I’d always wanted to try Injinji Socks. As someone with a bunion on one foot that causes the big toe to rub against it’s neighbor, I, not infrequently, developed blisters between my toes. Since Injinji uses a glove-like design in which each toe is individually wrapped, I hoped that the extra material would reduce friction and, thus, blisters.

Well, after two humid, wet runs with multiple stream crossings, I’m convinced. Despite having some pre-existing irritations between my toes both 2 hour runs were entirely blister free. While I’m not crazy about the coolmax fabric and wouldn’t mind a little more cushioning, Injinji looks to be my go-to sock for the summer.

The Big Open tells the story of a modern day adventure in which the author, the famous alpinist Conrad Anker, climber and photographer Jimmy Chin, and photographer (the late) Galen Rowell trek across the high central asian plateau called the Chang Tang. Dragging 250 pound wheeled carts across this forbidding and desolate land, the four explorers search for one of the calving grounds of the chiro, an antilope-like goat relative that are poached and slaughted to provide wool to make the trendy shahtoosh shawls.

While perhaps lacking the disasters that (unfortunately) make a great adventure story, the trip itself is both fascinating and well told. Similarly the conservation message about the importance of educating people about the chiru and the way in which they are killed to make the shawls is important. My one criticism is that the former is blunted by the later. In the modern age I understand both the need and the necessity of turning an adventure into an environmental crusade; however, the seriousness of the quest (or rather the need to convey the seriousness of the quest) would seem to have , in part, prevented Ridgeway from conveying all of the pleasures of the trip.

A great walk, yes, but a great walk (partially) spoiled in the retelling.

Normally this wouldn’t be a big deal. The NCR trail is a rail/trail conversion north of Baltimore. It isn’t long (and we only rode a 14 mile out and back) and it certainly isn’t difficult. What is cool is that my wife just learned how to ride a bike and we had a great day out together working on her skills and fitness and thinking about bike touring in the Netherlands next summer. The greatest adventures aren’t necessarily the hardest, the longest or the most exotic; they are the ones that are the most meaningful to you.

Great post in the Outside Blog proving that adventure is where you find it.

In the News: Wadlopen

May 21, 2010

Great story today in the NYT on wadlopen, walking across mud flats at low tide in the Netherlands. Check it out!

Wow, that was a strange Grand Tour stage. After Vino announced that he feels that this Giro is his last chance to win a Grand Tour you think that his team might have been motivated to chase (or at least control the breakaways until something more managable and less threatening went up the road). And why Liquigas rides at the front on sprint days,but wouldn’t control the bunch today I fail to understand. (BMC gets a pass because they are so weak.) On the bright side it means a lot more strange attacking days to follow!

While my wife claims that she learned how to ride a bike as a kid, the evidence clearly proved the contrary. This weekend she decided to learn for real, so she signed up for a class at REI. She learned and she loved it! Now we’re looking into buying her a bike and thinking about flatland/bike path cycling vacations in Holland or along the Danube! This could get fun!

As a birthday present my wife gave me A Man’s Life: Dispatches from Dangerous Places by frequent Outside contributor Mark Jenkins. The book is a collection of essays documenting Mark’s adventures, and in some cases those of others, with the essays broken into categories like “Risk,” “Mortality, and “Into the War Zone.” As the organization of the book might suggest, the book is something of a mixed bag and the essays too are variable in quality. Perhaps because of my recent personal experiences the two essays in “Mortality” were particularly effective, but at times some of the sections seem either dry (often when not about the author himself) or self-centered (when they are). In the end, the book, for me at least, didn’t quite hold together, although the last essay “The End,” the sole entry in the section “Last Rites,” was a shocking and powerful conclusion.

Check out my new page on my trip around the White Rim in Utah with Rim Tours.

RIP Rob Magin

May 13, 2010

I was saddened to learn that DC-area runner Rob Magin passed away on May 6th from a brain tumor that he was diagnosed with in 2008. I only met Rob once, but in many ways he defined and defines the ultra-running community for me.  I met Rob when we were seatmates on the bus talking us to the start of the Seneca Creek Greenway 50K/Marathon+ in 2007. It was my first trail race of that length and I was a little nervous. I asked the guy sitting next to me (Rob) if he had run the race before. He told me he had and that it was a great course. What he never told me was that he had won it the previous 3 years and that he owned (and still owns) the course record. While he didn’t win in 2007, when I later realized who it was I had been talking to, I thought that that was about the coolest thing ever.