What One Guy From The US Peloton Thinks About Chris Horner’s Return

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Cheater. Liar. Relic in a bad way.

This is what came to my mind when it was announced that Chris Horner would be back in the U.S. domestic peloton. To my knowledge, much of the NRC peloton has a similar take on the issue. I am not excited to be racing against him. What he has to teach us or his young teammates is undermined by a very questionable past. His return should mean far less to the sport than the media has been portraying and only holds the potential for disaster: more teams folding and more races going away.

A much different picture of this man has been painted by the US media: describing a crafty, charismatic, old guy full of vitality, life, a never-dying passion for bike racing, and an eagerness to give back to the next generation. While I don’t disagree that Horner is an interesting character and someone I’d like to root for under different circumstances, I do not and will not ever let myself fall into this fanboy mentality.

The problem with being a fanboy is that you set yourself up for disaster by continuously letting yourself get fooled by people you know aren’t being truthful. Being a fan of the sport is good as long as you analyze every performance and ask yourself, “Was that real?” If it wasn’t and you’re still rooting for the guy, then you’ve transitioned from fan into fanboy–someone who idolizes and cheers for an entity solely because that’s the popular thing to do.

Most people want to root for the best guy, and do so blindly without batting a critical eye at what should be blinding red lights. The rallying force behind a top-end athlete or a rising politician somehow blocks out rational thought, and what takes its place is almost like religion: blind faith in something because it feels good and easy and goes with the flow. What’s crazy to me is that people are actually surprised when their Tour pick gets popped for clenbuterol or their senator turns out to be a pawn of the same corporate machine as the rest. Don’t we all know the game they’re playing by now?

Many journalists are guilty of this doe-eyed idolization as well. They forget that facts form opinions, not the other way around. When dealing with famous people, journalists are often just as star-struck as the rest of us.

Sponsors and team owners/managers seeking quick returns (or maybe just their short-term survival), either monetarily or with results, are to blame as well. Hiring ex-dopers or known-but-not-yet-caught dopers is often a sure fire way to get results, yet they know it’s not the right thing to do to create a sustainable team or sport. We need to look at the long-term effects of hiring cheats and realize that it’s not only immoral, it’s downright catabolic from a business sense. Again, I’m speaking about the longterm life of the sport. Doping on an individual level or when looking at short term monetary gains is smart. Sponsors can make a fast return, pull the plug, and act outraged once their team gets popped. Same goes for the management. And as an athlete, you’ll make a lot of money, acquire fame, and you most likely won’t get caught. Even if you do, so what? It’s not like you have to give that money back.

My advice is to approach everyone with a healthy dose of skepticism.

It’s unwise to idolize public figures with whom you have no personal relationship. Basing your opinion on someone’s accomplishments gives you only half the picture. We’re defined by our actions both on and off the field. That’s why everyone I look up to are people I know and trust, not images on posters or the covers of magazines.

Chris Horner Vuelta

With every race Horner competes in, he’s taking away a spot that could go to a clean, deserving athlete. There are only eight spots on a squad for any particular race and he’s taking that away from some 20 year-old that has a lot more to gain by competing in Redlands than Horner does. A stage victory at Redlands means nothing to him, while to the rest of us it would define (or at least be the beginning of) our entire careers.

It’s true that Safeway might not have come on board as a title sponsor with Airgas (Horner’s new team) without him signing, but do we really want sponsors involved in our sport that are here solely based on a doper’s presence? What happens when/if said doper gets caught and the whole team goes up in flames? Bike racing is in this decline because of situations just like that. Entire teams fold because of one doping case (sans Astana) and 25 people end up without a job once the sponsor pulls out. Up to 100 for a Pro Tour team.

The fear of being part of a doping scandal is scaring away potential sponsors from clean teams and clean athletes. This affects me directly, which is why I’m so pissed off. I consider the US scene to be clean (at least 90%). I could be wrong about that of course, but welcoming a big time doper into our folds will make it harder for honest athletes to get results and even more difficult to get sponsors if he gets popped.

We’re letting a cheater take the reigns of a clean team, beat up on clean competition, and there’s absolutely no public outrage. I don’t get it. Why aren’t more people speaking up about this? He’s essentially picking our (nearly empty) pockets and all we do is turn them inside out for him, smile, and thank him for blessing us with his grace. It’s theft. It’s a case of Mancebo all over again. A clean athlete will lose almost every time when up against two decades-worth of EPO-fueled training and racing and we’re going to sit back and let it happen like cowards. 

You may not believe that Horner is a cheat. Fair enough. If so, please take a moment to think about it and really question if his performances are human or fueled by a lab.

Here’s a few reasons to question his cleanliness, minus the firsthand stories that many of us have heard from his former teammates and competitors.

1) In the 2013 Vuelta (which he won at age 41) he produced VAMs above 2,000. This coming after almost three weeks of racing of course.

2) He was banned from starting the 2014 Vuelta due to low cortisol levels, caused by cortisone use, which is one of the most heavily abused PEDS. He had a TUE for bronchitis. Sure.

3) He’s widely believed to be one of the redacted names from USADA’s Reasoned Decision and he didn’t immediately deny it when questioned.

4) His Biological Passport shows signs of a blood transfusion during the 2013 Vuelta. He had a higher hematocrit at the end of the three week race than at the beginning, plus a lower reticulocyte count.

5) Horner defended Armstrong until the bitter end. “I don’t believe Armstrong has cheated in any way to win those victories and he’s gone through an insane amount of testing. Do we have pictures of it? Video or testing? Because without that you really don’t have anything.” –Chris Horner, June 2012. Again this is 2012, when almost everyone had come out with information about Armstrong’s doping ring. Was it really possible that Horner didn’t know about it?

6) The guy has such a questionable past that none of the more respected teams in Europe would sign him. 

2015, here we go…

LANCE ARMSTRONG ON STAGE EIGHT OF THE TOUR DE FRANCE

Death In Cycling

Many bee keepers purposefully let themselves get stung when they tend their hives. Just a couple stings a week is all it takes to build a resistance to bee venom. As these bee keepers develop an immunity, they no longer get the same amount of pain or swelling from a sting. But after years of this, sometimes just a single bee sting will send their body into anaphylactic shock. Assuming they get to the hospital in time and survive, their new overnight-allergy to bee venom will likely last the rest of their life, making bee keeping impossible.

After a moment of reflection, I realize that this is a very, very poor analogy for my purposes, but I took the time to write it so I’ll keep it there.

The more times I get honked at, yelled at, buzzed, pushed off the road, or forced to slam on my brakes when a brain-dead driver pulls out in front of me without looking or thinking—the more angry I get. While one more bad driver could kill me, I’ve not become immune at all.

Maybe the civil rights movement is a better example.

There are enough of us who have to deal with over-sized automobiles going too fast and too close, inadequate cycling infrastructure, zero penalties for unsafe drivers, etc. Yet, little is being done to make things better. That’s actually not true at all. A lot is being done, it’s just not enough.

The facts about US cycling:

726 cyclists who were involved in motor vehicle collisions died in 2012.

49,000 cyclists who were involved in motor vehicle collisions were injured in 2012.

The trend hasn’t been in our favor either. Over the past 10 years, as the number of total traffic fatalities has actually decreased from 42,643 in 2003 to 33,561 in 2012, the percentage of those fatalities has actually risen for pedestrians and cyclists. See graph below.

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In 2011, 2.1% of all traffic deaths were those of cyclists. That doesn’t sound too bad until you remember how few bikes there are out on the road (in the US, less than one percent of all trips are on a bike). That’s a lot of death and injury spread out amongst a small population. What’s possibly more disturbing is that the total number of cyclists has actually declined by 8% from 2000 to 2010, despite the rising population of the US. I was personally shocked to discover this.

There are fewer of us out there and more of us are dying. Riding a bike is probably the most dangerous thing you do, by quite a bit.

The leading cause of Death By Car (DBC) is when drivers fail to yield the right of way. Amazingly it’s NOT when you’re descending Flagstaff and an impatient woman honks and rides your ass the whole way down then passes you at the bottom almost hitting an oncoming cyclists on the other side of the road and then narrowly avoids T-boning a car when she erratically swerves back over to the other lane, then speeds up to 50 in a 30mph zone to make up for the lost time.

Sorry for the side story. Just the typical bullshit that happened today, like every day. This post might seem a bit antagonistic. But I do, obviously, realize that not every driver is unsafe. I don’t own a car but I do drive somewhat frequently.

Anyways, some examples of failing to yield include when 1) someone passes from behind to make a right turn in front of you, 2) an oncoming vehicle turns left across the lane in front of you, or 3) abruptly pulls out into your lane from a side road, which is what happened to Adelaide. I feel like the term “failing to yield” doesn’t quite do any of these instances justice. “Failing to look up from your phone and give a shit or just too impatient to wait five seconds” sounds more accurate to me.

We know to watch for these types of ‘accidents’ but sometimes no amount of defensive riding can save you. I have more friends than I can count on my fingers and toes that have ended up in the hospital because of a car failing to yield.

I’m sick of existing in a world that doesn’t care about human life, the environment, or doing what’s right. Bikes are part of the solution. Riding bikes makes you happy, healthy, and connects you with the world. It makes simple trips to the grocery store enjoyable. More people on bikes can only be good.

While 10 miles of commuting through traffic in the snow at night is easy for me, I realize it’s not possible for everyone. Being car-free works for my lifestyle but with the way our cities (and idiotic suburbs separated by freeways) are set up, bike commuting isn’t for everyone. Especially when you factor in the high number of impatient and distracted drivers there are to deal with. Bike riding should be for everyone though. Riding a bike should not be a life-threatening endeavor.

I’m in the very preliminary stages of launching a website that brings awareness to how dangerous cycling is. I realize this is somewhat counterintuitive since my crusade is to get more people on bikes, not scare potential cyclists away.

Sometimes the first step in solving a problem is realizing there is one.

That’s the point of this website–to show everyone, in real time, the shocking and tragic state that cycling is in. It has become more dangerous and fewer people are doing it every year. This comes at a time when obesity and diabetes rates are sky rocketing and climate change is visible with the naked eye.

Right now the website exists solely in my imagination, but what I’m planning is a large map image of the US with colored pinpoints showing exactly where every car vs bike collision occurs. I’m hoping it can be as close to real time as possible, but that depends from where and how quickly the program can retrieve the data. An easier part of the website that I hope will exist sometime in 2015 is to make an app that we (the crash victims) can use to upload the details of our personal collisions with cars.

While the exact use of the site will vary, a no brainer application would be to zoom in on your own city to find the most dangerous sections of roads and intersections–the places you’d want to avoid if possible, or better yet, places that could use some updated infrastructure.

The goal of the site is to bring awareness to the problem at hand (a lack of bike safety) and to create laws, infrastructure, and a change in the culture of transportation. Drivers who kill and maim cyclists because of impatience or inattention deserve strict punishment. We need education and practice from a young age about how to behave safely with bikes on the road. In the Netherlands, kids are expected to ride to school on their own by the age of 12. Norway has a similar system. By the time these kids reach driving age, they’ve spent enough time on the bike to know how to treat their fellow human beings. Applying this alone could be the most important thing to change America’s negative attitude towards cyclists. Unfortunately I think we’re a long way from having something like this in the US. From 2000 to 2010, the number of kids who ride bikes decreased by 20%. Theirs is the demographic that took the biggest hit in the last decade. It’s no wonder why it’s predicted that one in three Americans will have type two diabetes by 2050.

A less complex aspect of the site will include a victim’s story of the week, written by me, to attach a face to the statistic. I think this might be the one of the biggest motivators in creating laws and compassion to protect us. In a revolution, tears of sadness and anger go a long way.

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Image: KVAL.com of Eugene Oregon

Sources:

http://www.bicycleretailer.com/studies-reports/2013/11/20/cycling-deaths-65-percent-2012#.VGPTIVfF82E

http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/811743.pdf

http://www.peopleforbikes.org/statistics/category/participation-statistics

http://www.gluskintownleygroup.com/downloads/The%20US%20Bicycle%20Market%20-%20A%20Trend%20Overview%20Report.pdf

http://www.pedbikeinfo.org/data/factsheet_crash.cfm

All in with GS CIAO for 2015!

GS CIAO (formerly Horizon/Einstein Bagels) has released its 2015 roster and it’s full of bad-ass mofos. And, to my unabashed amazement, I found myself on the list. You might be asking yourself, “What the hell did KennetH do to earn himself a spot on that big swinging dick team?” To that I respond, “I don’t know but I’m not going to bring attention to the matter so shut up about it, see?” I said that in a 1920’s wise-guy voice by the way.

You may recall that I guest rode with GS CIAO/Horizon at Superior Morgul, North Star GP, and Cascade. Somehow I made a good enough impression on my team members and management to get the invite for 2015. Is it really possible that they were enamored with how much food I could eat, how dirty my bike could get, and the vast quantity of swear words I could use in my race reports? I wasn’t aware my top skills were so marketable!

Okay enough self defecation for one post. Just to boost my ego back up, I’m putting myself at the the very top of the list. We’ll see how the rest stack up.

(Note: some of the information presented may or may not be truthful, as I don’t know a few of my teammates that well and I certainly didn’t take the time to interview them for this).

Kennet Peterson

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Strengths on the bike: Attacking, day-long breaks, really short climbs.
Other powers: Sarcasm, anger, ultra potent flatulence
Power animal(s): Horse for land, Sea Lion for water
Favorite vegetable: Avocado. I don’t care what you say, it’s not a fruit damn it.
Favorite type of burrito: chile verde (carnitas).
Favorite color: hot pink. Or brown.
Little known fact about Kennett: he’s keeping a list of people who spell his name wrong. You don’t want to be on that list.
Occupation other than cyclist: Barista in training, unpaid writer

George Simpson

george

Strengths on the bike: Sprinting, time trials
Other powers: Penetrating stare, gorilla chest pound for 10 extra watts
Power animal: Sword fish
Favorite vegetable: MEAT
Favorite type of burrito: bean and cheese with MEAT
Favorite color: George is colorblind
Little known fact about George: he’s only been racing for two years.
Occupation other than cyclist: High school student?

Michael Burleigh

Michael

(Photo credit: Dean Warren)

Strengths on the bike: Climbing, breakaways, being a hard on. Hard man. Sorry.
Other powers: Emotional hammer-fist to top of skull, offering a water bottle on a hot day then dumping it out in front of you and laughing.
Power animal: Kodiak bear
Favorite vegetable: Turnip
Favorite type of burrito: Chicken with mole sauce.
Favorite color: Turquoise
Little known fact about Michael: He once attempted to swim across the English channel.
Occupation other than cyclist: Lawyer

Josh Yeaton

josh

(Photo credit: Eddie Clark)

Strengths on the bike: Sprinting, finding the move, being savvy
Other powers: Making you feel dumb and bad about yourself, trickery: “Hey look at that thing over there” BOOM gone.
Power animal: Porpoise
Favorite vegetable: Cherry tomatoes
Favorite type of burrito: Huevos rancheros
Favorite color: Salmon pink
Little known fact about Josh: He has never seen the movie “Forgetting Sarah Marshall.” Surprising, I know.
Occupation other than cyclist: Engineer: putting lasers on sharks!

Jake Duerhing

Jake

Strengths on the bike: Sprinting, lead out, smashing big gears (just one sometimes).
Other powers: Ventriloquism, being an all around nice guy, always has a tailwind in time trials
Power animal: Termite
Favorite vegetable: Swiss chard
Favorite type of burrito: Two burritos
Favorite color: Neon gray
Little known fact about Jake: He has a masters degree in paleontology.
Occupation other than cyclist: Works for Felt

Brad Bingham

brad

Strengths on the bike: Sprinting, lead out, mass start hill climbs
Other powers: Intimidation (he’s really tall), +2mph for sweet euro-style haircut
Power animal: Timber wolf
Favorite vegetable: Tomatillo
Favorite type of burrito: Fajita burrito with shrimp
Favorite color: Burgundy
Little known fact about Brad: He gives a fantastic high five (but always spits on his hand first and laughs to himself afterwards because he despises you).
Occupation other than cyclist: General Mills

Nick Traggis–Manager

nick

(Photo credit: Sportif Images)

Strengths on the bike/in the team car: Sprinting, iron-elbow bottle feed
Other powers: Motivator, creates great hashtags, awesome Linkedin profile
Power animal: Duck bill platypus
Favorite vegetable: Garlic
Favorite type of burrito: Breakfast: bacon, potato, egg, avocado, rice
Favorite color: See-through
Little known fact about Nick: None. Everything is public knowledge thanks to his amazing Linkedin profile.
Occupation other than cyclist: Engineer: also puts lasers on sharks!

Clayton Feldman

clayton

(Photo credit: Dean Warren)

Strengths on the bike: Climbing, breaks, time trials
Other powers: How bout the power of flight. That do anything for ya?
Power animal: Komodo dragon
Favorite vegetable: Water mellon
Favorite type of burrito: Cream cheese and jam on a wheat tortilla, topped with ghost peppers.
Favorite color: Purple
Little known fact about Clayton: Clayton has never crashed and gotten injured in a bike race. Ever.
Occupation other than cyclist: Cycling coach

Chris Winn

chris winn

(Photo credit: Kathryn Winn Sustain Bars)

Strengths on the bike: Uphill sprints, medium length climbs, tactician
Other powers: Dreamy good looks, ninja chop to deltoid, weird Australian sayings
Power animal: Black widow spider
Favorite vegetable: Canned spinach
Favorite type of burrito: Kangaroo on corn tortilla (Haha, get it? Because he’s Australian).
Favorite color: Sunrise orange
Little known fact about Chris: He used to be really into parkour.
Occupation other than cyclist: Cycling coach, wombat poacher.

Indian Creek 50 Race Report (A Running Race, Stupid)

I’m taking a break from writing about emotional grief and depression to talk about something I’m much better equipped to deal with–physical pain and suffering. You may remember that before Adelaide was annihilated by that driver, I was training for a 50-mile trail race. That race was this past weekend. It was awesome. I did not finish.

But I did finish the 50K race. At 34 miles long, it seems like a cop out compared to 50 miles, but at the same time I’m pretty happy with it. Here’s how it went down:

My alarm went off at 3:25. That right there was the worst part of my day. I drove our rental car, which we’ve been using to get around since Adelaide can’t ride bikes, to south Boulder. I met some other fairly groggy runners and piled into someone’s van for the carpool to the race, which took place south of Golden in Pike national forest.

The atmosphere at the start/finish area was cheerful and pretty laid back. There were around 130 runners, most of which were doing the 50K event, gathered in the dark with headlamps talking excitedly and chomping a bit more food before the day-long effort that lay ahead. I could sense a little nervousness in the air but obviously no one was jostling or shoving each other out of the way for a front row line up like a bike race. For one thing, it still wasn’t even 6AM yet, and ultra runners are just more mellow. A race like this is more about pushing your own limits than beating someone else. I can certainly appreciate that…I lined up near the front anyways.

Heading out into the dark in a large pack of runners was a surreal experience. The only sound became the crunch of gravel under foot and lungs pumping. The course was hilly and started out with a two-mile climb. The small group that formed around me was going quite a bit faster than I’d planned on starting, but my excitement got the best of me. Plus, my headlamp was pretty weak and I wanted the extra light and the company of some more sure-footed runners in front. We chatted as we leapt over rocks and around switchbacks.

The forest opened up 30 or 40 minutes into the race and gave a luminous view of the city far down below. Seven miles in and the pain in my knees temporarily, which had started at mile three, subsided; darkness and joint pain gave way to the soft orange glow of sunrise. I was now running alone through a field of waist-high flowers with bright red cliffs jutting out in the background. I relished the beauty of the early morning as best as I could, then the dull, aching, pain came back to take its place.

I was averaging 10:52 minutes/mile at that point, which doesn’t sound fast because it’s not. Though, when you factor in nearly 12,000 feet of elevation gain over 50 miles, 10:52 seems a bit better. My original goal, two months ago, was to break 9 hours. But my knees had never really gotten any better at adapting to the pounding of the ground since then. I can hold a fast pace for up to 10 miles, then my tendons and joints just go to complete shit. So 12-minute miles, a 10-hour race time, was my new goal for the day. Actually, my real goal was to just be able to finish, which I knew would be a very long shot. I’d never run more than 18 miles before, and I was pretty wrecked after that run. Wrecked enough to develop tendonitis actually.

In an ultra race you walk the hills. Most people walk the hills anyways. The really fast guys and girls can run them, but I was happy to power walk most and shuffle up some in order to save my knees for the flats and downhills. I picked off a few people 10 miles in, which was just past the first aid station.

The pain was holding steady and my pace, now 11:11 min/mile, was still better than I’d hoped. As I approached the second aid station at mile 15, which was also the conclusion of the first lap, my spirits rose. I’d been trying to block the bad thoughts about Adelaide’s crash, but had been failing. If you’re depressed, long workouts always tend to bring out those negative emotions. A few days after the crash I’d gone on a long hike/run and had spent the first 2.5 hours crying uncontrollably. I’d only paused once when I almost got in a fight with someone. It’s a side story but worth it: I was approaching Shadow Canyon when I passed another hiker going the opposite direction. I nodded and said hi. I turned back after I passed him to call Maybellene, and also took out an earbud to call her back from playing with the other guy’s dog.

At that point the guy angrily said, “Hey THANKS for asking, pal.”
“Huh? Asking what?” I replied.
“I asked how’s it going and you just ignored me,” he said.
“I had earbuds in. Do you not see that I’m currently listening to music and have earbuds in my ears?” What’s your problem anyways?” I said.

He said fuck you. I said fuck you. I can’t remember the exact exchange over the next 30 seconds but it escalated quickly, to the point that I began following him down the trail as he hurriedly walked away.

“If you don’t stop following me I’m calling 911 right now,” he said.

I think I laughed at that and asked what good that would do way out here. Then I screamed and swore at him until he was out of sight. He got the last word in: “Go back to the east coast!” Then I screamed/roared as loud as I could like a mountain lion or some tormented jungle beast. I thought of chasing him down but decided that would be stupid. It’s never worth getting into a fight over a misunderstanding, no matter how upset you are. I continued on my route and began laughing at how strange the encounter was. Then began crying again.

Anyways, back to the race:

One of the volunteers filled my Ultimate Direction hydration pack at the aid station while I gulped down a few small handfulls of chips and Cliff Bloks. Knees were okay, motivation was good, energy was still perfect. Aerobically speaking, I’d never left zone 1 and I’d eaten well over 1000 calories.

The course consisted of three laps. The first was 15 miles, the second 19, and the third 16. This gave us two chances to access our drop bags at the start/finish. In addition to the main aid station, there were a couple others stocked with additional goodies: sandwiches, soda, chips, candy, gels, water, quesadillas, etc.

I played leap frog with six other runners for 20 minutes after that first lap. My knees and hips were worsening and I ran ever more gingerly. In addition to joint pain I began experiencing the first disturbing jolts from my increasingly angry bowels. I’d needed to take a shit before that first lap was finished but I didn’t want to waste the two minutes it would have taken to visit the porta potty. I’d pay the price for this.

I began doing math and realized that I wouldn’t be back at the start/finish for another 14 miles. That didn’t sound too bad, then I remembered I was running not riding. That would take me like two or three hours (in reality it would take longer). Shit. literally. I kept an eye out for some lush leaves hidden somewhere within this dry, barren pine forest.

As I continued running, two old sticks presented themselves on the trail in front of me. They were covered in sand but the bark was gone and they looked somewhat smooth. I picked them up and continued on, eagerly awaiting something more desirable to present itself in the next, oh no…14 to 16 seconds. I saw nothing but rocks. I dove into the bushes, threw my shorts off, and unleashed fiery hell. Who in their right mind eats chilly for breakfast before a running race?

The two sandy sticks worked well and I was back on the trail within 90 seconds, feeling like a new man.

Mile 20.5 and the third aid station appeared. One of the volunteers said the fourth station was three miles away, but it was all uphill. This was actually good news for me. Since I was hiking the hills, they were less painful on my joints than the flats or downhills.

Four miles later (not three) and I got to the last summit of the climb and the aid station. My legs were really wrecked at this point and I was hobbling quite a bit. Waddling like an injured duck. My pace was now 11:43 but I continued holding out hope for an unrealistic sub 10-hour race.

Two miles later and that changed. I was now 26 miles in. Only half way done. I could barely run. I’d shuffle for a few minutes and use every little bump as an excuse to walk, swinging my arms wildly to propel myself forward. My hips and knees were trashed. My goal became to simply finish.

The next climb was long. Like five miles. Half way up I realized that couldn’t run at all anymore. I longed for the lap to be over so I could join up with my two pacers (Galen and Joslynn), who would have to walk with me instead of running like we’d planned. Running was out of the question for even one mile, let alone 16.

By mile 31 I was done. I wasn’t even power walking anymore. I was doing 16+ minute miles and slowing down with every step. Limping was an understatement. I realized that it would take me six or seven hours to finish the last lap at this deteriorating pace. I’d be done with the 50K in that same amount of time. One more lap would cripple me for a month, which I couldn’t afford to do with the bike training season approaching. I decided to end things with that lap.

I came through the finish line at 6 hours and 59 minutes with Galen and Jos cheering me on to run for the last hundred meters. I DNFed the 50 miler but came in 27th in the 50K. So that’s kind of cool they let you do that. I wasn’t too upset, because plates of pasta, and later ibuprofen, awaited me.

It was hard. It was fun. You should do a running race sometime soon too. Might as well be over a marathon to make it worth your while. Here’s where you find out about ultras: https://ultrasignup.com/

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Adelaide’s Recovery Fund

First of all, I’d like to say thank you to everyone who has offered their thoughts, prayers, cards, flowers, food, and inspirational stories. Your compassion has touched me. And it will surely bring tears of happiness to Adelaide’s eyes when she sees it all herself. It’s truly healing stuff.

People have asked if there’s a donation set up for her recovery. Here’s the go fund me link:

CLICK HERE FOR THE LINK

If you don’t have the money to spare, please feel free to spread the word instead (I’ve spent most of my adult life as a broke bike racer so I certainly understand).

Our good friend Dan Cavallari took it upon himself to set it up. Thank you Dan.

I’ve slowly come back to reality this week. Normally when you wake up from a nightmare you breath a sigh of relief. But I’m waking up to the nightmare. To every cyclist’s worst nightmare. To every father’s, mother’s, husband’s, wife’s, brother’s, and sister’s worst nightmare.

But I know that Adelaide is incredibly strong, both physically and mentally, and I know she’ll make a full recovery. It will take time, but we’ll have the Adelaide we know and love back in our lives one day soon.

A friend of mine recently told me it would be nice to share a story about Adelaide for those who don’t know her. Just to show what kind of person she is.

Late this summer, our good friend Rhae gave Adelaide a sob-chocked phone call that her boyfriend of six years had cheated on her. Rahe was and still is, obviously, devestated. In the blink of an eye, Adelaide threw her chamois on, left work, and rode the six miles home to get to Rhae and hold her tight. Like any good drama film, it was pouring rain.

She got to Rhae, hugged her, brought her to our apartment, and sat her down on the bed. What did she do next? She brushed her hair. Brushed her hair like a little girl’s and talked to Rhae for the next hour to calm her down and get her out of the state of shock she’d been in. When Rhae was able to, Adelaide led her outside for a long walk in the rain. She knew that it was crucial for Rhae to get up, get out, and take some deep breaths; she had to turn her sadness into movement. They walked for hours, came by for tea at the coffee shop where I was working, then walked back to our apartment.

By this point Adelaide had been in her rain-soaked chamois (yes, she’d been in her kit this entire time) for the entire afternoon. Through sobs and tears, Rhae asked Adelaide if she wanted to get out of her wet clothes, to which Adelaide replied: “I’m not leaving you alone for one minute.”

That’s the kind of person Adelaide is. She’ll do anything for a friend. No, she’ll do anything for a complete stranger. A few weeks ago Adelaide stopped to talk to a mentally handicapped man while we were out walking on Pearl street–she talked to him for 20 minutes straight, about nothing in particular. I was frustrated since we were actually in a bit of a hurry to get errands done. That didn’t matter to Adelaide though. She’s a better person than I. She’s the best person I’ve ever met, which is why it’s so hard that this terrible event had to happen to her. I wish it had been me. I know that’s cliché. But now I know why people use the term.

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Adelaide

Please share this story on facebook or any other social media outlets if you have not done so already. Let’s end careless driving. Help save a life.

Warning: this is a graphic post–not the pictures, just the content. I felt like I needed to write this as soon as possible to get it out of my head and start my own healing. My intentions aren’t to scare anyone but this is what I went through on Saturday when Adelaide was almost killed by an inattentive driver.

I’ve been planning a blog post for a few weeks now, letting the exciting incidents of my life build so I have material to work with. It’s my usual routine, especially when there aren’t race reports to write. With a number of writeable things going on of late, I figured I had plenty of options 1) Adelaide and I got mountain bikes 2) I saw three black bears on a mountain bike ride the other day 3) I got on a bike team for 2015 4) I saw a house burn down while on a run with Maybellene. A baby was killed in the fire.

The third option, when nothing comes up worth writing about, is to let my anger build over any number of random issues for a good rant.

The following is a story about the worst day of my life, by far.

Adelaide and I woke to a brisk but sunny day on Saturday. Maybellene was super excited to be up and running around as usual. Adelaide took her to the dog park while I was still asleep. After a pancake breakfast, which is our tradition for weekend rides, we met up with friends at Amante for the ride. Adelaide, the only one with an actual race to train for, parted from us early on, going north up highway 36 to Lyons as we went up to Ward. Her iron-distance triathlon was three weeks away and she needed a couple more weekends of long, hard, flat rides to prepare her for the 112 miles she’d encounter down at Lake Havasu on November 8th. Her running and riding form were coming along really well and she was shooting for a sub 11-hour race. Swimming is a non issue for her. She barely even needs to train for it.

The rest of us went at a leisurely pace for a while until I got a branch stuck in my front wheel, which required a brief stop. Matt decided an attack was in order right afterwards, since we’d both been complaining about the slow pace. Liam and I slowly towed him back, then pulled the plug well before that last steep pitch to the water pump. There, we all regrouped. They began the climb up to Brainard Lake and I said goodbye to head off down the mountain and reconnect with Adelaide, who would have been on the second of four 24-mile laps.

With me doing the lap in reverse, we had planned on meeting along the way. Being slow and tired from too much mountain biking and running, I planned to draft off her for a lap then head home to eat, take Maybellene for a walk or to the dog park, and work on the sponsor packet for the Carter Lake road race. A trip to Sprouts for dinner groceries was also in order.

I started to feel the day’s effort in my legs about three hours in. I should have seen her by then too. Her bike wasn’t at the Hygiene store, where she said to look just in case she had stopped for water. She drinks approximately 31 bottles an hour during rides. Zero throughout the rest of the day.

I kept going and took a left on 66 towards Lyons, fairly certain I wasn’t going to see her. Maybe she’d gotten tired early and only did one lap. Or she did a different route completely. I’m not one to worry too much. I was mainly thinking of how hungry I was getting since I’d only brought a small bit of food and the ride was approaching 3.5 hours. My mind drifted for a little while. I had a 15K trail race the next day. Four hours of riding wasn’t going to be the best preparation. Whatever, it was just a practice race anyways. I turned south on 36 towards home.

15 minutes later, as I climbed one of the rollers, I saw an Osmo bottle with a strange yellow lid sitting in the ditch. I recognized it as one of the bottles I’d filled that morning for Adelaide. She doesn’t leave bottles when they’re dropped. I looked up to the left, just now getting to the intersection of Hygiene Rd and Hwy 36 and saw two police cars and some people standing in the grass by the side of the road. It reminded me of a scene I’d come across on my way to Sprouts two days before: Emergency vehicles and a crumpled bike. I’d stopped then to see if anyone was seriously injured, just out of my own curiosity. This time, as I pulled across the road to the police car, I was suddenly very worried.

I asked what happened, if a cyclist was hit, was it a girl, what did her bike look like, what was her name, hair color. He gave me the bike’s description, not hers. He hadn’t seen her and the injuries to her face were substantial, which to me meant that she’d been unrecognizable. She hadn’t been able to give her name, he said. Those last two details made my stomach churn and my heart race. He didn’t have details about her hair color or who she was. He was the crash scene investigator. The female cyclist was taken to the hospital at 12:00. It was now 1:34. If it was Adelaide, she’d probably just started her second lap at that point, so the timing looked right. Or very wrong.

Since the bike he described matched hers and the bottle on the other side of the road looked exactly like hers, I didn’t want to take the chance of it not being her, so I asked for a ride in his car to the hospital (Longmont United). My bike wouldn’t fit. I said I’d leave it in the bushes. While walking it over to dump it off I asked the three civilians standing there what had happened, and if any of them was the driver. One guy said yes. I asked for a description of what she looked like and another guy said he thought her name had been Adelaide.

I paused for a moment, letting the shock hit me. Serious facial trauma and she hadn’t given her name, meaning that she was unconscious or dead (I assumed someone else riding near her had ID’d her and that she hadn’t told her name herself). The officer said she’d gone through the driver’s side window while traveling north on 36 and that the car had pulled out abruptly into the road in front of her to take a left turn. She’d T-boned it. Highway 36, which is the most popular training road in Boulder and had hundreds of cyclists on it that day, is straight at this intersection. So her coming around a corner or him not being able to see her was not the issue.

It’s the sort of “accident” that almost happens every day. It happens when drivers like this one feel just in gambling with a cyclist’s life in order to save five seconds of their precious time. Adelaide had almost been hit last week when someone did this to her while she was commuting home from work.

I turned to the driver and screamed at him and took a half lunge toward him as he stepped back. I stopped myself from doing anything and the police officer stepped between us. My worry was far greater than my rage. I needed to get to the hospital.

I frantically jumped back on my bike and the police officer, who had to stay at the scene with the driver, yelled out some directions for me as I went. I began screaming again a few moments later, now crying uncontrollably as well. Sobbing uncontrollably. Screaming without expletives, or words at all, for the entire ride to Longmont. I thought she’d be dead or paralyzed when I got there.

During that awful ride I felt guilt for getting her into bike racing, guilt for leaving her to ride alone while I went up to Ward, guilt for departing Amante at the exact time that would put Adelaide in the path of that car. I began regretting all sorts of little and big things. Had I given her a hug that morning? I couldn’t remember. If I hadn’t, why hadn’t I? I regretted the tiny argument that we’d gotten into a few days earlier, which was really just a debate about how to solve the income gap between whites and blacks. Mainly I regretted not having asked her to marry me yet. Now I knew I wouldn’t have the chance. I imagined a future without her and knew I’d be better off dead too.

I was convinced she was dead from the way the officer had described the collision and her injuries. This must be a dream. This must be a dream. This must be a fucking dream. I was trying to ride as fast as I could but I was crying and screaming too much to get enough air in my lungs. I blew through every stop sign and red light, thinking of how funny it would be if I ended up in the hospital bed next to her.

When I got to Longmont United I dismounted and ran my bike in through the front doors asking where the emergency room was. The next 10 minutes would be the most stressful, horrible of my life. Finding out that it was Adelaide at the crash site and the ride to the hospital were absolutely the worst I’d ever experienced, but now was when I’d get the bad news I knew I wasn’t prepared to receive.

Someone chaperoned me to the ER, hugging my shoulder as we walked through the hall. She asked me what had happened but I couldn’t respond. So she just rubbed my back. I left my bike at the front desk of the ER and they quickly took me off to a private room to discuss Adelaide’s condition.

The doctor started off right away with the good news. She was alive, she had no damage to any of her limbs, spine, or brain. She was talking and somewhat coherent when she came in. That was the good news. The bad news was that all the injuries she sustained were to her face, which had literally been torn off.

He said almost every bone in her face had been broken. Her cheek bone, nose, eye socket, septum, her jaw in numerous places. Everything. The flesh from her upper right lip to her left shoulder had been ripped completely open. Through the tears in my eyes I could see tears even in his. He gave me a long embrace.

They took me in to see her briefly. She was sedated and unconscious, with a room full of doctors and nurses using a hand held pump to make her breath. Her face was mostly covered up and I couldn’t see much of her. I reached for her hand, which was coated in dried blood. It was cold. Pale white under the red stains.

One of her surgeons, Dr. Leonard, arrived and we met briefly before I was taken out of the room and back to the ER center desk area so I could use a computer and look up contact information. I didn’t have a phone on me. The next hour was spent signing forms for the surgery that she was about to have, another form for the anesthesiologist, general information about Adelaide including our address, contact information, insurance, etc, most of which I didn’t have or couldn’t remember. I talked to the same police officer, Officer Wise, who’d been investigating the crash. He discussed with me how he thought it might have happened. He and some of his colleagues had been out searching for me and had been worried. The hospital Chaplain, a gentle motherly woman named Laura, was with me the entire time, bringing pretzels, socks with rubber grippers so I could get out of my cycling shoes, and cup after cup of ice water. I was freezing cold but didn’t have the wherewithal to do anything about it. I had bonked, was in shock, knew I needed to eat but still couldn’t get the pretzels in my hand, let alone my mouth. I spilled most on the ground, then got distracted by the half dozen people with forms and questions for me. All this while I sat at someone’s desk, using an ipad to access facebook and search for someone’s number I could call.

I finally managed to get a hold of my brother Galen, who gave me the cell numbers for Lydia (Adelaide’s sister) and Jeff (Lydia’s fiance). And Adelaide’s mom, Kathleen. Galen hung up and set about getting some things together for me like clothes and food. He and Joslynn, Galen’s girlfriend, were soon on their way.

I left some absolutely terrifying voicemails on everyone’s phone before getting a hold of Kathleen. I could hardly speak at first, knowing very well that my inability to get the whole message out was scaring her more than it should have but I couldn’t help it. I spat it out eventually and finally my job was done. Kathleen would fly in from Pittsburg early next morning. Lydia and Jeff were on their way. Galen and Jos were on their way.

Laura, the Chaplain, took me to the O.R. waiting room, doing her best to console me. She gave me some blankets and she talked to me about a few random little things for a while to get my mind off the situation until Galen and Jos came. They gave me bear hugs and Laura showed me to a bizarre, single-person bathroom with a random bathtub in it. I’d told her I was freezing cold and needed a shower to warm up. I soaked in the tub and cried while drinking a San Pelegrino lemonade and some protein mix that Galen had brought. Later I had a smashed, cold, Square Burrito that Galen had jokingly offered me that morning as we left Amante for the ride. I cracked a smile when I first saw it. Then continued breathlessly sobbing.

Jeff and Lydia showed up shortly after I was out of the bath, warmly dressed in street clothes and puffy jacket. I felt a bit better. Just being warm with some sugar in me was the biggest thing to get out of the state of shock that I’d been in. To be truthful I’m still in shock days later, but once I finally had a grasp on the situation and friends and family were around, it made a world of difference. Having other people there felt amazing. I’d never felt so alone on that ride to the hospital and the hour and a half I spent there before anyone else arrived.

She would live. She would walk and talk and run again. That’s what mattered.

We spent the next eight hours waiting for Adelaide to get out of her first surgery, which was just stitching her back up. The facial reconstruction (bone repairs) would occur later in the week. Her surgeon, Dr. Schmid, came in once to give us an update a few hours in (I think). I was pretty out of it. One of the assistant surgeons or nurses came in a few times to tell us news. At 9:00, Galen, Jos, and I ate at Wahoos while Jeff and Lydia ate next door at Noodles & Company. We went back to the hospital to wait more.

I could barely keep my eyes open from the fatigue and stress of the day. I’d started writing this blog post earlier that afternoon but I was too tired and dazed to write any more. My eyes were incredibly red and dried out and stinging from so many tears. When Adelaide gets really upset about something, like girls do, she tells me she actually gets dehydrated from crying. I never really believed her. Now I know how it feels. I drank liters of water. Cup after cup after cup. I was thirsty to obsession.

Finally, after seven hours of surgery and another hour of waiting to hear how it went, Dr. Schmid came in. He said it had gone really well. All of the tissue had been salvageable and the blood flow to the upper lip was okay. The lip had been hanging on by a thread. Miraculously, none of her vital nerves had been severed in the crash. There had been just a millimeter to spare. It seemed like her eyes were going to be okay as well. Her tongue had been bitten in half, length-wise and also a chunk had been bitten off entirely but she would keep the majority of it.

He showed us pictures to prepare us–both before and after pictures. I couldn’t look at the before pictures for very long. They were truly horrid. The most disturbing thing I’ve ever seen. It looked like her jaw was completely gone, because it was. How had she been able to talk at all? I couldn’t imagine the pain she was in before she got to the hospital. Hollywood torture scenes would be nothing compared to that. Nothing. Her face was gone.

I came back when he revealed the after pictures, showing a stitched-up Adelaide, looking mostly alive again. He scrolled through the camera to a picture of his daughter by accident, then backed up one to Adelaide again with hundreds of stitches in her face, eyes swollen shut, unconscious. What world was this? Is this even real? Am I really awake?

They took us in to see her at last, I broke down immediately again. She’d been completely fine and cheerful that morning. Now this. Her breathing apparatus was pumping away. Tubes came out of her arms from every vein. Her tongue, sticking out past her broken teeth, made for an almost amused look when combined with the somewhat smiling expression on her face (to me anyways). It only looked that way because of how the breathing tube was positioned, pulling her mouth up in a half smile. Her face and neck were covered in thick black stitches and slathered in antibacterial ointment and blood. Her eyes were taped shut and were completely swollen black and blue. Her limbs, hands, and feet, and of course her face, were all swollen and almost unrecognizable. Her hair was red from blood and antiseptic. She was pale. I felt her hand. This time it was warm.

Dr. Schmid and his team had done an amazing job despite the pitiful state she appeared to be in. Every one of his colleagues had mentioned how talented he was and how lucky we were that he was the one doing the procedure. I felt like that’s something they always tell you, but I let myself believe it. And I still do.

We squeezed Adelaide’s hands, gently stroked her legs, and quietly talked to her. They said she could probably hear us, but of course she couldn’t respond due to the breathing tube and the injuries. The coma-like state that the drugs put her in would make it seem almost like a dream to her and she wouldn’t remember any of this. She probably wouldn’t remember anything for the next week or more.

She squeezed my hand back, very hard. Surprisingly hard. I knew she was with us. She came to more and more, and even nodded yes a few times to questions. In particular to the comment about us getting her a Vitamix. We spent about 40 minutes with her and it was time to go since she was becoming too agitated. When everyone had left the room, I asked her an important question that I know I’ll have to re-ask in a few weeks since she won’t remember. Then I told her I was going to leave and she freaked out, her arm restraints easily held her weak limbs down. I stepped out to tell Lydia and Jeff that I was going to stay. In the end I decided to lie and tell Adelaide that I’d just be waiting outside her room and that I’d see her in the morning. That calmed her down again. Having me in the room with her or outside down the hall in the ICU guest sleeping room would do neither of us any good. We both needed rest.

I got home and into bed at 1AM with Maybellene, who was allowed to sleep in bed with me so she could lick away my tears as I drifted off in a nightmarish sleep.

*Edited 10/26/14 CLICK HERE FOR HER RECOVERY FUND

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Photo credit for this last one: D2 photography

  • His legs are strong Mrs. Gump. As strong as I ever seen. But his Glutes are as crooked as a politician.

    Do you have tendonitis? Well, it’s probably because you have weak glutes like me. Do you suffer from knee pain? Again, it’s likely due to weak glutes. Shin splints? You guessed it…it’s your weak-ass glutes.

    Planter fasciitis? Glutes
    Stress fracture? Glutes
    Tenis elbow? Glutes
    Head ache? Glutes.
    Ingrown fingernail? Glutes
    Flatulence? Glutes
    Nearsighted? Glutes
    Hard of hearing? Glutes
    Low IQ? Glutes
    Immoral? Glutes
    Small penis? Glutes
    Weak glutes? Glutes

    With my last blog post, I left off with the depressing news that I had Achilles bursitis. I went back into Boulder Center for Sports Medicine and they downgraded me to just some minor tendonitis in the connective ligaments that attach the Achilles tendon to the heel bone.

    The cause of this was from too much running of course, but the reason that too much running resulted in this injury was partially because my glutes are weak. Like I said above, if you have weak glutes, you’ve probably got some body part that’s injured or working improperly because of it. Cycling, like running actually, is a one-dimensional exercise and the smaller muscles in my general gluteal region that stabilize the pelvis and legs weren’t and most likely still aren’t strong enough. This caused my knees to buckle in when I ran, which put too much stress on my calves and Achilles, which pulled too hard on those connective ligaments attached to my heel. Or so the story goes.

    As with just about any injury, time off always helps and the two weeks off that I took were needed, as they did the trick to reduce the swelling and repair those tendons. Something else seems to have helped the injury from reoccurring since I started running and hiking again. The glute exercises that the trainers at BCSM are likely a big part of it. I’ve been doing them twice a day now for about three weeks, as well as thinking about activating my glutes while I’m running. I may not have been a believer to begin with about the whole “Your glutes are weak and therefore you have an injury way the hell down in your heal,” but now I’m coming around. I guess you could say I’m like an evangelist. I don’t know what’s true so I keep my beliefs vague and go to church (glute exercises) just in case.

    Aside from BCSM, there are a few others who have helped me get over the still-somewhat-present injury. I saw Brent Apgar of Synch Chiropractic immediately and had him dry needle the hell out of my legs and ankles. He put me on a treadmill right afterwards and, to my near disbelief, I noticed an instant reduction in pain when I ran. The guy is a god damn miracle worker. Seriously, it was weird how much of an improvement there was after just 90 minutes of therapy.

    To speed my recovery and reduce the shock to my feet, pro triathlete Erich Wegscheider (a former roommate of mine) sent me a pair of Hoka Ones, which are extra-supportive running shoes. They weigh nothing and offer padding like none other. Thanks for being such a great ambassador for your sponsors Erich, and thanks for the shoes!

    Paired with some Recofit compression calf sleeves to reduce muscle oscillation, my legs have never felt better or been adorned with quite as much steez. I’m lucky to have all this great gear at my disposal and so many people to offer support and motivation.

    Dang, look at all that sponsor-shouting I just did! Good job Kennett!

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    Speaking of providing motivation, Adelaide just DEMOLISHED her first triathlon of the season, winning her age group and finishing 3rd overall in the women’s field of 150 starters. It was a lot of fun watching and yelling at her in the transition zones to “speed the hell up you’re in 2nd right now!!” The Harvest Moon half-ironman was her ‘practice’ race for the full iron-distance event this November in Las Vegas. This was her 2nd triathlon ever (the first was like five years ago on a Surly Long Haul Trucker so it hardly counts) and she’s been training for just two months. She’s a bit of a genetic freak for sure. A future Kona competitor? I think so.

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    She collapsed at the finish line with excruciating pain from the recent onslaught of tendonitis in her foot. The cause? You guessed it: weak glutes! The booty-crazed pirates at BCSM certainly think so anyways. She’s been doing physical therapy with them and has been prescribed many of the same glute exercises as me. Her tendonitis, aside from the last five miles of the race anyways, has been slowly dissipating, so the glute hypothesis continues to gain traction.

    Now for a quick recap of my longest run yet. Maybellene, my running companion, is laying here beside me on the couch in a stupor, so drained that earlier she was too tired to eat her post-run dog bone treat. I, on the other hand, still had an appetite as per usual. I will neither confirm nor deny how that dog bone disappeared. Anyways…

    I woke to rain this morning. The sky was a dreary gray, the streets saturated and so too the trails of Chataqua. Mud was on our forecast. Thick and slippery.

    After breakfast, Maybellene and I walked over to Amante to catch the last few kilometers of the Vuelta, drink coffee, and lick crumbs off the floor. We returned home and got ready for the run. Maybellene worriedly paced back and forth through the apartment with me as I collected gear and chugged a liter of green tea, her most likely hoping that she wasn’t getting left behind. Yesterday, out of boredom, she destroyed the bed in her crate while I was at work. Since Adelaide is at Interbike this week, Maybellene has had to spend more time crated. I planned on making her too tired to care for the next few days.

    The ride to the trailhead was wet and chilly. Maybellene was shivering in the Burly trailer by the time we pulled up to the bike rack at Chataqua.

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    Photo taken on a much warmer, sunnier day.

    I replaced my cycling shoes with running shoes, we split an old banana nut muffin from Amante, and were off.

    We took it easy up Mesa trail, just getting into the groove of things. I can’t go nearly as fast as my cardio system wants since my joints are still sickly weak compared to a real runner’s. As the trail narrowed down I saw two women coming towards us; they quickly leashed a large bernese mountain dog as we approached. Trouble.

    Maybellene was behind me, out of my footsteps where she always runs, when the dog lunged forward, easily yanking the leash clean out of the woman’s hands. It growled savagely and went for Maybellene. I got in the way and kicked him in the ribs. He turned back to his owner and I got tangled in the leashes, tripped and came down for a split second. I got up fast and grabbed the dog’s collar, which was a pinch collar, and forced his head down to the ground. I pinned him with my knee, continuing to force his head to the ground with one hand as I raised the other in a fist to deliver the finishing blows to the head, which likely would have broken my hand since dogs’ skulls are like 7-inches thick.

    The dog whimpered, the woman frantically yelled, “I’ve got the leash he’s under control, he’s under control!” and I let him go. I grabbed up Maybellene’s leash, cursed, and ran off thinking that I’d take a dog fight over a car-buzz any day.

    The dog and I were equal on weight but I had a lot more anger on my side. Bernese mountain dogs are usually pretty tame and friendly. I’m sure if it had been a rottweiler, things would have turned out differently.

    We ran on through the dripping forest, continuing south on the Mesa trail for an hour or so until we got to the base of Shadow Canyon, a real brute of a climb. I unleashed Maybellene for it since it’s very steep and you need your hands to scramble. Because of her age, Maybellene doesn’t own one of those coveted Green Dog Tags that allows her to be off leash for certain trails. I did make one but she tore it off and ate it. So I only unleash her on the steep stuff and hope the ranger who sees us can’t run more than 4.5 miles an hour.

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    There are those who make the rules, those who break them, and the sheep that blindly follow. Practice civil disobedience. #FreeTheBarrelDog

    This past week or so I’ve been hiking the steep climbs and running everything else, to save my Achilles. In fact, I’ve really only done three runs since coming back from the injury. The other stuff has just been hikes. Anyways, Shadow Canyon is so steep that hiking is almost just as fast as running, at least at my pace. It climbs up a boulder-strewn creek bed and at times you’re basically scrambling up it, full red zone.

    During one of the steeper sections, I paused at the top of a big boulder to scout for the trail. It’s difficult to know exactly where to go at points if your head is down and you don’t know the trail that well, especially if you’re well within threshold and concentrating hard about gluteal activation. As I stood on the boulder for just that extra half second, Maybellene jumped up behind me and ended up tangled between my legs (in her defense she was in the red too). I jumped to the right and Maybellene tumbled backwards off the boulder and landed on her back, sandwiched between two large rocks.

    She rolled over and scrambled to catch up to me, limping slightly with her front right paw. I gave it a quick rub and told her it was fine, then we continued on at an equally relentless pace. Maybellene needs to learn that we keep going when we’re hurt and that around here we give our own compliments.

    We ran through the blackened burn zone at the top, passed just under the rocky summit of Bear Mountain at 8,100 ft, picked our way down the steep, barren west side populated by jagged rocks, and upped the pace along the smooth ridge trail heading towards Green Mountain. The clouds had turned to white mist, blowing by quickly and equal to us in altitude. They momentarily revealed the city to the east, way down below, before we passed behind the next ridge. Wild flowers brushed our legs and stained us yellow and green with pollen. The trees thickened as the burn thinned. The sun beat down and I continued sweating, already drenched from the effort up Shadow Canyon. It was a good day to be out in nature. A very good day.

    A little over two hours in and we stopped for a minute to eat some Cliff Bloks. Maybellene had one square, I had two. We would save the second serving for later. We were both thirsty but the single bottle of Osmo I’d been carrying was nearing its end. I didn’t give Maybellene any. She could lap up her fill at a creek if she wanted…though we never stopped so not really.

    We summited Flagstaff, turned back and summited Green Mountain, carefully picked our way down Saddle, and made a left onto Ranger. The trees continued to thicken and grow tall around us as we lost elevation. From Ranger we headed down Gregory Canyon, took a wrong turn at the base and went part way up Amphitheater, backtracked, did a loop around Bluebell with aching knees, ankles, hips, feet, Achilles (whoops I was supposed to stop running when that happened), and finally limped down Chataqua trail to the parking lot. 18.2 miles, +5,000 ft of climbing, 3 hours, 50 minutes. It felt a lot longer than that.

    The first thing Maybellene did when we slowed to a walk in the parking lot was pee, right on the cement with a large puddle forming under her feet. I didn’t care at all. I bent over and put my hands on my knees, not out of breath, I was just out of working skeletal support. My lower back was gone, actually everything lower than mid torso was ready for the grave. The ride home, pulling 75 pounds of trailer and dog, would likely be very slow.

    But once I was on the bike I felt great. Fresh as a daisy. Go figure.