Sunday, August 31, 2008

Cape Henlopen Swim and Bike

The Bike Course for the Cape Henlopen Triathlon which Dan Bieber will do on September 28th.

What started out as a late-going (noon departure), overcast day turned into a brilliant day at the beach in Cape Henlopen State Park for Dan Bieber and me. We weren't on the beach a minute when we had a heavily pierced lady ask us about our form fitting tri shorts. She thought them to be some sort of warmth protection. She couldn't understand why we were wearing them under our wetsuits. I explained that we wear them for an entire triathlon, and normally wouldn't wear anything under our wetsuits, but because of the 100's of people on the beach we had to be decent. She seemed satisfied with the explaination. I think she just wanted to talk to Dan.

Donned in our wetsuits and wading through the throngs of beach families (my bad for not having a photo of us at this point) we entered the water and swam south along the shore, just outside of the break. Dan tended to pull right, taking him into the break at times, but that didn't matter for him as his speed and comfort-level has greatly increased since his Tri-debut last year.

Dan is training to "rock" this year's Cape Henlopen Sprint Triathlon, and this was our chance to help him get familiarized with the course and attain a certain level of comfort in the water, especially the ocean. The park is on a sand dune at the confluence of the Atlantic Ocean and Delaware Bay. Riddled with asphalt trails, pines, World War II embattlements, bunkers, and towers, the park spanned several hundred acres and seemed to be a popular peaceful destination for vacationers, cyclists, and runners. The ocean was calmish, but the water was pretty cool. Our wetsuits proved to be perfect for the conditions.
Wild dolphin, like the ones who were trying to attack me yesterday. Bad, Flipper, bad.

On our last round (we did 3 southerly laps of about 1/4 mile each) I unitentionally swam out to sea too far. When I looked for Dan, he was standing on the beach. So, I headed for shore. As I exited the water and turned around to look, there we about 50 dolphin swimming out near where I had just been. That could have been my closest dolphin encounter in the wild for both of us, man and beast. They stayed for a long time, sometimes jumping high out of the water, but mostly rolling as they were feeding on the evening baitfish.

Dan and I did the longest transition ever into our bike garb, then first hit the bike trails at the park, then out into to wilds of Lewes following the 15 mile race course Dan will do in 4 weeks. Dan's got good legs for the bike and hopes to improve his placement in the overall standings by 20 spots. He feels greatly more prepared than last year and a good bit faster on the bike and in the water.

After clean up and a change we hit town and had dinner (it was 6pm by now) and ice cream, got gas, and turned Dan's Jeep toward home. It was a great day, great adventuring, and great gains in training.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Hiking, running, boat builders, and letting go

The Keene and Meyerfoff gang atop Mt. Washington on August 11th.

Eight of us conquered Mt. Washington in variable weather of sun and rain over the weekend of August 9th and 10th. My two daughters, my wife, and our four friends hiked Tuckerman Ravine Trail to Lakes of the Clouds Hut in the White Mountains. The next day we summitted Mt. Washington in the driving rain and descended via the Lion Head trail and Tuckerman.

We had oodles of GORP, many breaks (or photo opps, as we called them), and a ton of laughs along the way. All did extremely well on the Tuckerman trail, the most traversed trail to the summit, and one of the most challenging. In bunk room 3 the 8 of us did impersonations from movies during the rain and thunderstorms Sunday night.

We found the "CROO" of Lakes Hut to be in rare form complete with a Star Wars themed skit for us after breakfast. Lets just say that Princess Leigha needed a shave, and she/he was a little too fond of young Luke's light saber. The skit taught us all to fold our blankets, fluff our pillows, pick up our trash, and, of course, tip the CROO.

My girls ahead of me on the Lion Head Trail descent from Mt. Washinton in the rain.

My two daughters and I were on our own for the descent. It was 3 and a half hours of rain and pure joy as we scibbled down the wet trails. I'm convinced that either of them could run a guiding service on their own in the White Mountains. They are quite accomplished hikers.

Later that evening my family and I found Karl Meltzer's RV at a trail head in Maine about an hour from the Whites. I ran up trail, found Karl and his friend, Matt Hart, and ran the last mile of his day with him. Karl is an ultra runner who is attempting to break the Appalachian Trail speed record of 47 days. I met up with him on his 7th day of his quest. It was quite something to meet him. I have an entry on my encounter with him on the RUR blog here: .

Karl Meltzer and I after coming off the trail; he 30 plus miles, me only one mile.

The first week we were home from the North, sad news came when word that boatbuilder Maynard Lowery was killed in an automobile accident. I've since been to his funeral and have seen or talked to all of my customers who own his boats. My heart is full of joy with hearing from these people who knew Maynard through his boats. If you had a boat build by Maynard, you came to love the man. He will be missed immensely, but his life will live on in the boats he created. Here's a piece I did on his last boat:

Moondance and Spray in all their glory this summer on the Chester River.

Lastly, I must say goodbye to a boat. We've found a wonderful new buyer for our family boat, Moondance. Moondance first came into my life when my father bought her in 1979 (I was 14). I was standing on the dock at Rumbley, Maryland when I first saw "My Desire" drift up to the wharf with my father at the helm. She spent several years with us until my father sold her in the mid 80's. I later re-purchased her in 1995, restored her and relaunched in 1998, and raised my girls aboard during our various adventures around the Bay. I received an email from my daughter's best friend yesterday. It reads like this:

this means no more:
flank steak on Moondance
watching the fireworks on Moondance
first jump of the year into the Bay
no fun on Moondance
I am Excrushatingly disapointed in you Smichael!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
u cut me deep you cut me real deep
Masssive amounts of ears flat I GROWL in your general dirrection
I need to go cry all by my self in my room before I start foaming at the mouth

Carita and I renamed her Moondance after our Van Morrison wedding first dance song. She'll be missed and it's a bit hard to let go.

Monday, August 4, 2008

LUCKY reunion tour

Starboats at the start of one of Sunday's races during the contest for the coveted John Charles Thomas Trophy. Will Murdoch's LUCKY is sail number 7102 in the center of the photo. Photo by Bowie Rose 2008

Friday afternoon an old sailing partner called me and asked if I wanted to crew for him on his starboat, LUCKY, for the Miles River Regatta Saturday and Sunday. Will Murdoch's crew, Carl, hurt his shoulder and was unable to sail. I told Will I could give him Saturday, but probably not Sunday because we were having 2 parties at the house that day. He said that was fine with him; he really just wanted to "show" to be supportive of the club and the fleet.

Will and I are good friends and good competitors...against each other. Not only do we compete against each other in our own starboats, but Will is the jib tender in our arch-rival log canoe, Island Blossom! Ten years ago Will called me one winter evening and said, "Mike, I've bought a starboat. Would you like to be my crew and we'll learn to sail it together?" I accepted and together Will and I learned to race starboats over the course of the next 4 years. It was then that a boat was offered to me from Don Elliott. Will and I had an amical divorce and became good competitors agianst each other.
LUCKY finishing the race on Sunday. Not a good sign that no one is around us, because there weren't many behind us. Photo by Bowie Rose 2008

Saturday morning rolled in with a threat of thunderstorms. After a storm scare, the fleet returned to the river for the first race. Will and I went on to win the first race. I jokingly said, "if we keep this up, we're going to have to sail tomorrow's races as well." We then went on to win the 2nd race. I knew I was in trouble then. We finished the day with a 4th place finish, landing us as "top dogs" for the day and first place in the regatta going into the final 2 races of Sunday. I went right home, cut the entire lawn, trimmed, and baked a cake. I was hoping this would give me license to go sailing for a while on Sunday, despite the parties in the evening. My wife, Carita, is so supportive of the things I do. She was gracious enough to more than support me to finish the regatta with Will and to do our best to try to cling onto first place.

Sunday blew in with 15 knots of northwest breeze; not favorable conditions for 2 lightweight starsailors. But we held a respectable 4th in the 4th race, but tanked the 5th race. We ended up 2nd for the regatta under veteran sailor, Elliot Oldak, and his crew, Chris Harding, from Annapolis. We did win first place for our local fleet; Best of the MES Fleet.
Will Murdoch and I accepting the prizes we earned during our "Reunion Tour" aboard starboat, LUCKY. Photo by Bowie Rose 2008

Though its been six years since we raced together on his boat, things fell right into place for us as a team. Will is an excellent sailor, helmsman, and tactician. It was a great opportunity to do something different and crew for an old friend.
An aside note: The last few sailing blogs have been of successes made on the local rivers. Though things have been going well for me, my crews, and my sport; I will be sure to write when things aren't as successful as of late; just making "hay" while I can.

In trail news, Karl Meltzer, of Sandy, Utah, will attempt to run the Appalachian Trail from Maine to Georgia starting tomorrow, Tuesday, August 5th. What's exciting is that I might "I said might" get a chance to see him, or maybe, if I'm really really lucky, get to run with him while we're up north in New Hampshire. He is attempting to run all 2174 miles in 47 days, which will set a new record. He is ambitious to plan for 50-mile days in the White Mountains. I cannot imagine covering 50 miles a day on the trails in the White Mountains. He plans on being at Crawford Notch on next Tuesday night after running 47 miles to get there that day. Michael Valliant, can you imagine? Our 14 mile-day last year from Mizpah to Madison Huts was a killer. Try tripling that!! Watch Karl's progress at Good luck Karl.