Fitness & Adventure

Pony Xpress 160 Race Report

The following is an account of my experience in the Pony Xpress 160—an endurance gravel race in southern Colorado—on May 16, 2015. Enjoy.   *********************************** Minus 34.   No, that wasn’t the temperature at the start of the second annual Pony Xpress 160. And no, it’s not the answer to a math problem involving the number of beers remaining after X number of cyclists finish a gravel race. In this context, minus 34 is much more profound. It is a number that will shock and awe. A number that should never be found in the report of a mountain gravel ride.   “Okay, my interest is mildly piqued,” you say. “But be quick about it, because you said ‘beer,’ and now I must obtain one.”   Very well. Minus 34 was—drum roll please—the elevation reading on my GPS the day before I rode the PX 160. That’s right, in the space of 24 hours, me and my buddy, Pat Smith, crawled out of a 34-foot-below-sea-level hole in Houston, yawned our up way to Trinidad, Colorado, and toed the starting line of a mountainous gravel race, facing a daunting apex of nearly 9000 feet. No acclimatization. No real idea of what to expect. Just two blissfully ignorant cyclists with a spontaneous “you-should-be-dead-by-now” thirst for adventure.   The staging area was in Cokedale, CO, an old mining town at 6300 feet just west of Trinidad. We arrived at about 6:30 AM and were greeted by a single white tent, a Port-a-Potty on a mini trailer, and about 15 cyclists, give or take. This immediately answered a question we’d had since registering for the event four days prior—how big is this thing? In just its second year, the PX 160 is still in its infancy, so we’d been curious about how many riders would show. But participant info was marked as “private” on the registration web site, so we really had no idea what to expect. That being said, I’m betting this thing gets bigger over the next several years.   The temperature was a crisp 45 degrees—quite a smack in the face since we’d just slugged out of the soul-wilting 85 degree sauna of Houston. The 160-mile riders had rolled out at 6:00 AM, and the 50-mile riders were due to depart at 10:00. Pat and I were in the 90-mile group, which started at 7:00. After a quick rundown from...

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The Gym Douche Diaries Entry 1

Dear diary, Here’s how it’s goin down, today. I’ma put on my Tom Cruise Ray Bans, my gold chain, and my white v-neck t-shirt. Then I’ma put on 25 squirts of Polo cologne. I’ll strut into the gym, get on the stairmaster right next to Tony Huston, whip out my cell phone, and yell my business while “working out” on the lowest speed possible. Everyone will look at me and think I’m AWESOME!! Douchefully yours, The Gym...

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Dear Old Guys in the Gym

Dear old guys in the gym, Though I greatly respect your contributions to society, I must insist that you stop: 1. standing at the urinal naked 2. weighing yourself naked 3. lollygagging aimlessly in the locker room….naked We can’t unsee you, bro.

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Drown Writer’s Block In Hot Sweat!

It’s like magic. Heart-pumping, glistening-skinned sorcery. There I am, rockin some sweet, sweet cardio on the treadmill/stairmaster/spin cycle, innocently reading a fine novel on my trusty Kindle, when . . . THROOOOSH! A juicy new story idea jet-streams into my conscience as if fired from the fingers of heavenly Word Wizards. Or stubborn issues with my current work in progress mold into awesomeness and fall into place like Tetris blocks. My eyes drift away from my Kindle display into the soup of training capris and tank tops and tattoos and clanging weights. But I don’t see any of that. My focus is inward, marveling at the parade of settings and characters and plotlines that lay themselves out—effortlessly—inside my mind. I don’t feel like I’m coming up with the ideas. I am a tool—simply the vehicle that receives them. And it is my privilege—my duty—to write them down immediately or risk losing them forever. So I close the Kindle and I spend the next thirty minutes finger-whipping notes into my Smartphone’s notepad app. The phenomenon is real. It happens nearly every time I engage in long, sustained, exercise. It doesn’t have to be in the gym, either. Sometimes it happens while I’m running on the track. Sometimes it happens while I’m cycling on my favorite bike path. Hell, I’ve conjured up so many stories during exercise that the resulting backlog actually frustrates me. I’ll never be able to write them all—not anytime soon, at least. And even though I’m used to this spontaneous divine influx now, it still astounds me when I reflect on it. What is responsible for this? Why do I have SO. MUCH. WIN. when I’m working out, and a healthy dose of writer’s block when I’m not? I decided to investiGoogle. And guess what? My findings support my experiences. As it turns out, there is a blooming cache of scientific evidence that we (human desk monkeys) think, learn, and create better when we’re bustin some hump. There are some obvious reasons for this. For one, blood pressure and blood flow increase throughout the entire body as we exercise. That includes your squiggly pink skull-meat (or brain, if you’re not into making things sound nasty). With greater blood flow comes more energy and oxygen. More energy and oxygen translates to greater performance. And last I checked, greater performance is a highly desirable thing. Let’s go a step...

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They Hate My Diet!

What to do when your quest to lose weight is sabotaged by friends, co-workers, and spouses.   You’re two weeks into your New Year’s Resolution to lose weight. You’ve chosen a diet plan, you’re getting a taste of healthy eating, and you’re sticking to it. Maybe you haven’t been perfect, but hey—a few weeks ago, you were scarfing down a holiday bonanza of processed, carb-heavy, sugary foods. Compared to that, you’re now eating squeaky clean, and you’ve already begun losing weight. When summer rolls around, you’ll be ready to flaunt that skinnier, sexier body you were born to have. But hold on—something is weird. You’re noticing a strange phenomenon that you’ve never experienced. It begins subtly, barely registering as you delve into your new lifestyle. As the days pass, however, you have no choice but to acknowledge an uncomfortable, echoing truth. No one wants you to succeed. It’s a startling revelation. They claim to support you—friends, co-workers, spouses—and perhaps they do, at times. But mostly, they say things like this: “Oh come on, one little piece won’t hurt you.” “What, I’m a terrible cook now? You can’t eat what I made?” “You don’t need to lose weight—that’s silly.” “Cake has eggs in it—it’s good for you!” “Fine, don’t come to the Burger Shack with me. I just thought we were friends, that’s all.” “You’re boring now.” Wow. So much for a supportive cast of allies in your noble pursuit. Mustering the willpower to consistently eat a healthy diet is hard enough. Now you’re learning that the battle of the bulge is not just between you and your resolve. It’s between you and everybody’s resolve. And if you persist in your quest, you may soon find yourself routinely ostracized from your old social circles. “Well, you can’t eat Italian food because of your diet, so we didn’t invite you.” “Sorry, we didn’t tell you about Susan’s birthday because we know you won’t eat cake and ice cream.” “You won’t drink alcohol, so we didn’t bother to tell you we were going to happy hour.” Why is this happening? Why are these people—who occupy great chunks of your personal and professional life—taking such offense to your diet? It’s not their diet. They don’t have to fret about caloric intake or processed foods. So why are they making you feel like some kind of outsider engaging in an unworthy cause?   Why...

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