Rocky Mountain High

I remembered the other day, while riding my mountain bike, that John Stamstad was one of my early heroes on the mountain bike. And he was from Ohio. He won the inaugural Leadville Trail 100 Mountain Bike Race in 1994. I read the article about that race in Outside Magazine and so signed up the next year. I was 240th out of 258, finishing in 12:18:52. Truly an epic day on the bike. There were 500 who started and 258 who completed the course–the rest either dropped out on their own or didn’t make the time cutoff. I went to their website and was amazed that they still had old results posted, which I have attached here.  1995-Leadville-Trail-100-MTB-Overall-Results

I always thought I was the next to last finish. But I did slightly better than I remembered.

Who knows, maybe I will go do it again someday, although now it is a much bigger deal and probably harder to get in. The course is an out-and-back that starts in Leadville, elevation 10,200 feet, and has a total elevation gain of around 11,000 feet over the hundred miles. It is a combination of single track and dirt logging or Forest Service roads.

I lived in Pocatello in those days and rode a lot. My final training ride was from my house on Benton. Up City Creek to the peak of Kinport and back down and then out Bannock Highway and up to the top of Scout Mountain via East Fork and down Crestline trail and then out to the east side and up to the top of Chinks Peak. I can’t remember for sure but I think that was a total of around 60 miles and 7,000 – 8,000 feet of vertical. Something like that. But Pocatello is at 4,500 feet, not 10,000+. That was a mammoth ride but still wasn’t anywhere near the pace and duration of the Leadville race.

I rode a Schwinn Paramount hardtail in those days. Still my favorite mountain bike.

The climb between miles 40 – 50 were the most brutal. A relentless steep grind that took me somewhere around 3 hours or so. Again, it was a long time ago. But I know the last 1/2 mile or so we were all carrying our bikes because it was viciously steep near the top and our legs were completely burned from the previous 49 miles of climbing and riding at race pace. Near the top, I had somewhat convinced myself that I was out of my league and maybe would not finish. But I didn’t know what that meant really. I was 50 miles from town and on top of a mountain with only a few rigs and a helicopter. It didn’t seem likely there was an easy transport back for me and my bike. Also, the minute you hit the 50-mile mark on a flat ridge at around 12,000 feet or so, a scrum of volunteers takes over. I immediately had someone massaging my legs and back and someone else took my bike and lubed the chain and cleaned off the worst of the mud. Someone else handed me m&m’s and a pop tart and banana and someone else still was passing out energy drink and refilling my water bottles. I was not a contender in any way but the enthusiasm of the volunteers made me ashamed I had even thought about quitting. But also, I kept repeating the words to myself that Stamstad had said in his interview. I can only paraphrase now because I cannot find that exact article, but basically it was ‘no matter how hard it gets, quitting is just not an option’.

And so I pointed the bike downhill and carried on. A long day in the saddle for sure, but a good adventure.

I’ve attached an article about John here. John Stamstad Outside Mag

Not sure what he is doing now, but he was a powerful force back in the day. He won basically every difficult endurance race in the world at one time or another and dominated those events for years.

Terrific day for a motorcycle today. So after an early morning run and a couple of hours of work-work, I headed east on the BMW— following the shoreline, to Geneva on the Lake. I had never been but had heard about it. It is sort of like a mini Wisconsin Dells. Lots of campgrounds, mini-amusement parks, cheap fair food, putt-putt golf etc. And a popular motorcycle destination. Mostly Harley’s of course, with their particular brand of biking enthusiasm. But I saw some Beemers and a couple of Indians and Triumphs and some Japanese hardware. A couple of Italian bikes. There are more female riders than there used to be which is good to see. Everyone was cruising slowly up and down the main drag. These two large women on Harley’s were riding side-by-side and they both had cigarettes hanging out of their mouths. It was almost cartoonish how low their butts hung down, glued to their lower lips while they rolled along slowly.

I had lunch at Mary’s Famous (apparently) home cooking. It was fine. Locally famous at best I would say.

The ride was nice though. I passed through small town after small town. All in some way or the other taking advantage of the lake. Lots of small city parks with families gathered with their coolers and badminton and corn hole and volleyball set up while the kids played games on their phones. I passed about three dozen dollar stores and about the same number of summer only ice cream stands.

I passed a couple of freshly mowed hay fields and of course that smell always takes me back to the farm.

All in, a good day on the bike.

This week was a little bit brutal. There is a big difference in just being at work and working straight through for 10 hours a day. Right now our schedule is wickedly packed. Every day my schedule is 7:00 – 5:00 with back-to-back meetings and still getting 150+ emails. I skim the mails, pay close attention in the most pressing meetings, and multi-task in the others. Anyway, that is my way of explaining that my total exhaustion by Friday mid-day. It must not be that I am getting old. It is that the work and pace and intensity continue to accelerate.

Friday night I was so damn tired that I barely got through dinner before falling asleep. Since summer is upon us, I switched up my Friday routine and had a Moscow Mule instead of my usual martini.

Saturday I got in a nice bike ride in to town and watched a bit of a bocce tournament at the park next to the lake and the R-n-R museum before riding back home and having a beer on the patio with Karen Blixen. I can never get too much of reading about Africa.

Sunday morning, before the motorcycle ride, I managed a nice 5-mile run. My leg seems to be healed. Having had that injury 4-times in the past 20 years, twice in each leg, I have tried to better understand it and correct. Maybe I even over-compensate now. I wear compression socks for both warmth and the pressure. I also put on KH Tape, which is meant to distribute stress over a larger area. I also stretch the calves for about 5 minutes about 10 minutes before I run and then again just before I start. And it all seems to be helping because I have not had any issues now since I got serious about prevention on this particular ailment.

In other news this week.

The outcomes of the first Democratic presidential debates were a little telling. The field should winnow greatly in the coming months I would think. The fringe candidates will have a hard time raising money. So it seems the most likely ones with some staying power will be Harris, Sanders, Buttigieg, Biden, and Warren. That is my current prediction until the next round of gaffes comes. Biden I think will fade. I don’t see how he can speak to the newly energized Democratic Party and I agree with that. I understand why Obama had to pick someone like him, but he is not the leader of the progressive ideals of the party in the modern era.

I would love to see Warren or Harris or Buttigieg in there. Maybe some combination of those three. We now realize I think that the old guard will fight to the death to keep their power and just electing a new president and a more progressive Congress does not guarantee change.

I remember when Obama was first elected. I was mesmerized. I sat on the floor of a friends house and watched as the results came in and we all cried a bit. It felt like such a hopeful time. Like we had finally turned a corner and a majority of people in this country now understood that our brand of democracy was not working; that we continued to allow systemic racism to keep people of color in a loop of poverty and that our economy did not serve a big portion of our population. The income gap had exploded and the poor among us were struggling more and more even in relatively good economic times. And of course we thought it was a repudiation of the Bush/Cheney war-mongering and favorable tax policy for the wealthy and the wild de-regulation of big banks and investment firms which left us at the brink of economic ruin.

But then there was McConnell, day 1, on TV telling everyone his first priority was to make Obama a failed president. Not to support the obvious choice of the people to help US get out of the economic travesty created by his own party, but to deliberately obstruct any progress just to make Obama fail.

So, we now know that electing a progressive president is not the end of this tyranny. It is at best a 1/2 step forward in a very long battle ahead that will only be won when the aging, white, elite, privileged, greedy, racists bastards die out. And we must hope that their heirs, or at least a portion of them, are more humane in their understanding of what a society is meant to me. A quick look at the Trump kids suggests this might be overly optimistic thinking.

What we really need is a real revolution. A good ole fashioned non-violent series of protests and boycotts like the ones that helped the ANC in South Africa get the attention of the Afrikaner’s and helped Ghandi get Britain to realize colonialism was on the out. It would be amazing if we could get everyone to turn off their TV’s on Saturdays and Sundays during football season to demonstrate the need to pay teachers better and generally fund our education system and to underscore that a society that values professional sports over education deserves the outcomes we are seeing. Where so many of our electorate cannot tell the difference between a lying, arrogant, entitled, failure of a human from a compassionate, sincere, educated, committed politician.

Anyway…. I have mostly lost my faith in US over the past few decades. I remain shocked that so many people continue to support Trump and even now forget that all the terrible things the Bush administration did. So if 1/2 of our country is truly that ignorant, then it is just best to realize it is probably not the country where I should be living. Nationalism has never made sense to me in the same way that religion does not make sense to me. I was Catholic the first 18 years of my life—not because I chose Catholicism but because it chose me. I was born to it unwittingly and unwillingly. Who would choose to have that sort of guilt put on themselves just for the mistake of being born and have to spend a lifetime of begging for forgiveness? Well, I also did not choose to be born into the US so do not blindly accept that we are inherently better or worse than many other countries. Obviously I am glad I wasn’t born in North Korea or some other spots, but Norway or Denmark might have been a good fit for me.

The recent Supreme Court decisions are a pretty good indication of how many steps back we will have to take before we can get back in a position of sensible adjudication of laws and social norms. I remember how well and good it felt when Sotomayor and Kagan joined the court. And then Mitch McConnell, who competes with Cheney for the most vile human in our political ecosystem, pulled his bullshit and now we have Gorsuch and Kavanaugh. McConnell’s strategy has served him well and will continue to hurt the country for decades now. I think maybe he’s actually the devil.

Long week ahead. London Admin Offices go live tomorrow on Oracle Fusion Cloud. I am supporting from here so need to be in the office at 3:00am all week.

No other news of note. Random photos from the week and this post below.

R-n-R museum and downtown from the park just north
Bocce tournament at the park
Saturday late afternoon relax with Siddhartha and Karen
Geneva OTL
My bike holds up very well against this field

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