Archives For November 2014

Giant love

November 9, 2014 — Leave a comment

Today I climbed Giant Mountain. At 4627 feet it is the twelfth highest of the forty-six high peaks. I take the Roaring Brook Trail approach which is 3.6 miles to the summit with an ascent of 3375 feet.

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It is just below freezing when I start and I wear the winter hiking clothes I bought yesterday. My hiking shoes are heavier today with spikes attached.

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The trees are bare and the lower part of the trail is covered with frosty dead leaves. The rocks that just weeks ago were coated with wet moss are now encased in ice that the spikes grip easily.

I make a quick detour to visit the Roaring Brook Falls before rejoining the trail to the summit.

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It starts to snow and soon the trail is covered with a light dusting that tells me that no one else has passed this way this morning. I pause occasionally to take pictures and make steady progress up the trail.

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I do not see another person until I am nearly to the top when I step aside to let a young couple come down a rock face from above. They are returning from having spent the night at the lean-to on the far side of the mountain with gear they rented for the weekend. They do not have spikes on their boots and it is too slippery for them to walk on this part of the trail. Instead, they sit and slide down the rock together, smiling and laughing the whole way down.

I have the summit to myself. It is beautiful but cold so I do not stay long. On the way down I pause at the rock with the side by side slide marks and smile remembering how two people, clearly in love with each other, spent a few wonderful moments together in a wonderful place.

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A bench by a stream

November 8, 2014 — Leave a comment

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In early June, I purchased a new bike to use during the 2014 Lake Placid Iron Man and spent the last weeks of my training practicing on it, mostly while circling Lake Montebello hundreds of time. I rode it on the course once before the race, just before the road to Keene was re-paved. It handled well during the ride but I felt uncomfortable when riding in an aerodynamic position, especially down the steep hill leaving Lake Placid. My center of gravity seemed too high and way too far forward and I felt that the slightest mistake would send me tumbling to the ground.

The days leading up to the race were beautiful. An easy run on Thursday was followed by a short bike ride on Friday in perfect weather. A flat rear tire greeted me when I brought the bike out the basement door on Saturday morning. There was no clear puncture and although I thought I found a small piece of glass poking through the tire, I was not sure I had found the source of the leak before replacing the tube

I woke early on race day and walked to the transition area with my brother and a bike pump fearing that the tire would be flat again. It was pretty cold but the sky was clearing and I was optimistic that the predicted rain might not actually appear. The rear tire was fine.

I was at the beach early, trying to get towards the front at the start but ultimately only made it to the fourth wave. I did not wear a wetsuit and kept my sweatshirt and sweatpants on until the last-minute when I left them, never to be seen again, neatly folded next to a trash can.

I stayed far left during the swim and swam by the wet-suited competitors bunched tightly and colliding with each other while following the cable that connected the course buoys. It started to rain within the first 800 meters and with one half mile left the thunder-storm hit. I watched the lightning flashes as I breathed to the right side and the short delay before the thunder-claps told me the storm was moving towards us very quickly. I swam as fast as I could to get back to the finish of the swim course and waved to Kathy and Abby as I ran up the chute leading from the shore.

I spent a long time transitioning to the bike portion of the race. It was raining hard and the thunder-storm was in full force. I was soaked even before I mounted my bike. None of us were in a hurry during the fourteen mile ride down to Keene in the pouring rain. Once we reached the bottom the rain eased and the rest of the ride went by without incident.

I felt good at the start of the run. I was on schedule and certain that I could finish with time to spare. I ran for five minutes and then walked for thirty-seconds, guided by a Garmin watch that beeped on cue. I repeated that cycle fifty-nine times before crossing the finish line.

During the run I passed by a memorial to the 10th Mountain Division next to a small stream. I promised myself that someday I would come back and visit it for a while.

Which is what I did today.

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