Monday, September 21, 2015

Downhill Adventure

Gravity style mountain biking. That endeavor which lends itself to big air, high speeds, the occasional hospital visit, and dirt-filled smiles. It's in my blood. My friend Will, the guy in the photo above with his smiling son, indirectly got me hooked on this adrenaline rush back around 2003 when he convinced me to borrow my friend Alex's bike that he was storing in my garage. The two of us spent every chance we could finding trails around San Diego to ride up then blast back down. The tougher the challenge, the more time we spent and blood we spilled figuring out how to ride it. In short time we expanded our geographic range to include Mammoth (CA), Bootleg Canyon (NV), Sedona (AZ), Gooseberry Mesa (UT), and Whistler, BC (Canada) among other destinations. Not the least of these places was Snow Summit Resort, in Big Bear (CA). It had long been a stopover on my cross-country, super-d and endurance mountain bike racing schedules and it soon became a regular place to test our technical skills on steep, loose terrain, over jumps, and around trees. Then, one day, it became the catalyst for my transition into downhill or "DH" racing. I was racing an expert endurance event when I ran into a few bikers who let me camp with them overnight. After spending some time around the campfire, they invited me to race for their team, as a downhiller! Needless to say, I was a bit anxious about this since I had already destroyed my friends bike (sorry Alex), considered myself only an endurance athlete, wasn't sure I could afford the bike or parts, and had seen a number of people end up in casts or worse. My curiosity and desire to always try something "at least once" won out and I soon found myself atop the starting hill at the Southridge Winter Series in Fontana (CA) for the sport DH race. Somehow, despite my treating it like a really fast cross country course and almost passing out from wearing all that extra gear (full face helmet, 3/4 body padding, long sleeve jersey, etc.), I ended up close to the podium and I was hooked. I'll fast forward 10 years through painful lessons, great locations, my share of hard landings, a few national tours, attaining the vet-pro ranks, meeting and riding with some of the coolest people on wheels, pushing through a ton of barriers, to our lift-access riding this past weekend. 
We hadn't been up to "The Bear" in a little while and I haven't raced DH since the Ensenada (Mexico) Urban event in 2009. But my riding buddies, their kids and I still hop on the bikes when we can and get some adrenaline pumping. Saturday was special because I ran into a good friend, Steve, who I raced with on the Mongoose Tribe. We managed to throw down three quick runs and I was excited because he helped push me to clean a step-down jump I hadn't completed all day. To sum up the day, it felt like none of us had ever stopped riding. While I could spend an entire post on each of the people who have helped me become a better rider and person, I'll simply say thank you and I hope to see you "on the hill." 
You may be wondering how we can hop on the bikes and after only a few warm up runs and be able to throw down like "old times"? First off, I do not recommend anyone do this without having the proper gear, proper skill level and appropriate physical fitness. My friends and I can do this because we are all involved in almost daily exercise. Between us we kite board, hike, rock climb, run trails, ocean swim, practice yoga, and slack line, among other interests. We also have extensive experience and a clear knowledge of our limits on the bikes. 
What I can recommend and what I prefer to use are the Beachbody on-demand workouts. They are an important part of my weekly training. I can get a thorough, full body workout in under 45 minutes including the warm up and cool down, in my garage. Some of the benefits of the on-demand option include being able to workout anywhere there is Wifi, being able to access the workouts from almost any Wifi device, the option to choose workouts based on a particular program or trainer, and being able to pick from hundreds of workouts targeted to parts of the body.  On weekends or given a longer time frame I will do an endurance activity and always fit in some tennis, yoga, swimming, or stair climbing for cross training. I will also typically tone down my workout the day before a full day on the mountain.
Please follow this link to sign up for Beachbody on Demand with the first month free! You have the option to cancel if it doesn't make you feel great!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

   Hello fellow adventurers! This blog has been floating around in my head for far too long.  I apologize to all those fine folks who have asked me for photos and words since I began my travels. I think it’s only appropriate to dedicate my blog and this post to all of you who have helped me arrive at this point in my life. Without your love, guidance, lessons, and years of selfless encouragement, I would not be the person I am today.
    So who am I? A logical question, with no easy answers, which continues to be defined. I’ll do my best, from my perspective.  Please fill in the story, add color, or ask questions in the comments below.
    First and foremost I am a man of many interests, from reading novels and watching documentaries, to racing bikes and running mountains. I cannot stand to sit still with so many places unexplored nor avoid roadside attractions en route to a destination. I am primarily a man of the trails and high places although the ocean and forests seem connected to my emotions. While I commuted for many years by bicycle and ran plenty of races on pavement, it doesn’t make me happy and I find it much more dangerous than dodging trees, rocks and thunderstorms. I have an affinity for happy people, crazy weather and going to places where few other feet have tread. Given the opportunity to work or live amid a new culture I have tried to say “yes” which led me to a great work-study experience in Belize and two years in Vanuatu with the Peace Corps. Through years of reading outdoor sports and travel magazines I developed a love of photography. My background in Geography (BA degree from SUNY Cortland) and a desire to share my activities with others has caused me to learn more about the camera and lenses that were always so mysterious. As a way to fund my adventures and share them, I will have a link to my photographic prints listed on the side. I hope you enjoy them enough to order one for you or a friend.
    You may wonder why a blog that will include photography and observations from my travels is called Fit To Discover. It’s because I’ve learned many things, through much trial and often painful error, about being prepared for journeys. While it takes only interest and some borrowed equipment to get started hiking, biking or simply city walking, to go further and higher takes a bit more planning. Strenuous active journeys require me to be in good mental and physical condition through daily nutrition, hydration, rest and of course muscle work. My mind gets prepped through yoga, meditation and the researching of a trip. For physical preparedness I have found that doing short (30 to 45 minute), intense (continuous sweating and high heart rate) workouts a few times each week with a couple of endurance days (ie. swim 1 mile) and cross-training (yoga, stairclimb, etc) work best for me. I will include links to nutrition sites and exercise information that I find helpful as well as writing posts about these topics ongoing.
    I offer personal encouragement, challenge groups, resources, product information, and support to athletes through Team Beachbody.  They offer programs that fit my weekly intense workout requirements (P90X3, T-25, Body Beast, etc.), the endurance framework (ChaLean Extreme, Insanity, etc.) with unique and fun programs like Cize and PiYo for cross training. I’m currently using their versatile On-Demand workouts to get ready for my next mountain excursion. This is a great option because I can use my laptop, or even my cellphone for a guided workout from anywhere with a WiFi signal. If you travel a lot, this is an invaluable resource. Please see my Beachbody page link for a complete program list, the Beachbody Challenge and product ordering information.
    For nutrition I do my best to eat organic, sustainable, and unprocessed foods. This also makes me feel better about how I’m caring for the earth. I feel the best eating primarily veggies, some meat, very few grains and supplementing with Vegan Shakeology. I use Beachbody’s Energy and Endurance formula before some of my most intense workouts, like stair climbing, for optimal results. If you don’t have a current pre- or post-workout drink, I highly encourage looking into the Beachbody Performance line at the link provided.
    To finish up I’d simply like to say thank you. For reading this far. For sharing my blog page if you are so inclined and for for commenting or giving constructive criticism. I am far from perfect, always learning and enjoy the opportunity to share this page with you.
    Safe travels,
    Coach DMack