Friday, January 28, 2011

Cycling Dale Ball Trail by Starlight

Start and Finish
I took advantage of the mild winter weather to see if Dale Ball is free of snow and ice. With the exception of some tight north-facing sections it was. I also used the opportunity to see if my bike repairs would hold together - they did.

I look forward to getting out on runs/rides like this with the moon overhead. My timing was off by about a week, so I rode by starlight rather than moonlight. It was very clear out, and for that reason seemed as though it should have been much colder. It was cold enough that the sandy sections were firm and ridable and my feet froze up a bit, but very mild for near-February weather.

Cerro Gordo Rd.
Dale Ball West

Trail Junction
Used my NiteRider bike lamp which worked phenomenally. I'd stop for short breaks at trail junctions or under lamp posts to listen to the night and snap a quick photo. It was mostly silent with the occasional distant dog barking and making a fuss over the unusual sound of my bike cranking through the evening. There was almost no snow and ice until I turned onto the far west switch-backs of Dale Ball that drop down to Hyde Park Rd. Even that hardpack and ice covering was tracked with dirt, so cornering was the only maneuver that required extra caution.

Descending the switchbacks

Vestiges of winter
Not surprisingly, I didn't see anyone out. I actually didn't see or pass any cars either until my return down Canyon Rd. My loop was more or less a big Dale Ball Loop starting and finishing at Second St Brewery Railyard, where I had planned to meet Christina and a group of friends afterward for food and beer. Recovered with a Bristish Mild, mmmmm. Eh, there may have been two British Milds. Life is short.

The ride was approx. 70min, over 10mi.

Nuart - on Canyon Rd.

The Upper Crust still in Christmas lighting
Santa Fe Southern locomotive in the Railyard

The Rail Trail in lights
Refreshment and vital nutrients

View Dale Ball Trail - Canyon Rd Loop, 10mi in a larger map

Related Posts:
  - Cycling Las Campanas
  - Moonlight Run - Arroyo Chamiso
  - Cycling Barbaria Loop

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Broken Bikes Don't Fix Themselves

My non-magic bike, not self-fixing itself
Events have conspired against me getting out on the trails this week. A shame considering the mild weather we've been having. A double shame since I now have a wonderful light that enables me to turn night to day for evening rides. The crux of my problem, aside from a busy work schedule, is that my last ride seriously jacked up my bike.

In the interim I've been navigating underwater trails at Genoveva, and riding imaginary trails on a bike trainer in front of my television. Not the same thing but you've got to go with what you've got.

Running shoes do not behave in this manner
Pay particular attention to the down-tube there - ouch. That's the result of extending a bike post too high and trying to muscle through some difficult singletrack. Flared tube, bent frame. The mechanical consensus I received from my cycling friends and the internet was to bend it back in place, (and maybe not be a dumbass and keep braking the bike). So after cleaning off some of the dirt I'd heaped on there at the time of breakage, I wrenched that sucker back to form. Wrenched with a good bit of care of course.

Not cool
Broken seat post bike
Do not try this at home - unless your bike is jacked like mine
Well, there was some success in my project and I've got the tube bent back to shape. The seat post and clamp appear to fit and work properly. I'll give it a go this evening, and with luck I'll be toasting malted beverages with the running crew at Second St afterward.

The Corrida is this Saturday morning if you haven't heard. Come out for some cross-country fun. I will be the guy drinking coffee, yelling, and banging the cowbell. Good times.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Nordic Skiing Canada Bonita (Guaje Canyon) - Los Alamos

Myself and better snow conditions
After spending the last two weekends in the mountains and seeing the Southwest Nordic posse storm the gates in Chama, I made the drive up to Los Alamos this morning to check out the nordic skiing. They have a nordic groomed trail system that runs from the back of the Ski Pajarito parking area up Guaje Canyon to Canada Bonita. The track winds out approx. 5k before looping back at the Canada Bonita meadows.

The trail was great, the snow conditions were icy and thin. SWNordic who maintains the trail has done a lot of obvious trail work grooming the track, putting up shadow fences in spots to shield the track from sun, and posting maps at all the trail junctions and connectors. I tried to ski in from the car, but the front hill is hard pack and ice, and melts out to dirt near the top so it might be better to hike in under similar conditions. The ski trail truly begins at the top of the hill where a signed skier-only section breaks off from the main multi-user trail which it parallels up the canyon.

The drive took me about an hour whereas driving up to Santa Fe's Norski trails takes about 40min. Not much difference there. However, the skiing in Guaje Canyon was superior to Norski even under lackluster snow conditions. The hills and sharp turns make the track a bit more difficult and if you ski all the way out to the return loop at J marker, the trail is twice as long. It was gorgeous out there, especially when skiing out of tree cover into the meadows. My camera crapped out on me so unfortunately the photos I'm posting here are substitutes. It took me an hour to ski to the trail turn-around and 45min to return, of course I'm not the strongest free-heel skier. I will be heading back up here the first new snow we get.

Guaje Canyon - photo by SWNordic
Use of the trail was by requested donations. Frequent skiers can become a SWNordic member for $20, online or by envelope at the trail head. Proximity to Ten Thousand Waves, El Farol, and Tesuque Village Market, are all fairly comparable to an outing at Norski. I'm not familiar with where a good place to eat or stop for a beer would be in Los Alamos - if you know, please add it to the comments below.

A great trail.
Trail Map .pdf can be found here

 See also:   
  - Area Nordic Trails Listing

  - Santa Fe Snow Shoe Classic 1/8
  - Chama Chile Ski Classic 1/16

Related Links:
  - Southwest Nordic Ski Club

Friday, January 21, 2011

Chama Chile Ski Classic - Race Report

I was fortunate enough to be up in Chama this weekend for their annual Chama Ski Classic. It was the first time I'd made it to the event but probably not the last. There was all kinds of madness going on with races, clinics, costume contests, backcountry tours, a beer sampling table....impossible to not have a good time at an event like this.

Jim, Todd, and I made it up on Saturday evening so we missed the freestyle ski racing from earlier in the day. My man Marc Esposito skied to a second place finish in the 7.5K race, edged out by Mark Seaton of Colorado. Tove Shere of Santa Fe skied to a second place finish in the women's race.  Podium results were as follows:

15K Overall: 1) Caleb Thompson, 49:18; 2) Clay Mosley, 49:55; 3) Ken Kisiel, 52:56.  W1) Sanna Sevanto, 54:21; W2) Jessica Kisiel, 1:00:12; W3) Brianne Marshall, 1:03:24
7.5K Overall: 1) Mark Seaton, 34:12; 2) Marc Esposito, 36:42; 3) Dave Wykoff, 39:35;  W1) Dina Pesenson, 41:15; W2) Tove Shere, 42:52
Waiting for liftoff

I don't recall if this one was before the race or the after-party

Snow fairies leading the way
We were helping with the timing of Sunday's races, the Classic 10K and 5K events, the 5K snowshoe, and the combined events.  All of these were running concurrently. It was a blast. There were snow fairies, I saw an astronaut, there were at least two guys racing in dress suits, one racer had his kid strapped to his back in a kid carrier, Southwest Nordic out of Los Alamos had a large contingent, there were young and old and everyone was having a great time.  One guy had a killer fake mustache that stayed affixed to his face during the entire race and after-party.  A true thing of beauty.  Podium results were as follows:

10K Overall: 1) Clay Mosley, 44:11; 2) Steve Ilg, 47:30; 3,W1) Sanna Sevanto, 49:01; W2) Jessica Kisiel, 53:34, W3) Dina Pesenson, 1:04:45
5K Overall: 1) David Wykoff, 34:35; 2) David Burdette, 36:27; 3,W1) Janie Miller, 37:12; W2) Dana Price, 38:13; W3) Donna Berg, 38:20
5K Snowshoe Overall:  1) Jurgen Montgomery, 33:12; 2) Daryl Dagel, 37:49; 3) Robert Parks, 39:14;  W1) Annie Sewell, 39:44; W2) Tove Shere, 45:43; W3) Samantha Fernandez, 47:01
King of the Mountain (10K Combined Champ) - Daryl Dagel, 1hr 29:19
Queen of the Mountain - Graciela Perez, 2hr 42:52
Prince of the Mountain (5K Combined Champ) - Kirik Reinhart, 1hr 23:13
Princess of the Mountain - Tove Shere, 1hr 30:20

King of the Mtn - combined winner Daryl Dagle

10K champ Clay Mosley
The folks on the front end were moving.  Many of the Southwest Nordic crew were there for business and they were killing it out on the race loop.  I got out on my skis at day's end and the best I could muster was a 41min loop (5K).  For reference, the top ten 10K finishers all came in under 50min, so I would have had my backside handed to me by this field.
On the course looking east

Groomers heading north towards the pass
Race director Mary Ann DeBoer and her crew of volunteers did an absolutely first-rate job. Awards were announced and given out at the High Country Restaurant and Saloon in town. The place was great - packed with racers and snow-mobilers and people in costumes, a blue-grass band playing, terrific beers with New Mexico and Durango microbrews all on tap. The owner of High Country even skied in the race and took home his age-group title for the second straight year, (Che Johnston, 41m34s). That is badass. Medals and chile ristras were given out to the winners.
Spoils of the victors
Next year I'm racing this thing and bringing home some hardware although I'll need to think of a decent costume that will incorporate a fake mustache. I'll also need to get faster.

Freestyle Ski Results can be found here (.pdf)
Classic Ski and Snowshoe Results can be found here
Photo Album can be found here

View Chama Chile Ski Classic in a larger map

Related Posts:
  - Trail Racing Calendar - '11
  - Cross Country Skiing - Cumbres Pass, CO
  - Colorado Hut-to-Hut, Neff Mountain

Related Links:
  - Chama Race Report - Southwest Nordic
  - Pagosa Springs Winterfest
  - Feb 13th NM Cup - Low O2 Challenge

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Santa Fe Snow Shoe Classic - Race Report

After the bottleneck, the course's first climb
A quick recap from last weekend's Santa Fe Snow Shoe Classic at the Norski Trails.  Race day weather was clear and not too cold, the track had good snow cover, and there was a great field of runners.  Scanning the race results, there were a lot of racers that made the drive from outside Santa Fe - coming up from Tijeras, Albuquerque, Penasco, Los Alamos, Los Lunas, and even a few from Socorro. People got the jones for some snowshoeing apparently.

Eric the Viking shunning comfort, as is his m.o.
The race itself loops around Norski, one lap for the 5K event, two for the 10K.  The actual course distance is a bit shy of 5K/10K but I didn't hear anyone complaining on race day since the going was tough with deceptively soft footing and finishing times that were several minutes slower than the year before. 

Lucy Ranney powers to the 5K finish
Sean Cunniff of Santa Fe ran away with the 5K overall, besting last year's champion Tarik Saleh of Los Alamos.  Last year's women's runner-up Shirley Van Slooten of Santa Fe claimed the women's 5K title over Chimayo's Gina Ortiz. Albuquerque's Daryl Dagle dropped the day's fastest two laps of the course in winning the 10K title over Santa Fe's Matt Dreier. Whitney Dreier coasted to the women's 10K title with Los Alamos' Liz Miller in second.  The consensus of the field was that soft snow conditions sapped leg turnover.  Runners looked pretty spent as they hit the finish line. Podium results were as follows:

5K Overall: 1) Sean Cunniff, 27m 35s; 2) Tarik Saleh, 30:21; 3) Shirley Van Slooten, 31:59.    
W1)Shirley Van Slooten, 31:59; W2) Gina Ortiz, 34:06; W3) Tove Shere, 35:09.

10K Overall: 1) Daryl Dagle, 53:01; 2) Matt Dreier, 55:52; 3) Nathan Romero, 56:41.     
W1) Whitney Dreier, 1:07:24; W2) Liz Miller, 1:13:42; W3) Meredith Schoenfeld, 1:21:30.
Ted Romero nails down his 10K effort
REI Santa Fe provided shoe rentals and raffle prizes for the race. NM Bike & Sport helped with raffle prizes, The Running Hub provided gift certificates for the overall winners as well as additional raffle prizes, Mike Walsh at Paseo Pottery provided the overall and age-group awards, and SF Screen Printers embroidered the cool ski hats. Race director Kris Peterson put the whole show together once again.  I know that we had a few more runners in this year's field than last.

Jim & Christina before the awards and raffle
I didn't run the race this year, but helped at the finish, snapped a few photos, and heckled loudly during the raffle drawing.  Afterward, Christina and I skied for an hour around the Norski loop and grabbed some lunch and a beer at Tesuque Village Market.  Another fine day on the mountain.

View Norski Trail in a larger map

  Related Posts:

Related Links:
  - La Corrida de los Locos - Jan 29th

Monday, January 17, 2011

Barbaria Trail Loop - Santa Fe

I tried to parlay our crumby snow conditions into good biking conditions on Saturday.  I figured the trails I wanted to link up would be somewhat free of snow or would at least be hardpack.  I figured wrong, and it didn't help that I left the house a bit late (after 11am) and had to deal with mud as well.  Life can be a struggle sometimes. Didn't see anyone else on the trails until I was near St Johns, maybe because of the football games later in the day.

The backroads of Arroyo Hondo

Technical section - the Willows Gauntlet

The ride heads south on the RailTrail to Arroyo Hondo, looping east to Old Santa Fe Trail and Barbaria Rd, then back through the drainage behind Sun and Moon mountains to St. John's College, returning home along the Arroyo Chamiso.  A great loop with all types of terrain. I don't have a name for this link-up but Barbaria Loop seems to be an ok fit.

Steep section of the climb up Barbaria Hill
Gate to the Atalaya drainage and big-time bike wreckage

Bike and Nowhere Gate
I ran this out a few times last year when training for a spring marathon. It can be tough on foot especially in winter conditions, but by bike I took a thrashing. Went down hard a few times on the ice, broke my seat post, smashed my arm, started bonking a bit towards the end.  Recovered with grape Shasta and a car ride to Chama for some skiing where the snow is a bit nicer. Who's laughing now Barbaria?  I'll be back when the bike is repaired for a bit of unsettled business.

Distance: approx. 18-19mi
Time:  Took me 2+ hrs by bike in difficult conditions. Free of snow it's about 2hr10min. Might be more of an April-Dec type ride, but you never know if you never try. 

Arroyo singletrack
New crossing behind St Johns

View Barbaria Loop - 18 Miler in a larger map

Related Posts:
  - Las Campanas - SF Road Loop
  - Glorieta Baldy

Friday, January 14, 2011

Multiple Marathons in One Year - Max Mujynya and Michael Wardian

If you know Max Mujynya, you know he's a guy that logs some serious miles and enjoys his running.  He really is a perpetual motion machine.  I took a peek at what Max put up in 2010 and it's pretty impressive.

By my count, that's ten marathons and one ultra.  Ay, Dios mio!  It looks like he just about cleared the board of official New Mexico marathons, on road and off, with the exception of Shiprock.  And he did this all in the same calendar year, not to mention finishes at both Boston and New York.  That is a solid year of racing.

What's more? The guy had a slow year compared with 2009 when he completed fourteen marathons.  His last race in Tucson a few weeks back was his 46th marathon finish in 47 months. That's tough.

Compare Max to another gunner, Mike Wardian out of Virginia.

Ten marathons as well - touche Max! Wardian ran several shorter distance races and one 100K ultra, but all of that wouldn't fit in the image above.  The guy can hammer.  If you note the fine detail, Wardian won three marathon titles outright, and ran to four other top 5 placings (in the same calendar year!), but fell short of the Olympic Trials qualifying standard by a scant 1m 55sec.  The fascinating nature of a foot race, particularly the marathon, is that there will always be the next race in which to run faster.

Related Posts:
  - Year in Review - 2010
  - The Athens and NYC Marathons
  - Chicago Marathon - Local Results, (scroll down)
  - Duke City Marathon - Review

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Cycling the Santa Fe Rail Trail - Zia to Nine Mile Rd.

Leaving town
Santa Fe Rail Trail
Zia Rd to Nine Mile Rd
6,850 ft elev.
12 miles roundtrip


Had a great ride on the Rail Trail Sunday evening.  Rode from Zia to Nine-Mile Rd.  The trail was less tore up than I thought it would be, although I could tell that a ride earlier in the day would have been wet and muddy.  One advantage to the snow and cold is that the sandy washed-out sections of the trail were partially frozen and easily rideable.  Another advantage was that the thorns and goatheads of November are now buried in snow, a safe distance from my tires.
Orange and pink over the Galisteo Basin
Sandia in profile
Used my new NightRider handlebar light to power through when the light fell away.  Worked magnificently.  One of many observations I've had over the last couple months is that a petzl headlamp doesn't work as well on a bike as it does hiking or running.  You need a regular flood light to navigate at 10mph+ or risk crashing a lot. Or crashing into others if you're on the bike path. 

Snow in the track cut
Out on the llano - Mostly clear trail with scattered snow and ice.
Proud thicket of yucca
The sunset, as usual, was electric.  I didn't cross one person out there, not even a car parked at the Rabbit Rd trailhead.  On one section of the trail there was lone coyote howling at the sliver of moon in the sky.  His coyote magic was strong because I've seen the moon growing larger each night since. 

My own train cutting through the night

View Santa Fe Rail Trail - Santa Fe, NM in a larger map

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Friday, January 7, 2011

Colorado Hut-to-Hut, Neff Mountain

Touring gear, polka dot skins, and neck high snow pack
We were invited by friends on a backcountry hut trip for New Years.  The hut, or yurt in this case, was just north of Chama and Cumbres Pass in southern Colorado.  For years I'd wanted to check out the 10th Mountain Division Huts in Colorado, but I was unaware of a hut system in New Mexico.  Aside from the area where we spent New Years which is more or less the Chama area, the same outfit - the Southwest Nordic Center - has a system laid out in Taos and apparently Red River has built a few out their way as well.  So there you go.

The crew in queue, Tyson in rear guard
Strapped with six-packs of roman candles. And my Rossignols.
Was there anything not to be psyched about on a trip like this?  We drove up in a snowstorm that slowed us down a lot. We found the parking pullout just north of the pass, but initially had some route-finding problems because the snow was stacked so high on the road sides.  Foreshadowing perhaps.  Finally on the correct trail, we had figured an hour and a half for the 2.75mi hike in.  What we hadn't figured on was mechanicals with some of the gear, having to break trail through thigh deep powder in some places, and that our approach would stretch into darkness, semi white-out conditions, and below zero temperatures (-13F in Chama that evening).  There was a delicate period just near the end of what turned out to be a 3.5hr hike where the trip unnervingly began to exhibit all the hallmarks of an epic.  An epic in outdoors parlance meaning 'really bad evening'.

As night falls on our blind winter approach, smiles still abound
Our crew had a lot going for it though: We had at least three hand held GPS systems with the coordinates of our hut, we had hand and footwarmer packets bought impulsively at SDC Mountain Works earlier that morning (a brilliant stroke of luck), and we had a strong team with at least three Search and Rescue volunteers, a couple marathoners (what up!), an upstate New Yorker, and a mauy thai boxer/kettle bell enthusiast.  At the time that conditions began looking a bit grim, our trail breakers belatedly made the decision to dump the 40lb packs and b-line this thing to the hut.  The strategy cut a lot of time, and the GPS handhelds lead us right to the front door of our yurt.  In the end, the trip did unfold into an epic, except the epic included champagne, hot chocolate and brandy, home cooked meals with elk sausage and bacon, an Espanola-roadside-stand fireworks artillery show, and powder so freaking deep that Justin and John were launching half-gainers off the wood pile.

Justin firing up some fine New Year eats

Amy and John with dinner, champagne hoard, and warmth.
Note the ice on the bottles, they were frozen.
New Years!  John sets the night afire.

Shooting stars
There was much telling of tall stories, including the one that had just occurred, and much drinking of spirits.  The stars came out and it was lovely.  We made our own stars with roman candles and sparklers.  The next morning was even lovelier.

Casa Mt. Neff
Bluebird, boards, and miles of white stuff 

Winter above the Chama Valley
Leah touring the bright new trails
Tyson during our snow shear test
We trekked around camp, but found the snow to be unstable for any downhilling.  In fact we saw that it was unstable for sitting on hill tops.

I actually saw this guy slide.  Most likely wind-loaded.
I got out on my cross-skis later, backtracking the trail we'd come up the night before.  Took me less than 15min to backtrack what had taken us 75min to get through with packs and post-holing.  Better views the second time as well.

The second night was grand but we'd run through all our fireworks.  Food, brandy, and the telling of stories were still in abundance.  We packed it out on Sun. morning to greet the new year back home in Santa Fe. 
Yours truly bustin' trail
Christina and snow-bowed pine stands
I ought to mention our stop for lunch in Chama at the High Country Saloon.  Fun place, decent food, and a bar stocked with just about every local microbrew available.  On tap were Marble, SF Pale Ale, Alien Amber, Ska Blonde, and bottles of Monk's Ale visible in the cooler.

If you haven't made a trip to Chama lately, or planned a hut-to-hut trip you ought to, because it is awesome as hell.  Be safe, know your route, and get to where you're going in the daylight.

  Related Post:
   - New Years 2011-12: Bull of the Woods Yurt - Taos, NM

View Neff Mountain Trail - FR 116 in a larger map

Related Posts:
  - Year End Notes - Beers of the Northwest
  - The 38th Parallel, When in Doubt, Go Higher
  - Ski Crested Butte - Opening Weekend

Related Links:
  - The Southwest Nordic Center - Cumbres/Taos Yurts


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