Cautionary Tails

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Cautionary Tails

On my evening run through the Arizona desert last night I had a number of wildlife encounters. Expected during the summer season and remarkably common during my runs on my local trail route. I would encounter two Western Diamondback Rattlesnakes this evening which gives me almost as many sightings as all of last year (a record year for me). It is still June with about four months of watching where I step and hearing the occasional rattle, jingling while I sort out how close I am to the snake.

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Of the many assorted and interesting critters I experience while I take in the desert environment, the most often seen, in this order are deer, rabbits and you guessed it, rattlesnakes. Twenty one at last count for the Spring and Early Summer season. Getting rather close to the number that welcomed me on my runs last year.

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I love wildlife encounters and, well, snake encounters are a not quite a love affair but I do take on a trail runner crazy enough to run through the desert in the summer time, will trek through snake territory and will have a few meet and greet sessions with other inhabitants toting a rattle. It is their home and I do respect that simple fact.

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Do rattlesnake's give my heart a jolt? No, but there is a bump in the heart rate when I take a quick dodge to the left or right to avoid a snake.  They can blend in very well to the desert floor but I have had to become great with those scaly senses.

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Very, very thankful that of all the creatures on the planet, the rattlesnake rates high on the list of animals that let you know of its presence. A beautiful fact and one of the reasons I have an admiration for the scaly and sometimes noisy, scary creatures of horror films and jolting newspaper articles. Oh, those stories of people who get bitten after decapitating a rattlesnake are primal fear unleashed. 

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I have adjusted my trail runs, slightly, due to encounters at the start of my trail. There are one of two 'friendly' slithery reptiles along the start of my trail time. Roughly eight or nine meet & greets within the first minute of the trail. I had to wonder about the fact that there was a r snake 20 feet up the trail. The photo below is another run-in that is at the exact start of the trail. Sheeesh! I now walk this lively section.

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Clock is ticking toward my next run. Almost all of the wildlife I see on my runs is during the suppertime excursion. I will have my eyes dialed in for any and all wildlife, capture what I can with my camera and enjoy getting out in nature and continue to improve my health and diabetes care. And watch my step.

If you find yourself trekking through rattlesnake territory, do be ultra careful. I have read about some horrendous encounters with some devastating results after interactions with Mr. Rattlesnake.

 

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Plan to share another angle on my wild wildlife experiences. Could include Gila Monsters, Tarantulas (yes, I pick them up!), Desert Tortoises, Bobcats, Javelina's (no, don't pick those up), Giant Desert Centipedes, and who knows what else might appear in my blog.

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  Black Rattlesnake

Black Rattlesnake

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Kayaking on the Gila River

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Kayaking on the Gila River

The Gila River was flowing at a yearly high rate (357 cubic feet per second-C.F.S.) and I received a phone call from Billy Joe, an adventurer who also has type 1 diabetes. Google unveils a record flow at Winkelman (our entrance point) of 55,000 C.F.S.! A slight difference from our day on the river but it would be enough flowing H2O to make things interesting.

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Initially, I was to join Billy and a friend to support his journey down the Gila River from Winkelman to Kearny, Arizona. The Gila River is not a large flow of water but for the arid desert Southwest it is a vital piece of the life puzzle for the area. It is not a deep river, although I can share that in many points it was over my head. We will get to my means for analyzing this fact, later.

  Billy Joe on the L. Photo by Billy Joe's friend.

Billy Joe on the L. Photo by Billy Joe's friend.

I would receive a phone from Billy the night before the trip and he had secured a 2nd kayak so that I would be able to join him on the river instead of along the river. While I have a decent background of sea kayaking this would be my first time to river kayak. No spray skirt nor bear spray. With a bright and early start I scrambled to pack items for the trip. My nature is to start packing well before an outing and meticulously go over the details. I am a planner and know that I need/want diabetes supplies, safety and camera gear, food, etc. I headed out the door a little short on the full list of items. While I am not aquaphobic, I dabble in some level of -ic that is right below aquaphobic (water panic).

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The journey would start well and gave the indication that it would be a simple float. River was moving us along at a good clip and thick, lush vegetation crowded along the vital water source streamed by. Soon the river narrowed under a railroad bridge and the nestle of branches and trees encroached upon our water highway and revealed a drop off. Grabbing nearby foliage, we analyzed our situation and decision to 'ride' the drop or negotiate around it. Negotiation appeared to offer minimal opportunities so we rowed forward. No problem and we continued on our way to Hayden then Kearny.

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At some maze of roots and branches and a narrow point with a funnel of faster flowing water I ran into a low hanging branch. When this happens the outcome is somewhat settled. You can do your best to push off, duck, or skirt the 'object' but if the current is flowing in its direction and/or you pick a less than adequate line, you will be stopped. While you may be furiously tackling the water with your oars the liquid freight train continues forward and the laws of physics begin to evolve. I was flipped.

  Billy Joe taking it easy. The only good landing area we saw until near the extraction point.

Billy Joe taking it easy. The only good landing area we saw until near the extraction point.

Into the river I went and I was now submersed, pawing upward to break the surface. At the same time, you, the kayak and your oar are riding the current, thankfully at the same speed. At this point it is a crushing reality that I need to keep that kayak in my grasp and capture the oar. Pure misery if I it got caught up in the thickets and I was still moving downriver. Really difficult to land on the steep slopes and go back upstream to retrieve anything.

Billy Joe's Video on our kayak adventure.

This is not the first time I have introduced to a body of water while kayaking. During an ocean kayak venture, I unvoluntarily exited the kayak and found myself in Sitka Sound (Alaska). Thankfully, it was close to shore and I had a spray skirt. Bobbing in the Gila River, I now had an open kayak that was now full of water. I knew how heavy 90 ounces of water was to run with. Imagine the weight of a boat full of water. Billy Joe had been just ahead of me but he was out of sight and screams to know that I had been hung up. I secured the oar, righted the kayak and found a spot to 'park' the kayak while I did some bailing to lighten the kayak and pulled it up the steep slope to turn over and drain the aqua pura.

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This would happen a number of times and I began to get more comfortable with an equation that would have overwhelmed me in the past. Do not ask me to go out on a raging river and practice kayak exits, but I was taking some steps (strokes) in the right direction by the end of the day to getting more comfortable in a watery environment.

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Me and my gear (I had tethered the living daylights out of my gear bag) did survive and I am happy that I had this opportunity. It was a learning experience and I realized that many things could have gone wrong. Yes, oh yes, the insulin pump brilliantly kept on ticking. Thankfully, we did not encounter these landmines and did have a memorable, but good  ish time on the Gila River.

I am working on a video of this. Take a deep breath!

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Why I Bungee Jump

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Why I Bungee Jump

A question my parents, friends, relatives and unknown strangers ask (Why I bungee jump). Why would you jump off of a perfectly good bridge? Or a bad bridge for that matter?

  From the Navajo Bridge near Page, Arizona. A Perfectly good bridge in the sensational Grand Canyon. Photo by Dave Nevins.

From the Navajo Bridge near Page, Arizona. A Perfectly good bridge in the sensational Grand Canyon. Photo by Dave Nevins.

My adventurous life of jumping from bridges, out of airplanes (tandem jump), base jumping (tandem jump), rope jumps and swings from bridges, mountain climbing, rock climbing, caving, and organizing extreme events (long ocean swim races in Alaska), etc. all goes back to a single moment in life while I lived in Boise, Idaho. A clarifying moment of who I would become and how I would find a little extra zest in life and how I would make decisions as opportunities would cross my path.

My Sony POV video.

My neighbor Curt strolled by one morning and asked me a simple but complicated question. Would I like to join him and a few others to bungee jump off of a bridge near where I lived?

  Kayakers near the start of the paddle down the Colorado River. Photo by Dave Nevins.

Kayakers near the start of the paddle down the Colorado River. Photo by Dave Nevins.

My mind played some games with me and I inched toward creating a reason I would or could not jump. My heart said, No, We are Not Going That Direction! A few more seconds of swirling brain waves bouncing in my head and I took a deep breath.

Video of me from my camera. Filmed by Sean Crosby.

Ok, maybe a few deep gasps for breath. I walked next door, rattled Curt's door and semi-confidently uttered, 'Yes'. 

My thought was simply and in a somewhat child-like manner were that I could not come up with a solid, valid or even heroic reason to not do the bungee jump.

  Colorado River from the bridge. Photo by Dave Nevins.

Colorado River from the bridge. Photo by Dave Nevins.

That is how I approach decisions to take on new challenges in life. Is there a good reason not to do this?

  Snapshot from my Samsung 360 Camera.

Snapshot from my Samsung 360 Camera.

Interesting timing as Matthew Butterman, a type 1 diabetes acquaintance, contacted me for an article to post online at Diabetes Daily. He knew that I did not live the usual lifestyle of a person with diabetes. In the 'Out of the Box' zone!

He did an outstanding job on "Be Extreme! Seven Lessons for People with Diabetes Doing Extreme and Adventure Sports". Thank You Matthew for reaching out  and sharing a niche lifestyle for those with diabetes. Article link below:

  Snapshot from my Sony POV.

Snapshot from my Sony POV.

As mentioned, the timing was unique as I was doing a bungee jump at the Navajo Bridge (Grand Canyon-Arizona) very soon (all photos and videos are from this jump).

  Snapshot from my camera. Filmed by Sean Crosby.

Snapshot from my camera. Filmed by Sean Crosby.

This was to be an extra special experience for me as it had been ten years since the last time I had connected to a bungee cord. I had contacted Eric Lyman (Over the Edge, Inc. Bungee) to see if we could orchestrate a group get together at the bridge. Bingo on seeking adventures!

  Me - Testing Gravity. Photo by Barry Glazier.

Me - Testing Gravity. Photo by Barry Glazier.

Bryce Myhre - video 

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Bungee Eric had selected April 1, 2018 for our jump. No, not an April Fools Joke! It was a nod to the Dangerous Sports Club and their first bungee jump on April 1, 1979, helping to usher in a sport that I was now attached to. Pun intended. A crazy group of people from England who traveled the world doing very interesting, unique and crazy events. Also an amusing read.

  Composite created by Eric Peffer Photography.

Composite created by Eric Peffer Photography.

  Composite created by Eric Peffer Photography.

Composite created by Eric Peffer Photography.

I journeyed up to the bridge with Eric Peffer, who would create some excellent memories of the bungee jump via his trusty camera. We were joined by Barry and Sharon Glazier (friends from Kanab, AZ) and some of their friends.

  Me - ready to almost lose the camera. Photo by Barry Glazier.

Me - ready to almost lose the camera. Photo by Barry Glazier.

Alyse (video above) had come to the bridge with her family (with the Glaziers) to watch some crazy people jump off the Nav. She would get a thumbs up from her parents and would make an exceptional leap.

  Alyse - Composite Photo by Eric Peffer Photography.

Alyse - Composite Photo by Eric Peffer Photography.

  Spinning, bouncing, hanging upside down, and........ I had caught the camera and now was trying to put a camera back on my head. Photo by Barry Glazier.

Spinning, bouncing, hanging upside down, and........ I had caught the camera and now was trying to put a camera back on my head. Photo by Barry Glazier.

The day would go very well as Abe and Bryce balanced on the railing, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 and they were in flight and no screams ensued. It was now my time to scream, or not, as I did my best to balance on the narrow railing. Did I happen to mention that the wind was fierce, howling at those whose scary moment 467 feet above the Colorado River was now turned up a couple notches.

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My years and years of leaping off things seemed to have soared back through my veins and I was at the low end for nerves rattling. That 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 did jingle a part of my brain that had semi-retired on my last jump in 2008, but I managed to jump in somewhat good form.

If 1 hits and you are still standing, you owe Eric a 6 pack!

  From my Sony POV.

From my Sony POV.

I enjoy plummeting to the earth at race car speed but the bounce back up toward the bridge will flip flop your innards in a special manner. I expected this, but did not expect that my camera would fly off my head. Miraculously, I would catch it. Only issue now was I was spinning, bouncing and upside down and would have to put it back on my head. An incredible stroke of luck (maybe a bit of skill) but I now envisioned dropping the cam into the river far below.

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I was successful in mounting the Sony and I clicked into a free ride up to the bridge far above. A few anxious seconds, but so glad that I had a life moment on the media card and the life changing experiences that doing such extreme things in life can produce.

Moments such as these do not happen sitting on the couch and wondering what if. Say yes to what may challenge, scare, or freak you out. The rattling anxiety is temporary, the memories are forever!

  Sunset from the historic Navajo Bridge.

Sunset from the historic Navajo Bridge.

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Fat Biking is a Thing

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Fat Biking is a Thing

I have shared that I am a runner at heart but adventure is plugged into my dna. For the most part I thrive with new challenges and experiences. Yes, fat biking is a thing and I am slightly addicted after riding through the desert with Billy Joe. Billy Joe was on our No Limits team of riders with type 1 diabetes who competed in 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo (mountain bike race). In his bike arena sits mountain and road bikes and two fat bikes. Just enough for the two of us to take on the desert. 

Vlog from the Fat Biking Adventure

We zig-zagged through some neighborhoods that soon found us in front of a wash and unlimited sand and rocks. Time to ride, but very, very slowwwwwwwlllyyyy. Oh, and those fat bikes, having tires that are better suited for go carts, are also extremely heavy. They do allow you to ride in terrain that is not suitable for other types of bikes.

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It was grand to be back on a bike after a long hiatus off of the saddle. I hope to get back on my mountain bike but will be challenged by the coming three digit temperatures that will swell the desert with a zapping heat that frightens me with the horrifying thought of having a helmet on my head. 

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Video below gives the viewer a glimpse of a rather fun sport. #8 in my vlog series.

The bike path above us was bustling with weekend riders and runners enjoying their time on pavement. It was a beautiful day and the scenery, while stark in areas, afforded the quiet moments to power the fat bike through sand and over a landscape of rocks, rocks and more dang rocks. 

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While those monster tires churned through the varied sand and rock obstacles, the bike was unsuccessful at finding victory in deep sand. Or, my skill set was not quit as deep as the unforgiving layer of sand.

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I did fall a few times but only one fall will be highly featured in this blog. Almost done with our route through the Pantano Wash, I found a notable rock that had my name on it and I crashed to the desert floor. Also crashing was my insulin pump which had a short but sweet meeting with the mentioned rock. The noise that my pump squealed out was loud, irritating and the sign of death as our ride was now over (except for the pedal back to Billy Joe's home). Pump was now dead and I needed to make my way to a syringe and insulin and eventually a previously used insulin pump in my archives. Not a stunning way to end the day but an excellent way to spend the day. Thanks go to Medtronic for promptly zipping a new insulin pump my way. 

 Snapshot from the video after the crash.

Snapshot from the video after the crash.

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Oracle Rumble - A tough race, but I did cross the finish line

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Oracle Rumble - A tough race, but I did cross the finish line

The morning was chilly and dark, and I was sleepy, slumped on a bus crammed with strangers as we rolled toward a nondescript parking area near Winkleman, Arizona. Our bus ride began at Oracle State Park (Oracle, AZ) and we were being shuttled a long distance North of where I had hoped to receive a medal, signifying that I had survived the Oracle Rumble. Our legs or a savior vehicle would take us back to the park and I would find out which method of delivery that this race would unveil. 

  Matthew Nelson (Race Director) addresses the runners at the start

Matthew Nelson (Race Director) addresses the runners at the start

I had haphazardly jotted my name into the small section of the application that mentioned long distances, remote areas, headlights, medical care, etc, etc. that was the Oracle Rumble 50 mile race. I felt really good about this decision, at least on paper.

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Bus chatter revealed that the two closest runners to me were from San Diego and Seattle. I felt blessed that I lived a mere 1/2 hour from the start line but knew that would have no bearing on whether I would finish, only that if I was in pain and anguish, I would be home soon.

  Aid station at 8 miles

Aid station at 8 miles

I overheard some details of the race from the year before (first year of the event). It was 11 degrees at the start line. Another blessing as it was in the balmy mid 30's as we pitched our warm clothes and extra gear into the vehicles heading back to Oracle State Park. 

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While the Race Director, Matt Nelson had tooted a rifle around the grounds of our start area, he gave us the preparatory speech at the start line with no rifle in sight. I anticipated a fired off rifle to start our episode across the desert, but, was disappointed. Maybe the rifle was for any runners who might start their journey before the countdown. 

  The remote aid station at 15 miles

The remote aid station at 15 miles

My race started off well, but took a crash dive about 20 minutes in. My insulin pump began beeping at me. An annoying tone that was a message to Dave that there is an issue and that he needs to take care of it, immediately. My immediate response was the realization that while the pump whined that the battery was almost dead I was 27 miles from a AA battery. I had checked the pump battery situation the evening before and it was over 1/2 full of power. I should have swapped batteries at that point but have not had a battery lose over 1/2 its gusto overnight. Another lesson learned and I turned off my CGMS (Continous Glucose Monitor System) that was giving me readings of where my blood sugar was. Rather important stuff for a person with type 1 diabetes running an ultramarathon. I would have to take blood sugars with a blood sugar monitor. That extra time would crush my hopes and plans of winning this race. Oh wait, I still do not have that speed. Maybe next year.

  Decision time

Decision time

I am pretty good at adapting and plodding forward through epic craziness. As I watched my blood sugars go from 119 while on the bus to 222 and 298 (about 3 miles in). This hyper supersonic action of a rising blood sugar was not a result of eating anything. Nerves? Not sure, but another factor that I would overcome. 

  Galiuro Mountains in the distance

Galiuro Mountains in the distance

The blood sugar would slowly crawl down to a good level and I gained some extra mojo now that I was almost 'normal'. The course was not in the normal category as it did start with a downhill trend, but would become a real up and down affair. I never did see the actual feet gained on this race but I did read a number of accounts from mountain bikers who had raced the length of the Arizona Trail (almost all of the Oracle Rumble is on the Arizona Trail) and I saw many who stated that this section is the most difficult one that they encountered.

  Galiuro Mountains in the distance

Galiuro Mountains in the distance

I trooped forward, mile after mile and was creeping toward the aid station at about 27 miles. I had started to feel the cramps developing and knew from my previous ultra that I dearly wanted to avoid cramps. I had spent a considerable amount of time stretching and taking longer runs but my genes were living the wild life in the cramp department.

  Oracle State Park

Oracle State Park

I sat down and fed my face, my cramps and my muscles at the aid station and made a decision to exit the 50 miler and settle for the 32 mile event. Actually, the decision had been made a number of miles ago and I knew it was the right choice and I was very glad that I had taken on the challenge and finished 32 miles. I knew that a lot would have to come together for a 50 and that 32 miles ain't bad. While I hover at an age where I shouldn't be doing what I am doing (and with type 1 diabetes) I have done 2 ultramarathons, a 24 hour team mountain bike race, crewed for the Race Across America (bicycle) and will be doing a bungee jump at the Grand Canyon in about 10 days, all within the last year and a half. Live life fully! 

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Thank You to Diabetes Daily!

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Thank You to Diabetes Daily!

A huge Thank You to Diabetes Daily and Matthew Butterman for the article 'Be Extreme! Seven Lessons for People with Diabetes Doing Extreme and Adventure Sports'.

The story is below.

https://www.diabetesdaily.com/blog/be-extreme-seven-lessons-for-people-with-diabetes-doing-extreme-and-adventure-sports-546509/

Well written, researched and includes me along for the ride/jump/swim/run/climb/hike. Whatever it is, whatever you enjoy doing, whatever challenges stand in your way, DO IT! Do not let diabetes or your mind, stop you. 

Do check out the Diabetes Daily site. Lots of information, stories, advice, etc.

Many, many years ago, while living in Boise, Idaho, my neighbor casually invited me to join him for an outdoor activity. Actually, to go bungee jumping. I had never done anything particularly heart pounding and I gave it some thought. My thought process was very short and uncomplicated. I made a life-changing decision to join in on the challenge. The reason? I could not come up with a solid reason not to do it. Done.

 

 

 

 

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From Idea to Film

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From Idea to Film

  My First Film

My First Film

When I took on the daunting challenge of riding a mountain bike with a team of riders with type 1 diabetes in a 24-hour race I was desperately lacking a few key items:
1. A rideable mountain bike
2. Teammates
3. The desire to park my running shoes for awhile
4. Ability to ride


These issues while being possible deterrents were not going to stop me. Ok, they could stop me dead in my (tire) tracks, but I decided to give it a crazy whirl.  

Underneath, I had another idea, buried within my creative spirit that had nothing to do with athletic ability or to not kill myself on my newly clutched mountain bike. Yes, I had conquered #1 on the list of deterrents. And a stupendous greenish color sparling new bike gave me a special feeling invulnerability, at least until I actually got on the bike.

 During the 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo

During the 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo

Tucked away in shredded, distant memories, I did have a semi-healthy background on a mountain bike. My brain does not serve me well to those reflections but I had an obsessed riding roommate and negotiating obscenely difficult trails was on our list of things to do since neither of us could define anything better to do. 

Oh, and that creative notion tossing about in my brain? I wanted to create a film out of the 24-hour experience. Why not? Or shall I ask myself, why so? This desire or goal had it's own list of challenges. Seems like most things in life do.

1. I did not quite know how to make a film
2. Newly acquired software that indicated I could make a film, but I was just learning how to not crash my computer system with it.
3. Would the team be ok with filming, questions, and sharing about their diabetes?

I am creative and have been a photographer by trade. I started pulling out the video camera when I would run into desert life, such as a rattling rattlesnake, tarantula, gila monster, etc. I began seeing the beauty of video, capturing unique moments in life and the ability to share more of a story by combining photography, video and writing.

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The icing on the sugar-free chocolate cake was being involved with the Banff Mountain Film Festival. A number of years ago my diabetes adventure group, No Limits received funding to produce our first film "Sugar Free Ocean". I would join the Banff Film Fest Sitka (Sitka, Alaska) as a board member. The funding was from the group which was generated from the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour and their stop in Sitka. They would donate all of their profits of the film evening to one or more non-profit organizations. 

I would eventually become the director of the BMFF in Sitka until life moved me off of the island (One week before the BMFF!!!!!!!!!). I was inspired by the outdoor and cultural films that BMFF traveled the world to present. I had the good fortune to spend a lot of time with the touring 'road warriors' from Banff and heard some of the inside stories behind the films. The inside stories are often better and more interesting than what is in the film.

  Amy, camera in hand during "Sugar Free Ocean"

Amy, camera in hand during "Sugar Free Ocean"

I was able to watch and assist Amy piece together the story and media to create the film. Not much of a role but I was glad to have pushed some buttons to make the effort happen. On the next No Limits kayak expedition the following year I would step into the role of filmmaker for the first time. 

  L to R - Me, Scott (guide), Trever

L to R - Me, Scott (guide), Trever

What a learning experience it was to craft a story, inserting two incredible characters (Trever & Scott), abundant wildlife, solid weather (for Alaska), and the Alaska terrain, which never fails to amaze. And then, there is the humor that Trever bestows to the film "Alaskan Waters". Insanely funny and there is also a very deep angle of emotion that plays out. Watch and see! I just posted the trailer and I am almost done with this project that is now many years old. Although, I had started on "Alaskan Waters before "You Only Live Once", I shifted focus as the mountain bike film seemed a little more timely to complete soon. The tales from the wilds of Alaska could wait.  

I do not know what is next for me but I enjoy a new perspective and avenue to share stories involving diabetes, adventure, No Limits, living life to the fullest and encouraging and inspiring the watchers. 

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Dirt & Diabetes at 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo with Team No Limits

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Dirt & Diabetes at 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo with Team No Limits

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Calendar is edging quickly toward the 2018 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo mountain bike race. I chose this year to focus on the Oracle Rumble (32 mile ultramarathon), but I have fond memories of joining team No Limits at the 2017 edition of the endurance race.

"You Only Live Once" is the film I created about Team No Limits during 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo

It was a big stride (for me the non-racer) to do an ultramarathon (34 miles) in November and aim at a 24-Hour mountain bike race in February.  It was a good, successful and growing experience. Training for the 24-hour race would require a new mountain bike (triple yay!), a few crashes (got my first, and most graphic one out of the way on the first ride) and a shifting of gears to revolve from running to biking. 

  Training ride where we came across a lost Colorado State University runner and guided her back to the trail head.

Training ride where we came across a lost Colorado State University runner and guided her back to the trail head.

  Well, most of the team. Me on the L, Olivia Rasmussen and Kent Loganbill. Photo by Todd Rasmussen. Off skiing, Billy Joe Donnelly. Training on the Sweetwater Trail (Tucson Mountains).

Well, most of the team. Me on the L, Olivia Rasmussen and Kent Loganbill. Photo by Todd Rasmussen. Off skiing, Billy Joe Donnelly. Training on the Sweetwater Trail (Tucson Mountains).

Training would connect me with Kent, Olivia and Billy Joe, all on the type 1 diabetes team No Limits. Todd, Olivia's father would also join us on various shredding in the Arizona desert. We varied our dirt exploration and spent quality time on 7 or 8 trails around Tucson and Oro Valley.

 Interview with Judd Resnick (Unica Publications - New Zealand) for a coming series on diabetes.

Interview with Judd Resnick (Unica Publications - New Zealand) for a coming series on diabetes.

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at 24 Hour city

Hats and mountain bike helmets off to Kent, who worked with the team and who endured a riding pace that was far below any riding that he has done since donning a tricycle.

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As the race neared the focus and buzz was the coming weather. While scrambling to have all of my race gear, clothes, food and diabetes supplies in order we were now looking at atrocious conditions for the 24HOP. Really, ? Cold, windy, rainy and it would even snow during the night laps. 

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Pulling into 24 Hour city, it was quite the spectacle. This area that is vast, empty desert would become a community of almost 2,000 riders and 5,000 inhabitants. 24HOP (24 Hours in the Old Pueblo) is one of the largest mountain bike races in the world. It is a special delight that the course is about 25 minutes from the house and I see the terrain on most of my runs. 

  Pre-race meeting. Photo by Sportograf.

Pre-race meeting. Photo by Sportograf.

Setting the tent up in 25-35 miles per hour winds (alone) was epic. Oh, what I would have given had I had the brilliance to video that moment.

Many, many activities going on before the race. This was one of the funner moments I captured. This is the rock drop (course goes in the opposite direction of this trooper).

Todd had a superb camping site for the team, despite coming equipped with gale force winds. We buckled in for the race. Todd & gang fed us extremely well and I was off to sleep. Wait, sleep did not arrive. More on this drowsy subject later.

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Race day rustled to a start and it...was...not...raining! Yet, the beast was coming. As team captain and just being a nice guy, I left the riding order up to the team. You can guess that this left me as the fourth No Limits rider on the course. In my many years of bungee jumping you wanted to be one of the first jumpers. Waiting for hours to jump would play on the nerves, blood sugar and confidence. This play of the cards would be a positive later on.

Running into other type 1 diabetes riders - Kathy from Seattle

Kent would ride first. This was the most challenging stage with more riders in tight spaces. Kent has unbelievable talent and is one of the best road/mountain bikers in the Tucson area. I did not post his monumental ride out of the gate but there is footage in "You Only Live Once".

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LeMans start - Photo by Sportograf

LeMans start at 24HOP

Olivia would nail the next loop and would call it a day. Billy hit the trail and I would prepare for my first mountain bike race experience. 

 waiting for Billy so I can take the next leg

waiting for Billy so I can take the next leg

There was a staging tent where we would wait for the team rider to finish the sixteen mile loop and you would hit the trail. The weather slowly rolled in and as it would play out, I only dealt with rain on my final lap. There were light snow flurries on my two night laps. More epicness, and to note, this was the only snow to fall in our area all winter.

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Catalina mountains - Photo by Sportograf

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Me, charging the course - Photo by Sportograf

My first lap went well, aided by training missions that took us around the course loop. Not a real hard or technical sixteen miles, but good to have seen it before. Credit to Billy who arrived late the night before the race and he had not ridden the course before. 

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Olivia and Kaleb (her brother) during the race. Photo by Sportograf

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Me, enduring the moment - Photo by Sportograf

I had come out to 24HOP the previous year to take some photos and to check out the event. I was impressed and this laid the groundwork to create a team and lean toward bringing along riders with type 1 for the experience. 

  Kent - Photo by Jim Rudnicki

Kent - Photo by Jim Rudnicki

Recruiting was a challenge as I had roughly twenty five on the list of possible riders with type 1. Getting them to commit was a whole new ball game. Goal #1 was a co-ed team of five. We sort of got there with commitments from three males and two females. One of the females was a road biker wanting to dabble in off road riding in the dirt. She would not show up to any of the training so we would evolve into a team of four. Our search for female mountain bikers with type 1 would yield a total one in the Tucson area. Olivia is all the more amazing as she raced on the high school mtn biking team and is only thirteen years old. She did ride 24HOP in 2016.

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Billy Joe - Photo by Sportograf

A personal goal of mine, beside getting a new bike, was to create a film of Team No Limits. I had been slowly creating a film on a No Limits kayak expedition in Alaska, but I had lots of learning ahead of me. This would take me part of the distance with more territory ahead. 

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GoPro from Billy Joe's bike.

No Limits rolled into the night. I am used to running at night but riding is a different stroke that kept me on my toes. Blood sugars saw higher readings that I would like the first couple of laps and a lower scheme on my third lap. Fourth lap was good and overall I was happy with how the blood sugars went for the event. 

 Starting a lap at 4:16 am. uggghhhh!

Starting a lap at 4:16 am. uggghhhh!

Finishing a lap at some ungodly hour, I strolled to my tent, head hit the pillow, I let out a few deep breaths, and nothing occurred. Sleep was not going to happen. I was wide awake and bobbing into my 2nd night with nary a snore. A guesstimation put me at about seventy six hours before I found the sleep zone.

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Me - Photo by Sportograf

No Limits would finish with fourteen laps and a good nod on the team standings. Success,and dirt everywhere.

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Photo by Sportograf

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Photo by Jim Rudnicki

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Let's Do It! (Part 6) An Almost Cross Country Bicycle Adventure (Hays, KS to Girard, KS)

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Let's Do It! (Part 6) An Almost Cross Country Bicycle Adventure (Hays, KS to Girard, KS)

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Our route had taken us into Larned, Kansas which was only 60 miles from where Eleanor, my grandmother lived in Hays. Also residing there was aunt Karen, who was gracious enough to pick up two smelly and tired cyclists.  We were in a good mood, though, as we were heading toward home cooked meals. Also greatly improving our disposition was a day that included fierce tailwinds, strumming us along at 18-25 miles per hour. I have been involved in seven Race Across America bicycle events (crew and staff) and a tail wind in Kansas is rather rare as relentless headwinds great most riders.

  Somewhere in Kansas

Somewhere in Kansas

My journal notes share that we arrived in Hays and ate a ton for supper. Probably pretty close to accurate as riding your bicycle all day causes an otherworldly panic for sustenance. And add excellent home cooking...

The head of the American Diabetes Association (Kansas) Francis Shipper, visits with us for some tales from the road for an addition in their newsletter. 

The next day would see us at the other end of the camera with KAYS- TV. Watching yourself on the 6pm and 10pm news is a bit startling, but I do have the strong desire to encourage and inspire others with diabetes. Get in front of that camera Dave! I am not going to let diabetes rule my life.

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Roger would share that he felt like a celebrity with all the pictures, questions and media. Celebrity status (in a very minor way) would continue with articles by Hays Daily News (done in Larned, KS), Ellis County Star, and a story to be submitted by Cindy Wiley (Tucson,  AZ - American Diabetes Association) for El Tour Magazine (El Tour de Tucson bicycle event in Tucson).

Via the media, we would be contacted by Brian, a cyclist touring from Philadelphia, PA to San Diego, CA. He was in Hays doing a rather torturous grind with 100 miles per day in a solo effort. He would share trying moments such as; tire blowouts, being attacked by a swarm of bees, excessive rain, and lost maps. Ohhhhhh, so fortunate looking back on our exceptional tour and outstanding company.

Karen would take us to Fort Hays State University, Sternberg Museum, the swinging bridge, Taco Time, Bohm's Bike Shop (they had told us about Brian) and we would endure two games of racquetball. My notes share that we split the games. Her memory may say otherwise.  

Time to hit the road.

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Diabetes would not rule my life but the only section of dirt road on our tour, might. Well, maybe rule Roger's life as I did not have a flat tire. Karen shuttled us back to Larned to get back on our tour. After Larned we would reach this special section of road (10 miles).

While in Larned we were interviewed by the Tiller & Toiler (newspaper in Larned). Along the route, we have been involved with call-ins to KCMS in Tucson. A Christian radio station that Roger worked at. 

My journal spits out that the Larned to Hutchinson section was possibly the most difficult day (so far). That is what happens when you eat 1/2 ton of food! I could not put a finger on it, but it was a rare form of ugly on this day. Yes, Kansas was back to her old nature with screamingly torrid headwinds. I was felt ready to quit. Blood sugars were hellish. Thankfully a connection through the American Diabetes Association landed us at Skip Smith's home in Hutchinson. People are amazing and we were blessed every day.

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Woke up 50 to 75% dead. Feeling trashed, but at least not quite ready to end the tour. I do manage to ride better than I thought was possible. Blood sugar is still horrible and Roger is not riding well so we make it a short day. My mother's friend has a contact in Newton where we do a rendition of 'American Gothic' (famous farm couple painting with farmhouse & tool)and but enjoy an excellent stay with James & Cindy Wulf where we are so busy chatting that dinner is not tackled until 10pm. Roger and I are so impressed with the Wulf's and a very simple but hard lifestyle. 12-18 hours a day of farm work is daunting but is required for those living life on a farm.

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Life has re-entered my system as we roll out of Newton. A solid day of riding for the first time in three or four days. As you near the Kansas/Missouri border the hills begin to make their presence known. That rumor that Kansas is pancake flat has been shredded. Girard, KS greets us with a day off and a visit to Big Brutus (16-story tall shovel for coal mining). We attend a Pittsburg State University football game in Joplin, MO vs Missouri Southern State College. 

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September 25th includes a church service, Chicken Annie's, 75-80 degree day and another border crossing, this one into Missouri. I notice each year I am involved with the Race Across America that with the Kansas border at your back the scenery takes a dramatic turn and the hills salute you as you roll into the Show Me State. What will Missouri show us?

  Big Brutus - West Mineral, KS

Big Brutus - West Mineral, KS

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'Let's Do It!' (Part 5) - An almost Cross Country Cycling Adventure (Adrian, TX to Hays, KS)

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'Let's Do It!' (Part 5) - An almost Cross Country Cycling Adventure (Adrian, TX to Hays, KS)

Headwinds greeted us as we journeyed east out of Adrian, TX. It was mid-September and the weather was changing as we could see our breath in the morning shuffle to pack our bikes, eat, shake the tiredness from our legs and take a quick blood sugar to see where my blood sugars were residing.  Our timing for this adventure would reveal outstanding Fall colors while scrambling for warmer clothing as the temperatures began to sink.  Not matter, each day was
amazing and a true revealing of the wonderful American spirit and hospitality. 

 We are joined by a overly friendly dog - Between Adrian and Amarillo, TX

We are joined by a overly friendly dog - Between Adrian and Amarillo, TX

Going through my journal from the trip, I see that on this short segment that while we pulled onto an on ramp I would grab onto a truck bumper and got a free, yet limited ride.  Yes, I have just disallowed my riding a bicycle from Tucson, AZ to Yorktown, VA. 

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This short Texas segment also included the dog in the photo above.  Rog had stopped to pet the Toto and soon the dog had chosen us as his new owners.  He went Crazy!  The photo must be me and said dog as he/she, for some silly reason, elected to stick by me mimicking a tick.  Rog found this to be of supreme humor.  After 3+ miles (at 14 miles per hour) Toto tuckered out and was seen no more.

  One of the all-time best billboards ever created - Oklahoma

One of the all-time best billboards ever created - Oklahoma

Good fortune would see us with at Wayland Baptist University for a visit with Roger's brother, Lance.  Four walls and a roof over your head is a special highlight when you are seeing your breath in the morning. Also, managed to play some basketball, frisbee and continued our tradition of eating almost everything in sight.  

Lance drove us back to the route where a flash flood and tornado had touched the area the day before.  More good timing for the bike riders who prefer to avoid tornado's when possible. We would encounter some of the wet stuff and it was apparent that we were heading into a storm. Roger likes these rough, snotty conditions. I am not craving misery, although I have an ability to deal with most anything that is tossed my way or deluges from above.

A 109-mile day and we were into Oklahoma and pretty much out. The panhandle of OK is short by all standards and we rolled into Kansas, my birthplace and home for all of six months. This would be our third 100+ mile day.  I still think back to how incredible this was as we were carrying loads that should only be transported by something with a machine designed to convert one form of energy into mechanical energy.  Yes, an engine.

  Both of us with my Grandma (Eleanor Gottschalk) in Hays, KS

Both of us with my Grandma (Eleanor Gottschalk) in Hays, KS

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Roger would share during this segment, "This whole thing is still novel.  If the time is right and the music inspiring, I'll get goosebumps all over my legs and my understanding will tingle with joy, just thinking about how fun this is."

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Adventure in a Tlingit Warrior Canoe

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Adventure in a Tlingit Warrior Canoe

Not long after I arrived on Baranof Island, I found myself in a canoe training for a 10.7 mile (nautical miles) paddle in the Pacific Ocean.  Thankfully, I was not alone, but, with 13 individuals who I did not know.  13 people in a canoe would appear to be a survival at sea moment unless it happens to be a Tlingit Warrior Canoe. 

 Toowu Latseen - Photo by Bill Greer

Toowu Latseen - Photo by Bill Greer

The Tlingit Tribe had different canoes for different uses.

Head Canoe: A large ocean-going canoe that was up to 70 feet long with a large prow and stern, used for long voyages and warfare. As trade flourished along the Northwest coast, this type of canoe became less prominent.

Northern Canoe: Designed for long journeys over open-ocean. It had flaring sides and a rounded bottom, designed for buoyancy and speed; the beam was from 5 to 9 feet and ranged from 40 to 60 feet in length. 

Small Canoe:  10-20 feet in length used for local transport and fishing.

The canoe became a visual symbol of community.

Tlingit Phrase:  Aadéi yanal.á!
English Phrase:  Steer toward it!

Tlingit Phrase: Yindei naytsóow yee axáayi.
English Translation: Push your paddles way down.

 Photo by Bill Greer

Photo by Bill Greer

 Sitka Coast Guard - Photo by Don Kluting

Sitka Coast Guard - Photo by Don Kluting

The Sitka Sound Ocean Adventure Race was created in 2007 and was the year that I participated.  Entrants used kayaks, rowing sculls and two Tlingit warrior canoes.  Most of the competitors were from Sitka, but there were participants from Juneau, AK, Salt Lake City, UT, Coeur d'Alene, ID and one from Adelaide, South Australia. 

 Photo by Don Kluting

Photo by Don Kluting

Our course of 10.7 nautical miles seemed like a long ways.  Thankfully, no hills!  It was not the longest course, which was 17.7 nautical miles, 20.4 statue miles.  

There were nine finishers in the long course and twelve in the 'sprint' event.  

Not talked about much, but our key competition was Kaasad Heeni Yaakw'.  This was the 'real' Tlingit warrior canoe.  Made of wood and much heavier and slower than our vessel.  Not sure of our construction material but it was lighter and faster.  

 Kaasad Heeni Yaakw' - Photo by Don Kluting

Kaasad Heeni Yaakw' - Photo by Don Kluting

Our Tlingit warrior canoe Toowu Latseen would cross the finish line in 2:52:14 coming in fifth place (short course).  This canoe is owned by Southeast Alaska Health Consortium (SEARHC).  Toowu Latseen means Inner Strength.  

The 'Kaasad Heeni Yaakw' is the Sitka Traditional Canoe Club's boat and means Canoe From Indian River.  They finished eighth in 3:04:22.

Later, we would hope on the Alaska Marine Highway (ferry system) to enjoy the Kake Dog Salmon Festival in Kake, Alaska and race once again.  This time it was only one mile, but the weather was threatening.  Storm arose just as we got to the start line.  

 Photo by Trina Nation

Photo by Trina Nation

 Photo by Trina Nation

Photo by Trina Nation

A crazy time on the ocean, but we would conquer the seas and our warrior canoe competition.

 Photo by Trina Nation

Photo by Trina Nation

 Photo by Trina Nation

Photo by Trina Nation

 Checking on the Bears during the Kake Dog Salmon Festial - Photo by Dave Nevins

Checking on the Bears during the Kake Dog Salmon Festial - Photo by Dave Nevins

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Diabetes Sports Project

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Diabetes Sports Project

I wanted to give a shout out to Diabetes Sports Project for featuring me on their Instagram page.
https://www.instagram.com/p/BXTM7nNASKO/?hl=en&taken-by=diabetessportsproject

If you are not familiar with Diabetes Sports Project, this is from their about page:

WHO WE ARE

DSP is comprised of the world’s elite diabetic athlete ambassadors who inspire and educate the diabetes community to achieve their goals and aspirations. These ambassadors demonstrate how through proper diet, exercise, a positive outlook and effective blood glucose management dreams can be achieved.

WHAT WE DO

The DSP ambassadors are directly engaged in community events within the diabetes and healthcare industry around the world. We participate in diabetes camps, JDRF & ADA events, industry conferences and trade shows, hospital visits, patient support groups, medical professional events and much more. Additionally, our athletes compete at the highest levels of sports to demonstrate that goals can be achieved with diabetes. 

We are dedicated to empowering the nearly 26 million affected by type 1 and type 2 diabetes in the United State. Through inspirational and educational community engagement along with competition in the biggest sporting events in the world, DSP will inspire and educate millions of people affected by diabetes.

Their website:
www.diabetessportsproject.com

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