August 30, 2008

Vermont Part 2: Burlington

The Vermont trip report is going to be too long for one post, so I am going to split it into four. Below are the details of our first stop: Burlington. This part of the trip was full of misadventures.

Misadventure 1: We did not take the camera out the first few days of the trip (sorry, no pictures).

Misadventure 2: After we arrived at our camping spot Saturday night, we decided to ride bikes into downtown Burlington for dinner. Adam was on his mountain bike, I was on my road bike, and Josh was on Marcy's road bike (Marcy stayed behind with Sophia). After dinner, we headed to the liquor store to get supplies for the rest of the weekend.

While biking through town, I hear Josh behind me having some issues shifting Marcy's bike. Then I hear a loud grinding sound, clanging, and expletives from Josh's mouth. Turns out the chain had slipped from the largest rear cog to the inside, where there was no room for a chain. To make room, the chain started to rip the spokes out of the wheel. The final damage report was 8 broken spokes to Marcy's racing bike. Oops. Somehow, the wheel was still true enough to ride and Josh made it back to the campground, carrying a 12-pack no less.

Marcy wasn't too happy to hear about the state of her bike the next morning. But Josh and Adam were able to get it fixed by Sunday afternoon in time for Marcy and I to head out for a ride. Instead of spending my Sunday morning at the bike shop, I got to relax on the beach of Lake Champlain.

Misadventure 3: We had tickets to a concert Sunday evening, but didn't have enough time to cook dinner beforehand. But it was an outdoor concert, so we decided to bring the BBQ down with us. We grilled on the grass just outside the concert, so we could hear the music while we ate and then head into the concert afterward.

Marcy and Adam (with Sophia trailer) rode their bikes the mile and half on the bike path down to the concert. I chose to leave my bike behind, as we didn't actually have a bike lock and I was a little concerned about leaving it unattended. Josh and I decided to share the longboard (skateboard) as our mode of transportation. We tried to ride tandem, but that never really works. So, we settled for a relay and arrived at the BBQ not too long after the bikers. We spent most of the concert BBQing outside and drinking the beer and wine we brought with us.

Marcy and Sopia headed back to the campground early, while the rest of us headed into the concert. As we were leaving the concert, we saw some of Adam's friends who had driven from the campground. Josh quickly bailed on the longboard ride home and hopped in the car. By this time it was dark and I had drunk half a bottle of wine plus some beer. The ride home was going fine, I was cruising and my headlamp was providing enough light for me to see the edge of the path. However, it did not provide enough light for me to see the pile of sand (we were along a beach) that I ran into. The longboard came to a quick halt in the sand, but my body did not. I flew forward, catching myself with my face. I quickly got up and assessed the damage. Adam rode up, seeing me look at the blood on my hand, "is it your nose?" "uh, no, teeth" and I sort of smiled at him. He gave me an utter look of horror. We were only half way back and there weren't any access points to the bike path. So, I saw no point to standing around. I picked up the longboard and sprinted my way back to the campground.

Upon arriving back at the campground, the whole situation started to sink in. I started to cry. Why? Because I was in pain? No, the half bottle of wine was numbing any of that. Because I could possibly have permanent scars on my face? Nope. Because with my crap student health insurance this was going to cost me a lot? Not that either. I was really just thinking about how much it was going to suck if I couldn't do the half-ironman come Saturday. At the time, the 6-months of training I had put into the race seemed more important than my health and finances.

After a trip to the ER, it was determined that the worst damage was to my two front teeth. The scraps on my nose and upper lip weren't too deep. My knee was only scraped and bruised. I headed to the dentist Monday morning and it was confirmed that I had not done any nerve damage by chipping off about the bottom third of my teeth. The dentist didn't want to do anything right away because my upper lip was still quite swollen, so I decided to wait until we returned to Boulder to get my teeth fixed.

I was still able to race the next weekend. The swelling in my lip had gone down by then, so I could eat and drink comfortably (important when racing long distances). The scabs on my nose and above my lip actually fell off during the swim and it was decided that I looked much better when I finished the race than when I started. I am still waiting to see if I will have a permanent scar above my lip, but if I do it will be fairly small and unnoticeable (and my own fault for swimming many times before it healed properly). After having broken teeth for the last 2 1/2 weeks, I finally got them fixed today and I think you can't even tell this whole incident ever happened.

If I had better reaction time (i.e., less wine), I might have ended up with a broken wrist, twisted ankle, or damage to some other joint necessary for triathlon. The moral of the story is: if you are going to fall off a skateboard and break something less than a week before a big race, it is best to land on your face.

August 26, 2008

Vermont - Part 1

Ashley and I recently returned from a great trip to Vermont to visit our friends, Adam, Marcy, and their 2-year-old daughter, Sophia. Ashley has been officially nominated to create the blog post for the trip, with my responsibilities to fill in the mountain biking parts, which only Adam and I were involved with. I am leaving for Peru in a day and a half, so I'm submitting my contribution now to avoid undue delay.

Adam spent much of the week in preparation for teaching classes at Norwich University in the town of Northfield, Vermont. Classes started yesterday, so various administrative activities were 'necessary' over the course of the previous week. Anyway, most days when Adam finished with his obligations, we took off on mountain bike rides from his house (about a mile or less from the university). Rides included primitive loop rides on Payne Mountain and Winch Hill (essentially in Northfield) and a more developed ride just outside of Waterbury, Vermont (home to Ben and Jerry's).

By primitive, I mean that Adam is probably one of only a handful of people who knows how to complete said loops without getting lost. Often times, I found myself following Adam through grass fields with no apparent trail. Other times, we would stop and do trail maintenance. I'm sure that few other people ride these 'trails'. In all fairness, much of the uphill part of the rides were on more established 4-wheel drive doubletrack before heading cross-country down the hill.

I don't mean to imply anything negative by the term 'primitive'. I actually quite enjoyed these rides and was impressed by Adam's local knowledge and navigational skills. As the vast majority of the state would classify as primitive by my standards, the trails we rode near Northfield were quite fitting. We didn't manage any great action photos during these rides, but we did end up with some mediocre video footage that doesn't quite give proper justice to them.

August 04, 2008

Spearhead - North Ridge

Keith and Melanie were kind enough to invite me along for a Saturday night bivy in Glacier Gorge and subsequent climb of the North Ridge of Spearhead in Rocky Mountain National Park. Spearhead is a granite monolith in the middle of a broad gorge, surrounded by many peaks of even greater stature.

Spearhead and my new tent

I seized this opportunity to use my new tent for the first time. It's a 4 person tent that weighs only 2 pounds (That's 8 ounces per person for the mathematically challanged).

We started the climb at about 6:00 the following morning with 5 other parties. To avoid the cluster that we knew would ensue with that amount of climbers on the same route, we opted to climb a variation to the climber's right of everyone else. This ended up being a very good decision as we felt we had the climb all to ourselves.

Mel on her way up the second pitch

Keith belaying from the top of the second pitch

Our particular route ended up being 6 pitches ranging from 5.4 to 5.6/5.7 in difficulty. The rock quality was great and the protection was sufficiently abundant. The final bit to the not-so-technical-but-very-exposed summit was 4th class and provided a noticeable airiness.

Keith and Mel descending after the climb with our route in the background

August 03, 2008

Baby Quilts

My mom has a tradition of making quilts for each new baby in the family (and for friends too). For my birthday this year, my parents got me a sewing machine and I decided that baby quilts would be my first projects.

I started by making a quilt for The Howers (Patrick to be specific).

I didn't plan this one too well and ran out of fabric numerous times. I found the dinosaur fabric when I needed something for the backing. Although the dinos don't necessarily match the front, I thought it was too cute and couldn't pass it up. When my parents came to visit earlier this summer, my mom gave me some helpful advice on finishing the quilt. She also showed me how to make letters with the sewing machine - since I have yet to watch the instructional DVD that came with the sewing machine (thanks for the help mom!).

While animal prints are cute, I had a tough time resisting all the girly fabrics. That's why my niece, Anna, got a very girly pink, purple, and blue quilt (the fabrics are all butterfly and dragonfly prints).

I even got to hand deliver the quilt to Anna when I was in Oregon.