“Feels like 91”

June 15, 2015 § 2 Comments

Today was the hottest I’ve ever been.

43 miles round trip in what weather.com says “feels like 91,” bike -> hike -> boulder -> hike -> bike to Sourland Mountain. Sweaty sweaty bouldering, but there’s some really fun stuff up there. Definitely worth a day bouldering trip assuming I can figure out how to bike with a crash pad …

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 Spent about 10 minutes here Googling the symptoms of my three bug bites –
sharp pain transitioning into itchiness and a big bump, faded away in 5 minutes. Results inconclusive.

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Boulder field heaven. You know, if heaven felt like hell.

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Outdoor playground.

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Out of water and Gatorade, dripping sweat, 5 miles to go.


Pinnacles National Park

April 15, 2015 § 1 Comment

Recently dubbed (knighted? redesignated?) a national park, Pinnacles is a wee little thing in the valley with road access on the east and west and trail access all the way through. We did a whirlwind 40 hour exploration – drank many beers, climbed many feet, played many songs, and discovered just how out of climbing shape we were. Not a bad way to spend a birthday.

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Back in the saddle.

November 16, 2014 § 2 Comments

I’ve been totally determined to figure out these “running” and “bouldering” things the last few months, and thus haven’t done a long bike ride since this summer. This week as I watched (and felt) the temperature drop precipitously I decided that it was about time to bring back the old hobby-horse.

(Fun fact: Bicycles in the early 1800’s were actually called hobby-horses.)

I was also itching to put my kind-of new climbing shoes and chalk bag to use since getting them at Go Vertical for an incredible $20 used last weekend.

2014-11-08 18.31.52According to Google, Gravity Vault is only 24 miles away – 48 round trip, this seemed totally reasonable. So I stopped by my local bike shop and picked up a pair of winter cycling gloves which I’ve been neglecting to do for the last two winters, and geared up for a 35 – 44 degree ride and a few hours of rock-climbing inbetween.

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A few reflections on today’s ride:

1. Pink tinted sunglasses: Third fall/winter outside of California and I still get a bit sad at how drab and dreary everything gets once the trees lose their brilliant fall hues. This ride just felt warmer and more jolly because everything was highlighted pink and red. Highly recommended.

2. There’s no winning at temperature regulation when it’s cold: No matter how well geared you are, you’ll still need to adjust between uphill, downhill, and flats. I was beginning to accept this on my ride to Boston in April, promptly forgot it about it when it was a steady really-fucking-hot degrees this summer, and fully accepted it today. Zip-unzip. Switch gloves. Bring Buff up over face, buff down, buff off… etc. It’s like eating and drinking water, just parts of a long ride.

3. Names: I really should pay attention to street and town names when I map out a route before jumping in the saddle. I forgot that inbetween me and rockclimbing was not just 24 miles, but 24 miles of towns called Berkeley Heights and Summit. Far more elevation than I anticipated (I didn’t really think about it truthfully). At least it was all downhill on the way back.

4. Podcasts: Holy shit! What was I thinking not listening to Podcasts on long bike rides! Pop in a little Radiolab or TED Radio Hour, run Google bike maps in the background. It’s quiet enough to leave the sounds of the road relatively unimpaired, and so much more mentally engaging than hours of music. I do wish there was some way to switch between Podcasts and J-beibs for a little boost during climbs, but like temperature regulation, you can’t have everything.

5. Arms do things: I didn’t realize how much you use your upper body on longer rides. I don’t usually notice it, but it’s definitely just enough fatigue to already feel worn on the third bouldering problem I attempted today. I was pleasantly surprised enough at finding that they’d changed all the problems to not mind this disadvantage at all. It’s still a small sample size, but it’s been cool comparing the 4 gyms I’ve been to in arm strength required, hold diversity, and puzzilyness. The new layout has far more interesting holds on their V1-3 problems and a few solid body-weight-shifty-leverage problems. I feel like I’ve got a solid base of arm strength now from weeks of scrambling up V0-1’s and now need to work on my finger strength so I can tackle more difficult holds.

Final damage count –

Mileage: 50 on the nose (2 more than anticipated due to annoying Rutgers football game futzing with traffic)
Elevation gain: 1339 total
Approximately 2,500 calories consumed at a roadside diner from the “mighty meat meal”
Also, I seriously considered changing my body type from “fit” to “ripped” on my OkCupid profile as motivation to get to six-pack-city

Bike, hike, climb

June 16, 2013 § Leave a comment

The very nice thing about having the particular friends that I have is their willingness adventure.

Now, a 50 miler on a new route that ends in a hike is more of a wander for me at this point in life. I’ve plotted enough day and weekend trips to feel very comfortable on a bike headed somewhere that Google tells me is real. Look at map, pick out a green blotch, hit “Bike Directions.” For most people who don’t wander much, much less adventure, this is in their “pee-your-pants-zone.”

learning zone(Graphic expanded from this post.)

The life-side-effect of being used to working 80 hours a week for months talking to strangers about politics and money, is that most other things in life end up in the learning or comfort zone.

This is a long way of saying that wanders and adventures alike are more fun with friends.

bike map
Here’s our route – south and west through Hillsborough (which was, happily, absent of hills) to Sourland mountain. The day was calm and heat mild, with intermittent clouds overhead. Halfway through, we stopped at the Hillsborough Star Diner to hang out with the many families there for fathers day.

I’d only been to this mountain (more of a small hill really) in the winter and remembered a bunch of boulders, but couldn’t tell how clamor-friendly they were. We were pleasantly surprised to find 2-5 hold rocks all around the park. Here is Loren gliding on one of the boulders.

sourland mountain

It takes more than trust in your body and an understanding of physics to climb things – it takes a bit of an adrenalin junkie, that nudging curiosity wondering “what does the world look like from over there?”, and the ability to look at the fear inside and climb whatever it is you intended to climb despite it.

The Fathers Day families were out fishing on a little lake, watching tiny blue gills swim in buckets before setting them free. It was a nice pause after all the activities of the day before traveling back home.

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We took the Raritan Canal back and it was lush and sunshiney, a different world from the winter.

Raritan Canal Towpath
We wrapped up our wander at a little antique store for some carrot cake and coffee, a day well spent.

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May 13, 2011 § Leave a comment

There was a point in time this year when I recognized how much I’ve grown up.

I know, I know, I’m still a baby human, but I think I might be a baby human that has a higher likelihood of survival due to better overall decision making. I used to go boogie board right after a big storm, no life guards, a friend or two, just bustin’ balls for hours without food or water. I’d wipe out and take a gurgle of sea water, exhausted, and think “oh whatever, I’ll just catch one more.”

After our trip to Yosemite this weekend, I’m pretty sure that little idiot is still alive and kickin’ inside somewhere…

We got to camp, made lunch, and immediately started hammering Sierra Nevada’s (appropriate, I know) before going to hike Vernal Falls. Everyone was a little stir crazy from the winter and it felt like a flashmob crowd of people gallivanting down the trail like mountain goats and randomly climbing and shimmying up rockfaces. It was there that I ripped the third pair of pants that I’ve ripped in the last three months and ended up looking down at the trail on more than one occasion thinking, “How the hell did I get up here and how the fuck do I get down …”






Kickin’ and a gougin’ in the mud and the blood and the beer, as they say.

Drunk Bouldering

July 8, 2010 § Leave a comment

Unlike hiking and biking, rock-climbing is not one of those sports that’s very easy to be an amateur at. It’s expensive, hard to get into, and once you invest, hard to not continue investing in. Almost all the climbers I know have done it consistently at least for a few months. That means they know what all the knots are called and what all the clips are for, and generally how to not kill themselves or their friends when they go climbing, indoor or out.

I am not one of those friends. I’m the friend that says they’ve been climbing before, but you have to explain all the basic things to. The one make that you make the squinty-eye-head-tilt face at when I tell you you probably should let me belay you. The one that keeps wandering off and scrambling things when it’s not her turn and/or is drinking all the beers. The one that, annoyingly, doesn’t seem to have a problem getting to the top of things that I have no business getting anywhere near.

This Sunday was such a perfect representation of just what a perfect rock-climbing amateur I am, it almost makes me cry. We went out to Booty Bassment at the Whistle Stop Bar in South Park San Diego until two in the morning, slept at Rebecca’s – a Coffee Spot on the corner for an hour before we got kicked out, wandered around Balboa park to sober up, and finally went to meet a friend of a friend and avid rock-climber, Dave.

Patient man, belaying for three hung over amateurs.

We carried a cooler full of beer up the mountain and camped out at the bottom of one climb and the top of another. The first, none of us could get to the top of and I spent most of the time trying to not throw up or pass out. By the second, I had had a few PBR’s and shimmied up a tight corner that only Dave had conquered after two tries. High off my success, I put on my chalk bag and went to scamper and explore while our other friends tried to make the ascent.



Peter and Dave

Do I want to actually know something about rock-climbing? Yes, most definitely. I think I have the body type for it and would probably be pretty good. Am I able to put in the time and monetary commitment it’ll take to to actually to do it right? Not until I’m a real adult with a real adult salary that’s not working 80 hour weeks. In the meantime, I’m happy to blunder about with forgiving friends and climb whatever they’ll take me to.

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