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.