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Sunday, December 19, 2010

Pedal Power Bike Shop Snowshoe Racing Series

Snowshoe racing has always been a key component of my wintertime fitness, and it's also a great way to experience a bit of adventure with my dad and friends from around the state. My favorite races are the Pedal Power Snowshoe Adventure Series (, which generally feature a good deal of powder, singletrack, bush-whacking, and strong competition. Bruce and Stacey Kelly, the organizers, donate all proceeds to important causes, which is great.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Adventure Racing National Championship, Presented by Check Point Tracker and Adventure Xstream, Moab, Utah, October 29-30

Yahoo! Team Osprey Packs wins the National Championship! Wait...maybe not.

The Adventure Racing National Championship presented by Check Point Tracker and Adventure Xstream last weekend provided a chance for some of the best domestic teams in the country to battle it out in Moab’s legendary terrain. The high LaSalle Mountains, miles of slickrock, vast canyons, and the raging (and COLD, this time of year) Colorado River filled the minds of four-person coed teams as they travelled from around the country to compete in the 20-28 hour, nonstop race. The course would remain secret throughout most of the race, with athletes learning about each element of the race upon completing the previous section.

My team consisted of Scott Swaney (Highlands Ranch, CO), Gretchen Reeves (Avon, CO), Jon Brown (Gunnison, CO), and myself. We were stoked to be using Osprey backpacks for the race, and we raced as Team Osprey Packs. The competition was strong, and we were amped to make a hard run for the National Championship.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

USAC 24 Hour National Championship at 24 Hours of Moab, October, 2010

Epic glory on a world-renoun course. A chance to test season-finale fitness against strong competitors. Enticing prize money in an often-ignored sport...

The 2010 edition of 24 Hours of Moab Mountain Bike Race sounded attractive to me for a number of reasons. Shortly after the gun went off, I discovered that a number of very talented and fit competitors had been thinking along the same lines.

I felt confident going into the race. My brand-new, super-light, supremely-responsive Chiru Sonic mountain bike ( was accompanied by a bullet-proof support crew consisting of my dad, my sister, and my uncle--all seasoned veterans who helped me to victory at the 24 Hours of Leadville last month. I felt fit, and was ready to race some of the best competition around, namely Josh Tostado and Kelly Megelky, with whom I had done some training over the summer.

After a screaming-fast 400 meter run at the le mans start, I grabbed my Chiru in good position (right behind Kelly), sprinted with the bike in hand, and executed a perfect flying mount...that ended with my left foot jamming directly between the spokes and the inside of the frame! After realizing just how I had managed to grind to a halt before taking a single pedal stroke, I extracted my foot and rode away with the leaders, rear wheel whobbling from side to side. Five minutes later, on first section of singletrack, the spoke I had so brutally assulted finally snapped, forcing me to stop and wrap it around its neighbor.

The fact that I was able to complete a halway-decent first lap minus one spoke is a true credit to the quality of the Chiru Sonic, which was later repaired and performed extremely well throughout more than 24 hours of very technical riding.

My lap times remained consistent until 2:00 a.m., and I battled for a podium position. Between 2:00 and 7:00, however, I managed to complete only two laps. Most of my laps of the 15-mile course throughout the race were completed between 1:30 and 1:40, and the two killers in the middle of night set me far back in the standings. This lag in the wee hours was particularly disappointig in light of my significant experience in adventure races.

As the sun rose, I became revitalized and ticked off three fairly strong laps. I was happy to finish strong. In completing 15 laps, I finished 8th in the USAC National Championship, set a personal record for the event, and bested the winner's count from 2007, when I finished second. Tostado, Magelky, and many of the other competitors were extremely impressive!

Thanks again to my support crew and sponsors, particularly Team Merrell Akali Adventure, Chiru Bikes, and AYUP Lights.

I'll return to Moab in three weeks for the Checkpoint Tracker National Champship Adventure Race.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

24 Hours of Leadville Mountain Bike Race, September 4-5, 2010

I'll be the first to admit that elite athletes sometimes toe the line with little but prize money on the mind. At times, however, most racers return to the original motivations of sport, to the competitions and challenges that are completed simply for growth, betterment of self, comaraderie, and glory.

For me, the Leadville 100 series provides such a venue. The LT100 series, which has grown incredibly despite offering no prize money, expanded this year to host a 24-hour mountain bike race. The concept is simple: ride as many loops of a 17.1-mile course as possible between 10:00 a.m. Saturday and 10:00 a.m. Sunday. The altitude ranges from 10,000' to about 11,400', and each lap climbs almost 2,000'. Some athletes compete on relay teams, and others race solo.

I trained hard for this race, and traded in what would normally be running sessions for extra time on the bike. Despite fighting a nasty cough for a couple of weeks before the race, I went into the competition feeling pretty good. I was also lucky to have an incredible support crew on my side. My dad, Mark, who has finished the Leadville 100 run many times, was accompanied by Uncles Brian and Eric Pence, also multiple finishers of the 100 run. My sisters, Katelyn and Dona, also stayed on course all night, and my wife, Amy, and mom, Pam, chipped in as well. Some families watch football games together...I guess we tend to attend ultra-distance events in Leadville! I was truly inspired by my team.

When race director Ken Chlouber fired a shotgun (yes, real ammunition) at 10:00 a.m., the field took off running up Dutch Henri Hill, a massive, un-bike-able pitch at the start of the course. Eager to stay out of trouble, I took the lead and held on for the first few laps. I completed four laps in six hours and was just behind the first few relay teams. Unfortunately, another solo competitor was just a few minutes behind me. This pressure in mind, I went hard for the final two laps before dark, knowing that we would all slow down when the night brought sleepy, lonely hours on the trail.

And boy were they sleepy and lonely! Adventure racing experience paid off as I was able to hold a steady pace through the night, when I would often ride for well over an hour without seeing another racer. My mind often wandered, but my AYUP lights burned bright and something like happiness stoked in my heart.

Just before dawn, I caught eight minutes of sleep in a nap on the side of the trail. Revitalized by the shut-eye and refueled by yet another helping of Uncle B's signature hash browns, I cranked out two more laps before 8:38 a.m., when it was too late to start another. I had completed a course-record (this was a first-year race) 12 laps and been able to lap the field. I was ready for a nap and some real food. Most of all, my butt was chaffed and I needed a shower!

Thanks again to my incredible support crew--this really was a team effort. Sponsors like Merrel/Akali and AYUP also helped out in creating a great racing experience.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

AYUP Lights and Hawaiian Adventure

I don't take time often enough to thank my sponsors (the companies linked to the right). These are companies that make excellent products and people who provide genuine support. I'm careful to select gear that works well--these items are tried and true.

One company that has made a big difference over the past few years is AYUP. Makers of the best lights around, AYUP is based in Australia. The size and weight of the lights are incredible, with no trade-off in brightness. Check out the link for details. I use AYUP lights daily for running, biking, and paddling in the winter, when I do almost all of my training in the dark due to short days. In the summer, I use them for trekking, biking, and other sports (they mount easily onto a headband or any helmet) in adventure races and 24-hour MTB races.

I'm happy to welcome Andy Fellows, an Australian rep for AYUP and superb mountain bike racer, who will be in Colorado the next few weeks to promote the lights at races in the Rockies. Look for him at the Leadville 100, Rage in the Sage in Gunnison, and other events. If anyone in the area is interested in trying out AYUP lights, shoot me an email and we'll set up a time to try them'll be impressed!

In other news, Amy and I spent eight days in Hawaii. Most of the time was spent on Maui, where we camped on the beach, snorkeled daily (saw many sea turtles--amazing!), and enjoyed some peace before the start of the school year. We stayed in Nemo's new Nano Elite tent (, a super-light, awesome backpacking shelter.

The outdoor highlight was a 140-mile road bike ride including a summit of the Haleakala Crater. Climbing 10,000' from sea level in a steady climb was a sweet experience, and there are not many places in the world to find such an ascent! The downhill was pretty fun as well.

On Oahu, we checked out the North Shore, where world-class surfing takes place every winter. I did a bit of surfing, and enjoyed running on trails in the area where Lost and Jurassic Park were filmed. It was a sweet trip, and we returned home mentally-prepared to head back to reality!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Bob Cook Memorial / Mt. Evans Hill Climb / Colorado Hill Climb State Championship, July 24, 2010

One of the benefits of living in Evergreen, Colorado is that the highest paved road in the United States is in our backyard. Colorado Route 5 winds to the summit of Mt. Evans at 14,264', and there's a road cycling race to the top. It's the Hill Climb State Championship, and I decided to give it a shot this year.

On the morning of July 24th, 6,700 vertical feet and 28 miles from the summit, racers warmed up against a cool breeze and overcast skies in Idaho Springs. The weather looked grim, and I was expecting rain and cold at the top. As my group, Category 3, ascended, however, temperatures rose and we broke into the sun just below Echo Lake at the halfway point.

From there, the racing heated up as we climbed above treeline, with a pack of five riders working together to catch one man who had broken away miles earlier. We did finally catch him, and it was every man for himself rising up the final five miles of switchbacks from Summit Lake. After losing contact after one surge, I regained myself and passed two riders to finish fourth in approximately 2:01. The next man to finish was a 15-year-old sophomore from Cherry Creek High School who rides on the Garmin Transitions farm out for this guy in the future!

Racing the road bike uphill was a fun experience. I was happy with the performance, and the dizziness due to an anaerobic effort above 14,000' made for an interesting afternoon.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Leadville Silver Rush 50 MTB, Winter Park Valley to Valley MTB, Maroon Peak

The last two weeks have brought a great deal of fun in the Colorado Rockies!

The Winter Park mountain biking series ( has long been a staple of the Colorado mountain biking scene. On Saturday the 10th, I found out just why the races are so popular: excellent courses combine with a great environment and strong competition to make a great overall experience. I have not done too much cross country mtb racing and do not hold a pro license, but the Winter Park series allows all comers to race pro if interested. I have been focusing on cycling, so I decided to give the pro race a shot. Things went well on a steep, uphill start, and I got out in the top four heading into 23 miles of superb singletrack. After a bit of battling with another rider, who eventually pulled away on a winding section, I finished third overall.

A week later, Leadville, a classic Colorado mining town at 10,200', was the stage for the Leadville Silver Rush 50-mile mountain bike race. Part of the Leadville Trail 100 series, the course includes plenty of climbing and descending on steep, loose singetrack and two-track trails. I have been around the Leadville races since I watched my dad run the Leadville 100 when I was a little boy, and the series holds a special place in my heart.

The Silver Rush begins with fifty meters of bike-carrying up a very steep hill, and I made it to the top in third place. Excited to get ahead of any potential problems on a steep singletrack section a few hundred meters away, I took the lead shortly after the top of the first hill. The course wound over three significant climbs before the turnaround at 25 miles, and I had gained a lead of about ten minutes by that point. Feeling good, I continued to push hard to the finish and completed the race in a course record 3:52:34. I was happy with the win on a beautiful Colorado day!

Post-awards ceremony, it was off to a drive over Independence Pass for some camping at Crater Lake outside of Aspen. I met my good old friends from childhood at the Lake in the evening, and we woke up early the next morning for a summit bid on South Maroon Peak, a fairly challenging Class 3 peak. Through much perseverance up a very steep three thousand foot climb followed by some tricky route-finding, we made the summit just after 10am on another perfect mountain day. Summiting was a fitting pinnacle to the bachelor party of the one and only Erik Jackson!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Le Grand Raid Adventure Race, Northern France, June 23-27

Anticipation was high for Le Grand Raid, a five-day adventure race in Northern France. Decent prize money drew some of the top teams in the world, and I was happy to compete with Mike Kloser, Monique Merrell, and Jay Henry on Team Le Grand Raid Out There USA.

Due to the stage-racing format, a fast pace was part of the bargain, and things moved quickly from the start. We battled hard with the French of Team Wilsa/AFG, the Kiwis and Swedes of Team Thule, and the Spanish of Team Buff, and were happy to be in the mix after three of five days of racing.

Early on the fourth day, our team was brought back to reality by a very serious bike crash for Mona. After crashing into a cement pillar and flying over ten feet, Mona lay battered on the side of the road. Tense minutes passed as we stabilized her and waited for an ambulance. She was diagnosed with a broken wrist, cracked ribs, and deflated lung at a large French hospital.

Thankfully, Mona will recover fully. The owner of Breckenridge's Amazing Grace Cafe, Mona truly showed amazing grace in courageously dealing with a terrible accident, severe pain, and a week in a foreign hospital. Hats off to Mona, who reminded me this week about the truly important things in life.

Sometimes we forget that making it home in one piece is the most important thing. We did not finish this race, and things looked bleak for awhile, but we all made it home in one piece.

Special thanks to our support crew, Mike and Audrey, who's hospitality (show here) and care made a tough situation just bearable.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Ultimate Mountain Challenge at Teva Mountain Games, Vail, Colorado, June 5-6, 2010

With world-class competitions in paddling, running, cycling, climbing, fly fishing, dog jumping (yep, and it's awesome!) and more, the Teva Mountain Games in Vail have become an excellent, high-profile event. Significant prize money draws top competition in all sports, and the festival atmosphere is friendly to athletes, fans, and families.

My focus each year at the Teva Games is the Ultimate Mountain Challenge. This event involves racing in four separate individual events: the downriver paddle, the mountain biking race (among a field of competitive professionals), the 10k trail run, and an uphill time trial on the road bike.

My wife, Amy, and I headed to Vail on Friday morning to allow some time to pre-run the paddle and mountain bike courses. Gore Creek was relatively benign on Friday morning, and I enjoyed an easy paddle down the three-mile section. The mountain bike course, I discovered, constituted three loops of about seven miles, each lap climbing steadily and then dropping significantly on a bumpy single-track.

After a night of rest at the mountain residence of Mike Kloser, also one of my chief competitors in the UMC, the racing began on Saturday morning. As the temperature rose steadily on Friday, increasing snowmelt up high, the clear trickle that was Gore Creek had become a raging blur of chocolate. The creek was far more technical--and fun--than it had been for my practice run. Those unfamiliar with paddling swam often in the downriver time trial, and those ready for the challenge flew through the course. Mike and I paddled within one second of each other, clocking 16:32, and we were 40 ticks ahead of the man to beat in the UMC, local strongman Josiah Middaugh.

Hours later, we saddled up for the longest event of the weekend, the mountain bike race. The field was stacked with top pros like JHK and Jay Henry, and my goal was to stay somewhere near Josiah, who often clocks the fastest bike splits at Xterra triathlons. I have been cycling a lot, and the race went well. I finished 18th overall and less than three minutes behind Josiah. I also gained about three minutes on Mike, a good gap going into day two.

Bang! The gun blast at 8:00 a.m. on Sunday morning signified the start of the 10k trail run. Decent prize money for the top five drew stellar trail runners like Rickey Gates out to the action. The course is full of steep climbs (which I like) and steeper descents (which I dislike). Ten minutes into the race, I found myself packed up with friends Ryan Haebe (a 19-year-old stud from Evergreen who runs for Western State) and Andy Biglow. Pushing each other hard, we worked our way through the field until my buddies left me for dead on the kick home. I finished 10th overall, again a couple of minutes behind Josiah and a few ahead of Mike.

Going into the final road biking time trial, Josiah had a decent lead on me. However, one mechanical issue with his bike could bring me to first. Likewise, any slip on my part could bring Mike ahead; I have learned to never take a position for granted when Kloser is trailing! After a quick pre-race TV interview, I hopped on the starting block, pretended I was in the Tour de France, and hammered for all I was worth! I have been doing some road riding with my friend, Greg Krause, who finished third overall among the pros in the time trial, and I felt pretty good on the bike.

We each rode consistently, clocking in similar times to years past (approximately 32:40 for 9.8 miles uphill, for me). As such, positions remained the same. With Josiah in the race, I was happy with second place. He and Mike are excellent competitors, and his three-week-old daughter, Larson, may be visiting the podium again before we know it!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Last Seven Weeks...

With the advent of the Grand Traverse ski race, I officially changed focus from winter sports to summer sports. Although it continued to snow on and off at my house through the middle of May, with numerous spring dumps of nearly a foot, I hung up the skis and increased time on the bikes and in the boats.

Local orienteering races are always a good training staple this time of year, and I finished second at the Chatfield meet and third at White Ranch. Seen here, I am comparing splits with Leif Anderson, the White Ranch winner. We were quite even for most checkpoints, except for the one that I seriously messed up and ran around in circles for 15 minutes (which is not helpful in an hour-long race)!

I have been doing more road biking than usual, and I entered the Lookout Mountain Hill Climb, which occured early morning on day of the White Ranch meet. I clocked 20:12 for the uphill race, and was happy with the time.

Up next are the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic (a road race in Durango) this weekend and the Teva Mountain Games Ultimate Mountain Challenge in Vail next weekend. Should be fun!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Elk Mountains Grand Traverse, 3/27/2010

Walking in the shoes of another, they say (I think), facilitates personal growth. I discovered last weekend that this also applies to skiing in someone else's boots, as it were.

The unfamiliarity started just before 6:00 a.m., in the dark, as a priestly figure stepped before us, donning the lengthy robe, tall hat, spectacles, and full accouterments suitable to his position. His rhythmic blessing of our journey momentarily quelled the nerves before we set off in a frenzy of skis, poles, and racers, all jockeying for position on a track too narrow for our numbers. Collisions occurred, gear tangled, skiers crashed. The 2010 Elk Mountains Grand Traverse had begun!

In Crested Butte, Aspen, and the 42 miles of unpopulated wilderness between, people talk about the Grand Traverse like it's the Ironman. Conversation at a typical mid-summer BBQ in either of Colorado's premier ski towns often centers around the race.

"Oh, he sounds like a strong teammate!"

"Are you using rando stuff or nordic equipment?"

"Check out these new skins."

"Have you seen the new carbon boots?"

"Do you think they can beat Kloser?"

Professional athletes, amateurs, and hard-ass weekend warriors continue in this banter, focusing the entire winter season on one race, and my wonderful wife, Amy, has gotten pretty good at making fun of our "gear talk."

In reality, the Grand Traverse (GT, in local vernacular) is actually a little bit like the Ironman. It may not be covered by CBS, but it does take just about as long. Like a triathlon, the GT requires adept skill in three disciplines: skiing downhill, skiing uphill with climbing skins, and skiing on flat ground or gradual inclines using a skating motion. Also, like a triathlon, those who are new to the sport often find themselves in new territory, competition-wise. After a race, I sometimes wonder about the mid-pack rookies who are still out there ("Man, can you believe people are still going!")...well, I got my chance to see what it's like.

To avoid mid-afternoon avalanche danger high on snow-packed mountain ridges, the GT usually starts at midnight. The backcounty course winds through Crested Butte, over the ski mountain, down one river valley, up another, past a remote hut, over a high pass, down the other side, up another pass, onto a ridgeline, into Aspen Mountain Ski Area, past movie stars' houses, and down to Aspen. Competitors must race in teams of two for safety's sake. It's 42 miles of fabled backcountry travel, and anything can happen. And last Friday evening, just before the scheduled start, it did.

A huge storm blew in, and snowmobiles where thrown sideways by gale-force winds as they tracked the course in a white-out. Just before 7:00 p.m., the race director decided that the Grand Traverse would become the "Grand Reverse." We would start the next day at 6:00 a.m. and complete a large loop on the Crested Butte side of the course. The distance would be almost as far, but we would not journey to Aspen.

For our team, the change meant little more than a bit more sleep before the start; we were still excited to get after it! I teamed up with my good friend, James Kovacs, an Ironman finisher, training buddy, and strong adventure athlete. We did not expect to win, but figured that a winter of skiing at least twice a week had prepared us for a solid finish towards the front of the pack. Re-evaluation of our expectations occurred shortly into the race.

As I mentioned, the course begins with a flat-as-Iowa loop around a meadow. Skating is required to propel oneself across flat ground...and we had done almost no skate training. In fact, James has been skate skiing less than ten times in his life. In a sea of headlights and flying poles, every man is for himself at the start. We made a plan to regroup, if separated, when the climbing begins at a road crossing. Moments into the race, James was the casualty of a collision. Back on his feet shortly thereafter, he was taken out again, this time losing a ski. He set the tone for perseverance throughout the day and got back on his horse, but it was clear that regaining positions after the crashes had taken significant toll on his energy reserves when we regrouped about 20 minutes into the race.

"Don't worry, James, I think that's the only section of the course where we'll need to skate," I remarked as we slapped on skins and began climbing. James hammered down some food and began to recover on the climb up and over Mount Crested Butte, and he looked like his usual quick-self flying down the other side as a tried to keep up.

As we hit the East River Valley, however, I ate my words when it became apparent that we would have to skate a few miles before climbing with skins again. The second significant skate again took a toll on James, who was wearing skis that are great for descending but not suited to skating.

Finally, the first steep uphill of the course. We trained all winter at Echo Mountain, a steep climb that gains 600' in less than half a mile, so we were excited to hit what we thought would be a steep climb up to the Friends Hut. Wrong again. The course does climb, but the route is gradual, and, we discovered, full of technical aspects we had not seen before.

Near the top, seeing our friends Wick and Smithy (they do have real, full names, but, like everyone in Crested Butte, go only by snazzy nicknames) descending in the lead blew some wind in our sales. We enjoyed a cruisy, beautiful descent as our surroundings developed into a warm, sunny, blue-bird Colorado day.

Climbing again on Strand Hill, James and I finally got the steepness we had hoped for, and we passed a few teams. On the other side, the skating began again and they passed us. Realizing that skating again up the East River might really be trouble, we elected to skin it out.

The race was on, us against the other mid-packers, and we dug with all we had. Up and over the steep backside of Mount Crested Butte we hammered hard, and we were happy to pass four or five teams in the last hour of racing. After a few false summits before the finish line ("This is unbelievable!" I remarked more than once, now simply running up the hills to avoid any more transitions with skins), we finally crested the top and saw the finish line below.

Hundreds of spectators had gathered to watch racers crash as they undertook the gnarliest descent of the course on wobbly legs. Thankfully, we made it through unscathed, happy to be done and proud to have gritted it out, done our best, and never given up in unfamiliar territory.

It's now almost April, my skis are hung, and I'm ready for some summer sporting endeavors. Will I be ready to give the GT another shot a year from now? Probably so.

Thanks to Amy, Jerica, Dave, and Jon, our tireless suppor team for the race. Thanks also to the Merrell/Akali Adventure Team, for making this sort of nonsense possible.

Up next is the Teva Mountain Games in early June, followed by the big team adventure races of the summer and fall.

Also pictured here are Amy, who's training for her first bike race, and my Grandfather, Jack Macy, outside of his favorite restaurant, Poopie's, with me.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Endurance Challenge at Sunlight Mountain Resort, 2/28/10

Colorado Springs' Mike Hagen had a big day of exercise last Sunday. At 30,000 vertical feet, his summative ascent over the course of 12 hours totaled more than the vertical distance from sea level to the summit of Mount Everest. He also descended 30,000 feet in the same half-day span. What's the key to bagging this kind of vertical? Climbing a very steep hill, descending full speed, and doing it again...all on skis.

Sunlight Mountain Resort's Endurance Challenge is a 12-hour event that calls on competitors to put in as many uphill/downhill laps as they can between 8:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. Each ascent is 1,500 vertical feet--so is the downhill. Racers can compete solo or with a relay team, and they can choose from a number of locomotion possibilities. I saw people skiing (uphill with climbing skins, downhill alpine style), snowshoeing, snowboarding, hiking, and running. I didn't actually see anyone crawling, but I wouldn't be suprised if it happened. The event was top-notch, and a good purse for the winner pulled in a strong field.

I struggled a bit early on, but had a strong race overall. Climbing 28,500 feet over 19 laps was good enough for third place. I was happy to pass two competitors in the last hour and finish my final lap just eight seconds before the cutoff (after a hairy, fast, in-the-dark descent)! I had my fastest descent of the race, in the dark, due to incredible lighting by an AYUP ( system mounted on my ski helmet. As soon as it got dark, I passed people left and right due to a superior lighting system. I didn't knock out Everest, but I topped K2 by 250 feet. This effort ranks among the hardest cardiovascular events I have ever undertaken, and I couldn't have done it without help.

My dad, Mark, was an incredible one-man support crew. He had skis, gear, vittles, and victuals waiting for me every single lap, and he drove home from Glenwood in a snowstorm while I slept like a rock. Thanks, Dad! Thanks also to my friend, James Kovacs, for the great training; he was a strong competitor out there as well. Team Merrell/Akali was also elemental in providing support.

My good buddy, Bernie Boettcher, happened to be bounding up and down the slopes shooting photos. Thanks for these images, Bernie! (A couple of years ago, Bernie completed a three- or four-year streak of competing at least one running race every single weekend--wow).

Up Next, James and I will compete in the Elk Mountains Grand Traverse, a backcountry ski race from Crested Butte to Aspen on March 26th.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Mt. Taylor Quadrathlon, 2/13/10

The Mt. Taylor Winter Quadrathlon (, affectionately known by all who compete as simply "the Quad," has quickly become one of my favorite races. Hosted just off Route 66 by the neat, small town of Grants, New Mexico, the Quad combines summer and winter sports in a challenging uphill/downhill format.

The race starts in Grants, which is located on a valley floor in Southwest desert country. Rolling out on road bikes, racers cruise up a paved road that climbs gradually and then quite steeply to the termination of tarmac at 13 miles. Here, they quickly drop their bikes, change into running shoes, and continue climbing a dirt road for almost six miles. At the second transition, winter sports begin with a change to uphill skiing, which is followed by snowshoeing. By the time athletes reach the summit of Mt. Taylor, which at 11,300' is almost 5,000' above the starting line, they have covered 21 miles. The race is halfway over.

From the summit, the downhill begins. Snowshoeing is followed by downhill skiing, running, and then road biking, all following the same course in reverse. Elite men hope to break four hours, and some racers take up to nine hours to finish.

I won the Quad in 2009, and returned this year hoping to repeat. The competition was strong as last year's second place finisher, Eli Torgeson, was joined by James Kovacs, who finished third last year, and Eric "Sully" Sullivan, a former adventure racing teammate of mine. Sully and I know each other's strengths and weaknesses very well, and we both expected a close race. Scott Nydam, a very competitive professional road bike racer, was also present.

UPHILL BIKE: After an easy start in which the peloton hung together for a few miles, six riders, including all of the above, pulled away. Riding into the wind, whoever led the bunch pulled a heavy workload. The headwind kept the pace relatively slow, and we remained a tight bunch until the final mile, where Nydam seemlessly cruised away off the front. Watching a rider of that caliber in his element was a pleasure. He had a one-minute lead going into the transition area, but the race was still anyone's game.

UPHILL RUN: After a quick transition, Eli and I headed out nearly together. Nydam was in sight up the road, and we passed him after a few minutes. Eli looked very smooth and strong. I, on the other hand, was plagued by a worrisome achilles cramp. After about 42 minutes of running, Eli hit the transition to skiing about 30 seconds ahead of me.

UPHILL SKI: A quick transition gave me the lead heading into the ski, and I skinned out with Eli on my heels. We stayed together for much of the ski, but I slowly worked away from him and headed out on snowshoes just before he finished the ski.

UPHILL SNOWSHOE: After about ten minutes of uphill hammering, I hit the "Top of the World" alone, but a few competitors were in site on the final ascent. Looking back into the valley, I saw Grants far below and knew that I would really have to let loose all the way down to hold on for the win.

DOWNHILL SNOWSHOE: The descent begins with a very steep pitch, and I let loose from the beginning. I hit the ski transition alone.

DOWNHILL SKI: Most competitors at the Quad use cross country skis, which are light and fast on the way up but incredibly shaky on the descent. Sully, James, and I opted for randonee gear, which is slightly heavier but super-fast on the way down. I knew I would make some time on most competitors on the downhill ski, but I also figured Sully, who's a superb downhill skier, would gain on me. Newly waxed and sharpened, my skis flew down the hill, but I was definitely hurting as my quads shook while I hung in a tuck.

DOWNHILL RUN: Knowing that Sully would probably gain on me on the final biking section, I had to let it rip on the dowhill run. I was able to hold well under six minutes per mile and put in the fastest split before hitting the final transition feeling relatively good.

DOWNHILL BIKE: With 13 miles to the finish, I hopped on and descended very quickly behind my police car escort. With eight miles to go, the road leveled out. I bent over the aero bars and hammered hard. Thankfully, the legendary headwind we usually face in the final few miles was a little bit weaker than usual. Glancing back, I saw no one coming...but Sully was still in my mind. I crossed the line in first place at 3:49, three minutes faster than last year. Sully finished just over 30 seconds later; he was coming in hot indeed!

The Quad is a well-run, superb race. A mob of enthusiastic volunteers produce flawless transitions, and being part of the event is a pleasure. Thanks to all who support the competition!

Up next is a 12-hour randonee ski race at Sunlight Mountain Resort in two weeks.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Tennessee Pass Winter Triathlon, 1/30/10

Every once in awhile, I toe the line at a small, local race knowing that I had better finish on the podium because if I do not something has gone very wrong. The 2010 Tennessee Pass Winter Triathlon may have been a small, local race, but the field's pedigree eliminated a guaranteed podium spot for just about anyone.

Organized by the legendary Bruce Kelly of Pedal Power Bike Shop, the race involves snowshoeing 5k, snowbiking 10k (riding a mountain bike on snow-covered nordic skiing trails), and skate skiing 8k. Lining up against Jay Henry and Mike Kloser, both fresh off podium finishes at the Winter Triathlon National Championships, plus uber-athlete Josiah Middaugh, who says he's coming off a knee injury but is always extremely strong in any competition, I knew I had my work cut out for me. All three of these guys live in Vail, and I knew they would probably have an edge on me on skate skis, so my strategy was to gain a few minutes on the snowshoe and then try to hold on for dear life.

Two miles into the snowshoe, Josiah and I (seemed to me that his knee was working just fine) had a decent lead when we hit a lengthy stretch of knee-deep powder. Forced to trudge slowly to break trail, we were caught by the field--my strategy was foiled! Josiah and I broke away again before the finish of the leg, but were only able to gain a few seconds. The primary competitors hit the bike section close together and headed out.

As Kloser passed me on a shaky downhill, I discovered that my relative inexperience with biking on snow was making me tentative, and I crashed. He was out of sight.

On the ski, Middaugh, Henry, and Kloser continued to hammer, finishing in that order. It was a great early season win for Josiah, considering the strong competition and two knee surgeries for him in November.

Finishing fourth, I had a fun time and got in a great workout; perfect training for the Mt. Taylor Quadrathon in Grants, NM on February 13th.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Rando Training at Loveland and Ski-O at Frisco Nordic Center, 1/23/2010

After a good morning of rando ski training at Loveland Basin, where we found the staff to be very accepting of uphill skiing, James Kovacs and I headed to the Frisco Nordic Center for the focus event of the day: the Rocky Mountain Orienteering Club's Ski-O Race.

Orienteering is an excellent, of-the-beaten-path sport that involves using a small-scale topo map and a compass to find controls located out in the woods. As it turns out, this can also be done in the winter time on skis or snowshoes. For more information on accessing this fun sport in Colorado, visit

I am planning on competing in a winter triathlon next weekend that includes skate skiing, so I figured some time on the trails would be helpful. Plus, navigation practice anytime is a good thing.

Race organizers scattered 20 checkpoints across the trails at the Frisco Nordic Center. Grabbing any eight qualifies one for the short course, any 12 is good for the medium course, and 16 gets you the long course distinction. Those who hit all 20 checkpoints, in any order, are placed in the "Extra Credit" category. I'm a high school teacher, so you can guess which category I set my sights on!

Because checkpoints could be accessed in any order, strategy and navigation were paramount. Racers had to constantly monitor their progress on nameless tracks while deciding whether or not to leave the trail and bushwhack through shortcuts every so often. There was not much snow in the woods, and I quickly discovered that taking off my skis and running through the woods often paid off.

After 69 minutes of hammering broken up by quick pauses to punch the checkpoint and look at the map, I found myself back at the Nordic Center. My first experience with ski orienteering was excellent! I had a great experience and put in the best time on the day.

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Heathen Challenge at Sunlight Mountain Resort, 1/16/2010

The 2010 randonee skiing season began with a bang--well, actually, more of a snap--this weekend. The snap was the sound made when a crucial piece on my boot broke apart just moments minutes before the start, resulting in a significant rush of adrenaline and drastic shift in race strategy.

Randonee skiing, or ski mountaineering, involves "skinning" up the ski hill using climbing skins for traction, pulling the skins off at the summit, and then skiing down, alpine-style. Races usually involve a few laps of this nonsense, which each climb covering 1500' to 2500' vertical. The descents, I am figuring out, usually cover the steepest, most technical terrain offered at the resort. For more information on this fun and growing sport, see

Back to this weekend's race... When ascending, randonee boots are open, allowing for flexibility and movement. For the descent, latches on the boot are locked down, resulting in a stiff boot that can be used for downhill skiing. When the rear cable on my boot snapped, I could ski uphill as usual but was left to navigate the downhills--a double diamond appropriately known as "The Heathen," in this case--in a left boot with stability akin to that of a penny loafer.

After inquiring over a mega-phone at the starting line as to whether anyone happened to have an extra boot cable on their person (yeah, sure!), I lined up unsure about my sanity in starting the race with gear in such a condition. Although I lost a few seconds in some of the technical skinning (think trees, switchbacks, powder, and some super-steep pitches), I summitted just shy of the leaders. At the summit, I asked my friend, Joe, who was not racing, if I might be able to use his boots, but decided throwing my size 9 foot into his 13's would only make matters worse.

My downhill skills are mediocre at best, and I struggled down The Heathen last year in slow-motion, death-avoidance form. Doing it again this year with a boot that could easily generate serious injury seemed like a bad idea, so I decided to remove myself from the Race Division, enter the Macy Division, and proceed. Heading down a smooth but icy groomer, my judgement was confirmed as my ski shook from side to side with instability.

Luckily, I was able to complete the course. Sort of. I did not ski downhill on course, but I skinned up each ascent via the marked route. I climbed hard, as if I was in the race, and got in a great workout. With three laps, 5800' vertical, and no injuries under my belt, it was good money in the bank for upcoming events.

Pete Swenson puts on an excellent ski race, and I highly recommend randonee skiing to anyone looking for a great aerobic workout with a healthy dose of fun!

Up next for me is the Tennessee Pass Winter Triathlon in two weeks.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Abu Dhabi Adventure Challenge Photo by Wouter Kingma

Abu Dhabi Adventure Challenge 2009

Abu Dhabi Adventure Challenge 2009
By Travis Macy

The Scene
In 1994, when I was 11 years old, I watched from the support car as my dad, Mark, ran 146 miles from Death Valley, California to the summit of Mt. Whitney, more than 14,000 feet above. The Badwater Ultramarathon is one of the hardest races on earth, and during those two days in the support car a lifelong reverence for the desert grew within me. While I always relished brief forays into the empty, dry spaces of North America, nothing I had done previously compared to what I would experience in Abu Dhabi in December of 2009.

Sunday, January 10, 2010


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