Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Tie that Binds

The tie that binds; the cord that connects.

Climbing partners are life-long friends, especially one's early partners.

The climbing partners that survived the "apprentice" years with you remain your closest buddies even if you don't climb with them any longer.

People who climb together have a certain connection that's difficult to explain to other folks.

Sure, climbing rock & ice is great fun. Traveling together to the mountains, the first beer after a tough day at the cliffs, seeing a woman on the rocks (in the early days, ~1980's, that was uncommon), all add to a strong friendship.

But it's the tough times that seal the deal.

Holding a long leader fall, surviving a 100+ mph winds/-40F below bivy together, wondering if the belay anchor is going to hold, down climbing in the dark with no headlamps or moon, this is what makes climbing partners stay "roped up" thru life.

So give your old climbing buddy a call sometime.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


May 1982 - "Catharsis" - 5.6 - Pok-o-moonhsine - New York

They say that you're a product of your 1st climb.

I love climbing slabs because it's all about technique. Solid technique leads to a strong mind, which needed for the long run-outs (a common feature to most slabs).

In other words, the little (& weak) guy can be a star on the slabs. No big arms needed here, just some strong calves that you already have from cycling.


If you lean in and reach high for the holes, your heels will come up and it's "good bye baby, got to go." You'll be in for a nice downward slide for sure.

So it's simple:

1) lean away from the rock

2) heels down

3) don't over reach for the holes - think baby steps.

Also, slab climbing is all about keeping your rhythm.

"Objects in motion, tend to stay in motion."

In order to find your groove, you definitively need to climb with your eyes. Look at your feet & keep motoring upwards. Don't worry about the pro, it just slows you down.

Less Gear!

Another reason why I love slabs is because less gear is needed. Most slabs lack good pro, so just carry a light rack, which is always a good way to travel.

As I always say, "Faith in equipment replaces faith in oneself."

Finally, check out John Long's "Face Climbing" book. John is one of my favorite writers. He's has tons of great stories out there (check him out).

Have fun on the slabs & remember - heels down.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

USE IT or LOSE IT (Part 2)

Yesterday I wrote about slimming down to increase speed.

Here's another tip -> have your bike go on a diet, too. Strip it down to the bare bones and convert it to a one-gear bike (fixed/ss).

More math:

Skinny rider + 1-gear bike = FAST (and cheap, too)

Roger that!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


"I get embarrassed when I see how slim I was." - Eddy Merckx

In search of a light weight bike, some folks may spend $2000, $3000, $4000 or even $5000. If you got the cash and can buy a nice SEVEN or IF, God bless you.

But if you are like me, "baby needs new shoes" and you can't depart with 5 bills from your wallet.

No problem, I got you covered man.

It all comes down to basic math, or New math, depending on when you went to Grade school.

The equation is:

Total weight = wt. of bike + wt. of rider

The weight of the bike is a constant; the weight of the rider is the variable.

So no need to buy that new S-Works, just lose some weight.

This year I made a big effort to drop some pounds. I went from 165 lbs to 152 lbs.

Did my performance improved? Heck, yeah!

I was able to climb hills like I was wearing the polka dot jersey (not really) and run thru the woods like a deer being chased by my dog (not really). But I was faster for sure and felt better, too.

Look at Lance.

Pre-cancer: ~ 170 lbs and some change
Post-cancer: ~ 158 lbs or so

Enough said there.

How did I do it?

Well, I had a shake for breakfast, a shake for lunch... (just pulling your leg).

This was (and still is) the plan:

1) I drank lots of water to feel full.

2) I cut back on my weekly intake of Pop Tarts.

3) I eased up on my beloved dark beer.

4) I ate only 1 P&J instead of 2 P&J's for lunch.

5) I swim lots of laps in the pool and rode Gelato (my Pista) most weekends.

You know the story: burn more calories than what you eat.

Output > Input

However, there is one downside to being mean & lean. Since I have yet to buy a wetsuit, I usually exit the swim leg of a tri shaking like Little Richard. But that's OK. I usually catch up to the wetsuit people somewhere on the hills.

Ease up on the ice cream this winter and you'll be 1 step of the pack come Spring time.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

It Ain't so Regular (Route)

Every beginning rock climber needs a great first lead. One that's within their ability, but also has a good "sharp end" factor attached to it.

If you are a Northeaster like me, look towards the Adirondacks (ADK) for such a route.

The Regular Route (5.5, 700 feet, protection OK for a slab) is such a route. It's located on Chapel Pond, Keene Valley, ADK, Upstate NY.


Well, it's a nice long slab climb that's not too hard for a beginner, but the protection in some places is lacking. So, you get some fun run-outs along the way to keep you on your toes. And getting down from this route takes a little route-finding skills.

Slab climbing is all about technique. No strong arm bull crap climbing here. Keep your heels low and lean away from the rock. And when the pro is not there, keep your head together.

"Free your mind & your ass will follow."

At the height of my climbing ability, which wasn't much, I climbed this route by myself, only dragging a 9 mm rope & some webbing. What a great experience for a young kid that I was at the time. To this day, I still love this "regular" route.

So, pick up a copy of Don Mellor's guidebook (Don was my original climbing instructor way back in 1982) and hit this route, beginner or not. Make sure it's in the Fall when the leaves are bright and the air is crisp. Weekends are a bit crowded these days, so be there on a weekday.

And don't bring a big rack. A small rack of nuts, hexes & some Friends will do. And like any ADK climb, bring lots of webbing.

Towards the top, I recommend you follow the left facing corner.

And if you are not a beginner and have some experience under your chalk belt, this is a great girl friend (or boy friend) route.


Saturday, September 01, 2007

Blurred Vision

Be it a local mt. bike race or blowing thru rush hour traffic in mid-town on your fixed, racing is a blur. Your little world becomes fuzzy as you are flying thru trees or passing cars. You're not making the best decisions. You're like, "screw this, I'm just going to bomb this hill without hitting my brakes" or "I'm going to past all of this traffic by blowing up the double yellow line." You're taking risks and you just don't care if self-damage occurs.

May be your brain is starved for O2, so it's not functioning properly. Who the hecks knows?

I personally love that "racing blur" sensation. That's why I race.

It's like you are almost in another time zone. You don't remember much about your surroundings. All you remember is the hard, physical effort of pushing yourself.

I'm not sure if this makes sense to most people, but if you race or try to outrun the traffic, you know what I talking about.

Just keep your head up.