When the USA Pro Cycling Challenge rolls out on August 22, it will have a star-studded roster, including all three podium finishers from the Tour de France. One week ahead of the race, Andy Schleck and his girlfriend were staying in Steamboat, Colorado, where the three-time Tour de France runner-up was preparing for the upcoming race. On Monday morning, Schleck showed up for a community ride, and though the appearance was announced only that morning, several hundred cycling fans turned out to ride with the star. Later that afternoon, Schleck sat down with me to talk about the Tour de France, doping in cycling, and his expectations for the Pro Cycling Challenge. --Aaron Gulley www.aarongulley.com
OUTSIDE: That was a big crowd this morning. Would that many people show up to ride with you in Europe? SCHLECK: I don’t think so, actually. In Luxembourg cycling is very common. I was really, really surprised there was that many people this morning. I know how a peloton looks with 200 people—that’s usually what we ride in—and this morning I just looked back down the road and I was really surprised there were that many. I make a wild guess, but I would say there were maybe 400 or 500 people.
Last week I posted a review of "The Ledge", co-authored by Jim Davidson and Kevin Vaughn. It generated a lot of interest so I'm following up with a short interview with Davidson.
But first, a few words about his co-author Kevin Vaughn, who is currently a staff writer at The Denver Post. Formerly with the Rocky Mountain News, he is an award-winning journalist and in 2008 was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize. He is not a climber but was captivated by Davidson's story. When asked about a movie, Vaughn simply says "I think there is a movie in there."
I hope so. --Alan Arnette
Would you tell us how this book came about? The seeds of this book were unknowingly planted in the summer of 1992, just a few weeks after I barely escaped that crevasse on Rainier. I was weighted down by the memories of that horrific, surrealistic day inside the glacier. So I sat down with a tape recorder, and spilled out everything I could recall of the accident. I filled more than 10 hours of tapes and those recordings were the start of this book.
Formally, The Ledge started in the fall of 2008 after Kevin Vaughan did an extensive series of articles for The Rocky Mountain News about Mike and I on Rainier. Right after those articles published, we knew that we worked well together, so we decided to co-author this book. It took about 2.5 years from the day we shook hands, until The Ledge hit the book stores in July 2011.
Was it difficult to ask for Mike’s parents’ blessing to write and speak about the experience? Yes, it was. From the very first day I met Mr. & Mrs. Price, just a few days after Mike died, they have been kind and gracious to me. We have kept in regular touch over the years. So when I was ready to speak publically about the accident, and later when Kevin & I wanted to write about it, I sought their consent both times. It was hard to ask, yet they quickly agreed. I believe that they know our aim is to share the memories of their son with the world, and to provide some strength to those facing tough challenges. So even though it is hard on them, they generously agreed to us sharing the story.
Did the 1992 Rainier experience change your approach to climbing? I am perhaps a bit more cautious, and I plan for contingencies more often. I mostly keep it to myself, as you need to be thinking UP the mountain, not down. But I often ponder "What will we do if...?" I always carry a piece or two of protection right on my harness too, as you never know when you might need a fast anchor. I try not to get separated from my pack.
What do you think Mike would think about The Ledge? I like to think that he would find it a gripping adventure tale, but one with broader depth and greater value than a typical climbing story. Mike had a master's degree in English, was very well read, and loved discussing humanity and literature. So, I think he would enjoy The Ledge, and I hope that he would feel that the book portrayed the story accurately and well.
Is there a moral or lesson from this story for your followers and readers? Yes. In essence, the lesson we share in The Ledge is this: no matter how scary or impossible a situation may seem, humans are so inventive and resilient, that a solution can be found. You can survive a tragedy, and later rebuild a meaningful and rewarding life.
“Come on up and stand beside me.” He said confidently. I made a couple more moves and joined him a hundred feet up on a near vertical rock wall in Colorado's Rocky Mountain National Park many years ago.
“OK, let’s make sure you are clipped in, with backup and another line just in case.” With this my friend, Jim Davidson, shared lifelong lessons with this novice rock climber. I felt safe standing beside him with clear air below.
Jim Davidson is a unique person. He is a mentor, a confidant; he is a climber’s climber. Over the past decade, I have gotten to know him well but even then, his new book, The Ledge, co-authored with Kevin Vaughan gave me insights I never knew.
The Ledge is a story about two friends, Jim Davidson and Mike Price. After climbing the difficult Liberty Ridge to the summit of Mt. Rainier in 1992, on the descent they both fell in a deep crevasse. Only one survived.
Jim and Kevin take us through the ordeal in roller coaster fashion. Sometimes, I had to put the book down. Take a break. Take a breather. It is complex yet simple; detailed, funny and intense. It is Jim Davidson.
The book starts with a teaser of Jim deep in the crevasse. Stuck. Wondering if he is alive or dead. It then introduces us to Mike. A bit older than Jim, more experienced. He was Jim’s climbing mentor, Jim’s best friend in life. His climbing partner in the truest meaning.
Tyler Hamilton, the Olympic gold medalist who recently confessed to doping and accused Lance Armstrong of using performance-enhancing drugs, spent the weekend leading bike rides for Outside in Aspen, an annual summit we host. Last night, Hamilton went to dinner with friends at Cache Cache [pronounced cash cash], an Italian French restaurant that also happens to be one of Armstrong’s favorite Aspen hangouts. (Armstrong has a home here, but Hamilton thought the seven-time Tour de France winner was out of town.) During dinner, Hamilton left his table to go to the bathroom. As he walked out of the bathroom, an arm blocked his path. It was Armstrong. The two hadn’t spoken since Hamilton’s 60 Minutes appearance.
“He wanted to get into it,” Hamilton told me this morning. “I was like, ‘Let’s step outside and talk away from the crowd, but he wouldn’t. He said, ‘No one cares.’" Then, according to Hamilton, Armstrong began to berate him.
His middle name, Makalani, is Hawaiian for "skilled at writing," so it's no surprise that Cincinnati Bengals' defensive captain Dhani Jones has a book out this month. In The Sportsman, he chronicles the 2008 off season, during which he traveled around the world for the Travel Channel television show, Dhani Tackles the Globe. For each episode, he spent a week in a foreign country learning an indigenous sport—from tossing the caber at the Scottish Highland Games to running the sand and surf gamut at an Australian lifesaving competition—before getting thrashed by the locals. "I came in last place in the 100-yard sand dash, barely completed the 600-meter swim, and literally fell off the men's double-ski," Jones writes of the Austrailian comp. In the book, each adventure comes packed with fitness advice, travel recommendations, and anecdotes from more than ten years in the NFL. Outside caught up with Jones to talk about his latest endeavor. --Whitney Dreier
Describe the book-writing experience. I've always been a writer. I've always been passionate about words and thoughts and how you assemble them together to make something substantial. The hardest part of writing a book is focusing on one theme and getting everything else through that vein. [Co-author] Jonathan Grotenstein and I just hit it off. He got me, he got my voice, he got my vision. He got the whole -- not to be cliche -- he got the whole enchilada. We vibed.
The book describes your sporting adventures, from Muay Thai boxing in Thailand to Schwingen in Switzerland. You must enjoy seeing new places. Traveling has always been a part of my lifestyle. I want people to know that in the book. I want people to realize that we live in a great country -- the best country -- however, there is a whole 'nother world out there, and there's nothing wrong with going to check out the rest of the world. Experience it.
Were local people responsive to your show and your attempts to learn their sports? Most of the time people were accepting, but there were definitely uncomfortable situations at times. I had to understand that different countries have different cultures and different customs. I tried to go into it with a clean head and say look, this is what life is: Life is being a blank canvas and allowing the people around you to add color to it. You can go into a country with a colorful canvas, but don't let the colors on your canvas pollute the ones already there.
"I had never been in a bike race," says Jones, in Italy. "And I knew I wasn't going to win the Gran Fondo del Monte Grappa."
What sport did you find most difficult? Going to Nepal was one of the hardest trips. All it was was hiking, but it was hiking at 19,000 feet. You don't realize how difficult that is and how challenging, how trying, how unbelievably tired you become.
Can you share some tips from the road? 1. Only pack what you need. And if you run out, wash it in the sink.
2. Always bring something to record your trip, whether that be a camera, a pen and pad, or some type of video recorder.
3. Follow the locals. You know what they look like. They know what you look like. If they don't look like you, follow them! Don't follow the people who look like you, you might as well stay at home.
On travel fitness? 1. There's no good fitness without good nutrition. You're not going to function if you don't eat well. If you eat bad, what's the point of working out? The eating's going to catch up to you. It's not difficult to have good food -- even the restaurants are taking care of you: you can't go to a sushi restaurant and get regular soy sauce, you gotta get low sodium.
2. There's no good fitness without good sleep. If you don't have a good sleep cycle, you're not going to have a sustainable workout; you're going to fight against your body trying to become better. There's so many great jobs and businesses out there that allow for meditation and outdoor activities during the day. There's always an option, it's all about how you divide your time.
3. There's no good fitness without good thoughts. You have to have a positive mindset to create positive energy. If your mind's not in the right place, you're not going to accomplish anything. If you walk into the gym and you're like I hate this place, then leave. Being mentally clear, that's on you. You gotta take a little onus for yourself.
What do you hope readers take away from The Sportsman? The book is about finding your passion and staying true to that. A lot of times we get distracted and feel compelled to live by another person's standard. It's important that you evaluate what you really believe is important to you -- and live it. Just do it, cause it's your life, right? Fuck it, just do it. [Pause] I wish you could change that somehow -- my mom's trying to get me away from the expletives.
Jones attempts water polo in Croatia. "It takes a lot of damn work to beat my legs hard enough to keep my head above water," he wrote.
The Sportsman ($26) is due out June 7, wherever books are sold and at amazon.com.