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The Shitshow in Galveston

“It doesn’t seem to be broken,” the doctor said while pressing on my wrist. “Otherwise you’d definitely feel it somewhere here.” He squeezed my wrist again.

“I have a pretty strong pain tolerance,” I replied, thinking to the last time I was examined in an urgent care as a doctor twisted my broken neck from side to side and up and down. I wouldn’t be able to do this if your neck was broken, that doctor had said, quite confidently.

“With a fracture you can sometimes move it without it hurting, but to the touch it’s generally very tender. With a strain or sprain, it doesn’t hurt so much to the touch, but as you described—”

“Yeah, I can barely rotate it like this,” I interjected, twisting my wrist as if I were the Queen, waving at a crowd from a Bentley.

“Exactly. I think you’re fine. We can do an X-ray if you want though.”

“Nah, I believe you,” I said, relieved that I’d be able to race. “And you don’t think I’ll do any serious damage if it gets banged around during the swim?”

“No. You should be fine.”

“I mean, it’s pretty rough. Sometimes you end up accidentally hitting people in the head and stuff. And sometimes not accidentally.”

The doctor laughed, though I wasn’t fully joking of course. “It might hurt, but you won’t do any real damage even if it gets whacked,” he said.

He was young and fit looking, so I figured I could trust that he had some sense of how physical the race might be. Plus, he’d complimented me earlier on how I’d punched the wall, which was the reason I was in the urgent care. “Lots of people end up making contact with the outer part of their hand,” he said a few minutes earlier, pointing to the knuckle of his pinky finger. “That’s how you get hurt. You did it right.” He eyed the large, openly seeping scabs on my index and middle fingers.

I said thanks, paid the 95 bucks, and hopped back in my rental car to build my bike. Maybe I’d have more luck with it than I did the day before.


Rewind to the day before:

I clenched my teeth in rage as blood dripped from two jagged flaps of skin on my knuckles, staining the cement floor of my garage a bright crimson. A fresh imprint of my fist lay in the drywall, a few feet below a half dozen exploratory drill holes where, years before, I’d attempted to find the stud to hang a bike from the wall. Found it again, I thought.

As I opened and closed my fist, I sighed in relief that my hand moved okay. My wrist, on the other hand—pun intended—was quickly seizing up. You fucking idiot, I scolded myself. My hand, which moments before was black from bike grease, was quickly turning red as blood continued leaking from my knuckles. I’d like to say that this sort of thing was a one-off, but when it comes to wrenching on my bike, my temper has about a one-hour fuse, and I was closing in on two hours now. Worse, my flight to Houston was rapidly approaching. And not only had I failed to figure out how to change the brake pads and pack my new bike, but I hadn’t even begun to pack race gear, clothes, or anything else I needed for the weekend. Only a fucking TT bike requires that you take the crankset off to get to the fucking brake pads, I grumbled to myself before getting back to work.


Adelaide ended up packing for me while I finished adjusting the brake pads, re-installing the crankset four times (it took me a while to diagnose a clicking sound caused by a brake bolt rubbing on the inner chainring), and then break the bike down into my bike bag by completely disassembling the front end.

Because of the packing and bike work fiasco, I missed my bus to the airport, so Adelaide dropped me off.  All the effort to pack my bike into a small (stealthy) bike bag was for naught, as I ended up getting charged $75 for a bike by Southwest anyways. “But it’s a massage table, expo equipment, therapy pigeon, wheelchair bag damn it!” I lied, unsuccessfully.

My wrist continued stiffening up as I maneuvered around unmasked travelers sipping Cokes and cramming overpriced burgers down their gullets in the crowded terminal walkways. The plane I was on ended up being full, which only ratcheted up my anxiety about flying— unvaccinated at that point—during the pandemic. “I thought all the center seats were being left open!” I said, somewhat unpleasantly, to the travel agent before reluctantly getting on—in fact, I almost turned around and took the bus home when I found that the center seats weren’t left open. Going from nearly complete social distancing, aside from the odd group ride, to being packed into a sardine can full of Texans, many of whom wore their old, stained masks like sagging underwear at their chins, almost made me forget about my wrist. Just don’t get in a fist fight with anyone for not wearing their mask, I told myself. You’ll be fighting one-handed

I begrudgingly gave my back-of-the-plane seat (which I took intentionally to limit the number of people I was next to) to two women with a small child. The child spent half the flight kicking the back of my seat while one of the flight attendants spent the other half of the flight asking the three of them to put their masks on. Not that it mattered, because most of the passengers were also maskless as they sipped Cokes and stuffed down their leftover burgers. God fucking forbid an American go without a meal for 95 minutes. 


We’re just going to abruptly skip to the race now.

A sliver of sun began peeking out from the horizon a few minutes before the start gun blasted, then we were off. With a field of 41 male pros, it was a chaotic start. I ended up finding a pair of feet after a few minutes of fighting in the choss, then decided to make a push to get around that guy and bridge up to the next group, which was just a few body lengths of separation at that point. 

Shortly before the first turn buoy, I chanced a peak over my shoulder to make sure I wasn’t in the last group, and was relieved to see what appeared to be a dozen or more others behind me. While run and bike training had gone pretty well over the winter, I’d only averaged around 10K of swimming per week over the last few months, and wasn’t super confident leading into this race.

I came out 20th, three minutes down on the leaders, but with three strong cyclists—Long, Weiss, and Arnaute—as well as a few other guys I knew were solid on the bike. Turned out they were all quite a bit more solid than me; I fumbled getting my feet into my shoes in the first mile, took a wrong turn and had to squeeze through a barricade a second later, then my quads completely seized up. The quad cramping is something I’ve experienced many times in races—they seize up after a few minutes of hard riding out of T1, during which I’m forced to ride easier for a few minutes until they release. Only this time, when they finally did release, I still couldn’t put out any power. I’d been riding with Tripp Hipple and one other guy at this point, and watched as they drifted away from me down the road.

20 minutes in, after I’d been passed by what felt like everyone who’d come out of the water behind me, I was only averaging 272 watts—a number that I’d been able to hold for over four hours during training earlier in the winter. My glutes were on fire and my knees seemed to be buckling outwards, as if I was on someone else’s bike. And that person happened to be 5’6”. 

At the turnaround, I counted that I was in 27th or 28th place (I can’t remember now) and my power was still dropping. I continued getting passed until I eventually conceded and sat up in defeat, wondering what the hell had gone so wrong. 

Photo: Mark L. Simmons Photography

I thought the problem might just be a seat height issue, but it was more than that. I’d had the bike built up two weeks prior, but had failed to take any measurements from the previous position on my old bike, hoping that I’d be able to get a bike fit the week of the race, which didn’t happen. When I did get a bike fit a half week after the race, we found that my saddle was nearly an inch too low, a half inch too far forward, and my bars were well over an inch too low.

But during the race, I felt like I should have been able to compensate for my position being off. So what if my seat is too low? I should still be able to push 300 no matter what! I began fuming at myself for being so weak-minded, and got back in the aerobars briefly to try one last time to put out some power. There was nothing there and my glutes ached abnormally in protest.

I stopped to pee, got back on and soft pedaled, got passed by a half dozen age groupers. I decided that I should just give up triathlon, but what would I do to fill the void? I’m not good at anything else. I should just go live in the fucking forest and abandon society. Just wander into the wilderness and never return. I figured I could finish editing my sci-fi manuscripts and try to get them published, but would that be enough to keep me satisfied? My rear tire blew out and snapped me out of my self-destructive thinking. After slowing to a stop and taking the wheel off, I saw that whatever I’d hit had ruined the tire—the long, horizontal cut would have to be patched with a “shoe” ( a piece of garbage or pre-cut rubber that fits between a tire gash and the tube). I dug into my bento box and found a gel wrapper and slid it between the new tube and the lacerated tire and crossed my fingers that it would hold. I still wanted to finish the race for the training benefit of the run. And besides, not finishing makes you (me) always feel worse than simply having a bad race and limping it in to the finish line. 

The gel wrapper shoe held. I stopped to pee again a short while later. More age groupers passed and I decided to go aero and match their speed. I got bored sitting behind one guy so passed him and started riding back up to the other guy, who was about 30 meters in front of me when I watched a wind gust knock him off balance. He swerved left, then right, then left again before fully losing control of his bike and hitting the median to his right (the course had us on the left side of the road/median). He went over the bars and slammed into a palm tree before landing back in the road, his bike somersaulting over him and spilling gels and Co2 cartridges everywhere.

If I’d been in the mix for a top 10 in the race and saw someone crash like he did, I doubt I’d stop. Maybe if it looked like someone’s life was in jeopardy…though I guess it would depend on whether I knew them or not. But here, already half an hour behind, stopping wasn’t a difficult decision to make. I set my bike in the grassy median next to him and told him to try and be still as he lay struggling on the pavement. Ignoring my orders, he managed to push himself up into a squatting position with his hands before quickly losing his balance and rolling backwards onto his back. I grabbed his shoulders as he rolled onto the pavement, keeping his head from slamming back into it. Well, at least he probably doesn’t have a spinal cord injury

He was determined to get back on his bike and finish, which was more than I could say for myself at that point. Insisting that he was fine, he got up and staggered toward his bike, which lay in the road a few paces away from him. I grabbed hold of him as he started to fall over again and forced him three steps to the grass median, where he sat down heavily—fell down heavily is a more accurate statement. I noticed that his hands were shaking, and his eyes were distant—a combination of shock and concussion that I’d seen plenty of times before.

A couple volunteers who’d materialized on the scene went to go get help while I stood over the guy and explained to him that his race was over, that he had a concussion, that it wasn’t worth trying to finish. “You could do permanent damage to yourself if you get back on the bike and crash again, or even push yourself while running. It’s not worth it. You can always do another race later in the year,” I argued.

Eventually a cop appeared and called for a van to come get the guy, who was slowly coming out of the daze he’d been in. He promised he wasn’t going to get back on his bike, which was broken anyways, and—confident that he was in good hands—I threw a leg over my saddle and pedaled the last three or four miles to transition.


Knowing how agonizing it is to “watch” a race on Ironman’s shoddy tracker from 1,000 miles away, and not really knowing what’s going on, I called Adelaide from T2 to tell her that I was alright and that I planned on finishing the race. I wandered through transition, at first jogging the wrong way, until I found the run exit. 

I lucked out by starting my first of three laps as the top four guys (Lioinel, Sam, Ben, and Matt) were starting their final lap, which meant that I had some loud spectator energy to feed off of. I wasn’t exactly being cheered for, but I was sort of next to people who were being cheered for, and allowed myself to absorb the positive energy. I immediately felt better, mentally, than I had on the bike. I even began enjoying myself somewhat.

I ticked off the first four or five miles in 5:26 pace, pretty jazzed about how my legs felt coming off the bike. I’d taken two hours and 45 minutes, about 20 of which was standing on the side of the road, but still—I was running sorta fast!

The motivation to push deep began to fade at the midway point, but I still held things together to come in under 1:15 for the half marathon, and grab about a dozen Maurten gels along the way for a later date. I enjoyed the afternoon with Kevin Portmanwith over a beer or two, then celebrated that night in my Airbnb by myself with a cheap order of fried shrimp and a chocolate bar that Adelaide hid in my bag. 


While the race went horribly, I took solace in the fact that it wasn’t fully due to a lack of fitness, just a lack of preparedness, which might actually be worse. Considering my 15 years of bike racing and triathlon, I had no excuse to show up on a bike that I wasn’t ready to compete on. I guess it did feel good to knock out a race finally. It had been a while. Considering that I ran track in high school, and rowed in college, I believe the 18 month gap I had starting in October of 2019 was the longest I’ve gone without doing some sort of race since I was 13 years old.

Next up is Tulsa. 

Degloved Book Tour

Degloved: A Conversation with the Author at The Open Book and Roundabout Book Shop

The Open Book

January 23rd at 6:30PM Mountain Standard Time (8:30PM East Coast)

How to Attend: Live streaming on Facebook

The first of at least two events this spring to talk about anything and everything related to my book DEGLOVED: Every Scar Has a Story. If you have a question you can DM me or write the question in the comments. We can talk about mental health, PTSD, why bikes are amazing, why community is an important aspect in healing, how to support one another through trauma, and how amazing the body is at healing. Haven’t read the book yet? The Open Book has copies!

Roundabout Book Shop

January 28th at 6PM Mountain Standard Time (8PM East Coast)

How to Attend: Live streaming on Facebook

Join Roundabout Books in Bend and Boulder-based author Adelaide Perr for an engaging conversation about her book DEGLOVED: Every Scar Has a Story, life, living with mental illness and overcoming trauma, and so much more. Discussion will involve a back and forth interview with Adelaide and her husband Kennett Peterson.

More Book Tour Dates to Follow (if you would like to host an event, email Kennett at kennettpeterson@gmail.com)

Purchase Degloved: Every Scar Has a Story

Past Book Tour Events

Colorado Multi Sport, November 11th, 2020.

DEGLOVED: Deconstructed: An ask-me-anything with author of DEGLOVED, Adelaide Perr. If you have any questions during the live stream, please submit them in the comments!

Video of event:

Six Years Later

Next Sunday is the six-year mark of a horrible day. A day that is seared into my mind with unfortunately vivid detail, yet at the same time seems like a foggy, incomplete memory of another person’s, like something I might have simply read about in someone else’s blog, or seen in a movie. I wish I could forget the feeling of dread—the lead weight that fell to the pit of my stomach as I rode over the blood-soaked pavement, heart thudding in my chest as I wondered if it was my girlfriend who had shattered the driver’s side-window of the heavily dented red Fiat, which was pulled off in the grassy corner of Highway 36 and Hygiene Road.

A few panick-stricken minutes later, when I learned that the cyclist, who had been taken to the hospital a half hour earlier, was in fact Adelaide, I rushed toward the driver, red rage focusing on his ugly, pock-marked face—the face of worthless old drunk, or so I assumed (and still do). I wanted to beat him with my fists and cleated bike shoes until he too was “unrecognizable”—the word I created in my head moments before as the police officer hesitantly described the injuries caused to “the victim’s” face after she had gone through the driver’s side window head-first. As I screamed at the driver, who backed up behind his two friends, the police officer stepped forward, preparing to hold me back. Instead of striking Russell Rosh down, I turned and ran to my bike, which I’d left near the side of the road. Fortunately, despite my anger, I still had enough wits about me to realize that getting to the hospital was more important than enacting revenge. From the hesitant description of the crash provided by the police officer, there was a good chance Adelaide would up being dead when I reached Longmont United.

But she wasn’t dead, and I proposed to her that night, despite the fact that she was unconscious. The flesh from the bottom of her lip (including her nose) down to her collarbone had been torn away, and every bone on the left side of her face had been smashed more thoroughly than what could be done with a hammer. One of her surgeons used more than 700 stitches to sew her face back up, and another six hour surgery, performed days later, was required to pin together her splintered cheek bone, jaw, eye socket, and nose. Adelaide remained in a sedated coma for five days during this time, and I passed the endless hours in a state of shock—too dazed to make coherent decisions for myself, make food, or even go on easy runs or bike rides by myself.

Adelaide’s parents flew out from Pittsburgh and spent most of the early morning and day at the hospital in the visitor waiting room, and crying by her bedside. My dad flew out as well to keep an eye on me. How many parents-in-law meet in an ICU waiting room? I took the evening and night shift, often driving home at midnight, and once at 6 AM, to cry myself to sleep in an empty bed—empty save for our puppy Maybellene, who helped lick my tears away before I would inevitably fall into a nightmarish sleep, only to wake up to an even worse, and much more real, nightmare.

I got through those days from the support of my brother and his girlfriend Joslynn. From my dad, and mom—and Maybellene of course. From the support of Adelaide’s sister Lydia and her fiance Jeff, and Adelaide’s parents Kathleen and Raymond. From the hundreds of friends, extended family, ex-teammates, and strangers that sent food, donations, cards, and messages of support to Adelaide and myself.

Eventually, Adelaide woke up. 11 days after she was hit, she left the hospital. That’s when the real struggle began, the long-term pain and suffering that a lifetime of endurance sports had prepared me for. How long does it take for someone to recover from an event like this? A year? A decade? I don’t know. I assume fully recovery is impossible.

Bike riding was instantly ruined for me, and I quit bike racing—the singular passion I’d held for the previous decade—altogether later that year, for a variety of reasons. Bike riding was ruined for Adelaide as well, of course, and she still suffers from PTSD to this day. With time, we began the slow process of recovery, but for every step forward, there was a half step back. I struggled with rage against drivers when I rode, depression from the lack of fitness I’d suffered by not being able to train, and of course anxiety every time Adelaide went out for a ride (or every time I went out to ride, as this would inevitably set Adelaide into tears as I walked out the door). We saw a sports psychologist. We each saw a therapist. Adelaide saw multiple psychiatrists. We tried to move on with our lives through triathlon, but the PTSD, coupled with Adelaide’s previously diagnosed Bipolar II disorder, made life extremely difficult. I’ve since read that people with mental disorders typically suffer extreme PTSD after surviving traumatic events, though despite this, Adelaide never gave up bike riding.

In time, more healing happened, and all throughout this, Adelaide wrote. She wrote about the hospital and the leeches that were delicately applied to her lip to keep it from necrotising. She wrote about the traffic court case, in which the driver, Russell Rosh, was given a small fine and a handful of community service hours. She wrote about how, in mediation of the civil case, the insurance adjusters sitting in a room down the hall threatened to use our blogs and racing results (this was over a year after the crash) as proof of Adelaide’s full emotional and physical recovery in order to reduce the severity of her damages. She wrote about the support from thousands of people in the cycling community around the country, and world. She wrote about her time in the Coast Guard, growing up in Pittsburgh, and years later testifying in front of the Colorado state legislature in support of a vulnerable road user law. In fact, Adelaide only stopped writing this year, when her memoir Degloved: Every Scar Has a Story, finally got published, five years after starting it, and nearly six years after surviving that life-altering, and nearly life-ending, event.

Adelaide wasn’t a writer five years ago. I considered her to be slightly above average when she first started—when putting together coherent sentences, in which one thought led to another, and another, and another until it all ended up back at the beginning to form one fully complete idea—was next to impossible for her. Most people would have quit and tried to move one with their lives, but just like bike riding, Adelaide stuck with it and pumped out chapter after chapter, even after vowing off the project for months at a time. She worked with a writing coach off and on for years, and wrote and rewrote tens of thousands of words in order to get the story just right, all the while continuing to train, becoming a professional triathlete, and working at other various jobs along the way. One of the many themes in Degloved is perseverance. Ironically, the book itself is evidence of that trait. Perseverance: possibly the single most distinguishing trait of Adelaide’s, and the one I admire most.

If you know Adelaide or I, Degloved will be entertaining at the best, gut-wrenching at the worst. If you’re a cyclist, a victim of a bike or traffic collision of any type, someone who has been diagnosed with Bipolar, PTSD, or another mental disorder, or a survivor of a traumatic event, there will be plenty for you to relate with in Degloved, and hopefully something to take away. It’s a heartwarming story, a reminder to pay attention when you drive, and a reminder that virtually everyone carries some form of emotional trauma with them—some carry it on their sleeve, others buried deep inside—but understanding and addressing another’s anguish, when they share it, helps bring us all closer together.

Degloved: Every Scar Has a Story is available online at Bookshop, Amazon, and a select few local bookstores.

High Lonesome Duathlon

In continuation of my mountain duathlon FKTs, I decided to “create” a new route (though I’m sure it’s been done before). I rode from Boulder to the Hessie Trailhead (via Sunshine, Four Mile, and Magnolia), ran the High Lonesome loop, and descended via Boulder Canyon. Total mileage was just under 70 door to door, with 8,500 feet of elevation gain. I kept my pace fairly moderate (it took 6:40 round trip) as I wasn’t trying to set a record, though I was certainly tired by the time I got home.

When the Boulder Canyon construction project is done (hopefully by next spring), I’d like to give it another attempt going straight up Canyon, and hopefully get it on the Fastest Known Time website to convince others to give it a crack as well. Enjoy!

PS: I know, I need to get some sort of device to minimize the camera shaking.

Mt. Audubon Duathlon FKT

After doing the Longs Peak Duathlon a few weeks ago, I decided to research other projects for next summer, just in case 2021 happens to be another non-race year due to Covid. Turns out there aren’t many established mountain duathlons, so I might have to create some of my own. But I did happen upon the Audubon Duathlon on the Fastest Known Time website. It starts right here in Boulder at Broadway and Lee Hill and summits Mt. Audubon, which is near Brainard Lake for all you cyclists who have no clue where it is (I didn’t anyways). 

The route: ride up Lee Hill, descend the backside, ride up through Ward to Brainard, and leave the bike behind at the Mitchell Lake trailhead for an eight-mile round-trip run/hike up Mt. Audubon, which has a modest elevation of 13,229 feet. Then you ride back to Boulder of course. Round trip, it’s 52 miles and a little under 9,000 feet of elevation gain. Originally, I figured this would be something for next year, but because of the warm fall we’re having, I realized it could be done sooner, “Like this week!” I thought. “Who needs preparation? I’ll just go for it!” 

The previous FKT stood for 18 years, which led me to assume that it wasn’t a very hotly contested record. Afterall, it’s not even a 14’er, so why bother amIright? But upon further research, I realized that the previous FKT (4:38 set by Kraig Koski in 2002) was actually sort of fast. He rode to the trailhead in 2:05, summiting in a little over one hour, ran down in 35 minutes, and was back in Boulder in just under 60 minutes. Most likely on a road bike with a backpack, pulling a wagon of beats to the market or something (that’s how I assume people back in 2002 made a living). I began wondering if I could even get to the trailhead in under two hours. I mean, I wasn’t confident I’d ever ridden to Ward without stopping to pee once or five times. Has anyone? It’s a pretty long ride to go without peeing.

While I didn’t feel like doing any training for the Duathlon, a few days before I made the attempt, I decided to scout the trail at the very least. But on the damn scouting mission, Adelaide and I ended up hiking to Little Blue Lake (the top lake in the above picture) instead, after setting out on the wrong trailhead. “I thought Mt. Audubon would be a little more mountainous,” I mentioned to Adelaide. So, I was off to a very similar start as my Longs Peak Duathlon attempt—getting lost at the trailhead and never actually summiting until ‘race’ day. 

Thursday, September 24th—I started the FKT attempt nice and early, with an 8:20 AM roll out after two packets of instant cinnamon apple oats, three pieces of toast, and two eggs with sweet chili sauce. As I rode up the base of Lee Hill, I agreed with my past self that I should have done at least some sort of warm up (I live about a quarter mile from Lee Hill and Broadway), but successfully kept my breakfast down and continued grinding away in the 42×28, my smallest gear. I think I made it up and down Lee Hill in around half an hour, which seemed like an okay time. 

My power dropped from there, and I spent the next 30 minutes calculating times in my head, hoping I’d at least beat the mark Megan Roche set to the trailhead (1:59 hours). She just set the women’s FKT a few days prior, and I was sort of blown away at how fast she rode, especially considering that she isn’t a bike racer or triathlete. 

Judging by the headwind I was fighting through Ward, I knew that whatever time I put in today would easily be beatable by my future self on a windless day, which put a dent in my motivation. I think I was looking for a reason to not bury myself, which is why I spent so much time adding numbers in my head instead of just going for it. Anyways, I ended up at the trailhead in an hour and 47 minutes after averaging 284 watts—16 lower than my arbitrary goal of 300. I hopped off the bike, locked it to the trailhead sign post, and tugged on my running shoes before trotting down the trail and fumbling with a bungee cord that I’d forgotten to leave with my bike. 

After stuffing the bungee in my pocket—I’d used it to strap my running shoes to my aerobars during the ride—I set off at a fast walking pace while I tied my windbreaker around my waist. I let out a groan and a curse at how slow the transition was going, then finally set off at a very slow jog. Shit. My legs weren’t working. I could tell straight away that they were tired from getting dropped by Justin the day before on a 10-mile tempo run. My hamstrings and calves already felt trashed and tight, and my quads felt super weak—not good, because I get about 98 percent of my power from my quads. I’m what you call a “non believer” in all the glute activation nonsense. 

Thankfully, the Audubon trail is fairly forgiving, and the FKT requires that you stay on the trail the whole time, unlike the Longs Peak FKT, which is “open course.”  I chugged along like a slow-moving tractor, steadily and letting out nasty exhaust from all ends. I was oddly unable to put myself into threshold due to sheer lack of willpower. But by the halfway-to-the-summit point, I realized I was going to be at the top in roughly one hour (from the trailhead) as long as the terrain didn’t get a lot steeper (it did). 

The one hour goal gave me something to shoot for, and I managed to summit in basically 60 minutes exactly, despite the steep talus in the last half mile. I tagged a pile of rocks at the high point of the flat-topped peak, refused to take in any view whatsoever, and began trotting back down the steep talus section. I took a backwards fall and caught myself with my hands, just barely. My ass didn’t make contact with the ground, so I assume this doesn’t count as a true fall, but I took it conservatively from there on out. Baring a flat tire on the bike, I knew I’d take the FKT pretty comfortably, and my body just wasn’t moving well today. I felt slow and uncoordinated, so I tried to just take it easy, focus on my footing, and not sumersault my way down the mountain.

Back on the bike (after a 38 minute descent), I flew down Brainard road, passing a few cars in the process and zipping through Ward without a moment’s thought of getting water at the faucet. I’d hauled two liters up on the bike and still had a full bike bottle left. Over the next half hour, I set the second fastest Strava KOM descent from Ward over Lee Hill, which must have meant I had a favorable wind because I didn’t do much hard pedaling, save for the backside of the Lee Hill climb. Even as I ground my way up and over Lee Hill, I felt sluggish and unmotivated, knowing that sub four hours wasn’t going to happen, and the old FKT was reachable even if I had to push my bike the rest of the way. 

I stopped the clock at Broadway at 4:10:20, roughly half an hour faster than Kraig’s nearly two decade-long FKT, and coasted home, tired but not blown to pieces like two weeks ago after doing Longs.

This record can easily be chopped to pieces by any strong pro triathlete in town on a good day, especially since Audubon requires no technical scrambling or talus skillz. It’s basically all normal hiking terrain. I’ll give it another shot early next summer and see if I can whittle it down by another half hour, which seems possible considering the half-assed effort I gave. Although, when you’re sitting on the couch writing a blog, it’s hard to remember what the effort really felt like. In retrospect it seemed easy. In reality, I’m sure it hurt. I guess that’s like a lot of races. You almost always look back and feel like you could have given a bit more. Maybe that’s life in general: you look back on even your finest accomplishments with shame, and regret the chances you never took. Or maybe that’s the way a try-hard ends a blog post: searching desperately for deep meaning—a concise one-liner that makes you seem wise and thoughtful—when, of course, there is no such meaning to be found.

Longs Peak Duathlon FKT

With Covid putting a quick end to the race season this year, I chose to focus on writing a novel or two instead of continuing to train. I did, however, manage to put in eight to 14 hours of training a week, for sanity’s sake, and came up with the goal of setting a new FKT (Fastest Known Time) for the Long’s Peak Duathlon, which involves riding 38 miles from Boulder up to the trailhead at 9.2K feet, summiting and descending Longs Peak (a 14er), and riding back to Boulder. I’d heard of this ‘event’ a number of years ago, and always thought it would be cool to do, but with racing, it just never made sense to attempt it. Now that my first manuscript is mostly completed, though I’m sure it needs a fourth round of editing, I decided to spend the previous couple weeks getting in passable shape to give the Duathlon a shot. I did a few four hour rides a few weeks ago, finally built my A-Squared TT bike up last week, then began scouting Longs for the route I was planning to take (the Cables route, which involves a pitch of class 5 scrambling).

The previous fastest time (6:55) was set a month ago by mountain runner Anton Krupicka, who beat his own previous fastest time of 7:05 from a few years ago. The following is just my report that I submitted to the Fastest Known Time website. If the writing sounds off, it’s because I rushed through it—aspiring novelists (and law blog writers) have to save their best writing for The Work.

My brother Galen, taken five or six weeks ago when he and Ryan and I did the Glacier Gorge Traverse, which kicked my ass like no other. 22 miles and 12K feet of elevation gain, with a ton of class 5 scrambling and a few extra sub peaks thrown in for fun. Galen left me for dead in the last six miles, and I limped in solo after Ryan cruely chose to do the same. This day deserves its own blog post, but alas, my novel writing and editing is getting in the way of personal blog writing. And my work blog writing too actually.

 

My total time for the Longs Peak Duathlon was 6:23:56 to and from the Boulder city limit sign. I didn’t take any other interval time checks, so the following times are plus or minus a handful of seconds each.

Bike up—2:11 and change
Transition #1—2 minutes
Run up—1:48:11
Run down—1:01:45
Transition#2—2 minutes
Bike back—1:18 ish

Started out late in the morning (8:00AM) with tired legs, and worries the Cables route was going to be iced over again. This was the third attempt I’ve done going up Cables. I didn’t make it up the other two times due to thick ice. Since snow and cold weather was predicted for the next day, I decided that if I was going to have a chance at even trying the Duathlon, it would have to be today.

I made it to Lyons in a little over 23 minutes, feeling okay but not great. Riding is my strong suit, but because of Covid I’ve done very little training this year. By the Peak to Peak intersection on St. Vrain, I was pretty upset with my time (1:25 I believe). I’d averaged 275 watts by that point, and was already feeling pretty bad. I was hoping to hit the Peak to Peak intersection at around 1:15, but the headwind and my legs weren’t cooperating. 

The new steed, ridden a grand total of two times this year (okay, so I just had it built up by Gav the Mechanic last week).

The wind grew worse as I climbed. By Allenspark, it was gusting at 30+ miles an hour, and I actually had to pedal down some of the steep hills to keep my speed up. I was considering pulling the plug on the entire attempt at this point because I knew I needed to make up an hour or so on Anton’s bike splits to be in contention for the FKT, and the wind seemed to have other plans in store. 

I got to the trailhead tired, defeated, and pissed off, but I had a fast transition time so decided to see if I could at least make it to the top of Longs for the first time on Cables (I’ve summited twice on Keyhole).

I finally figured out where the shortcut goat trail is, and took that up. Two climbers who I passed said that Cables was mostly clear of ice, but to be careful of the wind. I wasn’t sure what that meant, and continued trudging up the goat trail and hoping that I was going the right way. During my eight days of training for this, I got extremely lost twice taking short cuts while trying to figure out how Kyle Richardson and Anton Krupicka get up the mountain so incredibly fast (other than just pure athleticism and skill). My brother Galen, who’s a climber, put together an excellent PowerPoint presentation that gave step by step directions on the fastest route for me the other week, but each time I still managed to get lost. But not this time!

I trudged up the mountain with lead legs and fought 50 mile an hour wind gusts, yelling at the wind in frustration and having to hike most of it instead of run. But I made it to the base of Cables in 91 minutes—not bad for me, considering the conditions and how tired I was from doing the Keyhole the day before. I was happy to see two climbers rappelling down, thinking I could grab onto their rope if I slipped. Just kidding. They said the same thing as the other climbers near the trailhead—there was minimal ice. I slowed down and took a few deep breaths as I began climbing since I was super dizzy and breathing like a 90-year-old caged lion with asthma.

Because there was very little ice, climbing the Cables was a breeze. In fact, I realized that the previous time I attempted the Cables, I had essentially made it past the crux but didn’t realize it. I’d been a bit sketched out about having to do another pitch of what I’d just done, and I wasn’t excited about downclimbing with wet, slippery shoes.

I got a bit mixed up route finding to the top of Longs after I finished the Cables, but figured it out without too big of an issue and without losing more than a minute or two. I quickly texted my wife Adelaide at the top to let her know I was okay, then turned around without taking in the beautiful brown sky view that pretty much stopped at Mt. Lady Washington. The smoke was getting really bad at that point.

Descending the Cables was easy because, over the last week, I got used to descending on the outside of the crack, away from the ice. Because it was clear this time, it felt super secure. The two climbers that had rappelled down snapped a quick picture for me near the bottom (and later emailed it) and I made it through the Boulder field pretty fast.

Coming off the Cables (not pictured). Photo credit: Will Rosenburg

With the massive headwind that I’d been battling on the way up the mountain now pushing me down, I felt like I was flying at points. I’d never tried running down the mountain before because I’ve been nursing a bum knee all summer, but my footing was good and I didn’t take any spills, choosing caution over courage because at this point, I was getting confident that I’d set a new best time. 

I did get a bit turned around going through the Battle Mountain area and took a different trail than I did on the way up, but I ended up popping out unscathed, and I still hadn’t fallen (though I came close a few times). I flew down the normal trail and briefly got confused trying to find the turn after Goblin. Not to worry though, I found it shortly after, then greedily chugged water at the creek. I rolled both ankles in the next five minutes, made it to the big drain pipes at the bottom (chugged more water and filled my hand-held bottle again) and was on the bike after a two minute transition.

I gave a few hoots of joy ripping down the access road, knowing that, barring a flat tire or two, I was going to take the FKT. Then I felt that gut-dropping squishy feeling in my wheels. Shit, I do have a flat! I bounced both wheels up and down for the next half hour, paranoid that I had a slow leak, but it all ended up just being in my mind.

The descent down St. Vrain was fast and the wind was swirling like crazy. A few cars held me up briefly, but luckily they were speeding like everyone seems to do these days (the only time I ever condone a car speeding is when it’s currently slowing me down on a descent while I’m riding). I made it through Lyons and onto 36 with plenty of time to spare. Just under six hours I believe. 

I set a goal of coming in at under six and a half hours, just for something to focus on, as I was now dying a slow death of dehydration. It was around 90 degrees at that point, and I had a single sip of water left. As the minutes wore on, I felt sicker and sicker, groaning from the heat and thirst. I was still pushing out good power, and the wind was minimal, so I had no excuses, though I did coast a few times unnecessarily. I mainly made it through those last 20 minute by shaming myself for being weak and fragile and afraid of pain, and finally got through the Boulder city limit finish line in just under 6:24. At home, it took two hours before I could eat anything—I hadn’t been that dehydrated for years. 

Next summer I plan to give this another crack. With some good fitness, better trail knowledge, and perfect wind conditions, I think I can go under six hours. Possibly under 5:45 if I’m in race shape. A huge shout out goes to Anton, who has helped pave the way for this super cool event, and who set a high bar earlier this summer. 

 

This was taken back in May. It has nothing to do with the Duathlon. I just like it because LOOK HOW SKINNY MY ARMS APPEAR TO BE!

Photo credit: Galen Peterson

Adelaide, Maybellene, and I did an 18-mile hike last week to Gibraltar Lake while camping at Peaceful Valley. This also has nothing to do with the Duathlon, but it was a super fun hike! This summer has been, by far, the most time I’ve spent hiking and roaming the mountains. It’s been a lot of fun, but I do miss the regimented, monotonous, grueling swim-bike-run training and feeling super fit. I guess above all (at least when it comes to the athlete lifestyle anyways) I miss competition and a reason to destroy myself during intervals. Sigh. 2021?

Virtual Life

Summer is here, though it doesn’t quite feel like it for me. Lacking this season is a dark swim tan, the long hours on the bike up in the mountains, and structured training that I normally plan my life around. Gone too are BBQs, traveling to races, bike to work day, and margaritas at Wapos with friends.

While exercise is still a priority, it’s more for fun and mental health right now than ‘real’ training. I did have the opportunity to compete in Ironman’s VR10 race last week, which gave me a reason to train slightly more than what I had been doing the past few months. And, by chance, the VR10 race started out with a 3K time trial—just the serendipitous distance I’d decided to start training for, as noted in my last blog, two weeks ago.

Tyler, Joe, Andre, and myself went head to head (20 minutes apart) out on Eagle Trail on Thursday with a bike-mounted cameraman filming our suffering. Maybellene got loose from Adelaide at the 1K mark and tagged along at my heels for a hundred meters. After getting a slow start in the first half, I picked things up in the second half and threw down a 9:13 while narrowly avoiding a rogue dog attack by our friend’s dog Jack, who came at me from the side like a wolf ripping out the hamstring of a caribou. I kept on my feet and kicked towards the finish.

Go to @26 minutes and @30 minutes for the dog show/full race.

 

Tyler was five seconds faster than me, with Andre and Joe not too far behind. A few days later on Sunday morning, my stupid alarm on my stupid phone didn’t go off and I woke at 8:30, just 50 minutes before the start of the virtual race, which was to be battled out between our identical quintuplet avatars. With Adelaide and the technical support crew’s help, I managed to get all of the necessary screens, wireless headphones, smart trainer, apps, and other stuff figured out with 90 seconds to spare. There was much cursing and stress done by me.

The race began before I had the chance to realize that I was A) riding a trainer and B) riding a trainer in a virtual race—one thing that I suck at and another thing that I vowed, just a few months ago, to never do. But, with an ego to boost and prize money to earn, I guess anyone can be convinced to do the things they swear off…like meth and organized religion. And now here I am writing a god damn race report about it. Fuck my life has probably never been said more, or used more appropriately, than in 2020.

15 minutes into the race, I found myself actually enjoying the damn thing. I’d never ridden a smart trainer until a few days before the race, and it was currently helping make all the difference. Instead of sitting at a monotonous, boring, even grind like a normal magnetic trainer, Justin’s smart trainer, which I was borrowing, adapted to the rises and dips of the virtual race course. This seemed to trick my legs into thinking they were outside on pavement, and for once they cooperated on an indoor bike. I guess this has been old news for most of you, but I never thought riding a smart trainer and using a virtual course would be enjoyable. It’s the silver lining of a million people dying from covid I guess.

Anyways, I wasn’t quite sure how to manage the money primes throughout the 40K effort; the fastest combined run/ride time won the overall, so I made that my priority and gave the primes a decent effort, but held back on the first one to make sure I had energy to respond if someone tried to come around. Joe took the first prime, then I found myself in the lead for the remainder of the short race. I took the next prime, then Joe took the final one, then I won. Jesus Christ I’m boring myself to death right now with this virtual race report.

I did like the format of the event however, and the broadcasting is pretty darn good, I do admit. I watched part of it a few days later and Michael, funny as always, is insightful and entertaining. The footage of the run was great as well, and I certainly wouldn’t complain if I got invited back for another VR race this summer. Maybellene too. If nothing else, it feels good to be part of something to help encourage others to exercise and compete.

What else have we been doing? Adelaide and I have been paddle boarding, camping, attended Black Lives Matter protests, and have been working on our writing projects—her book Degloved is getting published, while I’ve been spending a bit of time writing the opening chapters of my own sci-fi novel. Yeah, I’m working my novel, damn it. And that’s not even a joke anymore.

The Black Lives Matter protests were certainly the emotional highlight, and lowpoint, of the last few weeks. On one hand, it felt good to show up in support of others who truly need our backing. On the other, it was gut wrenching to listen to the speeches about how we (white people) have intentionally or inadvertently made living nightmares out of the lives of the African American speakers.

I felt pride and shame at the same time when a young black man, who was not part of the protest, smiled and held up the peace sign at me as I marched past on Canyon Boulevard yelling Black Lives Matter—I felt pride because it felt good to be out there giving him hope that at least some white people do care about African Americans. I felt shame because I realized I haven’t really done anything to help end institutionalized racism. Even me being there at the protest wasn’t doing that much to help. Simply not being racist oneself is not enough. Being a democrat is not enough. Having friends or training partners of color isn’t enough. Donating to groups like the NAACP and showing up at protests isn’t even enough. By themselves, debating white people who don’t think racism is a problem and voting for candidates who want to create change aren’t enough (god damn it how is White Bread Biden the best person for the job?) Intervening with physical force when a racist civilian, or cop, harasses a black person isn’t even enough. Doing all of those things is a start, no more.

The average white household owns 10 times the wealth of the average black family, which is why reparations are needed to kickstart a new era of equality. Reforming the criminal justice system and completely dismantling and rebuilding law enforcement from the ground up is a start. Giving land back to Native Americans, education reform, and rebuilding our dilapidated social safety net is a start. These are hard to wrap one’s head around, because how does an individual have any impact on these huge social/political changes? Just like with global warming, ending racism seems hopeless. Maybe that’s why so many well intentioned white people don’t actually do anything. If racism doesn’t negatively impact your daily life, you forget it exists. So once a year, when it’s socially acceptable, we share memes on facebook and call it good.

Unfortunately, hate, fear, and greed—three of racism’s pillars—are much stronger than weekend [keyboard] warrior compassion. Hate, fear, and greed work 24/7, perpetually sharpening themselves day in and day out. Compassion is dulled with time.

Sorry, you came for a virtual triathlon race report and left with a human rights rant. Actually a pretty normal blog post for me.

Great COVID Success

Success is hard to measure, unless you’re rich. Then, under capitalism, it’s really easy to measure.

A month or two ago, I had big plans to replicate the training I did for the bike racing season of 2013. I went along with this for two weeks, even beating my November / December 2012 times climbing Sunshine—my main training climb that year—but things began to fall apart and I lost motivation to continue with this plan. It was encouraging to see that if I really wanted to, I could certainly get back to that bike form. But to really want to, I’d have to have concrete races on the calendar, which I currently do not. Ironman insists that there will be pro racing starting in August, but I have serious doubts that anything will happen this year at all. Of course, I’d love to do Boulder 70.3, Oceanside, Ironman Arizona, and other events in the fall if they do occur, but I’m not holding out hope.

Therefore, I need another goal other than just maintaining fitness or trying to hit arbitrary power numbers that I used to be able to do on the road bike. Instead, I’m going to try to hit an arbitrary running number: 8:40. My high school’s current 3K record is 8:40:63, so my summer running goal is to beat that. Does it get any more arbitrary than this? Of course! Which is why I also have the goal of sub 6 hours for the Longs Peak Duathlon, which is definitely still on the schedule. Due to snowpack, I think my initial hope of doing this by June is too soon, so it’ll have to take place in mid July at the earliest.

As for the 3K, I did a trial run—pun intended?—two days ago and came in at 9:25, which was 36 seconds faster than I ran the 3K as a sophomore in high school. I started out pretty conservatively, and didn’t have anyone pacing other than Adelaide and Maybellene cheering from the sideline, so I’m confident that with a bit of preparation and a pacer or two, I could shave off 20 seconds within a week. Getting down to 8:40, though, will definitely require more fitness, and speed work on the track. With any luck, two months from now I’ll be able to rub my 8:40:62 success in the face of Henry G., that smug 18-year-old bastard. High school records still count when you’re 34, right?

Even with these meager goals keeping me going, somewhat, I definitely haven’t been training at the same level as normal. Long gone are the weeks of 20+ hours. I’m lucky to get in 12 hours of running and riding lately. So for everyone out there worried that they aren’t doing enough, you aren’t alone. My guess is that most people are doing quite a bit less than they would be in a normal year. I certainly encourage those trying to get something out of 2020 and bettering themselves in the face of adversity (I’m also finally writing my novel, so I’m still trying to consider myself part of this group). Yet, it may be more reasonable, and sustainable, to simply just get through the pandemic without 1) getting sick and dying from Covid, 2) declaring bankruptcy or gaining 40 pounds, 3) becoming an alcoholic child abuser, or 4) becoming clinically depressed. With those things achieved, 2020 (and maybe 2021) would certainly be a success story.

 

Skyline Traverse

Yesterday Adelaide and I set off to do a Boulder tradition that, somehow neither of us had thought of doing until recently: the Skyline Traverse. It involves hiking and/or running all the major peaks—South Boulder, Bear, Green, Flagstaff, and Sanitas. In total, it was 19.7 miles and 6,000 feet of elevation gain. We drove to south Boulder and were on the trail by 8:00. My guess is that we ran about 7 miles total and hiked the rest. The trails weren’t too crowded and it ended up being a perfect day.

Top of South Boulder. Adelaide’s favorite of the day. Shadow Canyon is one of my favorite sections too.

Two down, three to go. Coming down Bear Peak in the background. This and the next few miles is the most scenic, runnable portion I think.

Kibble, doughnuts, Snickers, clif bars, and trail mix. And lots of water stops for the Hound.

Top of Green. Things were starting to heat up.

Heading down Flagstaff, which felt loud and crowded after the seclusion we had at the backside of Bear Peak. Not that I need to be reminded of how loud and obnoxious traffic is, but all it takes is spending a few hours in the quiet of nature to open your mind—or ears—to the intense noise that we live in every day.

Maybellene nudging for food and/or water. I think this was on Sanitas, when legs were beginning to fail.

Backside of Sanitas after summiting in the heat of the day. Maybellene was feeling the sun by this point. I believe it got into the upper 80s by the afternoon. We brought five liters of water, but had to refill at Ebin G Fine park earlier. In total, we drank 7 or so liters.

Goat trail to Linden. Almost there!

Nothing but pizza and cold soda on the mind at this point.

Coronavirus Goalz

Hello. It’s been a while. A long while back, I planned on writing up a blog about the training camp that Adelaide, Justin, Chris, and myself partook in back in March, but the coronavirus abruptly cut our camp short. Chris and Justin left early on a cold, drizzly Monday morning (okay it wasn’t cold or drizzly, it’s Tucson. But I’m trying to paint a metaphorical picture), leaving Adelaide, Maybellene, and I questioning what to do next. Our car was currently in the mechanic shop awaiting a new engine—it broke down 160 miles east of Tucson on our way there, resulting in the longest and most expensive tow truck trip of our lives—so we were stuck in Tucson until our beloved Prius was fixed. Also, we were closing on a house in Tucson later that week. Bad timing? Maybe. Perfect timing if you take into account the fact that our car wouldn’t be driveable until our Airbnb was long expired.

Back to that Monday morning five or six weeks ago: I rode my bike to the airport to pick up a rental car for the week, then we went to the pool for what would be our last swim in…months? Hopefully not the rest of the year, but we’ll see. On Tuesday, Adelaide, Marilyn, and I did a four hour ride on Mount Lemmon. I didn’t have much motivation myself so I sat on Adelaide’s and Marilyn’s wheel as they did intervals. By Wednesday I had a bit of motivation back, and somehow did a hard 10 mile track workout solo. I got another 10 miles of running the next day, followed by an interval bike session following that. On Saturday, we did a 3:15 hour 17 mile trail run, but by Sunday my motivation was gone again and I cut my planned 5 our ride short to 2 hours. I’d been writing a blog on “The Importance of Training Through an Apocalypse” but hadn’t finished it because I was having doubts about the actual importance of training at this point.

The following two weeks were rough, training-wise. Without races to train for, I didn’t have any goals or anything to look forward to. Adelaide was struggling to get out the door herself, and it just seemed like we were in limbo. Of course everyone was at that point—and still are—but we were in even more in limbo than average. After our Airbnb reservation ended, we moved into the house we’d successfully (barely) closed on. We furnished it with a table, two chairs, and a $66 single-occupant sofa chair, as well as cooking ware from Good Will. During those two weeks, we constructed a metal shed from a kit in the backyard, took Maybellene on walks, and continued working our online gigs. But our only real goal was to find a renter ASAP so we could get someone in to cover the mortgage and head back to Boulder. I was riding or running every day, but nothing very hard, long, or focused—the sort of training that actually makes me less inspired to train, depending on my mood. The sun was certainly nice, as were our many long evenings and late nights playing Ticket to Ride, but life felt very unfulfilling. I think I would have been more okay with this unfulfilling feeling had I not been living that same, pointless, time-biding life since I broke my neck in October. I had finally gotten back to full on training and my days once again had purpose by early March, only to have it taken away from me again a few short weeks later.

Back in Boulder, we struggled for two or three days to get into a healthy routine of sleep, work, and training. I think we’re both still getting there actually, though our states of mind have drastically improved this past week despite the off and on again shit weather. Training is also becoming more interesting again after starting to work on my two short term goals of replicating the bike training I did in the fall winter of 2012/2013 (which will be next to impossible), and working towards the FKT (Fastest Known Time) of the Longs Peak Duathlon (very possible). More on both of those goals in a later blog.

While some aspects of our lives have remained the same after the coronavirus shut down the world, because we work from home and are still free to run and ride, much has changed. I’ll just stick to training/racing for the intent of this post.

My training has always been driven by competition. Not having that competition—that event that could change it all to look forward to and scream out loud about during intervals out in the middle of nowhere—has had a big impact on my will to push and punish myself. I need hard daily exercise to feel happy, though. That much is certain. If I don’t do at least one bout of real exercise a day, I get depressed immediately. Despite knowing this, it’s still hard to really want to get out the door some days. I guess I will always need some sort of goal for my training/exercise, even when I’m done racing. Fortunately, there are always goals to meet and others to beat. Well, right now there’s no one to beat because we’re both strictly adhering to social distancing, but Anton’s FKT on Longs Peak and the 2012 version of Kennett are going down! Ha. As if I stand a chance against 2012/2013 Kennett right now. 2020 Kennett is a soft biotch.

I’m going to attempt to stay more up do date with my blogging, despite both of my grandmothers, who were my most avid readers, passing away in the last 12 months. Adelaide and I decided to let our Instagram die for the time being, so this will be my main social media training/racing presence for the remainder of the year.

Photo: Brad Kaminski