This blog as might be apparent from the title has to do with running, biking and basically other outdoor individualistic sports, sometimes extreme, such as rock climbing . But don't be surprised if you find articles on work, personal life, music and even philosophy, this blog is an exception in this aspect in the blogosphere of running blogs and I am trying to revamp the blog to make it more runner friendly. You might want to look at the sidebar titled 'categorised', which as is obvious, categorizes my posts into different areas of interest.
The other thing that might interest many people is a section on 'running videos' and 'general videos' on the side bar, which I keep updating now and then.
I plan to bring in more posts on running and biking, with some added colour, so as to make them 'complete'. That's about it for now.
As a post-note, I have run a half-marathon, but I am yet to attempt a marathon, which through some concerted effort and time should happen in the future, but that ofcourse is not the culmination of this blog, it would on the contrary be something to jumpstart this blog onto new vistas.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Christian yoga???

Seriously, what is that? This is one of the websites that advocates christian yoga. According to one blog, "Practitioners say that Christian yoga fills a need for believers who want the health benefits of yoga but are put off by the practice's ancient Hindu roots." This really says something about the parochialness and the lack of tolerance of christianity towards other religions. It also reflects a sense of insecurity among the practitioners of christianity. And yoga as known to the world is actually Hatha yoga, which along with Karma yoga (Yoga of action), Bhakti yoga (Yoga of devotion), Jnana yoga (Yoga of Knowledge)and Raja yoga(the king of yogas) form a part of the yoga sutras of Patanjali.
The sad part is many Indians today aren't even aware of the different forms of yoga, let alone knowing more about them from literature. Karma yoga, for example,has more to do with identifying who you really are through action or work than worrying about accumulating good karma or bad karma.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Biking beyond the gilman trail

Thought of doing the burke gilman trail + sammamish river trail, a round trip distance of 72 kms (45 miles). But since today's a week day, I had to be back before my advisor starts looking for me. Hence I just went 8 kms into the 16km-Sammamish river trail, a beautiful trail actually. Unlike the Gilman trail, which is surrounded by a canopy of trees, the Sammamish trail follows the kutty Sammamish river all the way to Marymoor Park, Redmond and affords great views of open fields all around. Reminded me of the dainty town of Orting on my previous biking trip to Kapowsin. So I managed the whole trip(56 kms or 35 miles) in 3 hrs and 15 minutes including breaks. Probably this weekend, I might do the full distance and get some pics too.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The chain that asks me to speak...

... About myself. It's also called the 'tag'. I was tagged by Priyank a week back but research work, books and erratic sleep times have put me on hold. So here goes..
Despite being lazy, I like to do un-diluted research whenever I can and in doing that I border on being a masochist. I like to borrow books from the library and read the prefaces and forewords, before returning them back. I am an idealist with changing ideals, but I do stick to a few core ones for long periods of time. I am, as many human beings would be, constantly looking for a sense of purpose in my life, and the questions which come about through such deliberations take me through myriad books in philosophy, long excursions on bikes and of late, through meditation, into the varied realms of silence. I believe in the limitlessness of the human potential and would be more than happy to see a minute nano-glimpse of this infiniteness in the smallness of my human experience.
An extrovert during my childhood days, an introvert during my adolesence to being an ambivert right now, I have traversed three-fourths of the circle.
Now for some real facts:
The time when I hit the sack during the past 9 months have spanned all of the 24 hrs.
I have run a half-marathon.
My weight has been a constant 65 kgs over the past 5 years.
The first big thing I bought when I came to Seattle was my beautiful road-bike. The cell-phone came 6 months later. The lap-top is yet to make an entry!
The chain ends here.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Sammamish river park

This week was cloudy and I was starting to get worried. Why? Because once it starts raining in Seattle, it becomes an everyday affair. Summer is still going to be around, maybe till August end, but that's just a month away from now. Hence I decided to do kutty training rides of around 30 - 40 kms a little regularly. Hopefully, these training rides would get me geared up for bigger biking trips of 100 - 120 kms which should be in August.

The place
Sammamish river park is located 12 miles or around 20 kms from university district, Seattle. The going was damn easy since it was mostly downslope till Kenmore, after which it was a flat road till Bothell, where the park is located.

I noticed a lot of kutty wildlife at the Sammamish river park, just around the point where the Burke-Gilman trail converts into the Sammamish river trail (which goes upto Redmond).

Roosters and rabits abound.

I didn't have much time to do any sightseeing. Just hung around at some places, took a few pictures and returned through the Burke-Gilman trail.

Now if I had taken the SR 522 back to Seattle, it would have screwed my body, since all the downslope while coming converts into massive upslopes while returning back.
Luckily, the Burke-Gilman trail comes to the rescue.

SR 522

The ride back
The burke-giman trail is an awesome trail, since it passes by the washington lake and has some big trees and variegated vegetation along the trail.

But there are also down-sides to the trail. There are many bumps on the trail as in the picture below.

These bumps can harm a road bike going at a good clip. So I had to slow down unwillingly at many places. But unlike last time, these bumps have been marked with pieces of chalk at most places and this would definitely keep the riders alert. I applaud the effort of whoever it is that took upon this job.
My fitness on the ride back was good. I wasn't getting tired, though my legs were. Does that make sense? I have been having problems with my left and right knee which has prevented my running, but hopefully crosstraining through biking should help the knees heal well.

The going was pretty quick, thanks to the downslope. It took me around 40 minutes for the 20 kms.
Coming back: The burke-gilman trail - 55 mins for 19 kms.

Future trips
This ride was upto Sammamish river park, which is the start of another trail - Sammamish river trail which goes upto Marymoor park, Redmond, a distance of 10 miles. This river trail is supposedly very scenic, so Burke gilman + Sammamish river trail might be my next trip, a round trip of 70 kms.

Another trip that I have already planned for, but am yet to execute is the trip to Granite falls (round trip distance of 90 kms), North of Seattle (North-east of everett).

Tuesday, July 17, 2007


Have had 4 of em in the front tyre(recent purchase) in the past two months and one on the back tyre in the past 9 months!!! Apparently, the front tyre(ultra-sport brand) is suitable for "smooth-road" biking but not for the roads of seattle, what with glass pieces strewn randomly on many minor arterial roads. 3 of those 4 flats have been due to a glass piece. Hence I got a tyre that has a much rougher surface and kevlar inner-lining. No flats so far (it's only been a week). In the long run, I am going to get a mountain bike for city commuting and use the road bike exclusively for long-distance trips. Makes a lot of money and time sense.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

The good side of a trail race

I got a virtual glimpse of the good side or what I imagine is the good side of the Hardrock 100 mile race which was flagged off in Silverton, Colorado on July 13th. It's a gruelling, extreme 100 mile endurance race with lots of dehydration, altitude sickness, hypothermia and injuries (the bad side) on one hand but also with exotic and scintillating visuals on the other hand. The good side of this 100 mile race can be seen here. This year's winner was Scott Jurek, who also set a course record by finishing the race in just over 26 hours! I can't fathom what it means to finish a 100 mile run, let alone compete in one. How is it that the same guy(Scott Jurek) particiaptes in similar races of 100 miles (Western states and Hard rock) but takes around 15 hrs to complete the first race but 26 hrs to complete the second, all the while setting course records in both? Maybe that's why they call it the hard rock race(I guess it has to do with the amount of climbing involved in Hardrock(33000ft) as compared to Western states(18000ft)).
Coming back to the good side and visual effects, its interesting to see that the scene in LOTR with all that running for days together could actually have been a part of an ultra-marathon such as the Hardrock 100 mile run.
As of now, Hiking - yes, running - no (its not like I have a choice!).

Thursday, July 12, 2007

The runner

Amazing beginning. Watch it here by Stuart Jones.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Ultra Marathon Man

I bought this book yesterday evening on my way to dinner at a Thai restaurant. I had been meaning to read this book by Dean Karnazes for quite sometime. This book is ofcourse an autobiography that centers primarily around the running or ultra-running adventures of a Greek descendant-American born athlete.
The book, if you ask me could be organized much better, but given that it's an out and out running-centric and egotistical yet inspirational book, I didn't mind it at all.
Great people should write inspirational books that brings the far-removed 'greatness' right back into the common-man's experience. The central theme of this book is that
'Suffering is spiritual'. The book has a great start, but sort of gets into discrete event-based sections as you go along, losing a bit of the coherence, but nevertheless being inspirational. I finished the book in two readings - the first 'three quarters', just as I fell asleep yesterday night and the rest today morning after I woke up.

The one experience that Dean narrates, where he is a bit drunk at a bar on his 30th birthday and decides that his life needs to change, was really a profound read. That night, he ran till dawn break the next day, for the first time in 15 years and this experience got him into what this whole book is all about - Testing the capability of body and mind through physical and mental exertion - a.k.a running ultramarathons.
I have a similar theory on what life is all about :- Psycho-physical-spiritual experiences. The word spirituality has been taken for granted, my definition is quite simple - Any experience that uplifts your being or spirit is spiritual; be it meditation or Tai-chi or running 48 hrs non-stop as Dean Karnazes does. Since the medium for spiritual experience could be a physical activity such as running, hiking or mountaineering or simple house-hold chores such as cleaning or mowing - the experience is physico-spiritual. Bring in the mind either through research or mental exertion or intellectual stimulation, it becomes psycho-spiritual. Club it all together and it becomes psycho-physico-spiritual, the experience called life.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Federer gets the Wimbledon 2007

7-6,4-6,7-6,2-6,6-2 against Rafael Nadal, and ties with the great Bjorn Borg for five consecutive Wimbledon titles. Great going Federer! Here's to your rivalry and camaraderie with Rafael Nadal.

A synopsis of the match

The last set of the match

Federer's interview post match

A report of the match.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

What's near seattle?

Man, I have been in the dark so far. I was expecting enthusiasm from my friends here for road trips or biking trips. Sadly, not many have a bike here, and their idea of fun is a little different. Even I have been ignorant of many beautiful places in and around seattle.
Seattle, so far for me, has been small spots north of seattle. I haven't looked to the east and I just went on a biking road trip to the south. East and North-east is the place to be. The cascade ranges, part of the coast ranges that run from North to South along the coast have innumerable trails(many passing through mountains) to hike, run, bike, ski on.

When I say innumerable, it's mainly from what I have read on other blogs and what I have seen on google earth.
I am sure many other cities in US have a rich trove of places to go around and have fun, its just waiting to be discovered.

Let me just rattle out a few hills/mountains from memory:
From West to east starting at Issaquah (south-east seattle): Cougar mountain, Squak mountain,
Tiger mountain, Rattlesnake ridge/mountain, Washington Mountain, Mount Si, Granite mountain, Humpback mountain, Snoqualmie mountain and falls. The good thing about these mountains are that they are of different heights and can accomodate all kinds of nature junkies: the family hikers, the serious hikers and climbers, the runners, etc. For example Squak mountain is just over 800 ft, while Snoqualmine mountain goes upto 5000 ft.

Iceberg lake, Glacier national park, Montana
Heading north-west from Mount Si: Index mountain, Mount Pilchuck, Baker mountain and Mount Shuksan (which goes across the Canada-US border).
Mount Rainier(14000ft asl) down south is the largest stand-alone mountain of the cascade range.
Mountains which are above 14,000 ft are called fourteeners. The state of colorado has 52 fourteeners, which are mostly contiguous.
Behind mount rainier and bordering state Oregon, there are mount adams, mount hood, mount St. Helens and a few others.

Mount St. Helens
This region has active volcanoes including rainier. A huge fault infact passes through the heart of seattle.
And finally to the west of seattle and along the Pacific ocean, Olympic mountain.

Olympic mountains
The olympic mountain range is infact responsible for the unusually rainy weather that Seattle experiences most of the year(except summer). Basically, moisture laden clouds from the Pacific hit the olympic mountains, which receive a quite a bit of rain. But a significant portion of the clouds deflect around the olympic mountains and converge in the Puget sound region. This convergence area is called the Puget sound convergence Zone (PSCZ) which makes Seattle cloudy year round. It doesn't rain much in seattle, around 1000mm, less than in Newyork infact, but it rains for twice that many days as in Newyork.

Miscellaneous links:
1) Mount Si
2) Granite mountain

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Biking to Kapowsin, WA

My friend who is also an avid amateur biker like me made a trip to seattle for a couple of days with some others. We decided to rent a bike for him and go some place. We thought about Snoqualmie falls, located east of seattle, further ahead of Issaquah. But apparently, his group was headed there. Hence, we thought of biking to the base of Mount Rainier, whatever that meant.

Kapowsin, which is a rural hamlet, located around 95 kms from Seattle downtown seemed to be the closest point from Tacoma to Mount Rainier national park and hence we decided to head there.

Since we had little time to plan, we didn't go into other alternative options that might have made better sense. The idea was to do some good biking on some of the steep roads in the country, get to the destination, possibly get a good view of Mount Rainier and be back before the end of the day. Since a 180 kms round trip seemed impractical, we decided to make it a 90km roundtrip by taking the bus till half-way, i.e. Tacoma.

We started out at 5 am and reached Tacoma dome by 6:30 am.

Since there were very few food stores open, we had to go around till we found a place to buy lunch. We started biking at 8 am and immediately noticed the elevation gain.

After the initial elevation gain, the roads were more or less flat all the way.

We took regular breaks every 20 minutes.

The mistake we did on this trip was not to carry a full blown map. We just had directions from Tacoma to Kapowsin.

What we didn't anticipate was that our curiosity in exploring new places or roads might get us lost or frustrated.
We had to abandon our initial route since the road we had chosen was unpaved. Luckily for us, mount rainier was the guiding sage. I mean, we were headed over there and when it towers 14,000ft asl, its hard to go in the wrong direction.

When we left a town called Pullyap where it seemed like everything (schools, sports fields, shops, houses) was put in just the right place (model town), we were in for a shock. We had to do non-stop climbing for 10 minutes so as to gain an elevation of 400 ft. That left us beat.

Luckily, it was all downhill or flat from there on till Graham, a town before Kapowsin.

A vintage train by the road
From Graham to Kapowsin, we got some of the best views of Mt. Rainier on the route. Its difficult to describe how it feels to see such a huge mountain upclose (from 25 miles away!) and without cloud cover.. simply elevating.

We were really tired when we reached Kapowsin after 5hrs of biking and we took a break for around 2 hrs. I caught up on some food, fluids and sleep.

Lake Kapowsin

Boating are there

Beyond: Electron reservoir and village
We couldn't do much sightseeing around Kapowsin because we were too tired from biking and lack of sleep.
Instead, we decided to take another possible route back to Tacoma and that turned out to be good decision.

Map showing the onward and return routes

Peaceful country roads
We took the Orting-Kapowsin road all the way to Ortin, a hamlet south-east of Pullyap. The scenery on the way to Ortin was pretty beautiful.

The landscape was an eye-candy even after we passed Ortin with yellow-green grass in the foreground and the dark green pines in the background.

We did some fast biking on this stretch till we reached Tacoma, but we did get lost on the way and were asking too many people for directions. The return journey was faster (4.5 hrs) despite being a longer route.
Overall it was a "decent" experience. Kapowsin is a cool place by the lake but it doesn't have any known trails that take you to Mount Rainier base camp. The most well-known trails (hiking, biking, etc) that approach Mount Rainier national park are ones from the north( carbon river road trail and mowich lake trail) and one from the south (paradise road trail).
However by car, there is the SR 410 that goes upto 8000 ft high.

Quick directions: From Tacoma, take the Portland avenue all the way till it joins Meridian Avenue and 112st. Head down as you pass by Graham till you come across the Kapowsin Hyw rd which takes you to Kapowsin. (We ofcourse didn't follow this route for many reasons).

Route on google map

We had some good and bad experiences on the trip which made us think on what's important for a biking trip -
A "biking road trip" has many components, a few important ones are:
a) The place you are headed. You can have high expectations of the place provided you get to know of the place from some one... Not otherwise. Researching the place and its surroundings will help a lot, especially if the place is not a popular destination.
b) If the idea of the trip is to not just bike but also explore the destination or the route taken, the biker needs to make sure that he is fit enough for the ride. Training frequently helps.
c) Maps. Very important especially if you are going to explore places or roads. Maps also ensure that you don't get 'lost'!!
d) Food and water: We didn't have any problem here since we had enough food and water was available at '7-11' stops on the way. But some rural roads might not have stores and hence in those cases its good to take more water for the trip.
e) Guiding device: GPS, compass, etc. This will work when maps don't or when you don't have maps of some particular region you want to explore. Some examples are forest cover with dense bushes, hills with no clear trails, places with little information on the web.
f) Riding safety: When riding on shoulders on main roads such as arterial highways, take note of the traffic on the road. If the traffic seems congested or is too fast it is better to slow down and move to the sidewalk or focus more on riding parallel to the shoulder line.

Kennenisa Bekele with the WR

Robbie Mcewen and steve o'grady - The 'Nudge'