Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Iron Horse Bicycle Classic recap

I took Friday off of work and drove down to Durango, CO with teammate Donnovan for the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic: 3 days of racing in Durango - a road race, a crit, and a mountain bike race. Despite the long drive, time flew by as I looked at the scenery and chatted with Donnovan. Every once and a while, I'd see something that looked familiar and I can only guess that we had driven some of those roads on a vacation back in the day.

We arrived in Durango around 4 and stopped by the registration area to pick up our race numbers and drop of some post-race clothing that would be shuttled to Silverton for us. I was impressed at how well organized the process was. There were a ton of people there to registered, but it still was a very simple process and didn't take too long. I love it when these things are well planed, and I guess after 35 years of doing this thing they've got it down to a science.

While the crappy weather was pounding the front range, here's the vie from my chair as I type this update:


(Click Here for the Race Map)

Today was the road race from Durango to Silverton, and it was a doozie. The route is 47 miles with 5500 feet of climbing and two 10,000+ foot passes! We had a little confusion this morning as to where the race started because from the race map it looked like the race started a few miles further up the road than it did. By the time we figured this out, I was too far from the start to make it all the way back to the start line, but I got pretty close. I just latched on to the back of the pack and started to work my way up. I'm glad the race was sufficiently slow at this point, otherwise it would have been a huge pain in the butt.

I stayed with the lead group through the initial small climbs, but they finally lost me on the first big one. I hooked up with a good chase group and was doing pretty well at getting back to the leaders, but eventually they slipped a little away from them. I was working to get back to them, and there was someone on my wheel taking the free ride. Even though I signaled him a few times to pull through so I could get a little draft, he never did. I was really annoyed, so I just sat up and ate some gel. That was probably a big mistake, because I think I could have stayed with this group had I caught them, but I just wasn't willing to do all the work from some freeloader. The gel eating didn't go too well either. I ended up dropping my first of two packets that I had with me. Doh! I just grabbed the other one and happily made a mess of myself with strawberry-kiwi Accelgel. I pushed hard through the rest of the climb and dropped a good number of people that were getting shelled from the main group. There were people lined up along the climbs up the high passes and it was fun to have some people along the climb cheering us on. There was even someone in a devil costume (ala the devil that shows up at the Grand Tours).

With the first pass under my belt, I pulled on the arm warmers and cruised downhill for a few miles before the next big effort. The next climb was only 4 miles and not quite as steep, but by the time I gotten this far my legs were cooked and I was out of gel. I tried to eat the Mojo bar I brought with me, but those things just don't go down well when you're that tired. I fought the bonk all the way up with the knowledge that it was just about all downhill from the top of that pass. The decent was awesome because the road was closed, so I could take some high speed corners without worrying about cars. I let out a big sigh of relief when I could see Silverton from the road because I knew I was going to make it. I wasn't going to be the fastest, but I was going to make it in a respectable 3 hours. (For reference, the Pro winner did it in ~2:15)

It's a truly tough ride, and I'm really glad I got to do it. Donnovan didn't quite fare as good as me. We had both decided to save a little weight by not bringing our saddle bags and within the first 10-15 miles he flatted. He bummed a tube off one of the citizen class riders, but the stem was so short that the pump didn't quite work right and he could only get it pumped up to ~20psi. A half hour later, the tire was too low, so he got a CO2 cartridge from someone and got the tire pumped up a little more but it was still pretty low. When we got back to the car he measured it a 40psi. Ugh!

I took today off because I'm not a big fan of criteriums and I figured my body would be able to use a little recovery time. While Donnovan was warming up for the 35+ senior men's category I headed over to Starbucks (a.k.a. "The 'Bucks") for a venti ice soy chai (I've finally been to Starbucks enough with that I know how to order something tasty - Damn you Christine!). D's race was pretty non-noteworthy. He stuck with the pack for a while, but eventually they were too fast for him to hang on. He got some good speed and cornering work until they finally pulled him from the course, and we both watched the finish from the sidelines. We asked one of the masseuse's where we should go to grab a beer before watching our teammate, Barry, race in cat 3 and she sent us to Steamworks Brewery, which happened to have a nice patio that overlooked the climb on the crit course.

Donnovan is a smooth talking chatty sort of guy, so even though the only available seat on the patio was on the wrong side, we ended up on the overlook section within 10 minutes. We overheard someone at the neighboring table asking the waitress for some sunblock, and we quickly become the most popular guys on the sunny patio as I passed around my SPF 50. These people were probably already half in the bag when they got to the patio so you can imagine they were an interesting group to mingle with as they sat in the sun and drank some more. When our teammate made it to the head of the race we had our whole half of the patio cheering for him. It was quite fun..until he ended up breaking a handle bar and had to retire. :(

Later, the person who pointed us towards Steamworks in the first place (Elka) showed up and sat with the table next to us. It turns out that she's a former NORBA National winner. By this point I was felt pretty drained from being in the sun all day, so I left the patio to spend some time in the shade with a book. When I came back up, things were getting even more out of hand. There was full glasses of water being thrown, etc. It was quite amusing, but probably annoying for the other people hanging out on the patio.

After a tiring day of recovering sitting around watching some bike racing we headed back to the condo to pack up and get some sleep.

Today was my first ever mountain bike race (and only about the third time I've ridden my mtb since in the last year). I really had no expectations for this race, I just thought it'd be fun to do and I entered the beginners class. We did two loops of a 4.8 mile course that started with leg burning hill. I'd feel bad for doing the hike-a-bike, but I later found out that during NORBA competitions in recent years the pro's also carried their bikes. My fitness really helped me out and I was able to catch people on the uphill and flats, but my downhill skills need some serious work. I made a nervous mistake on the the first lap that sent me over the bar, bending my brake lever and causing my chain to skip the rest of the race, but I quickly recovered and made it through the same section fine on the second lap. As the race progressed I got a lot better, but it's still something I need to work on.
The end result: I came in 5th of all the Beginning classes, and 2nd in my age group. Super cool! I even got to stand on the podium to collect my award of a bag embroidered with the Iron Horse logo.

Donnovan had another bad luck day. He broke a chain several miles into the ride and had to coast/scooter his bike back to the start.

Now the time has come to head home. I'll be happy to see the dogs and catch some good sleep in my own bed.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Team Kits

After an unbelievablly long wait of 3 months we finally got our cycling team clothing last week. It's all super nice stuff, and I'm glad to finally have some much needed new clothing.


Thursday, May 26, 2005

Car Camping

Last weekend Christine and I headed up the Poudre Canyon for some time away and to do something fun for Christine's birthday. Christine's dog is old enough that long hikes aren't a good idea, but we still wanted to bring him camping with us. The solution: car camping. Car camping is fun because you easily bring luxuries like pillows, cold drinks, and really big tents. We rented a rather large tent from REI because neither of us have a tent that's big enough to hold both of us and our two large dogs. I'm really glad we didn't haul this tent backpacking; I swear it got heavier since last year's model.

We found a nice little campsite that may not have had the most level ground, but it was next to a river that provided some nice background sounds. The river also quickly proved to be too irresistible for Bucket. Within minutes of getting out of the car he was in the water chasing sticks. I hope Kuzca learns how to swim from him, because as it is right now, she only likes to wade in the water. After collecting firewood and setting up the tent (which was brand spankin' new), we settled down for some beer and Subway sandwiches (more car camping luxuries). It was really nice to be able to have a fire, because usually it's too dry around here for such activities. Makes me wish I had some marshmallows or something.

It got pretty chilly at night, and Bucket got really cold due to his fur still being a little wet. He kept Christine up most of the night, and she eventually ended up wrapping a sleeping bag around him and partially laying on him until he woke up. Kuzca also decided that she really "needed" to go out multiple times throughout the night. All in all it was a pretty restless night, but I was still glad to be there.

The next morning we broke camp and did a really short hike followed up by a riverside lunch while the dogs (mostly Bucket) fetch sticks from the water. Man, that dog just can't get enough of the water. All good things must come to an end, so we headed back to Fort Collins and finished moving Christine's stuff into my house.

Friday, May 20, 2005

A fun day for Kuzca

Yesterday I took Kuzca to the vet for her annual checkup and vaccines.  When she was a puppy she didn't mind the vet.  She enjoyed seeing the new people and having the touch her, but lately she acts horrified.  I'm not sure why the switch in behavior, but now she tries to hide under chairs in the vet's office.  It's quite sad really.  She was in for a double shot of horror yesterday though. 

At her noon appointment she got a kennel cough vaccine and a giardia vaccine.  When I got home last night around 9 her face looked all funny, as if she had a serious case of bed head.  Then I saw her really itching her head and it was obvious she was having a reaction to something.  Fortunately there's a 24 hour clinic a couple miles down the road, so we cruised over there to have them check it out.  After two vet trips in a row, I don't know if Kuzca will ever want to get in the car again.  :)  They figured she was having a reaction to the giardia shot and they gave her cortisone and benadryl shots.  She actually started looking better as we sat in the office, so that was a big relief.  This morning she looked back to normal, but I still have some benadryl to give her for the next few days.  I'm glad it was nothing too major.

I'll try to erase her past two car rides with another one tomorrow, but this time we'll going camping instead of visiting the vet.  I think she'll forgive me.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Wyoming Backpacking Trip

Nat Miller and I are starting to plan our 3rd annual early summer backpacking trip and you're all invited!  We're going to do something around the Grand Tetons the weekend of June 25.  The details are still up in the air, so send me suggestions if you've ever been there or if you know any good books I should check out.

Let me know if you're interested in joining Nat, Christine, and I.

Sunday, May 15, 2005


Lot's of good stuff happened lately:

After several months of nagging, my boss finally said I could order a new laptop. The straw that finally broke him was when I told him that the new engineer (who had been there only a day) already had a new laptop while I was still using one that was grossly underpowered and frequently crashed. Now I've got a super cool new HP NW8240, with the new Pentium Mobile 533 MHz FSB CPU, 802.11/b/g, 15.4" display, blah blah blah.

Christine found someone to rent her town home. We hadn't been getting any calls so Christine was going to lower the price after this weekend. Low and behold she got a few calls, and someone signed a lease today. That a HUGE relief, because now we're not paying for to places.

My roommate finally found someplace to move. When Christine moved in I told my roommate that she was going to have to move out, but I didn't give her a firm date because I wanted her to be able to find a good place for her and her dog. As we've been moving more and more of Christine's stuff into our house it's been getting crowded, and we've been growing increasingly annoyed at my roommate's clutter. Shannon told us today that she found someplace to live. She won't be moving in until July 1st, but at least there's an end in sight.

In fashion news, I got some cool new Keen sandals. They're pretty, please to be explaining, keen. I think they'll be great for my raft trip at the end of the summer.

Tuesday, May 3, 2005

0 for 2

I should probably stay away from crits. Today was the first of a series of crits in at a race track in Mead, CO, and since I had some crit type stuff in my training plan I decided this would be a good training race.

In case I haven't done it previously, maybe a little explanation of a criterium is in order. Criteriums (or crits) are on a relatively short course with lots of corners, and due to the short nature of the races, they're usually pretty fast. To spice things up a bit, they also have sprint laps (or primes) where they award points or prizes to the top x people to cross the line.

The beginning of the race started out pretty good. The start wasn't quite the all out sprint that I experienced in my last crit, but it was sufficiently fast enough to make me glad I did some good warm up. I settled in with the middle of the pack and figured I'd stay there for the majority of the race. Then came the first sprint lap. I hadn't planned on contending for any points, but it was like everyone else was afraid to sprint. I was on the outside of a corner and I felt everyone slowing down, so I just went for it. Even though I had to shift to my big chain ring (and my chain was slipping as I was trying to do this), I blew everyone away. I even stopped pedaling 10 feet before the line.

The rest of the race I played with positioning. I wanted to see how I could work my way through a pack, and find out where I could pick up pick up a few places. I even tried creating a gap in front of me (so I could possibly help out a teammate in the future by giving him a few extra seconds). It was actually quite fun.

On the first corner of the very last lap, some numskull decided he would take the corner from the inside out, and therefor come in front of me quickly. Unlike my last crit crash experience, I didn't stand a chance and immediately went down. Hard. I slid a little bit, and also had another rider go over me. It's really not as bad as it sounds, but I'm good and scraped up and I'll be sore for several days that's for sure. Next time I ride a crit I think I'll stay in the back just so I can finish on without crashing.

Despite the crash, it was a positive race:
* I won my first sprint lap
* I spent some time at the front of a race for the first time ever
* I got some good experience positioning myself in a group