Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Grand Canyon

We've been back from the Grand Canyon for over a week now and a lot of people have asked to hear about the trip. Eventually I'll have much more to say, but I want to make sure I have time to do it justice.

In short it was amazing. This is my third trip through the Grand Canyon on a raft, and each time I come away with something different. This was my first oar trip, and moving down the river with nothing but the sound of the oars creaking in the oar locks is a beautiful thing.

I'll probably type up and post my journal like I did last time, and I kind of hope to do more of a summary post prior to that. Stay tuned.

Self portrait from Bass Trail

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Back in the saddle

Back from vacation, it's time get on with the riding. Early on this year, I kind of figured that I wouldn't do as much cyclocross racing this year as last year. So far, I think I'm right. The long vacation has kind of gotten me out of the training groove. But cyclocross is fun regardless of your fitness level. Unlike a criterium, where getting dropped in the first lap means your race is over, in a 'cross race you're still out there having a good time by yourself.

My race start time wasn't until 4PM so I had plenty of time to sleep in before heading out to a new venue in Allenspark. The course had all sorts of technical features that made it a challenge for a slacker like me. It wasn't "scary" technical, but "fun" technical. I wish I had a course like that to practice on near home. I'm sure it exists, I just need to find it.

Since I missed the only points race of the season so far, I wasn't getting a call-up to the start line. It's probably better that way, since I'm feeling kind of slow. Instead, I pretty much started at the back and took it easy for the first lap. After that, I hit the gas, and started having some fun. I had a couple mechanical issues - dropped chain, pedal issues, and a front derailleur that wasn't adjust right, but whatever. Not sure where I finished, but I had a good time. Fun to have some teammates on the sidelines cheering/heckling.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Green Mountain Sports CX #1

Time for another race season. My season opener this year, as it was last year, was the Green Mountain Sports CX in Golden.

I started the day out by working as an official. This is a new thing for me. For the past few years, I've wanted to do some officiating and I finally made the time to take the test this spring. Why would I want to do such a thankless job? I feel like it's a good chance for me to do something to support the sport besides just showing up in lycra. I don't know how to balance racing and officiating just yet, but I'm giving it a try.

There are some racers who understand the officials and the thankless work they do, and there are those that don't. The latter should spend some time with the officials some day so they can learn to not be such pricks. (Thankfully, that's a small number of racers.) On the flip-side, I wish all officials would suit up and do some racing. There are things that may not be apparent to a non-racing official but may be obvious if they saw things from the other side of the scorers table. In the end, I think our officials do a fantastic job day-in and day-out and we wouldn't be able to have safe and fair competition without them.

A little side note about appreciative racers: I've volunteered at a few CX races before and now worked as an official, and generally you'll get some "thank you's" from participants. It's much appreciated. Yesterday as he crossed the finish line after an hour long suffer-fest, Aaron Bouplon used some precious breaths to thank the officials. I don't know Boops, but he always seems super nice at the races and really appreciates being able to race. I've heard him share his thanks on many occasions, and it's a really nice gesture.

On to the race. I took off my officiating hat, put on my lycra, and set out on the course for some warmup laps. In record high heat (90+), I don't know if "warmup" is the right term. I usually like to take a couple laps a low speed and then do some stuff at race pace to pick my lines and open up my legs. I just couldn't seem to get my engine to turn over in the heat. I was a little drained from being out in the sun all day (oh, and an Ommegang brewmaster's dinner the night before didn't help).

They used last years results to do call-ups, so I actually got the front row. My plan was to just settle in mid pack the first couple laps and then find some motivation to "race".

It's a tricky course for me - really loose and bumpy. I wish I could find something near-by to practice corning in loose dirt like that because I know I was going way too slow for a lot of sections. In addition to the loosyness, good passing sections were also limited. That made it really easy for me to get complacent, sit on someone's wheel for a while and recover until there was a good place for me to pass.

I was really unmotivated to race until someone near the start/finish was trying to encourage his friend to drop me. Then he had to go and say the Velonews magazine (my team) sucked. I decided that was good time to start going hard and I put at least 30 seconds into that dude that lap. Sometimes it's all about finding a reason to go hard. :)

I finished in the top 15, which surprised me. I'm on racing hiatus until mid-October. I probably won't be that fit, and I probably wont be that motivated to train, but I still hope to get out there and dominate the mid-pack. :)

Monday, August 30, 2010

Moto to Flagstaff??

Apparently, not everyone got the memo that Christine and I are going to ride our motorcycles to Flagstaff, AZ. That's probably because I never sent the memo.

A year and a half ago, Christine and I booked ourselves on a raft trip through the Grand Canyon. I've done it before (twice in fact), but on the last trip I just knew that it was something Christine needed to do. I recently looked through my journal from the last trip and these were the last words I wrote:

I need to take another Grand Canyon vacation. An oar trip next time though.

So that what we're doing. A 16-day float trip through the Grand Canyon with ample time for hiking to some amazing places from the river.

How could we possibly make this trip better? Motorcycles. We're going to ride our motorcycles down. We'll ride from Fort Collins to Durango one day and from Durango to Flagstaff the next. We've never taken a trip like this, so I have no idea how it's going to work out. If all else fails, we park the bikes somewhere and rent a car.

The bikes are equipped and ready to go. Maybe this trip is just an excuse to tinker with the bikes. Here are some of the things we've added:
- Cruise Control / Throttle Lock
- Extra tool storage
- Aux fuse box
- Heated jackets
- Highway pegs
- Bike-to-bike intercom
- Power jacks for jackets, cell phones, gps, etc.

I'm excited to get rolling.

Moto mayhem

In a few weeks, Christine and I will embark on our longest motorcycle ride to date: Fort Collins to Flagstaff. We've been busy getting our bikes and gear ready for the long haul.

I've spent a lot of time in the garage over the past week installing cruise control on my bike. Not a throttle lock, but full-on cruise control. Conceptually it's pretty simple. There's a control unit that can tug on the throttle as it monitors speed, tach, and brake. As you might expect, it's a little involved to hook it all up.

It started with a teardown of the bike. I had to remove most of the body panels, the gas tank, the air cleaner (harder than it sounds), and even the throttle bodies. Having never taken that much off the bike, it was a little scary and I often wondered if it would all go back together. From there, I had to hook up the control unit and all of the wires. Sounds simple in words, but it took a long time and several trips to the hardware store.

2010-08-21_02_bike disassembled

Finally it was time to put things back together and cross my fingers. Once I got far enough along in the reassembly I could hook up the battery and test my wiring. So far so good, everything seemed to be working. Then I finished putting the bike together and started it up. The first time I tried to start it, I had forgotten to hook up the fuel line to the throttle body and the fuel pump spit a bunch of gas on me. Nice. After rectifying that situation, the bike started up and ran perfectly. Pretty exciting.

Then comes the scary part - a test ride. I put on all of my gear and set out to see what happens when you let a computer (and a marginally competent engineer) mess with your throttle. I got out on an open road near the house and hit the "set" button. To my amusement, I could feel the computer take ahold of the throttle and maintain my speed. It was super sweet. I tested out all the other features and everything worked great. I'm ready for some long highway miles. I still have some finishing work to do (like mounting the control pad), but it's mostly done.

In addition to the work on my bike, I made a couple modifications to Christine's. She wanted to be able to stretch her legs out a bit while riding, so I added some highway pegs. That's still a work in progress as we try to find a position that's comfortable for her. I'm not ready to tackle the cruise control install on her bike, but for now I've installed a throttle lock. Unlike cruise control, it takes some adjusting as you ride, but it will help give the throttle hand some relief.

On the wardrobe side, Christine had some height added to her boots. Even with a lowered bike, it's hard for her to get her feet down. The added bit of sole really helps.
Christine's Gene Simmons moto boots
And to top it all off, we added some new white leather pants and a white leather jacket. Hotness ensued.
2010-08-29_01_ready for a bike ride

Friday, August 20, 2010

Weight weenie

When it comes to camping, Christine is a weight weenie.

As we were packing up to leave, she was debating on whether or not to bring her flip-flops for lounging around camp. She decided not to bring them because she didn't want the extra weight. (I don't know how much flip-flops weigh, but I'd guess you measure it in ounces.)

Later that night, she pulls an electric toothbrush out of her bag. It was awesome. We all have our favorite luxury items. Hers is a toothbrush.

(Mine is a wife. Does that count as a luxury "item"? I don't care. I don't like going camping without that bit of luxury. But I am glad I don't have to carry her...often.)

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Browns Lake

It's the middle of August, and Christine and I finally went on our first backpacking trip of the year. Yeah, I suppose we "camped" during the Bicycle Tour of Colorado, but I don't think that counts. :)

After work on Friday, Christine and I drove up to Pingre Park road to car camp for the evening. That area gets a little crowded on the weekend, but we found a cool campsite off the road behind some big rocks.
Campsite from above

Saturday morning we took a short drive down Crown Point road to the Browns Lake trailhead. We've hike to Browns Lake several times, and it's always nice to get back to an old favorite. Even though we didn't get there until Saturday afternoon, we managed to get our favorite camp site in the area. It's away from the other sites (camping only in designated sites here), and there's plenty of space.

In the past, I've caught a lot of really nice fish here. This time, I didn't have much luck. I caught a couple decent ones, and a couple that were so small I didn't know how they get on the hook.

Sunday morning we lazily slept in and cooked up some eggs for breakfast. We don't normally cook eggs because it's a bit of a pain. This time, we steamed them with spinach and cheese in these funny silicon cupcake cups. It worked great.
Egg breakfast

We didn't stick around long. Christine had a flight to catch, so we got out of there right after breakfast and headed home. I wish we could have spent more time out, but we'll take what we can get. It was a great time.


Ryan catches a fish

Sunday, July 18, 2010

A win for the team

Yesterday was the Prospect crit. I've been wanting to do this race for that past couple years, but it hasn't worked out until this year. It's a cool course through a neighborhood in Longmont, which is way more interesting than the usual office park criterium.

Go-time was 2:20, and it was damn hot. It's a tight course, so I made sure to line up on the front row. The race started out with a neutral lap as we followed a pace car from one of the sponsors. After that, it was game on. I was tucked in mid-pack and feeling okay. The pace slowed down after 10 minutes, and I decided I should try to stir things up. Just then, my teammate attacked the field.

I moved up to about 4th wheel so I could be sure to follow any chasers. It was pretty early in the race for a solo breakaway, so nobody was really motivated to chase. I eventually worked my way up to the front and drove an easy pace to let my teammate's lead grow. I was pretty surprised that people were willing to let me sit on the front and disrupt any chase. For the rest of the race, I was either on the front of the chase group, or close to it. People were happy to have me on the front to "work". It was great.

As the race was winding down, I was sure that we weren't going to catch my teammate, and then I head someone in crowd say we could get lapped. Awesome, I thought. Zac caught up with us, and I dropped back to shepherd him past everyone and all the way up to the front. It was really quite awesome.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Races and proposals

Saturday I raced in the North Boulder Park Crit, my first crit in a while. Fitness wise, I felt really good. I was never, as Paul Sherwin would say, in a "spot of bother". Yet, my I didn't feel good skill-wise/mentally. It was odd. I need to get out and do some skills work or something. On the plus side, my teammate won. I only wish I could feel like I contributed, but really he was just that damn strong.

Sunday morning Christine and I went down to the Boulder Reservoir to watch my friend Matt compete in the Peak Tri. Really, we weren't there entirely to watch him compete. He tipped me off a couple weeks ago that he was going to propose to his girlfriend (another good friend of mine), so I just had to be there.

We got to the Boulder Reservoir in time to see Matt finish the bike leg of the race and then we hung out in the shade while he ran his 10k. As the time neared for him to be almost done we made our way over to the finish area. I was actually nervous. Not because I didn't think she'd say yes, but because I wanted everything to go according to plan.

A couple weeks ago, he had a T-shirt printed up that said "Mari Marry Me??", and the plan was to put that on towards the end of the run. Mari, of course, was wondering why it took him longer on his run than usual. :) He came around the corner wearing his new shirt, and she was at first confused that he was wearing something different. Then she read it, and emotion ensued. It was great. Matt went through the finish line, then pulled the ring out of his pocket.

Matt running with his new shirt:

Mari realizes, as she's taking a picture, what Matt's shirt says:

The reaction:

At the finish:

Monday, July 5, 2010

2010 BTC - Days 6 & 7

Day 6 Pagosa Springs to Center
After a good day off, I was really looking forward to this ride. All the climbing came early in the day, and then it was a nice ride into Center (with a headwind of course).

About 10 miles into the day, I got a flat. A staple went all the way through my tire. There must have been a lot of debris on the road because it sounded like a lot of people had flats. Just as I was finishing my tube change, a few friends rolled by and I rode with them to the first aid station of the day. From there, it was a solid climb up to Wold Creek Pass. It was a great climb. It was really constant, and never got super steep. I just got into the groove and cruised on up. It was sunny, calm, and beautiful. And then, finally, a nice descent. I thoroughly enjoyed heading down the other side.

The rest of the day was pretty non-descript. Once we got into South Fork, it was pretty flat into Center.

Day 6:
Miles: 76.39
Ride Time: 4:15:39
Out Time: 5:09:55
Climbing: 5072
Calories: 2507

Day 7 Center to Gunnison
The final frontier. One last long day, and then the week of fun riding would be over. We slept in, and I'm pretty sure we were the last people out of camp. Some people *really* love to get up at 4AM and get ready to ride I guess. Christine had taken a couple days off to see if her knee could recover and today I really wanted to finish the week with her.

We rode together to the first aid station and things were going okay. We weren't pushing hard, but her knee was holding up find. Once the road start to tip upwards, Christine knee wasn't happy. She wasn't going to be able to do the whole ride. We nursed it to the second aid station and then she rode the SAG wagon to the top of the day's climb. I biked up the climb and met her at the summit. It was a surprisingly difficult climb. There was, of course, a strong wind to contend with, but it was also just a tiring climb. The first 10 miles of it were kind of ugly and wide open. once we got into a bit of a canyon, it was much nicer.

At the top, I hopped into the SAG wagon with Christine. It felt a little dirty taking a ride. In the end, I'm kind of glad, because I heard the wind going into Gunnison was really killer. :)

Day 7:
Miles: 55.71
Ride Time: 3:40:40
Out Time: 4:15:40
Climbing: 3721
Calories: 1883

So that's it. One week of riding, lots of miles, and I'm still catching back up with stuff around home.

2010 BTC - Days 4 & 5

Day 4 Chama, NM to Pagosa Springs

Finally, the "easy" day was here: less than 50 miles. My plan was to ride with Christine and chill, but she had hurt her knee from all the riding. I rode with her and her parents to the first aid station and then went on ahead to catch the rest of the people from our group. I eventually caught up with Angela and Katie and rode with them to Pagosa Springs. It was a beautiful day. What a nice day to have a short ride and enjoy the scenery.

The camping setup in Pagosa Springs looked pretty sweet, but Christine and I had booked a hotel. Day 5 was a rest day, and we figured it would be nice to sleep in an actual bed and use a real shower. We were right. :)

Lucky for us, our hotel was near Pagosa Springs brewing. We split a sampler platter, which included a 4 ounce pour of all of their beers. All 15 of their beers. That's a lot of beer to try, and surprisingly it was all pretty good.

Pagosa Brewing sampler platter

Day 4:
Miles: 48.86
Ride Time: 2:58:37
Out Time: 4:01:33
Climbing: 2620
Calories: 1206

Day 5 Rest day
Ahhhhh rest. We did a whole lotta nothin. Except go back to the brewery for more beer and food.

Christine knows how to put the "rest" in "rest day"
Christine's rest day

2010 BTC - Days 2 & 3

Day 2 Creede to Alamosa
Today was a mostly flat to downhill day and I don't think I got out of my big ring all day. I was cruising along solo for a while making some good time. At the first aid station, I met up with some fast friends and we motored the rest of the day. We rode hard, and even managed to take it up to 30 mph in a headwind. I was very happy that we had a tailwind for the last 10 miles into Alamosa because I needed the rest.

The camping in Alamosa was probably the nicest of the tour. We were in a big, soft grass field, and we had access to the school where we could charge electronics and just get out of the sun. For dinner, we took a shuttle to downtown Alamosa and went to the San Luis Valley Brewing Company. Not terrible, but the "oatmeal stout" I had didn't taste like the creamy oatmeal stout I was hoping for.

Day 2:
Miles: 79.71
Ride Time: 3:42:49
Out Time: 4:22:40
Climbing: 2130
Calories: 1999

Day 3 Alamosa to Chama, NM
The theme of the day was wind, wind, and more wind. Right from the start, there was a significant headwind. In my head, I wanted to take it easy today. With theamount of wind I had to fight, taking it easy was not an option. I rode solo for a while and then I saw a nice huge group coming up behind me. I tucked in near the front and enjoyed some shelter. I found myself doing a lot of work because I get sick of seeing people not willing to rotate through the line and I end up just moving to the front. In my limited bike tour experience, there are a lot of people riding in groups that don't want to actually do any work. I'd laugh when I'd hear people talk about how they were riding in a paceline, when what they really mean is that they sucked onto some wheels and didn't contribute.

There were a couple mountain passes to make it over today and they were near the end. That was really where I found my legs. There was still some wind to fight, but at least we were climbing and I like that. The descent off the two passes could only be described as unrewarding. After a good long climb, your reward should be a sweet descent. Today, I had to keep it in my little ring and pedal to fight the wind when I should just be able to coast. So disappointing. I rolled into Chama completely spent and I went right over to the massage tent to make an appointment for Christine and I.

Day 3:
Miles: 77.35
Ride Time: 4:50:56
Out Time: 5:53:51
Climbing: 5554
Calories: 2680

Thursday, July 1, 2010

2010 BTC - Days 0 & 1

Our BTC journey started with a Road trip to Gunnison, CO. One of the appealing things about this bike tour was that it was going to take me to places in the state I usually don't visit. On our way to Gunnison, we took a friend's recommendation and stopped by Eddyline Restaurant and Brewery for some lunch and beers.
Eddyline Brewing sampler

From there, we made our way through some beautiful scenery to Gunnison and checked in for our week of fun. We got a packet of stuff with information on the route, some numbers for our bikes, bags, and wrists.

Day 1 Gunnison - Creede
Go-time was 7:30. We met at the starting line, tossed our bags onto the baggage truck, and prepared to leave. 7:30 feels early for a ride, but we were close to the last people leaving (a theme that would continue throughout the week).
BTC group shot day 1

The crew - Christine, Ryan, Bryan, Andy, Angela, Katie

The tour starts out with a bang - 100+ miles with almost 9000 feet of climbing. I started the day with our group of 6 and then rode off on my own after a half hour. At the first aid station, I hooked up with some other friends and rode with them for a while. It was great to have that group of strong, safe riders to work with. We were fighting a bit of wind, but we were passing other groups of people like they were standing still. The main event of the day was a climb up Slumgullion Pass. That was a tiring climb that seemed to go on and on (and on). Not knowing how long a climb is makes it seem endless and you start to wonder if there actually *is* a summit. Rest assured, I finally found the summit and took a break for some snacks at the aid station. I enjoyed the descent for a while, and then we started getting hit with some strong wind. Me and wind don't get along. The lightness that makes me fast uphill, causes me to get blown around in wind. I was elated when we took a turn towards Creede and picked up a tail wind.

Each night the tour riders would set up camp in a field (or dirt lot), generally at a school. I arrived in the small town of Creede and started the process of setting up camp. The first goal was to find my bags, especially the one with my shoes so I could get out of the bike shoes I'd been wearing for 100 miles. I dragged our 4 bags over to a campsite and proceeded to set up. By the time Christine arrived, I was showered, fed, and had our tent set up complete with sleeping bags. Sometimes it pays to be slow. :)

Day 1:
Miles: 103.96
Ride Time: 6:18:27
Out Time: 7:29:32
Climbing: 8918
Calories: 3481

2010 Bicycle Tour of Colorado

The Bicycle Tour of Colorado is a week-long fully supported bike tour that is put on every summer on varying routes through Colorado. I've been pretty pumped for a while about going, because I've never been on a bike tour and I got to combine some vacation with training.

Before I get into any details, let me get this out of the way. I ride more than your average person and I love pushing myself hard to get stronger. Going into the tour I knew that riding for a week would be tiring, but completing each day's ride was never really in question. I was riding this for training, not to prove to myself that I could do it.

There are a lot of people on this tour where these rides presented a significant challenge, and those were the people who really impressed me. Me riding up Slumgullion Pass is not impressive. The countless number of people I saw struggling up these mountain passes on heavy touring bikes, sometimes stopping to take a break or walk, smiling as they that's impressive. It takes a lot of mental strength to get back on your bike after you were exhausted enough to get off in the first place with the only reward being the personal satisfaction of making it to the finish. And if that's not impressive enough, there was one guy on the tour with cerebral palsy. Can you imagine? Here's a guy whose motor skills make it physically difficult to even get on a bike and he's riding up these hills. It blows my mind and really makes me appreciate what I have and what I'm able to do. It makes me want to ride hard...just because I can.

Stay tuned for a rundown on my experience at the 2010 BTC.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Racing season - phase 1 complete

The first part of my road season is complete. After my Rist race weekend, I took it pretty easy, and I'm taking it slightly less easy this week before I head out for a bike tour. So far this season, I've trained/raced over 2000 miles (plus a bonus ski race that my knee is still thanking me for), and ridden 9 races.

On Saturday, Christine and I leave for Bicycle Tour of Colorado. It's a week-long bike tour around southern Colorado with 470 miles of riding new-to-me roads in an area of the state I rarely get to. It's going to be a great time. I get to hang with Christine for a week (which is a rarity these days), plus I get to train (and not go to work).

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Austin - It's hot

After our race up Rist last weekend, Christine and I rushed off to Austin. Generally, I'd put a blackout on trips to Austin from about mid May to September, but our attendance we requested at a shindig down there in a swanky downtown loft. It was as hot as I expected. Maybe hotter.

The party was cool. Lots of people to talk to and some great food. Sunday morning, we got up and walked over the Whole Foods mothership (also known as Christine's go-to eatery) to get some breakfast from their taco bar. After that, we drove out to Texas hill country and did another road race.

I knew my legs would be completely shot after Rist, but I also knew I'd have oxygen on my side. Mostly, it was a good excuse to do something outside of Austin and I wanted to take the opportunity to get in another road race.

My Austin bike (my old Trek) is not exactly well tuned. I'm not there to ride it much, so it's never a high priority. When I pulled the bike out of the car, I noticed that there was a large chunk out of the tire. Just the right size for a piece of the chipseal to squeeze in and pop my tube. Fortunately for me, one of the guys there lent me his training wheel.

After making the equipment change and getting my stuff ready, I had exactly 0 time to warmup. I can't say I was disappointed. I mean, it was 90+ degrees outside. I was already "warm" enough. It was a really fun road course. Lots of rolling hills. And the best part: We had full use of the road instead of just one lane. They weren't wide roads or anything, but it was super nice to have that hard boundary.

In addition to my crappy tire, my derailleurs were also behaving like crap. The chain kept skipping teeth when I'd get out of the saddle. That made climbing out of the saddle very interesting and tiring.

I actually had a good time sitting in the pack and watching the race develop. I guess I'm usually either too tired or too focused on surviving to really digest what's going on. In the end, what really did me in was the heat. Late in the race, I started feeling pretty ill and I just had to slow down and make sure I wasn't about to become roadkill.

Racing in Texas wasn't all that different from racing in Colorado. There were some strong riders, and some not so strong riders. People who could ride a straight line and those who were a little less steady. And rest assured, there was some entertainment in the form of people chasing down and/or attacking their own teammates. Note - If you've got 5 people strong enough to be at the front of a group of 20 riders at the end of a race, you ought to be able to get someone to the line inside of 10th place.

After the race (and after I dumped as much cool water over my head as possible), Christine and I went to Pedernales State Park. Some friends had recommended it to us the night before. The Pedernales river runs through the park and it's a popular place for people to go hang out, tube, and swim in the river. I wish we had brought our bathing suits with us and had some more time. I looked like a lot of fun to swim around, but instead we just waded around in the water.

On our way back to Austin, we stopped for some BBQ at The Salt Lick BBQ. Delicious. One thing I can appreciate about the Austin area is that you can be chilling with some BBQ and the live entertainment is doing Whiskeytown covers.

One delayed (as usual) flight later, and I'm back home in Colorado.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Rist Hill Climb

26 miles, 3500 feet of climbing, and a lot of sucking wind. That's the Rist Hill Climb (which ought to be called a road race instead of a hill climb, but that's neither here nor there). I look forward to the Rist race for a couple reasons: It's one of the few races near my house, and I like climbing.

Thanks to Christine's earlier start time (7:30 AM), I got to Masonville plenty early to see her off, get ready, and actually warm up. I kind of pushed my luck a little with the warmup, but I made it back to the starting line in time to line up.

From the very start, the race felt quicker than last year. I didn't really spend any time at the front of the race, I just sat in and made sure I had space to get around people on the climbs if needed. I had one teammate in the group, and he did a great job of giving me a friendly wheel to draft. (Not only was Zach tired from working hard the previous day, he ended up getting a flat partway up Rist and had to ride to the finish on a rapidly deflating tubular. Anyone who rides a flat up at 12+% climb deserves a medal.)

Riding across the dams was hard as usual, with some accelerations and half-hearted attacks. You're not going to win this race for yourself on the dams, but it's a good place to soften people up.

We reached the base of Rist with a fairly large group (I think, I didn't actually spend time looking back). Things heated up quickly as there were several really good climbers on board. I've ridden with some of these people on group rides, and seen them hang with cat 3's and better. I wish they'd go ahead and get the mandatory upgrade already. :)

I got dropped early on the climb this year. A little before the first set of mailboxes. I was bummed because I made it so much further with the leaders last year. I was cramping up pretty bad, and had to really take it easy for minute while I had a stitch in my side. I don't know what that's all about, but the cramping is annoying. After I recovered, I was able to settle into a good rhythm. I caught a friend a couple miles from the top and we climbed up together for most of the rest of the way while we chatted.

When we got up to the top, I was pretty shocked when I looked at my time. According to my clock, I finished in 1:34:50. To put that in perspective, I rode the same course last year over 4 minutes slower. I finished in 14th this time, whereas last year I was 7th. Go figure. The whole group went ahead and got quicker. Damn. So, while I'm bummed that I didn't place better, I'm happy to see that I'm significantly faster.

My day of speeding around wasn't over yet. Christine and I had a 3PM flight to Austin to catch, so I had no time to hang around at the finish. I hooked up with another local rider for the ride back down to Masonville. It's a rip-roaring fun ride through Buckhorn Canyon. I should mention that the other dude is a 200+ pounder so while he's coasting along, I'm in my 53x11 pedaling hard. I was happy to have the motivation to ride fast because I really needed to get moving so we could make our flight.

Thursday, June 3, 2010


Hey, guess what? I'm still alive. My workload is cutting into my spare mental time, so blog posting has gotten pushed aside.

Last Sunday was the return of a classic road race - The Morgul-Bismarck loop. It's a course that was used back in the 80's for the Coors International Bike Classic and was featured in the movie "American Flyers". I've ridden the course a couple of times on my own, but it was cool to finally get to race it.

This race was part of a multi-day event in the town of Superior, the Superior Morgul Classic. As far as road races go, this was the most organized and most well run event I've done. They seemed to have everything dialed and it made for a great experience.

I entered the race with no goals other than to test my climbing legs and do what I could to help out a teammate who was fighting for an overall podium spot. From the beginning of the race, I went to the front and kept a steady pace on the early climbs. I normally don't spend that much time sticking my nose in the wind, but given my goals it seemed appropriate.

My legs did not feel great to begin with. The first trip up the infamous "Wall" was a little shock to the system. But I forged on and managed to hold my position until we hit some downhill stretches. The same lightness that makes me a good climber also means I have to work harder on the downhill. People would be coasting going by me while I'm pedaling in my 53x11. Kind of demoralizing. Normally I can do alright by drafting but I wasn't really diligent about that this time. The high-speed, narrow lane, and my unfamiliarity of the course put me into "self-preservation" mode and I decided to keep a safe distance.

I worked my way back up to the front until we hit some dicey stuff through a neighborhood. There were curbs, cones, and even a poorly placed cop car to contend with. Again, I find myself near the back just as we approach The Wall again. Figuring that I don't really care whether or not I get dropped, I powered up to the front again. I was whooped, but I was glad to see that other people were climbing slower too.

The next lap went about the same way - lead on the climbs, trail off on the descents. This time, leading up to The Wall, we passed a different group of racers. Only, I didn't know we were passing them. So I was happily on the back of that group and then I noticed a gap opening up. I didn't have the legs to close it, and I was off on my own with one more lap to go.

Honestly, I would have liked to have just stopped right there. But then I looked at the time and thought I might catch Christine on the road if I kept riding. I didn't work super hard that lap. I mostly just enjoyed the nice riding weather. There were a couple of people from my group who also got dropped and they were apparently still interested in racing each other. They sat on my wheel for a bit and then attacked each other around me. I was happy to let them go and do their thing.

I didn't quite catch Christine. The final time up The Wall, I could see her ahead and I tried to catch her before the finish line. I didn't quite make it, so after I finished I dug deep and caught her on the downhill. That may have been the hardest effort all day. :) We chatted for a minute and then she went on her way to finish her final lap.

In the end, I got what I wanted out of this race. I know where I stand climbing-wise, I got a great workout for the day, and my teammate ended up nailing 3rd overall.

Next up - Rist Canyon Hill Climb. I'm pumped for this race. I'm going to go into it more rested and in better shape than I did last year. After the race, Christine and I head to Austin and I may do a race there on Sunday. Hopefully the plentiful oxygen makes up for my tired legs.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Lookout Mountain Hill Climb

In the past, I've done the Lookout Mountain Hill Climb as a high priority race. This year it's a little interesting to be doing it as just a test of power. I didn't really care where I placed and I didn't have a goal time in mind. I just wanted to put in a good effort for 20+ minutes.

The weather was amazing. Better than any other time I've done this race. I underestimated how cool it was though, and had to run back to the car last minute to swap out some stuff. That put me a few rows back on the starting line, but no big deal since I wasn't gunning for places.

The usual start line chaos ensued. A couple guys next to me were clipped in and holding on to the rail at the start (not legal, FYI). Somebody in the second row couldn't get clipped in and ended up crashing as he stared at his feet. Some other dude nearly guttered me on the initial corner as he dove to the inside.

The pack seemed like it started off slower than usual. I was a little disappointed because I wanted to hit if from the get-go, but I couldn't get through/around enough people. Eventually things thinned out and I was just able to go at my pace. I felt pretty good. Occasionally I'd look down at my power numbers and I liked what I saw.

There's a point about 400m from the finish where the road levels off and it's a good place to get in your big ring and attack. I misjudged it this year. I thought it was still one corner up the road, so when a couple dudes flew by my I briefly let them go until I realized we were almost at the finish. Bummer, but at least it gave me a good reason to sprint to the line. I didn't pass them, but I did get right on their tail and finished with the same time.

I finished in a time of 21:13. I think that's my best ever up Lookout, which is great news. Especially because I wasn't rested up for this like I have been in the past when it was an 'A' race for me. I was also carrying a lot of extra weight uphill this time compared to usual. I wouldn't normally do a hill climb with my heavy PowerTap wheel, and I was also carrying some extra clothing for the descent.

All things considered, I'm happy with this result. I'm looking forward to my first road race of the year in a couple weeks.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Groove Subaru Spring Crit

Man, another 8AM start. I guess I'm getting used to it. At least it means I don't tie up the whole day racing.

The course was on a very wide loop through an office park in Golden and it's pretty non-technical. Just one actual corner. My legs, sore from some Saturday intervals in the wind, felt immediately tired. A small group escaped from the front early in the race, and I thought they would quickly get swallowed back up. It started to look like nobody was interested in pulling them back in, so I made the decision to bridge up to them. I made it up, but the main field wasn't far behind. I guess that group was growing big enough to worry about.

Various other attacks went down in the first 20-30 minutes of racing. It was surprising, and cool, because I don't recall seeing that kind of activity in a cat 4 race often. I went off the front once hoping to get some other people interested forming a breakaway, but when I looked back I was all alone. With 20 minutes left in the race, there was no way I could go solo, so I sat up and reintegrated.

As usual, the finish came down to a bunch sprint. It was a pretty hot last lap, and I was too far near the back at the start of it to make much of a difference. I hung on for the finish in 16th place.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Christine's iPad

The best way to really surprise someone with a birthday gift is to give it to them over a month early. Christine has been thinking about getting an e-reader so she could read some books when she travels, and the iPad is a good choice for her since she can also watch movies and do some other stuff on it too. I would have waited to get one for her, but she's gone for the next few weeks (except on the weekends) and has an east coast flight in there too. Seemed like now was a better time to have a new toy than next month.

I'd been working on getting an iPad all week, but they're a little scarce. Not as scarce as iPhones tend to be at first release, but they generally don't last too long at the stores. I called one of Apple stores after my race this morning and they said they had a couple left. They weren't open yet, so I cruised over and waited for them to open and I grabbed the last one in the store.

Apple has the in-store experience dialed. After someone brought out the iPad, the sales person can just complete the transaction from a handheld device. And when I told him I wanted the printed receipt, he reached under the table and grabbed the freshly printed one from what I can only guess is a receipt printing fairy.

So far, it's a pretty cool toy. Christine already took off to Austin with it so I haven't gotten to fool with it too much. A couple BSG discs are coming this week, so I should be able to load them on it for her next trip. I think she's most excited about playing Scrabble though.

Louisville Crit

I feel like race season has started. Today I lined up for my first "real" crit of the year.

8AM Start. Ouch. That means I needed to leave Fort Collins by 6AM and get up with enough time to get some food in me. As far as I can tell, there are really only a couple good things about being the first race of the day: You can warm up on the course, and the port-o-potties aren't completely dominated by nervous racers.

I got on the trainer and warmed up for a bit before I decided that my long sleeved jersey was going to be an overkill. After I swapped my number to a new jersey, I just decided to take some laps on the course. I did this race last year, so I was already familiar with hit. It's a really simple course. Wide and safe, and there's a hill. I love it when there's a hill in a crit.

The first 15 minutes of the race felt pretty hard but then it predictably slowed down to something more reasonable. I didn't make too much of an effort to be at or near the front of the race in general. I wanted to chill out and see how my knee was feeling after the ski crash last week. Turns out, it's feeling okay, so that's nice.

I finished the race safely in the lead group. Rubber side down, all skin intact, knee is functional. Success.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Injury update

The fall I took on Saturday at the end of The Five Peaks race was pretty bad. I wasn't going particularly fast, but a ski is a long lever and when your binding doesn't release, it's a great way to f up a knee.

My knee was sore Saturday evening, but I was able to walk around and I applied some ice and ibuprofen to the situation. (And some beer and hottubbing of course.) Sunday morning, my knee was a little puffy and walking was considerably more difficult. I started to fear the worst and I was annoyed at myself for taking a dumb fall on an easy section of mountain. I took some more vitamin-I, did some more icing, and by the evening it was feeling better.

This morning, it was still feeling fairly decent but I wanted to get it checked out anyway. Mostly, I was afraid that there was some damage, and I'd be able to hurt it even more if I wasn't careful. I figured I'd have to wait until later in the week to get an appointment, but they had an opening at 10:50 that I took.

They took some X-rays, and the doctor did a fair amount of tugging and twisting on my knee. I kept waiting for him to find the right combination of moves that would suddenly bring the pain. Thankfully, that never happened. All of my ligaments are intact and strong. I probably strained something, but it should heal up over the next couple weeks.

I breathed a huge sigh of relief when the doc gave me that news. As much pain and twisting as I felt when I crashed, I don't really understand how I didn't destroy something. I'm extremely thankful (and lucky).

(In minor "injury" news: My lips got sunburned. That's kind of annoying.)

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Five Peaks ski mountaineering race

Wow. That was easily the hardest day I've ever had on skis.

The Five Peaks is North America's longest ski mountaineering race with 10,000 feet of vertical and five separate ascents in the Ten Mile Range behind and in Breckenridge Ski Resort. I first heard about this several months ago, and I knew I just had to do it. I emailed a few friends, and thankfully Taylor shared the same sentiment as me and we were quickly registered for this foolish race. I didn't know for sure if we could do it, but it was sure as hell worth a try. My only goal was to finish the whole thing before the time cutoff. (After a certain time, they wouldn't let you go up the mountain any more.)

Bright and early, we were at the start line for a 6AM start. Ouch! The race starts with a 4.5 mile climb from the base of peak 9 at about 9600' above sea level to the top of peak 10 at over 13,600' above sea level. That's as hard as it sounds. I tweaked a knee kind of funny early and I also started feeling some rubbing on my heel. Uh-oh. I thought I was screwed. But I changed my steps a little bit and amazingly it all worked itself out by the time we hit the first descent.

The skiing off of peak 10 was actually pretty good. The initial decent was a dicey side slip through a narrow chute, but after that it was pretty good. After a short bit of equipment messing in the transition area, we were on our way up to the top of peak 9. It was a much shorter climb this time, but I wouldn't call it easy. Taylor is a machine and there was no way I could keep up with him. Again, the skiing off of peak 9 was surprisingly good.

From there, it was off to the first of 2 ascents up peak 8. This ascent included a special bonus: a boot-pack section where we had to put our skis on our backs and hike up. It was actually a nice change of pace because it used some different muscles. By this point my hip flexors were cooked. Skiing down from peak 8 was a little demoralizing because I knew that I would have to climb every one of those vertical feet again on my second ascent up peak 8. I don't know why they decided to have us ascend peak 8 twice, but that was rough.

The second ascent up peak 8 followed the T-bar for a while. Some people riding the T-bar up were confused at why we were skinning up, others shouted welcome words of encouragement. The T-Bar route was steep and near the top of it I took a little spill. I knew I was right at the friction level of my climbing skins, and then a nice gust of wind came and made me look like a fool. Harumph! At the top of peak 8 for the second time, the ski patroller offered us an Italian sausage. Sounded tasty, but I had no confidence that I'd be able to keep that down.

I should mention that the routes down from the tops of the peaks are double black diamonds. Double black diamonds are generally above my level of expertise. Double black bump runs are almost surely above my skill level. After several thousand feet of climbing, double black bump runs are well above my skill level. I crashed pretty good near the bottom the bottom of the peak 8 descent. My backcountry are considerably harder to drive than my alpine gear so I guess I shouldn't be too surprised.

We reached the base of the peak 7 climb and the end was in sight. We were there well within the time cutoff, and I said to Taylor: "Well, we have the opportunity to do this whole thing." I must have looked like I was in pretty bad shape, because he asked if I wanted to go up to the top or ski down from there. We both agreed that we had come way to far to quit early and up we went.

The ascent up 7 was terrible. There were a ton of switchbacks, but what made it most difficult was the hard packed, wind-blown snow. We were constantly slipping and had to side step for long sections at a time. I was so relieved to get to the top. Taylor had made it there well ahead of me and was enjoying a well deserved sit in the snow. I took a short break too and then we were on our way to the finish line.

The ski down was really dicey, and I rode pretty conservatively. My legs were completely cooked. Towards the bottom, I took another good spill. I think the snow had softened up or something and I just didn't do a good time of paying attention. It was a pretty rough crash and my bindings didn't release. I torqued my right knee pretty good and I just decided that I needed to get up and finish before any pain or swelling caught up with me. There was no way I wasn't crossing that finish line.

We finished the race in around 7.5 hours. For comparison, the superhuman winners finished in just over 4 hours. Amazing. When I entered, I had no idea if I could do it. I'm glad Taylor joined me, and I'm glad we conquered the first ever Five Peaks race.

Getting ready to start

At the finish

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Kuzca's Lion

One of the first toys that my dog played with was a stuffed lion. I took it out of the toy rotation when my roommate's dog was going to tear it apart. Normally I'm all for some toy destruction, but I kind of wanted to keep this one around and it's been sitting on our entertainment center ever since.

Somehow it got pulled off of the entertainment center recently. I didn't know it until Kuzca brought it upstairs and hopped on the bed with it. She's very cute with it on the bed right now.

Kuzca and her lion

Good Customer Service

Some companies have terrible customer service (United Airlines, for example). Others have pretty decent service. In a short span of time, my Canon digital camera and Garmin cycling computer both needed some repair. (Bad karma?) How would they rate in the customer service department...

The CCD on the camera just stopped working for some reason. Our gear gets a lot of abuse, but I can honestly say this just stopped working in the middle of taking some photos. Canon has a 1 year warranty and wouldn't you know it, our camera was one year and 2 weeks old. I feared the worst when I went to their web site, but I was pleasantly surprised. For starters, I could do everything on their website which meant I didn't have to waste any time waiting on hold for the customer service department. But even better, I punched in all of our camera info (including date of purchase) and the site promptly told me that the repair would be covered under the warranty. I like that they have a little fudge factor in their "1 year". I mailed the camera back to them (in Virgina) and they got it back to me a week and a half later.

Next up was my Garmin Edge 705 cycling computer. Some of the rubber on it had worn away and needed to be repaired so water wouldn't get inside. Unlike Canon, I had to get on the phone and wait for a while to talk to one of their people. Garmin makes things pretty easy (on themselves, mostly) by setting a flat repair cost for each thing they sell. So whether I cracked my Garmin or the battery died, I'd generally be paying the same thing. When I told them the simple repair that needed to be done, they said it was small enough that they could discount their usual repair fee. They discounted it by 50%. Nice. One week after I dropped it in the mail, I had the refurbished unit on my doorstep.

I've bought several things from both Canon and Garmin and I'll continue to buy more. I like the it when the toys I buy are well supported.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Carry-On Items

I flew to Austin last night to spend the weekend with Christine at the "winter home", and since it was such a short trip I decided not to check any luggage. Any time I travel with bike stuff as carry-on, the TSA people get some confused looks on their faces as the try to discern what's coming across the screen of their x-ray machine. Yesterday they didn't like what they saw and they pulled some stuff out of my bag to see what kind of contraband I was sneaking on to the airplane.

I didn't know it, but you're not allowed to take tools longer than 7" in your carry-on luggage. I understand the rule, but it's funny because if I had told them that my pedal wrench was a large pencil, it would be okay. Maybe next time I should tape a Bic pen to the side.

So for your reference:

Not okay as carry-on:

Fine as carry-on?:

I didn't want to scrap a nice pedal wrench (I finally upgraded from my cheap shitty one not too long ago), so I got a box from the airline counter and checked them as luggage. Funny. Glad I had plenty of time at the airport.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

United - Why do you hate me

Christine and I had an awesome weekend planned last weekend. She was flying from Seattle to Denver and then we were both flying down to the Austin for a fun weekend of bike riding and music at the SXSW music festival. SXSW has been on the to-do list for a while, and I was really excited to finally get to go.

But then United Airlines had to come along and screw us. At around 2PM they canceled our 8PM flight for a "mechanical problem". Normally they'd try to rebook you on another flight, but "normal" doesn't apply when you're trying to fly into Austin during SXSW. Every single flight to Austin, San Antonio, Dallas, an Houston was full and/or overbooked until Tuesday. The gate agent tried and tried, but nothing was available.

I don't know if anyone told United, but Denver is a MAJOR hub for them. What, they can't find any extra birds to put in the air? Shit, I would have settled for a flight the next morning. What impossible to find part did they need to fix the other plane, a flux capacitor? But really, United, what exactly was your plan? You were going to let Christine fly from Seattle to Denver knowing that you had absolutely no way to get her to her final destination?

So bummed. Snow was about to hit Colorado and I was so looking forward to getting in a few days of solid riding and hanging down in Austin with Christine. If I had written this post a few days ago it would have have been laced with a lot more colorful language. But I still had a great weekend, it was just in a different place. Life is good. I'll save the vitriol for my email to United. I hate wasting my time and energy and United wasted a lot of both.

My blog is moving

I'm moving my blog. My new address is

I expect there will be some hiccups as I get things transitioned over and things start to trickle to Twitter and Facebook, so bear with me. Over at the new site, you can enter your email address and get an email when I update the blog. You can also subscribe to an RSS feed there (or point your feed reader to I haven't settled on the layout of the new place yet, so don't be surprised if that's in flux.

All of my old public LiveJournal posts are ported over there. It'd be great if you could search my blog, but ironically the search feature is broken on the blogging site owned by Google.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Notes on how to attend and organize a world class CX race

While we were in Prague, it was announced that the 2013 World Cyclocross Championships would be held in Louisville, Kentucky. Since I now have experience at both World Cup and World Championship races, I expect that the organizing committee will be contacting me regarding my consulting fees.

Here are some notes on necessary items for both spectators and organizers:

Friday, February 5, 2010

Prague - Part 3: The final frontier

Having been all pilsner’ed out, we went to dinner at a place in Prague called Les Moules when we got back from Worlds. They’re a Belgian mussels and frites kind of place and we figured we’d find some good ales to drink. We ended up meeting up with the rest of team Fort Collins and commenced drinking. Way too much drinking, especially when the waiter brought us stuff that we didn’t actually order. They apparently love to do that crap in Prague. Kind of annoying, but at least it was good beer. We put down some Westmalle, Delirium Noël, Hoegaarden, Duchesse de Bourgogne, and I forget what else. Oh yeah, and mussels and frites. It was a fun night. Too bad we all had a 10AM flight to make the next morning.

Monday morning, we got up early for what ended up being a really long travel day. Our flight from Prague to Frankfurt departed late, which meant that it was going to be really tight catching our Frankfurt->Chicago connection. Our other Fort Collins cohorts were also trying to make the flight and we were all running through the Frankfurt airport. It looked like we may just barely make it, and then we hit one of the slowest security checkpoints ever. They chose this time to go through my entire backpack. Very s-l-o-w-l-y. Skyler managed to make it through a quick security line and took off towards the gate. This is how close we were to making the flight – Skyler made it, but the rest of us didn’t. The slow-ass security screening was the difference maker.

To add insult to injury, the plane sat there at the gate for over an hour and they still wouldn’t let us on. They wouldn’t even let Skyler’s dad on. So instead of just opening the door and letting the (at least) half dozen people board the plane while it sat there idle, Lufthansa/United chooses to waste their resources and rebook us all. There’s no doubt why airlines always seem to be in financial trouble.

Another add-insult-to-injury moment: When we got to the front of the s-l-o-w rebooking line (and our original plane was still at the gate), the agent told us we just missed a direct Lifthansa->Denver flight and that we could have gone to that get to get rebooked. We knew about the flight already and wanted to take it, but we were told we need to wait in this long slow line to get rebooked. Man I love airlines and their savvy employees.

So we got rebooked on another flight that was departing in about 4 hours, so we killed some time by getting some lunch (with Lufthansa provided vouchers) and hanging out in the lounge. Our transatlantic flight ended up being pretty empty, so Christine and I snagged a whole row to ourselves. I didn’t sleep a ton, but it was nice to be able to lay down. We eventually got back into Denver at midnight. Lo and behold, we get to baggage claim and our bags didn’t make it. Neither did the bags of the other Fort Collins crew. Thankfully this happened on our return trip instead of the other way around.

Visit Prague…check.

Prague - Part 3: Cyclocross Elite World Championships

Sunday was the big show: The 2010 World Championships of Cyclocross. I’ve never been to a world championship anything, so this was all pretty exciting. We got to Tabor early so we could make sure we got to catch the Elite Women’s race at 11. I guess the Euro’s aren’t all the into watching the women race, because they crowd was actually smaller than it was for the U23 race. Surprising. On our way into the race area, we stopped at a nearby grocery store and picked up some beers. When in Rome…

Prague - Part 2: Junior and U23 Cyclocross Worlds

Saturday morning came around and we didn’t really have anything planned so we drove down to Tabor to check out the Cyclocross Worlds course. I’m glad we went down before the “big show” on Sunday because it gave us a chance to figure out how to get there, where to park, and where some good viewing points were located. We also got to watch Fort Collins’ own Skyler Trujillo race in the Junior’s race. It’s cool to have someone local to cheer for at a big event like that.

Skyler Trujillo racing at Junior Worlds

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Prague - Part 1

As a birthday gift to me, Christine decided we should use some of her travel perks (from flying too much for work) to go see a big bike race in Europe. The world championships were in the Czech Republic this year, so we decided to check that out. I’ve heard from several people over the years that they loved Prague so it’s been on my list of places to see for a while. Time to check that one off the list. Last Wednesday we embarked on our journey, DEN->IAD->FRA->PRG.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Five Peaks

When I first started riding road bikes, riding a century (100 miles) sounded unrealistic and insurmountable. I didn't ever think I'd ever do it. But then I entered the Horsetooth 100, did some training rides, and pushed through my first century. I've since had several more 100 mile days, and I'd hardly think twice about it.

In April I'll embark on another athletic endeavor that I'm not even sure I can do, and I'm totally pumped. I just registered for The Five Peaks ski race. The race starts in the town of Breckenridge and consists of hiking, skiing, and traversing Peaks 10, 9, 8 (from 2 sides), and 7. All told, it's 10,000 vertical feet. Yeah, 10,000. It's an intimidating number.

My partner in crime for this ludicrous idea is my friend Taylor. Taylor is one of those freakishly fit cyclists that would kick my ass in any race even if he came right off the couch. Fortunately for me, he's not going to be able to do much training this winter so I'm hoping my typical cycling training will have us closer to that same fitness level than usual.

Technically it's a race but I have no intention of "racing". My only goal right now is to make all the time cutoffs so we can do the entire race. If we don't get to the peak 8 or 7 climbs, we have to just ski down the mountain to the finish. It'd still be fun, but I really want to do the whole shootin' match.

The race is April 10. I'd love it if people came out to hang, ski Breck, and harass us each time we get back into the resort area. Haven't you always wanted to see me really suffer?

Friday, January 22, 2010

The Spoils of Victory

I did well enough in a 3-race cyclocross series last season to actually win 1st place overall. File under "better late then never", I got my prizes this week. Some of it's kind of amusing to me:
  • Optic Nerve T-Shirt (Large) - I'm barely big enough for a medium these days. I swim in a large.

  • Pearl Izumi Leg Warmers (Extra Large) - I could fit both legs into one of these things.

  • 8 Honey Stingers (2 of them expired) - Somebody clearly needed to clean out the bike shop.

  • Dale's Pale Ale socks (XL) - Again with the stuff that's too big. Maybe they're sending me a message to bulk up.

  • Gift Certificate $30 I have no idea what this gift certificate is good for. There's no name on it. (Update - I found it it's for Green Mountain Sports bike shop. I'm sure I can find something to spend $30 on at a bike shop.)

  • White Lightning Epic Ride lube - Not a fan of White Lightening in the past. Maybe I'll give this new stuff a try when I'm already planning on doing a drivetrain clean.

  • 3 12oz bags of Kinetic Koffee - I don't drink coffee. But I know enough that do that this will find a good home.

  • Optic Nerve "Revolt" Sunglasses - Revolt...they're not kidding.

  • Sock Guy Socks (S) - Hey, I think I can wear these.

  • Gold Cow Bell - The real crowning achievement of my 2009 season.

  • But hey, it's fun to win stuff. Before this, the only thing I've ever won from a race was a pair of socks. I hope this doesn't make me loose my "amateur" status. I'm really hoping to back my way onto the Olympic curling team.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Food rules

I hate it when people make up rules for how I'm supposed to eat. If you've ever gone out to eat with sushi snobs, you know what I'm talking about. Everybody seems to have some tidbit of information about the "proper" way to eat sushi that they heard from some guy "in-the-know" (who was most likely a hipster douchebag). I saw this sushi etiquette post yesterday:

(Via Clusterflock)

- I've also never seen anyone (besides me) grab a piece of sushi with my fingers. Next time you're eating with me, I don't want to catch any crap for it.

- I'm the only person I know who puts wasabi on each individual piece instead of in the soy sauce. And I don't care if you turn your soy sauce into a salty wasabi soup.

- Don't rub your chopsticks together? How about I don't like splinters in my tongue.

I guess my point is this: Fuck food rules. Food is meant to be enjoyed, so just eat. Put your elbows on the table. Use the wrong fork for you salad. Lick the plate clean. I don't care, just enjoy the damn food however you see fit. (Okay, I admit licking the plate would be a little odd.)

I love some of the comments from Clusterflock:
"I like wasabi in my soy sauce. I don’t care what the sushi chef, who is probably Mexican anyway, thinks."

"A piece of etiquette that I was taught was that never rest your chopsticks pointing at anyone at the table, it displays your desire to stab them."
Yeah, I'm that passive-aggressive that I'm trying to send you a message with my chopsticks to watch your back. I'm totally going to start doing this on purpose and see who calls me on it.

Monday, January 18, 2010

January 'cross fix

Just when you thought cyclocross season was over, another one sneaks on in. Local junior racer Skyler Trujillo was selected to represent the United States in the World Cyclocross championships later this month. Unsurprisingly, USA Cycling doesn't do much to offset the costs so a fundraiser was held yesterday to raise some money. Getting to the Czech Republic ain't cheap.

One of the great things about this race is that it was done with little notice so nobody was in race shape. Most people had to dig their bikes out of cryogenic storage and make sure everything still functioned before they could even ride. It was fun to have people out there pretty much messing around on their bikes.

It wasn't a super large affair with only 10-15 racers in most classes. I was happy to see 7 more of my Blue Sky teammates made the drive up to Fort Collins to contribute to the cause. In my race, Blue Sky was off the front immediately. I swear Bill and Rob have been doing some secret training. I got caught up behind a couple early crashes, but I was having a good time chugging along. As we got to the last couple laps, I noticed that I was in forth, with 2 teammates taking the top 2 spots. I decided to bury myself and see if I could catch the 3rd place guy and have a Blue Sky podium sweep. I made several mistakes, crashed badly a couple times, but I eventually passed him on the last lap and finished 3rd. It's not a real resume builder, but it was still fun to make a strong finish and get in a good day of training. Later in the day, the course became a real mud fest. It was a lot of fun to watch the fast guys really rock that course and also have some fun getting muddy. There were a lot of on-course shenanigans that made things even more entertaining.

Following the racing, there was an after-party at the New Belgium tasting room. They were able to pull together some great donations for a silent auction and raffle. We drank plenty of beer, snacked, and even got some cool stuff. Best of all, Christine ended up getting a mountain bike. Soon we'll be able to go play around on some trails together.

New favorite pre-race ritual: the swig of beer

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


Christine and I saw Avatar last night in IMAX 3D. Thankfully there is a new IMAX theater north of Denver so we didn't have to go all the way through town. I'm pretty sure the screen is smaller at the Orchard Center, but it was plenty good for us. (Incidentally, it's really hard to find screen sizes online.) Before the movie, they showed a preview of an upcoming IMAX 3D movie shot during the last NASA mission that went up to fix the Hubble. That looks incredibly cool. That looks like a must see movie.

On to the movie. It's not secret that I'm not a sci-fi fan (sorry Dad), but I have yet to hear someone say they didn't like this movie. I can happily say that I, too, liked it. It was frustrating to watch at times because it's a really played out story line. It's hard to watch, knowing that tragedy is just around the corner (but of course it crescendos into the happy ending we all expect). Storyline aside, the rest of the movie was pretty spectacular. The effects weren't in-your-face "hey look what we can do" bullshit. They were just part of the movie, and very well done. I look forward to watching some making-of specials about it. The sound was the next thing that really blew me away. I was amazed at the directional placement of sounds in the theater. I don't know if it was an IMAX thing or if they just paid special attention to it when making the movie, but it was surprisingly good.

Bottom line, go see this movie. It's long, though, so check out to find some good pee breaks if you have a bird-sized bladder.

Sunshine and blue skies

The arctic cold temperatures are finally retreating from Colorado (for now) and Christine and I went out to Montgomery Pass to enjoy the sunshine.

The weather was dreamy compared to last time we were up there when it was snowing and blowing like mad. Instead, we had a really calm day with plenty of sunshine. Not a lot of new snow, but that's a tradeoff we were happy to take.

Recent avalanche activity
Recent avalanche activity
We didn't leave the house until after 8 (hey, I had to watch the Belgian CX championship), and by the looks of Zimmerman parking lot, we weren't going to be the only ones catching some backcountry rays. The latest avalanche report said there was a large slide on South Diamond Peak and we could see if from the parking lot. We had it in our head to be our normal cautious selves. (If you click through the photo, you can see the slide area on the larger version.)

I think Kuzca enjoys skiing even more than backpacking. For starters, she doesn't have to wear the backpack. But aside from that, I think she loves running around in the snow and she loves that we're as fast or faster than her when we're going downhill. On normal walks or hikes we don't get to chase each other, but the snow levels the playing field. She was completely exhausted by the end of the day.

Christine and Kuzca
Christine and Kuzca
We made nice steady progress up to the bowls and stopped at the bottom to enjoy some lunch. I don't think I've ever heard of an avalanche in that bowl, but I'm not willing to trust that statistic (or my own memory) so I dug a quick snow pit while I waited for Christine to make her way up the skin track. The snow didn't seem likely to slide, but if it did go, it would go big. We hung in the trees and had a pretty good time doing a couple runs. Other people were feeling more confident about the snow and the bowl was amazingly skied out. I don't know if I've ever seen so many tracks there. We even saw a group of three skinning straight up the bowl. I guess they counted on some other group to dig them out if all 3 of them got buried?

There was a group of several snowboarders up there too. That kind of blew because they were on snow shoes (or just boarding boots in some cases) and tearing up the skin track. So annoying. On our second lap, we ended up just making a new track through the trees. It earned me a little more exercise, but mostly it was nice not to be skinning over boot holes. We took a great run through the trees, soaking up the untracked powder.

We finished out the evening with some great dinner with friends. All in all, it was a great day.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Free your heel, man

For a while now, I've wanted to try telemark skiing, and work was so unbelievably boring this week that I took a day off and took a telemark lesson. If you're not familiar, telemark differs from alpine skiing in that you're only connected to the ski at the toe (like on a cross country ski).

I knew I'd be spending the day on the bunny slope, so I couldn't see any reason to waste a bunch of time and money by going to one of the I-70 resorts. Instead, I went to Eldora just outside Nederland. It certainly lacks the glitz and glamor of Vail, but the price was right - $110 for a lift ticket, equipment rental, and a 2 hour lesson.

It's pretty clear that renting telemark gear is not a normal part of the operation at Eldora (and probably anywhere for that matter). The first boot they brought me was an alpine boot, not a telemark boot. Thankfully I'm not *that* much of a beginner that I don't know the difference. Picking up my skis was another adventure as the person working that desk didn't know how to adjust the bindings to fit the boots. I was there pretty early for a 10AM lesson, so I didn't really mind waiting around and I found it a little amusing.

Speaking of time, they want you to be at the lesson meeting area a 9:45. No problem except that there's not a clock in sight in that area. I don't wear a watch and I left my cell phone in the car. I knew I had plenty of time, but it seems odd that they want you to be at a certain place at a certain time, but there's no where to find out the time. Even inside the ski school building, there wasn't an obvious clock on the wall.

After all the shenanigans, the lesson was good. I'm a (barely) decent skier, so it was frustrating to be a total newbie again. It was hard not to "cheat" on the tele gear and make alpine turns, but I was trying hard to be legit. I had forgotten how much it stinks to be on the beginner slopes. The slopes are full of people with questionable skills, and sometimes an inflated sense of confidence as they speed down the hill. Being on the beginner lift isn't much of a better experience. Lots of people struggling to get on and off, so the lift is constantly slowing down or stopping.

After my lesson I took a little lunch break to refuel before practicing my new-found skills. I don't mean to carry on about Eldora's less refined nature, but I've got to mention my lunch burrito. When they asked me if I wanted cheese on it, I was figuring they were going to melt it on top. Not so. The highly motivated food service worker sprinkled some cold shredded cheese on top of a luke warm burrito. I'm not sure that the point was, since it all pretty much slid off. On the plus side, it was relatively affordable (compared to most big resorts) at about $8.

So how are my telemark skills? You're not going to see me ripping down a black diamond any time soon, but I was linking tele turns by the end of the day. I don't have any of my own tele gear, but I'll have to rent some again and practice some time. I'm pretty terrible, but I had a good time and it made my legs nice and sore.