Thursday, February 5, 2015

Fat-Bike, Ski-Mo, Sufferfest

Training starts at Bridger Bowl.

This February, I am riding from home in Bozeman, to Cooke City, MT on a custom 5" wide tire fat-bike, with skis and camping gear for a month.

This will be my seventh human-powered expedition, over 13 years. And my first expedition in winter.

My goals are:

To re-connect with the natural world in a way John Muir would respect.
Ride 150 miles in the winter on state highways, through parts of Yellowstone and the Paradise Valley.
Ski and ice climb in the Beartooth Mountains for a month.
And ride home, all under my own power.

(I plan on shipping extra socks, and food. Maybe even climbing gear? Just don't tell anyone.)

Will it all fit on the bike?

Spending time in the office.

Staying powered with Amazing Grass.

I will also be doing a ton of other stuff. Like test riding backcountry skis for Caravan and promoting a local brand in Bozeman.

Also made in Bozeman from Sklar Bikes, I'm using a brand new ski rack that's compatible with a Dyanfit ski binding. Hopefully this little beauty it will be on the market by next year. Yes, a tech ski rack for your bike.

The custom bicycle from Sklar Bikes is boasting many new features and a sexy new look. It's a second generation fat-bike with wider 5" (non-studded) tires, a one-by-ten gear ratio, Jones bars, XTR, and painted deep purple.

Traction on these bikes are incredible, and I will be attempting historic fat-bike mountaineering descents. This will be the comical trend of the year.

My camp, the dirtbag Shangri-La, will consist of one tent, and a snow cave with solar power. I will lock up my bicycle in the forest when I need to, and/or store it in town for a fee.

I will be near the towns of Silver Gate, and Cooke City, and I am excited to get to know the locals and be shown around town, and the mountains. I love Montanans, and it will be a cultural experience by getting to know the people. (And maybe I'll do a slide show at their school?)

Got out skiing and ice climbing last week with friends.

Riding the sluff. 

Following a fun pitch.

Found a new hat for the expedition. 

Re-connectting with the natural world,  I will be promoting human-powered endeavours that enrich our lives and enrich the world around us, without leaving a toxic footprint.

I will also be documenting the abundance of wildlife in the area and noting the existence of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. This is the largest ecosystem of it's kind in the US, and there are MANY issues in Montana right now with the rapid growth of endangered species, caused by the constant pressure of our industries upon wilderness habitat.

As an athlete and storyteller, I find solace in the protection of the world we live in.
Thank you for reading. And thank you for caring.

I will return in a month, and I leave you with a quote from Elizabeth Gilbert's book The Last American Man;

"I think he's reached a plateau in his life. He's pushed himself as far as he can go using his charisma and courage, and now he needs to go on a spiritual journey. He needs to do something that is private. He's postured himself in public for so many years that he doesn't know himself. There are parts of his soul he can't begin to understand, and until he learns these things about himself, he'll never be the nomad he's meant to be. He's a brave man, but he's not a spiritual pilgrim yet. Until he goes out in the world, all alone, and cuts away the ropes and publicity and ego and bullshit and does something truly heroic, he's just blowing smoke up his own ass..."

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Sklar Bikes

Last week I went down to visit Adam Sklar finish welding my new bicycle frame. So stoked to see this fat-bike come together. Then we went to the powder coaters and picked out the colour to match my new Caravan Skis.  (My idea not Adam's.)

Awesome! My new bike is being made less than 3 miles from where my skis where made, and less than 5 miles from my house. Yeah!  I love this Montana life.

The old GT Zaskar, packing for California in 2006 at dad's ranch in Missoula.

When I first started riding a bicycle to go skiing and mountaineering, I had no clue what I was doing. I borrowed a bike trailer and inherited a 13 year old hard-tail mountain bike from dad.

The trailer said it would hold 70lbs, so I packed 80. Roads in Montana aren't plentiful (thank god), so I rode on the Interstate Highways.

I didn't think anything of it. I just packed ski gear, ice climbing gear, and rock climbing gear onto the trailer and rode south to the Tetons. 500 miles later, my ass was sore.

My girlfriend allowed me a month long stay at the American Alpine Club Climber's Ranch right below the Grand Teton. I was starting to think I had it made. Then we broke-up, and I rode back to Montana.

By the end, riding north on I-15, then west on I-90, I consumed so much food, I ate my self out of house and home. At one cafe, I order lunch, then I order lunch again, and still wasn't full.

My dollars turned to pennies, and I wondered how much further I was going to make it? I hadn't worked in 6 weeks, my savings were dry, but I didn't care. I was on the open road, slowly crushing it, feeling like a million bucks.

It was also the start of summer, and my house painting business would be waiting. So would the stern eye of my parents and the loud echo of, "get real job, in the real world," as it floated through the Missoula valley.

So how do I get a real job, and be in the real world like my parents, and still be true to myself, and my wandering spirit?  Still working on it.

First-known tech ski rack for a bicycle.

Here comes big-fatty.

Fat-bikes have sexy back ends.

Just a set of wheels and a fork.

Final touches.


Adam the Metalworker. 

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Spring Integrative Health/Josh Overcash

About four or five years ago I met Josh Overcash and his awesome family. They were some of the first people I met in Bozeman when I moved here.

Josh told me about Body Talk over dinner one night, and said that he could teach it to me; or better yet, I could see him as a therapist, after those good body thrashings I'm into.

I logged the information in the back of my mind and moved on. Then a year later, after a number of good body thrashings, I bumped into Josh on the street.

I laughed and complained about the woe's of being human-powered; hoping to get a rise out of him. It didn't work. I like Josh, so I boasted and tried to impress him with tales of vertical heights, and dangerous mountains.

Nothing. It was awesome. He wasn't impressed at all. Or at least I couldn't tell if he was.

That settled it. I booked an appointment to see Josh. I wanted to know more. I was also a walking pinball machine, and ached all over.

I had chronic knee pain from two climbing accidents, and twenty years of ski bumming down the Rockies, Canada, and Alaska. My feet, fingers, and shoulders bothered me; and I was starting to show signs of aging.

But it was also the kaleidoscope view of life I needed help with. Let's face it. We are living in a different world today. Our understanding of life is changing almost as fast as our technologies. (Which came first?)

That first appointment three years ago, Josh used a combination of Craniosacral Fascial and Body Talk therapies to clean up old scare tissue in my knee.  The therapy was so effective and profound, it changed my life.

For less than a hundred dollars, I was pain free for the first time in ten years. I couldn't believe it. I almost kissed him.

Starts to work on my knee by moving my head around. 
Still moving my head around.

As an athlete, I don't claim to understand how Craniosacral Fascial, or Body Talk therapies work. I've listened to Josh explain how he's manipulating cerebral spinal fluid in the brain, 'to help the brain breath,' and how that circulates cerebral spinal fluid to the connective tissues throughout the body.

This, with his help, is directed towards my knee. Then Josh changes one of his multiple hats, and goes from being all soft and gentle, to getting kung-fu.

After a couple minutes of discomfort, (which is fun if your into mountaineering) he let's go of the grip on my knee. Woe dude? What was that? The first time it happened, when my knee was scared, it swelled up like a ballon.

"That's the cerebral spinal fluid clearing out the scare tissue."

Directing cerebral spinal fluid to my knee. 
The kung-fu grip on my knee. 

This is one cool dude, I thought. I started recommending my friends see Josh. Then I met other people who agreed Josh is the real deal.  As the word spread, I met therapists, doctors, and health care professionals that all had the same consensus. Josh Overcash has the healing touch.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Amazing Grass Challenge

In good company with The Green Darner and The Bicycling Electrician.
They have real names too, but I like their super-hero aliases. 

This month Amazing Grass is holding a 5 day V-Tox Challenge; with recipes and articles on eating a plant-based diet, ambassador spotlights (I'm on day #2, check out my spotlight here), and a daily challenge; with exercises and activities to keep you excited and stoked on getting healthy, fit, and ready for life.

(Click on the link and sign up with your own email account.)

Recipe #2. Red lentil and butternut squash soup. 

I have been working with Amazing Grass now for a few years and I love their products. I know how easy it is to struggle with eating the "right" foods and staying on track with my "diet."

In fact some of that stuff about eating right and being on a diet, bugs me. Why can't I eat what I want? Right?

Maybe it's not that simple. Maybe food has changed. And with all the people who now have food intolerance's (mine are potato, corn, and processed sugar), eating is even changing.

As an athlete, my health is very important to me. I got into eating a more plant-based diet when I was still a teenager, but I also lived a hard life for many years; drinking and doing drugs. My health suffered because of it. When it came time to restart my life, and focus on the what I loved to do; ski and climb mountains, I had a slew of health problems to deal with that all came directly from my poor diet.

So it's not simple. Not for anyone. And I don't pretend it is easy either. Good luck.

Amazing Grass is the wheat grass company, and they make the best tasting wheat grass powders available. I love these little flavour packets on the trail, at home, and they make a great hit at parties. (Yeah, that's how I party. Hunter S. Thompson did grapefruit. I shoot wheat grass.)

Friday, January 23, 2015

Happy Trails

"The happiest people are not the ones with the most, but the ones that make the best with what they've got."

I read this quote somewhere, and thought about all the things 
I am not bringing on my next adventure. 

a cell phone, laptop, or itinerary

Those new cold weather cycling boots I was eyeing with clipless peddles. Nope, didn't buy those. Sorry Mercedes; this trip is more Mitsubishi. 

Still don't have decent bike lights, or a decent headlamp; been looking at that purchase for about ten and a half years.

(Umm, did he say he doesn't have decent bike lights? )
Yeah, this trip I'll still be enjoying some darkness.

And maybe someday my bike will come with lights. 
Be like selling a car without lights. That would be odd. 

Some day my bike will be run with a computer, power-inverter, lights, and a bad ass sound system. But first I'm going to pull off this expedition, and get all human-powered and shit. 

Then I'll get back to imagining about things and stuff, and what I really need in my life.
Like a $20,000 bicycle, with a bad ass sound system.

I know that might sound funny, but I want to be the first to own a real autocycle.
Sign me up 2015, here I am. (Did I just coin that shit?)

The beginning of the dream. Imagining the $20,000 autocycle

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Caravan Factory Tour

This February I am going to the Beartooth Mountains on my first human-powered expedition in winter. Cycling hundreds of miles on frozen highways to attempt skiing on mountains that must be climbed.

(Stupid I know,  please leave comments at the bottom.)

I don't really have a plan beyond that. Bike a long ways, go skiing for a month in the Beartooth Mountains, and come home. Simple as that. Trailheads and laundromats will appear, no doubt.

And yeah, I end up wondering about wandering a lot. Who do I think I am out there by myself, hundreds of miles from home, with a bicycle and pair of skis?

What am I trying to prove? Or save? Do I have a purpose? Does my mother know what I do?

Well, I go to the mountains because mountains are honest, and show emotion with stark benevolence. And I need that for some reason. I'm drawn to it.

Getting stoked at the Caravan Skis Factory.

This year Caravan Skis made the Daily Drivers their best selling ski. An all mountain ski that likes to go fast and can hold down the throttle. I demoed a pair of Daily Drivers early in the season, and now I'm testing a prototype for next year.

Zeph, the man at Caravan, has lightened the ski with carbon-fiber, trimmed the tip and tail to make the ski more slashy, and I get to test them.

The selected wood core gives the ski a liveliness I haven't felt before. The hand made feel also gives the ski a sense of being something new and different. Both things I like.

Monday, December 29, 2014

The filming of LONU

Last year I made a ski film, or really, I sat around on the edge of making it and watched. Occasionally getting to ski and act silly. The film is credit to Henry Worobec and his crew of talented friends.

"Land Of No Use" was born a bumper sticker by our old time conservative brethren, and re-born into a ski film by our younger generation. (Click this link to watch Land Of No Use on vimeo.)

There has been debate about the making of our film, because of the whole Wilderness thing, and thus the making of a non-commercial film. I mean, why? Do we hate money? Is this supposed to be an environmental documentary, a ski film, or what?

So here's the skinny and the dirt behind the making of an outlaw film, and the three things I don't ever say to Henry.

Why make a non-commercial film about skiing in designated Wilderness?

Many big production films have segments filmed in Wilderness, but as long as they don't exploit the area; i.e. name the peaks, valleys, trails, trailheads, and try to sell you a guide/book/souvenir/movie,,,, then the Feds don't seem to mind so much.

But it seems if you start naming things and laying claim; the Feds want in and want money, and require expensive permits to lay your claims. And this is where it gets sticky, because big productions can easily pay the $15,000 for a permit to film.

So why not make a big production out of it? Pay the fees, and make a rad film about the meaning of Wilderness and what it means to us as skiers, Montanans, and passionate people with a voice. (And pay our bills, and make some money in the process, like the rest of us?)

Because big budget projects; can, have, and will be denied by the Feds for filming in Wilderness areas.

Probably because it becomes propaganda, and propaganda is also sticky. So is the Constitution to someone like me who doesn't know much. But what I understand, is that the Feds are able to control all commercial Wilderness propaganda, but can not control the Freedom Of Speech.

Meaning we can make a film. Anyone can, about anything. We just can't promote it to the world and profit off of it. If we did that we could be held at fault and sued by the Feds for breaking their rules.

And they have rules, so that's why you can't buy our film. That's why it's FREE now and forever. The Feds made it that way, in a way.

Now here is one of the things I don't ever say to Henry. For a ski-bum we skied and partied all winter, and not in that order, and then you come up with this non-profit status with Cottonwood Environmental Law Center to protect yourself and gain leverage.

I thought you were a ski-bum. What, did you actually go to college? And here's number two; the aloof thing with the ladies, is annoying. Every time we go out, all the ladies are like, Oh Henry wanna go float some rivers,,,,, piss off Chris.

And the third thing I wouldn't say directly to Henry. Sure you ski better than me, big deal, but you grew up in Boston, and that makes no sense; so I'm torn between loathing you and loving you for it. Peace.