Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Homemade Eggnog

I forgot to mention that we made homemade eggnog. I'd always kind of wondered what went into eggnog, and I finally looked it up. It's basically a custard. Anyway, Alton Brown's recipe is easy and tasted great. Give it a shot if you like eggnog.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Holiday rundown

I don't know who was dreaming of a white Christmas around here, but they got it. There was plenty of snow on the ground and cold temperatures to go around.

We started our celebrations this year on Christmas Eve at our friend Henry's house. We had a great time eating and drinking the night away with some new and old friends. We experienced drinking wine from a porron. As you might expect, there was some entertaining spillage.

On Christmas morning, we went over to Christine's brother's place. It was less chaotic than you'd expect a house with 5 year old twins to be. We gave them some gifts, helped the girls put together a puzzle and headed out to Golden for dinner with more family. Christine's dad's neighborhood has some walking trails that were covered in snow. We took the opportunity to put on the skis and go get some exercise before indulging in the holiday prime rib. We weren't breaking any vertical feet records, but it was nice to get out in the snow. Kuzca came too and had a great time running herself ragged. Christmas night culminated with an all-out Nerf gun fight. I can't believe how much better Nerf weaponry has gotten.

We had planned on backcountry skiing Saturday, but we killed that idea when we saw reports of high winds and cold temperatures. Instead, we got up early so we could watch a cyclocross race on the internet while we rode our trainers. That was a fun way to ride. Until the video stream got really choppy, and it essentially became unwatchable. Having our workout out of the way early was great because we were able to run some errands and then hook up with some cycling teammates for some beer tasting at New Belgium and Odells.

The real action came later in the evening when Canadian sailor extraordinaires and soon-to-be vagabonds, Livia and Carol, came over for a visit. Thanks to a suggestion from Owen, we had a real American evening and all went out bowling. That could have possibly been the poorest display of bowling skills in history. Out of 6 of us, I don't think anyone got even close to hitting 100. It might have something to do with bowling skills like Livia's:

After a long night of bowling recovery, we hit up some snowshoeing on Sunday. For the trail we were on, the snoeshoes weren't exactly necessary, but it was fun to tromp around in the snow regardless. Livia and Carol constructed their annual snowman, which I think they named either Comanche or Colorado or Comanche-Colorado or something like that. It was so much fun to hang with our friends from the north again.

We had a lot of fun this year, but we couldn't help but reminisce about how we spent Christmas last year. We enjoyed it so much, that we're going to do it again - Christmas 2010 in Belgium. There will be lots of wandering around to small towns, beer, frites, and other Belgian lovelies. Care to join us? I already can't wait.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

The end of a good season

So the season is over. My first "real" season of cross. The past couple of years, I've done races here and there (and only if the weather was decent), but I never really trained for it. This year I went all-in, and I loved it. It's a good thing I wasn't the fair-weather 'crosser of old, because we had an uncharacteristically wet season. Who knew racing in mud could be so much fun?

I really had no expectations going into the season. I just wanted to push myself to ride hard and get better. Mission accomplished. I was consistently finishing in the top 10 and I even won a race. Winning a race is an amazing feeling. To know that training has paid off and that for one day you were stronger than the people that you line up with week after week is an amazing confidence booster. I finished the season in 10th overall in the points rankings even though I skipped a lot of the points races. I also won the overall in a 3 race series, so I'll actually win *something*.

The state championships was a mixed bag for me. On one hand, I never expected to be top 10 when I was first starting out this season. On the other hand, I know I underperformed. I know that I would have done better if I had been more motivated and if I had worked on some of my technical skills. I have a lot of months to think about that now. :)

None of this great season would have been possible without the support of Christine. Even though she was traveling back and forth to Austin all the time and was sometimes in Fort Collins only on the weekends, she was cool with me disappearing to a race nearly every weekend. Not only that, but she frequently spent one of her valuable weekend days in Colorado by sitting at my races, cheering me on, handing me water, and putting up with my neurotic pre-race nerves. She's also my wheel and tire sponsor, buying me my first ever tubular wheelset. The wheels, by the way, that I used when I won my race. She's amazing and I couldn't have done it without her.

Colorado State CX Championships

Yesterday was my last bike race of the season - the Colorado State CX Championships. Mentally, I was done with my season a couple weeks ago, but I decided to drag it out a couple weeks and race states since I was doing reasonably well. The body was willing, but finding the motivation to ride in the recent cold snap was difficult.

As much as I wanted to stay sitting in the nice warm car, I got out and raced. This was just not a good course for me. The temperature was dropping, and any hope of mud was rapidly freezing away. With some tricky descents and off-camber snowy slopes, it was more technical than I was ready for. Mental note for next year - do more skills work later in the season.

I got a decent start, and went into the first corner in the top 10 or 15. That put us on to a pretty tricky section, and I lost some spots as I was being tentative. I also dropped my chain. First time of the season amazingly.

I could see the leaders pulling away. Always a disappointing sight. Within a lap or so, I settled in with a group of 3 and I was content to follow them all the way to the end. We swapped positions occasionally, but I mostly just tried to sit on them and not set the tempo. My lack of motivation towards racing was really showing. :)

Eventually, one of that group had a mechanical and that just left two of us. I took a nice spill on the off-camber snow, but caught back up. I really wasn't working all that hard surprisingly, and I should have just attacked. In the end, I finished just behind that kid for 8th place overall.

Just for fun, I looked up the ages of the people in front of me. Everybody in front of me was younger (22, 22, 26, 23, 29, 14). So, I'm first place in the 30+ crowd. :)

The off season starts...now

My cylcocross season is officially over. More on that later.

I had hoped to sleep in this morning, but I woke up at 5AM. WTF? Totally annoying. So I just laid on the couch and watched some TV until Christine got up (at a more reasonable hour).

The weather forecast I looked at Saturday night was spectacularly wrong. It said something about some "light" snow, but I woke up to a whole lot more than that. Awesome! Christine and I put on some boots and snow pants and took Kuzca to the park to run around. We had her running back and forth all over the place and she was loving it.

Before the rest of the city got up and about, we decided to run to the store to get ingredients for baking later in the day. Driving in the snow is especially fun when the roads aren't clogged with people and I had some fun getting the Subaru sideways. We spent the rest of the day at home, mostly cooking. We made some ginger snaps, and some mini pumpkie-pie like things with a ginger crust. The verdict is in - we love our new mixer.

I've been a glutton today, and it's been great. Pancakes, bratwurst, a couple beers, some egg nog, cookies... Welcome to the off season. I must say, though, I would have loved to have been racing my bike around in this snow.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


Life is full of choices. Sometimes you choose the lesser of two evils, and sometimes you choose the greater of two goods. This choice falls into the latter category.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Green Mountain Sports 'Cross

The cyclocross season is winding down. Last Sunday it was back to Golden for the final race in the Green Mountain Sports series. It was at the same location as my first race of the season where I decided to really take it easy. This time I wanted to go full gas.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Why go to the Grand Canyon

I just read this in a blog post about some people who ran a double crossing of the Grand Canyon in one day (South Rim to North Rim and back to the South Rim again):

View along Eminence Break hike.

I don’t want to go around telling anybody how to live their lives; heck, I usually don’t know what’s coming next in my own.

If you haven’t.
Go to the Grand Canyon.

Writing the reasons to see it are like trying to capture the canyon in a photo.
Go and you’ll understand.

That sums it better than I ever could.

Monday, November 16, 2009


I flew down to visit Christine at the "winter home" in Austin for the first time since spring. I've decided that I can't travel to Texas June-August, or else I'll melt. The trip turned into a good excuse for us to eat and drink our way around town and we started Thursday night with some wine and junk food (high class funnel cake and bread pudding) at Max's Wine Dive.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Alpha Cross

Another weekend, another race. Today's special: Alpha Cross in Brighton.

My legs were missing some snap today. Don't know why, they were just kind of dead. I had to hope to outlast people instead of attacking them. My second row call-up was quickly killed when there was a lot of pushing and shoving at the start. I was a little bit unprepared to deal with it, but this was more than the usual elbow and shoulder bumping. This was "I'm going to put my skewer in you spokes" kind of action. After nearly going down on the gravely start, I ended up near the back of the group. Ugh. Lot of spots to make up throughout the race.

The course was not exactly my favorite. With the exception of one bumpy grass section, the entire course was on dirt. It seemed like more of a short track MTB course than a cross course. Not only was there a lot of dirt, but it was rutted up, construction traffic tread bumpy. Adding to the fun were several switchbacks. It was like they needed to add time to the course so they just kept adding switchbacks. I don't have a problem with switchbacks as a technical element, but 10 (there were at least that many) is a bit much.

It seemed like there were always people around me, which is nice. It's way more fun that way, rather than racing alone. On the last lap there were a couple people in front of me and a charging pack behind me. One of the riders in front of me took a water bottle in an unusual spot and it was easy to cruise around him. I managed to hold of the rest and finish 14th.

Not my best performance, but Christine put it all in perspective for me. She reminded me that I used to be happy with top 20. So yeah, 14th out of 50 is decent. I can deal with that.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Blue Sky Velo Cup

Yesterday my team put on a huge race, and it went off in a major way. Our race, the Blue Sky Velo Cup, was part of the North American Cyclocross Trophy series, and a UCI C2 categorized race. (The UCI is the international cycling organization.) What all that means is that this race would have the eye of the national and international cycling world and we'd play host to some of the best cyclocross racers in the country.

In the end, everything went amazingly well. The UCI official on site was shocked that this was our first UCI race. The lion's share of credit for the quality of the race goes to our race director, Bill Teasdale. Throughout the year, he has put in a ton of time getting all our ducks in a row and dealing with the UCI, USA Cycling, and ACA to make sure our race was a professional quality event. A lot of thanks also goes to the volunteers. We had an army of people setting up, tearing down, marshalling, registering racers, and more.

In week leading up to the race, Colorado saw some record snowfall. I wasn't sure what to expect of the course Friday when I prerode it. I was surprised to see that the course was mostly free of snow. They didn't get as much snow there, plus our setup crew did a good job of clearing snow in a lot of areas. With the sun out and the snow melting, there was a lot of mud. Sticky Colorado mud. It was clearly going to be a fun course.

After my win last weekend, I got a sweet front row call-up and I was hoping to perform well at our home race. My legs were a little tired from pre-riding the day before. I guess I worked harder than I meant. I went hard up the long uphill starting straight and went into the first corner in the top 5.

The cold overnight temperatures froze the all the muddy ruts from Friday's preriders, and that made for some tricky racing. I hit one section of ruts that bounced me around so hard that both of my feet popped out of the pedals. As the race went on, though, the course warmed up and there was a tricky mix of frozen ruts and mud. Every lap brought new conditions and challenges.

By the second lap, there was a group of 4 of us off the front. I drifted on and off the back of this group, but felt pretty comfortable for the most part. With a long climb to the finish line, I knew I had an advantage over most people. With 1.5 laps to go, tragedy struck.

I was running my tubeless tires and I burped some air out of my front. I rode gingerly for a little while, but then it was just futile and I had to run. I picked up a wheel a little while later and got back into race mode. I didn't know how many places I had lost, but I figured I'd at least try to finish strong.

I gave it my all for that last lap as I saw someone closing in on me. Every corner I'd check my progress and I was happy to see I was keeping my distance. Through all the mud and slop, I was trying to be careful while still riding fast. When all the mud wrestling was done, I finished in 8th place.

It's a little frustrating, because I just knew I could have gotten on the podium. But at the same time, it gave the feedback about my form that I was looking for. Was I just lucky in winning last weekend? I guess not entirely. I actually *am* in good shape right now. Now, I wonder if I should upgrade to the next category and get my ass handed to me all over again.

2009-10-31 09-16-30_0015 (by ryan_l)

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Castle Cross

I don't normally cut to the chase on my blog, but I'll make an exception today:
I won today. I f'ing won. (Read on if you need more detail than that)

Monday, October 19, 2009

Red Rocks Velo 'Cross

What a difference a week makes. Last weekend I was bundling up in all my warm cycling clothes. Yesterday I was sweating my tail off in a short-sleeved skinsuit for the Red Rocks Velo cyclocross race at Tony Grampsas Park in Golden.

The problem with racing on Sunday is that I have a tendency to workout too hard on Saturday and then I'm tired by Sunday's race. As I took a few warmup laps before my race, it was pretty clear I had overcooked things on Saturday. It was also clear that this was going to be a tough course for me. There were a lot of loose, bumpy, and off-camber corners. On top of that, there were two sand pits, and a steep staircase.

The only thing that save me on this race was the elevation gain. There were two long climbs on the course that turned the screws on most people. If you weren't already tired, these climbs were going to change that.

I had a decent starting position in the second row, but I didn't get a very good start. My legs didn't have the 'pop' necessary to get me off the line quickly so I just settled in well behind the leaders and waited patiently for people to blow-up. I made one bobble early by taking a corner too hot, but I kept it upright. Other than that, things were pretty smooth.

Round and round we went. I steadily caught and passed people, dirt caked on my face and on the roof of my mouth. Thankfully, Christine was there to hand up a water bottle to me every lap. Invaluable. Not so much necessary for hydration as it was for getting some moisture back in my dessert of a mouth.

I rode my way into 12th place. I was really hoping for a top 10, but give the difficulty of the course (for me) I'm happy with that. I like to think I earned the two apple fritters that I destroyed this morning. :)

Monday, October 12, 2009

Boulder CX #2 – Interlocken

Winter arrived just in time for the second race in the Boulder Cyclocross series. This one was at Interlocken in Broomfield. I’ve always like this course because it’s not particularly technical and it features a lot of energy zapping grass.

Our team has a tent that we’ll set up sometimes at cyclocross races. It’s nice for shelter if the weather gets nasty, but it also marks out our territory and gives us a nice place to hang. Ideally, different team members would take turns setting up the “Blue Sky Velo Compound”, but in reality it usually comes down to just a couple people that do it. I always feel bad about not being to help out with tent duties, so with Christine out of town I decided to spend the whole day down there and put in my time for the team.

I dressed pretty warm, but I was still pretty darn cold sitting outside. The weather man was predicting highs in the 40’s, but it lingered in the low 30’s most of the day. I spent some time in the car in the afternoon just to get warm.

I bundled up an hour before my race and headed out for some warmup laps. Surprisingly, I wasn’t too cold once I got working hard. Once of these days I hope to figure out how to keep my toes warm. On my warmup, my legs felt tired. Not sore, just dead. I figure it was from being out in the cold all day, or maybe from my “carbo-loading” the night before at the Crown Pub. Whatever the reason, I didn’t feel like starting in the front and clumsily getting in the way. I skipped my call-up and started near the back and talked shit with a couple friends.

The whistle blows, and it’s, of course, mayhem. There were a couple early crashes of from people rubbing wheels and locking up brakes on the wet grass. I was too busy laughing at my friends in front of me trading elbows into the first corner to notice. About halfway through the first lap, things were good and spread out and it was time for me to start picking people off. One thing I like about this course is that there is ample opportunity to pass. You’ll spend some energy riding through the thicker grass instead of the matted down race line, but the opportunity is almost always there.

My biggest problem on the day was getting clipped into my pedals after remounting. I had adjusted the position of my saddle Friday night, and this was my first time testing it out. I’m hoping that’s what led to my pedal fumbling and that I’ll take care of that with a little more practice this week. I messed up one time in the sand because I wasn’t clipped in, and I took a nice forearm to the back from somebody. I thought that was pretty lame, so as I was running, I made sure I cut him off. Never saw him again.

Coming into the final few turns, there were a couple people within reach. I took those corners as fast as I could and then outsprinted them to the line for 17th place out of 77 riders. I’m surprised, because I started pretty near the back. If I hadn’t wussed out on my call-up, I would have been top 10 for sure. Oh well, I’ll save it for next weekend.

I don't have any pics of me, but here's a teammate in the sand
chad_elmendorf (by ryan_l)

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

How a bike fit can scare the crap out of you

I went in to see bike fitting guru Andy Pruitt last Thursday to see if I could take care of some nagging leg pain that started late in the summer. He made some changes to my saddle position, and amazingly I could feel an immediate difference. We’ll see if that continues.

One other thing he did was x-ray my pelvis to see if there was something that would affect my hamstring pain. He noted a couple things: 1) My left leg is a centimeter longer than my right, and 2) I have a small protrusion around my hip socket. Nothing major there, it could just cause problems if I did a lot of running (similar to Christine’s issue actually). His recommendation, don’t become a runner. Done. You don’t have to ask me twice not to run.

When you get an x-ray at the Boulder Center for Sports Medicine, it automatically gets sent on to a radiologist so they can look at it from another perspective. Andy was looking for something specific to bike fit, but the radiologist has a different set of things to check out.

About an hour after I left their office, I got a call from Andy telling me that the radiologist saw something unusual in the L4/L5 lumbar region. Unusual meaning “tumor” or “mass”. Of course they say it’s “most likely” benign, but that doesn’t make me feel any better. They highly recommended that I get that checked out ASAP, so I had them schedule a MRI for me. They were able to get me in on Monday, and I’d have a follow-up to get the results on Tuesday.

So that left me feeling really uneasy all weekend. It’s one of those things that is hard to put out of your mind. Am I okay? Do I have a cancerous tumor growing inside me? Is my stomach upset because there’s a problem or is it psychosomatic? Am I sore from racing or something else?

Finally, Monday rolls around and I leave work early to go down to Boulder for my scan. The scan is pretty non-eventful. The worst part was that they needed to inject me with a contrast agent through an IV. I hate needles. But it wasn’t so bad. I felt really relaxed after getting the scan. That is, until I started thinking about how I needed to wait another day to find out if I was dying. When you can’t sleep, I recommend alcohol. Actually, I was a little sleepy from getting up early to take Christine to the airport, so I turned on my iPod with some soothing Harry Potter and drifted away.

This whole time, I hadn’t told Christine. For sure a bad idea, but I didn’t see any good that would come out of both of us worrying. Plus, she was about to take her mom to Paris, and I know she would have delayed her trip if she knew. Sorry C., you’re too damn selfless, and I couldn’t let this wreck your trip to croissant-land :)

The end.

Oh wait, I haven’t given you the punchline. I got a call this afternoon from Andy’s assistant. She said that the MRI looked normal and that I didn’t need to come down. A short while later, Andy called to give me the scoop. It turns out that I’m missing my L5 lumbar. I don’t know where it is, but let me know if you see it anywhere. I don’t know what the ramifications are of a missing L5. It’s unusual, but not unheard of.

So that’s it. I’m not dying (that I know of). I’m going to have a beer (or 6) to celebrate that fact.

Sunday, October 4, 2009


I raced yesterday in the Frisco CX. Things didn't quite go my way.

The course wasn't super technical but it had some stuff I found to be tricky. I wasn't feel super confident about bike my skills, but my legs at least felt good. Because of my decent finish in Breck a couple weeks ago, I got a call-up to the second row. The race starts on a long climb and I was determined not to squander this good start opportunity.

For once, I actually felt like I had a good start. I clipped in quickly and took off, holding my position into the first corner. I was surprised at how slow we were going through the early turns. Apparently I'm not the only one who wasn't feeling confident in bike handling.

I bobbled on a loose corner, and I couldn't figure out why. I took a good line, and wasn't doing anything different than my warmup laps. Then I bobbled again on a 180 corner. WTF? A couple more shitty corners later, and I noticed that my tire had gone flat. It must have been pretty bad earlier and I finally burped out all the air from my tubeless Ksyrium experiment.

This is the second year in a row where I had a mechanical on the first lap at Frisco. Maybe it's just not my place to race. :) I jogged to the pit and milled about for a bit while Dave K convinced me to take one of his wheels. I paid $25, I might as well use that course as a good practice. In the end, I somehow managed to pass half of the field and finish 29th out of about 60.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Originally uploaded by ryan_l

Monday, September 21, 2009

Weekend Racing

Cyclocross race season has started for me now. I did my first two races of the season in drastically different weather.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Road trip Montana

Last weekend, Christine and I took a road trip to a friend's wedding in Montana. Despite my efforts, we did not find Hannah.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Rist Canyon Hill Climb

When I saw this race on the calendar at the beginning of the year, I wrote it off because I didn’t want to do just a hill climb up Rist. When I found out that it was much more of a road race, I decided to do it. I haven’t trained seriously since June. It’s been hard with Christine’s schedule and I also wanted the summer off to do other fun things. I like to support a local race, so I was ready for some punishment.

The race starts out climbing immediately as you go from Masonville up to Horsetooth Mountain Park. I was wondering if anyone would hammer it from the start. It seems like there’s always “that guy”. This time “that guy” didn’t show up until we came around the reservoir. On a flat section, he attacked hard and then blew up spectacularly.

We hit the south dam and the real attacks started. There were big surges up all of the dam hills, but the group stayed largely intact to the bottom of Rist. I’m not sure how intact, because I was actually doing a decent job of staying near the front for once. I felt more comfortable in this pack than usual, so that was nice.

The pace up the lower parts of Rist were really reasonable. I felt comfortable, but the group wasn’t getting any smaller. Someone from H.A.R.T. threw in some really good accelerations that broke things up. I followed some of them, but I knew I was going to have a hard time accelerating like that right now. With the speeds slower speeds up Rist, drafting isn’t a huge issue, so it was better for me to go a constant speed than to try to match all of the accelerations.

As we came up on a steep section near the top, I just knew an attack was coming. I was completely gassed by that point and didn’t even try to go with them. My legs were cramping. A side cramp I’d had since near the beginning had turned into a tight back and I was struggling. I went into survival mode at that point and just tried to not let anyone pass me.

We hit the final steep switchbacks near the top, and I was really happy I put a 12x27 cassette on my bike. It’s hard to turn over the gears up there when the gradient is around 15%. I managed to hold my position and finish 7th. The caveat – I’d like to DQ two people in front of me that crossed the yellow line. :) I love how the ACA makes a big stink about the yellow line rule, and then rarely (it seems) enforce it with DQ’s.

I thought the pace was reasonable, but then I looked at the ride data at home. I climbed Rist in 50 minutes. Last year, I think I was doing around 52 minutes. Sick.

Allow me to gripe one more time. The results (again) were all screwed up. Maybe I’m a vampire, because this isn’t the first time I haven’t shown up on the initial results. I stuck around for a bit, and then went home, grabbed my moto, and went back to make sure they got my placing. I’m not generally all that concerned, but I’d at least like a record that I was there.

Cyclocross training starts.....now.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Drinkin time

I think Christine and I got 2 of the last tickets to the Saturday afternoon session at the Great American Beer Festival. I had been waiting to buy tickets because I wanted to see if I was racing that day. As it turns out, I'm not going to race that day, but I'm going to race the next day. Hmmm, racing with a hangover. Could be interesting.

When I went to order the beer tickets online, it would only let me buy one. I'm not going without Christine, so I gave them a call to see if it was possible to get two. They put me on hold for a few minutes then told me they "moved some things around", and I was able to order 2 tickets online. Kickass. The Saturday session is the "members only" session and we're hoping it's less of a cluster-f than the Saturday evening free-for-all we were part of last year.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Backpacking - Clear Lake

There aren’t a lot of places you can go in Colorado and be completely alone. Last weekend, Christine and I enjoyed having an alpine lake all to ourselves.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Stuart update

A number of people have asked me recently how Stuart is doing after getting drilled by a car. The update I got this morning from a local site is this:
Three weeks after being hit from behind while out on a training ride, Stuart Culp and his family have started down the long road to recovery. Stuart is currently at Kindred Hospital in Denver as he waits to begin his re-hab at Craig Hospital. He is out of his coma, standing with assistance and speaking however, his speech is nonsensical. Unfortunately, he still has no memory.

That's definitely better news than before. I'm so relieved to hear that he is out of his coma and on the road to recovery.

Sunday, August 2, 2009


Originally uploaded by ryan_l
After a Saturday morning bike ride, I settled in for some motorcycle wiring. I though I'd be able to finish and get everything reassembled in time for a Sunday ride, but it ended up taking way longer than I thought. I finally finished up Sunday after dinner. Well, I guess I'm not totally finished, because I have to order some more parts. But the remaining stuff should be quick and easy.

On Christine's BMW, I added an aux fuse box, a battery charging port, accessory power port, and heated jacket controls. On my V-Strom, I added a battery charging port, heated jacket controls, cigarette lighter accessory socket, Powerlet accesory socket, and a digital battery meter.

Eventually I'm sure I'll be happy to have my heated jacket. But with the thermometer at 90 today, I think I'll hold off on giving it a test run.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Sailing the Gulf Islands

Vacation. I love it. Christine and I took last week off to go visit Livia and Carol on their sailboat in Canada and sail in the Gulf Islands. I hadn't been on a boat in a long time and I had never sailed before, so it was sure to be an adventure.

Sailing away

Eventually I'll put together a worthy post about the week Christine and I spent with Livia and Carol sailing in the Gulf Islands. The short story: It was a great time. The weather was perfect (barely a cloud in the sky until Saturday), and we learned a lot about sailing. I now understand what it means when Livia tells me that they added a 3rd reefing line in the main.
Pictures and stories to follow. Stay tuned...

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Car vs. Bike

On Tuesday, someone on our lunch ride got hit by a car really bad.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Longmont Crit

I always spend a lot of time deciding whether or not to do a crit. It's a stressful event. Today I decided to line up for the Longmont crit and at least get some good exercise.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Garden 2009

I haven't talked much about the garden this year, but it's back in full force. We had some good early season success with spinach and radishes. I was too late on that last year, but I got seeds in the ground early this time. I left a radish in the ground just to see how big it would get. It ended up getting pretty large and it even flowered.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Vive le Tour

It's July, and that means it's time for the Tour de France! It's shaping up to be a good race and I can't wait to see how it all unfolds over the next 3 weeks. I brought in a satellite receiver to hook up to the TV at work so I could watch the stage finishes. I like to think it's helps my productivity. :) Plus it keeps me from burning bandwidth at work by watching online video streams.

If you've ever wanted to know about cycling (and stage races), now is a great time to watch the Tour. With Lance Armstrong racing again, the people at Versus know there are a lot of new viewers and they spend more time than usual explaining things (at least in these opening stages). And if you've got some more questions, you can fire them off to me.

Yesterday's stage was surprisingly interesting. It should have been a pretty straightforward stage with a sprint finish. Instead, one team (Columbia) caused a split in the group when they came into a crosswind. It was great to watch it all unfold. They lined up all of their guys on the front and formed an echelon that was just big enough for their team, leaving everyone else to suffer in the wind. (An echelon is a way of riding in a crosswind that allows riders to "hide" from the wind while one person takes most of it. It looks like a paceline that's been blown sideways.) The result was that all of the overall favorites (except Armstrong) lost time and Columbia's sprinter won the stage.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009


I got this in a fortune cookie yesterday:
"People who want to appear clever rely on memory. People who want to get things done make lists."

I'm lost without lists. Especially when it comes to packing. I get a lot of mileage out of packing lists for backpacking and bike races. I guess that means I like to get shit done.

Browns Lake

Christine and I got out for our first backpacking trip together in a long time. Looking through my old photos, I think our last trip may have been the Grand Canyon in October 2007. Wow. After that, Christine’s hip was beat up pretty good and she had hip surgery almost a year ago.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Ants - part 2

I'm pleased to report that I returned home yesterday and found no ants inside. There were some more amassing in the garage though, coming up through the cracks between concrete slabs. There weren't too many though. I hosed out them out and then went out and bought some ant killer and some concrete caulk to seal up the cracks. This morning, I was ant free. I think the invasion of 2009 is over, but I'll keep my troops at the ready for a while.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


I went out to the garage this morning to feed to dogs and found a couple dozen ants feeding on a piece of dog food that had landed on floor. I'm not a fan of having ants in my house so I opened the garage door to throw this nugget of food out and sweep out the ants. I think that was part of the ants' plan, because they had amassed an ARMY of ants along the garage door. An amazing sight.

They started crawling into the garage so I grabbed a broom to sweep them out. It was clear I needed to do something more drastic though, so I grabbed some bug killer and started spraying the cracks in the pavement they were coming out of. About this time, I realized that ants were crawling on the garage door. The garage door that was now above my head. Yes, ants were now attacking me from above too. (Have you started itching and scratching at phantom ants yet?)

I eventually finished what I could of my ant assault and went inside to eat my breakfast. It appears that some ants had hitched a ride and were following me inside the house. I found more crawling on me and the floor. I divided my breakfast time between squishing ants and trying not to eat cereal. After eating, I just had to take a shower to make sure there were no more on me. Good thing, because I found a few more hanging out on my jeans.

I've got my fingers crossed that I don't find any more of the little bastards when I go home tonight.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Glenwood Springs

Glenwood Springs

Christine and I spent last weekend in Glenwood Springs for some racing and hanging out and we had a great time.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

LASIK - 4.5 months later

I went in a couple days ago for my latest eye checkup. At this point, they say the healing is done and the vision I have now is what I get. So how good is it? I can easily read the 20/20 line and most of the 20/15 line on the Snellen chart. Compared to what I was before surgery (probably 20/500 or worse), I'm pretty damn happy.

Friday, June 5, 2009


Foot Xray
Originally uploaded by ryan_l
It's sort of funny when the doctor pulls up your xray record and finds xrays for a few body parts but not the one in question. He had shots of a hand, shoulder, and clavicle, but no foot.

I've been having a foot issue since last summer and I'm finally getting around to heading back to the doctor. The issue is that the bones in my feet spread out quite a bit and this causes me to get a callous on the outside of my foot. It's not the most painful thing in the world, but it keeps me from wearing super stylish Italian shoes. (And forget about those high heels I've always wanted.)

In the xray photo, he measured the angle between my 4th and 5th toes. It's around 10 degrees, and 5 degrees is normal. Also, the other two lines in the picture should line up in a straight line, but they clearly don't. For now, he's trying to correct the problem with a shoe insert. If that doesn't work, I'm going to tell him to chop the whole thing off. Feet are so overrated.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Toledo trip

I'm waiting at the Detroit airport with Christine for our flight home after a short trip to Toledo.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Louisville Crit

I woke up Saturday morning still not sure if I wanted to race. As I sat eating my breakfast, contemplating my day, I got an email from a friend - "Are you racing this morning." Eventually we convinced each other that the rain was going to hold off and that we should race.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Springtime in the Rockies

What's been going on this spring? Where do I start...

Riding at this time of year is nice. The weather is generally good and it's always fun to see the different baby animals. I've seen baby geese, baby cows, baby pelicans, baby horses, and more. In the full-sized department, I rode by a huge raptor yesterday that was picking at some roadkill. The downside of riding this time of year is all the bugs. You learn really quick to ride with your mouth closed.

Christine has been out of town with her new job a lot over the past month. That's why she hasn't posted much. She's really busy coming up to speed, and posting on LJ would eat up the time that she could be using to talk to me. It's a real drag for her to be gone, but the job is really cool and soon she'll be working from Colorado more. Last weekend I hung with her in Austin. News flash: Austin is hot. I rented a bike there and had a great time riding their rolling hills. Oxygen is a fantastic drug.

We have a fox (at least one) in our neighborhood and I've been seeing him a lot. I've been getting up around 5:30 most mornings and that must be a good time for foxes to wander. A couple times, I've just seen the fox wandering around the park. Last week I saw him on my way to work, and he was carrying a juicy rabbit. A couple times this week he ran down the side walk behind my house and Kuzca had a great time barking at him. Today was really cool, because I saw him chase down and catch a rabbit.

Things around the house are blooming just in time for Christine to come home for a long weekend. I have a small orange tree inside and its blooms smell fantastic. At the same time, the lilacs outside our front window are in full bloom. It's unreal how great that smells. I should plant more of them. The garden is planted. A lot of the same stuff as last year, plus some new things. Last year I missed the boat on planting spinach and radishes early, but this year they're looking good. I think we may eat some of the radishes this weekend. I really wanted more tomatoes last year, so now we have 5 plants worth. I planted one of them in a pot to see how it'd work out.

Racing has been minimal so far this year. The weather caused problems with the early races I wanted to do, and now with Christine gone all week the last thing I want to do is disappear for a day to race. I may do a crit tomorrow, or I may just ride around Fort Collins.

So that's what's happening. This weekend is Christine's birthday and we're going out to celebrate tomorrow with friends. We'll start easy with a little wine and dinner, but then it's no holds barred. Should be fun. Next weekend we head to Ohio to see family and friends. I haven't been back there in a long time.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Lookout Mountain Hill Climb

Yesterday I raced in the Lookout Mountain Hill Climb. It's only 4.5 miles, but the 1200 feet of climbing makes for a tough little climb. My main goal for this race was to beat my best time from a couple years ago of 22:04.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

F You, Penguin

I have to thank my brother for sending me to this gem of a site:
F*ck You, Penguin.

Makes me laugh every time. From today's post about Stingrays:
I know you think you are going to get me to come over there and give you a big hug, Stingray. And, yeah, I am pretty impressed with your winning smile, I'm not going to lie. But you have "sting" right there in your name. I mean, Manta Ray, no problem, let's hug like crazy.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Herb dealer

We have an herb dealer. Wait, it's not what you're thinking. He actually grows a ton of herbs in his house and he hooks us up with some fresh goods. We got this great basil plant from him last week:
2009-04-23 _01_basil_from_brian
I forget which kind of basil this is (he grows a ton of different varieties that I wouldn't be able to try elsewhere). He also hooked us up with some cilantro and various lettuce varieties. I put the basil to good use today and made some pesto for Christine and I. We put it on a little bread with some tomato and fresh mozzarella. So delicious!

For dinner, I made a yogurt based chicken marinade with (among other things) basil and cilantro. Really tasty. Looking forward to more fresh herbs to try.

Getting Dirty

We made dirt. We bought a tumbling composter last year and we've been throwing crap in it ever since. Today was the first time I've taken anything out of it. Normally, I wouldn't find dirt all that exciting, but it's cool to know that the nice nutrient rich food I just gave my garden would have otherwise become garbage.

It was interesting to see what stuff did and didn't break down. In addition to the normal organic scraps, we tossed some other things in there. A couple experiments were a wine cork and a wooden french fry fork (from Belgium). Both still looked brand new. I had also tossed some compostable cutlery, and it all decomposed. We tossed some shredded paper in there early on, and it composted pretty well except that it formed into small clay-like balls that I needed to break up by hand. I also found several mango pits. They didn't break down completely on their own, but I could easily crumble them with my hands. Same with corn cobs. Peach pits didn't break down much at all. Neither did some small branches that we put in.

Now our composter is just about empty and I'm ready to get back to tossing our would-be garbage in there.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Air Force Academy Road Race

I raced the AFA RR yesterday. I finally feel like I had a decent race this season.

Thankfully, the weather cooperated enough for the race. It was a cold start at 7:50AM, but the roads were clear with only a few puddles to splash through. Lucky for the other riders, Dave, Austin, and were looking so hot in our new kits that it warmed up the rest of the group.

For the first lap, I sat on the front. Not a great idea from an energy saving standpoint, but it was nice to keep a reasonable tempo up there and prevent people from getting too worked up about any early escape attempts (of which there were several).

On the second lap, I settled in near the back of our shrunken group. It was more sketchy back there, but it was also easier not being out front. On the long climb up Pine Dr, people made some surges. I was able to stay with the group, but I could tell I was getting tired. Apparently some other people were getting tired too, because there was 1 crash and another near crash on this lap.

As expected, things really heated up on the third and final lap. On the downhill sections, people were throwing in attacks and I had to work hard to stay with them. It certainly softened me up. I had to laugh a bit when one person launched a counter attack only to be chased down by his teammate. Classic.

We turned on to Pine, and there was a calm before the storm. I knew the attacks were coming and I knew I didn't have the legs. I stayed with the first few and then I finally popped and rode to the finish solo for 12th place. Dave finished in the 20's and Austin in the 30's.

The first year I did this race I got dropped on the first lap. Last year I got dropped on the second lap. This year I got dropped on the third lap. I don't like to get dropped, but at least I can say I'm making year to year progress. I'll have to work on my accelerations on climbs for next year.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

All dressed up and noplace to go

I had planned on racing both days this weekend, but the weather had something else in mind. I woke up to some snow on the ground Saturday morning and knew that I was destined for the indoor trainer. About the only thing that makes indoor rides bearable is when I'm doing intervals. At least then I have some suffering to keep me company. I did some 20 minute Z4 intervals and some shorter Z5 intervals while watching Milk*.

Saturday night, I hoped for the best and packed up my stuff for a race Sunday morning. I woke up on Sunday and the roads were dry in Fort Collins, but not Golden (where the race was happening). I eventually decided to ride around home instead of waiting for them to decide whether or not they were going to actually have a race.

It was chilly, but I'm glad I got out. I did 2+ hours and had a good time doing it. I saw only one other rider, but several runners for some reason. It was quite odd. As I rode across the dams at Horsetooth reservior I saw about a dozen runners.

The dog was feeling a little be rejected when I got home so I called up my friend and had a dog play session. Kuzca and Marlo get along famously. It's awesome to see them play together because Kuzca doesn't get along with lot of dogs, but there's never a problem with Marlo.

Kuzca and Marlo

I rounded out the evening by wathcing the Tour of Flanders (Ronde van Vlaanderen)). It's always been a cool race to watch because its covered in cobblestones and a real tough riders race. It's even cooler now that I've been to Belgium and know the area they're riding. Looking at the race map today brought me back to our Belgium trip. Man, I'd love to go back there. After much indecision staring at the beer in our basement, I finally chose a nice Rochefort 10 for my race drink. I felt guilty about depleting our Belgian stash while Christine was out of town, so I switched to the decidedly American Jack Daniels when I finished the beer.

Watching Tour of Flanders

*Milk was great. I had never heard of Harvey Milk before this movie. In some ways it feels like there has been a lot of progress made in gay rights, but on the other hand it's obvious there's a long way to go. I'm glad there are people like Harvey Milk who have the ability put themselves out there like that and fight for what they feel is right. I'm not saying he was a saint, but I'm thankful for the change he was able to bring.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Mad Cow 2009

Wind and suffering were the name of the game for me at the Mad Cow Classic in Grand Junction last weekend. This year the race organizers made some fun changes. To start with, they added a hill climb at the Colorado National Monument on Saturday morning. I skipped it this year, but hopefully I can do it next year. Another change for this year was moving the criterium to Saturday and holding it at the Grand Junction Motor Speedway. The speedway is a go-kart track and a pretty cool place to have a race.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The airport late night

When I flew back from Seattle, I got into DIA around midnight. The airport is pretty much dead at that point. All is quiet....except for those f-ing announcements about the "threat level". Hey TSA, it's f-ing midnight, I've got a raging headache, and nobody gives a rats ass that the threat level is orange. I don't need to hear echoing announcements about how I shouldn't leave baggage unattended. WE GOT IT.

I felt sorry for the handfuls of people who were sleeping on the floor (presumably because they had an early morning flight). Special note for the homeless: get a suitcase and then you can just sleep inside at the airport.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

What's up

I'm taking a mental break from work, so here's what going on lately:

I went to Seattle last weekend to hang with Christine while she's there for work. Sucky for me, I started getting sick Friday afternoon and by the time I got to Seattle I was in full-on grumpy sick mode. I can usually kick a cold pretty quick, but that's when I'm not stuck in cold wet Seattle. Seattle has a cool vibe, but if I lived there I would have already sold my bike and taken up video gaming.

On of our friends was also in Seattle for a bike show, so we met up with him a couple times for dinner and at the bike show. The bike show was pretty disappointing. The vast majority of it seemed like local cycling groups promoting either their club or upcoming rides. Cool for the locals, useless to me. I did see a shaft driven bicycle, though, and that was kind of cool.

The timing worked out such that Livia and Carol sailed to Anacortes over the weekend and we were able to meet them at the marina. We finally got to see the boat in person and it's pretty cool. Carol even made us crepes. It's up to the next visitors to keep upping the ante so by the time we go back out this summer he'll be making us full-on crazy meals.

It was cold, rainy, snowy, and windy in Seattle. Definitely not good for getting over an illness. I'm happy to be home in the sunny, 70 degree weather. Christine will be following soon.

This weekend is one of my favorite races. I should get pretty slaughtered out there, but I'm going anyway because it's a great course and I need to remind them that it should be run in April or May, not March. I feel like I'm constantly playing catchup on training this year and this sickness is taking the piss out of me. I've got 2 teammates going out this year too, which is a first. Hopefully I can help them out in the road race (I already know the crit is a lost cause for me).

Sunday, March 8, 2009

14-speed blender

We have a blender with 14 speeds. Fourteen. What am I supposed to do with 14 different speeds? Is there really that much difference between "Whip" and "Mix"? Maybe my blending needs aren't precise enough to appreciate 10RPM differences in blending speed.

Saturday, March 7, 2009


Hooray for new toys!


My baby is very refined and classy, so she'll be riding a BMW F650GS. It's a super cool bike and it's factory lowered. (I may sneak a few ride on it too.)


Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Race season 09

I kicked off my '09 campaign last weekend at the CSU crit. Me and crits have never gotten along all that well but I'm working on it. At the very least, I wanted to go out and support one of the few local Fort Collins races. I even worked registration all morning.

The beginning of the race was a cluster-fuck of people trying to clip into pedals. We're all rusty, so that's forgivable. A bunch of people zoomed past me as I was stuck behind people getting clipped in. I was probably in the top 10-15 as we got to the first corners and there was some pretty sketchy bike-handling and cornering skills. I saw some people taking some dangerous lines and braking into and through (!!!) corners. Scary stuff. The sound of squealing brakes on carbon wheels is not a sound I enjoy. I feel like it sort of took me out mentally and I just ended up letting myself drift to the back.

Riding at the back of a crit is hard work. The speed surges are killer, but at least I could play with different lines through corners without getting in anyone's way. As the race wore on, I found myself having to close lots of gaps around people that were getting dropped. Eventually the rubberband that was holding me on to the back of the pack broke and I lost contact on the last lap.

Not exactly a stellar results, but I got in a good workout and I finished rubber side down. It felt good to be out racing again, regardless of what shape I'm in right now.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Clark Peak Yurt

We just got back from a weekend trip to the Clark Peark Yurt in the Colorado State Forest State Park. Unfortunately, this post is light on pictures because I dropped my camera Saturday night. It still works for the most part, but I didn't feel like fussing with it.

The weather was awesome. Saturday night we got a little bit of snow, and Sunday was full of calm blue skies. An absolutely beautiful day to be out in the snow. Owen, Erin, and I went up to Ruby Jewel lake where we enjoyed an amazing view of the mountains. Owen is a walking map, and it's always great to have him point out and name all the mountains we can see. From our vantage point at Ruby Jewel, we could see all the way to the Flat Tops.

The evenings were full of drinking, card games, and laughing. I don't think I won a game of Uno all weekend, but Owen and I did manage to beat Christine and Erin at euchre (after the slaughtered us the previous game).

Good times. Now it's time to rest for the evening and the bid farewell to my London bound wife. Bachelor life for me again. :(

A self portrait at the yurt:

Owen posted some of his pictures from the trip. He brought his Canon Rebel XT with a wide angle lens

Here are a few favorites
I can't believe how blue the sky is:

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Kuzca and her Kong

Not only is it a good treat distribution device, it doubles as a pillow:
Kuzca and her Kong

"Oh how I wish someone would fill this thing up" she dreams.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Ski day for the reconstructed

Christine and I packed up the party mobile this morning and took to the slopes of Loveland. I, with my modified eyes and clavicle, her with her modified hip. The traffic was surprisingly light this morning. I'm not sure if it was because of the lack of snow, or the proximity to a holiday weekend, or whatever. It was pretty nice though. Crowds on the slope were nil.

We thought it best not to push Christine's new hip too much and we threw in the towel after a half day. Then we drove to the top of Loveland Pass and ran around with Kuzca (and some wicked wind).

(Note for anyone local going to Loveland: There's a Loveland coupon in the E-book: 2 adult tickets for $70. I think E-books are still available at King Soopers for $10.)

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Skiing. Finally

I finally got out for my first ski day of the season last Saturday. Jeff Kehoe and I went up to Hotdog Bowl and enjoyed a day without sharing the trail with anyone else. It was pretty awesome. Neither of us know the trail, so we sort of made it up as we went along until we got to the bowl.

Avalanche danger was a little sketchy so we were careful to avoid high angle slopes and picked our routes carefully. We ended up climbing to the top of a ridge and enjoyed an amazing view on a clear day before skiing back to the car. It was more of a touring day than a ski day, and it was quite fun.

Nokhu Craigs:
2009-01-31_13_nokhu craigs

Untracked Snow:
2009-01-31_03_untracked snow

Evidence of recent avalanche activity:
2009-01-31_10_avalanche debris

Self portrait

Friday, January 30, 2009

The Wrestler

I saw The Wrestler last night. I probably would have passed it up, but it's getting 98% on Rotten Tomatoes, and of course Mickey Rourke is up for an Academy Award.

My review - I'd like my $8 and 2 hours back.

Mickey Rourke, for sure, does a great job portraying a has-been wrestler who's struggling through many issues. Too bad it's a good role in a poor movie with a lot of predictable relationships and dialog. Perhaps the most redeeming (and surprising) element of this movie is a topless Marisa Tomei.

On some level, the movie is interesting. It's just boring. It feels like a documentary, but if I want a documentary, I'll just watch a documentary.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

New Belgium Dark Kriek

New Belgium Dark Kriek New Belgium Dark Kriek

Let's take a moment to examine these photos:
  • This is the new "Lips of Faith" brew from New Belgium called Dark Kriek. I don't know if they've ever bottled any of their Lips of Faith brews before.

  • Check out the screen printed bomber bottle. This is the first time that I know of that New Belgium screen printed a bottle (besides the growlers).

  • They used the old school design on the caps. I don't know if they made new ones or if they found a bunch of old ones.

I haven't tried it yet, but I have a couple waiting in the fridge.



Friday, January 23, 2009

I can see clearly now...

I had LASIK yesterday. I don't know how good my vision is yet (I'm going in soon for my 1 day follow up), but it's good so far. Among my senses, I would probably hate to lose vision the most so I was a little nervous about letting someone cut open my eye. But they do so many of these things now that it's not really a big deal.

I hadn't told a lot of people I was getting LASIK because everyone loves to share horror stories. I don't actually know somebody who had trouble with the surgery, but that doesn't stop people from telling stories they've heard. And of course everyone's an expert (whether they've never had the surgery, or only had it once). So if you're upset that you didn't know someone was going to cut a flap on my eye, flip it open, and fire a laser inside, I'm sorry.

The whole event wasn't without hassles. I was scheduled for surgery at 12:30 and we arrived at the surgical center a little before 12. The receptionist looked confused. I told her I was there for surgery and she said they didn't do surgery at the Loveland office on Fridays. She fumbled around the computer a bit and figured out that they scheduled me in Denver. I still wanted surgery, she she was able to make me an appointment in Denver for 2PM. I then asked about the 1-day follow up, and she said it was scheduled in Loveland.

We made it down to the Denver office early and they actually got me started on all the testing early. When it came time to talk about the follow-up, I asked to make sure it was in Loveland. She said no, there are no doctors at the Loveland office on Saturday. Awesome. I'm feeling really confident about their organizational skills at this point. I told her we specifically asked about that and she disappeared for a bit to make things happen. They're having a doctor drive up to Loveland for me.

The surgery was super easy. Maybe it was the Valium they gave me, but I was pretty relaxed. They give you lots of numbing drops so you don't feel anything. They put your eyeball under vacuum while they cut the flap and that was kind of weird. Your vision slowly goes away. When they peel the flap back, the vision gets blurry. Then they fire away with the laser, put the flap back and get it into place. That's it. About 5 minutes per eye. I don't know who figured out that you could do this with an eye, but it's pretty amazing.

Off to my check-up now...

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Clif bar recall

Clif Bar is voluntarily recalling several of their products due to the recent salmonella outbreak from peanuts. Check to see if the ones in your cupboard are on this list:

We had a few in our stash at home, and this one that's now in my belly. Whoops.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Off camber

An off camber corner is one that is banked outwards. Think of it as the opposite of a nicely banked NASCAR corner, where the banking helps improves your cornering ability.

Off camber corners in the snow are a great way to meet a curb. If you try to take an off camber corner in the snow at the same speed you'd take a normal corner, there's a good chance that you're going to slide out. There are people in my neighborhood who have trouble with this concept.

A lot (maybe even most) roundabouts are off-camber for drainage reasons (so water doesn't pool up in the middle). If there's as little as an inch of new snow in my neighborhood, I can be almost guaranteed that there will be tire tracks up and over the curbs on the outside of our roundabout. I figured that eventually trial and error would educate all of the drivers in my neighborhood, but after several years people are still nailing the curb. I suppose it doesn't much matter if you're in a truck, but you're likely to damage a rim (or worse) in a car. Regardless, it makes me chuckle every time. The tracks I find the most amusing are the ones that go all the way to the curb and then abruptly stop.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Beer Pouring Ritual

What? You're not sick of hearing about Belgium yet?

In Belgium, there’s a little more to receiving a beer than pulling a pint glass of questionable cleanliness off a shelf and dumping some beer into it (which I would argue is what usually happens in the US). It feels a little more ritualistic, and the ritual starts after you select your beer.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Belgium - Part 5

World Cup Cyclocross
What luck (for me), there was a world cup cyclocross race in Zolder the day after Christmas. Cyclocross is a completely different animal in Europe. It draws big crowds, and even more so for a World Cup event. Even at €14 per person, there were easily a few thousand people there.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Belgium - part 4

Ghent from our hotel room
Christmas eve day was light for us. Our main target was to get to Ghent where we’d be staying for the next 2 nights at a posh hotel near the city center. Along the way, we decided to stop in the tasting room of Ellezelloise (pronounced el-zel-woz) since we enjoyed their Hercule stout so much. It was a rather large tasting room and I bet they pull in a nice crowd in the summer. Today, however, we were the only two there. We sampled their other beers and bought some to take with us. They were recently bought by another brewery, so we also picked up some beers from the new owners for tasting later. You know, just in case we couldn’t find any beer on Christmas day. Oh the horror that would be.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Belgium - part 3

Rodenbach, Westvleteren, Silly
December 23rd was an exciting day and one of the few pre-planned things on the trip: a tour of Rodenbach. Rodenbach makes a delicious beer they call Grand Cru and I don’t know if it’s available in the US right now. Therefore, we needed to make a trip to the mothership and bring some home.

Clavicle update

It's been 6.5 weeks since I broke my collarbone, and I went back to the doctor today for one more x-ray. I forgot to get a copy of the x-ray this time, but it looks pretty similar to the last one.

I told the doctor I was hoping it would have looked better than that, but he said everything looked great. He pointed out to me how the ends of bones are smoother which indicates that new bone is growing. He also explained to me that calcification is one of the final things to occur in new bone, and that's why it still looks like the bone is broken in the x-ray. There is in fact new bone and he proved it by pushing on the bone and seeing both ends of it move together.

So I guess that's good news. He said I can do some skiing, but stay off the bumps for a bit. It would take a pretty good fall for the bone to re-brake at this point. He also said I can ride my bike outside but that I should wait a bit before I try the new indoor track in Boulder.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Belgium - part 2

Winter Markets
The best thing about traveling around during the holiday season was that there were winter markets or festivals seemingly everywhere we stopped. After leaving Brussels (and stopping at a great café), we stopped in a small town for lunch and they were having a festival complete with drumming marching Santas. We had our first (of several) bratwursts here while we walked around.

Monday, January 5, 2009

The beers we tried

Here is the list of beers we tried in Belgium:

Sunday, January 4, 2009

In de Verzekering Tegen de Grote Dorst

In de Verzekering Tegen de Grote Dorst translates to “Insurance Against Great Thirst” and it’s the name of our favorite café from our Belgium trip. The place was slated to close down in 1999 when the original owner retired after 51 years, but the Paneel family (the brothers Kurt and Yves, and their parents Lydia and Maurice) stepped up to run the place and I’m glad they did.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Belgium - part 1

(My trip report for Belgium has quickly grown out of control, so I'm going to split it up into several posts. Stay tuned for more. There's a selection of photos up on Flickr. You can also click on any of the photos here to see a larger version.)

I’m not sure where the idea for a trip to Belgium came from. Christine was going to be working in London and we decided it would be cool to have me meet her somewhere in Europe and spend Christmas there. We must have drinking beer, because a beer tour through Belgium came up and a trip was born.