Friday, August 26, 2005

Deer Trail Road Race - Bring on the off-season gluttony

Last Saturday I drove out to the plains east of Denver for the Deer Trail Road Race. The start time for my class was at 8:30AM, so I woke up at 5 and left my house by 5:30. Let's hear it for early start times! Thankfully, the ride down was uneventful and I made it to the parking time with plenty of time to register and get everything ready.

The start was a little quicker than I expected for a 61 mile race, but I quickly settled into my rhythm in the middle of the pack. Maybe it was because it was the last race of the season, but I felt more relaxed during this race than any other of the year. It was nice to look down at my heart rate monitor and see that it wasn't at an anxiety induced high level.

The course was basically a T shape. We started at the center of the T, and doubled back when we reached the end of each leg. When you're anywhere except the front of the pack, the 180 degree turnarounds are killer. While you're slowing down to a near stop to get around the cone in the middle of the road, the front of the pack is riding full speed in the opposite direction. Around the first cone I worked with 4 other people in a rotating paceline and caught back up with the main pack after a hard chase. I tried to work my way up through the peloton but I didn't get very far because the road was pretty packed and I'm not all that great at navigating through a group like that yet.

The second turnaround was a similar situation, but luckily the chase wasn't as difficult. A few miles afterward there was a crash, and it payed to be a little further back in the field because I was able to ride around the downed riders without slowing down too much.

I was able to stay with the lead group all the way until about the 50 mile mark and then coming up the hill through the feed zone I completely blew up. First my calves started to cramp up. After I stretched them out a bit my quads started to cramp up. By the time I crossed the finish line I had lost 10 minutes from the group I had previously been riding with.

I didn't finish all that well, but I felt like this was probably my best race to date. I was very relaxed riding in the group. I didn't get dropped when I had to play catch-up around the cones. I did a much better job of watching the riders in front of me to see when they slowed down or sped up, and anticipated the action of the peloton.

My race season is done now, so I guess I'll sit around and get fat for the winter. Or maybe I'll put that off until after Christine and I ride in Lance's Ride For The Roses.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Lance Armstrong - 24-hour Fitness

I took a half day yesterday to go check out Lance Armstrong and the new 24-Hour Fitness that bears his name.  It's a pretty nice place, but too bad there's not one in Fort Collins.  Any of their attempts to sell me on a membership were easily thwarted.

I got there at about 2:30 and there weren't all that many people there yet.  (Lance was supposed to be there 4-6).  The people that were seated in front of the stage in the first row had been there since noon, so I'm glad I didn't waste too much time getting there earlier.  Lance was supposed to show up around 4, do TV interviews until 5:30, and then talk to the masses, so I was in for a little bit of a wait.  Glad I brought a book (an exciting one about DOS programming no less).

By the time Lance got on the stage there were a TON of people.  They even had a TV screen set up outside for the overflow.  He spent 30-40 minutes talking about this year's Tour, and narrating some photographs from July.  I always enjoy hearing him talk about cycling, and there were plenty of tidbits that weren't covered in the usual TV interviews.

Here's Lance doing a little narration with Team Discovery staff member Dan Osipow

Lance took a spill on his first ride after retirement and has this bandaid to show for it:

Another shot of Lance in his casual-wear:

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Ben Folds

Last night was the Ben Folds concert in Denver, and it didn't fail to please me. If you don't know who Ben Folds is, you're seriously missing out.

It was an annoyingly early show (5:30 doors, 6:30 start), and we consequently missed the first act - Ben Lee. I've been wanting to see Ben Lee live for a long time, but as he's an Aussie, he doesn't tour the states much. And when he does, Denver must not be a priority stop. I think we got into the Fillmore shortly after 7 and he was already done playing, so I guess he did a really (really) short set. What a bummer, because sandwiched between the two artists I actually wanted to see was one that I wasn't too excited about - Rufus Wainwright.

I bought Rufus Wainwright's debut CD in the late 90's because I like the single (), but the rest of the CD was pretty blah and lacked variety. That aspect of his style was as un-changing as his music. About 4 or 5 songs into his set Christine and I got bored with it and stepped outside. There's not doubt the guy has some talent. He's probably a classically trained pianist and he can belt a tune, but his voice always takes on the same droning flavor and it shortly drives me nuts. The songs were all about the same tempo, even after he said "This next one's a fast one." (It wasn't. Not even close.) In a nutshell: blah, uninspiring, craptastic.

Then came Ben Folds. I LOVE seeing Ben Folds live; his different solos and improvs are as good as and better than the album versions that I'm in love with. There's not enough time for him to play all of my favorites, but there were plenty of awesome familiar songs, along with some surprises. He brought out Rufus Wainwright for a surprisingly good cover of George Michael's "Careless Whisper". Rufus sounded good on that song, and the harmonies were great (as they were for the whole Ben Folds set actually). Ben even busted out with some gangsta rap via his cover of "Bitches Ain't Shit" by Dr. Dre. (This was available exclusively on iTunes a while ago, which forced me to install that god awful, piece of crap, file association stealing, crappy CD burning program. It has since been removed because it is, as previously mentioned, the suck.)

Ben played as a trio with a bassist and drummer, much like the good 'ole days of Ben Folds Five. If he's going to rehash the 3-piece thing, I wish he would have just reunited with the old band because the on stage presence was very fun to watch. Not that his current touring band isn't well qualified, I'm just sayin'. I particularly like his Australian drummer singing a verse of the Dr. Dre classic.

The drive home left (more than) a little to be desired. We were tired (despite the early 10:30 finish) so we skipped the Merc and headed straight home. Little did we know that our usual 1 hour trip would double in time. We didn't realize that they were closing down I-25 at 120th to put in a new overpass and as you can imagine, this caused a GREAT amount of traffic backup and plenty of frustration. Had I known, I would have taken 287 or something. Due to that mess, it took us over an hour to get from the Fillmore to 120th. Ugh! And if that wasn't enough, there was an accident near Longmont that caused another 15 minute delay.

Tuesday, August 2, 2005

Home improvement

The weekend was spent doing all sorts of house work to tidy things up a little.

Sink rack:

I've been meaning to put a rack like this above the sink for a long time. There's always so many water bottles and other assorted items sitting on the counter to dry. Now I can hang them over the sink and let them drip.


We used to have a baby gate across the basement stairs to keep the dogs out while still allowing the cat to go down and use the litter box. Now we can actually close the basement door thanks to the cool cat hole.

New pictures:

Christine put together a cool collage with some pictures and flyers from my cycling races this year. Will we were out buying supplies, we also found a cool shelf/frame thing so we hung that up too.

Welcome to America

Mmmm, beer can chicken.

Seems kind of redneck, but it was really good. The beer keeps the chicken really moist, but it doesn't really add any flavor. The flavor came from the tasty BBQ rub. I'm a fan.