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

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.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Gila Stage 3 - Time Trial

This was my third TT ever, and I'm really not a fan. I'm not sure where I finished in the group, but I dropped from 18th on the general classification to somewhere in the mid 20's.

Rob killed it in the TT and beat me by 3 minutes. He's sitting somewhere in the top 15 on GC so hopefully he can keep it together for Sunday's final road race.

In the 3's, Barry had an awesome race and finished top 10, which puts him in 6th overall. Jeremy didn't fare as well. He clipped one of the cones on the road and took a nasty spill. Even with a crash and a wheel change, he still beat my time. :)

One of these days I'll make good on my plan to get out and do hard workouts on my TT bike. One of these days...

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Gila Stage 2

After anxiously waiting through stage 1, the 4's finally got to start the 2008 Tour of the Gila. Our stage today took us 64.2 miles from Pinos Altos, NM to Fort Bayard, NM.

The race started out fast with a descent followed by some tough climbing. With so much effort required early in the race, we decided to warm up for about 15-20 minutes on trainers at the start area. I was really surprised at how fast the race started out and I gave it all I had to make sure I stayed with the group. I had been warned that I needed to stay with the group over the Meadow Creek climb, because otherwise you'll never catch up later. I wasn't really sure how far into the race that climb was, so I kept waiting for it. At some point I looked over to Rob and asked him when it was coming and he laughed at me as he told me we passed it a while ago. Sweet, I made it.

There was some crazy descending on this course. I was about 20 feet behind some guy who came into a corner way too hot. Smoke and burning rubber were in the air as he locked up his wheels and went head over heels off the road. Glad I missed out on that adventure. Being the sweet descender, Rob and a few other guys got a nice gap of around 30 seconds at this point. Eventually, Rob decided that it wasn't a good idea to be in that break with so much time left in the day and he came back to the group.

Rob was the man all day keeping me informed of what was coming up on the course - There's a bump up over there...We're going over that ridge...We're climbing that saddle... That was hugely helpful since I've never ridden these roads before. I don't think I would have made it up the final climbs without him there to keep me going.

The break stayed away for quite a while, but we finally reeled them in on the final big climbs. We hit a nasty headwind going here which kept the pack at a pretty reasonable pace. Anyone who tried to attack immediately got blasted by the wind and tired out. I didn't think I was going to be able to hang on through a couple of those accelerations, but I dug deep and stayed with the group.

I wasn't well positioned on our descent into Fort Bayard and found myself on the back of the group more often than not. At 500m to go, I ramped it up just to make sure I would finish with the pack and not lose any time. I was surprised at how well my legs performed. Maybe next time I'll have to make sure I get closer to the front.

I'm not sure what places we got, but Rob and I both finished with the lead group which is way more than I expected to be able to do here. We were both totally stoked with the good result.

Gila Stage 1


The Cat 3's raced 73 miles from Silver City finishing with a sick climb up to Mogollon. The 4's didn't race today, so we spent the morning working the feed zones for our teammates. I was worried about screwing up and not being able to get them bottles, but it all worked out well and everyone got their feed.

At the end of the day, we have 2 guys within a few minutes of the lead. Hopefully they can orchestrate something during stage 2 and get some of that time.