eased up a bit. I tried to ride, but every time I had to raise my leg at the backend of a pedal stroke I started to cramp. Fortunately Chad’s car was close and I eventually made it there. I grabbed a beer and sat down. I didn’t feel so good and I looked the same.

Perhaps lying down would feel better.

We changed the plan at this point and decided that riding home would make more sense than riding further away. We had Chad’s car at this point, but he had to leave, so we would have to make it home with what we could carry. After 20 minutes I didn’t feel any better and wasn’t sure that I wouldn’t have to walk the 12 miles home because I couldn’t ride without cramping. I decided to call it and we all crammed into Chad’s car and went home. I was disappointed, but I was also completely thrashed and knew I didn’t have much left in me. But at least I could do the boulder problems the next day if I got lucky.

The next day I felt alright and we started at about the same time as the day before. Pat joined Candace, Andy and me for the bouldering. We started at Deadman’s Point because I wanted to do an old boulder problem from 24 years ago.  I had forgotten how tall it was and was a bit concerned when Candace started to scamper around in her running shoes.

The only one not concerned was Candace. Pat scrambled up to help make sure she was okay.

Andy was having a good time on the boulders too, but a torn ACL kept him from really going for it. Lookin good on the “Anti-Steel Crack.”

We found a lot of different things to climb and were making pretty good time. This one had an interesting start and then some good exposure to keep it interesting.

Next problem left

We did a few more problems there and then headed to Horseman’s center and The Napkin. I started climbing on his boulder 20 years ago and have climbed on it a lot. It’s one of my favorite boulders anywhere. We skipped the harder problems in order to save skin, but we did do some of the circus problems, including “Whirling Dervish” where you do a 360 degree spin on the slab before grabbing the jug. Pat did a nice ascent of “Belva Rocks” which is a no hands problem. Even though she’s my Mom I wasn’t able to conquer the problem. Drats.

Pat trying hard on “The Sound of Gummy Tapping.” my friend Josh and I have both broken bones on this problem, but today we had better spotters and no one fell.

At this point we were half way through the boulder problems and it was starting to get hot. We made our way to a little saddle with a boulder in it, hoping for a bit of a breeze. No suck luck. But we did find 11 problems and now only had 11 to go. We went back to some boulders near the cars and were able to find 11 more problems. Our tips were sore, our muscles were sore, and we were hot. But we managed to finish the boulder problems, so I was pretty psyched.

About this time we were saying that I should have brought my bike so I could at least finish the jumps. We decided to go home and build one so I could get my 44 drops in.

Once Andy got past the fact that the blade spins backwards he did just fine with the power tools.

The finished product

Andy helped Levi check it out for me.

Levi approves

Amber was pretty worried about the whole thing. In order to help decrease her worrying I put on my pads and the full face helmet.

I put a little ramp on the other side and tried to see if I could roll it.

I had to add a longer approach ramp to get up it, but I was able to hop up it as well.

Unfortunately Andy informed me that it wasn’t a drop or jump so that wouldn’t count. So it goes.

It was pretty fun with everyone hanging out and keeping track of the jumps.

 I decided to jump the whole thing. Heck, I might have even gotten a little stylish.

Finally I was finished with my 44 Jumps. Folks were trying to convince to get on the civilized bike and get a quick 20 mile in but I wasn’t inspired. Instead I sat down and had another beer. Maybe next year…

Big thanks to Amber, Levi, Candace, Andy, Pat and Chad. I wouldn’t have done nearly as well without the support.

Candace figured out that I did 85% of my challenge, so she gave me a “B.”  I’ll take it.