Monday, February 27, 2006

My last full day here…
Today, I woke up with tired legs that are now going on 5 days with no rest. However, that didn’t stop me from taking another epic ride! I started out from Queenstown and climbed for 2 hours and 15 minutes. You know, I really set out to do some base training here at a low intensity, but when you are all the way in granny gear climbing for over 2 hours with the heart rate pinged, you can either stop, or just deal with it. I just dealt with it, but I can tell you that I have been sleeping very well.
Anyway, I arrived at the summit of Mt Dewars after 5000-6000 feet of climbing with one 5 minute descent that forced me to regain some of the altitiude. Mt Dewars is between 2 river valleys, so the views were amazing.

The descent was cool down into Skipper Canyon. Check out these two views of the singletrack I took down…again, epic.

I returned home and headed out for some Thai food…YUMMY!
I leave tomorrow, so I will probably take it easy. For now I will enjoy the sunny 75 degree day=)
Today was another great day….

The weather forecast called for rain and wind, but I wasn’t too worried because things have been so dry here. It was warm and sunny with a few random sprinkles until 3pm when it started to pour.
I set out on a ride in search of more sweet single track. I started out with some “rocky Farmish” stuff down by the lake before ascending into the Mountains. I took the same track up around Moke Lake (and Alpine lake). I then continued on what is called the Moonlight track…BEAUTIFUL…

I ran into some cows on the trail, and the bull of the group didn’t like me so I had to go off trail to get around him because he WASN’T moving. Needless to say, I got lots of cow poop on my tires. I also ran into some sheep…I chased them down the trail=)

Then things started to get more vertical and exposed…and then too exposed. Walking and carrying the bike was nerve racking. Try and find the thin little single track around the cliffs in these pictures.

When I got home I was tired so I went in search of food. My body is starting to really tire out but I am only here for another 2 days, so I am going to suck it up and make the most of it.
Here is an evening view from Queenstown.

How am I going to re-adjust to the Tundra?

Sunday, February 26, 2006

The past couple days, I have been mountain biking the seemingly endless supply of singletrack in the area…most of it is really technical (like the farm, but with lots of rocks). I also have taken some good climbs up to an Alpine Lake called Moke Lake.
Here are some Pics.

Yesterday afternoon, we river surfed down a beautiful river (the same one we rafted earlier this week). It was sweet and challenging with up to class 4 rapids.

Right now I am on Wireless internet at Starbucks here in town…it is $10nz for 1 hour! I was like, this is free in the states! The clerk said “there is only one wireless internet provider in NZ.” Rather than state the obvious (you can convert any hard wired connection to wireless) I chose to give up=)
By the way, got the word the Niner Niner is in the house! It will be in my basement soon after I get home.
Race Day…
After 4 days of preparing for the 2006 Eco Seagate Adventure Race, it was finally time to give it our all. We had to board the buses at 5 am so we were eating breakfast around 4:30. We had spend the previous night mapping the course….basically, right before dinner on they gave us a map and a set of coordinates for 11 check points (CP’s) and we had to figure out how to get to them all in order.
After a .5 hour bus ride, we arrived at a beach where they shuttled us out to an island in the middle of Lake Wakapitu.
The start: The temp was about 45 degrees F and I was dressed for racing, not for standing around. Needless to say, I was COLD, shivering, and doing anything to stay warm. After 15 minutes of pictures with helicopters flying overhead etc… we were placed in order for a mass start. There were 40 teams of 5 and each team was started according to how many “Eco Tokens” they had accumulated. Throughout the week, you got these for various test, participation, etc. Our team, “Fuel” (named after my bike but my teammates agreed to the name before they knew that) started in 5th position. The start was a mass start into inflatable kayaks.
CP1: When the horn blew, 200 people were screaming, yelling, and scrambling for a set of boats. I busted through and grabbed some close to the optimal point facing CP1. CP1 was a 2 mile paddle away. Fuel got going right away, and before we knew it, we had a 200 meter gap on the entire field…the copter (which by the way was filming in HD) was over us doing sweeps. We exited the lake in first place by about 5 minute. I fell in the 60 degree water when trying to dock…freezing!
CP2-CP6: These were orienteering CPs. The wooded hills we navigated were used in the Lord of the Rings for the Battle where the Orcs were riding the Wolf like creatures. Anyway, we navigated some difficult terrain and bushwacked down a gnarly ravine to gain extra advantage. By CP6, we had a good lead because many of the teams had gotten lost in the thick woods.
CP7-CP9: This was a 20K bike leg along the shores of Lake Wakapitu. I was doing fine so I took on extra weight and did one handed pushing up hills. Our team started to tire, but by continuous movement, we finished with an even larger lead.
CP10: To get to CP10, we walked up the hillsides used for the horse scenes in the Lord of the Rings…pretty cool and beautiful. At CP10 we put on our rappelling gear… we repelled over 100 feet into this canyon across a river…they had 5 ropes set up so we got to do this all together. My safety rope got hung up on a sharp rock at one point, but the aids managed to free me. It was a little disconcerting hanging over 100 feet up not being able to move.
CP11: This was BY FAR the most difficult leg of the journey. We had to navigate the canyon with life vests on. The water was 44 degrees F, as it was being fed by snow melt from a high elevation snow earlier in the week. The water took my breath away…I was shivering uncontrollable and my body was numb. However, one of my teammates, KB, from Malaysia, could not swim. I helped Shawn swim him down the canyon when I could. When we finally exited the canyon, I was the coldest I have ever been. Body fat would have been useful at this point.
Finish: The finish was only .5 km from there and we jogged in with the WIN! The next team didn’t come in for 26 more minutes. We were happy with the outcome. We took some hot showers, drank some water, ate while watching the other teams come in.
That night we had a closing dinner.
We got a little trophy for the win…I wasn’t expecting anything more, as our reward was being in Queenstown=)Until next time

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Another quick one...
I am in another half hour the third of the week!
They still are keeping us running around like crazy...lots of chanting, yelling, cheering, etc.
Yesterday we did a kayak and white water raft with some class 2 and 3 rapids, so nothing too crazy. Our guide is on a pro rafting team (I didn't know they existed)...anyway his girlfriend is good friends with a helicopter bike tour owner. I was yeah, I would be interested if you guys are going up...normally $200, maybe I could get a deal. Also, he gave me the low down on some of the best single track around here.
Today we get to "learn" how to mountain bike, and it is about 50 degrees with a chance of precip. It is snowing the top of the Remarkables this morning. Oh, and I forgot my knee warmers..dooh!
In closing, I found out a few things about the Lord of the Rings for you fans out there. Mordor is the Remarkables, so I guess I was at the very peak of Mordor. The river we went down yesterday was used for all the river scenes. I was trying to look up more of the sites, but lack the time.
Until next more good pic

Monday, February 20, 2006

Hello friends....I have time for a quick post. This is the first free time we have had yet and it lasts an hour (for shower, get ready for dinner, and obviously a quick blog). Things are great so far. They do have us stretching at 6am and I have been returning to my room exhausted around 10 pm.
While the physical activity is not to difficult, just moving all day and eating good food is enough to wear me out! Tomorrow is white water rafting and Thursday will be mountain biking. There are some world class athletes fact, out tribe leader was a 5 time NZ womens nat champ mountain biker...I could go on. There is a sponsored x-terra woman here that I will be riding with Sat after this is over. She also happens to be a business week reporter covering this....
Other random things....helicopters, film crews, photographers everywhere....

My team is good and we work well together. Here is a pic of us with the Remarkables in the background.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

If there is heaven on earth, it is Queenstown New Zealand in the summer….
Seriously, there is not one summer out door activity that I can think of that cannot be done here. Today, there isn’t a cloud in the sky, the temps are around 75-80 F, and there is a nice breeze.
As I mentioned yesterday, today’s project was “The Remarkables,” a mountain range to the East of Queenstown (see pic on left).

I ate a huge breakfast at the Seagate buffet…eggs, yogurt, cereal, muffins, lots of coffee, a little bacon…I could go on. About an hour after eating, I headed out on the ride. It took me about a half an hour to get to the base of the mountain range. The first section of road was called the “Zig Zag.” No explanation necessary here…the only signs at the foot of the mountain said that the ski resort was 13.5 km away (up a gravel road), and the road is not maintained from November through April. Needless to say, the lack of maintenance was apparent and made pedaling all the tougher. I kept it in the middle ring as long as I could, but the pitch in many spots was at least 20 percent. For the second day in a row I was reduced to using the granny gear=( After less than 2 hours, I was at the Ski resort…from there you can bike/hike up to the overlook. I biked as far as I could and then walked the last several hundred vertical feet through a jagged rock garden (my new shimano shoes took a beating, but that is why I bought them….
Check out these views from the top. In the lower left is Queenstown.

On the way down, still above the ski resort, a nice Kiwi took an action shot of me (you can see his pack on the left…just to give you an idea of the stuff I had to walk up (I rode down as much of it as I could with no carbon fiber casualties.
Once below the ski resort, the gravel road descent was loose, rocky, bump, fast and has sheer cliffs off much of the road. I went as quickly as was sensible. Here is a view of the road.
After getting back to town, I found some friends sitting by the town park, and we went to hammer down some ‘za…
Tonite, the program starts with a dinner buffet from the same lookout I was at yesterday. They have an option to bungy jump. I don’t know if I will or not…I get butterflies just thinking about it. Anyway, a day that starts and ends with a buffet and has a good ride sandwiched in between is a one great day!Until next time…stay happy.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Greeting from Down Under…
After over 24 hours of travel, I am finally in paradise…at least paradise for anyone who likes the out doors. We arrived at the hotel around 9 am. All my luggage found its way including my bike much to the dismay of the bell boys. The only real hold up on the traveling end was having to unpack the bike in Christchurch so they could check to see if the tires were muddy…they didn’t want me bringing in some non-native plant life.

Upon arrival, the temp was around 70 degrees and it has stayed there all day with mostly sunny skies. Here is the view from my hotel room..

The first order of business was assembling the fuel and getting dressed to ride. I then cruised down to a local bike shop, chatted for a while about where I should ride and started to ride. Basically from downtown you can take a Gondola up 1800 feet to a scenic overlook. I took the easy way out and rode up a service road=) Needless to say, the granny gear on the fuel had never been employed until today. Holy Crap! This was one STEEP service road. A half an hour later, I was at the outlook…I was really suffering on the way up, but encouragement from hikers kept me going. When I reached the top, I explored some single track and proceeded to do several hundred feet more of climbing. Call me crazy, but check out the pictures from this overlook (the mountains in the background called the Remarkables are tomorrows project).

The way down was not as taxing for my heart and lungs, but it was for my body…I descended on a previous World Cup downhill course. The only part I skipped had a 8 foot drop which neither my bike or body are made for. After 2000 feet of basically sitting on my back wheel, I took a two-wheel tour of the town. I found a cafĂ© and took in the sites. I would describe Queenstown as a miniature Madison…liberal, hippy, granola, etc.

Tomorrow evening, we start the program with a kick-off dinner. I am looking forward to it. Check out all the gear we got. Top Notch!

Hopefully I can get one more entry after tomorrows activities. It will be difficult to update during the week, as they will keep us busy from 6 am to 10 pm.Peace…

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Time to ship out…..
Well, I leave for New Zealand tomorrow. Exciting times! I am just about finished packing (you can see the bike supplies in the picture). Because this won’t be a “lay on the beach” vacation – who likes those anyway – I had to make sure I have everything I will need to not be sitting on my butt for 2 weeks.

The plan while I am there will be 2 days site seeing on the bike followed by the 5 days of the Eco Seagate challenge followed by 4.5 more days of biking, river boarding, a bungy jump (maybe), and what ever else comes my way.

Look for blog entries with pics while I am there…I will find some WI FI somewhere. You will probably only see 1 entry before Eco Seagate, and not too many until after because they will keep us busy from 6am until 10-11 at night.


Thursday, February 09, 2006

BOOO YAHH....the Skyride in St. Paul

Last night Jen and I cruised down to St. Paul with Mountain bike Mick, Jeff (my cousin), Fisher, and Jen to watch the Red Bull Skyride. The Skyride was a 1 mile time trial even with 1 rider going every minute. We worked our way from one end of the course to the other and found some pretty sweet sections to watch from. Unfortunately, spectators were not allowed in the middle of the course so we did most of traversing outside, but we did sneak into a few corners near the University Club (where Jen and I had our wedding reception=) to watch….Mick is cheering on this guy right before the guy bownced of the door and wall!

We ended up watching the finish for a while…

If you live near St. Paul and weren’t there, you missed out…the event was such a success (news media coverage, Mayor was there, etc) that I am sure there will be another. Don’t miss it next time!

Here is a video of the event.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Another good weekend but what happened to spring?
I got up on Saturday staring a long cold ride in the face. I think it was 3 degrees at my house when I had my first cup of coffee. After 2 homemade egg McMuffins and a big bowl of cereal, I suited up…a 15 minute process of layering, shaking hand warmers and making sure the bike will roll. Once I got going it wasn’t too bad, and the sun kept things tolerable. The 10-15 mph wind was definitely the biggest obstacle of the day, but I kept the pedals turning over. I wanted to be out for at least 3.5 hours, but unfortunately, I was just shy of the 3 hour mark when I rolled back into the garage. For me, when the wind chill is near 5 degrees, that is plenty long.
Sunday brought the Super Bowl, so after a spin on the trainer, Jen and I invited Chris Fisher, Jen Meyer, and my cousin Jeff over for some beer, apps, pizza, and lots of cookies…I think Jen Meyer had like 4=)

This week will be a recovery week for me. I haven’t taken more than 2 days of recovery since Christmas…my legs are telling me it is time!


Friday, February 03, 2006

Living in Minnesota as a biker is not easy, and by February I start to crave riding in a warmer climate…to satisfy this craving, I have two trips planned this spring. They could be called training trips but really they are just vacations.
The first trip will be to Queenstown, New Zealand. I am leaving Feb 16th and am staying for 2 weeks. The best part of this one is that it is on Seagate’s bill (Seagate is where I work if I didn’t make the clear earlier). Every year Seagate selects ~200 employees worldwide to go on this week long team building adventure race in New Zealand. The main reason we do it (besides the fact that it is reasonably effective) is that our CEO is a big fan of adventure racing, and well, he is the boss. The plan for the week is each day Mon-Thurs we spend half the day in class and half the day learning a skill (white water rafting, orienteering, rappelling, and mountain biking). They have professionals come in and teach us. I look forward to learning how to mountain bike=) Then on Friday, we combine all 4 skills in a point to point race. Last year they had Sir Edward Hillary talk after the race…pretty cool! After the work training, I am then extending 4.5 more days to see the countryside on my Fuel. That’s right, the Fuel is going to the other side of the globe with me. I will be sure to post some pics while I am there (the Lord of the Rings was filmed nearby Queenstown, so there should be some cool stuff to shoot).
The second trip is to Las Vegas in late March. We are staying at Paris right on the strip. I know you are thinking that we are going to party the night away and gamble like we have lots of money, but, actually the Strip is only about 10-20 miles away from great riding. Throw in lots of great sites, a really nice pool, plenty to do at night, and you have a great warm weather training destination. Jen Meyer and Chris Fisher are joining us which going to be awesome! Fisher and I are going to need lots of caffeine to keep us awake after the amount of riding we will be doing.
Between these two trips, I will get my fill of warm weather or at least a fix until things improve here.
Does anyone watch Mad Money with Jim Cramer on CNBC? He talks a lot about carbon fiber and how it will be in high demand because it is used in windmill blades (and alternative energy is HOT). I think he should also mention the bike industry…we have to be sucking up a decent amount of the carbon fiber supply. I know that I am trying to do my part….