It was a dry summer for rocks shows in Leadville. So its time to get back to what inspires me back down in the Front Range. While all the pot heads were out watching DMB @ Dick's, the real rock show was downtown last night at the Ogden. The Ogden is my favorite venue in Colorado. Yeah, Red Rocks, sorry. So Red Rocks is magical of course but you are lost in a sea of people. The Odgen is tight, small, and has a raised floor. Performers come and stand in the crowd by the bar after the show. I would pay bigger money to see my favorite bands there any day.
A late show with Seether, 10 Years, and Eye Empire was on tap at the Odgen.
I knew Shaun would be stage left as always so I opted for a spot down in front there. I love watching this guy perform. Songwriter, lead vocals, and lead guitar. I am in awe of the talent of these guys.
Oddly, they left some of my favorite songs out off of "Finding Beauty" which is a classic running album for me. Oh well. This was sort of an off-new-album tour so they played some stuff live that I hadn't heard live before. That was cool.
Shot a minute of video. Figured I was ahead of the speakers so the sound might not be to noisy in the recording.
The opening act was 10 Years. This is a band where I have picked up several songs over the years for but never strung them together as being from the same group. So it was really fun to see them for the first time and work through several songs I enjoy. They played a solid set. A few songs I hadn't heard so I will be picking those up to add to my collection.
Great show. Can't wait for the next one. There will be a special guest!
Got the training compound cleaned up on Sunday after a long month of runners coming and going. It was sad to shut things down and remove the flags. But its also good to move on. It rained hard Sunday afternoon. Glad that didn't occur during the race. For as wet as the weather was all summer, we got a brief window for great conditions on Saturday.
I got myself home in one piece to Longmont and quickly made an appointment to see my physician. If something is in the lungs, maybe he can hear it still. Luckily I got in today. He listened to my breathing and didn't see anything out of the ordinary. Drat. But I had a semi-annual log of this complaint that had him intrigued. After explaining the events of Saturday, he gave me the plan.
I get to carry this little sucker for the next month on runs. Experimenting as we go. First, I am supposed to hit a puff when the symptoms come on. I know exactly the spot on every run. Its about 1.5 miles in. I end up having to stop, cough until I cry, then feel better and move on. Takes about 5 minutes. This is supposed to cut that down or out depending on how quick I get in front of it. Once I establish the effectiveness there, I am to hit the puff before the run and see if it prevents the incident entirely. Report back.
I wanted to just have lung replacement surgery and move on but apparently we do not have that technology yet. So we need some data from this simple inhaler exercise. If the albuterol does what it does, it will calm that airway muscle and keep me breathing normally. That seems to be the clear way to diagnose -- if the solution fixes the problem, then you have the problem? OK. If that doesn't work, it can be a more complicated case. In that case, he will move me to their pulmonologist at the hospital. They have tests to stimulate different types of asthma flare ups in your lungs. I wanted to do that today. Like now. But my doctor is more conservative with your time and money so he said I had to run this through first. OK. Deal. I will start tomorrow.
Minus a little ouch in my right ankle, I am moving better than I have after any race ever. Hell, the Silver Rush put more of a damper on me. I never really worked hard in a muscular sense in that race. I took it easy to Twin Lakes, then couldn't do much on Hope Pass. Hoping that this inhaler does some magic, because I might have some legs to do something else this year in that case. I feel unsatisfied.
Spent a bunch of time catching up and congratulating friends. I saw some breakout performances and I felt great about what they achieved. Makes me feel positive that under the right conditions, I can once again jump forward myself.
There was also a lot of criticism going around about the race this week. Most of which centers around the fact that the race is too big for the level of support that is given. I was going to write up a blog post on it but I see others have more juicy stories. My race was more effected by me than the management. However, if we tell them, hoping they will listen. I have people telling me that they want to hear. So do that. Tell them. I posted a thread on RunLeadville.com for people to give feedback. I am sure you can do it on your blog, or Facebook, or whatever. But if we get some critical items outlined here, I will deliver to LRS management and asked for them to be addressed with all our names behind it. Power in numbers? Take a peek.
Trying to get back into the swing of things...
Well, that didn't go as planned. 60ish miles in 17 hours and change. I ended up a DNF at Twin Lakes inbound. Here is how the day unfolded...
Start to Mayqueen
The start was surreal to be there again. Felt like home. So many friends swapping best wishes. Before you knew it, we were off down 6th Street. I started up towards the front but quickly fell back with my intended slower start. Nothing hard. I just wanted to be in a nice easy gear to Mayqueen. Made a few stops along the way and was relatively calm the whole time. I hit the pavement in 2 hours and came through the aid station at 2:05. Felt easy and about right. Got some food. Dropped my light off in my bag. Opted to keep my layers on as it was still cold and overcast.
Mayqueen to Outward Bound
Got behind a pretty choppy line of folks up through the Colorado Trail. I was OK running all the ups but they were hiking. Lots of passing. Felt like work though there dealing with traffic. I have run that section basically alone before in the race. So this was odd. Got out onto Hagerman road and started trying to convince myself I should be eating more. I was getting solids at aid stations and gel in between. My mouth knew this was going to be a long day already. Climbing Sugarloaf I started having my first coughs of the day. Temps were rising and those changes always get me going. I had to pull over a few times to hack up a lung. People would stop and ask if I was OK as my eyes were watering from the deep coughs. This is just what I do, I would reply.
The descent down Powerline was easy. Had my Hokas on and knew the lines so I was just cruising down passing those that got me during the coughing ascent. Hit the road and felt out of gas as usual. That hill sucks. Pulled it back together and jogged into Outward Bound with a guy from my night run. The aid station at Outward Bound was meager. They weren't filling water with pitchers when I was there. You had to line up and hit a drink cooler. Took time. Oh well. Forced rest. I grabbed my usual fruit platter and was messing with my drop bag when I suddenly barfed up the bananas I had just eaten. Dang it. What's with that? I cleaned up and then proceeded to eat more fruit and then make my way out of there.
Outward Bound to Half Pipe
That road usually is hard but today I tucked in behind a couple guys and just tagged along the whole way. Ran every bit of it. Was pretty excited. Figured that would move me closer to my goals as I had never done that before. Ran through the Pipeline ad-hoc aid without stopping. Figured I would save minutes there too as that is usually a crew stop for me and I find myself whining about how this is going to be a long day. The day was heating up now on those dusty road to Half Pipe but I felt OK. I was leap frogging this guy and girl who seemed to be running together so I tried to keep myself within reach of them until the aid station.
Half Pipe to Twin Lakes
This is a fun section of trail when you are rested but I don't seem to run it as hard as others around me. I started getting passed more here. Oh well. I figured things would even out later. My stomach was in a knot by this time and my kidneys felt tight. I hadn't peed since forever. Only 1 on the run and we are 8 hours in or something. Not good. I was excited to pick up my pack at the next aid station to see if that changed my intake. Finally, bombed down into Twin Lakes. They couldn't find my drop bag. 492...492. Its green. What? Oh, the lady finally sees on my bib I am 429. My bad. Mentally, I was a bit slow. Did the walk out of Twin and saw a bunch of friendly faces telling me I was doing great and looked great, etc. I played it all off because it didn't match the inside view.
Twin Lakes to Winfield
The crux of the race for me. This is where I burn time every year. Would this year be different? 100 yards up the trail I knew the answer. It would be worse. I instantly went into granny gear and was barely mustering a shuffle up the hills. Streams of runners were blowing by me like I was standing still -- because I was a lot. I felt like I was suffocating. Just no air intake. My legs seemed OK but just didn't have anything in the blood to power them. I am a good hiker fresh. Heck, I can run up this trail fresh. But with 40 miles on me, I had nothing. My lungs were burnt. But what the hell else did I have to do? So I continued. The leader at that time, Michael Aish, came blowing by me on those good switchbacks down low. I haven't ever been passed so low. He was either going real fast or I was slow or some mix. Mike was yelling out to me how he was sorry he missed the night run because he had to work. When the leader of the race is apologizing to you during the run, you must be important!
I kept grinding. I would stop and pause and people would annoyingly keep telling me not to stop and keep moving. I need a break. Its not 3 AM and I am not curling into a ball. I just needed to breath. Finally I figured out if I did some stretching motion they would leave me alone. So I did that a lot. Suddenly, I see a guy walking down trail towards me. Its Tim Long. Son of a bitch. This only means 1 thing. He is done. He was. We sat on a log and shared misery stories. I was tempted to turn with him but figured I should continue on.
After an eternity, I got to the Hopeless aid station which is just before the summit. This place always looks like a MASH unit. Today was no exception. I grabbed a little chair and sat. They brought me a bunch of drink, filled my pack, and got me soup. I was content sitting. One of the medics came over and gave me the usual round of questions. We talked about my lungs. You have asthma. Exercise-induced most likely. Well, that has been my own Internet diagnosis too. But I am not doing anything about it nor did I ever factor it in. I just hoped it went away. Its not. It was worse. So she told me to get that soup down so I took one sip. 6 seconds later I turned my head and vomited it all out over the field I was sitting in. 3 more heaves until down. Maybe I will stick to this cola instead.
More friends were coming in or by. The leaders were now returning. I was improving and having fun chatting with folks and watching the leaders. They had a fire and it was warm. Finally the aid station captain came over. Lovely woman. Told me I had outlasted my welcome and I needed to stand up and go up or down this mountain. NOW. She was mean. Tough love. She mentioned to someone by her that she has done this for so many years that she knew the situation. So I stood and headed to the summit. I was a bit better and within a couple hundred feet of descent I was on a roll. High-5s to all my friends I was crossing paths with. I felt back from the dead. I was moving well down the descent. Never passed once. Passed a ton of people who were still hobbling down with sticks. Felt great.
Hit the road and popped into Winfield to find Justin Mock standing there. I am taking you back to Twin Lakes he said. This wasn't planned but I welcomed it. I told him it was going to be a painfully slow endeavor. He said he was ready. We went into medical for my weigh in. I was down 10 pounds. They said they would not stop me but they figured I was way under hydrated. When did I last pee? I couldn't even tell you. Mayqueen? Damn. Usually at this 1/2 point, I would pop an IB to perk myself up but I knew with 0 pee, that was just a recipe for renal failure. So I didn't. I always have fun talking with Justin so we did just that down the road.
Winfield to Twin Lakes
The ascent is so terrible. Such a small trail. People going both ways. My lungs were fried again. So the pace was slow. Former paces can attest. However, today I think I made a bit better consistent progress. Justin was not letting me off easy. No 30 second counts. I just shoved me back in line after I let faster people pass. It worked. We stayed conversational a lot of the way up too. Made the time pass. We hit the summit and it was chilly. But I was glad to be through with this pass for today. I was a bit more stiff than I thought I would be for the descent back to the aid station at Hopeless. Didn't bode well for the rest of the way. 1 IB would have fixed that. Not in the cards.
We pulled into the aid station and they were about out of everything. No fruit. No coke. Just soup -- but no cups. Justin improvised by pouring it into a water bottle. Since there was no food to sit and consume, we decided just to motor on. People were getting out lights at this point for the descent. Justin asked if we should get them out too. My lights were down in my bag at Twin Lakes. Oops. Never been here this late. Plus, there is a cutoff at Twin Lakes coming up and people were scurrying to make that.
We left the aid station walking and I took a sip of the soup. Within 10 seconds I was bent over heaving that soup back into the field. Something in that soup this year did not agree with me. Like a food allergy reaction. I just opted to tough it out and not eat and just get down. So we jogged for quite a ways. The darkness started setting in and it got harder and harder to see between the rocky sections for foot placement. Started walking at one point in there and that was it for my running today. We got into the field and crossed the river in the dark. Luckily the full moon was providing some lighting. We made our way across the field stumbling through the holes that exist in the trail. At some point, I see a green light ahead and a man with a bucket hat on. JT! JT was there to pace me to the next aid station. He came out looking for us. I gave him a hug.
We all chatted and strolled into the Twin Lakes parking lot. Never been there at night. All lit up and stuff. I then explained to everyone my decision. I am not continuing on. There were many reasons for this. One that last descent I had made up my mind. After the 2011 DNF, I told myself I would not do that again. Well, guess I was wrong. Here was the reasoning:
+ My lungs were burnt. They were not going to improve. That meant 12 hours of walking to make the finish.
+ I walked this in 2010 from here and barely made the cutoff at Mayqueen. I don't want to suffer for 9 hours to see if I get to walk 3 more.
+ The big buckle? It was way out the window. It was my goal.
+ JT is running the Pikes Peak Marathon in the morning. What a great friend to come out and support me today but I don't want him to trash his race because I trashed mine. I lost the chance to run with him when I failed to get here on time.
+ My feet were cold and wet and I had no change of shoes. This would have been fine during the day but they weren't going to dry by moonlight.
+ My kidneys hurt worse. I had drained my bag and 2 water bottles but I was still dehydrated.
We were about 15 minutes in front of the cutoff so we had made it but instead I asked them to cut off my band. I was going home. Luckily, Justin was too so he gave me a ride back to my house in his warm car with his dog on my lap. Its was good to be done.
I walked back into my house to find a dejected household. There was Tim fresh off his DNF. Out walks Nick P. who also DNF'd where I did earlier with massive hip pain. Then I look on the couch and Nick C. is curled up in a ball all nauseous. Granted he finished in 2nd place but he looked out of it. We sat around and swapped stories for a bit. Then the power went out. We are on a well with a pump so we instantly had no water or lights. When we really needed creature comforts, we were back in the dark. They didn't return for 12 hours.
Much thanks to Justin Mock for picking me up at Winfield and getting me back over the hump. He didn't judge (at least out loud) he just pushed me to keep moving and see how things went. After resolving to be so solo on this outing, it was instantly satisfying to have help and somebody in your corner. Then to give me the ride back home. I owe him one.
To JT, Katie, and Holly for sitting there as if they are my family and waiting for my slow ass to come into the aid station. JT would have went out with me and delivered a stellar pacing performance. I just wasn't comfortable doing it from any standpoint. I owe him one.
My Leadville friends! So many people with shout-outs on the trail. Some were introductions for the first time. Some were people I met years ago. The one that stuck with me the most yesterday was standing in the tent at Winfield. A guy goes..."Hey, your race reports gave me the desire to be here today". I hope he got what he came for.
Basically, I tried to run this race like I had here 3 times prior and get a different result. That was not smart in retrospect. The problems I have faced here are the same year after year and I fail to address them sufficiently. I just seem to hope it will be different next time. And it never is.
1. Lungs - I need to figure that one out. Its a daily problem for me now. I don't write about it because its become normal. I run a mile every day. Hack out a lung until my eyes water. Then feel 10x better. Then finish my run. Normal. I ignore that sign. I need to fix it. And I have no clue where to start. Probably a doctor giving me an inhaler? I will get on it.
2. Nutrition - Continues to kill me every time. Sugar is not working in mass. Leadville aid stations have shit choices for the rest. I don't know what to do next. I saw Clarkie with bottles of some new formula which seemed to serve him well until the end. I just need to experiment more. And I don't. I am lazy about it.
3. Step Up - The plan of not working harder than ever before didn't pay off. I saw other friends who stepped up their game and delivered the goods. Bravo. I did less and got less.
And...finally. This was part was coming regardless of the outcome of this race. I really hoped I could say it with a big buckle in hand. But that didn't work out. So with 4 runs here. 2 sub-30 finishes and 2 DNFs...
I am retiring from the Leadville Trail 100.
After 4 years of making this race the center of my universe, its time to pursue other things. Running or otherwise. For some friends that were pre-briefed on that, it was not shocking. Brandon, you know there are other 100s, right? Yes. But there is something about this one. But I am going to let that go for now. I may be back someday. Who knows. I didn't put my name in the Western lottery this year even after the amazing experience of 2012 because it fundamentally boiled down to 2 things: 1) I had nothing new to offer that race, 2) I wasn't interested in the time/expense of it. This Leadville decision is much the same. I need to step away and refocus. Maybe fix my hip which takes you off your run for a year. Maybe cross-train finally. Maybe I will get on a MTB up here. Solve some of that other stuff. Get faster. I don't know right now. But having a clean slate with allow me to consider opportunities.
Oddly, I came to Leadville to race in 2008 and now we call it home part of the year. And the stuff we do here that isn't about the races has become more fun that the race itself. Plenty of other trails to explore. Plenty of days to spend with family outdoors not having to choose between some boring long run and kids who are growing up too fast. I could go on but I won't. Hope it makes some sense to you. Does to me.
An' here I go again on my own
Goin' down the only road I've ever known,
Like a drifter I was born to walk alone
An' I've made up my mind
I ain't wasting no more time
Its been a year since my last 100 mile race. How time flies? Not really. This will be my 4th time to start the Leadville Trail 100 and my 5th time at the distance. I am still a rookie by some standards and a veteran by others. I still find myself somewhere in between. I have a lot figured out and still a lot to learn. This race is an evolving test of fitness, mental fortitude, and problem solving with a dash of luck. All of those things excite me. Until you are actually doing them. Then you question everything. Why am I here? Why am I doing this? Didn't I tell myself I would never do this again? Luckily, I have learned the lesson that those "dark" thoughts come and go. There is probably some nugget of truth to their genesis but ultimately they disappear quickly after the race. Knowing that is the tool that I use to make them not overpower me in the race. But those are all just tricks.
This year has been different building to this event. Aren't they all? Like 2011, I focused on only this race but even more specifically. I made sure not to peak in June like that year. Instead shoot for late July and see how it goes. I think that happened. I had a slower Silver Rush time but just after recovering from that, really felt fit. I will back that up with quicker times on my usual routes with less exertion. But more importantly, my weight. The seasonal drop came and I was suddenly and consistently holding down 147 daily. That's in the range of lowest weight since I started running. Frankly, I think that removal of diet soda played a part as well there. Giving my body actual calories when consuming beverages (when I partake) actually made my body stop craving sweets so much. For lack of a better analogy, diet soda gives you sugar blue balls. You take a drink and your body is ready for the goods but they never arrive. So you spend the rest of the time dealing with the insulin generated and craving other sweets. That has all really halted for me. I am enjoying the change.
The other change this year was that I stopped talking about running here. I don't know why. I was just burnt out on it. Probably some part of it was always trying to be "look at me". But in a good way -- that public showing on the blog of miles run kept me honest for many years. It kept me motivated. When I wanted to bail on that run or just do some pansy excuse for a run, I would think to myself...this isn't going to look good on my blog. I am not going to look like I am building. I better get after it. So it did motivate me. But it doesn't anymore. So it fell by the wayside. This season I ran more what I wanted to. I still got volume but not as much. I am not sure volume would have done much more. Probably more time with some specific training would have. But I only have so much interest in that. So I hope to be one of those runners with a good base who is more rested and is taking it comfortably. Those in my circle of friends that have come in like that have beat me here in years past and I shook my head. How? I worked so hard. Maybe I was burnt up by the time the race started. Or something like that. So I am trying it a different way.
Another big change this year is my attitude towards crew and pacers. I have enjoyed the experiences I have shared with all of those that have supported me over the years. But this year is different. I felt like a little more focus on my own race and not others would be good. As WS100 2012, we had to run about 1/2 the race with no crew or pacer access. It was different. I had a different level of focus. It was all on me. I got in my own head like never before. I want to do that again this weekend a bit. So my sister's familiar face will not be on course this year. So many people have asked me where she is. She is like a fixture here now as well. Maybe she will return someday. My wife just called and our daughter is sick. I don't need the plague coming in to effect my house of runners. So not sure what the plan is now as of writing this with her. Bottom line is that I have packed Leadville drop bags for the first time ever and I am ready to be self-supported through this race. It might cost me a bit of time fumbling through the bags but I might make up some time by not hanging around as there will be no crew to whine to.
For much of the race, I will be solo. However, my arch enemy and good friend, JT, will be running from Twin Lakes to Outward Bound with me. His goal is to slow me down he says. My goal is to drop him. It should be a fun diversion for me mid-race. But then I will set off to conquer those final miles in the dark solo. The end of this race is where I have lost my shit every time. I probably will again. But this time, I plan on picking it up a bit differently.
Finally, in the spirit of change, I decided to cut my hair to match my style this year. I had never done this before and it was kind of a thrill to shave it down.
So bib #429 as shown above. The live race tracking up here last weekend was rather good. Within 15 minutes of aid stations most of the day. Feel free to follow along. We go out at 4 AM Mountain Time Saturday. I hope to be done in the early hours of Sunday. The goal is clear this time. Sub-25. Then maybe, I can find something else to occupy my obsessions next year.
This is the least known of the Leadville events. A simple 10K run on the first 2-ish miles of the LT100 course. Up and down the Boulevard basically. I always think I will jump into it but a 10K doesn't seem like anything I need to do the week before a 100 miles. Plus, why spend $30 to run on a road that I nearly run on everyday when I am here. So I rev'd up the ATV and cruised back to the road to watch the runners come by. Nobody was there yet so I drove to the top of the Boulevard and waited for the herd of people to start funneling down. They did so I led them back down to my turnoff and then parked and sat to watch them come by.
Donnie came cruising by first and gave me some shit for not running. He is moving up in the Leadman standings. Nice work.
Then my boy, Timmy! He was in good spirits on the way down the hill. Hope it keeps up. Running in his trucker hat I see...
Then came 2 of my boys side by side...Andy and Cole. Cole giving me some shit as well. Check out his fancy sandals. Hard core. I am going to step on his toes next weekend.
Then Lisa...Leadwoman. Looking like she is having a great time.
Then this dude. I didn't know him but he had the most heat intensive get-up I have ever seen. Dude, I run in shorts. That's it.
Timmy made it back to me. Stopped to chat. Like an aid station or something.
Cole continues to give me shit on the way back up the hill. He and I have a date with a Big Buckle next Saturday.
And the grand finale...yeah, buddy! Minus the wieners flopping around
Last ass up the Boulevard? Hard to tell which one.
The next race in Leadville? 100 miles. Next Saturday. Be there.
At 6 AM this morning, I woke everybody but Kayla up to see the bike race come by our corner of Leadville. We bundled everybody up as it was only 30 degrees outside.
At 6:30 exactly, I could hear the shotgun go off in town...since I was listening for it. I directed the crowd that had gathered at the corner into formation and we waited the couple minutes until the bikes came by us at about 30 MPH downhill.
The pictures don't do this justice. The bikes are from the lead car to the horizon where the road turns. Then there are more behind that. Watch my video from 2011 if you want to see how impressive it is.
For about 7 minutes, bikes just come by and by and by. Its amazing. The wind picks up and blows you backwards from everyone moving by.
Then we went back to bed! I got a text later on that said JT couldn't make it up to crew Tim. Damn. Well, I watched the results coming in live pretty timely. I wasn't going to Twin Lakes. That's too far and its a mad house. So I opted to hit Pipeline and catch Tim there with his drop bag of gear to load him back up. Pipeline for the bike race doesn't look like the run race at all. Its like somebody had a sale on Easy-Ups.
Within 15 minutes, my rider arrived. I had to yell at him to get his attention. Got him fresh hydration and reloads on everything I had with me. Told him he was on pace for 9 hours. Somebody else had just said that nearby and he sounded smart so I passed it on. Figured it might keep him pumping. But he was bitching about bonking. Wah. Ride that bike, boy!
I sped back out of Pipeline like a maniac and caught him again along Halfmoon Road for a few more photos.
I was kind of in race fever mode now. So I sped by a cop and ripped into Powerline minutes later. Ran down to the bridge and waited. Here he comes again.
Need anything, I yelled. Nope. OK. Later dude. He had to then ride (or push) that bike up Powerline. Holy crap that's got to suck. Hiking it is not bad but pushing a bike up with bike shoes on. No fun. Jogged back to my truck and headed home to get my work done.
Check Tim's blog for his write up.
I continue to be intrigued by this race. I have no doubt with some specific training I could ride a bike again and do this thing. My lungs are there. My legs need to adapt. I need a bike with disc brakes. Then I just need to learn to sit in the saddle for 9-12 hours. I sort of do not like the fact that these bike dudes have something different going on here. I feel like I need to ride it once to get the full cred. Not sure if that means Leadman or just the bike race. Maybe its just worth doing Leadman given that's the only missing component this season. (The 10K doesn't count.)
Well, the runners saddle up next weekend. That's my rodeo. And I am ready to ride.
View all photos from this event.
Kim and I have been debating how to spice up our Leadville land. We had been toying with the idea of building some kind of structure for the kids to play inside of. Wanted something that would work year around. Kind of doubling as a snow fort in the winter and hang out in the summer. I was so close to buying some house looking shed at Home Depot many times. But we kept seeing mini log cabins but just never could price, justify, buy, whatever. Then one day I said, what about a yurt? They are here and there in Colorado. But I had a hunch it would be a ton of dough. And they are! Because they are often used as actual living quarters. That wasn't going to work. But something else caught our eye when looking through the yurt company catalog...they sell tipis! I am told I have some Indian on my Dad's side. So let's explore our heritage with a big ass tipi! They come in many sizes but somehow we settled on a 16' tipi. That is how its measured from door to rear. 14' wide across. Ordered!
Panic set in. The tipi was about 6 weeks out but where are we going to put it. I don't really want it on the dirt. I kind of want to get it up off the ground. Maybe we build a deck. So one night Kim and I researched decks and got a PDF on how to build a 18 x 20' deck. Time to go shopping! I brought my trailer how and started loading it up with materials to drag the 100 miles up to Leadville. I was hestiant that I could even do this at first so I bought a smattering of the parts needed to try and work through it live.
Instead of pouring concrete, we went with Dek Blocks. This eased a bit of my fears of the unknown. These can be laid out and moved. Nothing permanent. Just holds once you weight it down. Seemed like a good way for this rookie to build. So I needed 50 deck blocks for the foundation. Here is what load #1 looked like.
More gear the next week. I was building confidence now. This was actually getting kind of fun. Laying out the blocks was probably the biggest pain. Trying to level them on an uneven surface. We hauled a lot of dirt over and made pads and used a really big level for hours and hours trying to get the bubbles just right everywhere.
Once those were good, I started throwing the decking on. This was a fun day. Walking on top of it for the first time was kind of cool. It held me up. Duh. But I felt like I created that.
Had to get the decking in two total loads. Finally got to start attaching it and screwing it all together. It was coming together. Employed the kids to help me with a few of the pieces that took a lot of hands to hold straight.
Finally, I was decked out! Everybody said it looked like a big dance platform. But few knew what was in store for it next? Why build a deck in the middle of the forest.
Spent last weekend painting in between rainstorms. I was running out of time! After a delay, the tipi was due to arrive. It had to come freight because of the 20' long poles. A huge bundle of them. A bunch of other gear and a big canvas. Its go time.
I was pretty excited and rather than waiting for help, I dug in. The book said it takes patience. I was anxious. So I followed step by step. I build this V formation between the main 3 poles. You tie them together. Then you just stand it up and kick one of the legs out to form the initial structure. Them Indians were smart.
With the poles up, it was time to start measuring. This is the only part where they give you some dimension. The distances between the poles. I was moving leg by leg to center it on the deck into its permanent home. Then you just lay the poles up on top going in a circular fashion. Once done, you just walk around the bottom with rope and tie it all together. At no time do you ever have to get off the ground to do anything. But I keep using my ladder to look up and inspect my work.
This next part was the hardest. Putting the canvas on. Basically you attach the canvas in one spot to a single pole and kind of stand it up in the air like a flag and throw it into place. That canvas is really heavy so having in on this pole and trying to basically mimic a pole vault type operation with the canvas was not easy but I got it solo! Then I realized I had the canvas on inside out. Oops. Had to do it again. In the rain. You can't stop me now.
I spent the final hours putting the door on, then bolting the legs to the deck, and then roping the canvas down to stretch it tight like a drum. All in all, its done now. We are short the inner liner that comes down and gives you the final foot of coverage to the floor. That's more a cold weather feature though. Should be in soon. Now, we just need to finish up the insides a bit. We have a fireplace in there. Putting some rugs inside. Probably some furniture of some sort. I even have the ability to run power out to it so any visiting Indians can charge their iPhones...or get some light at night. I am sure its going to be pimped out soon.
I feel like my summer projects of building have come to a close. Deck. Tipi. Treehouse. Zip line. Just in time. I have to go run next weekend...but after that maybe I can figure out something else to build!
I was trying to be a good boy and wait until I see them in November but it was killing me so I had to. Nine Inch Nails at Loolapalooza! I am so glad to have TR back after that hiatus. He is genius.
Check out the visuals at 42:00 for Closer.
After the recent completion of the tree house, I realized we had just built a nice launch platform for a zip line. So I quickly ordered up a nice 100' kit and was excited to install it. Turns out there was a nice big stopping point tree just 95 feet away. So I rigged it up between that tree and the tree house and we got going. The kids were tentative at first. They would get on and pull themselves upstream and then let go. Finally, I got them up in the tree house to launch and that's when the fun began! They ended up riding for probably 8 hours. All I could hear from the house were screams of terror and delight. Ended up being a pretty cool addition to our growing set of toys in Leadville!
Take me to the launch platform!
Even the little people get to ride!
My favorite ass man, George Zack, returned to Leadville today to defend his win last year. But Speedy Jack had other plans apparently today. We caught up with them near the end of the course and followed them in. Regardless of the outcome...and the crappy weather at the end...George always has a smile on and love to play to the fans. Great work, dudes.