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 RunPee.com 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.