October 23, 2007

Scratchy Throat

The lack of post directly corresponds to the lack of adventures in my life lately. I did race on a four-person team at the 24 Hours of Moab couple of weekends ago but I don't really have anything to say about it other then it wasn't the funnest thing that I have ever done.

The biggest thing that has happened in my life lately is getting my tonsils cut out of my throat last Thursday. The adventure started way back at The Cycling House last February. I had a really sore throat that got worse and worse until it finally got to the point where my throat was so swollen that when I took a drink of water it couldn't make it down my throat so it came out my nose. After a day of this Owen convinced me that it would be a good idea to go to the Emergency Room to get an IV to replenish my fluids since I hadn't been able to drink for over a day. At the Emergency Room the doctor immediate diagnosed an abscess of my tonsils. Basically there is a tiny space between your tonsils and your throat lining. Bacteria had gotten into this space in my throat and started multiplying. Basically I had a gigantic pimple in my throat. A specialist had to come in and he stuck a big needle into my throat and sucked all the pus out. I felt a lot better but by day two the pus had come back and I had to get it drained again. The doctor wanted to take my tonsils out right then and there because that was the only way to insure that it would never come back. I had already missed over a week of training and was able to convince him that it would be better to hold off and get my tonsils out sometime during the fall. So here I am. I really wish that I still had my camera (unfortunately it got stolen but it was my own fault) because my throat is pretty cool looking. Its swollen and has some knarly white scabs on each side.

Saying that I have had a lot of downtime since Thursday would be an understatement. Besides watching episodes of "Walker Texas Ranger" I have started reading the book "From Lance to Landis" by David Walsh. Its a pretty good book and I would recommend it to anyone who is in endurance sports, especially cycling. It might be pretty eye-opening for a lot of people. For me, it has just reinforced how I have felt about road cycling in Europe since I started paying attention to it. My only problem with the book is the author's fascination with trying to take Lance Armstrong down. This isn't the first book the author has written about doping and Lance. In fact Lance has sued Walsh over allegations he has made in the past. I understand that Lance is the shark in the sea of minnows that is professional cycling but I think that his point that cycling is a dirty sport could be made without singling out Armstrong. Anyway its a good read and one of the only reasons I have stayed sane as I have laid on the coach for these last couple of days trying not to swallow.

October 9, 2007

Climbing on Owen

Mountaineers are tough.

Since my last backpack excursion I have been reading a lot of books about
some crazy mountaineers. I'm reading "Touching the Void" by Joe Simpson right now. Its probably one of the greatest true stories of suffering and survival. You should check it out. Or, if you are really lazy, you can just watch the movies. It goes by the same name. Sure, as a cyclist, I endure a lot of suffering for two, sometimes four hours, but what these guys go through is really incredible.

On that note, I met up with my brother Sam last weekend for a backpack trip that wasn't about suffering but about enjoying the mountains in the fall. Sam and I see each other a f
air amount throughout the year but its always at races. We are both preoccupied with the race so we rarely spend much time together so this weekend was a welcomed change.

The weekend started Friday evening when we rendezvoused in Mineral Hot Springs, CO and drove up together to the trailhead in the Sangre de Cristo Mountain Range. We setup camp next to the car and and cooked ourselves a feast of organic brats, organic chili, and organic corn, all cooked over the fire. Sam knows how to shop.

That night, shortly after crawling into our sleeping bags the wind picked up. It wouldn't stop blowing until Sunday morning. At first, it was little more then a nuisance. We put earplugs in to drown out some of the noise but it was still hard to sleep when the tent flapped against our faces all night. In the morning we packed up our stuff and began the trek up to Peanut Lake. It wasn't far and we made it to the lake in just over two hours. A problem became apparent upon our arrival however. The lake was primarily above the treeline and the wind was howling through the basin. After a short search we found an area with a few trees and rocks that helped break the wind a bit. We pitched the tent, making sure to tie the tent to a tree so that it wouldn't blow away.

Sam brought his fishing pole but with the wind blowing like it was, fishing wasn't an
attractive option. Hanging in camp was out of the question too. It would have been too cold and miserable. So, we did the only thing we could think of. We hiked.

We started by scrambling up to a sa
ddle in a ridge that was around 12,000 feet and flirted with 13,000+ at a number of unnamed peaks along its length. As soon as we reached the ridge we were confronted by hurricane style winds. We estimated that it was blowing at a constant 60 mph with gusts above 80 mph. All I know is that we made it a point to stay away from any shear edges because when you got hit with a blast it was enough to make you stumble a couple of steps. I wish I could describe to you what it felt like better but it was something like this, only without the rain and no one was holding us up, although I did think about asking Sam to hold me up. As my little brother it is the least he could do.

Here I am, taking a breather from the wind on the lee side of the ridge.

After summiting several of the unnamed 13ers we decided it would be best to head back to camp and see if the tent was still standing. From the ridge we could see the wind gust across the lake and shoot spray through the air.

That evening was much too windy for a fire and even too windy to enjoy a cigar so it was to bed early. In the middle of the night the wind finally died down but it was cold, probably in the low 20's. When we woke up I thought that Sam must have changed into my five year old sister.
He kept going on about how cold he was all night and how long the night lasted. But to be fair, I probably did just as much, if not more, complaining then he did. In fact, I'll let you in on some of my whining: I have spent the last two days walking down stairs sideways because my quads hurt too much to walk straight down them and last night I spent 15 minutes popping all the blisters on my toes.

With the wind no longer a factor we ended the weekend on a high note. After packing up camp and loading our packs we set off and climbed Mt. Owen. As you can see, we dedicated this climb to our hero.

Here is another view from the top of Owen. The lake we camped a
t is in the basin you can see and is hidden by the ridge.
On another note, Sam forgot/lost his stocking hat but being the MacGyver he is he made himself a stocking hat and got a sweet muscle shirt out of the deal.
Just look at those guns. I think that a great off-season goal for him would be to start working on his forearms so they get bigger then his biceps, Popeye style.
It wouldn't take long, they are about the same size right now.