Monday, August 31, 2009

Quick Assault on Desolation

Chase and I had the opportunity to disappear into Desolation Wilderness for a couple nights last week. It was a quick getaway from, well, everything else, and allowed us to produce some great photos and video. I'll admit to being more focused on video during the limited time we had (came home with 38GB...), but I did manage to get a few photos.

After hiking in late afternoon on Wednesday, we spent the night at a tiny little lake that overlooks the Aloha Basin. Gol-darn, its name escapes me ;).

Here it is:


Some star trails

First light, ~5:40am

Chase becomes fully awake

After a relaxed breakfast, we broke camp and crossed the Aloha Basin to a cool little spot partway up Pyramid Peak.

Here are a couple photos looking across to Pyramid Peak and the Crystal Range over Lake Aloha:

After spending FAR too long over there, we hightailed it back to Casa Hancock at Echo Lake and enjoyed dinner and wine with the rest of the Hancock clan. Spent the night, had breakfast and a swim, and then rejoined the hustle and bustle of civilization.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Mt. Rose TT

On a sad note, I think that this post will be the last detailing any racing for this season. You can keep reading, but I'll treat myself to a moment of silence. ... ... ... OK, on we go.

The last installment of the Sierra Nevada Hillclimb Series was up on Mt. Rose a couple weekends ago.

Quick facts: just over 13 1/2 miles, and just over 3700' of elevation gain. Ouch. Last year, it was an affair of 1:03:xx, which was a huge PR. I was gunning for under an hour, but knew that anything faster than last year's time would be a training time is but a mere shadow of what I had last year, so I've had to make the best of it.

Riley came out for his first ever bike race, which was awesome...considering that it would only be his third time up Rose!

Most of the usual suspects were there, but I blew the registration start by nearly an hour and started 5th or so from last, meaning that I'd hopefully have lots of targets for motivation.

Riley gets his junk cupped

My turn

Off we go, prepared for an awful hour

Tahoe destinations beckon

This climb has 5 distinct sections that range from less uphill to flat to a bit downhill, and the proverbial hay must be made on all of them. There's so much time on the table in those sections, and the TT bike, while a few pounds heavier than light climbing road bikes (some of those guys could stand to lose a kg or two...), is a huge advantage on the faster bits. I climbed as strategically as I could, smashing myself where appropriate and keeping the needle right below smashing everywhere else.

Just past 7000' from the start below 5200'...about halfway through the suffering

Nate Brown working away, Jason Walker and his train behind

Riley coming onto the Christmas Tree flat

Just above Mt. Rose Ski Resort, under 10 minutes to go

As I passed through 8000', the rudimentary math I was capable of placed me about 1:20 past an hour at the top; NOT what I wanted to see, as I'd already thrown all caution to the wind. My pacing had been consistent, and it's not like I was gonna give up, so I just kept grinding away.

A touch further up the road, every body part screaming for mercy

Meters to go, but hopes of an hour relentlessly ticking past...

Riley has done it

Matty Larsen charges for the finish

Collapsed onto the aerobars

"Yes, that sucked"

I came across thoroughly out of oxygen at 8900' and in close, yet so far...watching the 59 tick over to 1:00 with a turn left to go was disappointing, but that's just the way it goes.

The top times on the day were a bit slower than previous years, indicating tough-ish conditions. My ride was good enough for a good placing for the single event and also for the overall series. I even got a little cash out of the deal!

So there we have it...hillclimb series in the books, triathlon season as good as done...I guess I've got the Black Rock City 5k to look forward to. ;)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Toys and Bikes

Riley and I went and played around with his new toy a couple weeks ago - the Manfrotto Magic Arm.

While this photo is by no means perfect, it's a good indicator of the fun stuff we can do with it.

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Hanging god knows how many pounds of camera and lens in front of the bike turned the handling from Lotus to Buick and made my visibility less than stellar; both of those had me worried about wadding up Riley's 5DmkII and 16-35L into a $4K pile of glass and circuitry, but it was all in the name of art.

More to come...

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Impromptu Flowers

OK, I really gotta get back to work, and I'm getting out of chronological order here, but I took a couple photos this morning that I want to share before I forget.

At the Wilbur D. May Arboretum @ Rancho San Rafael.

I'm also going to start experimenting with posting mildly larger and mildly higher-quality photos; these are the first in that vein.

Richmond Fontaine plays Bartley Ranch

My cousin Willy is the frontman for Richmond Fontaine, the coolest alt-country/Americana band you've never heard of. Or maybe you have. They've got quite a following in Europe and the UK, and, as such, they rarely play in the US. Anytime they're through Reno is kind of a must-do.

Huge thanks to my cousin Gary (via Willy) for the monumental hookup with tickets.

If you've made it this far, Willy is also one hell of an author. Check out his goods.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Donner Lake Swim Race

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Saturday was the Donner Lake Swim Race, a 2.7-mile traverse of Donner organized by Sierra Nevada Masters. I got to watch the race from a kayak, sharing both paddling and photographing duties with Nenad.

The recent spate of cold weather that left Truckee shivering at 39ยบ and socked in with a heavy fog on race morning also cooled the lake off a few degrees for this non-wetsuit swim. Trepidation rode shotgun with the fog as nervous athletes dipped their toes in the water and peered into the mist.

East End Beach

Surveying the situation

As the nearly 300 swimmers checked in, news was circulated that the police were going to hold the start until the fog burned off to better ensure the safety of the swimmers from a visibility standpoint.

Brothers Scalise at check-in

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Eddie, as ready as he's gonna get

Grim acceptance

Rick, not as bothered

Check in and body marking complete, everyone headed to the beach, where conditions were improving by the minute. The tension filled the air as every swimmer's individual focus came to the forefront: some hoping to win, some hoping to simply complete the longest swim of their life, some hoping to set a personal best time, and so on.

Norm, ready to go

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The police are feeling more comfortable with the visibility; start impending

The last mist burns off

The assembled field

Within a couple minutes of the horn sounding the start, clear groups had been established. Eric Scalise, Ryan Evans, and Michael Weiss comprised the lead group of three. Larger groups further back would be unlikely to bridge up to the fast pace these guys set. Behind the big groups were ones and twos spread out across nearly the entire width of the lake, the horizon filled with splashing limbs and kayaks.

Eric and Ryan at the front

The pace picks up

Nenad and I paddled back and forth between some of the bigger groups and watched the race unfold. In the lead, Ryan pulled his group most of the way across, while Eric and Michael did less work at the front. All of their strokes seemed so relaxed, testament to their amazing technique even while swimming fast.

In the groups further back, exertion was far more evident, and many swimmers were visibly working far too hard to sustain their pace.

Banner in sight for the leaders (far left of frame)

In the last few hundred meters, Eric and Michael picked up the pace. Michael outswam Eric, but then swam too far into the shallow water, allowing Eric to stand up and run past him to the finish line 10 feet up the beach. Eric secured his fourth consecutive win, and I'm sure Michael took some valuable experience away from his first effort at this race. Eric's winning time was 54 minutes and change for 2.7 miles in open water with no wetsuits. That's pretty darn quick.

Norm, steps away from winning his finish line sprint

Norm was about a minute and a half off his goal time, but he still did great. Eddie also came home in fine form.

A Sierra Nevada Masters regular

Brothers Scalise post-race

Needless to say, the unseasonably cold water took its toll on more than a few people.


My romping second cousin Newton, part of Norm's cheering section

Many thanks to my old swim coach Sharon for setting me up in the kayak with Nenad. I had a great time watching the race unfold, even if I did have to report for volunteer duty at 6am. ;)

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Bordertown Sunset

These photos are from a mini-mission Josh, Riley, and I went on the other evening out in the sagebrush near Bordertown. We were hoping to catch a nuking hailstorm but didn't get there in time; the storm was heading away to the north at 30 miles an hour.

Nothing earth-shattering, but great clouds and light.

Past Detritus