Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Darn Computers!

Nothing is working right in my world of computers right now! Talk about frustrating!!!

Computer Problem Number 1: First off, my hard drive on my desk top work computer died last Friday night. This is the second time it's died in less than two months! After the hard drive died the first time in late July, Jesper, my awesome One-Man I.T. Department, got me all set up on a new hard drive. He totally redid my whole setup, cleaning up junk that took up valuable computer memory and increasing my gigabytes. He also got me a new wide screen monitor! I loved how everything worked - fast, quiet, new spiffy software and everything much more organized. Jesper also upgraded our backup system to run automatically on a daily basis (THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!)

My new hard drive died last Friday again after a bizarre power outage on the whole north end of Boulder. I still don't know what caused the power outage. Anyway, it seems that my computer, which is more than 5 years old, has a faulty thingy in it that doesn't handle power surges properly. This is not to be confused with an external power strip with a surge protector - I have one of those. This internal thingy is not repairable, so Jesper recommended that I buy a whole new computer, since he feared the problem would keep occurring. Wasn't exactly planning for that expense..... My new Dell ships in two days and it will have even more spiffy upgrades (after my awesome I.T. Department spends hours getting me set up all over again).

Until my new beauty arrives, I am working off an old hard drive; the one I used before the first hard drive crash. This one is SLOW as molasses, is noisy and is of course, not up to date. It has old files on it and I have to delve into the backup to get my current documents. And for some reason, since we changed how I uploaded photographs from my camera, I can't figure out how to get my pictures downloaded.

Computer Problem Number 2: Did I mention that this old hard drive is SLOW?!??! So slow that it impedes my work efficiency quite a lot. I can click on a web site to open up a guidance document, grab a refill on my coffee, go the bathroom, brush my teeth and the document is still not opened. Don't even mention what happens when I try to open multiple documents/files!

Computer Problem Number 3: This would not be a problem, except that Jesper is working from the IBM office all this week. I, like a dork, inadvertently closed the directory to the back up drive and have NO idea how to find it again. With the number of computers we have and the way Jesper has set up a gazillion drives, it's not as easy as browsing drives A, B and C. So now I can't get any of my old files until tonight - not so good for the work I need to accomplish today.

Computer Problem Number 4: I also cannot print anything. I have a new printer in my office and the old hard drive does not recognize it and we haven't had time to fix that yet. No problem I say, I'll just print to Jesper's printer downstairs. But for some reason, that printer is not spitting out the documents I send it and Jesper is not home until 5 or 6 tonight to help me figure out what the problem is.

Computer Problem Number 5: I am trying to plan my travel for a business trip to Toledo next week. I'm supposed to be able to log on to a system my company uses and do my travel myself. For some reason, the system will not accept my password. I have had this trouble with every system my company uses. Once I get set up properly, which usually involves getting an I.T. guy from California to get involved, everything works great, so I'm hoping I get this fixed tomorrow.

Computer Problem Number 6: This one is almost fixed, but the battery on my laptop completely died. Thankfully, my new battery (with more power) should arrive tomorrow, well in time for my business trip next week.

On the bright side, all of this makes me truly appreciate Jesper's help managing my computer needs. I don't think I could run my business or even work remotely for Tetra Tech without my awesome Danish I.T. Department. I also know that, once I get the new computer, Jesper will set it up to be even more slick than before. And, although I wasn't wild about shelling out a bunch of dough for a new computer and a new laptop battery, they are necessary business expenses that I can write off on my taxes next year.

Besides, I can still blog!

Monday, September 22, 2008


Resolution is the act of answering or solving, the act of determining. It can also be the point in a work at which the chief dramatic complication is worked out. Sometimes it is both.

My adventure racing team, Git Some, answered the question of whether or not we would be able to race the Moab XStream Expedition. We solved the problem of not having enough eligible teammates left to field an official Git Some team. We determined not to race. We resolved the issue. The decision was also the chief dramtic complication for our team. We had hoped the chief dramtic complication for our team would be the Moab race itself, not the decision to abandon the race. So, while it is good to have a final decision, a resolution, so to speak, the outcome is not what any of us would have hoped for and has left a bad taste in all our mouths.

I hope we can move past this issue for next year and learn from it.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Adventure Race Musings at the End of the Season

The 2008 adventure racing season is almost at an end and I have mixed feelings about it. I've been racing since early May and have done 4 races, with one more to go (maybe). Four races, going on five (maybe) over 5 months may not sound like a lot, but these races are a significant investment in time and money.

The time commitment is not just for the races, which require a weekend of dedication or more. I typically leave for a race on a Friday and come home on Sunday. The last race , a 3.5 day event, will involve 5 or 6 days of my time . But racing also involves a time commitment in "training" so I do well and my team does well. Being committed to "training" has it's pluses. It "forces" me to stay in shape. I find it doubtful that I'd allow myself to get in bad shape, but knowing I have to race hard for 10, 20 or more hours and not let my team mates down ensures that I stay in really good shape. There are days when I would not have done a 4 hour brick instead of a fun ride with my friends if I weren't "training".

The downside to spending time "training" is that it sometimes keeps me from doing other things I like, and often doing those things with Jesper. Don't get me wrong, what I do when I "train" is not anything horrible; it's stuff I like to do - run, trek, bike, inline skate (well, I'm not such a huge fan of that sport, but....). But it becomes somewhat regimented, as opposed to the spontaneous Hey let's go ride Jamestown! My long runs I typically do by myself; too long for the dog and for Jesper, both of whom are good for an hour long jaunt, but not much more. And getting back to those weekends away, they limit my ability to go away other weekends, since I'm a bit of a home body and don't like to be gone all the time. Finally, I feel like I'm spending too much time on ME and not as much time on US (that's the Jesper and Jen US). So, I'm feeling spent out on the time commitment.

Then there's the financial commitment. Adventure racing is not cheap. I'm trying to do all this racing on my monthly income, which has been variable and low pretty much the entire time I've been in Colorado. I'm bringing in more consistent money now with the Tetra Tech gig, but the early season was a stretch. That being said, my team (Git Some) has picked very affordable races that can be reached via car to keep the expenses down. I've probably spent less doing the four races this year (and even adding in the big expedition race that might still happen) than I did doing one big 6-day race up in Canada last year.

I think I am ready to be done with the time commitment and the financial commitment.

But, I have enjoyed the racing and my team mates! I've been to wonderful locations in Colorado and have seen them in ways I normally would not (like, the middle of Lake Dillon in the middle of the night under a brilliant half moon). I might get to play in some beautiful spots near Moab if the last race comes to fruition. Being in amazing places, especially at night, creates indelible memories. I've pushed myself hard and come out pleased with my own performance. I've dramatically improved my running and paddling. I've met some really nice people in the AR world out here in the Rocky Mountain region. My team has done well and, since I'm a competitive person, it makes me happy to beat other teams. Finally, I've had a lot of fun!

I sense that my team mates are struggling with the same issues I am. As a result, we are having trouble staying together for this one last race. I'm not sure if we'll work it out to be able to race the Moab Expedition or not. You'll have to check back here to see.

Regardless, I will be sad when the season is over, despite being somewhat relieved. I'll get some good fall riding in and then segue to tele skiing for the winter. That's one of Colorado's best features, just when you start to get tired of one sport, it's time for another one. The good thing is, I know I'll come back next year with a new yearning to race again.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Adventure XStream Vail 12 Hour Race

On Saturday (September 6th), I raced again with Team Git Some. This event was a 12 hour race (meaning teams need to finish within 12 hours). It was not at Vail Resort, as the race name might imply. Instead, the race was held up in the Vail Valley near State Bridge, which is between Kremmling and Wolcott. This area is about 20 miles NW of Vail as the crow flies. The terrain in this area is right on the edge of two distinctly different types; montane forest with aspens and pines like what you would expect around Vail Resort and high desert with scrubby shrubs, yucca and cactus like what you would expect around Grand Junction.

For this race, we were in a pickle getting enough team members to race, since everyone seemed to have other plans for the weekend. Lee and I were in, but none of the other original guys (David, Derec or Oat) could do it. Mark, who raced with us at Breck, had committed to doing the race as a duo with his buddy Jake, since he assumed we wouldn't need him. We ended up deciding to have Mark and Jake both race with us.

We really wanted to do this race because we are doing extremely well in the series points standings, sitting just barely in 3rd place, and we can win some decent prize money if we stay up there. So, we were willing to try out a completely new guy sight unseen to stay in the game. We are now out of opportunities to add any new members to the team, but hopefully that won't be a problem since there's only one more race.

As Lee and I drove up Friday after work, we were pleased to see the weather improve as we headed west, since the weather down in the Front range was cold and rainy. We met Jake and got a pretty good night's sleep at Mark's house in Edwards. The race started Saturday morning at 7:30 under crisp, sunny skies. It was 36 degrees brrrr...

The first discipline was mountain biking. Pretty much all of the mountain biking would be on dirt road (even a lot of the run was on roads). We prepared well by pumping up the tires with extra pressure to decrease rolling resistance. This first biking leg was about 9 miles on a hard packed dirt road to the first CP and the TA to the running section. The ride started out uphill (of course). I immediately got on tow and we began to ride at a good clip until Lee started fading behind us. That was odd; Lee is a strong rider. Turns out his bike, which had just been to the shop, was malfunctioning. His cassette was sticking at part of the pedal stroke, creating a lot of drag. Since this bike leg was short, he just suffered through it until we got to the TA at Radium.

At the TA, Jake, Mark and I looked at Lee's bike while Lee plotted the running orienteering checkpoints. We determined that the shop had probably used the wrong size spacer or nut, since parts were rubbing down where the wheel set attaches to the bike frame. We made it better, but not perfect. As soon as Lee had the CPs plotted, we took off on the run. We were squarely in 4th place, behind three very fast pro-loaded teams. The run had a mix of packed dirt road, double and single track trail and paved road. The O-course really wasn't much of an O-course in my opinion, since we were not permitted to go off trail. After one small navigation error that cost us a few minutes, we found all the other CPs easily. Due to the short length of this race and the easy terrain, we hauled ass on the run. Mark, Lee and Jake alternately towed me on the ups and the flats so we could maintain a consistent fast pace. After the last running CP, we had a massive downhill for 8 or so miles on packed dirt road and then paved road. I hooked up to Mark's tow line and we set off at a blistering pace (for me at least). I must say this is the first time I've been towed on a downhill! It helped me go much faster than I would have un-towed. Lee and Jake had a hard time keeping up.

We ran into the TA at Pump House still squarely in 4th place. Next up was a paddling section, which Lee and both swear was mentioned in the passport as a flat water section. So, we opted not to wear our wet suits, despite knowing that the water would be super cold. Oops - we hadn't gone more than a few hundred yards when it became apparent that this was the WHITE WATER section. We were immediately soaked. Good thing it was sunny and not too windy (yet). We had an hour of really fun Class II+/ClassIII- white water on the uper Colorado River. Despite being cold, this was one of the best parts of the race. It was very scenic and, since my paddling has improved so much this year, I actually enjoy the time in the boat, even when paddling hard. In the past, it was impossible to enjoy paddling when my previously bad technique caused me to be in pain during the whole paddle.

We arrived back at Radium very cold. I was glad I had a change of clothes - everything except dry socks. We donned our dry riding clothes quickly and headed back out on the bikes, this time for a much longer bike leg. We headed up to CP7, which would take us up packed gravel road and then jeep road. As we rode, the terrain changed from deserty scrub to montane aspen forests. During the first part of the climb, Mark towed me on the ups until it became apparent that Jake was not able to maintain our pace.

This was Jake's first multisport race ever, and he was suffering. Although in great shape, his body was unprepared for the challenges of changing disciplines, compounded by the cold paddle. His right hamstring decided it was all too much and began to cramp up. I unhooked from the tow and we assumed a slower pace that Jake could manage. It was frustrating, because I could have gone faster even without a tow and we could have gone much faster as a team with me on tow if we hadn't had an injured team mate. However, adventure racing is all about team work and sticking together. Mark towed Jake a little bit, but since Jake is more that 200 pounds, Mark didn't do that for long. Everyone maintained a good attitude and took advantage of the down time to eat and drink. We enjoyed the fantastic views from up high; even when things aren't going as well as you'd like them to, it would be a shame not to appreciate the beautiful scenery these races take you into!

We finally made it up to CP7 and then continued climbing, topping out at over 10,000 feet. Our jeep road (Forest Service road 401) ended at a T-intersection. We wanted to take a road that ultimately went off to the right, but the signage was confusing, so we finally opted to go right at the intersection. After about 10 minutes of floundering around, we realized we were not where we wanted to be, so we headed back to the intersection and took the left. Sure enough, it veered back to the right. We had lost about 15 minutes.

Now that the climbing was done, Jake was able to go much faster with his sore hammy. We took off down a very rocky jeep road, Mark in front, me following, Jake next and Lee, with the bike repair kit, in the back. I race on my hard tail Fat Chance Yo Betty! with v-brakes. I use this bike for adventure racing because she's super light (easy to carry and push), she always shifts and such perfectly and she's easy to fix on the trail if something breaks. However, riding a hard tail with v-brakes down a 7 mile rocky and steep downhill with extra air in your tires makes for one bumpy ride! I had to hold onto the bar with a death grip to keep from getting thrown. It was still fun! After picking up CP8 on the way down, we dumped out onto Sheephorn Creek Road and pacelined it back to Radium for the final leg of the race.

We were still squarely in 4th; couldn't touch 3rd and probably couldn't be touched by 5th. Kind of frustrating, since it took away a bit of the racing element. This was the flat water paddling section, although there were a couple of sections with small rapids. Once again we opted not to wear our wetsuits to save time in the transition. I wore leg warmers this time to gather some solar heat, since I knew from the previous paddling leg that the water in the headwaters of the Colorado River is COLD! The wind had picked up too, which made the air feel cooler despite the near 70 degree temps. This leg of the race was very pretty. Despite knowing we couldn't change our finish position, we paddled hard. Did I mention that I'm really pleased with my paddling improvements this year????

We came into the finish area at Rancho del Rio at 4:10 pm in 4th place. Eight hours and forty minutes of (mostly) hard non-stop racing. Most importantly, we secured our 3rd place position in the series standings by 1 point! Oh and we are ranked 15th nationally by Checkpoint tracker.

Bring on the Expedition!

(sorry for the lack of visuals - I'm awaiting photos and maps from my team mates and will update the blog)