Wednesday, September 27, 2000

AC100 Course Preview [Hummeresque]

For those who are running Angeles Crest 100 this weekend, the following is a summarized course overview.

Wrightwood to Three Points (0-40mi)
Enjoy briefly the tall trees and cool air until you reach Cooper Cyn. Every effort will be made to have the parabolic mirrors and the trail-embedded heating coils turned on and focused for maximum effect. For all you eager trail-monsters, the fun stops at Three Points. Sorry! The gates of Hell will have to wait until later!!

HIGHLIGHTS: Look for the Chucky Cougar Cooper Cyn Ice-Cream Stand. Specialties include vanilla drumsticks with the Jumbo Spanish Olive in each one.

Three Points to Chantry (40-75)
With the troublesome cool air and tall trees providing character-debilitating shade out of the way, you can focus on the clear blazing sunlight and refreshing heat! The tour starts at Three Points, then progressing through the scenery-challenged low hills of Sulfur Springs. After an all-too-brief stay on blacktop to Mt Hillyer, you can enjoy the majesty of the Fred Flintstone Scenic Wilderness. Keep an eye out for stoner Barneys and Betties!

Aficionados relish the next 16 miles, and prefer to run it in high-noon late summer conditions to truly appreciate it's exotic splendor. When crossing through to Newcomb's, be sure to pick up spicy hot-links and pickle brine at the road-crossing, which lacks real zest unless its at least 100! Continue to Build Character until you get into Santa Anita Cyn, and keep an eye out for our rattling friends, the West Coast Diamond-Back Rattler! They like you, they really do!!

HIGHLIGHTS: Look for the Victoria's Secret Hospitality Tent in the middle of the West Fork Cyn.

Chantry to Finish (75-100)
This is the part you've all been waiting for. After an invigorating early morning stroll up to the Mt Wilson toll-road, hit the afterburners and get on down into Idle Hour Cyn.

2009 Update:
Bored with your Upper Winter Creek to Manzanita Bypass training run leg? Take a left turn at the jct of the Upper WInter Creek/Mazanita Bypass and experience the original Manzanita Ridge Trail.

I did it recently and got a full blast of old-school climbs, bumps, and drops. Possibly the steepest part of the original course, this section probably ate more buckles than any other, yard for yard from '86-'98. At night it's even more dramatic when you pop up like a gopher from the Upper Winter Creek, and get the full light and dull roar of the megalopolis below.

Of course it brought back fun memories of scratching like a toy doggie on a vertical parquet floor on race night.

Continue thru on the current course to the Mt Wilson Toll Road. Down to Idle Hour you go! Its the last giveaway section of the course. Enjoy it.

Just when you've had enough downhill, the upward trails beckon you. Now it's 9 miles of Heat, Dust, & Dreams until Millard Campgrounds, where squirrels have semi-autos to toy with rock-throwing children. Never a dull moment here!

The last 4 miles will introduce you to the many pony-tailed, mountain-biking circus freaks who may or may not see you on the trail! Don't worry, they'll go over the edge and you won't!!

HIGHLIGHTS: You will be passing through, and maybe falling into specimen groves of the Rush Limbaugh Experimental Poison Oak Forest. This is a "not-to-be-missed" excursion.

We hope you will have enjoyed your weekend. Remember, If You Can Bonk It You Can Do It®™

Sunday, September 10, 2000

5 Flavors of Sports Drinks, & Other Observations

Before They were Legends, They Were Gyros.

Summer is drawing to a close. The light is changing, the air is cooling, and all the Trail Betties of Summer have mysteriously turned into Boy Scouts.

This was yet unknown when the Record Setting Training Team of Casino Bingo, accompanied by his peg-legged Organic Dwarf Scrivener Draw Poker; convened yet again early on Saturday morning to hammer out a cool, self-imposed 29.98 miles. This is a Continuing Saga For the Ages, in which Poker might be Boswell to Bingo's Johnson. However, this narrative is more than the One Eye'd Reigning over the Blind.

First order of Business on this still morning: the replacement of Lisa Loeb by virtue of non-performance and breach of contract. The replacement was a tossup between Carly Simon and Gabby Reese. "Nobody Does It Better" lost out to Beach Volleyball hard-bodiness. This alone was worth several 1000-meter repeats up Baden-Powell with 100-m recoveries and negative splits. It was like dancing on MTV.

There was still many hours to while away. Omar of the Fretful Oud plucked a woeful minor modality while humming " it again, Samarkand..."

I mentioned sports drinks. I own majority shares in all the products mentioned. I stand to benefit. You'll adjust.

Light flavor, pleasant mouthfeel. Easy on the gut. Great bait and lure for barking ducks. I understand that somebody is making a bandit variant [tuna flavored], with corresponding modifications in the product name.

The drink of choice for riding a lawn tractor. Helps maintain consciousness thru the G-force of tight turns, especially when hitting sprinkler heads. Comes in Gumball [red], Urinal Cake [blue], and Robo-Douche [citric yello or international orange]. These mix well with ClifBars, especially the new Halle Berry flavor.

This product had the most complex bouquet and flavor spectrum of any product tested this summer. From the first mixing to the final froth it never failed to exceed its low expectations. Remember when you first took a deep whiff of the ineffable exotic blend of dust and powdered rhino turds at the zoo? All this and more has been carefully preserved in this product. You will enjoy it down to the last few frothy swallows, while the artistry of Ron Jeremy plays in the background.

Now We Phew, We Happy Phew were down to the last 15 miles of our self-imposed Ultra. We were on record pace. But suddenly, the record didn't matter anymore. The roar of bladders settled yards of dusty trail in the wake of this revelation. All the time we had saved came back to us. Now we had time to enjoy the incredible beauty and majesty of the San Gabriels. We picked up our Ebonite Bowling Balls and glowing hibachis, and quick-timed it past quail that were throwing rocks at us.

And so brings to a close yet another installment of the Permananent Collection of Lost Weekends.

yours truly From the VisionKwest [Un]Divided Highway,
--Draw Poker

Thursday, September 07, 2000

After Many A Hummer Barks The Duck

Now in the late training season, when the colors of sunlight begin their autumnal progression; is when the thoughts of many weary ultrarunners turn to inflateable sheep. Or maybe inflateable Trail Safety Companions; the better to shepherd them thru the Dork Night Without Armour in pursuit of the 100-Mile Quest.

I write this all from memory of course, lounging in Tunica Mississippi, enjoying the sultry charms of spandex'd hotties, doing basic field research on a variety of topics. My eyesight is still pretty good, and I'd say that silicone is pretty large in these parts, as well as those parts too.

I digress. For I, Mr Trail Safety, a mere peg-legged Nephew, Trail Scrivener, and Narrator of the various exploits of La-La Wimpy Cali Switchback Hill Runs; every Day Is Like Sunday in anaerobic righteousness.

Last Saturday found this Humboldt Idiom Savant Korrespondent wheezing up the indifferent majesty of Mt Baldy in the august and now Septembered Company of Dr Casino Bingo and Ms Geri K of Phoenix AZ. We labored in the shadow of Olander, and were none the better for it.

We were looking for good places to heave stragglers after Last Rites in the upcoming Baldy Peaks 50k. Race Management takes a Darwinian view of the procedings, noting that it encourages repeat customers.

Summitting Baldy yet again, and counting coup on the huddled GPS'd Sierra Club Hikers, we looked out and saw that it was good. I also noted that the two British ladies weren't half-bad either, but that is another story altogether. Maybe when the children are asleep.

Dallying not, we Busted Major Ass getting down to the Notch. Prospective ultrarunners met us wearing flip-flops and high heels. A good start, say I, and running naked will only improve matters for me at any rate. All this is Truth Well Told to Twelve hundred strangers who are my friends.

Dr Bingo parted company at the notch, as he was on Taper. His cel-phone could be heard ringing from his car, 3 miles below at Wanker Flats. Ms Ger & I displayed our hindmosts to Temptation, and traversed eastward on the 3-T's Trail, and thence down Ice House Canyon. This is the geologic equivalent of Mr T & "Brick House" of recent popular külture.

On Sunday we came back for more. Another pass over Mt Baldy. Down to the Notch, with a quick-fast getaway down yet again to Wanker Flats. Notable in Sunday's ascent was the appearance of a Trail Betty wearing nearly thigh-high gaiters. She was also using to great effect the electrified weenie-pronging REI hand-held lightening rods. Circumstances limit the descriptions I can safely relate.

Of such mortal coils dreamz are made, and all of you are pretty gosh-darn lucky. Its almost as good as Gabby Reese going with you to the Yard Sale of The Mountain Godz, and buying you a lava-lamp.

Until next time, my UltraList running Gently Chickadees...

Monday, September 04, 2000

Teletubbies In Hell, or, Another Boring Training Run

This past Saturday saw a bright and shiny shuttlebus hauling about 25 crypto-Teletubbies up into the San Gabriels for a bright and shiny training run. This was Day 1 of Tom Nielsen's Labor Day AC Whack-A-Rama. Jay Grobeson waved us all bye-bye at the Windsor Park,ing Lot, having taken depositions that would be used against us later.

This run is played out in the force-field of the mighty bulk of Mt Wilson, known also to its devotees as Mt Wilson-Phillips.

You will have about 25 miles total to physically ponder your relationship to this mountain. You will also get a pounding sensation from whichever direction is applicable.

The hapless runner first enters the Force Field climbing up to Newcomb [or Nukem] Saddle. A short state of grace follows a ridgerun and downhill, followed by a short preparatory penitential climb up to Chantry.

Chantry is a mere pullout on the bardo. A surprisingly runnable section awaits, then a longer prayerful climb up once again of Mt Wilson. The Toll Rd is reached. Free? Not yet! The sinner has 4 miles of downhill to Idle Hour. But you, hapless runner, are still in thrall to Mt Wilson-Phillips, and will be until you climb up out of Idle Hour to Sam Merill. Only then can you begin to escape the clutch of the late-race Dark Star.

With all this in mind, Casino Bingo, and his peg-legged dwarf companion Draw Poker, were on track for another record-setting Beach-Ballz-2-Wallz®� Training Run.

Skillfully covering their getaway from the top of ShortCut, they spun their lead into the virtual miles ahead of the pack. It was Garside-ean in it's scope, and they updated their webpages continually, even as they ran. But their focus and drive did not preclude periodic altruistic "dust-settling" that accompanied trailside pauses.

Their solitude did not last forever. Select participants, ever eager to Learn The Secrets of Real UltraRUnners pursued them. One such candidate, whose initials are Jay Anderson, ran by in a bright orange hat that only recently had a pork-chop tied to the top. Presumably this was for the delectation of Chucky, the Cheez-Kutting Kougar. Jay [not his real name] astonished and amazed Team Bingo/Poker with his off-the-lip 540 switchback spins. Then he and his weeping bladder vanished into the verdant distance.

Their arrival at Chantry Flats in mostly unsupported bid for World Domination was met by a totally coincidental tailgate fiesta hosted by Jay Grobeson, who knows the difference between Guilt and Innocence when he sees it.

Bingo and Poker plead 'nolo', hoovered up available goodies, and then rejoined the Pursuit of Sunday School Ultras just ahead of the arriving bailiffs. The following 15 seconds were well-spent in earnest discussion of splits, blisters, and Your Dad's Sox; then reverted to loftier discussions of Best Unsupported Actresses. U2 played in the background, accompanied by barking ducks.

The trail at this point has gotten a bit narrow for Shopping Karts and Rickshaws, but is bereft of the indolence of previous sections.

Now, having climbed up to the Toll Road, Bingo and Poker were treated to a Luciferian view of the great metroplex on the plain. It was balmy, high 70's, clean air, even a bit nippy by late August norms, if not n0Rms. Manfully adjusting their PETA-approved sealskin bolero jackets, they were off again.

Just above Idle Hour, they stopped at the bucolic "Uncle Hal Water Drop" and refilled their bottles. This correspondent remembered what the July 4th run felt like [oppressive humidity, carnivorous insects] and was glad to Be Here Now.

Brain-death set arrived in the Idle Hour Canyon. Too much fun was being had. The Teletubbies were reduced to merely whimpering instead of being their bouyant selves. Somebody remembered that Jay G would be at Millard, and that was our lode-star for the moment.

But in the midst of this Vale of Tears, Bingo and Poker encountered two Darwin Candidates. The first was a group of thrashing day hikers who decided to vertically assault a near vertical brushy drainage, eschewing the mundanity of hiking on trails and fire-roads. One wondered how many rattlers they woke up in their quest. The second was a goateed wonder-dewd who decided that it would be a really smart idea to downclimb another near-vertical crumbly decomposing granite slope above Millard Falls. But we lingered not in the Groves of Idiocy, nor read about them in the papers the next day.

As foretold, Jay the G awaited us at Millard. A full spread and cold drinks were there. Managing not to incriminate themselves again, Casino Bingo and Draw Poker made themselves at home, but stopped short of coling their feet in the ice-shest.

From there it was a mere 4.5 Cali miles to the finish. Switchbacks and cacti were in perfect alignment as always, and will probably be so come Race Day. In the warm afterglow of Brain Dead Narcosis, it was easy to say "gosh! I was just sandbagging out there and really coulda pushed it harder!!"

But that is Sunday School Running, and awaits another day.

NEXT TIME: 4 Major Flavor Groups of Drink Mixes