A look back at 2014

Well it happened yet again, another year has come and gone.  My year was filled with plenty of travel, adventure, work at The Cycling House, racing and of course fun!  For the first time in nearly a decade I did only 1 triathlon.  The break from racing triathlon was a healthy way for me to re-kindle my passion for triathlon and I’m excited to be racing Ironman in 2015!  Instead of a full run down of my year here a few of the highlights.  In 2015 I plan to get back on the blogging train with updates, race reports and training tips. Here we go….

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I completed my 7th year working at The Cycling House!  I love working at The Cycling House and I feel fortunate to have a job that I’m incredibly passionate about.  I get to work with my best friends and I have learned so many invaluable lessons, skills and grown as a person because of my involvement with TCH. I also have the best boss in the world; Owen Gue, and I’m stoked to be able to work for and learn from one of my best friends.

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I was lucky enough to work in Mallorca, Spain for the 4th year with The Cycling House for some amazing trips.  My travel to Europe has been a huge perk of the job at TCH!  Afterwards my co-worker; Zander, and I traveled through the Spanish Pyrenees in a VW Eurovan.  Traveling in a foreign country and experiencing their culture is something that I really love!

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I raced in 2014 but instead of triathlon I toed the line at a few mountain bike races and ultra running events.  My focus was The Rut Run, a 50 kilometer mountain run in Big Sky, Montana.  The race was amazing!  I also ran the Phoenix Marathon, North Face 50 miler in Park City, Utah and New Hampshire 100 mountain bike race.

One of the highlights of travel this year was a 4 week bike touring trip with 4 close friends through Ecuador.  Letting go and gripping the handlebars of a bicycle with all of your belongings is a very liberating experience.  We logged over 1,000 miles of cycling through some beautiful terrain.  Ecuador encompasses a diverse topography with immense beauty that begs for adventure. More to come on this epic adventure…

Orange Crusher rocked the United States!  I made many short micro-adventure trips in Montana and the NorthWest.  We conquered; Arizona, California, Utah, Nevada, Washington, Idaho and Oregon in 2014.  GoWesty has helped me keep Crusher running like a top!  As a good mechanic once told me; “Your not fixing a VW vanagon you are restoring it and it is all about the journey.”  My travels in Crusher have provided a new sense of adventure off the beaten path.  I look forward to another year traveling the country in my beloved 1990 Orange & White Vanagon named, “Crusher.”

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Along with all the travel above I managed to get in a great vacation with my beautiful girlfriend; Bri Lui, in the British Virgin Islands, Florida and California.  I’m incredibly fortunate to have the most supportive, fun, beautiful gal around!  Best of all she is now a licensed Physician Assitant and she got a job in Missoula.  I’m super proud of Bri and so happy to have her in my life!

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Needless to say, 2014 was jammed packed and 2015 is looking to be another fun filled year.  Here we go….

Heading South

My annual pilgrimage South to Tucson, Arizona has been routine for the past 6 years.  Every year I head down South for a season of work as the camp director at The Cycling House.  After a summer of travel, racing and adventures the Southern migration was a warm welcome; literally.  The cool temperatures in Montana quickly remind me that it is indeed time to head south. 

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We hosted 3 weeks of mountain bikes camp this fall, two weeks in Crested Butte, Colorado and one week in Missoula, Montana.  The trails were a much needed change after pounding the pavement all summer racing triathlons.  I had few weeks of true fall in Montana and was able to get out on some epic adventures before I pointed Crusher South.  One of the highlights was an all day hike in the Swan range with my high school buddies.  We headed out with full intention of slaying an elk although only one of us had a gun but I think we would all agree we were there to catch up with each other and get epic in the mountains before real winter conditions set in.  The adventure was the perfect fix and I think we all received some level of discomfort as we scaled a nearly vertical chute full of snow and ice to the knife edge ridge below Holland Peak.  To final icing on the cake was watching two wolves traverse a ridge after we startled them in the hanging valley below Holland Peak.

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I started my annual pilgrimage in Crusher and made what has become a normal stop in Moab, Utah for the trail 1/2 marathon USATF national championships.  I was able to get in some good training leading up to this race although I did have a scare with my back after it seized up while mountain biking in Durango, Colorado.  My back was near 100% for the race and I was ready to give it my all as I toed the starting line.  I had a good position leading into the first big uphill and a group of runners quickly established a bit of a gap. Their pace was a little to hot for me and I eased into a pace that seemed manageable.  I finally crested the top of the climb after nearly 3 miles of uphill and was hanging around top 10 when a few runners passed me.  They blew by me and I fell like I was running in quicksand, well I was running in sand but the pace they were holding seemed very hot!  I stayed positive and focused on my race.  I hit the first big downhill and was cruising on the technical section when all of a sudden I caught 4 runners and passed them on a hairy technical section.  Moab had received a good amount of rain and the last section of the race followed an old riverbed.  At times the water was waist deep and I embraced the conditions and passed a few more guys and advanced to 5th place.  I exited the water and pushed my pace up a steep climb towards the road.  The road was slight downhill and I could see 4th place off in the distance.  I buried myself on this downhill, digging deep and embracing the lactic acid that had built up in my legs.  I nearly caught 4th place but the final technical water section left me with no place to make my move.  I settled for 5th place and was satisfied after giving it all that I had!  I hung at the awards briefly after the race and drove the remainder of the way down to Tucson to start the move in process at The Cycling House.

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The move in process to a new house is always an interesting process, the 6 days I spent moving were a bit of a time warp. I was ready for a break and the USATF trail 50k national championships was just the fix I needed.  I knew I was a little ambitious racing back to back weekends, but the lack of long runs and quick turnaround was not going to hold me back.  Fortunately I had found a cheap ticket to Las Vegas so that Crusher could get some rest after our cross country voyage.  I flew in the evening before the race and camped at the race venue.  I had been to the venue several years ago while working the outdoor demo at Interbike with Hammer Nutrition.  The trails were dry, technical and had some very good varying terrain.  My lack of running mileage would be the limiting factor so a let a group of 15 get a lead on me in the early miles of the race.  I settled into a manageable pace and knew that if I was going to finish well in this race I would need to be smart with nutrition.  I carried a handheld water bottle with Hammer Fizz in it and 5 Hammer Gels, I was also happy to know that Hammer Nutrition would be out on course as a nutritional sponsor.  I chugged along and caught a few guys as they began to fade and I continued to maintain my pace.  I was happy to refill with Hammer Heed as the temperatures crept up and my body craved more electrolytes.  I ended up finishing 10th place,  satisfied with the result I had completed my 2013 season.  I flew back down to Tucson to begin the season with our 2nd annual El Tour De Tucson training camp.  The camp was a huge success and the 2014 season at The Cycling has begun, up next we have our 2nd annual Moots bicycle company training camp.

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I have quickly embraced the Sonoran desert and my sunset runs quickly reminded me exactly why I love this place.  Up next will be the Rock & Roll Phoenix marathon in January.  Below are my results from the season.  A huge thanks to all of my sponsors; Hammer Nutrition (Title Sponsor), The Cycling House, Zoot Sports, Nashville Hip & Fracture, GoWestyMountain Khakis, Kali Protectives.

2013 Season Results

  • Coldwater Rumble 50k; 1st place
  • Grizzly Triathlon; 4th place
  • Lifetime Fitness Leadman; 12th place (got lost!)
  • Wildflower Triathlon; 23rd professional
  • White Mountains Half Ironman; 1st place
  • New England Tri-Fest; 1st place
  • Newtown Triathlon; 2nd place
  • US Mountain Running Championships; 24th place
  • Ironman Lake Placid; 61st place (sick)
  • Cigna 5k; 16:29
  • Xterra Stoaked; 1st place
  • Timberman 70.3; 11th place
  • Rev3 Maine; 34th place
  • Whitefish Legacy 20k; 1st place
  • Mount Sentinel Hill Climb; 5th place
  • USATF Trail 1/2 Marathon National Championships; 5th place
  • USATF Trail 50k National Championships; 10th place

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Fall in the Mountains

Nearly two months have flown by since I departed the east coast bound for Montana so it must be time for an update.  Crusher killed the drive from New Hampshire back to Montana.  A huge thanks to GoWesty for helping get Crusher even more road worthy! A few other essentials for a drive of this magnitude was my Zoot compression socks and REM caps (natural sleep remedy) so that I was able to get good sleep on the road.  I was lucky enough to have Bri join me for the drive and a few days in Missoula before she had to get back to school.  It was great to be back in the center of the universe (Missoula, Montana) for a few days before I departed for a few weeks in Colorado.

 

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Crusher cruising the USA!

The Cycling House had two mountain bikes on the calendar in Crested Butte, Colorado.  I have done a ton of traveling but Crested Butte ranks amongst the top for mountain towns.  The small town in nestled off the beaten path and is touted as, “the last great colorado ski town.”  The town sits at 9,000 feet and Mount Crested Butte (ski area) extends to just over 12,000 feet.  The area is surrounded by beautiful mountains extending to nearly 14,000 feet and it has been deemed the Colorado capital of wildflowers.  The town has just under 1,500 residents and is 30 minutes North of Gunnison which is home to Western Colorado College.  The area surrounding Crested Butte offers some of the best high alpine mountain biking in the country.  The area has many miles of beautiful single-track trails with breathtaking views.

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Crested Butte, Colorado

We hosted two one week mountain bike camps and had an excellent home base on Mount Crested Butte with amazing views!  In just over two weeks of cycling we rode the majority of the premiere trails in Gunnison county.   After a summer spent almost entirely on a road bike it was nice to be in the mountains ripping trail on the old mountain bike.  The campers all made major improvements and by the end of the week everyone was riding the trails with confidence.  I highly recommend Crested Butte as travel destination for anyone interested in epic high mountain single-track adventures.  After just over two weeks of camps it was time for our next adventure in Colorado.

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Chef Drew drove Owen, myself and another friend South of Crested Butte to Lake City, Colorado.  We had planned a two day bike tour to Durango, Colorado for a friends wedding.  The two days of mountain bike touring were amazing!  We topped out on Cinnamon Pass at just over 12,500 feet and had some amazing desolate dirt roads.  Our first day went from Lake City to Silverton covering 40 miles and 4,500 feet of climbing.  The second day went from Silverton to Durango covering 50 miles and 3,000 feet of climbing.  We had a few good days in Durango and I got in a few good rides and runs.  Unfortunately on the wedding day I strained my back pretty bad and was a little laid up.  The wedding was a beautiful fall wedding and I found a temporary remedy for my back but that is a whole other story:)  Congrats to two great friends; Andy & Allison Schultz!  After a great 3 weeks in Colorado it was time to head back to the center of the universe for our first ever Missoula, Montana mountain bike camp.

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Lake City to Silverton

The inaugural Sam Schultz Montana mountain bike camp was a huge success.  We were able to share our favorite Missoula rides with our campers. We lucked out with weather and had 4 amazing blue bird days.  A highlight of the camp was riding Snowbowl Overlook to Stuart Peak.  At the wilderness boundary to Stuart Peak we ditched our bikes and hiked to the top of the snow covered peak.  The camp ended with some Moscow Mules in TCH branded copper cups (Thanks guys) and everyone departed tired, content and with smiles on their faces.  

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Whitefish Legacy Run

Unfortunately our 3 weeks of mountain bike camps came to an end but it gave me some free time for adventure before I head down to Tucson for our November camps.  We still have a few spots in our El Tour camp so click on the link if you are looking for a November vacation.  After nearly two months without racing I toed the line at The Whitefish Legacy 20k.  I was all ready to go for the Grizzly Ultramarathon 50k but my back was not quite ready for the strains a 50k would place on it so I settled for 30k less.  I ran the Whitefish Legacy 20k last year and absolutely loved the trail race and the cause that it goes towards. The Whitefish Legacy Partners has already built nearly 40 miles of beautiful single-track just West of downtown Whitefish.  The non-profit has plans for many more miles of single-track trails and is quickly becoming a destination for mountain biking.  I had a great race and my back held up and I was able to get the win.  Up next is Rolling Thunder cyclocross race, The Mount Sentinel Hill Climb, Half Marathon trail running nationals in Moab, Utah and the 50k trail national championships in Henderson, Nevada.  I hope everyone is enjoying fall!