Renew 2023

Day 0 | Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5                                        (back to Rides)

Day 0: 2023.09.19


I’m calling an audible. The original plan was for Day0 to be Monday the 18th. But between work and home, there were too many “developments” to give me time to prep. I woke up this morning and thought: “I’m supposed to drive 3 hours, get all my groceries for the week, and then ride a century?” Two seconds later it was decided: Day0 shall be today!

I had a relaxing drive to Wenatchee, a leisurely stroll through the grocery story, a calm unpacking in Entiat, a pressure-free stroll around Chelan Butte, and a fun spaghetti feast cooking and storing. I even snuck a visit to the house. I’m writing up this day report and then I’m heading to bed for hopefully a solid 9.

My annual renew is typically a full week event, leveraging parts of the two weekends that bookend the week. But given a leadership offsite at work that I really wanted to make, I opted to shorten this one by a couple of days.

Goals for Renew 2023:

  • Bike: a century each day
  • Write: a new post each day
  • Read: each day
  • Siblings: call a different one each day
  • Sleep: yes
  • TV: none
  • Games/Puzzles: none

Rule for day 0: no music (I liked my music-less start last year so much I’m doing it again: Tuneless drive; Budless bike; Speakerless apartment. Tuneless tune-in.

Chelan Butte has 5 tiles that are playing hard to get. I decided to go collect some of them. I got the hardest 3.

  • Lowlight of the day: smoke is coming in from the North. Not too bad, as it was high.
  • Highlight of the day: adaptability; I can’t imagine how I’d feel right now if I had pushed to knock out a century today.
  • View of the day: the barely-there roads I was riding to get these remote tiles
  • Explorer Tiles collected: 3

Photo Story:

On the road again
Cruising thru an orchard on my way up the Butte
A reasonable climb, with a beautiful view
Not crying yet
“Where we’re going, we don’t _need_ roads”
Some heavy duty moon dust … I guess that’s normal for this late in the dry season.
That’s the peak of Chelan Butte right in the middle. I’ve never seen it from this angle. This is pretty much the tippy top of the climb today. The road heads downhill a bit, as you see it ahead and on the right.
Looking across the Columbia to the plateau.
Some camper is going to be keeping their distance from their fellow campers
Smoke is limiting this otherwise spectacular view
A neat look across the river
Final descent … yay!
To the victor go the spoils
All of this will be consumed by me before and after the rides this week (well, maybe not all of the JD there).

Renew23, Day0: OMAHA! | Ride | Strava

Day 1: 2023.09.20

Leaning into the Agility

Rule for day 1: no complaining; just pedaling.

Last year’s Renew had pretty predictably good weather the entire week. This year it’s not that easy. There’s wind, there’s some cold, and there’s rain! So rather than lay out the order of routes at the beginning of the week, what I did last night was check Epic Ride Weather for each of the routes and then pick the best fit for the day. Obviously, each day I continue this practice has one less route to choose from. So I can still be painted into a corner in the end and just have to ride the last one regardless of whether or not weather is cooperating.

Today’s route selection wasn’t so much a good fit for the weather as it was just the lesser of the evils. I started out in rain and below 50 degrees. Good thing “Rule of the day” was in place. I was near complaining on several occasions, but then found some good topics to focus on and distract myself from the non-ideal weather.

  • Lowlight of the day: Raining for first 90 minutes
  • Highlight of the day: Finally seeing my shadow 375 minutes into the ride.
  • View of the day: The views coming south out of Okanagan were gorgeous. I snapped probably 20 photos, and then picked my favorite handful.
  • Explorer Tiles collected: 119!

Photo Story:

Goal was to snap a photo of every (even little) town I went through. I started off good, but didn’t end as good.
Wonderful open road. I was trying to focus on the minimal car traffic to get my mind off of the wet & cold.
The rain stopped!
That’s Twisp below
Coolest town sign of the day … ooh, snowcapped mountains in the background. This is on Hwy20 and those are the North Cascades.
Downtown Twisp
The climb hasn’t started yet, but is right around the next corner.
Proof of over-the-toptimism: note the sunglasses.
At 4:15 into the ride, my first shadow spotting
This is the first bikers sign I saw, and it was literally 1/4mi from the summit of this 2100ft climb.
Crushed it … well, more like survived it.
Another way down … will look into this for my next ride up this way.
The descent that just. kept. going. And the views just. kept. improving.
Approaching Okanagan.
Barn Sour return … get on Hwy 97 and _go_ !
What’s the frequency, Kenneth?
Sunglasses _finally_ employed.
Home again, home again, jiggity jig.

Renew23, Day1: Leaning into the Agility | Ride | Strava

22 tiles

Day 2: 2023.09.21

Shady P’ass kicking

Rule for day 2: climb until your body cries “Uncle!”

Last year’s Renew was a departure from my back-to-back centuries format. Because I was playing in the dirt, it didn’t seem realistic to do a century mostly off-road. This year, I am trying to get back to the centuries, so I split the difference and made some routes with some dirt, but mostly pavement.

Today was the legendary Shady Pass, sitting at an elevation of 6400ft (Entiat, where I launched from, is at 700ft). The first 31 miles are a slow climb alongside the Entiat River, getting me to 2400ft. Then, it was 7.7 miles for the next 3700ft. 480ft/mile = 9.1% average grade. I’m not sure I’ve done that long continuous climb on gravel (though Solstice was pretty close).

So to help get me mentally ready, I looked back at my Renew 2022 rides, focusing on climb ft / mile. Even though they were under a century, they were mostly all over 100ft/mi. So my overall rate of exertion should be lower. Further, I had designed this course with a nice ripcord: if my legs ended up quitting on me, I could just turn around and (mostly) coast home.

  • Lowlight of the day: It took me way too long this morning to convince myself to “go get it.”
  • Highlight of the day: Finishing today feeling less sore than yesterday (despite the additional dirt and elevation today).
  • View of the day: Once I crested the 6400ft summit, it was all epic. But my favorite was the first sighting of Lake Chelan, around the 8hr mark.
  • Explorer Tiles collected: 22!

Photo Story:

A familiar start, rolling out along the Entiat River
Brrr: 45 degrees in the shade
The start of the dirt, and the start of 5900, which I rode from end to end!
It started at around 14% grade … and stayed that way for the first couple of miles.
Aptly named.
Approaching the top of Shady Pass, finally the views appeared.
Some semi-recent fire damage here.
Now really big views
Shady Pass is 2mi behind me. I dropped about 300ft after Shady Pass, and then had to reclimb that plus another 300 to reach the peak of 5900, just around the bend ahead.
First rest of hands and arms.
There’s 5900 below me, and I can see the one 300ft climb that stands between me and an epic descent of over 4K ft.
Lots of forest service roads ziagzagging around back here. I look forward to future explorations of this area.
First sighting of Lake Chelan!
Now Lake Chelan is visible around just about every corner
Can you spot The Upside?
Home stretch. Entiat is just around the corner. The only problem is I still have another 15mi to rack up to make this a century. So I guess I’m doing victory laps in town until I hit 100mi.

Renew23, Day2: Shady P’ass kicking | Ride | Strava

Day 3: 2023.09.22

Classic Rollercoaster

Rule for day 1: collect as many bonus tiles as possible.

Today’s ride title comes from the elevation profile of the ride: i started with the longest climb of the day, going up McNeil Canyon. This is like the chain lift hill at the start of the coaster ride. And then over the course of the 93.5mi that followed, I was enjoying a progression down, with littler ups and downs all along the way. The only non-coaster part was the headwind I hit for the last 90min.

  • Lowlight of the day: the aforementioned headwind
  • Highlight of the day: getting to know more of the plateau east of The Columbia. I’ll definitely be planning many more trips up there.
  • View of the day: The dam at Bridgeport is the largest I’ve (ever) seen. Don’t get too excited … i haven’t seen any of the “big dams”
  • Explorer Tiles collected: 83, thanks to several short detours to collect adjacent tiles.

Photo Story:

commence rollercoaster chain pull
best Dan Henry ever … Ralph, is this for the Chelan Century?
Lake Chalen is the “high water” in the photo. Then if you look carefully in the lower part of the picture, you’ll spot the “low water” … that’s The Columbia River.
As painful as I find this climb to be, I always love this particular view (and it’s about 500ft from the summit)
No Hands!! Weeeeeee
Everything will be faster than this. 4.8mph average :O
A panorama from one of my many “short jogs” down a dirt road to grab an adjacent tile
And now comes all of the descending
DAM! That’s a lot of power!
The Chief Joseph Dam at Bridgeport
A patch of green, a patch of shade, and a cool-enough water fountain.
A look across the Columbia, from the South bank … the opposite view I snapped two days ago when I was returning from Okanagan
A look up river, crossing the bridge to Brewster
Starr Road, a welcome detour off of Hwy97
the summit of the last climb of the day.
dropping down the home stretch
BeeBee Bridge in the distance. When I cross that, I’m one mile from the finish line.

Renew23, Day3: Classic Rollercoaster | Ride | Strava

Day 4: 2023.09.23

Aqua Day

Rule for day 4: break the Renew rules, in Renew fashion.

So how did I get to this 5+ straight days of biking Renew format? This was from when my retreat involved going back east, I started by just going to Virginia. But then after my parents passed, I started going to other places. And this is when the 5 centuries format was born.

But now after three years in a row of my Renew having a stable base camp (AZ on 2021, Entiat in 2022 & 2023), and with The Upside (our Chelan house) being nearly done, I’m envisioning a new format: one that centers around The Upside as a center of reflection. Century+ loops every other day, and then the days in the middle writing … and swimming.

Today was me building up my swimming regimen. My two accomplishments:

  1. This is the latest into the year that I jumped into the lake. And my plan is to do it at least once a season. So now I’ve checked Fall off.
  2. I swam 693 yards, which is the longest I’ve ever swam. I accomplished this by doing a ramp of X minutes swimming / X minutes in hot tub. I did 3, 4, 5, and 6. When I tried to the 7, I had muscle failure at 6.75. So 24.75 laps, where each lap is 2 lengths of our 14yd pool. I didn’t think I would’ve made it to 6, let alone beyond.

Here’s to many more Renews, with many more changes along the way. To change is to live.

Photo Story:

Never too late to take a dip.
The view from “The Deep” (our entertainment room, named after the ice that The Kraken play on)
Recovery hot tub time between lap reps

Renew23, Day4: Aqua Day | Walk | Strava

Day 5: 2023.09.24

Rishi Reflection

For the closing day of this year’s Renew, I spent the afternoon reading, writing, and walking at The Upside. All that time I was thinking about was my brother-in-law, Rishi.

Renew 2022 and Renew 2023 are the bookends of Rishi’s cancer story. Charu called me at the tail end of Renew ’22 to tell me the news on Rishi’s diagnosis. And Renew ’23 began three days after Rishi’s celebration of life.

So much changed in one year. Or more precisely, one thing changed that will have a huge ripple effect. Rishi has passed. Here was the message we sent out on that day:

11 months ago, Rishi’s battle began. Today it ended.

He fought as we knew he would. Mr. Embrace the Suck. He kept his mind focused on getting home and being with his family. Mr. 100%.

Our family now has a huge hole in it. We will carry Rishi with us in our hearts. We will remember him. We will toast him. And we will all listen to a bit more country music to feel nearer to him.

Rest in Peace, dear Rishi.

I was Rishi’s “Stoic cheerleader”. My job as big brother and as fellow husband and father was to do everything I could to keep Rishi focused on the end goal, and to help keep his mind clear.

Early on in the cancer treatment, when he was lying in bed in the middle of the day on a Saturday, he commented on feeling like a “deadbeat dad,” hearing the twins running around the house and not doing anything to help them. Despite the small smile he was wearing when he said this, I could tell he was serious. I sat down on the end of the bed, and he sat up. I said, “Oxygen Mask Principle, brother. You have to put on your own mask first before you can help others. Right now your full-time job is getting yourself better. Then you can be dad again.”

When the serious treatment was about to start, and our rotation of hospital visits to see Rishi began, my first conversation with Rishi was about something one of his nurses had told him. Rishi said, “I loved the way this guy said it to me, ‘you die in your mind before your body dies.’ I’ve gotta keep my mind right.” I loved it too. And that became our mantra. Knowing that the most challenging time to keep your mind right is when you are alone with your own thoughts, I made it a point of ending every single visit over those next 3 months with me pointing at how my head and asking, “Is your mind right?” Rishi always responded “yes” … sometimes more challenged, “It’s not easy, but I’m doing it”, and sometimes more emphatic, “No problem!” But always affirmative.

Rishi’s celebration of life included tributes from family, friends, and coworkers. And all of them highlighted his all-in attitude (100%) and his perseverance (Embrace the Suck). The final tribute was from his brother Ricky, who shared two Warren Miller quotes that Rishi often said:

  1. “The best place in the world to ski is where you’re skiing that day.” – a great call to “be present” and to savor what you’ve got. Absolutely Stoic.
  2. “If you don’t do it this year, you’ll be one year older when you do.” – Carpe Diem – Seize the Day. Definitely Stoic.

I love these two quotes, and I will no doubt start to include these in my conversations as a tip of the hat to Rishi. But there’s a third Warren Miller quote that I’m going to make good use of to keep Rishi’s spirit alive: “Die living.” Rishi exemplified that.

I love you brother. I miss you brother.

So now as Renew ’23 draws to a close, that Warren Miller quote reminds me of the quote that I start each Renew with: “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn from what it had to teach, and not, when I came time to die, discover that I had not lived.” – Henry David Thoreau.

Be Present. Carpe Diem. Easy enough!