Touchstone Blog Archive
Tuesday, July 31, 2007
  Pain Doesn’t Always Mean Gain
Sore muscles and other pains are part of the climbing experience. When you push yourself to the limit, you’re going to feel it, and that’s all right.

That doesn’t mean you should ignore every ache, however. Pain is your body’s way of getting your attention, so take some time to find out what your body is telling you.

Some tweaks and twinges you can climb through. Others may be signs of real trouble. The classic mistake is to let enthusiasm eclipse common sense, whether on a climb or just working out. It’s hard to describe how to tell the difference, but with experience you’ll learn to read your own body’s signals.

It’s pretty common for climbers in their first few years to have problems with finger tendons, for instance. Tendons and ligaments don’t grow as fast as muscle, and they don’t get a lot of blood. So give yourself time to condition them for the high, dynamic loads of climbing movement. Once you’ve built up your strength, you may only need some climbing tape to support a finger tendon that’s acting weird or hurting a little bit.

One thing to remember is that when your muscles are warmed up and flushed with blood, an injury may not reveal itself as much as it will the next morning.

If you tear a tendon, pull a muscle or otherwise really hurt yourself, you simply have to lay off the hard climbing. Some light movement after an initial immobilization period can help a lot. When you come back, start slow, use tape, and build up gradually.

It’s common sense, but sometimes we need reminders.

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Friday, July 27, 2007
  Pipeworks Produces Romance
Sacramento Pipeworks member Stacy Epstein writes: “I have been climbing at Pipeworks for probably almost 4 years - I think I've been a member for around 3.5 years now. I can't believe how long it's been. Anyway, I just wanted to send you a small story about how Pipeworks has affected my life:

When I moved back to the Sacramento area after law school, most of my friends were no longer around, so I posted an ad on craigslist to meet people to climb with, and that's how I started making friends. One day, I met my friends at the gym and one of them introduced me to Loris Degioanni, a Ph.D student at UC Davis visiting on a 6-month visa from Italy and a former climbing instructor. That was a little over three years ago.

Last month we got married! My sister, who also climbs at Pipeworks, bought us the cake-topper.

Thanks for having such a big impact on my life!”

The staff at Pipeworks extends these two special newlyweds our very best wishes!

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Thursday, July 26, 2007
  Good Fuel Means Lots of Climbing Power
Climbing takes a lot of energy, so it’s only natural that climbers would want to put the right fuel in their bodies, in the right amounts.

But finding nutrition tips specifically for climbers can be tough. The most common advice is “eat right,” with no specifics about what’s right for the day of a big climb vs. the night before, or what’s best to keep handy for an energy boost in the middle of a climb.

The second most common advice comes in the form of posts from climbers who are glad to describe what they eat and when, but with little insight as to why their preferences are better than anyone else’s. Vegan or omnivore? Clif bars or Snickers? Energy drinks or sports drinks. Or water? Before, after and/or during?

Here are some resources that offer a bit more insight:

To get some insight into what happens to all that food you eat, take a look at the description of carbohydrate loading at Roam the site to learn more about how muscles work and their protein requirements, and the nutritional advice for preparing for a competition. You’ll find the recommendations change as the comp date nears, with more emphasis on carbohydrates.

Energy bars are popular, but not all created equal. Even the bars from a single manufacturer aren’t all created equal. Take the popular Clif line. As graded by the Calorie Count site, most of the company’s products fare well nutritionally. But a few, such as the Mojo Honey Roasted Peanut bar, rate only a C-plus.

For some full menus, there’s Beth Bennett’s “Nutrition for Climbers.” The 1993 paperback from Chockstone Press is only about 30 pages long, but offers recipes for complete meals.

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Wednesday, July 25, 2007
  A Teen Team Adventure

Goat Rock isn't exactly the most alluring of names for an outdoor bouldering destination, but as a contingent of Teen Team members discovered, there's some good climbing on those rocks. Other than running afoul of a few patches of poison oak growing in the area, everyone enjoyed an idyllic day with great weather, beautiful vistas of the ocean, good company and fun bouldering.

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Monday, July 23, 2007
  Celebrating Galen's Life

Galen Burgett, a Class 5 member since 1999, passed away at the beginning of July from Cancer. From all of us who knew him, climbed with him or were the lucky recipients of his Christmas goodies, we wish his family well and much love.

There is a celebration of Galens’ life August 12:
Galen Burgett 5/10/58 – 7/2/07 Galen passionately embraced the gift of every new day and lived each one to the fullest. There is no better way to honor his memory than to follow his example and celebrate with all of those who loved him.

August 12, 2007 12-4pm at
Cline Cellars 24737 Arnold Drive (highway 121) Sonoma

No black please

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Friday, July 20, 2007
  A Speedy Weekend in San Jose

The 3rd annual San Jose Grand Prix will be held on July 27th, 28th, and 29th. Please note that many of the city streets will be closed off due to the layout of the race course, and parking will be impacted. You can see a map of the race track as well as the different events around the track here.

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Wednesday, July 18, 2007
  A Triathlon for Concord Staff
Front desk staff person Alle Porter competed in a triathlon on June 16th. The event was the first in a series known as the Tri for Fun, which features a short course with a 400 yard swim, an 11 mile bike ride, and a 3.1 mile run. Held at Shadow Cliffs Regional Park in Pleasanton , this was the 20th year for the triathlon that was designed for everyone to complete and enjoy.

“It’s a great event for anyone who’s ever even thought about doing a triathlon. The atmosphere is relaxed and the people are friendly,” says Alle, whose been competing in triathlons since finishing college three years ago. “My goal is to compete in an Ironman triathlon, but that will be years from now.”

There are three Tri for Funs, one held each month from June though August, which are designed to allow novices the chance to test their athletic ability and try to improve upon their performance with each event. In September the athletes are encouraged to compete in the Tri for Real, which features a more lengthy and challenging course and serves as the grand finale. Although primarily designed for beginners, the Tri series serves a number of elite athletes looking for a competitive workout.

“The most daunting aspect of a triathlon for most people is the swim,” says Alle, who completed the triathlon in a little over an hour with Touchstone Concord member Bryan McCarthy. “In the beginning you may get hit by a few elbows, and there’s always a lot of splashing, but after a couple of yards the lake is yours for the taking.”

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Monday, July 16, 2007
  We Are Competitive
This past weekend was full of competitions for Touchstone Climbing.

On Friday night, Berkeley Ironworks hosted the 3rd stage in the Touchstone Roped Series. This was the biggest turnout yet for a TRS event with over 128 climbers turning in scorecards. You can check out the complete results here. The next TRS event will be on August 10th at Mission Cliffs.

On Saturday, the Touchstone Cycling teams took to the hills. Well, one very large hill to be exact. Eleven Touchstone team members competed in the 3rd annual Mount Diablo Hill Climb. Touchstone Climbing was a co-sponsor of this event and our Director of Operations, Markham Connolly, built a very impressive start ramp for the event. The Touchstone Women's Elite team had a strong showing by placing 3 riders in the top 10.

And finally as noted last week, Mark Melvin, founder and CEO of Touchstone Climbing, competed in the Hardrock 100 Endurance Run in Colorado. Mark finished the 100 mile run in 37 hours 56 minutes, an hour or two before nightfall the second night. He placed 44th out of 98 finishers and 134 starters.

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Thursday, July 12, 2007
  Hardrock 100

This weekend, Touchstone's founder and CEO Mark Melvin will be running in the Hardrock Hundred Mile Endurance Run.

The course will be run counter-clockwise - a big loop through the San Juan Mountains of beautiful southwest Colorado: Silverton - Ophir - Telluride - Ouray - Sherman (Lake City) - Silverton, 100 miles, 33,000' total elevation gain, 11,186' average elevation, low point 7,680' at Ouray, high point 14,048' at Handies Peak.

Last year's winner finished the course in over 27 hours, while only a little more than half the field finished the run. Of those that did finish the course, most of them finished well into the second night of the race. Mark's goal is to finish the race before the second night. Mark has completed the Hardrock 100 before, as well as the Western States Ultra 100 in the Sierras.

You can see a cool photo tour of last year's course here.

Once the race starts, you will be able to follow Mark's progress on the Hardrock's webpage.

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Wednesday, July 11, 2007
  Mt. Diablo Hill Climb
Touchstone Climbing is a proud sponsor of the Mt. Diablo Hill Climb Time Trial and the Lafayette Criterium this coming weekend. On Saturday, racers will roll down the Start Ramp, built by Touchstone, to start the grueling 10K climb up the North side of Mt. Diablo and finish at the junction that leads up to the summit. Last year Beverly Harper, former Touchstone Women’s Elite Team member, posted the fastest women’s time at an impressive 28 minutes flat. The next is the Lafayette Criterium in downtown Lafayette . Again, Beverly crushed the field in the Women’s Pro 1/2 race at the Lafayette Criterium. This year the Women’s Elite Team will be represented by Pat Ross, Kelly McDonald, and Janeen Thorpe. Lisa Stefke and Anne Taupier will be riding for the Women’s Cat 4 team while John Ormby, Scott Herring, Andrew Tilin, Chris Kurrle, Sean Odom and Michael McCabe will represent the Men’s team. For times and more information please visit the C4 Racing site. Stay tuned for results.

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Tuesday, July 10, 2007
  HAWK Ascends GGB
On June 24th, Touchstone route setter HAWK made what is believed to be one of the first legal ascents of the Golden Gate Bridge by a climber. "Yeah, it's pretty big," HAWK said of the near 800 ft. structure, "It's also pretty red." The north tower route is a grueling, 300 ft. elevator ride, followed by a run-out and technical ladder section. A proud and inspirational line, for sure. "I was moved," the setter later commented, "I may never use holds that aren't red again."

We can just ignore that I happen to be wearing an Earth Treks Climbing Center shirt.

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Monday, July 9, 2007
  Flash with Panache
When you are about to flash a route, take some time beforehand to find out what the route is telling you. True, you have had no rehearsals, but some of the moves should be obvious from the ground. If there’s a part where you can’t tell what the moves are, there may be a hidden hold or something else that’s invisible from the ground. Ask around for someone who has climbed it before; good beta can be vital to getting through these sections.

While you are working the route, pay close attention to what you are doing on the hard moves. See what works and what doesn’t work. Once you figure out a sequence that works, rehearse it at least three times to lodge it in your head. The next time you go up, you’ll have the pattern in mind and you’ll float right through the hard moves while your muscles are fresh.

When you are working a set of moves, be ready to try improbable stuff. You never know what might work. And you may discover the new trick you need to break into the higher grade.

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Thursday, July 5, 2007
  Teens to Nationals
It's almost a wrap for the USA Climbing season, so Concord members Evan Cronin, Gregor Peirce, Troy Gibb, Scott Cory, Gabe Matson and Wes Miraglio (not pictured) made the trek to Portland, Oregon for Divisionals. All did well in their categories, with Scott, Gabe, Gregor and Troy climbing well enough to be invited to Nationals taking place in Ann Arbor, Michigan on July 6-8. It's great to have this group of teens representing Touchstone! We want to with them the best of luck this weekend in Michigan.

Picture by Tom Cronin.

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Tuesday, July 3, 2007
  3 Wheeled Hand Cycle
A while ago, long-time Sacramento Pipeworks bike club member Kent “Touchstone Man” Gillis was diagnosed with a rare neurological disorder that would ultimately prevent him from riding conventional 2 wheeled bicycles. Never one to give up easily, Kent began looking for alternatives to the 2 wheeled machines and soon purchased a custom-built 3 wheeled hand cycle. He knew it would take months of training to pack enough muscle onto his upper body to propel himself forward using only arm strength, but that thought just made him train harder. Eventually he decided it was time to try his hand at racing, with his first foray taking place recently at the Truckee Criterium. The hand bike race, a fairly flat .8-mile circuit around downtown, was the warm-up act to the pro criterium, so there were quite a few enthusiastic spectators lining the streets. Kent describes the race: “...gnarly crash right in front of me on the very first turn, two bikes got together and one guy splashed on the pavement....welcome to crit racing! I hit 21.5mph on the slight downhill back-stretch, followed by a hard right-hander executed on two wheels (NOT intentionally). The rest is a blur, but I think I did seven laps, came in 6th place and was lapped by the winner twice.” Kent got to do it all over again the next day in downtown Reno on a longer circuit that had a short arm-crushing climb. More spectators, more speed and more fun.

“Unfortunately, the downhill to the start/finish line was into an insane headwind, so what should have been a 35mph screamer was only 25mph” Kent remarked. “I was more relaxed this time, being a veteran racer and all, and enjoyed the experience more, but was toast by the end. This time around I finished 7th and was lapped once.”

Everyone in the Sacramento Pipeworks Bike Club looks forward to watching Kent flash by in his Touchstone jersey at the next hand bike criterium!

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Monday, July 2, 2007
  You Are So Hot

We all knew rock climbing was a great sport and a fun way to a stronger, healthier body, but Men's Health Magazine just discovered another reason for guys to commit to it. Their June 2007 issue reports that in a poll of 1,000 women, rock climbing was one of the top activities that ladies find "hot".

What else was high on the list? Cooking, knowing a foreign language and . . . carpentry. Don't we all know quite a few guys from the gym that fit the bill? Look for the results of the survey in Men's Health on page 148.


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