Our Everyday Adventures

We are not adventurers by choice but by fate – Van Gogh

You are currently browsing the archives for February, 2011.

Adventure Races, Triathlons and getting my butt kicked!

Post By: Jake
2/28/11

Out of the blue, Veronica and I saw a poster titled “Intro to Triathlon Training Course” at our local gym and without hesitation we signed right up.  I had been interested in “something new” for quite a while and although I knew it would be tough work, I knew I needed to do this.  Over the past few years of career life, I’ve slipped further and further out of shape and after hitting the gym in January for the first time in I can’t remember how long… I knew I needed to get back into shape.  What better way to motivate me to get into shape then a goal.  All my life I’ve been goal driven.  Without a goal I fall into complacency and quickly become bored.  But if I set a goal for myself, I’m focused and absolutely driven to complete it.

 

So there it was, my name on the signup sheet, a new goal.  I quickly went home, hopped on the computer and started searching for local triathlon races.  It didn’t take long before I started re-thinking my decision… What did I get myself into,  Swim nearly a mile in open water with dozens if not hundreds of other feet kicking me in the face, then hop on a bike (while wet) and pound out a quick 25 miles, and if that doesn’t kill you, get off the bike and run 6 miles!  As it sits now, I’m pretty sure the 6 miles of running alone will kill me.

 

Well, I haven’t signed up for a triathlon (yet) but I did find something that’s been getting me very excited, an ADVENTURE race!  The minute I found it I knew I was doing it, alone, with a team, didn’t matter–I’m there!  I talked to a few friends about it and quickly found a partner.  My cousin Adam and I will be competing in our first ever Adventure Race and we couldn’t be more thrilled!  We have two months to get into the best shape possible before we take on the GrizzlyMan Adventure Race,  well ok, not the full race,  just the Black Bear Challenge, but hey, give us a break, it’s our first one, and at least we’re getting out there!

 

Over the next few months I’ll be updating the blog regularly with the intro to Triathlon training.  I’ll post how we’re doing with the Adventure Race training, and (since I’m a huge gear head) I’ll be posting about the gear we’ll be utilizing to get us across the finish line.  Stay tuned and share in our Adventure!

 

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A renewed spirit–a new (13 week!) challenge

Post By: Veronica
2/28/11

 

At one point or another, we all have to “shed” some part of ourselves.  We grow up.  We change.  Which is more than acceptable–it is vital, in order to grow as a person.  But sometimes, we try to shed things that have become a part of our identity.  And trying to let it go, can prove futile.

I have spent a significant part of my life in the gym.  Having grown up with seven older siblings, many of whom were very talented athletes, I was eager to “show what I could do.”  Starting in second grade, I went from one sport to the next as each of the seasons changed–basketball, volleyball, softball and track and field. One after the other, after the other.  Needless to say, it didn’t take long before my identity, not only how I defined myself but also how others defined me, was wrapped around this very aspect of my life.  Which was great–until it became time to “shed” that part of myself.

After three years of playing collegiate volleyball, I made a very difficult decision to hang up my athletic shoes.  Mentally, physically, and emotionally I was exhausted.  And as liberating as that decision was, I quickly realized that I not only said goodbye to the gym, I said goodbye to a really big part of myself.

Today, three years later, I’ve still struggled to fill that void.  Sure, I’ve enjoyed pursuing new interests–I can certainly hold my own in the kitchen and I’m getting better every time we hit the slopes–but few things have genuinely sparked a fire in my spirit.  Why?  Because although I was ready to hang up the volleyball shoes and desperately needed to find ways to define myself outside of that realm–I was not ready to shed my natural athletic nature or competitive drive.  Rather than refocus my energy into a new, challenging endeavor, I pushed it all away.

About a month ago I found myself on a mission to re-channel my inner athlete.  Find a new passion, a new goal and a renewed desire to push the limits of my mind and body.  What that looked like, I wasn’t sure, but it started with a gym membership hoping to fall in love with a Zumba or Yoga class.  What I found, was a poster.  ”Sign up today for a 13 week Triathlon Clinic!”  it said.  And so Jake and I made the split-moment decision and signed up.  The thought is actually kind of funny–you should see me try to swim!  But for the first time in three years I am excited!  I have a goal.  And the need to “shed” that part of my life, of my identity, is gone.

That 13-week journey starts today. Wish me luck!

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Utah “The Greatest Snow On Earth”

Post By: Jake
2/16/11

Utah, “The Greatest Snow On Earth.”  I’ve grown up hearing about how awesome the skiing is in Utah, but never had the opportunity to verify the rumors until this year.  I’m not sure I experienced “the greatest snow on earth,” but I did experience some of the greatest skiing on earth!  A couple weeks ago Veronica and I drove to Salt Lake for the Outdoor Retailer show and had the opportunity to spend 3 days up on the slopes.

Wednesday, Day 1 of skiing… Solitude Ski Resort up Big Cottonwood Canyon.  We woke up super early, got on the computer and learned Solitude was getting hammered and that Big Cottonwood Canyon was closed to all vehicles without chains or 4-wheel drive (which we happen to have!).  A mere 15 or 20 minutes from our hotel in South Jordan, we were at the ticket window chompin at the bit to hit the 10-inches of fresh powder.  With our “Outdoor Retailer” event pass, we got discounted lift tickets, but were limited to the Eagle Express lift.  It took us to roughly a third of the mountain, which was enough for us that day.  Run after run of fresh powder!  We skied till noon, then hopped on a shuttle bound for Solitudes Nordic Center.  At the nordic center we got to demo some new Atomic cross country skis.  The trails were nice and very scenic.  We ended the day with a few more runs up the eagle express, and had smiles from ear to ear.  It seemed life couldn’t get any better than this!

 

Friday, Day 2 of skiing…. SnowBasin Resort towering above Ogden.  A bit further than the resorts up Cottonwood Canyon, Snow Basin is still just a quick 45 minutes (up great roads) from Salt Lake City.  I’ve skied all over Montana, and a few places in Colorado and Washington, and SnowBasin is by far the best place I’ve ever skied. Although ticket prices are comparable to ski resorts up either Cottonwood Canyons, and much less than those found around Park City, the value is by far MUCH better at SnowBasin. Three Gondolas jet you to any part of the mountain in total comfort.  The crowds are non-existent. The 3,000+ acres of skiable terrain varies, and there is PLENTY of acreage for any skill level including a massive amount of expert only terrain. Even though the last storm to hit SnowBasin was 2 days prior to our arrival, we found loads of fresh powder stashes tucked in the perfect glades.  I simply can’t say enough good things about SnowBasin, and after speaking with several people that frequent Utah ski areas, I think I’ve determined that SnowBasin is an untapped gem!  If you’ve never been and you ever get the opportunity to ski Utah, put SnowBasin at the top of your list.

Saturday, Day 3 of skiing…. Deer Valley Resort next to Park City and The Canyons Resort.  About a half hour out of Salt Lake City is the metropolis vacation destination of Park City.  Thousands of multimillion dollar condos and vacation homes pack the landscape.  Deer Valley ski resort is limited to skiers only.  Terrain is mostly blue and green groomers, although there is some advanced terrain among the 2,000+ skiable acres.  To be fair, we arrived on a Saturday during the crowded Sundance Film Festival, so we were expecting a lot of people.  Lift lines were very short as there was plenty of high speed lifts, however nearly every run seemed crowded with skiers as we dodged back and forth across the slopes.  Deer Valley received a few inches of fresh powder overnight before we arrived, however by the time we got our tickets and got up the mountains, we couldn’t find anything untracked.  I did very much appreciate being able to ski Deer Valley, although I would recommend if you have the opportunity, ski it during the week days instead of a weekend.

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Winter Outdoor Retailer 2011

Post By: Jake
2/16/11

Veronica and I just got back from attending the Winter Market, Outdoor Retailer (OR) trade show on January 18th-22nd in Salt Lake City. The event, for those of you who are unfamiliar, is basically a giant industry trade show for all human powered sports.  Hundreds of vendors and thousands of attendees are spread around a seriously huge convention center.  There’s 2 shows a year:  the Winter Market, which previews the latest and greatest gear for the upcoming Fall and the Summer Market, which previews the latest gear that will be available the next spring.

The show kicks off with an outdoor demo day–an opportunity for attendees to demo the latest winter sports gear.  This year’s outdoor demo day was held at Solitude Ski Resort. With approximately 1,200 ski-able acres, over 2,000-feet of vertical drop, an average of 500-inches of powder each season (that’s over 41 feet!), and plenty of high speed lift capacity, Solitude is an undoubtedly good choice for skiing near Salt Lake City.  And we were not disappointed! Ten inches of fresh powder greeted us the morning of the All Mountain Demo.  Run after run of fresh, untracked powder!  Lake affect snow rocks!  After a few runs we hopped on the shuttle bus bound for Solitude’s Nordic Center where we got to demo a great set of Atomic nordic skis and Solomon’s Vitane 9 and Active 9 boots. The Atomic skis that we tried performed very well.  Veronica found the Vitane 9 boots to feel great both in flex and all around performance, while I found the Active 9’s to be a bit lacking and on one foot they were downright uncomfortable.  Following the Nordic Center demo, we headed back down to the alpine area for a few more runs.  Even at 2 and 3:00 in the afternoon, with hundreds of other OR participants on the mountain we were finding large untracked stashes of powder!

The next four days of the OR show consist of “The Big Show.”  Over 900 exhibitors packed into the massive Salt Lake City Salt Palace Convention Center all prepped to talk product with retailers, media, and bloggers.  Needless to say, we were a bit overwhelmed.

Veronica and I wandered aimlessly, stopping by booths of well known brands and brands we’d never heard of.  Each of the vendors excitedly spoke with us about their latest innovations and explained to us why their products were #1.  Surprisingly, some of our favorite products were made by a few of the smaller companies that we’d never heard of: The Bamboo Bottle Company, Alpacas of Montana, and Hydro Flask.

The Bamboo Bottle Company is in the final stages of developing a unique twist on a familiar product:  a glass water bottle with a protective bamboo sleeve.  Although, not the lightest water bottle on the planet, the durable glass internal bottle guarantees a fresh clean taste safe from BPA’s and other potentially harmful chemicals.  Meanwhile, the bamboo sleeve protects the glass and allows either hot or cold drinks to be handled with ease.  Perhaps the greatest benefit of the Bamboo Bottle is its environmental impact.  By using environmentally friendly components to build the bottles and by reducing landfill waste from disposable water bottles, this is one of the most environmentally responsible products we’ve ever seen!

Alpacas of Montana had one of the more crowded booths at the OR show–probably due more to their namesake than the new product line on display as they had two live Alpacas at the show!

While the extremely cute Alpacas drew people in, the product line was none-the-less equally impressive:

  • Alpaca fiber is naturally hypoallergenic and very durable.
  • It is warmer than sheep wool and more luxurious than cashmere.
  • Alpaca clothing is strong, resilient and has more thermal capacity.
  • Alpacas are the most diversely colored livestock with over 22 natural colors, so products can be dye and chemical free.

Although it costs more to process the Alpaca fiber for production, the final products were surprisingly cost-comparable to other similar products on the market. Keep an eye out for the 8 different styles and types of alpaca socks as well as some super cozy yet very high tech alpaca base layers that should all be available from Alpacas of Montana in the next couple months.

The Hydro Flask booth was one of Veronica’s favorite vendors, while initially I passed it off as “yet another metal water bottle company.”  My opinion was completely changed, however, after I got home and tried the bottle out for the first time!  The Hydro Flask bottles are all vacuum insulated stainless steel bottles.  While stainless steel is nice because it doesn’t affect taste and is inherently BPA free, my initial reaction was that it makes for a pretty heavy water bottle.  That was, until I used it for the first time!  Without much thought, I filled the bottle with piping hot coffee one morning and brought it to work.  It tumbled around my truck then sat on my desk for a few hours before I cracked into it.  I opened it up, poured myself a cup of coffee and nearly burned my mouth. To my surprise, the coffee was still just as hot as when I poured it in a few hours before!  Nearly instantly I started thinking about the MANY new uses I have for this bottle:  A hot beverage hours into a snowshoe trip; a warm drink throughout an entire day of skiing; boil some tea in the morning and stash the bottle in your pack for a nice treat at the summit of a mountaineering climb, or pitch 3 of a long ice climb!  Hot cocoa all day long while ice fishing!  The bottle’s weight seemed of little importance as I started thinking about all the applications.  Put simply, Hydro Flask provides all the benefits of a traditional Thermos without the bulk and weight.  Plus, it works equally good (if not better, according to their website) at keeping cold beverages cold.  Ice cold drink on a mountain-bike ride around the Moab dessert anyone?

Walking around the OR show was fairly overwhelming at times, but talking with all the vendors who were all so passionate about their products was definitely a lot of fun.  One of our biggest highlights of the show came on Friday night.  We met up with all the W. L. Gore folks at the GORE-TEX® brand booth to share some laughs and talk about some of the new products coming down the pipeline.  The soon-to-be released GORE-TEX® Active Shell.  It’s insanely light and the most breathable waterproof fabric ever to be made, while still maintaining the “Guaranteed to keep you dry promise”.  Marketed to the niche ultra light and fast crowd, it’s not quite as durable as GORE-TEX® Pro-Shell or Paclite.  It’s built for extremely high energy single day pursuits such as long trail running and endurance cycling where every fraction of an ounce counts, while high performance is still a must. It’s not for everyone, but if you need the absolute finest for extreme single day pursuits, keep your eyes peeled for new GORE-TEX® Active Shell pieces coming from Adidas, Arc’Teryx, TNF, Millet, and Mammut.

After learning about the new GORE-TEX®  Active Shell, we got together with the W.L. Gore folks and drove over to a friend’s home.  Several local friends and several W.L. Gore folks enjoyed some local pizza, Montana beer, and great conversation.

 

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Our Favorites…


Favorite’s List

Jake

Veronica

Books: 

A walk in the woods
Desert Solitaire
The Endurance
The Long Walk
Three Cups of Tea

Books: 

The Shack
Conscience and Courage
The Art of Eating In
1000 Places to See Before you Die

Magazines:
Outside
Rock and Ice
Dirt Rag
Magazines:
Real Simple
Women’s Health
Bon Appetit
Movies:
Seven Years in Tibet
The Beach
A River Runs Through It
Movies:
Dan in Real Life
Stranger than Fiction
Love Actually


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Travel is a sport

Post By: Jake
2/16/11

Veronica and I have tried hard over the past few years to make traveling a priority.  We’ve traveled to foreign countries together, flown across the US to spend time with friends and family, and have taken several thousand+ mile road trips.

The experiences as a whole got me thinking about my favorite sport… “Traveling”. Over the past decade I’ve dedicated the vast majority of my free time pursuing outdoor sports of all types, climbing, backpacking, alpine touring, cross country skiing, snowshoeing, rafting, kayaking, mountain biking, road biking, and even spelunking…

Although these sports are a ton of fun, I have yet to find ONE sport that I can really sink my teeth into. No ONE sport has been able to capture my attention for more than a few seasons, and it seems as the years go by, my gear chest grows, my free time shrinks, and the overall amount of time I get to spend on each of my passions becomes almost pathetic since there are so many different pursuits.

While driving home from a recent road trip to Utah, I started thinking about “Travel” as a sport. All the key elements of “Sport” are there for me. Webster’s defines “sport” as: “an athletic activity requiring skill or physical prowess and often of a competitive nature”. Skill? Physical Prowess? Well… it seems like the more adventure traveling I do, the better I get at planning the details before the trip so that I can maximize my adventure time while on the trip. I become more skillful at picking destinations off the beaten path that can offer adventure, adrenaline, solitude, and all around enjoyment. This goes right along with the “Competitive Nature” of the definition. The more I travel, each new trip I find I need to step it up another notch, I’m competing with myself to go farther, higher, deeper, live stronger, “adventure” more.

I’m reminded of one of my favorite movie quotes from The Beach :

“For mine is a generation that circles the globe and searches for something we haven’t tried before. So never refuse an invitation, never resist the unfamiliar, never fail to be polite and never outstay the welcome. Just keep your mind open and suck in the experience. And if it hurts, you know what? It’s probably worth it.”

jm

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