Peru trek

Backroads Peru Trekking Trip

Helen and I just got back from a 9 day, lodge to lodge trekking trip in Peru from Cusco to Machupicchu ( Machu Picchu ). It was a seriously incredible experience. We stayed in these amazing lodges by Mountain Lodges of Peru - top comfort accommodations in the middle of nowhere at 12,000 feet in the Peruvian Andes. The only way to get to most of these lodges is by mule or hiking. We weren't exactly 'roughing' it!

Trip highlights: Long days spent hiking, 2 amazing runs at elevation, big elevation changes (highest elevation of 15,400 feet between Salkantay and Womantay mountains), glacier capped mountain peaks, visited a family with a small potato farm, legs got eaten alive by mosquitoes, trekked through rain, clouds in the cloud forest, blazing sun, tromped through a mix of mud and mule manure up to my ankles, developed new friendships that will last a lifetime, ate guinea pig, experienced the most beautiful and inspired city on earth - Machupicchu, swam in a river that lead to the amazon and a glacier lake at 14,000 feet, hiked the Inca trail, stayed in this crazy Peru meets the wild-west town called Aguas Contaleros (LOVED IT!), Ate some great food and drank some great wine (and a few Cervesas).

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Killer training days and Killer whales

Killer whale in Johnston Straight, Vancouver Island, BC

Helen and I, along with our good friends Val and Gary Erickson just returned from a 5 day camping/kayaking trip through Johnston Straight in northern Vancouver Island. It was a rough, wet, cold, dirty but AWESOME week! We saw Killer Whales every day - amazing. To do a trip like this once a year is nourishment for the soul.

Johnston straight is shown on the map above.
We had to take a 2.5 hour water taxi boat ride from
Campbell River, BC to our camp in the rain forest.

Helen and I in the tent

Helen in her kayak

Helen and Val and kayak on a misty morning

Helen and Val and our guide with a Sunstar

Vancouver Island is amazingly beautiful

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle eating a Salmon

Gary and Greg back to civilisation

Training and the record attempt

A date and location has been set for the record attempt. Monday September 8th on Whitefish Lake in Montana. My man Skip Schloss has kindly volunteered to act as the event organizer for me. He has a house with a dock on the lake and many friends and contacts in the Whitefish area. I'll post more details later when I get more time.

Today i finish a 4 day heavy volume training period where I will complete a total of 24 hour of race-pace pedalling on Glenmore Reservoir here in Calgary. I did 10 hours straight, non-stop on Wednesday and finished with a 10.9 kph average speed. 10.2 kph is required to match Carter Johnson's current 24 hour kayaking record.

On Thursday I experimented with a slower pace and managed to end my 5 hour day with an average speed of 10.4 kph. Compared to the average power I had to maintain for 10.9 kph, 10.4 kph is a FAR more efficient pace.

I calculated that it took 25% more power on Wednesday's 10.9 kph effort to produce only 4.8% more speed on Thursday's 10.4 kph effort. My strategy will be to conserve as much as I can during the first 12 hours be being as efficient as possible with low power output, then slowly increase the power through the night until morning if possible.

On Thursday I lost my prop when my shaft broke! OH NO!!! Since I am not using a strut to hold the prop, when the shaft breaks, the prop falls to the bottom of the lake. I marked the location by dropping a way point on my GPS, but accidentally errased it. The lake is VERY weedy and dirty where it fell, so diving in to find it probably isn't possible. Also if I get caught in the water I will get fined because you are not allowed to swim in the reservoir. Since I didn't have a paddle with me I started to paddle with my hands, but quickly realized that I wasn't going anywhere. Luckily one of the rowing coaching boats was near and the two girls (who I see EVERYDAY out there on the lake) kindly gave me a ride and tow back to the dock. I have a spare prop, but now I need to ask Manny to CNC machine me one more. I hate asking because he is so busy right now with PAYING work.

Fridays 5 hour ride was without the SRM power meter because the battery died, so I wasn't able to monitor my power output. I ended at 10.4 kph average speed and included a bunch of pauses for this and that and varying intensities and speeds throughout the day.

Today's final ride will be harder because I want to try to stress my muscles after 3 days of heavy miles and fatigue. I'm thinking of aiming for 180 to 200 watts for 5 hours, and an average speed above 11.4 kh.


Don't forget that you can enter to win a free Nomad hand held computer by correctly predicting my finishing distance during the 24 hour record attempt. As more information about my speed and training results become available to you, you can revise your prediction as many times as you like by re-entering the contest. We will take your LATEST entry as your official prediction and the contest will close on Sept 8th.

Here is the online entry form:

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My background

Rare Method is a PedalTheOcean sponsor, and a local Calgary marketing agency that is run by my brother in-law Tom Short. I am putting WiTHiN on display in their main lobby on Valentine's Day (WiTHiN is red and romantic I guess) and giving a little talk about me and the ocean crossing record attempt. During my preparation I was trying to figure out the best way to describe my business relationship with Rare Method and Tom, and decided to create a flow chart to better illustrate the complex relationship between all of the various companies I have started or been involved with during my career as an entrepreneur.

I thought that you might like to know a little about how Greg came to be, so here is my "entrepreneurial genealogy flow chart" (click to enlarge):

I started out on my own almost immediately after I graduated from a two year engineering course at SAIT - Calgary's local technical institute. I worked as a draftsman at an oil company for a very short period of time and hated it. In 1985 I quit my job and started a freelance graphic design company called Image Club Graphics. For the next 5 years, I designed logos and avoided starving to death. Barely.

I got my dad to guarantee a bank loan for a new Apple LaserWriter laser printer and a Macintosh 128 K computer. For those of you not as old as me, the LaserWriter was the very first high resolution (300 dpi *was* high back in the olden days!) printer and the 128 K Mac was the first computer with a 'graphical user interface'. The bundle that I leased was valued at a whopping $20,000. I have more computing power in my watch now than I did with that original Mac system. Since I had no money to put down on the system, it was leased and over the term of the lease it probably ended up costing me $40,000.

I immediately realized that this new technology was going to revolutionize the graphic arts and publishing industry, and that I needed to wake-up and seize the day. As I could afford it, I changed the focus of Image Club to software development for the electronic publishing industry and we grew like crazy.

Fast forward to 1994... I was 33 years old. Image Club had become the worlds leading publishing content software publisher and was acquired by Adobe Systems. Actually, we were acquired by a company called Aldus Corporation who made a page layout application called PageMaker. In the midst of the Aldus acquisition, Aldus was acquired by Adobe Systems and Adobe picked up Image Club as part of the package.

I did not accept a position with the new division at Adobe, but my right-hand man at Image Club - Brad Zumwalt was far smarter than I, and he continued to run the division from Calgary for Adobe. A couple of years later during a corporate re-structure, Adobe decided to shut the Image Club division down and Brad gathered a few investors together and they re-purchased Image Club from Adobe making it a private corporation once again. Brad re-branded the new company as EyeWire, built it back up over a few more years, and then sold it to Getty Images for something like $30 million clams.

Brad negotiated an extremely preferable non-compete clause with Getty, and within a couple of years he had resurrected EyeWire as "Veer". Same people, same products, same business plan with a new name and he and his employees owned 100% of it. In fact, most of the key employees working for EyeWire, then Veer started with me at Image Club.

Brad applied his golden formula and built Veer up through the years and recently sold it to Bill Gate's company "Corbis" and turned most of those loyal employees into millionaires.

No - unfortunately, I played NO part in any of Brad's successes after I sold Image Club to Adobe. Most of my employees that stayed with Brad ended up making WAY more money than I ever did way back in 1994 when I sold (for a relatively paltry amount) to Adobe. Brad is a pretty incredible entrepreneur, and he deserves every bit of success he achieved, as does everyone who followed him.

Now lets re-center back to the middle of the chart - the goofy guy with the yellow cap. Shortly after I started Image Club in 1985, I launched a second company called Sharper Cards. We designed, manufactured and marketed recall cards to the dental industry. After my wife Helen graduated from University of Calgary, she took over the business and ran it up to a multi-million dollar corporation. In 2003 Sharper Cards was acquired by our largest US competitor Smart Health Corporation from Phoenix, AZ. Helen retired and the Sharper division of Smart Health is still up and running right here in Calgary.

Re-center again and we move down to Idea Machine. I started this small company during my time at Image Club mostly to get closer to our customer. We used our expertise in digital publishing to design and produce print products for local Calgary clients. I brought my Brother in-law Tom Short in as a partner, and when I sold Adobe, I let Tom take Idea Machine. Sometime in the early 2000's Idea Machine was acquired by Calgary's Rare Method Corporation where it is one of Calgary's largest communications agencies today.

I had an idea for a software product that didn't fit into what Image Club was doing, so I started NewDirections with my cousin Tim Senger. Our first product was called FastForms and was the first forms generating and fill-out package available at the time. It was very popular, but needed quite a bit of additional programming to keep up with demands for updates. ND was bought-out by Tim and his partners at Shana Corporation where they re-wrote and expanded on the FastForms concept. They eventually became leaders in the forms market and were acquired by FileNet in 2003.

At some point during Image Clubs rapid growth, I had an idea for an innovative way of marketing our digital typefaces. I wanted to offer our entire library of fonts on a CD ROM disc (CD's were brand new at the time), but lock access to the files on the CD. We would give the CD's away, and the customer would purchase an access code from Image Club's toll free order desk to unlock single fonts as required. It was kind of like an online store on a CD ROM disc. Remember - this was WAY before the Internet, so purchasing software online was stuff of science fiction books. I partnered with Shawn Abbott and his company ANDgroup. Shawn would develop the encryption technology, and Image Club would benefit by being able to utilize the technology in our product. The relationship worked out great for both parties and Shawn was able to eventually sell ANDgroup and the unlocking technology he had developed to Rainbow Technologies in 1994.

The most recent 'action' in the flow chart is iStock Photo which is shown with a gray dashed line connected to Image Club. The dashed connection is because I really had nothing to do with Bruce Livingston's brain child iStock, aside from being Bruce's employer for a number of years at Image Club. Bruce observed the incredible growth of our digital stock photography line of products (Image Club was the first company ever to offer stock photography in digital form on CD ROM disc, and we had rapidly expanded that offering over the years). Bruce had a better idea - to start an online photo sharing community. He left Image Club and worked for Tom at Idea Machine for a few years, then launched his iStock Photo web site. After my other brother in-law Pat Lor (married to my KidPower main-man and little sister Theresa) finished his MBA, he joined Bruce as a partner, and last year they sold iStock to Getty Images for 50 million bucks. Yes, the same Getty that purchased Brad's EyeWire.

I would like to eventually expand on the outline by adding in some of the dollar amounts that were generated at each acquisition. It would also be interesting to do a count of how many millionaires were created since I started Image Club 23 years ago. It would be mind boggling. I need to stress that I played no role in any of the little blue balls on the chart. Basically, I made a bit of money from the sale of Image Club to Adobe, and Helen made some from the sale of Sharper to Smart Health. We made enough for a 'careful' retirement, and we are very happy with that. I have no regrets at all, and I am just as proud as hell to have initiated all of this.

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Kayaking trip

This whale breached right off the bow of my kayak!

I just returned from our 4 day kayaking/camping trip through the Broken Group Island chain off of the West coast of Vancouver island. We had fantastic weather and it was a really great time! We saw sea lions barking on the rocks, sat in the middle of a group of seals feeding, watched a whale breach, right off the bow of my kayak, and paddled along with dolphins. I also got the chance to experience a channel crossing with 3 to 4 foot waves and large swells from the open Pacific which was a good experience. Great, great trip. It was a highlight of my summer for sure.

We forgot (well, I forgot) the tent poles for one of our tents, so we used our axe to cut new ones from a drift wood log. It worked perfectly!

When we broke camp to move to a new island, I had to haul the new tent poles with me.

My daughter Krista chillin in the tent

Helen and Val getting ready for another day of paddling

Seals feeding

Seals feeding

From left to right: Gary, Val, Greg, Helen, Dustin, Cody, Bridget, Krista

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Hello from circa 1983

Hello from me - circa 1983!

Phil Events, a good friend of mine scanned and emailed me this photo from his dusty photo archives. We used to spend the weekends cycle touring around the mountains in the area getting into all kinds of various trouble. For those of you who weren't around in the 80's, and didn't live through the "one size too small shorts crisis", the fluffy hair was just an effort to draw attention away from the hideous short shorts.

Our weekly "shop day" was pretty easy yesterday. We sanded down the inside surface of the Hyak kayak hull, hot glued strips of 1/2" Styrofoam around the perimeter, and cut out 2 layers of Fiberglass roving to be epoxied down. Compared to the deck, the hull is pretty feather weight and as it is, we are planning on adding about 30 pounds of ballast to the hull floor, so I don't see the harm is beefing up the kayak skin. In total strength, it should be about the same thickness as the deck with has 2 layers of heavy fiberglass roving with 2 layers of Kevlar. The kayak hull will have 2 layers of heavy fiberglass roving, one layer of Kevlar and another lighter layer or two of fiberglass.

Matt and Ben

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