Sunday, February 27, 2011

2011 US Indoor Track & Field Championships - Albuquerque

Made the drive down to the Albuquerque Convention Center to spectate some championship racing yesterday. It was somewhat amazing they were hosting a top caliber event like that just down the road. Tickets were easy to get and I was maybe expecting a low turnout in attendance because of the absence of any kind of event marketing, but the stands seemed full enough. There were also plenty of nachos to be had of which I helped myself.

The night started off with the field event competitions. Couldn't see the womens triple jump so well, so we wandered over to the mens weight throw. These guys were awesome. It seemed like a modified hammer throw and there were a few guys that could heave it. Some of the athletes were hulking, the guy that won was big but looked the least athletic of the lot.

Next up were the qualifying heats of the 800m. All of the athletes looked like fitness title champions and every runner announced was either a Conference, NCAA or US National champion. Phoebe Wright powered through the women's field taking the best time into Sunday's final. In the men's qualifiers, lightning fast Duane Solomon led from the gun to take the first heat. The second heat featured a cut looking former NCAA champ, Jacob Hernandez, but he and the others were blasted by Mark Husted who truly looked like a high school kid out there. Husted waited until the final 150m and just went wide and dropped them all. You could see Hernandez trying to respond but the skinny high school kid just eased away. I wouldn't have believed it if I didn't see it with my own eyes. Husted is actually a DII champ which is mighty impressive for a skinny 15yr old.  The mens and womens 400m races followed with no big names in the race. I did note that Tavaris Tate is two-thirds ass and legs, and one-third torso. Those proportions apparently make a guy fast as hell.

Lagat signing after winning the 3000m
The mens high jump began next and the announced field had a four time US champion and Olympian in it, Oregon's Jesse Williams. He was a pretty average looking guy next to the rest of them, but on his first jump it was obvious he was a class above the others. He won with a 7'5" clearance. Beyond the high jump pit, the mens pole vault was beginning. All of these guys looked like they were in a band or something. What is it with vaulters? Crash Davis was on the entry sheet but didn't compete. Olympic Champ Brad Walker was in the field but no-heighted. What the hell Brad? I think he may have been distracted by the mens high jumper in the white body suit. That guy probably should've been asked to put on some pants. Mike Hollis won the vault clearing over 18'.

The womens 3000m was run next. We were cheering for Jenny Baringer (Simpson) an ex-CU Buff. There was a field of only six women which seemed odd, and after a 2000m warm-up Barringer and Sarah Hall pulled away from the rest. A Colorado/Stanford match up that played out with Hall tracking Barringer through the entire race and surging on the bell lap. Barringer held Hall off on the back stretch and pulled away with authority over the last 70m winning in 9min 2sec.  She pumped her fists a few times at the finish, clearly happy with her performance. Colorado for the win sons. How about them BUFFALOS!, that's what I wanted to yell at Sarah as she walked by, but she looked tired and it would have been in poor taste. We came away with no photos of the womens race but a great photo album from the evening's events can be found here.

Braun, Rupp, Lagat, and Vaugh with 1000m to go - Assoc. Press

My crappy photo of Vaughn leading early
The mens 3000m featured World Champ and Olympic medalist Bernard Lagat, new American Record holder Galen Rupp, hometown boy and UNM alum Jeremy Johnson, CU badass and recent US Cross Country Champ Brent Vaughn, and a field of notables including Aaron Braun, Jeff See, Kyle Acorn, and Trevor Dunbar (the only collegiate in the race). Johnson went to the front with the field loping along at a conservative pace. At about 1500m Braun went to the front and controlled the pace for a few laps before trying to trade the lead to someone else. The pack nearly came to a stop since nobody wanted to be in front, so Lagat pulled forward and the race was on. Lagat was clearly the star of the night and the crowd favorite. A few laps of Lagat up front and then Rupp finally challenged with 3 laps to go and pressed the pace. Everyone fell off the back but Lagat and Braun. My man Vaughn looked spent, I thought he'd be in the mix a bit more than that but he was cooked. Lagat and Rupp both looked real relaxed as they'd come around each lap while Braun was working like hell to hang on. At the bell, Lagat just destroyed the both of them. It was over in about 10m. The announcer had the last split at 26sec, and there was a loud ovation for Lagat at the finish. Both Lagat and Rupp finished under 8min off what was a pretty slow pace for much of the race. Braun finished strong in third. Johnson held on for sixth. Vaughn was the first athlete to leave the track, looking disgusted. I wanted to give him a 'how about them BUFFALOS!' but he looked like he probably would have punched me. Him and Sarah both. Afterward, Lagat and Rupp (mostly Lagat) were mobbed by fans and kids looking for a photo and an autograph, and the guy obliged for 10-15min. Up close, Lagat just looked like a pure expression of speed. An amazing looking athlete with an electric smile. Quite a sight.

Henry Rono chatting with his former WSU coach John Chaplin
Aside from the competition itself, there were some big names walking around the arena. We walked right past Paula Radcliffe on the way to get some nachos and I thought, was that Paula f'n Radcliffe? Yep pretty sure it was. Wait, when are you racing next Paula? - eh, but it was too late. An un-announced Dan O'Brien was circling the infield interviewing athletes after heats and on the podium. The guy looked like he could throw on some spikes and compete out there on the spot. He was ripped. Alberto Salazar showed up, spoke briefly and was presented with some achievement award. He spoke of how he felt American distance running was on the rise, although one wouldn't conclude that seeing as most of our top talent wasn't running in Albuquerque this evening. The big dog pacing around bleacher side was Henry Rono. Large groups of college and high school aged runners would walk right past Mr. Rono oblivious to who this old well-dressed gentleman with the cap was, then an older spectator would be shuffling by and stop in their tracks, staring with mouth open and ask to shake his hand. Between those four athletes there may be eight world records, an Olympic gold medal, a few World XC Championships, a slew of world titles, and several NYC and London marathon victories - some pretty heavy artillery.

Meredith, Paula Radcliffe, Therese and Gina
That's it. I don't know if I'll make it up to today's competition since I have some work to do today. The track was impressive and the crowds were impressive. USATF should probably let people know when they put on events like this so people know they can come watch them. Also someone should let these youngins know who Henry Rono is. One ought to know greatness when it's right there in front of you.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Cross Country Skiing - Ski Santa Fe

Sunrise with Totemoff's and Aspen Peak
I'd heard several weeks ago that there were a group of guys heading up to Ski Santa Fe early in the mornings to put in skate-ski workouts. The idea was to get up to the ski hill before the lifts open, get an hours worth of laps around Totemoff's, and jet back down to town for work by 8am. They would bring head lamps to light up the first half of the workout before dawn broke. This is badass.

After spending the last few months getting the hang of classic-cross skiing, free heeling, turning and the whole bit, I felt I was ready to give this skate interval idea a go. Also, there is no freaking snow around here south of Chama except up at the ski basin. All that being the case, I picked up some skate rentals at Alpine Sports last night (my Rossignols are old clunker nordic skis) and set the alarm for 5am.

Sunrise on the catwalk - The face of Tesuque Peak in the distance

Salomon skate setup
Arrived at the parking lot at ten after 6am. There was another truck there which I figured to be some backcountry guy skinning up Raven's Ridge but turned out to be a basin employee who later was asking how the snow was. The route was up around the catwalk to the left of the double chair, around Totemoff's, and returning down Easy Street. My first lap up the track was slow going. The climb was a bit steeper than I'd expected, probably because I'd never skied up the run before. I was mostly hopping around classic style and trying to work in some skating here and there. By the second lap the skating was coming together but I'd have to break into 30sec. classic ski 'rests' to hold my momentum. It is hot as hell skating up a hill, I had sweat dripping off my nose. Lift-to-Totemoff's took about 9-10min, skiing down Easy Street took about 90sec. I got to work on big telemark GS turns which was nice. All told I got in four and a half laps before having to head back to town.

There was nobody else up there but the guys in their SnowCats. The corduroy snow I was on was great but it was easy to see we could use a few storms. Like a lot of storms. It was actually my first day up at Ski Santa Fe all year, and for what I was doing the snow couldn't have been better, I found the crowds to be minimal, and the tickets were a steal. Makes me want to go back.

Uphill first-tracks
My morning ski partner

Off to work now, and then on to Albuquerque this afternoon to catch some indoor comp. on the boards (2011 US Indoor Championships). I'm super excited to see Lagat in action. The guy is a stone-cold killa. I'm also psyched to see the crew of ex-Buffs go 'round and Crash Davis in the vault. I also wouldn't turn down a cold adult beverage should the opportunity arise.

Related Posts:
 - Nordic Skiing in Chama - Edward Sargent Wildlife Area
 - Enchanted Forest Ski Trails - Red River, NM
 - Trading the Downhill Skis for Nordic
 - Cross Country Skiing NORSKI Trail, Santa Fe

See also:  Area Nordic Trails Listing

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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Cycling Medio Dia Trail - Santa Fe

Cochiti Canyons from a distance
With snow conditions deteriorating by the day, I drove out to the Cochiti canyons on Sunday. I figured there would be plenty of snow up on the shaded Medio Dia and Bland Canyon trails but it'd be a better snowy ride than any spotty skiing I could find. John and Todd were supposed to be there with me but we sort of flubbed the planning and coordinating part, so I drove up alone. Got up to Dixon's at noon and there was only one other truck. The lady that walked over to talk was just a sunbather that came out to read and marvel at the canyon walls. She gave me a small gift of chocolate for the ride. Nice lady.

Entering Medio Dia on FR 89
The first creek crossing by log
The second creek crossing
Climbing up FR 89 from the apple orchards it might have been an Oct/Nov afternoon except my hands were a little cold. Ah! but some other kind soul sought to it to leave a glove behind on the trail. Very generous and giving people in these parts. I had ski gloves in the Camelback but didn't feel like using them this day. As the trail dropped into the trees and creek crossings I found lots of snow. Round a bend and into some sunlight and it was October once again! then snowy February, then October!  One creek crossing followed immediately by an ice bridge crossing. A fun ride.

February to my right

October to my left
The junction to Medio Dia and Bland Canyon
Icy creek and cliffs
I'd planned on riding up Medio Dia to the cut off to Bland, then down FR 268 but the post-holing and hike-a-bike got to be a bit too much in the last mile so I turned it around and came rocketing down what I'd just gone up. Riding Medio Dia is like riding Bandelier if you could ride the Monument trails. Some of the best mountain biking trails in New Mexico. Probably some of the best trail running in New Mexico. Beautiful beautiful single track, ponderosas stretching skyward, towering cliffs and blue sky, I had chocolate in my bag - all systems were go. Couldn't have planned for a more lovely afternoon.

Winding singletrack with an audience of ponderosa

Fall colors with cliffs

Defiant tree

Creek crossing otra vez
The Cochiti 100, part of the NM Endurance Series, is held up on these trails in May. The varied loops climb Medio Dia almost all the way to Highway 4 before circling back down to Dixon's on the Dome Rd. You know who plans on blasting those trails and recovering in the meadow afterward with a cold one? This guy, that's who. Also Todd and John because we're going to plan that one better.

Returning to the truck - Tetilla Pk and the Cerrillos from the north, Dixon's orchards down below
UPDATE:  A sad follow-up to this trail post. The entire Medio Dia canyon system was burnt out by the Los Conchas fire in June of 2011. Subsequent rains and serious flash flooding added to the severity of the damage. The canyon and neighboring canyons remain closed due to serious flood risk and are very likely un-rideable/un-runnable/un-hikeable for some time.

UPDATE (6/16/12):  I believe the Forest Roads near Medio Dia have been re-opened, as of last week. This includes FR 289 that connects north to NM Hwy 4 (and St Peter's Dome Rd), and FR 86(?) up Bland Canyon. I'd imagine the trail along Medio Dia Creek is destroyed like everything else prone to flashing and erosion last fall. I'd appreciate a note or comment on the trail/road conditions if you make it out to take a look. - HDD

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Monday, February 21, 2011

Moonlight Skiing the Valles Caldera - Rescheduled

The Valles with better conditions and clearer skies
Tried to take advantage of the full moon this weekend with some moonlight skiing in the Valles Caldera. Ran into a couple unforseen problems - 1) The moon was obscured by clouds until after 9pm, 2) There was little skiable snow after a week of 60degree temps, 3) There was a howling wind storm. We did note a Nordic trailhead just east of the Valles on Highway 4 for future outings (conditional on a few winter storms). Christina and I bailed on the skiing/hiking and ended up at the Canyon Bar, notable because it's the first bar of any kind I've found in Los Alamos after a month of active searching. This place was awesome, a dive bar in the truest sense albeit with Sierra Nevada, Fat Tire, and Deschutes on tap.  Maybe not the place to grab a bite to eat though. After a beer we went down the road to the Los Alamos Sonic (possibly the best place to eat in L.A. aside from El Parasol), a must-stop for their hot fudge sundaes and onion rings.

Other notes from the weekend -
  • I got out for my first run of the year on Saturday. Herman and I ran six miles out-and-back on the Spur Trail. The weather was great, there was some severe head-winds on a couple small stretches to test our strength. The legs feel sore in a way that swimming and biking can't replicate. It was very nice to be back out on the running trails although there was a bit of anxiety. Hopefully the body will cooperate and respond well.
  • The Mt. Taylor Quadrathlon was held Saturday out in Grants. Colorado athletes stole the show with a 1-2-3 finish in the Men's solo division (3hr 33min won the overall), and 1-2 in the women's solo. Tamsen Schurman of El Prado held the last podium spot for New Mexico with a 4hr 55min finish good for third place.
  • The US Indoor Track & Field Championships is being held in Albuquerque this coming weekend, not that you'd know that from any marketing or advertising or pretty much anything. I plan to be there at least for Sunday's events.
  • I've been rocking to The Mighty Mighty Bosstones this week, but their videos suck badly. So I'll leave you with The Selecter who also knock out some high cadence tunes. These guys help me get my attitude straight if I find myself procrastinating before a workout. Rock more, procrastinate less.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Blood River, Journey down the Congo - Book Review

Five Stars
My brother knows that I enjoy reading history and adventure books (almost exclusively), so he passed this fascinating book on to me last year. He had met the author Tim Butcher, through their everyday circles in the MidEast. During one passing, Tim tells him that he had recently traveled through the Congo and just had a book published about it. The book was Blood River, A Journey to Africa's Broken Heart, and it is one helluva story retracing the first western exploration of the mighty river, and an accounting of the decline of a nation into anarchy and tribalism. Running through it all is the dark hulking expanse of the Congo River, nearly unchanged from the awestruck imagery of Heart of Darkness some 125 years after Conrad traveled the river as a riverboat captain.

Before becoming The London Daily Telegraph's MidEast Correspondent, Butcher served in the same capacity as the paper's African Correspondent. This position held prestige and history, first occupied by Lord Henry Stanley in the 19th century, the same man who became hero and legend (and infamous) for his explorations through central Africa and the first charting of the great Congo River from its source. Butcher's plan was to re-trace Stanley's journey, partly because he felt tied to the man from their shared positions at the Daily Telegraph, and partly it seems, because it appeared to be an impossible task. Three years of detailed research, carefully cultivated relationships with rebel leaders and UN peacekeepers, dozens of letters to government bureaus to secure the correct papers, and a shit-ton of bravery and blind courage and the man set out from an airfield in South Africa to make it happen.

Lord Stanley - Photo by Getty Images
What follows is a detailed account of travel through the interior of a central African nation with no roads or transportation systems, no rule of law, certainly no outsiders except for all-in British journalists, and almost no sense that the 21st century has penetrated through the jungle canopy in to the eastern Congo. The most startling theme in the book is that time runs backward in the Congo, at least east of Brazzaville. Elders tell stories to their grandchildren of how they used to attend schools and ride in cars, and the children think it's fantasy. Roads, cities, and civilization all steadily recede back into the jungle in a process of de-evolution, towards a resemblance of how things may have been when Stanley first passed through. How Butcher planned his trip and made it through to the finish is really quite remarkable. Unlike a feat like scaling Everest, it occurred to my brother and I that there are probably only a handful of people alive familiar enough with the dangers of that area that could have pulled off a trek along the length of the Congo - Tim is one of them, and he had the nerve to make an attempt, and then he wrote it down in a book so we could go with him.

The author
In 2008, the book became a London Times best seller and was short listed for the Samuel Johnson Prize for non-fiction writing. I was fortunate enough to talk briefly with Tim by email and pass along some questions about the book, which he kindly answered. The following were Tim's responses:

Me: [Tim], You've been embedded in war zones and other chaotic locations in the world. How would you compare the danger and darkness and overwhelming despair of your travel along the Congo in Blood River to your experiences in these other foreboding places of the world?

Tim: The Congo was more terrifying on two levels. First, I was all alone. I had worked as a war correspondent for years reporting on pretty much every major conflict since Gulf War Mk I. But I had always had the support of a newspaper behind me (the Daily Telegraph from London) and invariably a bunch of similarly-minded colleagues. Going to the Congo was different because the paper cut me adrift, regarding the journey as too dangerous to support, and the world's press has long since given up on reporting the Congo. Second, the scale of the Congo is so daunting. It is so physically large and structurally dysfunctional that there were long periods where I was simply unreachable. Knowing that nobody can come rescue you makes for a very pure form of travel.

MeThe magnitude of your trip down the Congo almost seems like it would re-wire a man's brain in some way. Do you ever find yourself doing mundane things in the grocery store and have your mind wander to the darkness of that river or to thoughts of entire cities eroding back into the jungle?

Tim: Reconnecting with normality after the trip was tricky. I felt like a deep sea diver undergoing decompression after flying out of the Congo as I walked along roads with tarmac on them, saw shops not just with stock in their windows but with windows and fingered money in my pocket that could actually be used to buy things. None of these perfectly normal things were possible for large parts of the Congo trip. But the real power of the Congo is in its portent, the sense of brooding menace not so much in front of your eyes but beyond the horizon, in your imaginings. That is why Joseph Conrad's 19th Century novel, Heart of Darkness, is such a masterpiece, not because it describes something he actually witnessed in the Congo but because, by touching on this extraordinary part of Africa, he identified how your moral compass can spin out of control and you can find yourself projecting, imagining, even doing, evil.

Me: In your most recent book [Chasing the Devil], you've retraced Graham Greene's explorations in Liberia and Sierra Leone. Not having read this book yet myself, did you find this second tenuous journey much easier than the first? Was it easier to commit to the uncertainty of it all having been first to the Congo?

Tim: My relationship with the Congo is close to an obsession. It is what drove me on for three years of brooding, plotting and preparation when all around me said it was impossible. For the second journey to Liberia I was, as your question rightly implies, worried that my motivation might not be so powerful, so pure even. But as you will see, the Liberia trip was born of powerful forces – two friends were killed in West Africa when we were working there and in Liberia the regime of the warlord leader, Charles Taylor, put a death threat on me. So in short I had demons that needed dealing with in Liberia.

While I am proud of Blood River, I am also enormously proud of the Liberia book, Chasing the Devil (which incidentally is being published in the United States later this year) but for slightly different reasons. The Congo trip was more psychologically challenging but the Liberian challenge was, if anything, more physical. Liberia is still not an entirely safe place for foreigners to travel but the fact that I walked 350 miles through the jungle meant it got at my body more than it did my mind.

Me: I know that after/during the publishing of Blood River, you were asked by your editors to review an adventurous running book yet to be published, Born to Run by Chris McDougall. The book has gone on to be widely read in the States and spurred the current barefoot running movement. Do you run? Did you have any insight at the time that the book would be successful and garner such influence?  

Tim: I used to say I am a runner but today a franker description would perhaps be that I am a waddler. Born To Run is a wonderfully inclusive book because it's all about escape, an escape we can all achieve. You don't need to be a fleet-footed, aloe-chewing Mexican (although Chris's dealings with these legendary Mexicans is truly amazing) to enjoy the release of running. To escape, not to race, is the key. By escaping from your comfort zone you learn things about yourself and that can be done just as much by running round the block where you live as it can by running 100 miles in the Mexican desert. And I loved Chris's honesty – he describes himself as too hefty and tall to ever be a natural racer – and his views of running barefoot really connected with me. On my various walks/hikes/adventures in Africa, my expensive footwear often left me hobbling along behind the barefooted locals. Now, on Chris's advice, I am to be seen waddling around the hilly peninsular of Cape Town in the next best thing to bare feet, Five Fingers footwear produced by Vibram. If Chris has become a sort of Forrest Gump inspiration for barefoot runners then I am thrilled for him.

Me: Lastly, your trip through the Congo was clearly very personal and motivated by what can be described as an obsessive nature. Has it been difficult to disassociate the personal meaning from your experience with the professional metrics of book sales and the acceptance of the book in popular circles? In the end, would you say that the personal and professional components of this adventure have complemented each other? 

Tim: J D Salinger famously observed that the only bad thing about writing is that you get read. I guess if you sell 30 million copies of one book you can afford to be so aloof. As there is no danger of my book sales reaching 30 million, I am a bit more willing to accept the corollary of publishing a book, i.e. that people will read your work, criticism will be voiced, sales performance will be scrutinized etc. For me, a book is an intensely personal thing, a sharing of fears, ambitions, achievements, weaknesses and so much more. But the key thing is that it is something I am willing to share. My greatest source of pride is that I have been able to convey a sense of my passion for an extraordinary part of the world, the Congo, scene of one of this planet's great human dramas. I make no claim to having solved the Congo's ills but that fact that a few more people are aware of it through my book than might otherwise have been the case is an interface between private and public that I am happy to live with.

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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Nordic Skiing and Adobe Work in Jacona

Spring temps at Norski
Up skiing again on the Nordic trails this last weekend, both Norski and Pajarito. You'd hardly guess that recent storms had just come through the way the snow looked: Thin, icy, and barren in areas. Disappointing, but how much can you really complain when you have the opportunity to walk out the door and ski your afternoon away, cruddy snow or not.

Christina came with to work on her skiing as well. Earlier that morning she ran a 5km PR on the way to her first age-group title, so now she's got her own running hardware to add to the award cabinet. Brennans taking over people. Watch out.

Christina climbing the front hill

Aspens and the evening sunset
Cold beverages and sunsets - never cruddy

After Sunday morning's loops in Pajarito I stopped off in Jacona to help Will finish the studio he's building. An amazing looking place, even more so when you consider he literally pulled the sumofabitch out of the ground he's building on. He tells me the studio took 2,000 adobe bricks to put up, the unfinished house across the courtyard took 5,000. He spent the summer of 2009 framing and drying the bricks where the studio now stands. I can remember a giant swimming pool looking hole in the ground where the mud came out of.

The unfinished house with framed roof and eaves
From inside. Notice the rain runoff before the roof could be laid in

The studio and courtyard wall
On this day I helped Will and his brother Ezra with plastering and the setting of a bathtub. To plaster an adobe wall you take fine, screened dirt, mix it with water in a wheel barrow, and trowel it on to the wall. Screw up or suck at troweling? No matter, splash a little water on the mud and go over it again. I was a bit slow on my first go-around but Will was clearly a master at this point. He was hard-troweling the kitchen area with a fine finish. That area of the wall will get a coating of linseed oil to minimize dust or flaking.

Wall dorm and potsherds
Roughing out the bathroom fixtures
Will hard-troweling his kitchen

The bathtub and toilet fixtures didn't want to fit into their measured spaces. Will just takes a hatchet to the adobe floor and wall, and Bam!, all fixtures sit according to design. Goats in the yard looked on but I had a suspicion they were staring down our taco dinner. If they were cooler goats they would've lent a hand (hoof) since there was a lot to be done. I'd imagine we'll be eating one of those goats right there in the courtyard some day. Too bad so sad pinche cabras.

Goats are awesome but also yummy

Related Links:
A hat tip to Will's mad carpentry skills

Will Mushen - Mushen Design & Remodel
Santa Fe, NM

And to Ezra's mad plumbing skills
Ezra Hutteren - ESS, LLC - Plumbing and Solar Thermal Systems, Santa Fe, NM

Friday, February 11, 2011

Training for Success with Self-Delusion

Another weekend has come around, another week past (passed?). I'm still too big of a wuss to test my leg on the running trails but the biking swimming and skiing are coming along well, which is to mean that my winter has been great even without the running.

I decided several weeks ago that rather than torture myself rehabbing in the pool I would instead be 'training' for a triathlon. My senses much prefer this mental slight of hand and now when in the pool I visualize stomping dudes. When I'm on the bike trainer now I visualize stomping dudes, embarrassing other riders by flying by and blowing their friggin' doors off. Rehab is lame, self-delusion awesome. Getting out on the ski trails during the weekend brings it all together for me. Then I set down, and write it all down here attaching a few images and pictures. It honestly builds a lot of motivation for the next week where, incidentally, I plan to be stomping crowds of imaginary dudes in the pool and on the trainer in front of my television.

My Steelers crapped the bed last week which was quite unfortunate. Better news, March Madness will be here soon and both the Irish and the Pitt Panthers are playing well. Even sooner than that, Enchanted Forest is hosting the New Mexico Cup this weekend. I won't be there but the SWNordic crew plans to be so watch the hell out. Next week is the Mt Taylor Quadrathlon. Been wanting to run in that for years and have just never got the timing right. Should be super competitive again this year, there are cash prizes for the top three men and women. If anyone is competing let me know, I know Lucy Ranney has her snowshoes ready for the summit leg. Juniper Hunter is probably running, and there are usually a few local teams that make the drive.

A couple final notes -
  • Tim Wise over at I Heart Singlespeed put together the NM outdoors post of the week. Made me want to drive to 'Burque to ride, have a beer or two, and build a pizza oven in my yard. 
  • Apparently February is Belgian beer month at the Second St Brewery, which merits my unqualified approval.
  • And a fine video for the weekend of trials legend Danny MacAskill riding through (and over) Scotland.  I've watched it at least a dozen times already but it never gets less awesome. Get out and enjoy the weekend...

music by Loch Lemond, and the Jezabels

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Nordic Skiing Pajarito - Los Alamos

Hiking the top of the Front Hill
I skied Los Alamos a couple weeks back and was really blown away by the fantastic Nordic track they have layed out just north of Pajarito. At that time the conditions for skiing just weren't very good but with the new snow last week I couldn't wait to get back up there. After skiing at Norski across the valley the evening before, I was fairly amazed that Los Alamos had almost no new snow except for the inch that had fallen the evening before. With totals of 23" and 4" from the week's storms up at Ski Santa Fe, Pajarito was plainly robbed.  Didn't see that coming. It looked like Tuesday's storm left a bit more for the coming weekend.

Looking south off the hill towards Pajarito

Across the valley through the scars of the Cerro Gordo fire. It was snowing down in Pojoaque

No matter, the 1in. of new snow was sorely needed and the wonderfully maintained track skied great. I actually had first tracks during my loops which was a little unexpected. Was it the snow or the cold temps? Not so much, it turns out half the SWNSki crew was up rocking Crested Butte and their annual Alley Loop Race.

Enjoying the small bit of fresh snow

Canada Bonita

Just before the turn around, looking west to the Valles Grande

Skied out to the turn around in 50min., returned on the multi-use trail in 20min. Headed back out to explore the trail connectors and switchbacks for another 25min. I decided that in addition to the groomed ski tracks, what really  makes this such an enjoyable trail is the broad skating area next to the track. I also noticed that in addition to the designated nordic trails, there are also flagged snowshoe trails that split off from the main multi-use trail. They head out to canyon overlook points to the north.

Loads of fun. Can't wait to give it another go this weekend.

Light on the way back

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