A night in the bivy

In preparation for my first winter ultra I decided to try and sleep outside last night in my sleeping bag and bivy. I wanted to see what it was like, and what I needed to change. I wasn’t sure if I’d make it all night, as I did need to go to work today, but even a few hours would be a huge benefit.

Here was my equipment list:

  • Eureka Lone Pine 0 degree bag
  • Outdoor Research Helium Bivy
  • REI Flash inflatable sleeping pad
  • Two layers of clothing on the bottom, three layers on the top, heavy wool socks

I ended up being outside from 8:30pm to 1:30am. The only reason I got up was that I had to pee. If it wasn’t for my middle-aged bladder I would have slept longer. I could have crawled back into the bag, but decided that I could call it good and go inside, since I had been out there for a solid 5 hours.

So what worked and what didn’t?

First, my bag was amazing. The air temps last night were in the single digits, so it was right in the range for what my bag was made for. I was probably overdressed on top and could have shed a layer there. If anything I could have used another thin sock on my feet. My only complaint about the layout of my bag is that the storage pocket is in an awkward place on the inside roof. I wish it was closer to the side as I felt like my phone was in the way when it was in the pocket.

The bivy sack did it’s job and kept all my heat inside. It actually got to be a bit too warm and I ended up venting the opening a bit, despite it bringing in cold air. The main issue with bivies is the condensation. When I woke up at 1:30 the top of my sleeping bag was a combination of wet and ice crystals. The entire inside roof of the bivy was coated in water as well. Thankfully, it wasn’t dripping on my face or anything, thanks to the pole that holds up the bivy over my head. However, getting my sleeping bag wet isn’t ideal.

Bivies are also somewhat claustrophobic. They’re small cocoons that aren’t much bigger than your body. There were a few moments when I bedded down where I had a brief moment of anxiety, but it passed quickly. It also helped when I vented the bivy as it allowed me to see the outside a bit more. In the summer I could use the screen closure instead of the solid one which would help a lot more as well.

The final piece of gear was one that I wasn’t that pleased with. I love my REI Flash pad, and I thought that its R-value of 4 would give just a bit more insulation below me. However, I tend to sleep on my side which means that my hip compresses the pad completely in a small area. That also meant that my hip got colder than the rest of me. It wasn’t terrible, but I think for my race I’ll grab a foam Z-Pad instead.

Finally, I should have cleared out my sleeping space better. I just plopped everything down and crawled in, and that meant that the snow was a bit more uneven than it could have been. I could have made things more comfortable if I had patted things down with my boots a bit more before laying down the bag. Not a big issue, but something to consider for another time.

Despite a couple of annoyances, I’m incredibly happy with how the evening went. In a winter ultra context, I’m never going to be bedding down for longer than a few hours at a time anyway. Getting 5 hours of sleep, like I did last night, would be a luxury in a race. If I were to go winter camping, I wouldn’t do it in a bivy, but would instead bring along a tent, and additional equipment to make things comfortable. Therefore, I’m counting last night as a huge success. I have a couple things to adjust, but otherwise I feel in good shape for Tuscobia.

Fitness week recap – 12/2/2019

Week Starting 12/2/2019
Running:
 14.3 miles
Biking:
 33.4 miles
Steps: 68.787
 (34.33 miles –  20.03 walking)

Impression: Two weeks ago was vacation week for me and my running and biking was pretty much non-existent. This last week though I got back on the horse a bit and got in a solid week of runs. None of them were double digit, but I’m OK with that. I’ve been dealing with a knee niggle, so I’m trying to not push things too much.

I did manage my longest fat bike ride ever though on Global Fat Bike day, totaling out at over 18 miles. That long on the fat bike has shown me though that I need to make a few adjustments. Some things aren’t as comfortable as I would like them to be.

Next week I need to get into serious sled pulling. Tuscobia is coming up soon and I’m still trying to ride my fitness level from earlier this year. We’ll see how this goes…

 

TV Review: The Boys

A couple of months ago my wife suggested we watch through the new Amazon series, The Boys. Last month we finally sat down and did just that. This series is based on a comic book series that run in the early 2000’s to a lot of critical acclaim. I had never read the books, but was familiar with the basic premise, that superheros existed, but that they often were corrupt, serving their corporate overlords. The show stars Karl Urban as the leader of a rag-tag group of misfits who are trying to take the supers down.

First off, this show is dark and gritty. There are no punches pulled and you will see blood, gore, and full frontal nudity. It’s about desperate people doing whatever they can to accomplish their goals. When I say this is a comic book series, it’s more akin to Walking Dead than Captain America. Despite this bluntness everything still works. The violence fits with the narrative and never feels gratuitous. If someone were hit with heat vision rays from a superhero’s eyes, they would slice in half with blood and gore. This isn’t hidden, but at the same time it’s not celebrated.

Along with a dark and gritty tone, the story follows suit. This isn’t a happy-endings type of story. All of the characters, even the good guys (especially the good guys?) are morally questionable. The ethics rule book goes out the window for almost every character. That means you sometimes feel weird rooting for the “good guys”, but in the end they’re not as bad as the bad guys.

I won’t get into spoiler territory, and so I’ll wrap up my review saying that this is a really well done show, despite its gritty nature and questionable ethics. It’s easier to write a story where the good guys are good, the bad guys are bad, and winning is black and white. That isn’t this story. This is a much more difficult tale, and it’s told well.

I’m happy that season 2 is in the works, though it’ll probably be quite a bit before it’s released. I know the story is going to get darker before the end, but as long as it continues to be well told, I’ll keep tuning in.

Thanksgiving 2019

The house is quiet. The only sounds are of the cats quietly stirring and the low hum of their water fountain pump. As I look out the window the world is covered in a fresh coat of white. The first snowstorm of the season hit yesterday morning. It’s Thanksgiving, and the world outside is quiet and still. Soon a new sound enters the air. Water heating up in my tea kettle for my morning coffee (decaf still… sigh). It’s peaceful this Thanksgiving morning.

The theme of 2019 for my blog was #livingmybestlife. Perhaps the thing that I’m most thankful for this year is that I have had the opportunities to do just that. In 2019 I’ve had opportunities to do incredible things, see beautiful places, and discover more and more of what I want my life to be about. Learning more about myself is the heart and center of my gratitude this year.

I feel like the past few years have been times of self-discovery. When I was younger I thought I knew what I wanted to be and who I was. I spent years trying to be a certain person, living a specific life, and in the end it really wasn’t me. Or at least it’s not who I was able to be now. I’m finally peeling back the layers and feel like I’m coming out of a long tunnel.

None of this self-discovery would be possible without the people I surround myself with. I’m truly grateful for the communities of people who are a part of my life now. Some are still with me from years ago, and they join new friends who are walking the same path as me. As I’ve grown I’ve been supported by friends and family who have given selflessly to encourage me and help me grow. I’ve tried to reciprocate as much as possible.

As we come to the close of another year, I want to thank everyone for their support over the past couple of years. I wouldn’t be the person I am, I wouldn’t have grown, if it wasn’t for all of you. It’ s for that reason that 2019 was my #livingmybestlife year, and I hope to continue that trend. I’m excited for the future, and ready to see what the future holds.

Thank you

Fitness week recap – 11/18/2019

Week Starting 11/18/2019
Running:
12.5 miles
Biking:
 14.8 miles
Steps: 83,999
 (41.5 miles –  29.00 walking)

Impression: Pretty simple week this past week. Rode my bike to the train 4 out of 5 days, and got a few runs in. Still working back in to things, however dealing with some niggling issues. I’ve got arthritis in my right big toe that’s causing me pain after I run, as well as a ganglion cyst in my left foot. It’s inflamed a bit, which is putting pressure on my left ankle. Needless to say I’m cutting back a bit and giving my body a break, but without completely stopping activity. My doctor was adamant that I should do what I can to keep being active, as that’s one of the best way to help anything arthritic.

My long run was almost 7 miles, and I combined it with some errands. It made it a bit slower of a run, but I had fun using my two feet to get me around where I needed to go.