Touchstone Blog Archive
Wednesday, May 31, 2006
  New Pilates Instructor
Alyssa Conn joins the team at Ironworks in June and will be teaching Pilates mat on Monday mornings at 7:30 am. She is a Certified Pilates Instructor specializing in rehabilitation, as well as an Aquarius, and a Protein Chemist. Alyssa did her Pilates training at the Ellie Herman Studios in San Francisco and has been teaching in the east bay since 2003. She believes that those who practice Pilates gain more than core strength, but also increased wellbeing through body awareness. Alyssa enjoys helping the world stand taller, baking yummy foods, hiking local trails, breathing fresh air, and hanging with her hound-dog, Kaiu.

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Monday, May 29, 2006
  And now....the Men.
Touchstone Men’s Masters Cycling Team hit the pavement hard with the rubber side down for a great start in its first season. The team showed its diversity and prowess in the Spring classics by finishing in the top 10 in almost every race. Our criterium and flats riders Dave Chen, Scott Herring, and Sean Odom placed in the top 10 at Snelling Road Race, Rondee Van Brisbeen, and Wente Criterium. Our climbers Markham Connolly and Craig Steinmaus cranked up the hills at the Orosi Road Race to place 3rd and 5th respectively. Craig went on to win the Masters 40+ Cat 5 Road Race at the prestigious Sea Otter Classic in Monterey. He continued to place in the top 10 at California’s Paris-Roubaix, Copperopolis Road Race and Wente Road Race. The team is taking a break to ramp again for the late summer season except for one Touchstone racer, John Ormsby. His goal is to complete 20 races by the end of May and 40 by the end of the race season in October. You go, John!!! For team bios, race reports, and photos please visit the teams web page.

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Sunday, May 28, 2006
  Art Show
We’ve been questioned many times about the striking art hanging on the walls at Sacramento Pipeworks. The current show is by local artist Christopher Frieders whose steel and metal sculptures are inspired by the area in which he grew up and now lives – the Sacramento River Delta. Freiders says: “My work captures the spirit of the rugged California landscape from coastlines and inland mountains, to the stillness of its valley nights.” A farmer by trade, and fifth generation on his family's farm near Walnut Grove, he has spent his entire life tending and caring for trees and vines. “I have always been passionate and proud of producing crops that people appreciate, and now my art is an extension of this.” Freiders believes California's agricultural industry and lush central valley is being lost sight of and its history more distant. The notion of small agriculture in California is slowly fading into a quiet collective memory, along with the many generations of family farms. “This art helps me feed the passion of creating something that comes from nature; these works preserve it indefinitely.” All of Freider's sculptures are very reasonably priced and can be viewed at Pipeworks during regular business hours.


Saturday, May 27, 2006
  Urban Climber Offer

Got a message from Urban Climber Magazine and thought I would pass it along to you:

Wanted to give you and your members a heads up that we've got a special
offer running this Memorial Day week. If they subscribe to the MAG, they get
a free pair of Ryders sunglasses as well as the Urban Climber t-shirt and
Petzl DVD. Please share this URL with your members so they can beat the

Memorial Day Weekend Special

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Friday, May 26, 2006
  San Francisco Carnaval 2006
Please note that Mission Cliffs will be effected by the street closures for the 2006 San Francisco Carnaval event happening this weekend. Harrison Street and surrounding cross streets will be closed between 16th and 23rd for this weekend of festivities commencing Friday, May 26th at 10pm. Parking will be extremely limited.

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Thursday, May 25, 2006
  Domination at Berkeley Hills
Touchstone Climbing Women's Elite Cycling Team wins Berkeley Hills Road Race: The women's team executed their plan perfectly to win the Berkeley Hills Road Race. Pat Ross, spinning and boxing instructor extraordiniare, made an attack on the first lap to show that Touchstone was a force to be reckoned with. Once the group regrouped Beverly Harper and Pat controlled the front of the race making sure attacks from other teams wouldn't get away. Team member Jill Mclaughlin then attacked to see if others would follow while Penny Avril, the chosen one to win, sat in the group resting for the final climbs. After Jill was caught by the group Beverly drove the pace in front once again to set Penny up perfectly to make the final assault to the finish line. And you thought cycling was an individual sport. Congrats to Penny and the Women's team for an already outstanding season. For photos and a complete race report visit


Wednesday, May 24, 2006
  Memorial Day Hours
It is sunny and warm, this must mean that summer is finally here. And so is the long Memorial Day weekend. All Touchstone Climbing facilities will be open on Memorial Day but will be on weekend hours. Please check out your local gym for the exact hours of operation.

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Tuesday, May 23, 2006
  Taking Life Head On
Are you Taking LIFE Head On? Join us at Sacramento Pipeworks on Saturday, May 27th from 12:00-4:00pm, as we welcome newly published author (and Pipeworks Member), “Yo Pal Hal” for the release of his new book, Taking LIFE Head On! (The Hal Elrod Story). At age 20, Hal was at the top of the world as one of the best salespeople in Cutco’s 50-year history. One fateful night after a speaking engagement, Hal’s world ended when he was struck head on by a drunk driver, and found dead at the scene. Amazingly he survived. His triumphant rise back to the top can inspire everyone, so don’t miss this opportunity to meet Hal, and pick up your autographed copy of Taking LIFE Head On!

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Monday, May 22, 2006
  Field Trip
On May 19th, Mission Cliffs hosted 29 5th graders from Guadalupe Elementary School for their class field trip. For most of the kids this was their first opportunity to try rock climbing and provided them with an opportunity they otherwise would not have. The trip was organized by their teacher, long time member and part time course setter, Kent Schmitz. Kent has over the last several years brought his classes from both Guadalupe and Treasure Island elementary schools for field trips to Mission Cliffs.

This trip was donated by Touchstone, as part of our effort to continually outreach into the community.

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Friday, May 19, 2006
Berkeley Ironworks is proud to host the annual kick-off party the Bay Area Outreach and Recreation Program (AKA BORP) on Saturday May 20th between 2pm and 4pm. BORP is a non-profit organization that provides adventure fitness and recreation for people with physical disabilities.

In December BORP's bike storage facility was burglarized. All hand-cycles, tandem bikes, trikes, helmets and tools were stolen, and in one fell swoop their whole adaptive cycling program came to a halt. The media quickly picked up their story and sparked an overwhelming response from the community. PG&E and Wells Fargo swiftly put up challenge grants, and immediately donations began to pour in from people all around the Bay Area and beyond. BORP has received over $130,000 in
grants and donations since the theft.

Join Berkeley mayor Tom Bates as BORP thanks all of their generous donors for rebuilding the Cycling Program. Don't miss the ribbon cutting ceremony at 3pm that will showcase the brand new bikes.

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Thursday, May 18, 2006
  A Sad Goodbye
Touchstone Climbing is sad to see a vital and vibrant member of our community take his own life; he was run over by a truck on May 5th near the UC Berkeley campus. Jeff Schoen was a true Bay Area fixture since before the days of climbing gyms. Jeff was a talented climber but was also known to be very kind and helpful. His whimsical spirit and charm will be missed by all.

To send your condolences, or read others; please visit the forums at

Photo Copyright: Greg Epperson

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Wednesday, May 17, 2006
  New Pilates at Mission Cliffs
Beginning this Wednesday night at 8:15pm, Mission Cliffs is happy to announce the addition of Pilates taught by Brooke Gardberg.

Pilates is a noncompetitive, revitalizing practice based on natural movements. Each movement involves balancing, strengthening and lengthening all the muscles resulting in a highly efficient way to work the body.

Brooke Gardberg is the owner of Urban Pilates, a boutique Pilates studio in downtown San Francisco. She has been teaching Pilates in the Bay Area since 2002 receiving her initial certification in the classic Pilates Method under master teacher Carol Appel in Mill Valley, California. She is currently pursuing her second certification with the internationally recognized Power Pilates Teacher Training program. The unique approach to working the mind as well as the body drew Brooke to study the Pilates method. Her personal transformation through Pilates fuels her dedication to maintaining the integrity of the original method and to improving the lives of her clients. She coaches a variety of clientele with needs ranging from injury rehabilitation to triathlon and marathon training and general well-being. Brooke is an NASM-Certified Personal Trainer, a Reiki Practitioner, 5 time marathon runner and aspiring triathlete.

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Tuesday, May 16, 2006
  Fake Crack

Here is one of the benefits of owning a climbing hold company: Stone Age Climbing has set up a one of a kind artificial crack at Sacramento Pipeworks. Using 26 of their 'handcrack' holds, they have put together a unique 5.10 d crack. Be sure to make a trip to Sacramento and try it out.

Touchstone Climbing acquired Stone Age Climbing holds in 2004 and moved the company to Sacramento. This has allowed Touchstone to consistently provide exciting new holds for you to climb on at all of the Touchstone locations. If you ever need holds for your home wall, let us know.

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Monday, May 15, 2006
  Profile: Jessica de Jesus
Sometimes a setback can open up new opportunities for achievement. It happened with longtime climber Jessica de Jesus a couple of years ago when she tore her ACL in the gym.

For rehab, Jess began cycling and discovered a new passion. Today cycling is the main sport for this 32-year-old San Franciscan. She helped start the Mission Cliffs Bike Club and is proud of the interest it has stirred up. As many as 30 people have shown up for a Saturday morning ride, even in the rain.

"It has really become a strong sub-community of the gym," she says. (Twice a year the Mission Cliffs club takes part in a big all-club ride that draws an average of more than 75 riders.)

"Nothing beats time on the bike," says Jess, who rides with the bike club on weekends and goes solo during the week. When she needs a quick workout, she comes indoors for a spin class. This season she also started training outside in the rain -- in one of the wettest rainy seasons on record. "I still try to climb a little bit for balance," she adds.

What is it that keeps Jess in the saddle?
"For me, it's true love and respect for the sport and all the people you meet along the way. Traveling by bike provides an experience like no other," she says. "I just love getting to the club rides and seeing lots of new and familiar faces and people of all riding levels get together. It's been a really fun project to get off the ground." One of the Club’s goals is to inspire more women to come out and ride with the Club. Jess doesn't race, so one way she measures her progress is by cutting down the times that separate her from the Men's Masters Team.

"My goal and motivation has been to keep up with them on their base training rides. I’m close but still have a ways to go!" she says. “Base building is key and essential to being a good rider, as well as pacing. I learned that from Marty!,” says Jess. With no kids to look after, training time is not hard to find.

Her training rides include the new Endurance Series that she and Marty Kaplan started for the bike club on Saturdays. They are long rides, 80 to 105 miles. On a recent Saturday, 11 members rode a 105-mile loop from Livermore, up to Mt. Hamilton, and back via Calaveras Rd.

Those training rides will be put to the test in July, when Jess and about a dozen other club members head up to Markleeville for the Tour of the California Alps, also known as the Death Ride. Sponsored by the Alpine County Chamber of Commerce, it sends bikers on a 129-mile trek with more than 15,000 feet of climbing, hitting elevations up to 8,730 feet through five mountain passes.

"If I complete all five passes, that will be my biggest accomplishment," she says. Then it will be off to France for a month to watch two stages of the Tour de France and spend a few weeks biking on her own. Jess calls herself "a terrible mountain biker," but she did do the Telluride to Moab 7-day hut ride last year. "I was never so scared as when I was descending on my mountain bike into Gateway, Colorado -- white knuckles and overheating breaks all the way," she says. "My proudest moment was rolling into Moab in one piece and on my bike."

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Saturday, May 13, 2006
  5.10 Shoe Demo
May 17, 6-9 pm at Berkeley Ironworks and May 18, 6:30-9:30pm at Mission Cliffs. Here’s your chance to try out a variety of shoes from Five Ten. Slippers, velco and lace up shoes all with the world’s stickiest rubber will be available for you to climb in. Remember shoes we don’t have in stock can be special ordered and will ship as quickly as 2 days. Stop by and demo these awesome shoes.

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Friday, May 12, 2006
  Releasing the Neck and Shoulders

A Yoga Workshop w/ Terri Kessler
Saturday, May 20, 11:30-1:30 $20
Mission Cliffs

Discover new possibilities for ease and freedom in the neck and shoulders.

In our computer-car-couch culture, many of us hold our tension in our shoulders and neck. This can lead to compression in the physical body and, along with the discomfort, a shutting down of the heart and a sense of being out of touch with our deeper selves. Through yoga, we can explore the habitual holding patterns that keep us locked in pain and learn to discover keys that can bring new freedom of movement in body and greater peace of mind.

This workshop has 3 goals:
1. To learn and practice basic moves that keep neck and shoulder areas safe during yoga practice.
2. To gain awareness of habitual holding that results in pain.
3. To use intention and breath to release habitual holding.

This workshop will focus on neck/shoulders while providing a full body-mind-spirit experience! All levels welcome.

Cost: $20 members and $25 non-members. Sign-up at Mission Cliffs or call us at 415-550-0515 to reserve a spot.

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Wednesday, May 10, 2006
  Food Pyramid Giveaway
Anyone fed up with the media’s apparent complication of information regarding food groups? Touchstone’s CEO certainly is. ‘Study after study on the topic of health is flawed. Correlation is not causality’ he says. ‘And besides, we’ve known many of the answers to basic health for decades.’ Mark Melvin, a casual reader of Scientific American, finally dug up an old article and had it reproduced for members as a courtesy of Touchstone. If you’re interested in hearing that fat percentage does not equate to being fat, and that whole grains might as well not be the same group as non-whole grains, ask for a complimentary copy at the front desk of any Touchstone gym.

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Tuesday, May 9, 2006
  Need a Friend?
Jardine revolutionized trad climbing with invention of Friends in 1970s

In the early 70s, like many Yosemite Valley climbers, Jardine's climbing abilities were exceeding the current state of climbing gear technology and pushing the boundaries of climbing difficulty.

Jardine had a background in aerospace engineering, and had been pushing the limits into the 5.12 range (a level that only a handful of people could climb at that time.) He had run up against the limitations of passive nut protection and hexes on routes. He could also see the inherently destructive nature of continuing to use fixed pitons and other hammered gear in pristine Yosemite granite.

So with the help of a buddy and a fully equipped machine shop, he began working on the first of what would become modern SLCDs, or spring loaded camming devices. His early prototypes had a rigid stem and no trigger or cables--you needed four hands to retract the cams. He carried the prototypes around in a bag and kept the secret quiet.

While they were preparing for a climb on Washington Column, a buddy asked him if he had his bag of "friends" with him, refering to the crude but incredibly helpful prototypes. The name stuck.

Later, after he refined the design, Jardine was able to put the Friends into full production with the Wild Country company in England. The devices revolutionized climbing, making it possible to safely do routes that had never been done before, and to do routes that could not be climbed safely otherwise. The camming devices were incredibly strong, versatile--expanding or contracting to fit a wide range of cracks, and they were easily placed and removed.

The modern version of the original Friends that you have on your rack with strong, flexible stems, double-axels, expanded camming range, and bomber breaking strength are direct descendents of Jardine's ingenious homemade gagdets.

For more on the first 'Friends', check out Ray Jardine website.

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Monday, May 8, 2006
  TRS Dates Announced
We are excited to announce the dates to the remaining four upcoming Touchstone Roped Series Comps.

Pipeworks-June 9th, 2006 in Sacramento
Class 5-July 14th, 2006 in San Rafael
Ironworks-August 25th, 2006 in Berkeley
Touchstone Concord-September 15th, 2006 in Concord

The Touchstone Roped Series is a set of five Roped Climbing comps that will be held on Friday evenings. All events will include a red point roped comp as well as refreshments, games and prizes. Points will be awarded for each comp with overall winners being announced after the final comp. We are excited to continue our long tradition of supporting roped climbing competitions.

For more information check out the Touchstone Roped Series Page.

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Thursday, May 4, 2006
  New Daddy
We are pleased to announce the birth of Isabelle Grace Connolly. On Sunday, April 30th at 12:22pm, Markham & Joelle became the proud parents of a healthy baby girl. Markham is the director of operations at Touchstone and the founder of the Touchstone Bike Club. Everyone here at Touchstone wishes them all the best.

And please forgive Markham if he appears a little tired over the next few months, as he gets comfortable with being a dad.

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Wednesday, May 3, 2006
  Sunny San Jose
Boasting 300 days of sunshine, downtown San Jose hosts dozens of events throughout the year, celebrating the diversity of cultures and interests in the greater Silicon Valley. Touchstone San Jose is proud to be part of the ongoing development in San Jose. Enjoy a day of the best indoor bouldering in South Bay and everything San Jose has to offer.

The San Jose Downtown Association is proud to present the following annual community events:

Each Friday starting May 5 – Farmer’s Market at San Pedro Square
June 8, 15, 22, 29 – Music in the Other Park at St. James Park
July 6, 13, 20, 27 – Music in the Park at Plaza de Cesar Chavez

Free parking is available after 6 p.m. For more information visit:

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Tuesday, May 2, 2006
  Concord: Vinyasa Express Class
The practice of yoga is unique from other forms of exercise in that it asks the body and mind to work together on tranformation. The physical body is enhanced, building both flexibility and strength and the mental body begins to see the world from a different perspective. There is a sense of peace that comes from viewing our world from this new, enlightened perspective. It can enhance clarity, sharpen our performances at work and improve our relationships with our significant others.

Come and explore the ability of yoga to transform. Be assured that all you need is the desire. Beginning Tuesdays and Thursdays in May, instructor Deb Stone will be teaching an instructive, invigorating class in the exploration of this ancient art of yoga. Classes will run from 9:30 untill 11:00, Tuesdays and Thursdays and are open to all levels.

Tuesdays from 11:30 to 12:30 Deb will teach a vinyasa express class for those wishing to enjoy a vigorous practice compacted into an hour time slot. These classes are new to Touchstone Concord, we look forward to seeing you there. Childcare is available for both classes. Namaste!!!

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