Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Levis Gran Fondo Oct 5, 2013

Love Alone is Worth the Fight: Memoirs of Levi's Gran Fondo, Santa Rosa, CA

October 8, 2013 at 11:38am
It is amazing the power that music, prayer and positive self-talk can bring with a daunting task in front of you. Over the past few days and weeks,in preparation for a big bike race, I have reflected on several songs written by Switchfoot that really brought me hope and comfort: Dare You to Move, The Shadow proves the Sunshine, Learning to Breathe, and a new one they just recently released called "Love Alone is Worth the Fight"

Here are the lyrics:
I'm trying to find where my place is
I'm looking for my own oasis
So close I can taste this
The fear that love alone erases

So I'm back to the basics
I figure it's time I face this
Time to take my own advice

Love alone is worth the fight

And I never thought it'd come to this
But it seems like I'm finally feeling numb to this
The funny thing about a name is
You forget what the reason you were playing the game is

And it's all an illusion
A 21st century institution
So I'm headed down the open road unknown

And we find what we're made of
Through the open door
Is it fear you're afraid of?
What are you waiting for?

Love alone is worth the fight

We're only here for a season
I'm looking for the rhyme and reason
Why you're born, why you're leaving
What you fear and what you believe in

Why you're living and breathing
Why you're fighting it and getting it even
Let's go headed down the open road unknown

And we find what we're made of
Through the open door
Is it fear you're afraid of?
What are you waiting for?

Love alone is worth the fight

Here we are, here we go
Where the road is our own
Hear it calling you home
Here we are, here we go! 

Way back in February 2013, my great friend Justin called me and said, "Lets do Levis Gran Fondo". Because it was so far away, I signed up for the race almost without reservation. I told myself that I had plenty of time to prepare for this. Up to this day, my longest ride was doing the Rupert Century which is 100 miles long with very little elevation gain.

Levis Gran Fondo is in Santa Rosa. It is a 103-mile race that has roughly 9,000 ft of elevation gain. We had learned about the race from reading a bike blog called, written by a great guy named Elden Nelson. "Fatty", the   nickname that Elden now carries has said more than once that Levi's GF is his favorite event of the year.

From the time we registered to about July, I mostly spent time riding my bike on my trainer in the basement, with a few jaunts here and there outside. It wasnt mid July that I really started putting some time in the local hills here.

As our ride of October 5th approached, I started getting more and more nervous. Fear of the unknown encircled me. Why should I fret so much over a "bike ride"? But, I did! A lot.

I had a few turning points that brought great perspective. I was so nervous about doing the ride with Justin, mostly because he is such a strong cyclist and I still feel like a novice. He and I did a ride together on the Sick55 loop, which is a loop that goes from Declo to Malta to Albion and back to Declo. 55 miles and near 2000 ft of climbing. I had a hard time keeping up with Justin on the ride; completely gassed after we finished. That afternoon I drove with my family to Idaho Falls to see my wife's family. I was having an internal battle. I felt very discouraged from the ride earlier in the day. I prayed a lot.....tried to pump myself up lost.....nothing worked. Then, and I don't where this came from, but I prayed one more time and said "Lord, I trust Justin". That was all I said. And the fear and anxiety immediately fled. This would prove to be foreshadowing of what was to come.

Getting closer to October, I had several great rides in preparation for the race. One in particular will forever stay in my memory. I rode to Pomerelle, our local ski hill. It was misty all the way to the top. I even got rained on my descent; but it was beautiful and refreshing.

Fast forward to race week. My anxiety was pretty high and I was losing sleep. And to top things off, 3 out of 4 of my kids and Courtney all got a stomach virus. It felt kinda selfish, but I prayed hard to not get sick. I stayed healthy and know those prayers were answered.

Justin and I had an enjoyable drive to Santa Rosa. I had just learned from my friend Dean Molen, an avid mountaineer, that next to Alaska, Nevada is the most mountainous state. I was expecting a flat desert and instead was treated to mountains all the way to Sacramento.

We woke up Friday morning and headed to the coast to see Bodega Bay. We knew we were near part of the race course and decided to return to Santa Rosa via Coleman Valley road.  By the way the engine revved going up the climb, you could tell that climbing it on the bike was going to be tough the following day.

We strolled into Santa Rosa, completed our registration, and then headed to the Armstrong Woods to see the groves of redwood trees. What a site!

All this time, I was on the verge of a complete freakout. I did lots of praying for strength and courage. I kept singing those Switchfoot songs in my head. Particularly, on Dare You to Move, "Where will you run to escape from yourself...where you gonna go, where you gonna go?....Salvation is here". I don't know what they intended that to mean, but to me it means that, in the end, the Savior is the only One we can run to for Salvation!  Also from The Shadow Proves the Sunshine, "Oh, Lord, why did you forsake me? Oh Lord, don't be far away. Oh Lord, why did you forsake me? Storm clouds gathering beside me, Please Lord, don't look the other way"

I also got comfort from a story told by Elaine S. Dalton:
     "Several years ago, I had the opportunity to run the Boston Marathon. I had trained hard and felt I was             prepared, but at mile 20 there are hills. The locals call the steepest and longest hill Heartbreak Hill. When I reached that point, I was physically spent. The hill was long, and because I was a novice, I allowed myself to do something no seasoned runner ever does—I started to think negatively. This slowed my pace, so I tried to think positively and visualize the finish line. But as I did this, I suddenly realized that I was in a big city, there were thousands of people lining the route, and I had not made any arrangements to locate my husband at the end of the marathon. I felt lost and alone, and I started to cry. I was wearing a big red T-shirt with the word Utah printed on the front in big block letters. As the spectators saw that I was crying, they would yell, “Keep going, Utah.” “Don’t cry, Utah.” “You’re almost finished, Utah.” But I knew I wasn’t, and I was lost. I also knew that even if I stopped running and dropped out of the race, I would still be lost.
Do any of you ever feel like you’re running up Heartbreak Hill and that even though there are people lining the route, you are alone? That’s how I felt. So I did what every one of you would do—I began to pray right there on that marathon route. I told Heavenly Father that I was alone and that I was on a hill. I told Him that I was discouraged and afraid and that I felt lost. I asked for help and strength to be steadfast and to finish the race. As I continued to run, these words came into my mind:
Fear not, I am with thee; oh, be not dismayed,
For I am thy God and will still give thee aid.
I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,
Upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand. "

I sang the words to this song quite a bit the day before the race and felt comforted!

On to the race! We arrived at the start line a little after 7 am. What a spectacle it was to see 7500 people all gathered together to do a bike race together. The race started promptly at 8. It was a mass start which means we all started at the same time. Because of the bulk of people in front of us, it took at least 10 minutes before we started rolling out. I thought that we would be bunched up for miles, but Justin and I were on our way with our own tempo after just a few miles.

The ride was spectacular. We rode through lush, dark forests; on top of bare ridges with fantastic views below; thrilling descents; we even spent 20 miles riding along Highway 1 next to the Pacific Ocean. And we climbed...a lot. In fact, that was the theme of the day. As soon as you thought you had a little reprieve, you started going up again.

Justin was such a great support on the ride. He is an excellent climber on his bike. He would ride ahead of me and then I would meet him at the next feed zone. When I would arrive, he would change my water bottles, grab me a Coke and some bananas, and make sure I was ok! We would ride together for a few minutes, and then he would be off again.....ready and waiting for me at the next feed zone. In fact, his total time ended up being around 9 hours. I got a little choked up when he told me his "ride time" (the actual time he spent on his bike) was under 7 hours. He did a lot of waiting for me at the feed zones. But for me, it was a blessing to know that he would be there at the next stop. He was so encouraging. He didnt have to do any of this. He could have blasted through the course and got a great time, but this wasnt his focus for the day. Previously, he had said that he just wanted to have a good time; and we did!

Other than having some serious cramping issues, I loved the bike race. I learned a lot about myself. I strengthen my friendship with Justin, and felt like I drew closer to the Lord as well. It must be a great thing, when you say the day after the race, that you would do it again. What an experience! I am extremely grateful for the ride! It was worth the fight!! 

Monday, July 26, 2010

Pomerelle Hike with Carson

I took our oldest boy Carson on a hike to local ski area Pomerelle on Saturday. He has been telling me that he wants to climb Cache Peak and other mountains with me. There is a local mountain near that is dubbed the "D". D standing for the small town of Declo. It is a good training hike where you gain 1300 ft in elevation and it takes less than an hour to get to the top. Carson really wants to hike the D, but there are some really steep (but short) sections that I am afraid he would have a hard time coming down from. Consolation prize for Saturday: head for Pomerelle. We parked in the parking lot and headed up the run called Milk. Very appropriate because there were cows and cowpies everywhere.

Here is Carson in all his hiking gear. Trekking poles and $2 binoculars!!
He really was a good little hiker.
There were beautiful mountain flowers everywhere!

Self portrait with Big C in the background.

There you are: you big messy cows!!!

It wasnt long before I was carrying all four hiking poles so that Carson could use his binoculars.

This is the half pipe. Full of weeds and trees. Not too much "vert" here!

Loved this picture of Carson....wish it came through better.

We drove to the top of Mt Harrison. Congrats Carson on "bagging" your first peak.....even if we drove to get there. To the left of Carson's head is Cache Peak.....maybe after a few more peaks and hikes, we can hit Cache!!
The skull and cross bones shirt is for Brig C !!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Redfish Lake

Last weekend, we went to Redfish Lake to spend some time with some good friends and their families. I hadnt been to Redfish since I was in high school. What an awesome place!! The Sawtooth are an amazing mountain range.

Because our kids were up at the crack of dawn, we took them on a hike.....didnt want to wake the rest of the camp. Yes, the boys are still in their jammies here.

Logan chillin' in the carrier.

Carson and Nate looking for fish off the bridge.

The beaches at Redfish were nice. The water was a little chilly.

This is my favorite picture of the trip. Grand Mogul to the left and Mt Heyburn to the right (along with a few others mountains that I couldnt figure out the names).

The boys would cry each time we left the lake.

On the way home, we stopped at the fish hatchery south of Redfish.

They let Carson and Nate fish for free in the kids' pond. Worms were also provided.

These little fish were killing me. They were trying to jump up over this wall.

Carson: the concentration.

The joy!! Carson reeling in his 1st fish ever!

The Spoils! At least for a minute: we threw him back after the picture.

I loved this picture: Carson and Nate looking down into the runs to see the large salmon....and little Logan trying to get there!

What a great trip! It was fun to be with good friends. The scenery was great! The company was great! I would recommend Redfish to anyone looking for an awsome place to get away!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Mt Whitney

I have looked forward to seeing Mt Whitney for a long time.

In May 2009, I went on a hike with a great friend Michael Monson to Ben Lomond Peak down in Utah. Mike mentioned that he and some friends were planning to hike Mt Whitney in just a few weeks. This piqued my interest: on, I had read Dan Robbins trip report from when he went to Whitney. So, hearing Mike talk about this got me interested. In fact, last summer I contemplated going with Mike and his crew, but schedule didnt work out.

Shortly after the Ben Lomond hike, my wife and I met up with good friends Brig and Steph down in Salt Lake. I told Brig about Mike's trip to Whitney.We tossed around the idea of doing Whitney together, but not too serious :)

Fast forward to January of this year. I get a call from Brig. "Dude, you still want to hike Mt Whitney?" With a big gulp, I said Yes.

I had already been training, mostly to stay in shape. I quickly bumped up routine. DANG the treadmill.....lots of hours spent there.....mostly walking with the incline up. I hiked the D Mountain south of Declo a few times. Great place to train!!

Two weeks before Whitney, I decided to do a training hike up by Pomerelle, our local ski hill. I parked at the bottom of the Pomerelle road and walked the 7 miles to the ski hill parking lot. I put on the crampons (never been used) and hiked to the top of the mountain. Pretty routine hike. On the way down, with 3 miles left to go, my right foot started hurting. By the time I got to the car, I could barely walk. I went and talked to my dad. He thought I had plantar fasciitis. The Rx was to take it easy the next few weeks and to take Ibuprofen 3X a day.

Jeremy Bennett and I left Burley at 6:00 Tuesday June 22nd. We made it down to Lone Pine in about 11 hours. Brig met us at the Visitors center an hour later. We cruised up to the Whitney Portal to try to find a walkin campsite: there were several still available. We went to the Whitney Portal Store for the legendary burgers and fries. They didnt disappoint. It was fun to meet Doug and Earlene Thompson, the owners of the store. Doug wrote a book called "Mount Whitney: Mountain Lore from the Whitney Store".......which is a very good read.

My brother Scott and his step father-in-law rolled into camp sometime around midnight.

We had breakfast at the portal store. The pancakes were massive and yummy.

To burn time and to acclimate, we went on a hike to Cottonwood pass, a trail that starts at 10,000 feet elevation. Very cool area and hike.

Here is Brig and Jeremy chillin' !

Picture out of place: Visitors center

Trailhead to Mt Whitney



GQ Brig

Looking towards Cottonwood Pass

This area was very sandy. The trail felt like walking at a beach.

Self- portrait: mostly wanted to show off $10 glasses from Maverick. Tom Cruise eat your heart out!

The Portal Store


Morning of the hike: We woke up at 3:00 and were on the trail by 3:45. It was awesome to hike with headlamps on. The sunrise here was amazing.

The crew taking a break.

Mike Monson described these mountains as "dramatic". They were indeed.

Mt Muir from Trial Camp

Whitney and the Needles from Trial Camp

A good look at the switchbacks and the chute to the right that most people were ascending. Lots of snow on a few of the critical switchbacks.
Upon arriving at Trial Camp (12,000 ft), I had a hard decision to make. My foot had flared back up. I didnt know if it could handle going up the chute on my tippy toes with crampons. After thinking it through, I decided to call it a day. To make it significant to me from a hiker's standpoint, I decided to press on to at least get to the same elevation of Mt Borah, the high point in Idaho, 12,662 ft. I wanted to see that I could at least hack the elevation in Idaho.

This picture was taken a few months ago.I like it cause it shows the chute and the switchbacks. Pretty steep stuff. No wonder they made 97 switchbacks to get to Trail Crest.

Marmot on top of the rock! Hungry sucker wanted all our food.

Whitney from 12,662 ft.

Looking down on Trail Camp

Jeremy and I made it down the trail safely. Scott, Brig, and Dave all summited! Congrats!

Picture from the Portal Hostel.

From the McDonalds parking lot

Boundary Peak, high point of Nevada

What a great trip I had!! Great hike and great company. I would like to return someday!!!!
Check out these other pictures and trip reports: