Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Liquid cargo

How much beer can two people bring home from Belgium?

2008-12-30_01_the_beer_we_brought_home

On my way over to Belgium I stuffed an extra duffel bag into my suitcase with the intent of giving us some extra storage room. My original plan was to put all the beer in my suitcase, which is semi-hard and tough for the airlines to really damage. We got a little overzealous with our beer and chocolate purchases so we ended up putting beer in all four of our pieces of luggage. Amazingly, it all made it unbroken. We spent a lot of time packing it all up, even snagging an empty box from the hotel that we put into the duffle. My big bag was barely under the weight limit (at the airport we had to shift some bottles to Christine's bags).

Left to right:
2 large bottles of Rodenbach Grand Cru
12 bottles of Rodenbach Grand Cru
1 bottle of Rodenbach Vin De Céréale
1 large bottle Eylenbosch Faro Extra
1 large bottle 3 Fonteinen Oude Kriek
3 bottles of Ellezelloise Hercule Stout
1 bottle of Ellezelloise Saison
2 bottles of Hanssens Oude Kriek
2 bottles of Verhaeghe Echt Kriekenbier
3 bottles of Rochefort 10
2 bottles of Van Eecke Kapittel Prior
1 bottle of Cantillon Rose
1 bottle of Boon Oude Geuze

They represent some of our favorites from the trip, and they each have their own story. Like the Faro-Extra that was given to us as a gift from the owners of a great pub near Brussels. But more on those stories later.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Back in the USA

I'm back in the USA waiting for my next flight in Atlanta. After spending the last 10 days with Christine, I think I finally caught her cold. I'm glad I could hold it off until we left Belgium.

The announcements over the speakers at the Brussels airport said smoking is not permited anywhere in the airport. Apparently that doesn't apply to the bathrooms, which I will refer to as the smoking lounge.

Pictures and stories to follow after I get home and recover.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Early flight

It's a good thing I'm a morning person, or I'd be pretty cranky about getting up at 3am for a flight.

I'm on my way to Belgium to meet up with Christine for our European Christmas holiday extravaganza. It's a shitty flight schedule for me (that's what you get for finally burning frequent flier miles). My flight leaves Denver at 6:20. I connect in Atlanta, but my flight to Brussels doesn't leave until after 5pm. I've got some books to read and movies to watch on my iPhone to pass the time.

I think my least favorite thing about the airport is the constant interruptions from the annoying voices on the PA. I wish they would just shut up unless it's really important. I don't give a damn that the current threat level is orange (whatever the he'll that means), and you certainly don't need to remind me of it every 5 minutes.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Clavicle update

Week 2.5 - still broken

2008-12-10_01_clavicle

It's looking better and the doctor seemed to think it was healing well. I learned some things that are probably obvious to anyone who has taken a basic anatomy course that explain to me why some things still hurt and why the bone isn't completely lined up. My traps and neck muscles pull up on one side of the bone, while the weight of my shoulder pulls down the other. Why must my neck massage specialist be in London. :)

I've had countless people tell me that breaking their clavicle is the most painful thing they've ever done. Maybe I broke it in a way that isn't as painful, because it's pretty tolerable. It's probably less painful than a lot of road rash and takes about as long to heal. Although, road rash doesn't necessarily keep you from riding like a broken bone does.

Some of you may remember that pro-cyclist Tyler Hamilton road the Tour de France with a broken clavicle. I'd like to see that x-ray, because I don't see any way it could have been completely broken like mine. Maybe just a crack in the bone. Not that it's any less painful probably, but I don't see how anyone could hold themselves up on a bike like this.

I forgot to ask the doctor if it's okay for me to sleep on my stomach. I get the felling, though, that I can go whatever I want as long as it's not too painful or I can tolerate the pain.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Happy Birthday Kuzca

Today is my dog's 7th birthday:

012702_01_new_puppy_with_stuffed_toy

2008-03-23_05_kuzca_helps_by_chewing_a_stick

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Google Apps

My office is switching from Microsoft Exchange to Google Apps. That means I get to use Gmail and GCal for work stuff. Sweet. I already use Google for my personal calendar, so now I can keep track of all my hot dates in one place. Life is good.

Insult to injury

To add insult to my clavicle injury, I just found out that our team is in second place in the overall standings for cyclocross right now. If I hadn't crashed....we'd be in first. Argh! There's still one more race so I'm hoping some of our boys can score big.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Beef, it's what's for dinner

And so it begins again. We picked up our quarter cow's worth of beef today:
2008-12-01_02_beef


We took inventory this time so we don't have to root around the freezer trying to figure out what we got. So in case you were wondering, this is what we got from a quarter cow:


























































Beef Soup Bone (1 per package)1
Beef Soup Bone (2 per package)2
Beef Chuck Roast4
Beef Arm Roast1
Beef Boneless Pot Roast1
Beef Rump Roast1
Beef Heel of Round Roast1
Beef Brisket1
Beef Sirloin Tip Steak4
Beef Top Round Steak7
Beef Cube Steak (2 per package)10
Beef Rib Steak9
Beef Short Ribs (3 per package)1
Beef Short Ribs (4 per package)1
Beef T-Bone Steaks9
Beef Flank Steakv1
Beef Filet Mignon3
Beef Sirloin Steak7
Ground Beef24

Sunday, November 30, 2008

iPhone headphone fix

The most annoying thing about the first generation iPhone that I have is the headphone jack. It's recessed, which most headphones can't be plugged into the iPhone. The Apple earbuds, of course, fit. The problem with the earbuds is that they don't fit in my ear so they're not very useful to me.

My Etymotic ER-6i's, however, fit and sound way better than Apple's but they are among the many headphones that don't fit in the iPhone. This week when my Etymotics developed a short in the cord, I decided to try transplanting the earpieces onto the Apple wire. It worked!

Now I have some comfortable headphones that I can use with my iPhone, plus it also works as a hands-free headset and remote control for the iPod functions on the phone. Sweet.

2008-11-30_01_etymotic_-_apple_earbuds

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Thanksgiving

Going with the "better late than never" theory, Christine and I celebrated Thanksgiving on Friday with a bunch of friends. Christine and I cooked a turkey and some other items, while our friends brought other tasty items. It was great having a bunch of friends over and pigging out. All-in-all a great night of food and friends.

We tried a new turkey recipe this time. The short story is that we made an herb-salt rub, rubbed it on the turkey, let it sit for a day, then rinsed it off and cooked it. The theory is that the salt causes some juices to come to the surface, then the juices are reabsorbed into the turkey pulling the herb flavoring with it. The turkey came out super tender and moist, but I don't know that was any better than brining (which was easier). The cooking of the turkey itself was pretty straightforward and easy, but we spent a fair amount of time making a turkey stock to use for basting and in the gravy. For dressing, we made a wild mushroom and spinach dressing with ciabatta bread.

We had planned to go out on the town for my birthday and drink copious amounts of alcohol, but we ended up staying home. My shoulder was feeling pretty rough and I was happy to hang out and fall asleep while Christine watched a movie with a friend. I'm not generally content sitting still, and I think I tried to do too much with a bum limb. On the plus side, it's feeling better and I even managed to tie my own shoes today.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Aches and pains

Yeah, the collarbone hurts. In addition to that, I'm now feeling all the other bruises from my crash. The worst one is on my hip, right where my pants sit. I came a way with relatively little road rash though.

I'm a stomach sleeper, and I keep waking up at night desperately wanting to roll over to my stomach. I can sort of sleep on my side for a bit.

Christine was able to postpone her work trip to London so she can stay and help me out for another week. That's huge. I'm getting more mobile, but it's still hard to do a lot of things. I drove today for the first time. I even got dressed completely by myself. (I'm such a big boy now.) Last night I even split some turkey wings one handed.

Being one armed at Thanksgiving is a bummer because I actually like to cook. I can still do some things, but I don't think I'll be able to do much chopping. Maybe I'll just be the stirring slave in the kitchen. Last night we started making a turkey stock so our house was smelling like roasted turkey. Pretty awesome, since we'll also have a great Thanksgiving smelling house on Friday.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Broken bone update

I went to an orthopedist yesterday and had him check out my break. Pretty much, I just need to limit my motion and wear a sling. In a few weeks I can probably lose the sling and start doing some physical therapy. If I was in a hurry or worried about having a lump on my bone, I could have it repaired surgically. I'm not a fan of of surgery, so I think I'll just deal with the cosmetic blemish. There goes my bikini modeling career. I go back in 2.5 weeks so he can make sure things still look good.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Is it broken?

My blog has been pretty stagnant lately, so we not enliven it with a doozy...

Yesterday I rode down to Colorado Springs with a couple teammates for cyclocross race. My first in over a month. In fact, I've only ridden my CX bike once since my last race. I've been feeling unmotivated to ride, so I thought this would at least force me to put in a good effort.

The course was decent for me. It started out with a big hilly loop, which meant that I didn't really need to fight for a position at the front. I just sat in the top 20 and picked people off as they got tired. I was around the top ten by the time we got on the actual course.

I rode pretty well and also made some mistakes. I was caught up behind a group of three that was using a smooth dirt section to recover so I decided to pass them. It made me take a really sketchy inside line through a steep downhill corner, but it worked out. Until later that lap. I went to get on my brakes in a bumpy 180 and slipped off of them. I ended up in the weeds and the people I had passed went right by me.

I stayed in the top 10 the rest of the race, and on the last lap I was in 7th. Coming out of the final barrier section, it was clear the I wasn't going to catch the guy on front of me so I just needed to take it easy into the finish. Only 3 more corners to go, and disaster struck.

On my remount, I didn't get clipped into my pedals. My right foot slipped off the pedal and got grabbed by my front tire and sucked up to the frame. My front wheel, of course, immediately stopped and the bike flipped hard. In an instant I was on the ground.

Helmets save lives. My helmet hit the ground hard and did its job by breaking. No concussion for me. The medical guy on staff came over and recommended I go to the hospital for an x-ray. While my friends were getting my stuff together I called and told Christine. Then I nearly passed out as I finally calmed down from the race. I was 40 minutes into a race working hard, and then came to a sudden and complete stop.

Mike D took me to the emergency room (which was freezing) and I didn't have to wait all that long for an xray. I'm no expert. Do you think it's broken?
2008-11-22_01_broken_collarbone

They gave me a sling, and I'll go to a doc up in Fort Collins for a follow up. They offered me a Percocet, but I'm just not that into pain meds. I guess I like to be constantly reminded that I'm hurt. I took the prescription so I could take some to sleep if I had to.

The value of this team goes beyond the race course, and they really showed it today. I don't know what I would have done if I didn't have friends close by to help me out. Ron was first on the scene. He happened to be driving by and saw my spectacular new method of dismounting. Mike D was close by and ran up to help. Both of them hung with me while I recovered my senses and then helped me get my stuff together before going to the e-room. Ron stuck around and let Isaac and Kevin know the scoop because they were lining up to race as I crashed. Conveniently, Isaac and Kevin finished up their race and got to the emergency room just as I was getting out. Bob and Susan were there to take videos of me *not* crashing and offer me well wishes before the hospital. Thanks Isaac for buying me a Whopper, but in retrospect I should have gotten a kids meal so I could wear the crown.

So here I am, in some sort of sling for the next 6-8 weeks probably. I guess this is a decent time of year for this type of thing to happen. It's early enough into ski season that I should heal up in time for the really good snow. I've got lots of time for cycling season, although my training will probably have to be pushed back a bit. Christine leaves for London next weekend, so it ought to be interesting gimping around for a few weeks by myself. Hello fast food and TV dinners.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Christmas in Belgium

The stars have properly aligned, and Christine and I will be spending Christmas in Belgium this year.

Christine is working in London from Thanksgiving until December 19th. I'm going to fly to Brussels on the 19th where I will be met by my lovely wife for 10 days of exploring Belgium, Luxembourg, and a bit of Germany. There will surely be lots of beer, chocolate, frites, and waffles. I can't wait. A side bonus is that Christine is going to indulge me by going to the World Cup cyclocross race the day after Christmas.

Note to family: This is my a smooth way of opting out of the Christmas festivities. Sweet, eh?

Posted via LiveJournal.app.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

CX pics

Here are a couple amusing pics from the Blue Sky Velo cyclocross race:

Monday, October 20, 2008

Motion detector + cat = funny

Somebody rigged up a motion detecting camera to a blender and a strobe light to keep his cats off the counter. The videos of it in action are priceless:
http://www.plasma2002.com/blenderdefender/

Cyclocross weekend

It was a busy weekend with plenty of cyclocross racing.

Saturday my bike team put on our very first race and it went unbelievably well. The vast majority of the organizing was done by a few CX fanatics and they put together something great. We have one of the largest clubs around and everyone came together to volunteer and make this race one of the best of the year.

After spending Friday afternoon setting up the course, I was up before 5AM on Saturday to go back and take care of the registration crew. By the time my race rolled around, I was beat. My morning caffeine buzz had worn off, I was running on little sleep, my back hurt, but I was happy to be at the start line. My group had over 100 racers and I had the fortune of having a 2nd row starting position. I knew I didn't have the legs to really rocket off the line and I probably let way too many people pass me in the first few hundred meters. For the first couple laps, I was actually riding pretty easy and having a ton of fun on the course. There were so many cool features on the course, and it is probably the most fun course I've raced. Eventually I got it in my head that I should start racing and passed a bunch of people. I finished somewhere in the 20's.

Sunday morning I was nice a tired feeling still, but there was a race in Fort Collins. When there's a local race, I like to go out and race to support the effort. Hopefully my entry fee helps the organizers make it happen again.

The race was at the CSU stadium and it was bumpy. It was a much smaller group than yesterday (about 25 people), and I lined up at the back knowing that my legs had nothing left from the previous day's effort. The course featured a couple curb hops, 3 barrier sections, loose corners, and lots of bumps. I have a bad curb hopping history, so I think I was the only person in the group that dismounted for the curb. Oddly enough, it never cost me any time. It was an uphill curb, and most people were going slower than I was running anyway. My bike handling skills felt pretty good in general, but I had to laugh at myself for crashing on each of the first three laps. One time I remounted and found out that my bars were 45 degrees off, so I had to dismount and straighten them. Funny stuff. The last lap or so I was riding about 20 feet behind some rider and decided to stay there and out sprint him at the line. I don't know why, it just seemed like fun. I beat him to the line, but then I felt bad later when I saw he had a bandaged leg from an earlier crash. He probably would have beat my ass otherwise. :) I finished 9th. The number sounds good, but in a field of 25 I'm not even in the top third. My shoulders are totally sore now from all the bumps on that course. I think I'll take a day off from the bike.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Religulous

Christine and I made a last minute decision to go to a matinee showing of Bill Maher's Religulous. I already had the motorcycle out for something else, so we decided to ride two-up on my V-strom which was fun (and a little chilly on the way home).

I expected to like this movie. There's a lot of wacky things in religion and it's sometimes fun to take a step back and laugh. Maher goes around "asking" people questions about their religion but his questions are really nothing more than setups for jokes or starting points for a one person conversation. (We get it Bill, a talking snake is pretty strange.) I would have liked to hear him talk with actual religious scholars or followers of a religion who can actually talk intelligently about why they believe the things they do despite evidence to the contrary that it is presented to them.

The movie was certainly funny at times, but I think Maher missed the mark. Or maybe he hit the mark he was targeting. Either way, I didn't think it was very good. I would love to see a similar concept done by someone like Morgan Spurlock. Does anyone know of any documentaries that cover similar ground?

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Beer

The Great American Beer Festival is a glorious event for beer lovers. So many beers to try, all in one place.

Christine and I went with a couple friends to the Saturday evening tasting session. The only other time I've gone to the festival was 4 or 5 years ago, and my how things have grown. According to the GABF site, the attendance has grown from about 28,000 when I came a few years ago to 46,000. I think they moved the tasting to a larger room and let a bunch more people in the past couple years. We showed up at the venue a little bit after the doors opened, and there was the most amazingly long line wrapping around the building. I bet between walking to the end of the line, and then following the line into the building, we walked at least a mile. Last time I went, we showed up at about the same time and enjoyed a short line.


With all the people at the festival, we amazing got into line at the same time as a couple dance friends (Kathy and Will) we haven't seen in a long time. Stranger coincidence. And if it's any indication of the size of the event, we didn't see them the rest of the evening once we got inside.

I have no idea how many beers we tried, but it was a lot. Some were great, some were terrible, and all of it was fun. Hopefully we can go again next year, but we may have to try a different tasting session so we can avoid some of the crowd. As it was the last tasting session of the weekend, a lot of the brewers were running out of beer (especially the award winners).

Sunday, October 5, 2008

CX

It seems likes it's been forever since I posted on LJ. It's been a pretty crazy couple months. I"m a bachelor again this week while Christine is at a conference in New Orleans (and hopefully eating Cajun food).

Cyclocross season has started up, and I've been doing some races again this year. I had a couple 13th place finishes in Breckenridge and Broomfield. This weekend there were a couple of races in Frisco and our team showed up with a bunch of people. I organized a rental house for 9 of us and we had a super nice place for relaxing and hosting a team dinner.

Saturday's race went okay. I had a good starting position in the third row, but my legs felt like garbage. Normally this is a course where I think I would have done well because there was a long climb, but I just didn't have any power. I also just put a new fork on and I was having some trouble with the different handling of the bike. I need to do some work on bike skills this week. I ended up crashing on one of the last corners just long enough for 3 people to pass me and I finished 22nd.

Sunday's race was a whole different story. I was a little worked from the day before, but I was actually feeling decent. My starting position stunk but I was content to race in the middle of the pack. The first lap of a cyclocross race is pretty much mayhem until the group gets all spread out. I had to navigate some early crashes and poor cornering, but that's par for the course when you race anywhere but the front of the group. The shit really hit the fan when my chain came off on a really basic gravel section. I'm not sure why or how the chain came off, but it took me forever to get it back on. By then, I was waaay off the back. My race was over within 2 minutes of starting.

Nothing frustrates me more than equipment failure. I can deal with my poor fitness, but I hate it when gear just doesn't work. By the time I got to the spot on the course where we had our team tent set up, I just pitched my bike under the ropes. Eventually I got back on a soft pedaled for a couple laps while I waited to get lapped so I could tag on to the back of a group and at least get some race speed practice. I never did get lapped, but I did get some good skills practice.

I look forward to redeeming myself in the next race.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

New Bike

Good news mom, I'm selling my SV650 motorcycle.
2008-09-27 17-34-18_0039



And I bought a different bike
2008-09-27 17-04-01_0027

It's a Suzuki V-Strom. For a while now, I've been wanting to give my SV a more upright position because I've had problems with my hands falling asleep because of the laid out riding position. Earlier this year I even bought some parts to convert the handlebars into something that would be more upright, but I haven't installed them yet. The V-Strom is more upright, and it also gives me the flexibility to ride on the dirt roads around here. It's the touring version of my SV.

I bought it in Lyons on Friday night and drove it up. Already I love it. I can't wait to take some trips on it. It came with a couple huge side cases too, so I'm ready to go for some touring.

Friday, September 5, 2008

The Daily Show

Sometimes The Daily Show makes my day. They love to play video clips that show someone contradicting themselves and the other night they had some great ones. I imagine the clip will be pulled from YouTube eventually, but you can also go watch it on Comedy Central's site. (On Comedy Central, the clip is labeled "Sarah Palin Gender Card".) Check out the second segment of the 9/3 show and watch Karl Rove and Bill O'Reilly look like dopes. I'd like to see those clips in their full context, but it's still pretty damn funny.


(The second segment of the 9/4 show is pretty good too, where Samantha B tries to get people at the RNC to say "choice".)

Thursday, September 4, 2008

I need recipes

I need some recipe help.

Our zucchini plant has slowed down, but I still have plenty of it left. So far I've fried it, grilled it, and put it in pesto pasta dish. I've tried a couple zucchini bread recipes, but neither have been too stellar. I'm also thinking I could maybe make a veggie lasagna and possibly use slices of squash instead of noodles.

Next up is beef. We still have a lot of beef left from our cow, and I'm just not sure what I want to do with the remaining cuts. I'm looking for your favorite (hopefully easy) recipes for the following:
  • cube steaks

  • heel of round roast

  • chuck roast

  • soup bones

  • stew meat

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Misc Paris pictures


2008-08-29_02_velib_bikes
These are the Velib bikes that are all around Paris. It's a pretty cool system. There are bike stations about every 300 meters throughout the city where you can rent one of these bikes. When you're done, you drop it off at any location. I really wanted to try it out, but the system won't work with American credit cards. (The French hate our freedom too I guess.) French cards, and most European cards have a special chip that hardly any US cards have. I need to work on getting an EMV chipped card for my next Paris trip.



2008-08-30_10_pain_au_chocolat
Pain au Chocolat from the local bakery. That place made some tasty stuff.

2008-08-30_18_gelato
Oink, oink. More gelato.

2008-08-31_13_christine_rowing 2008-08-31_08_rowing_around_the_grand_canal
Row row row your boat...

2008-08-31_19_christine_cruises_around_the_canal_on_a_rented_bike.
Christines first outdoor bike ride in a long time.

More on Flickr

Monday, September 1, 2008

Versailles

Christine and I spent Sunday afternoon at Versailles. We decided to skip the crowds of the palace and instead went straight to the gardens. Some day we'll go to the palace, hopefully on a weekday. (By the way, the fountains, which Rick Steves called a "spectacle", were underwhelming.)

The gardens are nice but they were blairing classical music. Strange and annoying. We found the public park on the other side to be much more appealing.

We rented a rowboat and paddled around The Grand Canal. Before we left Paris we bought some bread, cheese, and cherry tomatoes from an great huge market near the apartment. We enjoyed a nice little picnic on the water while we took turns rowing around. After we got off the water, we rented cruiser bikes and rode around the park. It was great. Christine hadn't been on a bike outside in a really long time. Riding around the park beats the he'll out of doing PT inside on a stationary trainer.

After dinner we had beers, mussels and frites at Au Trappiste with Livia. We ate "light" then went to Le Sarrasin et le Froment Creperie for crêpes. Then Christine and Livia had gelato and I later stopped for another crêpe. Yeah, we pigged out. :) I'm going to have to do some serious road miles this week.

Back to The States

Christine took the morning off from work to ride with me to the airport and we arrived at the British Air counter to find out that my flight had been cancelled. I'm really glad Christine is with me for moments like these so I don't have to struggle with the language barrier. Christine's French has gotten really good.

BA booked me on an Air France flight to London where I would connect with my original flight to Denver. The new flight left an hour later but I still has lots of time to make my connection.

With my rebooking came the status to go to the Air France lounge. Pretty nice. Free food and drink while I waited for my flight. I snagged some cookies for later.

I went to the gate 10 minutes before the boarding time and everything appeared to be on schedule. But in my experience with the French, they're not known for punctuality and our wheels left the tarmac almost an hour late.

Suddenly my connection cushion time was rapidly shrinking. By the time we got to the gate in Heathrow I had about an hour to get to through the passport check, to another terminal (via bus), to the BA counter to check in, through security and to my gate. There was some running and some luck, and I made it in about 40 minutes. I thought for sure I was going to have to get a new flight.

Now I'm typing away on my iPhone over the Atlantic wondering if my luggage made it too. There's nothing too important in there so I really don't care.

Friday, August 29, 2008

In Paris

I made it. Time for some crêpes.

Heathrow

I think this is the first time I've taken this Denver->London fight where the plane has actually parked at a gate. Usually they park you in the middle of the tarmac and bus you to the terminal. That's not to say there wasn't still a lengthy transfer.

After getting off the plane, I walked for 10 or 15 minutes before finally getting on a bus for another 15. I have no idea where I was walking because they were hallways without windows. We were just following signs.

The bus took me to the new Terminal 5. My first visit to this terminal. The loooong security line I'm used to seeing in London was nonexistant. That was a welcome sight. It seems like they streamlined things. Either that or there just wasn't a big crowd today.

My flight was good. The flight wasn't full and I had a row of 3 seats all to myself. That was awesome for sleeping. I tried to watch a movie (What Happens In Vegas), but it was horribly unwatchable. Maybe I just wasn't in the mood. Instead I watched episodes of Arrested Development on my iPhone before sleeping.

Soon I'll be on my plane to Paris. (Actually, by the time I post this I'll probably already be in Paris.)

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Cheese Eating Surrender Monkeys

I'm at the airport waiting for my flight to Paris (via London). I'm taking a short trip to see Christine. It's funny to go all the way there for such a short time, but we're going to make the most of it.

I gave myself plenty of time to get to the airport because I wanted to be sure that the Democratic National Convention didn't have any far reaching effects on the highways. They're closing down a major section of highway today during rush hour because of Obama's speech. Sucks to be commuting through Denver today.

Speaking of the DNC, the green washing is in full effect. There are signs about our green energy, recycling, and even a big field of new solar panels on the road to the airport. If they wanted a "green" convention, how about you don't have it at all? If carbon is the gold standard by which we measure our green-ness, how much carbon was spewed by everyone flying here and renting cars/limos? Couldn't this crap all be done remotely these days? I guess that wouldn't get as much news coverage.

I was behind some hillbilly going through security that couldn't understand that he needed to take *everything* out of his pockets. This includes your can of Skoal and your pouch of other chewing tobacco. I hope they gave him a full body cavity search.

The airport has free WiFi. Surfing the web on an iPhone is pretty annoying because they put a banner on the top of the screen and it apparently screws with the way some pages render. I can still update my LJ via email though.

That's all for now. Next stop London.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Clear Lake

I headed for the hills over the weekend and went camping at Clear Lake in the Colorado State Forest State Park.

2008-08-22_05_tent_time

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Up and Over

A couple amazing things happened on my lunch ride today. First, the entire group came to a stop at a stop sign. This is after multiple people have gotten tickets for rolling stop signs around here. While I think the ticketing is a waste of resources, I'll be happy if people in this group can follow the rules.

The second amazing thing happened when we were on a bridge over an irrigation ditch. It's a pretty crappy old bridge and there 3 inch gravel filled gaps that go in the same direction as you would ride. On a road bike this is dangerous because it's really easy to get your wheel into one of those and have unpredictable things happen. For the first time I've ever seen on this ride, someone got into one of those gaps today. At first he was thinking he was going to go down, but somehow he got tossed out of the crack and started veering directly toward the guard rail. He hit the rail hard and both he and his bike went over the edge and into the ditch.

There are many times (probably most of the time actually) where this ditch would be nearly dry, but thanks to our heavy rains last week it was full of water. The 6 foot drop into the water wasn't anywhere near as bad as an equivalent drop onto dirt. The rider made it relatively unscathed thankfully. His shifter took the biggest force and is broken, but he didn't get anything more than a couple scrapes. It didn't look like he hit his head or anything, but as I precaution I rode back with him to make sure he made it back safe.

That will sure go down in the history books of this ride, and I'm sure we'll be bringing it up for years.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

A rainy day at the airport

Today I had to bid adieu to Christine as she left for Paris. The morning started with plenty of raind and a trip to the airport where we dropped off Livia for her early flight. I can't believe the rain we've gotten the past few days.

After killing some time at REI we arrived back at the airport with plenty of time before Christine's flight, which was good because we had some luggage issues to deal with. We knew her suitcase was going to be over the 50 pound limit, but we didn't realize it would be over the 70 pound limit. (In fact, we didn't know there was a 70 pound limit.) It seems like the the fee for luggage goes up exponentially once you hit 70 pounds because her 80 pound bag and her bicycle was going to cost something like $400. Wow! However, since she was flying business, she was allowed 3 pieces of luggage so we pulled the heaviest thing out of her bag: 18 pounds of bicycle trainer. The Denver airport has a post office, so we bought a couple shipping boxes and tape and created a large box for her trainer which we checked as luggage. $10 in packaging supplies saved hundreds in luggage fees.

We were lucky to have a very helpful gate agent and we'll be sure to let Delta know about it. He was very patient and helpful with our luggage and some other confusion with Christine's ticket. Since Christine was looking helpless on crutches, they gave me a pass to get through security and help her to the gate. It's a rarity these days to be able to hang at the gate before saying goodbye, and I was thankful for the extra time together before we said goodbye for a few weeks.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Sickness - Part II

Saturday morning, I was finally starting to feel reasonably well. I would have loved to have raced in the Prospect crit, but there was no way my body was up to it. Total bummer. I've never been more disappointed to miss a crit (which is to say I've come a long way since my zero crit '07 season).

We drove down to the race anyway, since Christine's friend Julie lives there. It was hard to watch a race I'd rather be racing, but fun to be out nonetheless. We hung out for most of the afternoon and went home when Christine's hip was really starting to ache.

From there, the sickness went quickly downhill. I'll spare the gory details, but it became clear that I was going to need a trip to the doctor. By the time we went to bed I was feeling like I could hold off until morning and go to an urgent care facility instead of the emergency room, but around midnight I decided I needed to go sooner than that. I'm pretty tolerant of pain, but I finally got pushed over the edge.

We went over to the emergency room at the local hospital and sat in their waiting room for a while. It was freezing in there, and nothing about the place was meant for comfort. It's 1AM and there's no place in there to lay down. You couldn't even slouch on the seats to get comfortable because there was an uncomfortable bar underneath the seat. After having spent so much time at Steadman Hawkins in Vail where it was all they could do to make your stay easier, the Poudre Valley hospital was pretty rough.

Eventually they put us in a room. Long story short, the doc poked me in places and with things that I wished she wouldn't have and then prescribed me some antibiotics for a urinary tract infection. By the time we got out of there it was 6AM and the sun was out. What a night. I'm still waiting for results on some tests. Hopefully they don't need to do anything else. I'm already starting to feel better, so that's good. I'm going to finally get on my bike today for the first time in a week.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Sick

I don't get sick often. Probably because I've told my body that it really sucks, and I shouldn't be sick.

It didn't listen last night, and I've been out of commission all day. Over night I was cold, even though I was warm. I put on some warm clothes and sweat it out for the rest of the night. I went in to work figuring that it would blow over, but it didn't. I was cold at work and nursing a major headache, so I came home at lunch. Hopefully I didn't infect anyone. I tossed on a big fleece and long pants when I got home, which is funny since it's like 80+ outside. My body is super sore. I feel like my legs are filled with lactic acid. My hair aches.

I think I'm finally feeling a little more normal again. We'll see what the night holds. I really wanted to race on Saturday, but I think this may put it out of the question. Harumph.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Colorado Lake Hikes

I just got my copy of the hiking book that used a few of my photos, Colorado Lake Hikes (Second Edition).

I have the first edition of the book, and while it has some good hike information, it severely lacks pizazz in the map and photo department. That's putting it lightly. The maps were terrible and photos were nonexistent.

The second edition is awesome. The entire book is done is full color, and each hike includes at least one photo of the lake. Additionally, they included a small topo map of each hike. This is something that I've always wanted hiking books to do, but it rarely happens (and I'm not sure why). They also added a good overview map that shows you where the hikes are located, and hiking pages are color coded to correspond with the colored number on the map. That's a nice little touch that again I wish more books would adopt.

It would have been cool to have my photos published in even a crappy book, but I'm really happy that this new book is so nice. It's fun to see your name in print under the photograph and also in the list of acknowledgments.

(If anyone is in need of a good hiking book for Colorado, I can order copies of the book at half price. Let me know.)

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Kirby Cosmos BBQ, Minturn, CO

Last night we got out of Vail in search of food. On my ride yesterday I remembered passing a BBQ place in Minturn and we decided to check it out. Holy crap this was a good choice.

Kirby Cosmo's BBQ
474 Main St.
Minturn, CO

I use the pulled pork sandwich as a baseline comparison between BBQ joints, so we ordered one of those and one shredded chicken sandwich. The pulled pork did not disappoint. It was smoky, the BBQ sauce was good, and I'd put it up there with the pulled pork at my favorite Fort Collins BBQ. The chicken was good, but not as good as the pork (which I think is usually the case). In addition to the sandwiches, we got some sweet potato fries and mac & cheese. At first glance, the sweet potato fries looked disappointing because they weren't really crispy. Once we tasted them, though, we didn't care that they weren't crispy like the usual fry. They were great. The mac & cheese was spicy and peppery and it was delicious. I've never had a spicy mac before, but I'll certainly have it again.

If you find yourself in Vail waiting to get away from the snooty-ness, it's well worth the trip to go a few miles down the highway to Kirby Cosmo's BBQ in Minturn. I'll be back for sure.

PT assistant

Kuzca is a big fan of the laying around that Christine needs to do. She seldom misses an opportunity to lay on the bed and get a nap and some petting.

2008-07-24_09_kuzca_helps_with_the_pt

2008-07-24_10_kuzca_helps_with_the_pt

The machine that Christine's leg is resting in is called a Constant Passive Motion machine. It keeps her leg moving and you can program the range of angles that it moves through. The black cable that's running up to her quad is connecting to a cooling jacket that ices her hip.


Christine's new hero, Jimmy from South Park


2008-07-24_08_christine_on_her_jimmy_crutches

Friday, July 25, 2008

Copper Triangle++

Christine's mom came down today to visit with Christine and help out. This left me free to disappear for a while, so I hopped on my bike and did the Copper Triangle. Typically the Copper Triangle route starts at Copper Mountain, goes up to Leadville, then Minturn, then Vail, and back to Copper. I started in Vail instead of Copper.

The climb up Vail pass seemed more difficult than climbing up from the east side. The road between Copper and Leadville is pretty sucky. For the first several miles, there is little to no shoulder and plenty of traffic. I actually got buzzed pretty good by a truck and took note of the plate number on his trailer for a future call to Colorado State Patrol. (More on that a-hole later.)

In Leadville, I stopped at Rosie's Brew Pub for some food. I would have liked to down some beers, but I still had plenty of miles to ride. I settled on a couple small samplers. The waitress couldn't grasp why I would rather bring my bike inside instead of leaving it outside unlocked on the bike rack around the corner. Yes, I understand that some of the employees leave their bikes there without issue, but that's a chance I'm just not willing to take with my race bike (and my only form of transportation back to Vail).

From Leadville, I rode on Highway 24 to Minturn. The first 5-10 miles were terrible. There was construction where the road was completely torn up. Even the areas where there wasn't ongoing construction, the pavement was horrible. I'm glad I just put on a new set of heavy duty tires. (For what it's worth, I've been training on Specialized Armadillo tires this year. I put almost 2000-3000 miles on my first set before I had to change them. I'm a fan, because I'm not wearing out expensive race rubber all the time.)

At the top of Tennessee pass I ran into a couple of cyclists who having been touring around Colorado (and a bit of Wyoming) for the past week. Sounds fun. They had someone driving a support truck that pulled up while we were talking. They offered my some cookies and water, which would have been perfect if I hadn't just filled up in Leadville. I appreciated the offer though.

From there it was a pretty easy ride down to Minturn and back to Vail. There's one "bump" in the profile (Battle Mountain), but it wasn't too bad. Shortly after I passed Minturn, I came across the same truck that brushed me a few hours earlier. I couldn't believe my luck. I stopped and talked to the guy and told him how close he came to me. It's funny when you actually get to talk to these people because they never seem to remember driving like an a-hole. At least now I have the name of the trucking company, the license plate number of the trailer, and the license plate number of the truck.

My mileage was at about 80 miles when I got back to the hospital and Christine was headed up for some post surgery x-rays. While she did that, I decided to shoot for a 100 miles and started heading up Vail pass again. After 10 miles, I turned back and met Christine at the hospital with an odometer reading of 100.7 miles. I think that's my first century this year.

Fremont Pass
2008-07-25_04_presenting_fremont_pass

Tennessee Pass
2008-07-25_06_tennessee_pass

Lunch break in Leadville
2008-07-25_05_drinks_in_leadville

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Mountain Biking around Vail

After I dropped Christine off at PT this morning, I hopped on my mountain bike and rode up to the top of the Gondola at Vail. It was about a 50 minute climb on a service road, so not too exciting. I've ridden around by the condo too, and so far I've only seen one other person riding up the mountain (instead of taking the lift). I guess I can see the draw in that, but it makes me worry about people bombing down the hill not figuring that people actually do ride uphill. The nice part about riding in the morning before the Gondola starts running, though, is that you have the downhill all to yourself.

From the top of the Gondola, I took a "trail" called Lions Down. It was marked as a blue square on the trail map, but it was totally disappointing. For almost the whole way down it was another service road. At one point, I saw another trail nearby, so I rode over to it. It looks like they were just starting to build this trail because it abruptly ended without fanfare. I also tumbled over a log on this short section. It was a slow motion over the handlebars type of ordeal. On my way over I scraped my leg on the log's stump, so that tree got me twice.

Yesterday I took a ride up the mountain with Kuzca. At the beginning, she was all excited and was running all over the place. It didn't take long before she got good and tired, and on the way down she couldn't even keep up. I love it when she gets all tired like that.

The game plan tomorrow is to ride the Copper Triangle while Christine's mom is here to help out. I'll ride from Vail, to Copper Mountain, To Leadville, and back to Vail via Minturn. Right now, my legs feel tired from the long climb up the mountain, so hopefully they feel better tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Overnight stay

I've been hanging with Christine since she started to wake up. She's doing great, but the she's feeling nauseous as the anesthesia wears off. They're going to keep her over night since she hasn't been able to take oral pain meds yet. I'll pick her up at 5:30 tomorrow morning. After that, we'll hang out for a couple hours while we watch the Tour and wait for the PT people to show up at 7:30.

Surgery update

After they wheeled Christine away from me at about 7:45, I went back to the condo to walk the dog and change into some riding gear. I ended up parking the car in the hospital lot and just riding from there. The first mile or so of my ride was on a road, then it changed to a dirt forest service road. After a few miles, I got to the single track. It was a pretty fun....

More on that later. The doctor just came in and gave me some pictures of the surgery and said everything went well. She's waking up right now and he'll come get me soon and let me in. There was a pretty good tear that he had to repair and lots of inflammation. There was a possibility that he'd have to do microfractures on her bone, but he didn't need to. That means only a couple weeks on crutches and I know she'll be really happy about that.

More updates later...

Monday, July 21, 2008

Waiting, Waiting, Waiting....

We did a lot of waiting this morning. The vast majority of it was waiting for the pre-op meeting with the surgeon. We finally got out of there at 12:30, and Christine is on her way back right now to have some blood work done and some other stuff.

We have to show up tomorrow morning at 6:30AM and she's scheduled to go into surgery at 7:30AM. There's a TV at the clinic that is showing the Tour de France, so I can watch that in the morning if I want. I don't really think I'm going to be able to still in the waiting room, so I think I'm going to ride my bike and try to forget about what's going on for a bit. My boss, Suzette, loaned me a book that has some trails information for the area and I think I'll check some out.

I just went out for a short mountain bike ride up Vail. I was on a service road and had just gotten to the single track I wanted to ride when it started raining. I would have toughed it out for a bit, but the clouds rolling in looked bad and there was a bunch of lightning coming with it. I haven't been on my mountain bike since before the Gila, so this short ride was probably a good chance for me to get reacquainted with the bike.

Hip Surgery - Pre-op MRI

I have a laptop, an iPhone, free wireless internet, and a whole lot of time. So I guess I'm live blogging Christine's hip surgery stuff. I'm sure this is going to set the blogosphere on fire.

Right now, I'm hanging out while Christine is getting an MRI. We arrived her about 10 minutes before her 8AM appointment, and it turns out that all the appointment times she was given were wrong. Apparently her MRI was scheduled for 9AM, but that conflicts with her other appointments. They got her in at 8:30, so we shouldn't be too off schedule wise. After this, we go talk to a physical therapist and then the surgeon I think.

There's a storm coming today and I'm hoping it holds out long enough for me to go mountain bike the resort a little. If not, I think we'll go do some grocery shopping. I don't mountain bike much, and it really shows when I try to pack things in a hurry. I forgot to bring my mini pump, and it would have been nice to have a CamelBak since I only have one water bottle cage on my bike. Maybe that's a good excuse to replace my old CamelBak. :) I wish there was an REI around here. I also I forgot to load Topo maps on my new Garmin bike computer. That would have been super useful for mountain biking around here. I'm trying to rectify the situation as we speak.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Vail "vacation"

We're up in Vail this week for Christine's surgery. I haven't spent much time in Vail in general. I've spent even less time here in the summer. It's quite nice. The village is very European and were hanging in a French-ish place with some wine and crepes while we watch me Tour.

I can't wait for this surgery to be over. Surgeries make me nervous.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Craptacular weekend - part 2

Okay, now let the bitching and moaning commence.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Crapulous weekend - part 1

I took Friday off to go backing, so my weekend started early and it was indeed craptastic. I'll save the whining for another post and keep this one focused on the "good".

Christine was in San Jose for the weekend, and I went backpacking with Kuzca. It was the first time I've done a solo trip. Kuzca is good company, but not as good as Christine.

I hiked up to Three Island Lake in the Mount Zirkel Wilderness near Steamboat Springs. The drive up to the trail head follows the Elk River, which was quite beautiful. It was flowing pretty well, but apparently it's even three feet higher in late May.

The hike up to Three Island Lake is about 3.5 miles long and it's easy to moderate in difficulty. One thing the I liked about being solo was hiking at whatever speed I wanted, and today that speed was fast. I had sort of a late start, so I decided I'd get a good workout in by hiking hard. We never stopped for more than a few seconds. As we neared the lake, Kuzca started slowing down so I took that as a hint to dial it back a bit.

The lake sits in a flat area which was a little soggy and perfect breeding grounds for mosquitoes. They were vicious. If I stood anywhere for a few minutes, I would soon be swarmed. With all the snow pack and late thaw this year, I think the timing was just right for bugs. I can tolerate it by putting on bug spray, but I felt really bad for Kuzca. If I left her alone for just a minute, she would have bugs all over her nose and it would like like a crime scene when I brushed them away.

I was hoping to get away from the bugs by backtracking and camping up high. No such luck. They found me. We just had to keep moving around to keep the mosquitoes off. Later in the evening I built a small fire and it was pretty effective at keeping the bugs off. Kuzca didn't want to hang near the fire, so I just let her get in the tent and hang out.

I was up early Saturday morning and packed up before a quick breakfast of bagels and chai tea. We were back at the car and rolling by 9AM. More on the "fun" return trip in my next post.

Since I was traveling solo (+dog), I wanted to try some lightweight and easy meals. Dinner was a simple angel hair pasta dish with some oil, cheese, and red pepper flakes. Easy, simple, and tasty enough for me. For breakfast I tried Kraft Bagel-Fuls which are frozen bagel "tubes" stuffed with cream cheese. These worked out well because I put them in my bag frozen and let them thaw out on the hike.

This was also the first chance I got to try out my new sleeping pad. I got a short Therm-a-rest ProLite 4. It's light and packs down small. I wasn't sure how well I'd like the short pad, but it worked out okay. The only problem I had with it was with the material of the pad. It was very slick, so I found myself sliding around the tent (which wasn't quite level). Kuzca has a similar pad and had the same issue. It was funny to watch he stand up to get more comfortable and have the pad slide around under her.

2008-07-11_08_kuzca_getting_some_fresh_water

2008-07-11_18_self_portrait

2008-07-11_23_kuzca_looks_out_to_the_front_range

More photos up on Flickr

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Niwot Crit - Down goes Fraser

I had some bad karma today. On the way to the race I hit a prairie dog with my car, and I stepped in some dog poo when I was walking to the registration desk. Maybe I should have turned around and gone home. :)

I didn't start well, but I stuck in the middle of the pack. It was a really tight course so passing people was difficult. The further back you are in the pack, the harder it is because you have to sprint out of each corner just to keep up with the front of the race. There were a couple of long straight sections where I was able to pass some people, but I never had the gas to really get up to the front.

I found myself taking some dumb lines through corners just because I was following the wheel in front of me. Eventually I got my head on straight and started taking better lines through the corners. I was pleased with how my confidence through the corners was improving. I haven't raced a crit in well over a month, so it took me some time to get my "crit head" back.

About 3/4 of the way through the race, the pace really slowed. We were taking the corners at an unreasonably slow pace. I decided to try and move up on the inside of one of the tight corners, and it didn't go well. The decision to move up was sound, but I foolishly tried to pedal through the corner and ended up clipping my pedal on the pavement. Total bummer. I went down, but not too hard. The bike is fine, and I have a few scrapes. I'll live to race another day (probably July 20th) at another crit.
2008-07-06_14_ryan_s_wounds

2008-07-06_13_ryan

Saturday, July 5, 2008

WALL-E

Christine and I went to the drive-in last night to see WALL-E. It was the first drive-in ever for Christine, and I haven't been to one in probably 10 years. We thought the crowd might be light since a lot of people would be watching fireworks, and we were right.

The movie was great (worth every bit of the good reviews it's getting). You should go see it. They were showing The Hulk afterwards, and neither of us was interested, so we left.

Snow Pea

Check out the baby pea Christine and I made:
2008-07-05_03_snow_pea

Take that Jamie and Tyler. In yo face!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Motorcycle Ride to Granby

We haven't hadn't had the chance to do a good long motorcycle ride, but today we changed that. Along with Owen, Christine and I rode to her mom's restaurant in Granby (via Rocky Mountain National Park) and back through the Poudre Canyon. This was easily the longest motorcycle ride for both Christine and I. For Christine, it's probably also more miles in one day than she's put on in all the other days combined on her motorcycle.

Comanche Lake

Bum hip be damned. Christine, Kuzca and I motored out to the Comanche Peak Wilderness on Saturday and hiked to Comanche Lake. I haven't been there for 4 or 5 years, but I had remembered it being a pretty easy hike. It's got some distance (about 10 miles round trip), but it's not too steep.

We strolled out of Fort Collins leisurely around 9AM and made pretty good time up the canyon. They've been doing some resurfacing on Pingre Park Road and I was having a good time hauling ass on the dirt. Kuzca was giving me the eyes of a soon to be sick puppy and I dialed it back a bit so we didn't have to clean up dog puke.

We did the hike up to the lake in about 2 hours. I carried as much stuff as possible in my pack, and I think it helped keep the pace reasonable. Upon arriving at the lake we sat down and ate a little lunch while we look out upon the lake. It's not the most picturesque lake around, but it's kind of nice. After lunch, we sat on the bank a did a little fishing. I managed to pull a few in, and Christine got a few nibbles. The only thing she's missing now is landing the fish. I can totally identify, because I've missed a lot of fish in my day because I wasn't fast enough to set the hook.

It was so nice that we ended up staying longer than planned. By the time we got back to Fort Collins, it was almost 8 so we picked up some Chinese takeout for dinner while we planned our Sunday motorcycle ride with Owen. More to come on that.

Proof that Christine was fishing:
2008-06-28_08_christine_fishing

The lake:
2008-06-28_13_comanche_lake

Kuzca was having a good time in the snow. (And mud. Look at how black her legs are)
2008-06-28_06_kuzca_playing_in_the_snow

We even saw a mom and baby moose:
2008-06-28_19_moose

And their tracks:
2008-06-28_23_moose_tracks

Friday, June 27, 2008

Bike to Work Week - 2

It's now Friday, and I rode a different bike to work each day. We've had some short rain storms, but lucky for me they were all done by 3PM each day and the roads were nice and dry for the ride home.

I haven't driven my car since Sunday. My commute to work is about 7 miles, so that's 70 miles of commuting my car didn't do this week: 14 miles of moto power and 56 of pedal power. I probably saved about $12 in gas. Whoa, I'm going to go on a shopping spree. :)

Yesterday I even ran some errands on my bike after work. I rode up to Old Town to pick up some doggie Biobags. Then I rode to CSU to pick up this week's vegetable crop from our CSA. The ride gave me a chance to ride some bike paths and roads that I've never ridden before. The coolest revelation for me was the Mason Trail that runs parallel to College from the north side of town (around CSU) all the way down to the south side of town (Fossil Creek Pkwy). What a great bike path. It was like a paved superhighway for bikes and I didn't even know it was there.

I don't spend much time on the roads where I'd see a lot of casual riders. Most of my time is spent out on country roads, alone or with a group of people with the same mindset. It was frustrating this week as I spent more time on the local roads seeing cyclists not follow the rules of the road. I'm tired of seeing people ride through red lights, ride on the wrong side of the road, dangerously drift out of the bike lane and into traffic, etc. Mostly this bothers me because I spend a lot of time on the roads and the actions of these poor riders will typically get attributed to people like me. The last thing I need is some motorist running me off the road in retaliation for a recreational rider they saw blowing a red light.

I'm not without my own legal infractions. Sometimes I don't signal a turn. Whenever possible, I speed on my bike. I don't come to a complete stop at stop signs. But in general, I'm very law abiding on my bike. You'll never see me blow a light. You'll never see me unnecessarily impeding traffic. I don't want to give a motorist any reason to be pissed off that I'm on "their" roads. I just wish more people felt the same way.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

A tasty dessert or breakfast

I got this simple recipe from a recent issue of Bon Appetit. It's a tasty evening snack, and I even had it for breakfast this morning. (Fruit + dairy + granola = breakfast)



Ingredients:
* 3 cups diced peeled tropical fruit (such as pineapple, mango, and kiwi. We used mango and kiwi)
* 1/3 cup honey
* 1/3 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger plus additional for garnish
* 2 1/2 cups plain nonfat or reduced-fat (2%) Greek-style yogurt
* 2 cups purchased granola (with nuts and dried fruits, if desired)

Bon Apppetit instructions:
Mix fruit, honey, and 1/3 cup crystallized ginger in medium bowl. Spoon 1/2 cup yogurt into each bowl. Top each with 1/2 cup granola, then 3/4 cup fruit mixture. Spoon remaining 1/2 cup yogurt in dollops over fruit. Garnish with more chopped crystallized ginger and serve.

Ryan's instructions:
Combine all the ingredients in a bowl. It may not look as nice, but the flavor is great.

I don't really like crystallized ginger, but it goes really well in this. I don't now how much of a difference Greek style yogurt makes compared to other yogurt, be we found some at Vitamin Cottage.

(Original recipe is here.)

The first harvest

Last night we made some pad thai and used our first* pieces of produce from the garden: a serrano pepper, and some basil. We also got to use some radishes that we got from our CSA last week and some some pasta from the farmers' market. (And it was tasty.)

* Technically, we did pull a strawberry from the garden a while ago, but that thing was pretty much ripe when I bought the plant from the nursery and planted it. The first thing we get to eat from our garden that we actually grew from seeds will be either spinach or radishes.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Bike to Work Day

"Bike to Work Day" is by far the best day of "Bike to Work Week" because there are various breakfast stations around town where riders can grab a free bite. I usually adjust my commute so I can hit one or two of these stops, but this year there were really none that were reasonably close. There was, however, a breakfast station set up on the HP campus and it was actually pretty good. It was catered by Jason's Deli and there were breakfast burritos, muffins, bagels, and (best of all) fruit cups. I think I ate more calories than I burned on the way in. I'll try to make up for it by sprinting home after work.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Bike to Work Week

This week is Bike to Work Week (in Colorado). Since my stable of bikes has grown even more this year, I'm going to try to ride a different bike in each day. I sort of had to cheat today and ride my motorcycle because I only have 4 pedal bikes. The rest of the schedule is:

Tuesday: Mountain Bike
Ryan at Winter Park MTB Race

Wednesday: Specialized Tarmac SL2 (Road Bike)
2008-04-07_01_specialized_s-works_tarmac_sl2

Thursday: Specialized Tricross (Cyclocross Bike)
2007-08-14_01_specialized_tricross

Friday: Trek 5200 (Old road bike / time trial bike)
2008-04-06_19_ryan

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Race follow up

Yesterday's race is part of a 2-day race. The second day is a hill climb that consists of the first 18 miles from the first day. I contemplated doing the hill climb, but in the ended I decided against it. For one thing, it's $40 to do the same hill I climbed yesterday. Also, it didn't seem likely that too many people would be racing it, and I decided that I didn't need to add "Top 10 in a 10 person race" to my palmarès.

Instead I headed down to Longmont to do a group ride, and it ended up being more than I bargained for. Having made the last minute decision to ride, I rushed down to Ziggy's coffee shop in Longmont where I met up with Isaac. Soon after, several other people showed up and we had a sizable group. We rode from the coffee shop up to Ward, which isn't a ride I had done before. Wow that's a long climb. We didn't ride really fast, thankfully, but it was pretty constant climbing for about 1.5 hours once we got on to Left Hand Canyon Rd.

We stopped at the top for a refill of water and some cookies from the local shop. Then we continued on to the Peak to Peak Highway and down Highway 7 into Lyons. The other 4 guys were haulin' down 7 into Lyons, but I just couldn't do it. I was going into the red zone just to try and stay on their wheels, and I finally decided that I want to coast down hill. We all met up again as we got closer to Lyons and rode back to Longmont together.

So how to you follow up a 64 mile road race? How about another 62 miles and 5000 feet of climbing? I've burned about 5000 calories in riding the last couple days. Tonight I think I should pig out and then do a taste test between New Belgium Fat Tire in a bottles and cans.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Fort Collins Cycling Festival (Rist Canyon Road Race)

Oooh, so sore. I raced in the Fort Collins Cycling Festival today. (And boy are my legs tired. *rimshot*)

At 52 miles, this was already going to be a hard race with lots of climbing, but I guess that wasn't good enough for the organizers. Overnight, they decided to tack on some extra miles bringing the total to 64 and over 7000 feet of climbing. These weren't easy miles either. They included some killer short climbs. Apparently, they did this for safety reasons but I'm not sure why they waited until the night before to determine that their old finish wasn't safe. Another major league flub on their part was that they moved the feed zones (and didn't announce it to my knowledge). But enough of the bitching about the race organizers...

The race starts out by immediately going up a the steep hills by the stadium. There were people in the group that clearly weren't familiar with the course because they were hammering it early. I didn't look behind me, but I think we dropped several people within the first few miles. I had intended to stay near the front to keep from getting gapped on the descents, but instead I found myself near the rear of the newly shrunken group. After the final descent before Rist, I managed to get up to the front where I could cover the speed surges.

The climb up Rist was easier than I remembered last year. I stayed near the front and eventually 4 people were dangling off the front. I knew a couldn't hang and I had to dial it back a bit. Eventually I saw Tyson coming back so I knew I'd have someone to ride with. Every once and a while someone would be on our wheel, but they would usually blow up. We settled in finally with me, Tyson, and some dude in white.

Shortly after the feed, one of the front guys drifted back, leave 2 up front. Our group of 4 crested the summit together. Tyson bombed down the hill and maneuvered around a few cars, but I got stuck behind one of them because there was another car coming in the other lane. Tyson opened up a huge gap and it was up to the three of us to close it down. I was all ready to work in this group of three, but the other two didn't seem to be into it. The Aussie that was with us would shoot off the front instead of gently pulling through. It was like an attack. I don't know if that was his plan or what. The other guy was doing a lot of soft pedaling. It was frustrating, and eventually I decided I shouldn't be doing much work in that group. If Tyson got away and bridged, I was okay with that.

Eventually Tyson slowed down, and we caught him around Masonville. About this time, my legs were really cramping. I hung with this group until we headed north on Glade Rd and got dropped when I was taking a gel. (These new jerseys have pockets that are way too high.) At one point I got back on their wheels, but they dropped me again and I knew I was a goner. From here on out, it was a mental battle just to stay on the gas instead of easing into the finish.

We passed the original turn off to the finish and my legs let out a sigh. Man how I would have liked to be finishing. My legs were dead, but I still tried to ride as hard as I could up the next hills. Up one of the hills, I got passed by a group of three. I couldn't get on their wheels as my legs were cramping ever time I tried to get out of the saddle. Once they got over Bingham Hill though, they really slowed down as the jockeyed for position. When I caught them, I told them it was too early to screw around and tried to up the pace so we wouldn't get caught from behind. They were having none of it, so I just sat on wheels.

Coming into the finish, I did everything I needed to do and put my self right where I wanted to be. I knew the Aussie would have a good sprint, so I forced him to come around me (by slowing down and letting a gap open). I got right on his wheel, but as soon as everyone started sprinting, it was clear I had nothing left to give.

Overall the result was good. Top 10. Had the race finished where it was supposed to, though, I would have been 6th, so that's hard to swallow. All in all, a good day though.


Ryan Rides The Dams

*edit* I don't know what happened with the results, but sometime after I left the race I got moved up to 8th place. I think I left about 30 minutes after the results were posted, so the protest period should have been over. But at least I moved up instead of down.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Miles

I've never paid much attention to the number of miles I ride on my bike, but I took a look yesterday, and I've ridden over 3000 miles for the 2008 season so far.

2008-06-17_01_cycling_miles

I had no idea that I've ridden that much. And that doesn't even count the times I rode without my cycling computer.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Irrigation

I had a simple plan for Saturday afternoon: Install automatic garden irrigation. Conceptually, it's pretty simple. There was already a sprinkler valve near the garden, so I just needed to T off the water line, add a drip valve, and reroute a little tubing. Voila! Instant irrigation. But things never quite work out the easy.

There were several gotchas along the way, the most annoying of which was the sprinkler wiring. Sprinkler wiring is not complicated, but the people who installed my sprinklers did something stupid. To make a long story short, instead of spending $0.10 on a couple wire nuts and about 30 seconds worth of work they created an extra hour of work for me.

I tried my darnedest to get all the supplies before I started, but there were several return trips to The Home Depot for various sprinkler trinkets. For example, I had to get something to repair a water line because I found out that a landscaping staple had pierced it. It's been like that forever (I probably even hammered that staple in), but the metal had rusted and sealed the hole.

Eventually (Sunday afternoon), I prevailed and we now have a nice drip system in the garden. Each plant gets its own adjustable dripper so we can give them as much or as little water as they need when the sprinklers run each day.

2008-06-15_03_garden_irrigation

We replaced our dead cantaloupe, and added some new stuff: brussle sprouts, rosemary, dill, radishes, sunflowers, and strawberries.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Garden Success

We have some early success in the garden.

Old 97's

We're getting too old for late concerts. Last night Christine and I saw the Old 97's in Denver. One sign we're getting older is that we bring earplugs to concerts now. But we're not the only ones. I saw several other people with ear plugs. I guess that also means that we're going to shows that other old people go to.

Opening bands are hit or miss. I like to get there early enough to see them because occasionally you hear a band that you like. Other times, they suck. Last night they sucked and we should have just gotten to the show later. As it was, we weren't early enough to get a seat, but we were early enough to hear some sucky music.

All that aside, the Old 97's were great. They sounded great, had great energy, and played a bunch of the old favorites mixed in with the new songs. When Christine and I first met, the Old 97's were one of the few common ingredients in our respective music collections so we listened to them frequently (and still do). It was fun to go out and see them together for the first time. (Thankfully we have such musical common grounds so I don't have to listen to The Grateful Dead and she doesn't have to listen to too much of my vast collection of shitty music.)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Man salon

I got a coupon in the mail for a new barbershop so I decided to try it out yesterday. I generally just go to a cheap place because, let's face it, my haircut isn't particularly difficult to do.

The place is called Floyds Barbershop, and it's set up to be some sort of hip hair place for guys. Guys that want to make sure everyone knows they are definitely not gay. So of course there are TV's and sports stuff on the walls. TV's, by the way, aren't very exciting when you have to remove your glasses. And it's not like I could listen to whatever was on the TV because of the booming music. It was like Abercrombie without all the homoeroticism.

I think I'll just stick to my plain old cheap-o haircut.

Tornado Cleanup

One of my coworker's houses got hit pretty good by the tornado that roared through Windsor a couple weeks ago. My new company was really cool and let us spend the day helping him out without taking vacation time. And they even paid for lunch.

I hadn't been through Windsor since the tornado, and it was pretty amazing to see the damage. My coworker's house faired pretty well compared to some of the others in his neighborhood. All over the place, there were tarps nailed down covering damaged roofs. People are rebuilding, though, and all around us were the sounds of hammers on rooftops. I spent most of the day tearing out damaged fence posts and setting new ones. Other people power washed his house and cleaned up all the little debris that was in his yard.

I'm glad I got the chance to help out. I know he had a lot of cleaning up to do after the tornado, and he was very thankful that we all came out to pitch in. I guess we exceeded his expectations, because we ran out of wood for the fence eventually.

2008-06-10_01_cleanup_at_mark_wahls

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Published photographer (soon)

I just found out today that the Colorado Mountain Club is going to use 3 of my photos in their upcoming book Colorado Lake Hikes. I have the first edition of the book, and it has some good information. The maps are abysmal though, so hopefully they've taken care of that. Regardless, it'll be cool to see some of my photos in print.

They're using my pictures from these three lakes:

Pingree Park

Our first camping outing of the year was to the Pingree Park / Comanche Peaks area north of Fort Collins. We chose the location this time because there are several good car camping spots.

As the first trip of the year, it was time to try out some new gear. First, the new tent:

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Rain Rain Go Away

Living in an arid climate, it's hard to complain when it rains....but I'll give it a try.

My past two bike ride have been plagued by rain. Monday I had planned on leading a ride on an upcoming race course. The skies were gray and it was clear we'd be riding into a cloud, but we gave it a shot anyway. By the time we reached the top of the climb, the foggy mist had turned into light rain and the moisture was starting to freeze on my arm warmers. We decided that we should just head back to the cars. Brrrr, that was a cold descent. It took me a few hours just to warm back up when I got home.

Yesterday I debated with myself about whether or not I should ride at lunch or catch a group ride after work. This is always a risky proposition: Do I take the nice weather now, or do I cross my fingers and hope that the "slight chance of rain" doesn't bite me. I decided on the latter because I wanted to get some high paced group riding in my legs again, and I lost the battle with the forecast. We got poured on. By the time I was finished, my bike and I were covered in road slop. And I got a flat. Fortunately it was just a slow leak, so I just pumped it up and rode it home. (That's a good reason to carry a frame pump instead of just CO2.)

I'm getting a little tired of washing my bike. The next few days look drier.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Vegas...baby

I've been known to screw up in the birthday department, but occasionally I do something right. I'm not a fan of obligatory gift giving holidays because I feel like I can't put the thought into getting just the right thing, and if I don't find just the right thing I end up getting something sub-par just because I need to find something. For Christine's birthday, I hope I found something that was fun and meaningful. We went to dinner and a show.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Weekend trip to Paris


Weekend trip to Paris
Originally uploaded by ryan_l
Just another weekend trip to Paris.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Prairie Dog

I always knew it would happen, and today it finally did. I hit a prairie dog on my bike today.

There's a paved path through a prairie near my house, and I frequently ride on it en route to the nearby hills. Certain parts of the trail are lined with prairie dog holes, and the little critters are pretty fearless. After having them run out if front of me numerous times, I'm pretty alert. I've had some close calls, but I've always avoided them.

On my way back to the house today I was blazing across the trail at almost 30 MPH. I was keeping my eye on the dogs lining the path, but the one that ran out in front of me was hiding out in the grass. He darted out on across the path, I made one move to try to avoid him, but there was no chance. I always thought that I'd crash when I finally hit one of these things but I managed to stay upright.

Prairie dogs are by and large a nuisance around here, but that doesn't keep me from feeling terrible about it. Poor stupid animal.

Say hello to my little friend

A few weeks ago Christine said something to me about a hole in the ground she saw under our porch. She wasn't sure what created the hole, but we figured it out when I got home one day and saw some baby bunnies hanging out.



There's 3 baby bunnies. They like to hang out near the downspout and run up it when they get startled. I don't really want bunnies living under my porch, but these baby bunnies are so damn cute. I'll wait until they grow up a bit and then I'll try to block up the hole.

Sprig Toys

Congratulations to my friend Owen who will be leaving his mechanical engineering job at HP next week to work for a new toy start-up, Sprig Toys. Sprig Toys is developing kid powered, environmentally conscious toys. For my breeding friends, I think they'll have some toys available at the end of the summer. I'm insanely jealous, because not only does he get to stretch his creative legs and work on some fun stuff, but the office is within walking distance from his house.

I don't know if there's any correlation, but you'll notice that Owen is leaving HP after I left earlier this year. I can only guess that the environment is way less fun around there without me. :) Perhaps the biggest drag about the whole thing is that I'm losing my afternoon coffee break partner. Now we'll have to schedule coffee breaks downtown.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Riding, Racing, Gardening

The weather this weekend was awesome.

On Saturday, I took a ride down to Carter Lake. I must admit, part of the reason I did this ride is because the Larimer County sheriff has been hassling cyclists for riding two abreast, and I'm a bit of an antagonist. For whatever it's worth, I saw a lot of cyclists out there and the only ones I saw flagrantly violating the two abreast rule were recreational cyclists (not the groups of racers that I saw). But anyway...

Sunday I raced. The thing that sucks about racing on Sunday is that I'm not sure what to do with myself on Saturday. On one hand, I don't want to ride hard on Saturday because I want to leave something in the tank for Sunday. On the other hand, I don't want to waste an Saturday by doing some lame ride. The Sunday race was a crit down in Superior with a 7:30 AM start time. That meant I was up by 5 and out the door by 5:30 so I could ride around in circles for 45 minutes. :) The race was okay. The thing that killed me today was the group cornering. I kept getting guttered as people would swing way wide for corners, and I don't feel solid enough to squeeze in between someone else and a curb. I'll get there. I finished in the top 20.

After getting home, Christine and I planted our garden. We're now eagerly awaiting our harvest of tomatoes (4 types), peppers, cantaloupe, spinach, zucchini, and snow peas. I've got my fingers crossed that this stuff will actually grow. Our raspberries seem to be growing, so that's a good thing.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Animated wall mural

I'm amazed that someone could pull off this large scale animation.



(From Kevin Kelly's Blog)

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Colorado relocation

I just got word that my good friend and former roommate from college is moving to Colorado. He flew out a couple of weeks ago for an interview and it apparently went well. He's been talking about moving out here since before we got out of school and it's finally happening. I can't wait. He'll fit in great in Colorado. He already has a cache of snowboards, bikes, and other random gear.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Gila Stage 5 - Gila Monster Road Race

The end is near. Today was the 70 mile Gila Monster stage.

The 4's rolled out in jovial fashion and we were all chatting it up and having a good time. A break went off pretty early and I was pretty happy about that since they would swallow up the sprint time bonuses. I was on the front as the break went off, and put their hand on my back as if to tell me to chase it. I chuckled and told them to have at it because I certainly wasn't going to chase.

The pack stayed together for a long time, which made for some crowded roads later on. The riding was a little sketchy because everyone decided that suddenly on the last day they needed to be at the front and try to improve their GC spot.

Right after the feed zone (around 40 miles into the race) Rob got a flat. He was in front of me and I saw him pull off. I pulled into the dirt Dukes of Hazzard style and gave Rob my wheel since he was better placed on GC than me. Ross had seen us stopped on the road and he slowed down to pace Rob back up to the field. It was all a pretty pro affair.

My wheel change was fairly slow, and they gave me a tank of a wheel to ride on. I chased with a small group for the next 10 miles and we finally caught the main field at the base of the decisive climb of the day. I was pretty blown from the chase, but I managed to climb okay still. I caught a lot of people, and eventually made it up to Rob and Jason. Jason was climbing strong and finished with a small group a minute ahead of me. Rob and I road with another guy for a bit, and finally Rob pulled the rip cord finished solo. I finished side by side with Taylor from RMRC.

I finished in 28th overall for the whole stage race, and Rob finished in 26th.

After the race, we hung out at Rob's parent's place for some burgers, brats, and copious amounts of recovery beer. The team owes a lot of thanks to Rob Sr. & Susan Love, Marty, and Stuart for their logistic and feed zone support. I saw plenty of teams relying on neutral support, and it was so nice to have our own dedicated support team.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Gila Stage 4 - Crit

Another day, another race. Today was the criterium in downtown Silver City.


One of the great thing about Blue Sky Velo is that we have enough people to take up some space and set up a nice warmup tent. (I'll eventually post some pictures. Slight rant - Ross took some pictures with his Sony camera which uses its proprietary memory stick, and doesn't even have a standard USB interface. Screw you Sony!) We rolled up to the marking lot early coned off some spots for our other cars and our warmup tent.

The start line was a little hectic for me. I got to the start/finish area a little later than I wanted, and I still had to sign in. (In stage races you need to sign in.) The annoying race official wouldn't let me cross the road to sign in because there was still a racer on the road. A single racer. Nevermind she was like 3 minutes away from crossing the finish line. So lame.

Eventually I got signed in and ended up getting a spot in the second row. I had wanted to line up on the inside because there was a narrow corner shortly after the start line and I didn't want to get guttered on the outside, but I ended up being on the far outside. The race started surprisingly slow (I thought), and I easily made my way to the front of the race and took the narrow corner without an issue. It turns out that the corner wasn't as narrow as I thought it was, so the rest of the race it wasn't a problem.

The course was pretty non-technical. Only four corners. The main "feature" of the course was a climb between the 2nd and 3rd corners. The first couple times through this section were hard on my legs. After that, though, I was punching up it pretty easily every time.

I spent time all over in the pack - sometimes in the back, sometimes in the middle, and a few times I went off the front. It's common to have sprint laps in a crit where a prize is given to the first person across the line. They're called prime laps (pronounced "preem"). Coming up to the fourth corner on a prime lap, I managed to get off the front. It wasn't really my intention, but it just worked out. I thought it was a prime lap, but I wasn't sure since nobody else seemed to be contesting it. While I was off the front, Rob was behind me on the front of the pack doing an excellent job of blocking. I took the prime without even getting out of the saddle. My huge prize was a pair of socks and $20.

With 6 laps to go, Rob got a flat. Fortunately we were just coming up on the wheel pit, so he pulled in and got a wheel from SRAM neutral support. If you're going to get a flat in a crit, it's pretty sweet if SRAM is there to give you a ZIPP 404 carbon wheel. You're allowed to free lap in a crit if you have a mechanical, so Rob was able to hop back in the group the next time we came around. And boy did he ever come back into the group. I was near the front and Rob passed me going mach 1 through the outside of the first corner.

Towards the end of the race, people were riding really sketchy. I wanted to get around them and up towards the front, but I just could find good lines through the crowd. I think if I was more confident in the corners, I could have worked up to the front. I'm going to work on it. I normally don't even bother to sprint at the end of the crit because there's not much of a reason to sprint for 30 place (or wherever I happen to be placed). I decided to see how my legs felt today and I did some sprinting. I bet I passed a half dozen people in the final stretch, so that was cool.

I'm not sure where exactly I finished, but I was in the lead group. Rob unleashed a sweet sprint and took 4th.

We had someone take 4th in the 3's race too. Unfortunately, one of our guys went down hard on the last lap of that race. The initial stories I've heard were that somebody put a handlebar into Jeremy and took him out. (This guy had apparently been displaying some poor decision making throughout the race too.) Jeremy got some road rash, but he doesn't appear to have broken any bones. He hit the deck hard though, and cracked his helmet. As a precaution, they took him to the hospital. I'm still waiting to get an update. It's been a rough couple days for Jeremy after a terrific start to the race. I hope he can race tomorrow.