Category Archives: Fatness

Marble Creek trip

Click on it. This is an awesome picture.

Click on it. This is an awesome picture.

It was the Wednesday before 4th of July weekend when a coworker asked how I planned to spend the “3 day weekend”. Until that moment, I had no idea we were gonna be closed. Even better, I already had Thursday afternoon off. This was a golden opportunity to strike out into the unknown.

I’ve always wanted to bikepack Marble Creek, and now I had the opportunity. The ozarktrail.com website lists Marble Creek trail as “lightly used”… so hopefully I’d find some solitude. I loaded my gear, pointed the truck South and started ticking through the mental list of things I may have forgotten.

Food…check.

Whiskey…check.

Printed maps and Compass: Wow, I can’t believe I forgot those….but I’m not turning around for that shit.

2-3 hours later, when I drove across the Marble Creek bridge entering the campground, I knew this was gonna be a good time.

Looking down from the bridge.

Looking down from the bridge.

The Ozark Trail (OT) Trailhead is across the street from the campground, so that gave me a relatively safe place to stash my truck. Normally I try to stealth-stash or hide my beautiful 2006 Chevy Colorado, but on this day I stayed legal…paid my money and left the truck. If the moss growing on the collection area was any indication, I didnt need to worry about a ton of people peeking in the windows. There was a warning posted about bears being in the area. Guess I better take the pepper spray..

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Thanks to some bikehacks I learned on pedalingnowhere.com, my bike was loaded out with 90% of the weight spread across the handlebars and a rear seatbag. I had a few things in a backpack, but I was really only taking it along as a security blanket, “just in case.” I’ll go into my bike setup in a future post when I’ve got it completely ironed out, but for now let’s just say I’ve ‘almost’ got it figured out.

The trailhead was easy to find, and a hiker was coming out of the trail just as I was going in. Hopefully that meant there wouldn’t be any spiderwebs for a few miles. Awesome.

The planned route can be seen at this link and below. Basically, I was gonna ride about 9-10 miles to a glade overlooking Crane Lake. Once there, I’d set up camp and watch the sunset with my good friend Jim Beam. It seemed like a pretty straight-forward plan at the time.

Entering the trailhead, it was obvious that basically noone uses this trail. It definitely had a “Cedar Creek” feel to it, if you know what I mean.

**When it's so shitty you have to stop and take a photo**

**When it’s so shitty you have to stop and take a photo**

About 30 feet into the trail, I began a long hike-a-bike which was an absolute beast. I thought it would never end, and pushing that heavy-ass bikpeacking rig was no picnic. There was a lot of loose rock and downed trees, but I was hopeful the conditions would improve as I got further into the ride.

It didnt take long to figure out this was going to be a hard-earned ride to see the sunset. I was never on the bike for more than a minute or 2 before I’d be lugging it over another woodpile or downed tree or some kind of bullshit. It was exhausting. The layout of the trail looked like it would be a blast to ride if it werent for all the litter.

One more reason to appreciate our more well-groomed trails at home

One more reason to appreciate our more well-groomed trails at home

But even with all the extra work, there’s something I love about being on a neglected trail. The thought that maybe noone else has been there for months or years, and it could be just as long before anyone is there again. After all, who would actually want to ride through this shit?

Don't we all love the sting of thorns in our skin???

Don’t we all love the sting of thorns in our skin???

Eventually I got to a gravel crossing with enough cell signal to check the map on my phone. Signal was shitty so I took some screenshots and went on my way. The trail just never got better, and it was really kicking my ass. For such a short ride, this was one for the ages.

Good spot to chill

Good spot to chill

Finally, FINALLY, I came to the next road crossing. By the map, I was only about 3 miles from the glade. I was definitely going to miss sunset, but whatever. The “trail” became a fire road and suddenly I could ride. A short climb lead to a long, magical downhill and I was loving it. It felt good to finally be covering some ground. I began to notice the absence of OT trail markers, but like a fool I rode on. The fire road turned into a chunky, rutted-out shitbag of an atv trail. By now I was fairly certain I’d gone the wrong way, but just kept riding anyway, somehow convincing myself that the trail I was on would intersect the OT. So stupid.

Sweet, sweet stupidity

Sweet, sweet stupidity

At the very bottom, I popped out onto a nicely groomed gravel road. Crane Lake was to the West, so I turned right. By now it was completely dark, and I was almost out of reasons to give a single shit about seeing Crane Lake. A little while down the road, I ran into a MASSIVE pile of trees and brush covering the road, making it impassable.

It's almost like someone did this on purpose

It’s almost like someone did this on purpose

I shoved my way through the treeline next to the road, (which sucked) and went around it. Coming out of the other side, I looked up and saw this:

Son of a bitch

Son of a bitch

Well shit…what now? The road turned past the gate and looked to be going North. I rolled the dice and followed it. Surely there was a trail crossing somewhere, right?

The road dropped down into what seemed like a flood zone of some kind. It dawned on me this was probably the overflow stream for Crane Lake. Everywhere I rode, there was between 3-6 inces of water over the road. Luckily it was solid underneath. The realization that I was lost and “deep in the shit” began to take hold. Then the road started climbing. And climbing and f*cking climbing, until I saw this:

If a man screams and throws a temper tantrum while alone in the woods...did it ever really happen?

If a man screams and throws a temper tantrum while alone in the woods…did it ever really happen?

**BTW, that’s a photo of a gate when it’s barely illuminated by a dying headlamp**

There comes a time when a man has to admit he’s failed. I mulled over my options and decided to go back to the first gate. The road  had seemed flat there, and it was dry…which was the opposite of what I had to ride  through *again* to get there.

I may have felt a little bit defeated, but that quickly faded as I set up camp. The beauty of bikepacking is the absence of urgency. Everything you need is strapped to your bike, so you can eat or sleep anytime you want. It was July and I’m obese, so I’d sweated through every piece of clothing on my body. It wasn’t hard to rig up a clothesline and hang my stuff., and I figured it didnt really matter if I was sitting around naked while cooking dinner…given the fact that I was completely lost in the middle of nowhere.

After the food was gone, I noticed a small amount of hot water left in the stove. Realizing I’d be a fool to waste it, I put it in a cup, dumped a Gu pack in there and topped it off with some Jim Beam. I’m not gonna say it was delicious, but it wasnt terrible either.

Then I crawled in the tent and spent the rest of the night trying to sleep.. with a knife in one hand and pepper spray in the other…suddenly convinced that every sound I heard was an approaching bear.

I made a point of waking up early since there was no telling how far off-course I’d gotten. The morning was vibrant and I felt pretty good. Standing bare-assed looking at my laundry line, I noticed something peculiar in the tree above.

I feel like I should write an apology letter but I dont know where to send it.

I feel like I should write an apology letter but I dont know where to send it.

Somewhere in southern missouri, there’s a guy with a game-camera on a remote gravel road. And now he’s got pictures of my fat naked ass setting up a tent and eating rehydrated sweet & sour pork. All I can say is I’m sorry and I didn’t know.

Heading out, I pushed back up the steep atv trail I’d descended the night before. It was a real bitch to be honest, and I’d become disenchanted with the shitty trails of Marble Creek. One highlight was arriving at the spot where I’d made my massive navigational blunder the night before:

Note the trail marker behind the bike. I didnt see it in the dark and stayed on the fire road.

Note the trail marker behind the bike. I didnt see it in the dark and stayed on the fire road.

But now I was on a hilltop and Google was with me once again. Google maps showed a *road* going North that wasn’t too far away. I went for it…and rode past it up a giant hill. Doubling back, I found the “road” which was clearly not a road, but a thorn infested corridor of pain through the weeds.

This was actually a really pretty spot. There was a lake to the right.

This was actually a really pretty spot. There was a lake to the right.

The alleged road was super sketchy and paved with grass and fallen rees. Google maps was clearly wrong. One might say that Google was really starting to piss me off with all its broken promises. I followed along, trying to follow the most northward path along the non-existent road.

This part was particularly challenging, but I was grateful it was mostly down hill:

Google maps is a dick

Google maps is a dick

Eventually I came to creek crossing.

Directly behind the creek was a mud bluff and a tall barb-wire fence. By then, I was moderate-to-severely pissed off. Looking back now, it was a really epic trip. But in that moment,  I was just really annoyed with Google and their shitty “road” maps.

I guess Google maps would call this a "wet bridge". Bastards.

I guess Google maps would call this a “wet bridge”. Bastards.

The old GT's been getting a lot of time in the water this year. **Note the taped-on bottle cage.**

The old GT’s been getting a lot of time in the water this year. **Note the taped-on bottle cage.**

Eventually I decided that bushwacking boldly was my only option. Fences were jumped, and I may have trespassed a bit but I can’t be sure. After all, according to Google I was on the road.

When I finally made it back to the road, a bald eagle flew right over the road ahead of me. Totally badass.

 

Making my way into the campground, I had to stop for a “holy shit I made it” photo:

So close

So close

 

Back at the campground, it was time for my victory celebration. I found a nice spot along the creek and slid right into the water. After all the struggle from the “trails” and “roads,” the cold spring water felt amazing.

 

 

I’ll admit that during this ride, there was a significant amount of time that I just wasn’t enjoying myself. But now that I look back on all of it, (and all the shit I’m leaving out of this post), I realize this was a true adventure. I’ll definitely do this trip again. I hope to  see that sunset, but I don’t know if it’ll match the joy I felt sitting in that cold water after such a hard overnighter.

 

Oh, and fuck you Google maps.

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Fat Bike and Fun in Minnesota

Over the Christmas/New Year Break, my family and I hopped in the Virtus Van and ventured up to the land of a thousand lakes where my parents live in Shakopee, MN. My brother Zack and his family were going to be there as well. Sadly, Casey and his family couldn’t make it.

Zack is an Ultrarunner, and he needed to get in some trail runs to keep up with his training plan. Since I have a thick “winter coat” on at the moment, and since I haven’t run in months, my dad rented a Fat Bike for me so I could keep up with Zack while he ran.

Running on the snowy, icy boardwalk.

Running on the snowy, icy boardwalk.

This was a Back-Off week for me in my training, so riding an easy pace while Zack ran is just what I needed. We ended up getting a Kona WO, and other than my toes and hands freezing – I really need to get some winter shoes and lobster gloves – the Fat Bike was a super-fun bike to ride.

I now understand why Fat Bikes have been exploding in popularity. First, they’re amazing bikes in the snow. When I first got on, I kept bracing myself to spin or slide out on the climbs and corners, but it never happened. Second, the Fat Bike is super fun. I felt like a kid again riding that thing. And third, the Fat Bike handles rocks, roots, features, and other obstacles like a champ. I rode a snow-covered rock gardens and other obstacles with ease. I almost looked like a real mountain biker. Almost. If I lived in MN or if MO had more snow, I’d save up and buy a Fat Bike for sure.

Anyway, here’s a short video from Minnesota. And I’ve said it before, but I’ll keep saying it: Photos and videos pale in comparison to what it’s really like out there. But anyway, here you go…

We didn’t just run and ride, though. We also went to a Minnesota Timberwolves game which was a great family experience. My kids had never been on a train before, and they thought it was pretty damn cool. Here are few shots from New Year’s Day…

L to R: Mabel, Eli, and Della

L to R: Mabel, Eli, and Della

Jackson and Lydia

Jackson and Lydia

The kids got really into the game, howling like wolves every time the Kings shot free throws.

The kids really got into the game, howling like wolves every time the Kings shot free throws.

Family photo on the Timberwolves' court after the game.

Family photo on the Timberwolves’ court after the game.

We also played lots of board games and card games together. We played some hoops at the local rec center where I may or may not have dunked on my nephew. We chillaxed and talked basically non-stop. We ate a crap-ton of delicious food – which only added to my “winter coat.” And of course we all laughed our faces off. The only thing missing was Casey and his family. They were dearly missed.

How about you? Did you do anything cool over the Holidays? Let’s hear about it in the comments!

A New Quest and a New Accountability Tool

Last time we talked, I laid down some embarrassing truth about my  lifestyle. “Coming out” was like taking a massive emotional dump, and I’ve gotta say…I feel better now. And while this has all been very humbling, a lot of positive things have happened because of it.

It seems I’m not alone in this dietary fall from grace, as  I’ve gotten emails from several people in similar situations. As the people around them are rising to meet new challenges, they find  themselves  spiraling  into an isolating, sedentary existence. These email exchanges have gotten me really motivated.  Just knowing that other people are dealing with this same bullshit  has been very uplifting. In one man’s words, “Sometimes the easiest way to inspire people is to let them know they’re not alone.” 

So now that we’re all motivated, it’s time to set some goals, (mine is to run at least 50 miles by August 15th.), and with goal-setting comes the issue of accountability. How do we keep ourselves focused? Follow-through has always been a struggle of mine, so I was excited to hear from Silky about a website/app called Beeminder.  Beeminder is basically a way to break your long-term goals down into a more focused, daily “path” leading to success. Stay on the path and all is well..leave the path and they’ll start taking money from your checking account. Yeah, that’s serious motivation. They also collect your data and put it on a really cool graph that shows you how you’re doing. Check it out:

I'm totally kicking ass right now.

I’m totally kicking ass right now.

50 miles may not seem like a lofty goal to some people, but it’s a big deal to me. I’ve been at this for 13 days now and logged just over 18 miles. I’ve had LOTS of foot pain, knee pain, back pain, chapped butt cheeks and sweat in my eyes, but I can promise you that it’s getting just a little bit easier every day.

 

So..how about a 4th of July run tomorrow morning at Binder?

Super Duper Inspirational Post–A Day in the Life

A dull headache and a ringing alarm start my day. The alarm was set for 6 am with the intent of a morning jog before work. It’s 7:45, and if I don’t get outta bed now I’ll be late for work.

I take a quick pee and step on the scale. It reads 266 pounds and that little part of me dies again.. the same part that died yesterday and the day before. It’ll grow back as the day continues..only to die again tomorrow and the day after that.

I’m finally up and moving, but it’s too late for a morning run and definitely too late for a bike commute. Coffee in hand, I notice the trash can is full of empty beer bottles and some fried chicken boxes.

A quiet drive to work while my running clothes ride shotgun, gathering dust.  Again.  Maybe tomorrow morning I can wake up early. I’ll just hit the trails for a nice run after work… yeah, I’ll do that.

Then  it’s 10-11 hours of (mostly) sitting at a desk before I’m on my way home. A last minute influx of clientele keeps us about an hour past quitting time, so I decide to skip the evening jog… again.

We’re going out with friends tonight, so I rummage around looking for my “nice” clothes. It’s strange… I know I bought these pants, but they seem to belong to a much smaller person. Sucking in my belly fat, I try desperately to buckle a belt that no longer wraps around my body. It’s hard not to laugh about it. Eventually, I give up and wear the shirt untucked.

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2 hours later, I’m at a wedding reception with about 100 other people. Leaving the photo booth, I notice a draft circulating through my pants, and look down to see that they’ve ripped open from the crotch past my right knee.  We take the drive of shame back home so I can change into my “good jeans”. I dig through stacks of 36 and 34 inch waistline jeans, (from back in the glory days), in search of my 42’s. It takes a moment, but I find them clean and folded, which is a huge relief since these are the only pants I have left that still fit.

Back at the reception, there’s an endless supply of hotwings, fried shrimp and mixed drinks. These are the obvious source of my obesity, but like a fool I embrace the short-term pleasure they provide. We eat, drink and dance into the night, all while I’m quietly fearful my shirt-buttons could pop off at any moment. Aside from that, it was a wonderful evening with my wife and friends.

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See what I mean? Those buttons are begging for mercy

The next morning, I open the world of Facebook and am promptly bombarded with the typical barrage of motivational quotes and inspirational wisdom… you know, the general menu of bullshit associated with the internet.

Quotes like this are just ridiculous.

I ask myself why reposts like this are so trendy. Doesn’t anyone have an original thought anymore? Reposts like these nothing to motivate me, and I have to wonder if they truly motivate anyone. Seriously, you think  puking, fainting and dying are good for your health? I’d rather be fat, thanks.

At long last, I stumble across a really great race report. An Australian recounts his awesome experience during an ultramarathon. This guy’s report is full of honesty, cool Aussie-words.. and even a bit of inspiration. I read it twice, then did something I haven’t done in a long time…I went for a trail run.

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the Edgewood trail

There was just as much walking as there was running, but I was out there and it was a good time. I’m pretty sure a new PR was set for most ticks on my body at one time, but other than that it was a very positive experience.

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It was more challenging than I would’ve liked. The pace was slow, and every step was an un-subtle reminder that there’s a big, fat belly and a pair of man-tits attached to the front of my body. Today, my back hurts and I’ve got some soreness in the old legs..  but that soreness is a happy reminder that my running clothes aren’t in the passenger seat of my truck anymore. They’re in a sweaty pile on the laundry-room floor. I’m gonna let them sit there until tomorrow when I run again:)

I’ve decided to run at least twice a week for the rest of the summer. I don’t have any kind of training plan, I just want to get outside and do something to make myself feel less like a fat piece of shit. Running, prancercise, biking… whatever. Let’s just get some people together and do something. I’ll post details in the Virtuesday column or Facebook. Anyone who wants to join me, regardless of your athletic ability or fitness level, is more than welcome.

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