Sunday, January 25, 2009

Planning has started, sort of...

I took the first, well second I guess, step in planning my ND bike tour this year.  The first step was to decide to finally do it I guess.  I went out and bought a ND Gazetteer today in order to start picking out a route.  It should prove to be a handy resource, as it contains everything from detailed backroads to campgrounds (for when I'm not stealth camping (might be hard in wide open ND)) to GPS grids.  Excellent.  Now it's just going to be a challenge to decide on what exact path I'll take through the state.  I will have to say the western half of the state will be quite a bit more interesting, and I have covered a large seciton of the eastern already while living in Grand Forks, so I'll probably plan the bulk of the meandering in the west.  It would be more climactic to finish off at the MT border than the Red River Valley, but west to east will probably have to be the direction for two main reasons.  One is that I'll end up closer to home, and the second and more important is that prevailing wind patterns mostly favor that direction of bicycle travel.  So I will probably start in the land of National Grasslands, buttes, cowboys, and badlands and finish in the land where you can see the curvature of the Earth, and dodge crop dusters on your bike.  
It remains to be seen whether this will be a solo tour.  I think I would enjoy the solitude, but riding with friends would be great too.  It's doubtful that Alison will be able to get the time off flying that would be required.  Edward, if you're reading this, it's your calling to finally buy your dreamt of Rivendell (or Ty and your LHT) and head to ND to put in some miles and some camping.  All other cycling friends of mine are of course invited as well, but none of you have really shown a strong interest in touring as of yet, so that is why you're not specifically called.  :)  I'll keep you all posted as the trip further comes to life...

Camping inside

So yeah, I've mentioned the cold outside here in STP lately.  My latest observation occurred while reading in bed last night before falling asleep.  I had a familiar feeling, but it wasn't something I normally notice at home.  I thought through my surroundings, and figured out that the feeling was that of camping.  Yeah, bedding down in cool air, requiring a hat, which I had on, and reading until I drift off.  I don't know how many times I've done that in a tent, but this time it was a king size pillow top scene right at home.  It's so cold outside that our drafty windows are allowing a camping-like feel to our own bedroom.  Upon waking this morning, the temperature in said sleeping quarters was 58 degrees.  Now that's a temperature I'd be very excited to see outside, but when we spend all our time trying to warm up, it's not a great bedroom temp.  But in a small way it brought a small smile to my face last night, because it caused me to remember all the great "tent times" I've had over the years.  I can't wait for spring and the thaw to hit.  Got a ways to go, but it's coming...

Saturday, January 24, 2009

For fellow outdoor folk, be careful of the bacteria-

Latest project...

I'm getting very close to sending my second 5.11a at the gym.  The first one was not really comparable to this one as far as the overall style and feel of the route.  The first was a mixture of finger pockets, to laybacks, to dynamic ledge moves (not really a consistent feel that would really represent a single type of rock or route outdoors).  Nor was it consistent in difficulty throughout the route (only a couple moves at the 5.11 level, with most easier).  My current project is much more sustained and consistent, and I have to say I prefer it, even though I haven't quite sent it.  I've figured out every move, but the crux is in the middle and I have been hitting it only once and a while.   Balance with proper weight shifts is key, as is remembering to breath through the most intense three moves (all in a row of course).   The climb is mostly delicate finger placements on holds that are anything but solid, then finishing with a roof on slightly more substantial holds, still with tricky weight shifts.  Every time I work on the route I figure out more about it, making sequences easier that I originally had no idea how to pull off.  I think at the end of today, had I not been worn out from learning the last few moves I could have sent the route, but it'll have to wait till I'm fresh on one of the next gym visits.  It'll go.  I like climbing.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Alright, that's enough.

This winter is progressing like most in the northern midwest.  Fall is great, I think I can handle what's to come, and I announce stupid things regarding winter like "bring it", as seen in an earlier post, and then by January I just don't see the point in all this cold and dark anymore.  We had a stretch last week from Monday night to Friday afternoon where it never rose above 0 degrees.   Yes, I can handle the deep cold.  Quite well.  Not many can say they camp in the winter.  I don't do it often, mind you, but more than the never that most folks get out in this stuff.  I ride my single speed in all sorts of cold bleak insanity and even like it many times.  I snowshoe and nordic ski.  Below zero.  Yeah, I can handle it.  But I really whole heartedly do not prefer it to the warmer seasons, and milder locales.  I've officially had my fill of MN winter and am waiting out the spring when I can return to road bikes, camping in non-lethal weather, water in liquid form, and climbing real rock.  And barbeque.  And slacklining.  And seeing the sun.   Yikes I've got the winter itchiness.   I respect the power of dangerous weather, and it's impressive to experience it, but I've had the experience enough times now to move on to greener months.  I think travel is in order next weekend to get a break.

Monday, January 05, 2009

5.11a finally!

I was finally able to send a 5.11a tonight at the gym!  Felt good, to say the least.  It brought me back from being in a crappy mood after bad news at work.  Climbing is always a good outlet for stress.  I'm glad I can bike and climb and hike and get outside and escape the rat race or I wouldn't be able to take being a rat (or something like that).  I can't be furloughed from outside.  Nature is a better boss.  
Now the goal is getting consistent on 5.11's.  I think it's going to involve kicking my sweet tooth and getting a bit leaner.  I've experienced cookies, but I'd like to experience being a good climber.  I can save the cookies for my 200 mile one day cycling attempt this summer, and for touring.