Sunday, November 4, 2018

Product Review: SPIBeam Hat by SPIBelt

The SPIBeam Hat

Disclaimer: I received a SPIBeam Hat by SPIBelt as part of being a  BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador) and check out to review, find, and write race reviews.

As Autumn continues and moves into Winter, more and more of us will find ourselves running some portions of a run or runs during the week in the dark.  Whether it's before or after work or the start of a long run over the weekend, we will be reaching for some form of lighting source.  SPIBelt, (SPI stands for Small Personal Item), has come out with a new line of lighting devices including arm bands, visors, and caps.  As a BibRave Pro, when offered the chance to demo a lighting item from SPIBelt, I chose the baseball type cap.  

Lighting up the dark in the front and the back.

The lights.  The cap comes with 4 LED lights in the front that have one brightness setting.  The back of the cap has 2 red LED lights with 2 settings, steady or blinking.  

The 4 lights in front shine forth an adequate amount of light for early morning street running in the dark.  I typically took them on short runs as I recovered from my recent surgery and in areas that I knew the footing pretty well, though there were some tripping hazards.  I found on the streets the lights were enough, but that as I gravitated towards the shoulders where there might be more tripping hazards, I wouldn't have minded maybe 2 more lights for additional brightness and perhaps a bit more peripheral vision.  I would simply continue the spacing on the hat and add 1-2 lights per side, making the hat go from 4 lights to 6-8.  In addition, these extra lights, or perhaps a brighter setting, would allow this hat to be a great resource on the trails around the North East as well which are often know for having lots of tripping hazards, especially roots.

The rear lights are a nice addition, again, mostly for road running.  I was really glad to find them on there before I went on my second run.  I say that because as I got ready for my second run, I thought, "Wouldn't it be great if there were rear lights on this thing..."  And then there were!  Somehow I missed them on my first run!  I love the blinking setting.  My only concern, and both my wife and daughter who also used the hat on separate occasions also noted this, that when you go to "snug" the cap on, as many people do, and most guys for sure, the rear of your head actually presses the button and changes the setting, leaving you unsure what setting the rear lights are actually using.  This can be overcome by memorizing the settings and using the one before the one you want so when you "snug" the cap, it will adjust to the right setting.  However, if you "snug" the cap again during the's likely going to change or shut off the rear lights.

Moose was one of many users of my new SPIBeam Hat

The rest of the hat is what you'd find in a normal running/racing cap.  Lightweight, great air venting, sweatband against the forehead, easily adjustable.  It currently comes in black, yellow, or pink.  I would love to see 2 additional colors in the future: white for Summer weather and orange for hunting season.  This might seem weird for runs in the dark...but runs in the dark often start or end in the light.  White would be great for hot Summer days and orange for hunting season where trail runners are sometimes in the same or close to the same areas as hunters.

Super G Lobbie lays down the tracks with the new SPIBeam Hat.

In conclusion, I actually love this idea.  I think SPIBeam has a winner here, but I do believe it could be improved upon with some additional lights or a brighter setting in front, especially for trail runners.  The rear light button might need to be moved up front on the bill along with the front light switch.  Additional color options would be awesome as well.  Just to note, one of my daughters used it in a Fall corn maze and my wife used it to take the kids around the neighborhood for Halloween.  Translation:  this is a super easy and comfortable lighting system that can be used for so much more than just running and does away with needing either a flashlight or headlamp system.

Save 20% right now on any item at with code BIBRAVE.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Product Review: Luvo Bundles, Southwest Inspired

Luvo Foods Chicken Chorizo Chili and Quinoa & Veggie Enchilada Verde

Disclaimer: I received a Luvo Foods Bundle as part of being a  BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador) and check out to review, find, and write race reviews.

I have enjoyed eating and reviewing Luvo Foods products in the past for BibRave, and their current Bundle option was no exception.  I chose the Southwest Inspired Bundle which at the time included 4 each of 2 different products: Chicken Chorizo Chili and Quinoa & Veggie Enchilada Verde.  (As of today, on their website, it looks like the bundle is now 4 each of these 2 products plus 4 of their Chicken Chili Verde.)

As I have noted before, Luvo uses quality products in their meals.  They flash freeze the dinner so that it is at peak freshness and nutrient rich.  You can cook them up in the oven, (which takes about 40 minutes), or microwave them if you are starving or simply starved for time.  This particular sampler is gluten and nut free.  One each of the chili and enchilada as a meal only comes to about 550 calories.  

Veggies, whole grains, and a good amount and source of protein...what's not to like?

The Chicken Chorizo Chili is a nice full serving of chili but not too heavy.  It doesn't burp up on you like a lot of chili's and doesn't promote heartburn.  It is simply a quality tasting, filling, healthy chili.

The Quinoa & Veggie Enchilada Verde is delicious!  I don't know how they make their green sauce taste so good after being frozen, (maybe it's that flash freezing process), but it is the star of this dish.  It is so scrumptious.  

These two great dishes plate beautifully and also pair very well together.  They are sure hits for the cooler season when you want a little spice.  Great thing about the Luvo Bundles is you can buy a whole collection of them and save some money.  In fact, right now, if you use the code BRPFREESHIP, you can also save the shipping.  

Luvo Foods are the best frozen food dinners I have ever had, even going back to the days when TV dinners were a cultural phenomenon.  These aren't your mom's frozen food dinners, these are the royalty of frozen entrees!!!  Get yourself some and enjoy!!!

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Trail Review: Twin Owls & Gem Lake, including Paul Bunyan's Boot

Overlooking Estes Park, CO on my way up to Gem Lake.

Earlier this Summer in July, I had the opportunity to go on a trip to Colorado with extended family that put us in Estes Park, CO, right down the road about a mile or so from the entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park.  This is the 5th and final trail review from that week!  Enjoy!

The Gem Lake Trail, (to the actual lake), while not overly long, is no easy trail run/hike with a lot of gain that comes with rocky ground.

For my final trail run in Colorado, I decided to do part of a larger trail loop that starts at the Lumpy Ridge Trail Head near the MacGregor Ranch in Estes Park, CO.  My plan was to get up to Gem Lake, then come back and go to Twin Owls.  

The Sun was still coming up as I started.

Lots of scrub brush, pines, and rocks...lots and lots of rock!!!

.4 of a mile in, you hit the sign to Gem Lake.

The views overlooking Estes Park were pretty cool in the early morning as the clouds hung over the city!

A nice stretch through some Aspens!

But again, rock was the name of the game, and it's sparse in this picture!

Paul Bunyan's Boot. I guess he had holy feet!!! :)

Closer pic of Paul Bunyan's Boot.

I go further up as the town continues to wake up.

Wait, where's the lake?

Some cool trees, but the lake?

Ah, there's the lake, hiding around the corner!

I think those might be Ents getting ready to march!

A pretty little lake tucked up at the top of this stretch of trail.

Seemed weird to see drift wood up here.

This scene almost looks like someone planted the trees for a diorama set.

For that relative that always needs to know there's one nearby...:)

So, I made it up to Gem Lake and then had to descend back down to the trail junction to head over to Twin Owls.  This stretch was fine other than lots o slow hiking down the rocks.  I made it to the junction and headed off toward's Twin Owls.  My mistake came when I took a little side trail up to Twin Owls that may be the actual trail on the map.  However, this trail quickly went from going up, to going hand over knee, to almost straight up vertical.

On the way to Twin Owls.

Maybe "Climber's Access" should have been a clue, but I thought seeing Gollum's Arch would be a cool thing to see and tell my kids.

So, maybe somewhere at the 70% angle, I started rethinking this...

Looking up towards Twin Owls.

I finally got up high enough I said I need to go back down due to time and concerns safety...

If the last picture was looking down at where I stopped climbing, this was looking up at what came next...

Climbing over a log at a steep angle makes things a lot more difficult...

Looking back after coming down from approaching Twin Owls.

Just in case...

Time to head back and pick up some cinnamon rolls on the way!!!

This looks so serene after all those rocks...

More steps before the finish!

I was wiped, and those were the best cinnamon rolls ever!!!
Gem Lake, Paul Bunyan's Boot and the Twin Owls was fun...but next time, I probably won't try a climber's access path!  I'll just look up at the Owls and take a picture!!!  Glad I went, but might have over stretched myself a bit on that climb.  If you go, be careful and enjoy!!!

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Product Review: New Original BUFF®

The New Original BUFFⓇ Continental Divide Trail has Butte, MT on it, where I raced in 2015!
Disclaimer: I received a New Original BUFF® as part of being a  BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador) and check out to review, find, and write race reviews.

I have been using BUFF® products for years now.  In fact, in preparation I went to see just how many BUFF® products I have and I think I might have enough to make a small lap quilt!  

BUFF® has recently come out with a New Original BUFF®.  Check out this website when you have time,, but to summarize, here's a few important points:

  • New Original BUFF® is now made of 100% recycled REPREVE® microfibers which come from 2 recycled water bottles.
  • 4 way ULTRA STRETCH with active recovery so it doesn't lose it's original shape.
  • UPF 50.
  • Tons of new styles.
  • And, something I noticed on my own as seen in the picture below, it's bigger than the original Original, (is that what we call my old ones?)  (Have I been around that long?):

Two original Original BUFF® surrounding my New Original BUFF®.  Notice the extra length on the new ones.

As you would expect, the New Original BUFF® holds up just as well as the old ones in the elements and can be worn in all the same ways.  I still favor a form of free flow pirate, an untied pirate/do rag I guess.  

Notice I have my Wulfman's CDT 14K shirt on with my New Original CDT BUFF®.

So, BUFF® continues to get better, I get older, and my collection grows!!!

Enough BUFF® to make a lap quilt maybe?  Well, not now.  I use them too much!!!
As I have said before, BUFF® makes great gear and I have already found the next piece I want to attain, the Polar Hoodie!!!  That would so great to rock and roll in with a snow show series this winter I am planning on competing in here in Rochester, NY!!!

So, get out and enjoy life and use a BUFF® to help you do so!!!  Enjoy!

Friday, September 21, 2018

Trail Review: Ypsilon Lake & Chipmunk Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

Ypsilon Lake hike (with Chipmunk Lake on the way) was the longest hike I did in CO this past July.

Earlier this Summer in July, I had the opportunity to go on a trip to Colorado with extended family that put us in Estes Park, CO, right down the road about a mile or so from the entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park.  This is the 4th of 5 trail reviews from that week!  Enjoy!

Climing begins immediately!
Flood damage from 1983.

Once I had trail run/hiked up Deer Mountain on the first full day of our trip, I started looking for other hikes, including something that would push me even harder.  One of those that I kept coming back to was the Lawn Lake Trail vicinity.  I finally decided upon  Ypsilon Lake Trail which breaks off from the Lawn Lake trail about 1.5 miles into the route.

I got to the trail head, which is just before the Alluvial Fan Trail, and headed out about 5:45am MST.  The trail immediately starts going up and then after the first few steps that are made into the ground via logs, begins to switchback as the elevation gain continues ever upward until leveling out above the Alluvial Fan area.

It might not look like much, but these waters continue downward to the Alluvial Fan that so many enjoy!!!

This sign is around 1.3-1.5 miles into the Lawn Lake Trail.

There are great views of the waters that pour down as Horseshoe Falls to the Alluvial Fan once you start to level off for a bit from the initial bit of elevation gain, probably around 500ft or so.  The trail then follows what the Roaring River for a bit before ducking back into the woods.  Eventually you will come to the sign above and take the left side of the fork to Ypsilon Lake.  Not too long after that, you will break back out of the woods and cross the river on a plank.  While doing so, there are some great views to catch like these, whether you are heading up to Ypsilon Lake or coming back:

This is looking down at the plank bridge as I come back from the hike to Ypsilon Lake.
The plank bridge, trust me, it will hold!!!

After you cross the plank bridge on the way to Ypsilon Lake, you immediately start climbing up a set of steps hewn into the side of the mountain for a minute or so.  After that, the trail continues upward a bit more gently until you turn around a bend and head more or less into the mountain, and what felt like to me, climbing ever upward on what felt like a spine.  It's not, but if you look at an elevation map or chart of this stretch, it's just a continual climb upwards from 9500ft to around 10,750+/-.  

I remember this stretch challenging me in several ways.  First, I thought I'd be warm enough in just a long sleeve running top and found that even though I was constantly moving, it was early enough at these elevations that I was cold.  Eventually, as I got further upward, the sun started breaking through a few open stretches and I warmed up.  But, note, it was mid-July, so be wary and dress or bring appropriate clothing.  Second, I was pushing hard to keep up my pace and there was a lot of stepping around and on rock, so my legs were getting tired, especially in the groin area between my pubic bone and right leg.

This stretch from the river to Chipmunk Lake not only gains a lot of elevation, but is primarily in shaded woods so there's not a lot of views of the mountains around.  Though it's high, it's obviously not above tree line on this mountain.  Therefore, I didn't take a lot of pictures.

Finally, I made it Chipmunk Lake, which according to some people who have reviewed these lakes elsewhere on the net, is the prettier lake.  It's definitely a cute little lake, but not sure if I'd agree it's the better of the two.  A few pics below:

Chipmunk Lake with part of the "Y" that marks the area above Ypsilon Lake.

Chipmunk Lake

Yours truly @ Chipmunk Lake

If you've made it to Chipmunk Lake, Ypsilon is not too far away, probably less than .5 mile.  There was one stretch where I was coming down into a section where I lost the trail for a minute, but I figured it out.  As you get closer, if for some reason you've brought your horse along, you'll have to tie it up and leave it for the final, steep downhill section to Ypsilon Lake.

Oh, okay!  But where is the hitchrack from this sign?

Oh, there it is, just behind me to the right, somehow I missed it focusing on the signage!!!

I had no horse with me today.  Too bad I could have brought "A Horse with No Name," which is often on my playlist.

The final section after the horserack down to Ypsilon Lake is actually quite steep and a bit rocky.  I was glad I had my trekking poles with me, which I had already been using on some of the elevation gain.  Finally I made it to Ypsilon Lake with just enough time to spend a few minutes and snag a few photos.  Supposedly there is a little trail around the lake and including some falls, but that way seemed a bit tricky and overgrown at the moment, so I headed the other way to get a few shots before needing to head back out the trail.  At this point the sun was up bright in the East, in fact, so bright, it made it hard to get pics of lake as this is the direction you are looking when you finally arrive at it.  But, here are a few:

After a hard push gaining well over 2000ft in less than 4.5 miles, I made it!

Selfie to prove I actually made it!!!

Part of Ypsilon Lake at around 10,600ft.

I had to place the tree just right because the Sun was so bright!

You can just see the Eastern edge of the lake off to the right.  Another nice view.

A view of more of the mountain from Ypsilon Lake.

One of my favorite pics of Ypsilon Lake, the trees helped frame the shot and block the sunlight!

Similar to the one above, another nicely framed and favorite pic of Ypsilon Lake.

In addition to wanting to make it to Ypsilon and Chipmunk Lakes this day, I also chose this trailrun/hike to cross a mileage marker I wanted to cross while we were in Colorado.  I have been tracking my running mileage since February 12, 2009 on what is now an old iPod Touch.  Sure, I ran before this, but this is an ongoing blog of all the miles I have recorded running, walking, hiking, snowshoeing since that date and I was very close to 8,000 miles.  Before we left for Colorado, I put myself in a place where if I could do a good solid week, I'd hit my goal.  That happened in the middle of the woods along the Ypsilon Trail on the way back.  I stopped to note my current mileage for the run I was on, and to take a break and have a bit to eat.  Woohoo!!!  I might've taken a few more selfies than normal...:)

5.05 miles makes 8,000.00!!!

Having some gel chews at 8,000.00 miles!!!

I tried to run as much as possible on the way back, but the Ypsilon Trail is just rocky enough as you descend to make that pretty tricky for many stretches.  When it would clear, I'd take off, then stop and hike again until the next clear stretch.  Other than 1 person early on on the way out to the lake, I passed no one until I did my return trip, then I started passing people every so often.  

A shot of the trail as it nears the steps before the plank bridge over the Roaring River on the return.

Another view of the flood damage and the water as the sun continues to shine brightly!

Descending along the last stretch and looking forward to being done!!!

In the end, what was detailed online as a 9 mile hike that would take around 5-6 hours, ended up being about 8.77 miles with around 4700 ft of elevation change, (2392 up, 2286 down), and I did it in under 3 hours running/hiking time.  This doesn't include time to stop and take pictures, eat, rest for a minute or so here and there.  That might have made the hike closer to 3.25-3.5 hours total.

It was a tough hike and I felt it coming down, especially in my right groin area which gave me problems on the way up.  But, I was ecstatic as crossing 8,000 miles and adding 2 more lakes to my list of beautiful bodies of water that I got to see while in RMNP.  If you go, make sure you have enough time, energy, hydration, clothing, and a camera.  Enjoy!

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