Monday, April 30, 2007

HP Microenterprise Grant

HP is awarding 50 grants worth $56,000 (of HP equipment and cash) to microenterprise development agencies and programs located in the US, including Puerto Rico. The grants will be awarded to nonprofit organizations and higher education institutions that provide start-up assistance, business training, access to capital, and advice to entrepreneurs and very small businesses in low-income communities. If you or someone you know fits the description, go to and fill out the paperwork before June 5th.

I volunteered (and was accepted) to be one of the grant reviewers. I think it will be interesting to read the grants. Hopefully it doesn't get too tedious and boring.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Mad Cow Race Report

What a great day for a race in Grand Junction. Clear blue skies and mild weather. Even with such a late start (11AM) we still managed to get to the race with only about a half hour to spare. Fortunately it's a long race and there's not too much need for a warm up because by the time I got all ready there was only 10 minutes before I needed to be on the start line.

The category grouping for the race was odd, to say the least. My group was cat 3, cat 4, and 35+ open. As a cat 4, this was certainly going to be a hard ride. The course starts off with few miles of 1-3% grade climbing before hitting some steeps. We started off at a civil pace, but of course someone had to push the pace and try to split up the group on the first big climb. It was a pretty serious effort, but I stuck with it and stayed with the lead group.

A little while after the long climb me made it to the loop part of the course which we would be doing 3 laps around. It starts out with a long set of rollers with virtually no downhill, then there's a nice long descent and half mile steep hill. After some more "gentle" climbing, you're back at the start of the loop.

The remains of the main field stayed together for the first trip through the rollers and then someone managed to get a large gap on the downhill section. When we hit the rollers at the start of lap 2 he was still away and another attacked to bridge up to him. I was sitting on the back just hanging on for dear life, but I'm surprised the guys on the front let him get away. He was clearly pretty strong, as was obvious by his frequent attempts to form a break on the first lap. He managed to bridge up to the first attacker and then drop him.

Our group wasn't all that fast on the long downhill section, which I found to be surprising. I think it was mostly the fact the nobody wanted to be on the front doing work. I got on the front to try to pick up the pace a bit, but clearly nobody was biting. The next time up the hill we lost a few people and I also got gapped a bit. I buried myself for a while and managed to reattach to the main group. By this time we were down to about 11 people. The last time through the rollers was pretty rough. There were some half hearted attacks, so the pace kept surging. I knew that if I could just keep in contact until the downhill I would have bought myself some more time as I could easily stay with the group in the downhill.

The final time up the steep hill we dropped a few more riders and I got gapped again. This time I couldn't make it back to the group. There was another guy with me and we worked our butts off together trying to reel them back in. We were probably within 20 feet once, and then someone attacked that field. Ugh! There was no way we could do it. One of the guys got popped off the lead group and we at least picked him up. I had been talking to him before the race, and we chatted some more as we rode.

It was nice to be in a small group of 3 on the descent off the mesa. There are some really tight corners, and they had some gravel. All three of us took it pretty conservative and safe. I wasn't going to sprint for the finish, and I told the guy I was chatting with that he should sprint it out with the third guy. He wasn't into it (in some ways it's kind of funny to sprint from something other than the podium). He told me to go for it, so I did. It was kind fun.

In the end, I got 8th place out of somewhere between 30 and 50 people. Anything other than winning this race was a disappointment for me, but it was a pretty good result. I was fighting an uphill battle from the get-go by getting grouped with cat 3's and the 35+ open guys. I'm very happy I was able to hang with obviously stronger racers until the very last efforts. There were a number of times where I really had to bury myself to stay with the group and I was happy that I could do it. In retrospect, I should have pushed harder on that steep hill to keep from getting gapped. I was never quite on my limit up that hill. I guess in my head I was thinking that if I redlined going up I wouldn't be able to hang on afterward.

I can't wait to come back and do the race again next year.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Mad Cow Classic

Christine and I are leaving tomorrow morning for Grand Junction and the Mad Cow Classic road race. It's turned into a yearly tradition for as this will be our third year in a row. I've always had a good time doing the race, so this year I planned my training schedule around it. I'm in great shape right now, despite the lack of racing miles in my legs this year. The race organizer has also thrown me for a loop this year by screwing up the racing groups. Long story short, I'll be racing with cat 3's and the 35+ open group. Let me translate: The 3's are one category up from me. The 35+'s are generally former 1's and 2's who no longer have the time to train that much. In other words, it's going to be a pretty hard race against those guys. It's going to be awfully embarrassing for them when I beat them across the line. :)

Wednesday, April 25, 2007


I went shopping for a Timbuk2 messenger bag last year and was totally bummed because my laptop was just a *tiny* bit too big for the built in pocket in the Laptop Messenger bag.

I talked to someone at Timbuk2 recently and they had gotten enough customer feedback that they slightly increased the size of the pocket and now my laptop fits nice and snug (even with an additional battery). It's going to be nice the next time I bike in.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Air Force Road Race

Saturday Christine and I drove down to Colorado Springs for the Air Force Academy Road Race. It hurt but it's a great course.

The morning was a little chilly, so I was glad that I had decided to pack some clothing while I warmed up. By the time I lined up at the start line with 3 other teammates it was warm enough for just arm and knee warmers. It was a slow start for me. I felt like a total newbie because I couldn't get my shoe locked into the pedal. After half of the 100 man field cruised by me, I finally got clipped in and I was in for some pain. The race starts on a hill, and the people on the front of the pack wasted no time turning the screws. People were getting ejected from the field left and right and I had to make my way around them to get up to the front. There was a 15 second gap between me and the head of the race by the time I crested the hill. Fortunately I wasn't the only one who got a little stuck behind, and a group of us put in a hellacious effort to catch up a few miles later.

It was a pretty sketchy group. Lot's of erratic breaking, which is always nerve wracking. On the long climbing section of the course someone got a flat and instead of drifting to the back of the field they decided it would be a good idea to swerve to the side of the group across several riders. And they didn't even go to the right side and onto the shoulder. They swerved left into an oncoming traffic lane. I nearly came to a stop after that and I lost contact with the group again. This time, I didn't have the strength to get back on. Ugh. Frustrating.

What's more frustrating was the corner marshal that sent our chase group the wrong way. I'm not exactly sure what he was thinking, but he managed to send several other groups the correct direction all day before sending our group the wrong way. There's a nice way to make sure you're *really* out of the race.

Afterward we met up with Livia and Carol which is always a good time. I like it when Livia has to explain some piece of American slang to Carol (the French Canadian). Sunday he learned that "doodie" is childish slang for "poo" (which is childish slang for "shit"). Ha!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Racing at the Air Force Academy

Me and some of the boys from Blue Sky Velo will be racing at the Air Force Academy (weather permitting) on Sunday. Springs folks should come out and watch guys in lycra racing around the 1986 world championship circuit. Or you can come hang with Christine and I afterwards. My race runs from 12:30 to 2:30 (ish) so you don't even have to get up early.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Daylight Saving

Apparently the goal of saving energy by moving Daylight Saving time up by a few weeks didn't really pan out:
The Daylight Saving change: no savings, no point

I like this:
So while the US government pats itself on the back for at least looking busy, know that the main goal—energy conservation—has not been met.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Free Organic Fair Trade Coffee

I can't believe it. For two weeks in a row we've ended up with fresh spring snow.

We had originally planned our Aspen trip in the middle of February, but we had to reschedule due to Christine's Paris trip. We had no idea if the conditions would be good, but it was really the only weekend we could do it. On our trip up from Denver it was snowing until Vail Pass and we knew the we totally lucked out.