Monday, February 02, 2009

1 stitch, 2 stitch, 3 stitch, 4!

My inability to stay healthy in the winter has continued for another year. Although, knock on wood, this year hasn’t sidelined me nearly as much as years previous.

Not sure if it was my lack of balance, coordination or trail conditions, but this years incident occurred while mountain biking at S. SeaTac park. What I thought was a simple left hand turn, wound up being a total washing out of the bike and me sprawled out amongst the wet leaves and dirt. My first instinct was to get up and jump on my legs to ensure my hip was still in working order <> All was good until I noticed the rip in my lycra and a bit of blood oozing. I collected my thoughts and rode back to Blue Star and TH to access the damage. Upon arrival the cut was obviously deeper than originally thought. After a debate about going to the hospital or not, it was decided to have it looked at by a doctor. A quick visit to the Urgent Care in downtown led to 8 stitches to heal up the piece of meat hanging off my leg. Quick note, Urgent Care facilities in downtown Seattle are convenient and serve a purpose, but if you ever want to see a little slice of the under belly of Seattle it's worth a visit.
Recent winter injuries:

2003/04 – mononucleosis
2004/05 – torn ligaments in my right ankle
2005/06 – food poisoning, sprained ankle and minor surgery.
2006/07 – broken femur
2007/08 – strained back and patella issue in right knee
2008/09 – 8 stitches in my left hip

Keep on keepin on in 09!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Q308 P&L Update

Since I seem to be updating my blog about as often as public company’s post their quarterly reports I figured I would provide an overview of my last quarter. Similar to “in the red” and “in the black” my past quarter has been a series of positive gains and areas of opportunities (a more positive spin on negatives or areas that didn’t meet expectations).

7/22 - Lease on apartment is up, haven't found a house to purchase and move into friends house. -7%

8/3 - Xterra Black Diamond Off-Road Triathlon - first off-road triathlon since my injury. 10th overall, 2 AG. Xterra racing is awesome. If I could only swim more efficiently I would strictly race Xterra and nothing else. +15%

8/5 - Appendicitis - One day after the Xterra I have huge stomach cramps during work. I think it's a stomach flu and go home. After asking my roommate what I should do I drive myself to the ER. 10 hours later my appendix was removed. After several discussions with the dr. appendicitis could definitely had been a culprit to some of my weird experience I was having throughout the year. -25%
I was so bloated it felt like I was three months pregnant...although i really have no idea how that feels.

8/9 - Against doctors orders I travel to Mazama to attend Marna and Marks wedding. A day after the wedding and 4 days after surgery I rock climb for the first time. Probably not the smartest thing I have ever done, but hey, I've never said I was the sharpest tool in the shed. Flat to PY.
8/27 - Happy 34th Birthday!

8/28 - Friend’s lease is up and I have to move again. Second move in under a month. Move to a house sitting jig. -20%

8/29 - Head to Hood River, OR for some mountain biking and drinking. +7%

9/5 - Head to Tahoe for the Tahoe 100 MTB race. Decide due to recent surgery that the race is not a great idea and instead do three days of epic riding with Heather. Only drawback was getting dusted by Heather in the descents. That girl has skillz! +18%

9/17 - One of my surgery incisions becomes infected. With a local anaesthetic they re-cut back into my skin and remove a pesky suture that had gone sideways. Yuck! -12%

9/18 - Decide to enter a ½ marathon to celebrate two years since breaking my femur. +6%

9/21 - Race first cyclocross race in two years. Although my technical skills were lacking the pain involved in cross racing was quickly remembered. Ouch! +3%

9/26 - Decide to take another Tahoe trip. This time I focused on trail running, but also was able to get a few choice bike rides! +12%

10/1 - House sitting jig is over and still no house. Move into my brother's house...hello one-hour commute. -22%

10/10 - Park City trip with Marna, Mark and Stephanie. Chilly ride, but you can never complain when you are mtb riding on the Mid-Mountain trail in Park City. +15%

10/19 - Cross race at S. SeaTac park. Able to muster a top 15 place after blowing up with 1 lap to go. +2%

10/20 - Bad news...I don’t make the Astana cycling team. Apparently the last roster spot went to some guy named Lance?? -9%

10/26 - Cross race at Ft. Steilacoom and another top 15 finish. +4%

11/1 - Move into new home. First time in two years that all my belonging are under one roof.

My bikes are very happy for their new home!

11/5 - 2nd Anniversary of snapping my femur!!!!!! +7%

11/9 - Cross race in Bremerton. Decide to race with Men's 3 Masters and proceed to get dusted by the competition. Dusted or not, you can't be unhappy when you have finished a cross race. +5%

12/7 - Las Vegas 1/2 Marathon. First 1/2 marathon in almost 3 years. Miss my goal time by 2 minutes, but still go 1:27:56 to finish 55th out of 11,000 runners. +10%

12/11 - Visit NYC. Run in Central Park, Broadway show with Kristie and spread joy with 3000 other Santa's during Santacon. Ho Ho Ho! +21%

12/25 Christmas with the family. Priceless!

12/31 NYE with good friends in winthrop. +30%

It's difficult to place an equal weight to all events, but based on the rest of the economy I would say AV Adventures is trending better than most and is a solid buy for 2009.

Saturday, August 02, 2008


I still need to post the final days of the BC Bike Race and hopefully I will get to the soon. In addition, the second and third installments of the Squamish Saga need to be written. Don't hold your breathe for either of those. In the meantime I am suppose to do my first Xterra Off-Road Triathlon in over two years tomorrow. Unfortunately my race participation took a serious step backward when I rolled my ankle on Wednesday during a trail run. No bueno! I'm still planning on going out to the race and then making a game time decision to race or not.

Good ankle....

Bad ankle - cankle.

Monday, July 07, 2008

BC Bike Race Stage 6 - Carnage in Squamish

Some of the best 1-track I have ever ridden lives in Squamish, BC Canada. It is also some of the most demanding, well at least for someone of my riding skills. For these reasons I knew day 6 of the BC Bike Race would be challenging. It would combine the wicked courses of the Gear Jammer and Test of Metal into one brutal course.

I guess someone is a tuff guy this morning

Guess who doesn't belong in this picture (I will give you a hint...the goofy one in the white glasses) - from l to r - Me, The Andy Express, Nat Ross and Katie Compton.

Personally my mental fortitude was a bit damaged from Stage 5, but I had a good feeling about the Squamish stage as I had ridden the course several times and Andy and I had spent 3 solid days riding in Squamish over Memorial Day weekend. The stage started with another road climb and I did my best to hang with the lead group, but my legs were simply not there. Andy had to settle back with me as we took our spot in the second group of riders. It sucks to ride back in this group when you know you have the ability to ride faster. Unfortunately after 5 days of riding the chicken legs were sucking for air, as were my lungs. I was actually feeling pretty good on my descending skills until we hit a new section of Psuedo Tsuga trail I had never rode. It was extremely steep, rooted and loose. The gal rider in front of me railed the section and I was trying to follow her line, but somewhere in the midst I fell off line and hit a hole. This sent me flying in my bars and then over them. I did a pretty good job of knocking myself silly, but I did an even better job of knocking the crap out of my bike. I managed to turn the handlebars around twice, ripping my front hydraulic brake line. AWESOME! No front brakes and the hardest descents still to come.

I believe that hose should be connected to my front brake

After a quick fix we were back on our way. The infamous nine mile hill and lava flow climb greeted us next. This beauty is a real bitch when you are fresh, but when you are tired it is down right evil. Thankfully I was able to muster some energy and I climb fairly respectively. Once we hit the rip we were flying. Trying to keep in mind I only had a rear brake. The rip consists of some great open double track descending with a few rock gardens thrown in for good measure. It was in one of these gardens that a rock flew up into my rear derailluer bending my chain and breaking a spoke on my rear wheel. Again - AWESOME! Our only course of action was to remove 7+ links from my chain, which essentially converted me to a 3 speed bike. The remainder of the ride was a good lesson in patience. I spent the better part of the Plunge running and coasting my bike. The unbelievable part was we were passing teams in this section. Riders were so sketched by the Plunges obstacles I was able to run by them.

That extra spoke was only going to slow me down!

We finished the day with a romp through Crumpit Woods and then I received a push from Andy for the remainder of the road/trail section into the finish line.

Finishing the marathon stage

Stage 6 65km - 5:08:48 49th place - OUCH!

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Stage 5 65km - The Wheels have come off the A-Train

Nothing happened today unless you count me riding my bike like a little boy, wrecking several times, pushing my bike and crying as something happening.

Check in before the start of the stage 5 - the pain cave

Oblivious to the pain that awaits

The pros making it look easy

Trying to emulate...not sure it's working.

Today I spent the better part of the almost 5 hours of riding in the pain cave. Every once in awhile I would poke me head out and enjoy a few brief moments of riding, but for the most part I laid in the fetal position, sucking my thumb.

It was one of the hardest days I have ever had on the bike. I guess the previous days hammerfest destroyed me. Not only had my wheels come off, but this sucker was on blocks with no engine either.

Stage 5 65km - 4:55:46 36th place

Heading to another ferry - Reservoir Dogs style with Grande Americano's (in a public display of humiliation for my riding I wasn't allowed to walk with the others)

Image links
Buffed out 1-track
More 1-track
It kept coming

BC Bike Race Stage 4 - Climb, Flat, Hammer, Blow Up

A 4:30am wake up call greeted us this morning as we would need to take two ferries this morning to get to the race start in Earls Cove. The geography of British Columbia is amazingly beautiful, but does prove a bit of a logistic inconvenience for the racers.

The support wagon

Catching a few zzzz's on the ferry ride

The Andy Express prior to stage 4 - "All Aboard"
Let's get it on!

Similar to many ferry terminals in Washington once off the boat the only way to go is up. An up is what greeted us. The start was a vertical road climb that dumped us into double track fire road climbing. Unfortunately when the fire roads started my legs didn't. They definitely lacked the spunkiness of the previous day and I was hoping they would warm up after 15km. The first single track descent was beautiful, but I was having difficulty finding a smooth line. The less attractive line was bumpier and I had two instances where my chain was jumping off the big ring. It didn't cause huge time stops, but it definitely took me out of my rhythm. The misfortunes didn't stop with the chain jumps as I flatted my rear tire coming out of a stream crossing. After a quick assessment of the damages Andy sprang into action and we fixed the flat. Although the flat only took 5-7 minutes to fix it occurred at a section that teams were carrying huge momentum and the continuous stream of riders passing us was a bit difficult for the PMA (positive mental attitude).

Once on the trail again I purchased a one-way ticket on the Andy Express and over the next 60 minutes we would drop the hammer and pass close to 30 teams. Ultimately I would pay the price and the little chicken legs blew up with around 10k to go. There was no more HP to lay down and I went into survival mode merely trying to stay upright for the final 1-track section. At 2k from the finish line I rounded a right corner and did not see the large tree hanging over the trail. The tree hit me square on the helmet and I hit the ground seeing stars. After a quick assessment of the noggin, helmet and balance I hobbled the remaining K's to the finish line.

Knuckles - eat that Obama!

Hmmm, looks like someone is cranky!

Stage 4 - 60k 4:17:20 33rd place

Image links
Beautiful BC
Aerial view of the start
Riding BC Style

Saturday, July 05, 2008

BC Bike Race Stage 3 - Firing on all Eight

Stage three marked a personal highlight in the race. It was the first time I felt I was riding to my ability, actually providing some value to our team and allowing Andy to ride at a level that pushed him a little (emphasis on "a little").

Andy hanging with Kelli Emmett before the stage start (not really but we can dream).

Stage 3 start

The stage started with a road ride out of Port Alberni and then squeezed us into a single track climb. The climb was slow as we funneled through the single track. The trail opened up into a fireroad climb and it was great to feel the diesel pistons powering up the hill. We climbed well and were able to pass several teams in our divisions. It was great to be climbing with such strong teams as Cannondale-Mona Vie (mixed team) and Kelli Emmett from team Giant (who was a great rider to draft behind - scroll down). The climb leveled out and we started a rippin 5km fireroad descent were we worked with Robin and Jay from Arrowsmith Bikes to pass half a dozen teams (Robin is a part owner in Arrowsmith Bike Shop and him and Jay are extremely impressive riders. Robin won the Test of Metal in 2007 and Jay won in 2008 finish one spot ahead of Andy - I definitely felt honored to be riding with such crazy strong bikers).

The stage turned interesting with a waist deep river crossing. I was again lucky enough to be behind Kelli and witness her beautiful single speed tattoo. We passed through the first aid station and rode the next 25km with Gary and Todd from Helly Hansen. They were riding extremely strong as well in the previous two stages and I knew if I was able to ride with them things were going well.

The last 10km would finally include some of the single track that was promised in the BC Bike Race. I was a bit hammered from the long day of riding and Gary and Todd dropped us during this section. Andy being the ultra smooth technical rider I merely tried to follow his line. Easier said than done. We finished strong and by far the best stage of the race.

Stage 3 finish - huge smile!!!

Andy and Gary discussing the beautiful singletrack finish

Stage 3 80km - 23rd place 4:33:53

BC Bike Race Stage 2 - A Boy among Giants

Stage two would be our longest day of the BC Bike race. 128km of mostly fire roads that lead us from Lake Cowichan to Port Alberni. The course would suit my riding style much better than the rooted technical sections that would be forthcoming in the stages ahead. I would be able to tap out a nice cadence in a group pack and settle in for a long day in the saddle.

A quick prayer to the leg gods before stage two, "please, please provide me with some legs to power me over the next 128k"


Jay and Robbin throwing bike signs...must be a Naniamo thing.

Start of stage two

The stage started with a controlled 10km road start. The pack riding was definitely unsettling for some mountain bikers, but I felt comfortable in the large fat tire peloton. Once off the asphalt we hit the fireroad which would be our companion for the next 100km. We settled into a small group of 20 riders that worked well together and we eventually gapped up to the lead group of 50 riders that contained all the heads of state. It was at this point I realized the magnitude of the riders in this race.

Barry Wicks - Kona Factory rider, XC, Cross and STXC winner.
Chris Eatough - 7-time 24 hour world champion
Seamus McGrath - 2008 Canadian XC MTB Bejing Olympics Team
Tinker Juarez - 24 hour world champion
Jeff Shalk - Trek factory rider and 2007 BC Bike Race champion.
Manny Prado
Andreas Hestler
Max Plaxton
Nat Ross
Kellie Emmett
Wendy Simms - Kona factory rider, Trans-rockies winner, Canadian National cyclocross champion.
Katie Compton - USA Cyclocross champion, 2007 silver medal world cyclocross championships.

The huge peloton would continue to roll through the undulating fireroads for the next 40km. The riding was fairly uneventful except for two moments of sheer panic and excitement. Incident one would occur with a gradual descent followed by a right turn leading over a bridge. The corner was a bit loose causing some handling problems. In addition, the bridge was narrower than the road which causes a squeezing of the group. Similar to stage one two riders went down hard within a few feet of me. Again, bike parts, lycra, legs and arms went flying by my head. Both riders would be OK and they would eventually catch back up to the group.

The second incident was one of the most spectacular events I have ever witnessed and it defied physics (and common sense). An old white school bus approached the peloton from the right side of a "y" in the road. As we approached from the left side, the driver was hoping to jump in front of the bikers. He gunned the gas, but probably didn't realize the speed we were going. At the last moment, realizing he was not going to beat us to the "Y" he slammed on the brakes bringing the bus to a sliding stop. Unfazed, the driver hammered the gas again and slid in behind the peloton, honking and trying to get around the group on the left side. After several attempts and obvious frustration the driver "dropped the hammer" threw the left side tires into the ditch and "rallied" the 28' bus around the bikers. The bus was half on the road, half on the ditch, tearing off branches of trees and pitching the vehicle sideways going no less than 50mph. Once clear of the bikers he lurched the bus back onto the fireroad, fishtailing and leaving the group of riders in a sense of awe and lucky to be alive. You have to love the Canadian backcountry life on the island.

The first aid station would break up the lead peloton as we were forced to walk our bikes through a check-in station. The lead riders were able to get through the bottleneck quicker and back on their bikes. We hurried as quickly as possible, but the separation was done and the remaining 70k would be long, lonely and hot. For the next three hours Andy would do 99% of the work while I would do my best to latch on to his slipstream and not completely unravel. I managed to limit the damage until the final 5-7k. It was brutally hot, I was toast and went into survival mode. We finally arrived in Port Alberni and compared to yesterday's episodes of blowing chunks we managed to make up lost time.

Stage 2 - 128km 5:03:53 - 25th place

Photo links:
Heading out on a 128km day
Heat taking it toll!
Gary and Todd from Helly Hansen

Sunday, June 29, 2008

BC Bike Race (day 1) - BC Bike Race 1, Aaron 0

The first stage of the BC Bike Race did not go as planned, well at least not the last 3 hours.

Pre-race...notice the look of wouldn't last

The race started with one "neutral" and one hot lap around Shawnigan Lake School. Unfortunately there was nothing "neutral" about the lap. It was red line from the go and you would have thought this was a short track race by the way teams were attacking the small climbs. It was chaotic to say the least. Half way through the lap the course went into a freshly mowed field were 12" blades of grass was jamming and breaking derailluers.

Rounding the corner of our "neutral" lap before heading out on stage 1

On the second lap on a fast descent and right hand turn two riders stacked it 5' in front of me. Their were limbs and bikes flying everywhere. Not sure how I avoided the melee and after a quick check of the drawers, Andy and I were off for 83km of riding.

The next 2 hours included a rock face descent, 45 minute hike-a-bike through a overgrown fern forest and some pretty neat single track. Then the chills reared their ugly head. I had the same problem several weeks ago at Test of Metal. Instantly I stop sweating and start getting gnarly chills. Very similar to a dehydration problem, the only thing is I am hydrated. Needless to say the engine was sputtering and the eight cylinders were running on four...or closer to two. The worse part, we still had the biggest climbs of the day ahead of us and the sun was only getting hotter.

The second aid station was a god send. I was able to take a break, get some fluids, vomit and then eats some oranges. Lovely!!!! The climb would soon start and the wheels would soon come off. The climb was brutal. The granny gear was my best friend, but even with the help of all her teeth I was still worthless. Andy was doing everything possible to help me up the hill (it may have been the heat, but I'm pretty sure at one point I was riding on his handlebars while he rode and carried my bike on his shoulders). The climb, the heat and my inability to ride my bike wouldn't stop. After what seemed like an eternity we finally reached the third aid station.

The remainder of the ride was survival. We had 10km of wicked fast descent, where we were reaching speed of over 40mph, and then 17km of excruciatingly painful flat double track. I did my best to tuck and draft behind Andy while he threw out some watts that would impress Tom Boonen. However with 3-4km to go my engine let go and I was done. The hurt locker was open, I was shoved in and it shut hard behind me (similar to my high school days, although this time my underwear wasn't wrapped over my head). Andy brought us into the finish line and we passed through at just over 5:30. I was exhausted, in pain, in tears and wanting to be held! I figured my debacle cost us around 15-20 minutes. Luckily we still have 6 days of racing ahead of us and hopefully I can get my crap together and not impede our standings any further.

The temps for tomorrow will again be over 90 degrees and with 128km of riding it is sure to be a suffer fest!

Stage 1 - 5:30:43 - 30th place men's open

Keepin the rubber side down...peace.

Friday, June 27, 2008

BC Bike Race - Day Zero

Yesterday I embarked on an adventure that has been in the works for the past 8 months. An adventure that will take me from a small lake town 30 miles north of Victoria on Vancouver Island, BC to Whistler, BC in 7 days. An adventure known as, The BC Bike Race.

Blue star polishing the red rocket!

The race will cover approximately 580km over the 7 stages and will include some of the best single track riding in the world. Roughly 450 riders (225 teams of two) will be toeing the line tomorrow morning in Shawnigan Lake, BC to do battle with nature and among fellow competitors. I will be racing with my teammate Blue Star Racing. The primary goal for the race is to finish...second goal is to be able to put in a solid effort every day and be somewhat competitive.

Hopefully I will be able to update my blog on a daily basis to give you the latest and greatest from beautiful British Columbia, Canada.

The zero!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Squamish Part 1 - Victory

This three part story of heroism begins with our hero joining his three teammates for the MOMAR Adventure Race. An adventure of mountain bike, trekking and rappelling in the majestic town of Squamish, BC, Canada, that would test their courage in the face of danger and adversity from a position of weakness.

Armed with their new Gregory Iso Packs from, fueled by Clif Bars and hydrated by nuun our demigods where well prepared for combat. The battlefield was vicious, but led by the fearless navigation and diesel powered legs of MHayz, the team was confident in their abilities for victory.

The contest would start with a 1.5 mile run, followed by a short, lung busting mountain bike ride and then a longer trekking section.

Our competitors would slowly slay one team after another on the trek as they made their way back to the bikes. The team encountered it's first adversity when the saddle of Chris's steed snapped. Unfazed, they slowly nursed the mount back to ride able shape. The repair would cost the team 20 minutes and they would need to persevere to make up lost time. Digging deep into the hurt locker would be needed for the remainder of the bike and into the next trekking section. Adverity would strike again with a errand turn on the trekking section that would take the team several hundred feet down a trail in the wrong direction. The correction was quickly noticed by MHayz and with a drawn sword he would lead the team swiftly back on their way to the rappel. A short run, bike and run awaited our hero's, who in a display of self-sacrifice for one another finished the race with a first place showing in the 4-person co-ed division.

A storybook ending of moral excellence and the greater good, our hero's enjoyed libations and the beautiful scenery that only Canadians can offer.

Sunday, May 04, 2008


Those not familiar with the term DFL let me provide some guidance. The first word stands for “Dead” and the last word stands for “Last”. I will let your imagination conjure something for the middle word. DFL is the place I received at the 2008 Sea Otter Classic XC mountain bike race. This is single handedly the most embarrassing race I have ever competed. In hindsight I should not have started (bad knee, no intensity training and a brand new bike), but having a competitive nature, already traveled to Monterey, CA. and feeling the energy from the Otter, I felt compelled to race. Bad, bad, bad decision. The race was tragic from the start. I’m sure my wattage profile would resemble that of my 7 year old nephews on his BMX bike. Not to say that Jake (nephew) can’t throw down some watts for a 7 year old, but probably not the ideal results needed for my race. I have never wanted to pack in a race so badly. Sara (Andy’s wife and super-star support) greeted me after lap one with a smile (a worried smile) and encouragement to finish the race. I can honestly say if she had not been there I would have quietly tucked my tail between the legs and crawled off the course. I’m glad I finished the race, even though the sting of last place is going to haunt me for some time.

I’m not sure where this leaves me. Well, actually it left me in last place, but on the mental side, I’m in some darkness. I’ve counted on exercise as my therapy for the past 7 years, but the thought of getting fat, drinking and partaking in other extra curricular activities is sounding pretty darn good.

On the positive side, my new bike looked like a lightening fast cheetah and the Mafia Team kits were fresh. Now, I just need to get my head on straight, my pistons firing on all cylinders and find a way to get EPO prescribed to me. BC Bike race is less than two-months away! Blue Star is rocking and I need to find some extra HP if I am going to be able to uphold my end of the team.

Trying to find some umph! on the XC course, but could only find ouch!

Blue Star warming up before a solid Semi-pro finish!

Start of the pro men's short track race.

DT Swiss's new carbon mtb wheelset. The pair will cost you around $2400 and your good kidney! I'm tempted!