Friday, April 29, 2005

Free DVD rentals

(This only really applies to people in the front range people.)

Have you seen those automated DVD rental systems that have a some McDonalds now?  (store locations)  They're actually pretty cool.  You navigate a touch screen to select a movie, swipe your credit card, and it spits out a DVD.  To return it, you put it back in the DVD case and insert it into the machine.  It's only $1 (plus tax) for a one day rental.  I tried it out last night, and rented Sideways.

Thanks to dirtpupfc (and christinelh for forwarding me his email), you can get some free rentals for a little while.  Before you "checkout", there's a button that you can hit for a promo code.  Enter "greine", and you'll get the movie for free.  You'll still have to swipe your credit card, but it won't charge you anything (probably just harvest your information to send you piles of junk mail.) The promo ends May 11th.  (See this promo information for more details.)  You're supposed to only get 1 free rental per person, but maybe you can get more free renatals if you swipe other credit cards.

Here's some more codes to use too:

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Race results

I saw the preliminary results today from my race in Grand Junction. (I don't know what "preliminary" means, and neither did the race organizer that I emailed. I guess "official" results will be up some time soon.)
I guess I did better than I thought. The group I raced in was a combined College B and USCF Cat 4, and I thought they would lump all the results together. It turns out they did them separately, and I finished 3rd in the Men's cat 4! They don't have the times posted yet, so I don't know how I did overall, but I'm pretty happy about the 3rd place in my category.

So much for summer tires

I put my summer performance tires back on last week, foolishly hoping that I wouldn't be in any more snow. So of course on my way home today it starts snowing. With more of the white stuff in the forecast, I decided I better put my winter wheels back on. :( It was fun while it lasted.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Grand Junction

Christine and I went to Grand Junction for the weekend for a bike race and some hanging out time.

It all started Friday with Christine's eventful return from a business trip in South Bend, Indiana. Christine had managed to adjust her flight schedule so that she would arrive in Denver at 4:30, and give us plenty of time to get to Grand Junction for a pre-drive of the race course and some good sleep. But as is the case lately, United Airlines sucks. I mean SUCKS! Her flight out of Chicago was delayed, because the plane that was in their gate had a "mechanical" problem that kept them from leaving, and kept Christine's plane from getting to the gate. Okay, Chicago is a big airport. Is there NO other gate that Christine's plane could use? And what's up with United and their "mechanical" problems. That's the same crap they told me on my trip to Savannah.

So Christine finally got into Denver 1 hour and 20 minutes late, and then came the task of retrieving the luggage. Oh wait, they decided not to put her luggage on the plane. The flight was apparently over the weight limit, so they had to ditch some luggage. And in the extra hour and twenty minutes they held Christine at the Chicago airport, they didn't seem to think it would be useful to say "Hey, we decided we couldn't fit your luggage on the plane, so don't wast another 40 minutes of your time at the Denver airport watching the luggage carousel go round and round." But I digress...

We arrived at our hotel in Grand Junction, and I was pleasantly surprised at our nice big room. It was at the end of a non-smoking floor (yay!), so I think it was a little bigger than the normal rooms. There was a ton of room for our two bikes and our abundance of gear (minus the baggage that United decided to hold on to). Another thing that was cool about this hotel is that pool was open 24 hours. I wish more hotels did that, because sometimes I wake up a 3AM and would really enjoy a good swim.

Saturday was the Mad Cow Classic road race, and it was Christine's first bike race. The timing of the race worked out great, because she started shortly after me and finished shortly before me, so she wasn't stuck waiting around too long. It was a good hard race of about 50 miles with lots of climbing that I think it would have suited me well had I not been doing a lot of climbing intervals the past few weeks. Going up the first big hill my legs were on fire. I just couldn't push hard enough to keep up with the lead pack, but I was going fast enough to drop several other people. I spent most of the rest of the race with a group of about 5 people, and we were doing a decent job of working together to pick up and pass other riders. It slowly dwindled down to 3 of us, and the other 2 finally lost me on a long false flat. I just didn't have the gas to push any harder, and once we hit the downhill I didn't stand a chance of catching their two-man paceline. My legs were so tired on the last few climbs of the race that each quad was cramping up at the top of every pedal stroke. Of the races I've done so far, I'd say it's my favorite. It was a really good course, the scenery was great, and so was the weather. Most of all, I'm excited that Christine rode in the race.

After the race we ventured over the the Colorado National Monument. We weren't up for much hiking so it was mostly sight seeing from the side of the road (just like the good old family vacations). The views were great, and the road was pretty fun. I'm glad I put the summer wheels back on my car.

We also did a little exploring in downtown Grand Junction.
My next bike:

Grand Junction had some cool artwork, like this buffalo:

And this really big mountain bike:

I also found the girlfriend store, but they wouldn't let me put Christine on consignment.

Monday, April 18, 2005

The end of an era

Lance Armstrong held a press conference today in Augusta, GA (where he is about to defend his title at the Tour de Georgia) to announce that the 2005 Tour de France will be his last race as a professional cyclist.  It'll be sad to have him out of the pro peloton, but he still plans to have a role in Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team.  What exactly that role will be is yet to be determined, but he said he wants to help develop the next American TdF champion.

One of the reporters at the conference asked if the Tour de Georgia would be his last pro race in the US.  "Probably."  He showed up a couple weekends ago at a race in California, and said that if he found a good race in the May timeframe, it wouldn't be out of the question for him to show up.  Hmmm....May.....My calender shows that the Boulder Stage Race is May 13-15.  In fact, Lance even mentioned that there was "something" in Colorado.  I may have to adjust my schedule.  :)

When I read It's Not About the Bike in the winter of 2003, I became a Lance fan.  I'll always be a Lance fan but now I'm also a rabid cycling fan.  Thanks Lance.  I'm even more excited about the Ride For The Roses now.


Sunday, April 17, 2005

The wheels on the bike go round and round (and round and round and round)

Last year riding a century was sort of a lofty goal, this year it's more like a training ride (almost). I went on a 93 mile team ride yesterday through the mountains, and although it wasn't quite a century, it was definitely harder than the century I did last year. I think it had something to do with the 7000 feet of climbing.

Our trip started yesterday with a ride from Loveland to Estes Park via Glen Haven. It's about 26 miles of nothing but up-up-up, finishing with a brutal pair of switchbacks. I haven't done this ride since last year, and at the time I was riding with a couple people that were considerably slower than me. This time, we pushed a pretty hard pace the whole time, but I still felt pretty strong going up the switchbacks. It's good to know that all this training crap isn't a waste of time.

After a stop in a coffee shop for some chow (one can only eat gels for so long), we headed up the Peak To Peak Highway (CO Highway 7). The scenery is pretty amazing; what a great place to suffer. Riding a climb for the first time is difficult for me, because I'm never quite sure how hard to push. I really don't want to blow up on the way up by trying to go too fast. I did alright on this one, and managed to drop one of the cat 3 guys who was really hurting.

The tough climb was followed by 15-20 miles of descent through Allens Park and into Lyons. John and I were off the back of the group, and did a pretty good job of working together in a 2-man paceline to fly down the mountain. It was quite fun, even if a couple cars were really annoying and passed by us too closely. We sat in the grass and took a breather in Lyons, while Louis walked over to the police station to report a particularly dangerous driver.

From there I started my slow fade back to Loveland. I've ridden between Loveland and Lyons a ton of times, so that part of the trip always drags for me. (especially when I exhausted). Once we got off the main highway I told them I was going to drop and cruise home at a more leisurely pace. Even so, they only beat me back by a few minutes, so I guess I wasn't the only one hurting.

Monday, April 4, 2005

Koppenberg Circuit Race

Yesterday was the Koppenberg Circuit Race in Superior.  My category did 3.5 laps of the 5 mile circuit, including 2.5 miles of rutted and pothole strewn dirt road and a grueling 17% grade dirt climb.  It's not a particularly long race, but all that rough road makes for a tough ride for both riders and bikes.  The best part about the race was having Christine and the Dyers there to cheer me on at the hill.  They were nice and loud so it was like having my own cheering section.  I loved it!

I had a pretty poor starting spot towards the back of the 100 person field, which was probably my biggest mistake.  I ended up getting behind some slower people in the dirt and a large gap opened up in front of me as a failed to pass them and tried hard to avoid the multiple crashes.  In retrospect I should have pushed much harder to catch up to the lead group, but I was worried about blowing up early.  I was happy to escape without crashing or flatting, but I did have my chain come off at one point because I hit some big holes as I tried to pass someone in the dirt.

So I suffered for a few laps and eventually finished way off the back of the pack.  I wasn't among the many people who didn't finish, and I didn't ever walk my bike up the hill.  Another race down, and more lessons learned.

Here I am racing up the Koppenburg Climb

Sprinting for the finish.  I saw the guy in pink coming up on my wheel as I rounded the last corner, and I'm glad I found the energy to keep him from passing me.

Here's a picture of the nasty climb