11 July, 2018

The Firecracker 50, 2018 edition: OUCH! update

Have done fo' mtb races so far y'all. In order: Ridgeline Rampage (2nd), Fangdango (won), Firecracker 50 (got my ASS handed to me, 18th), and Rattler race 1 (3rd, dropped a chain!). Let me begin with:
 I. Am. A. Grateful. MoFo.
Have done a lot of cool things this summer with my wife and kids (not necessarily together mind you) and we're still not done. I foresee some more XC races, some more tom foolery, some more quality pool time, and eating in the very near future if not right now damnit!
Calf marked, packet picked up. Time to poseur myself as a marathon XC racer. I'm a 50 year-old expert racer.
Firecracker 50 (it's a 52 mile mountain bike race in Breckenridge on Independence Day)

I did this twice. Look at the X-axis, that'll give you some climbing perspective
Holee muthuh f'ing mackeral! That was just downright ugly and difficult (kinda like some of my dates-not the fertilized ovary of a date palm which i find DELISH-in high school). The thing about doing marathon races in loops is that you have to face the climbs, the gnarly downhills, the sketchy sandy bits at speed (or at slow, in my case), twice!  Argh!

and...we're off!
Our group takes off and we hit the long ass road/dirt climb. We are yanking a fierce pace! First it's a group of 18, then 15, then 10 and I'm saying holee shnap! I'm actually hanging on. We pass a small group of the category that went before us (40-49 Expert Males). I'm saying to myself, Self? Don't these bitches know we have another 48 miles left? And good job hanging on you handsome devil! Then a tiny little buff dude in my category finds another gear and I'm attacking off the back. Later you fast mother f*(^ers! It's been nice riding with y'all. Thank you for letting get a mental draft for as long as I did! On the second lap, on a super scorching downhill (my Garmin said I hit 31 m.p.h. here), I made a note to myself to employ during the second lap. I said, hey self! what up you handsome sumbitch?! You can carry your speed through this sweeping lefthander without hitting the brakes if you do some sweet ass inside-outside-inside apex carving. I was making a lot of notes to myself actually but this one was prolly at the top of my time saving antics to make a new PR (which proved to be fruitless).

Karen snapping a picture right after I get a wee bit of air on my new whip! thanks Raceco.org
The promotors carved a new section of climbing trail this year and the extra climbing proved too much for my altricial race preparedness. Needless to say it was still pretty badass, tight, loose dirt, rocky, bermy, flowy singletrack, plopped into the middle of one of the more super scenic part of the Rocky Mountains that happen to be in Breckenridge.
Second lap and I'm dying! My first lap time is just average and I mentally prepare myself to just survive and tourist this thing towards the end. On a personal note, I passed a lot of youngsters, 1 male pro, prolly 5 pro women and I got mutually passed as well. Didn't care for the one lappers and their fresh kits and fresh legs/lung combo as they cruised by me.
what you don't see are some spent legs on the second go 'round.
I was so tired on the second lap instead of just taking handups from the cadre of cool, generous volunteers, I physically unclipped one pedal and stopped where I drank and ate while people passed me at the feedzone. I would eventually pass some of them up but it was no use trying to figure out who was in my category. Here comes the screaming downhill and sho' nuff here comes the lefthander. I see clouds of dust in front of me so I guess I'm fitt'na come up on some not so risky downhill riders. When I flow through the curve I see a rider standing behind some shrubs on the outside of the curve bleeding from the mouth (he musta biffed it at speed, hence the dust bombs). I lock it up and ask if he's okay. He says he's fine. I tell a paramedic anyways at the next first aid station that I witnessed a homie at the bottom curve of the downhill that's bleeding from the mouth from what I suspect was a high speed crash.
Chilling, post-race at our cabin/motel room in Breckenridge
I am able to do these races because I have such a supportive crew. The crew consisting of my badass wife Karen (right picture) who also happens to be a vegetarian, mountain biker. She's kind of the shit y'all. After I finish, I'm done internally and externally. I grab some beer and I earn another Firecracker 50 pint glass that I promptly fill with a saison. Then I hit some vegetarian grub and the glass-me-is slowly filling half full. Finished 18 out of 23. Here's a link to my Garmin data (you may have to login if you ain't down with the way o'Garmin) to see my sucky quantifications of my race unworthiness. Some  stuff worth mentioning...during one of my literal rest stops talked to a cool volunteer from Wisconsin who was visiting and was very cheerleader-like to the racers, rode nearly all of little French on the first lap and more than 2/3rds on my second lap, went on cool hikes with Karen, Mason, and our four legged chilluns in the evening when my legs were all jangly from racing, I nailed one of the hiking, metal restriction posts with my wide-ass handlebars/bar end combo, and I had a bad case of insomnia the night before prolly thinking about the race-oh well. The next day, Karen and Mason rode Horseshoe Gulch and ripped the trails while I SLOWLY walked the dogs.

Onwards to the next adventure!

28 May, 2018

O Deem. Summer Break 2018 Beginneth...

May I present the class of 2018?
Well folks, another year in the books. The high school academic books, that is. First time this year I got over a hundy miles straight mountain biking in four days. Was gonna ride this morning but a wee bit of rain made that decision for me (to not mt bike) instead. It's kind of nutty now that time--which is a luxury item really--thinking about what to do to become productive can give you paralysis of analysis. On the bike, things to do or plan enters my noggin like an epiphany of sorts. It's where I get my inspiration or else it's back to the (mental) pedestrian mode. I suppose both aren't particularly bad if you're doing something productive between the inspiring/pedestrian poles.

Before I ride, I usually like to start the morning downing some espresso, maybe a bagel or bowl of cheesy grits with eggs over easy mixed-in, then off to the trails. It's the summer break, ritualistic aspect of having so much time in front of you. You want to be intentional, purposeful, but not too regimented. I guess that's why I like to train solo. When you have to rely on yourself getting something done, you really have nobody to blame but yourself should the outcome not be in your standards.

A response to one of my quizzes

Training solo allows me to daydream, adjust my intensity, power down, rinse and repeat. It also allows me to belch and/or fart whenever I feel like it and not worry about being polite or my lack of self-control. I love the fact I don't have to wait for anybody or anybody to wait for my slow ass for that matter. Signed up to do the Firecracker 50 this year after a multi-year hiatus. Got second place at my inaugural, 2018 XC marathon event--the Ridgeline Rampage. My teammate Michael put a 17 minute smackdown/gap on me for the win. Damn he flew! Yeah boys: a 1-2 finish for Raceco.org. Broke in my dually at the race. It's like racing on my couch. A couch that has precise steering albeit the SRAM brakes kinda suck (aint no XT like on my hardtail) and my lower back absolutely loved it!

One of my BFF's is also my colleague-one-third of the homey trinity, so on our last day (where we had a luncheon at a classy country club where I had seconds!) we went on a ride in our neighborhood (yes, we're lucky to have 30+ miles of singletrack in our 'hood). We. Went. Chill. It was also 90º F that day too. So chill we stopped at a Starbucks where we talked introspectively about the conclusion of another teaching year whilst sipping on a lemonade and matcha, green tea latté. 'Twas a year full of erstwhile lazy, drama filled, inspiring, intelligent, almost adult mature, funny (and fun!), quasi-sad classroom students that can (and more than likely will) fortuitously Jekyll and Hyde you, throwing the vibe off that you wanted to instill at the beginning of class for a loop. We talked about the incredulity of the nation wide disease of cowards shooting their fellow classmates and asking ourselves will it happen to our beloved high school? We talked about our mutual student-Nick- who is so damn lazy but an incredibly smart and likable fellow that when he does work he's proud of his accomplishment(s) and he knows how proud we are of him. Actually, for a bunch of dudes, we likes to gossip about our science department colleagues and our other nutty HS departments (how sexist was that statement?).
Here she is, riding my buddy's back on a hike in NM.

Speaking of being proud, our oldest daughter, Maricel, graduated too. Going to Oberlin College. Ever seen the most excellent movie Father of the Bride? Sometimes, when she's super animated talking to Karen or to me, or both, I get an out-of-body experience and I undergo a cinematographic, close-up effect of her face panning into my view and I see this 18 year-old adult talking but what I really see is this (picture on the right).
Here she is now; two babycakes

Here's two of my all-time favorite girls juxtapositioned by fate and general badassity. Pretty proud moment for all of us. Her graduation seating arrangements absolutely sucked! Damn y'all Golden High School logistics coordinator from hell!

Real deal, y'all.
I'm not too strict of a teacher and I have a rather odd sense of humor/personality. This year I (unintentionally) set off the fire alarm--full on AFD response, school evacuation...etc. only to happen another day later when another chemistry teacher did the same lab. The lab dealt with  a mixture remotely resembling gun powder from three dissimilar chemical equations (different mole ratios) using percent composition, stoichiometry, lab techniques, manners, and common sense. When the last group combusted it in the fume hood, someone turned it off and I said to my self, self? do you think the alarm will go? Sho nuff, 10 minutes later my questions was answered.

Two days later, I told my colleague--who wanted to do the same lab--to make sure it's combusted in the fume hood. Apparently her fume hood sucked (or it didn't suck enough) and voilà, déjà vu all over again. At least on the days the alarms went off, it was on a beautiful, blue-bird skies, Colorado afternoon. On the second time, people asked if I did it again. Ha.

When we were doing locker cleanout, we teachers have to hangout in the hallways to ensure no fights break out and that the kids are actually throwing their junk away in the provided trash bins. When teachers leave their desks, students like to sit in their teacher's chair(s). I guess it's like sitting in the captain's chair. I tell them not to do that. One nice enough, mischievous kid, sensing this opportunity--who is smart, full of drama, dresses like a gansta (kinda not like me), writes using bad grammar (kind a lot like me) ran up and sat in my chair when I was out in the hallway, gesticulating like he was the teacher. When he sat up there, I yelled back into my classroom, "Who said you can sit in Daddy's chair?" All the kids said, "oooooh!" and some laughed and he felt embarrassed (in a non-threatening, non-persecutorial sort-of-way) and he sat back down at his own desk with a smile on his flushed face. It's all about the rapport I guess.

Well Summer, hello! Let's get some: riding, tom-foolery, shenanigenry et al started!

18 March, 2018

Pre, pre-Spring Break

Been a while.

Lots of things have happened since then. The most significant (of it) was our son living with us, now. Living with his Mom was too traumatic for him being the lowest, unappreciated kid on their pecking order with a blended family and accompanying self-destructive dynamics.

He started living with us (as the only full-time child) this past Christmas Break and along with frequent visits to his therapist and our united front with him, we are making some inroads with nutty arsed behavior and how he perceives himself. Grades are getting better, he's socially evolving, but all in all, in the greater perspective he's still a 12 year-old kid. If you don't have a twelve year-old boy; holy shit then you don't know what hell you're missing people (not the 80s band). He's a still a ding-a-ling, but he's our ding-a-ling and like I said, we are making some progress; not expecting a digital change instantaneously but it is measurable. Yea to little victories! Yea adderall!

I am a dad. Who cycles. A cycling dad per se. I should change the title of my blog to Cycling Dad and his sweet homie. Y'all should try it sometime-parenting, that is.  Either part-time or full-time. If you don't have thick skin and zen-like empathy it could really mess you up (or at the very least color the rest of your day or change its trajectory in a way you didn't like nor expect). If you're going to have a kid and NOT be a deadbeat it takes a lot of emotional energy and a lot of filtering what you're going to say when the gerbil falls of the running wheel called your projected self. This is the part where you're going to say shit your parent's say and the moment it hits you say Damn! I'm turning into my Dad!

Karen walks in...

Cycling Dad has a partner! Her name is Karen. She's a badass y'all. I feel for all the single parents out there fighting the good fight. If I didn't have such an amazing partner, whom I fooled into marrying me, I'd prolly be in jail for doing some outrageous shit to my kids, not be as grateful or as mindful, and not be a focused whole. Oh that Karen. She resonates deeply within my self (NOT myself). I can dedicate a whole blog on her badassery.

I switched teams (the serious dial has just been turnt down). I race for Raceco.org.

It's the brainchild of my DS Kyle and his brah-in-law to annex a highly successful, local road team with the black sheep, dirt riders who are also quite fast on fat tires on soil (or did we annex them?). What this team gives me is validation and worth. I enjoyed my time with Natural Grocers; but this is just the evolution of the the selfish (as opposed to shellfish) cycling dad and his need to go fast with the proper support crew. First of all, my teammate happens to run Grist Brewery. So yeah, we're sponsored by crafty-assed brew master creating an array of delish beverages that can also lay down some watts in the dirt WHO IS LOCAL! That definitely fulfills a need.

Ain't gonna lie; Kyle (a classy yet cloyingly inappropriately funny dude, who's also a dad who races bikes) runs a badass shop called Raceco Tune. Badass technicians...that's inside Grist Brewery. It's a dreamy symbiotic conjoining ain't it?  A full service shop inside a local fave brewery? I can wrench on my bike (or let a pro do it) and enjoy a Berliner (not a jelly donut). A badass bike sponsor-Scott. With that said, I am the proud owner of a 2018 Scott Spark Team RC! O jes, ees purty y'all.
O jes, ees purty y'all!
I don't need a lot to keep me happy but making the switch to a new team has rejuvenated the old ass racer in me. When I say old, dude I'm now 51. Holy shite when did that happen (mmm, 51 years ago?)?

I like my teammies. Holy shite are they fast. They own some KOMs locally. Yeah, don't hate me because I Strava. I like Strava but I hear you on is it truly a ride if I can't download it? I'm safe. I represent cyclists and my team when I'm out riding. When I approach people  in a multi use trail, I do it as fast and as quite as I can and yell at the top of my lungs passing on your left mothaf***er! and actually pass on their right!  No, I announce myself chill-like, where I intend to pass and thank them with all my fingers as I pass them on stated side. I yell at dicks who ride bikes like, hey! don't be dick! When I witness their dickery to hikers and I apologize for their dickery to offended hikers.

Just ruminating in a quiet house, that's empty. My sweet Karen's off with her brother Drew and her close friends to participate in outdoor tom foolery and vitamin D synthesis in Moab, UT and the vacuum of her absence was a catalyst for me to express myself blogside.

Really looking forward to see what damage I can do (not on myself) on the XC scene now that I have full squish and a renewed hunger to race dirt (NOT your Grampa who happens to be the same age as the aforementioned).

Looking forward to seeing my brother in Dallas once my break starts. Should prolly take my hardtail, just in case! Heading down to Austin too to visit some homies and my alma mater: TEXAS! Hook 'em! They just lost to Nevada after a 14 point lead. It made me say some inappropriate words y'all.

01 December, 2017

I October Break Ergo I Am

Oh damn! Oh damn! Well folks after another challenging yet fulfilling quarter of HS Chemistry teaching, my inner child--Mikey, let's say to remain anonymous--is crying for attention. He wants some sun, he wants some ride time, he wants some Moab! Don't get me wrong, my lovely wife--if I were to use a us as a Venn Diagram--has a A LOT of overlap with what we find endorphin releasing activities; but she just got back from her October Break that she spent with her brother (me brah in-law Drew) at Universal Studios Orlando, specifically the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. I was so missing and jealous of her luxuriating/vacationing/chilling time when I was freezing my hambones off during one of the earliest snowfalls/freeze warning CO had in a while. When she got back, my compass of OCD and completeness was recalibrated I started to think about what Billy and (two-thirds of the homey trinity) break would look like. We leave tonight and I am sooo Jonesing to go. He's an adjunct prof teaching Computer Science so I have to wait (boo-hoo!) 'til he's done teaching then we bail to Parachute. Home of some sweet peaches and that much closer to the Mecca of mountain biking. In fact, we're also heading to Saint George to do some Gooseberry Mesa and some Zion NP. Got a Go Pro to act as an audio-visually chronicler and witness to what will be dubbed as Operation Later Homie.

Day 1, Operation Later Homie
My novicity with timed shots from the Go Pro

 We made it to Moab after we left late Monday night. Dare I say, Billy and I rode Slick Rock enough times that it's no longer on our radar of trails to ride. You know what is? Hymasa and Captain Ahab. Can never get enough of that trail. Today, what made it especially remarkable was the bluebird blue skies and temperatures that greeted our arrival in this magical town. When we left Parachute, the mercury was right at freezing and as we  accelerated westward we watched the outside temperature climb and climb commensurate to the elapsing miles. It eventually hit 71ºF as we parked in a freebee parking right near the Amasa trailhead. I made a Go Pro video of it.
It's kind of jumpy so don't expect any Cecile B DeMille quality from it. What the video doesn't capture is how amazingly difficult and technical it is even when the scenery is sublime and dreamscapey in such a way we have to pinch ourselves that we're here let alone doing what we love to do most (with our clothes on): mountain bike (okay I enjoy skiing too). It's like Mars out here (that is if Mars had oxygen, water, an atmosphere, not as far from the Sun, had a shorter calendar year, and wasn't quite as cold but yeah; it'd be the same it it wasn't for those things).

Okay not really but it's really red with all these geological eroded formations from when the world was just a wee baby (but not a flat earth you flat-earth losers) and these stunning canyons cut from our lovely Colorado River. It's not unlike the Sonoran Desert where my brother lives; except it doesn't have quite the numbers of quartz wearing, cosmic antennae channeling, turquoise bolo tie wearing, vegans. What you do have are some serious off-roaders (both the pedaling and internal combustioning type) and eurodorks that are amazed by scenery they don't quite have in their Vaterland. I remember the first time I was in New York City. I would stare in dumbfounded amazement at the skyline and its art deco meets gothic meets high density residential meets historical/cultural intersections. I couldn't really come to peace with it because I just couldn't digest its data. Like Art I appreciate it; but don't understand the processes it took to get to that juncture of existence. Moab's scenery does the same thing. It leaves me in a state of wonderment, gratitudement, physically spentment, and awement. Just happy to not only spectate in its glory; but to participate inside its sphere of hip-ness with other weirdoes (minus rude a-holes that litter or are just general coal rolling a-holes, you know who you are) that have the same Venn diagram of overlap as I. We finish the ride in about two hours and Mr. Helios is still smiling at us.
can't make it back before the shutter clicks
I want to keep on riding whereas my brah-Billy, wants to do some programming to keep ahead of his work schedule. I appreciate that so we bifurcate due to different objectives. I do a second ride up Pipe Dream. Now I can feel the efforts of Captain Ahab as I climb and climb and climb. After an hour and 8 or so miles of tight, bumpy singletrack (not very technical), I say, no mas (which means "no mas" in Spanish). After I shower we hit Gilibertos No. 3 off of Main St. I had the Shrimp BK (Sonoran regional food preparation, hmm, I said Sonoran again) burrito. Why? Because my Garmin said I burned 1000 kcals. Man did that ever hit the spot, complemented with pickled jalapeños, pico de gallo, and two different types of hot sauce. In the morning, we take Operation Later Homie to La Verkin, Utah home of Zion NP and Gooseberry Mesa.

Day Two, Operation Later Homie
We arrive La Verkin, UT but there's a caveat-my boy Billy has to skype his computer science class from our hotel room at 1600h so we do a fun, pump tracky, single track in the JEM riding area in Hurricane before that time commitment. We fire off 10 miles of smile inducing, endorphin releasing speed racering in this talcum powdered singletrack whose features rolled, pitched, and yawed us to giggletown. The trail's names were: Goose Bumps, Cryptobionic, and Deadringer. I highly recommend these trails for you especially if you have a significant other who loves mountain biking but doesn't really like technical, exposed stuff.

01 October, 2017

Post end-of-the-world ride.

Are you jealous yet?
Last day of September...must be Fall in lovely Colorado!
can you see the fog in the distance? still gorgeous weather...
Not going to blast y'all with a bunch of pictures of leaves changing; but, would like to tell you about my oh-so nifty ride today with two of my fave homies and a new friend I met on said ride. In Golden there's a wee, remarkable eponymous bike shop  that sponsors a ride called The Great Bonk.  Unfortunately with the rains as a portent to Fall, alas The Great Bonk 2017 edition was canceled. That didn't stop my friend Kenny L (aka Kenny Lanhammer, the Lanhammer, the Volvo dude), from creating a version of his own called the mini-bonk. It too would take place in Golden. The routes started from White Ranch (ouch) to Mountain Lion (double ouch). Has been ages since I saw--let alone rode--with Kenny and Austin.  Fortunately for us, Austin still has sangria in his system from this trip to Barcelona (they're voting on whether or not to stay with España this Sunday) so he wouldn't tear it up too bad on the ascents. When I received the invite from Kenny, needless to say I had to go. Weather might've been a problem but it wasn't. Waking up early too; but it wasn't. Being possessed by Satan before I left the house could've happened too, but it didn't-so off we went! Karen was at her XC meet with her team. This might be too much information, but as cyclists--especially before hard efforts/events--'tis oh-so important to bust out a boom-boom. It's good for activities where you don't have to spend precious energy digesting, instead that energy can be used for pedaling and steering and talking shite with your friend. Not only did I boom-boom once; but twice. I call it Operation Stage Two. Oh yeah...

0800 here in Colorado's rather chilly, chill-chill so i started off with a wind-proof vest along with knee and arm warmers. Peeled 'em before I started climbing. Austin said, "That's what you get when you get dressed in the shade." Yup, it was warm but I kept these items in my Camelbak-which would prove to be fortuitous as the day progressed. The weather as we climbed smelled of Fall and it was crispy in my nares. The wet, downed leaves and the soil, along with a smidge of humidity, reminded our senses of the previous days' rains as we rode up and over. The rocks were wet too so that made us fairly vigilant of traction so we wouldn't biff it and hurt ourselves or our bikes. Absolutely love the changing of the seasons and couple that with a bike ride with one's homies? As Gollum would say: preciousss (or as I would say, "Self, dat's precious)

Ben caught us we were ascending Belcher. As we rode up in our little spheres of influence (and fitness) we rendezvoused at the first bench. That's where I snapped this quadlie...
Look at the blue skies in the background! L-R: me, Austin, Ben, and Ken

At this point we could've taken a longer, not-so-much climbing route to get to Mountain Lion; but I suggested we take the more direct, nastier climbing route. At this part of the ride, the weather started to get cold. That's when I donned my arm warmers as we hauled ass over dirt roads filled with puddles in the potholes as we avoided the washboard surface and oncoming traffic on the tight switchbacks.

Mountain Lion's in Golden Gate Canyon State Park.  We got a bit led astray from the our memory of the last time we rode here. After a bit of trail mapping we got back on our path. Holy molee I forgot how gnarly the rocks are here. The rocky, wet singletrack with roots and sharp, slabs of rock creates ledges that tests your ass-behind-the-saddle confidence were a'plenty. I spent alot of energy scanning and analyzing (and braking on) how I was going to enter and exit these bits of technical, potential head-over-heels catastrophe type things with minimal steering. Needless to say, once we finished Mountain Lion Austin and I--the hardtailers--were done. We were physically beat. I suggested we ride the paved road back into Golden. Kenny and Ben hit the singletrack once we parted ways climbing the brutal climb back to White Ranch. After a rather long, preying mantis-style tuck (wearing my vest and knee/arm warmers), Austin and I made it back and headed over to Cannonball Creek Brewing Co.  This is where the most satisfying part of the ride-the conclusion, happened. As the beer attenuates one's social viscosity, Austin and I talked about why we arrived in Colorado. He too is a transplant and has Texas roots. We mitigated our reasons for why we are here: skiing, the sunny days, cycling both on and off road, the weather, and healthy, gastronomic vibes Denver emanates to whomever has their receptors on. As I ponder even more, the whole Colorado racing/cycling thing wouldn't have been this spectacular without the presence of a catalyst-Kenny. I met him in 1997 as a long term sub at Scott Carpenter Middle School in unincorporated Jefferson County as we both sat in the principal's office. He said, "Hey man, if you're into cycling you should come ride with some of my friends on the Vitamin Cottage cycling team." Then lo and behold, after an infinite amount of permutations later on my timeline o'life...Here. I. Is. 

The thought of replacing kilocalories with beer--at this particular junction of the day--seemed like a great idea; but now, that buzz rocked my alcohol intolerance mightily. Before that buzzkill arrived (in the form of a headache), it was nice to cogitate and self-reflect on how we precisely arrived here. Kenny and Ben finally showed up (Ben crashed near the end) and the viscosity dropped from 10W-30 to 0W-20 (the W is for wassup bitches!). The weather held out (it would rain later) and man, the beers and our conversations really punctuated the end of a righteous time outside, soaking up the UVs shared with one's (cycling) brethren (as our sore muscles quietly grumbled). When it was all said and done, 5451' of climbing and 32 miles (prolly 4 on pavement).

17 January, 2017

A Miscommunication Leading to Rather Auspicous Affairs.

Estrella Mountains, Arizona.
It's winter here in Denver so we were itching to bail somewhere warm to ride without cold weather gear.

Lem in action!
It started out as a simple miscommunication: Kevin told me that an airline company from Denver was having some majorly cheap, one-way fares. A couple of days later, my ex-roomie Grant told me that he was thinking of flying to AZ to do an early season mtb race. He never told me which race it was, so off I go checking which weekend I didn't have my most amazing kids AND an XC event from the offerings from The Mountain Bike Association of Arizona. What event fit the bill? The McDowell Meltdown (that wasn't the race Grant was thinking after I booked it). A 44 mile, marathon XC mtb race. After I VM'd Grant my intentions and got no response, due to my impatience, I went and booked the flight. I didn't take my bike because of the largess of my older brother letting me use his sweet Ti Rigor Mootis. Hells yes, a triple chain ring, 26" tubeless wheelset (baby!) with yours truly piloting this retro sweetness. After I booked the flight and made sure everything was okay with crashing at my brother's house (including my teammie Kev and ex-room dog, Grant) I told Kevin and Grant, and voila, The Three Stooges were AZ-bound.

Getting ready for an ass handing! L to R: Kev, me, Grant
Have I mentioned how awesome my brah and sis in-law are for letting bike trash hangout at their house for the weekend with bikes and gear (and stink) to boot?  And, my most badass wife for being my complicitor? Yeah, I'm thankful.

Been checking weatherunderground and it's not beach weather clothes in AZ for this event. In fact, it's going to be cold and rainy with intermittent sunshine, hence the picture shows us with arm warmers (not shown, base layer). Our flight's delayed, so we call Trek West in Phoenix to tell them of our setback and to please stay open so we can retrieve Kevin's rental bike (a DS Trek Fuel EX 8 or sumpin).  Brandon from Trek, stays late and we retrieve the bike; and, he offers us beers because we're starting our vacay. Thank you Brandon, you're awesome and I can see why you run the shop. Kevin and I will pay it forward (somehow). So Lem, Kev, Grant, and I gather our gear and we're off to the races in Fountain Hill in Kevin's rental and we register as competitors. We're not itching to line up front because we're unfit, CO boys grateful that we can do an early season race. We don't have nearly the legs the AZ boys do because they are in the heyday of their season while we are in our nascent part of 2017 (along with the snow and cold temps that comes with living in the rocky mountains). I do admit though, the road patron Byron's, still organizing World's aka The Hour of Power every Saturday whenever there's not a foot of snow on the road-regardless of temps. And. It (Worlds). Is. Hard. 

Speaking of temps, Kevin and I train on single track snow whenever it's below freezing so as to not tear up the trail (i.e. starting off at 22º F, is a bitch); and, we did get some miles in over our Christmas Break.

last staging
Here's a parting present Kev's bike picked up
Once all 70-ish of us marathoners start (we're on the last) there's a bike in right angles to our thundering herd because of a snapped chain. Nutty. We were going chilly-chill, tempo speed but the testosterone poisoning got the best of me and once I saw an opening I ripped it. The course was fast and flowy and I succumbed to the moment (but mostly to testosterone). Once I was in a pack of similar fitness, I wanted to flex my averageness on a climb, so I kind of ramp up the watts and start passing. Lo and behold a girl passes me with some heat behind her. I match her speed and notice that she starts to fade so I pass her back up. I pick off the pack I'm in and start to settle as the sting sets in my quads. As soon as the downhill starts a dude on a DS rockets pass me and I try to stick on his wheel. Another climb starts and when I pass him I say some words of encouragement, and lo and behold! homegirl passes me back up and increases the gap. The hurt in my legs says chill. The next segment of road is slightly flat and mostly serpentine. The wind changes direction-towards my backside-and I slap it in the large chain ring and I pull away from the group trying to maintain 19 to 20 mph on this little segment. Note to self, unlike CO singletrack ripping where you can lay it down motoGP style in the corners, you don't do that technique here. One, it's kinda gravelly; and two, when you go slalom bumping/apexing in the corners you might just bump or apex onto a Saguaro or a nasty Cylindropuntia fulgida aka a mother scratchin' cholla cactus! That y'all, is what qualifies as supremely NO BUENO.  Grant passes me as I'm starting to get gassed and I can't hold his wheel. Eventually I finish the big lap of 33 miles and switch onto the 11 mile loop. At this point, I am cramping severely and the chump change, low mileage categories are starting to pass my low blood sugar, high lactic acidified legs-self. I eventually reign it in and go into self-preservation mode, barely hitting 10 mph on this undulating part of the course. I open up two Clif blok energy chews and eat all twelve cubes in less than 10 minutes, that's how hypoglycemic I was.  My hard charging college roommate finishes in 3:26 and Lem and he wait for me at the finish. I pass a couple more hominids on bikes before I finish in 3:34 and the three of us  wait at the finish line for Kev who finishes in 3:40. After crossing the finish line,  his legs lock up due to cramping as I hold his bike and we relive a scene from the movie Alien. Instead of the chestbuster scene, it's the gastrocnemiusbuster scene. His cramps are so intense you can see the spasms undulating on his calf. His effort, resulting in gastrocnemiusbuster punctuated our lack of fitness, and our singular desire to race. Great race course although I wish it had feed stations. I raced the 44 miles on two water bottles, two Clif blok packets and testosterone poisoning. Averaged 12.35 mph. Would tell you more but my Garmin $hit the bed.
All done. All smiles.Now onto our next adventure. That's my bro in the civies.
we race for this!
Later that evening we have a celebratory soirée. We pick up my Mom who knows that Grant and Kevin are going to be at Lem's. It's been at least a decade since Grant's hung out with my Mom from our younger, road racing days back in Plano, TX; and my Mom knows Kevin's one of my BFFs here in Denver who happened to help me through my divorce and introduced me to my loveliest of lovelies: my Karen.
On Sunday, with our weary, post race heavy legs, we hook up with Lem's AZ posse to put the final nails into our legs' coffins. Marc's the aspiring racer so he puts us in our paces with our legs a'screaming but damn was it fun chasing everybody out at F.I.N.S., Estrella Mtn, and The Secret Trail. Jack's a full suspension homie with skillz that shows us how technical's done. Here's the AZ posse.

L-R: Kev, Jack, Marc, Grant, me at Estrella Mtn

At the Sky Harbor Airport to head back to Denver, who do we see? Hez-Billy, thus completing a fortuitous meeting of the Homie Trinity.

To sum: I am grateful and honored to be surrounded by such competent, witty, flatulent, gastronomically hip, caring, avuncular, fit, funny, quasi-hardscrabbley brethren and sistren on this adventure!

19 November, 2016

My 2016's coming to a close.

Well kids, been racing a lot this year, relatively speaking. More so than last year I think. Raced:
  • battle the bear (XC)
  • Firebird XC (mtb championships)
  • WinterPark Super Loop
  • Fat Tire 40
  • Three events from the MAC series
  • Two events from the Highlands Ranch XC series
  • Two events from the Table Mountain Peak to Peak Circuit Road Racing series
  • Tatanka 85 Mtb Race (in S. Dakota)
  • Four CX races
  • Ran a .5 marathon in Moab, UT.
Dis guy! My UT college teammate and general homeboy at Captain Ahab.
I accomplished a goal to cat up to IIIs in cyclo-cross. Actually won two more races and now race the open class which is kicking my arse. All the old pros are in my category and I. Am. Slow! Now I'm in chill mode. I still try and log in miles on the weekends but after it finally snowed here, I'm reluctant to race CX. One, I am a fair weather racer; two, I'm trying to save money for our trip to visit my brother in Phoenix; and three, I'm just tired although I kinda want to get my butt kicked at State's if it's not snowing, for one last hurrah. Thank you snow for sticking this morning and making my decision to not race final. Rode about 3800 miles up to now. That seems a lot. Only two road races this year. First time I raced road bikes in a while and I don't mind that at all (not a major road racer anymore). There were a couple of crits I thought I may have wanted to race; but no regrets. I'll stick to doing a couple o'crits in the Spring for my 2017 campaign.
That's probably why I did absolutely no training today. Reverted to my domesticated mode since my wife went to NXR to help coach her HS's XC team. I did laundry (I HATE folding laundry) and some general de-cluttering of our oh-so lovely home. I did so much of nothing resembling training, it resulted in a wicked pisser of a headache (after I attempted to shovel the snow from our driveway and sidewalk wearing my flip-flops nonetheless).
I won this race on a mtb thanks to my brother in-law giving me the insider trading on the course
I had thoughts of mtb racing for 2017 entering my head and how self-tortuously satisfying it would be to race in sunny, dry conditions; but 'tis an ephemeral neuronal excitation because I know what kind of physical pain racing a hardtail 50 miles entails (why did I buy a hartail again?). Speaking of which, my tubeless tires are getting bald and I'm not looking forward to busting the bead and bursting my thumbs as tire levers to put a new set of fresh rubbers on. Not feeling guilty at all, although I might be losing CX handling skills but with me putting in 80 mile weekends hopefully my legs can lay down what minimum watts my Garmin can record to remain 50+ mens open pack fodder.
On my chill weekends, it certainly does reinforce my lifelong commitment to ride. I think I enjoy riding by myself when I'm logging in long miles. It allows me to think, puts alpha waves in my brain, I listen to music on my earbuds (mostly Denver bike paths onto the foothills of Golden), stop and drink at my convenience in appropriately named convenience stores for convenience's sake. Even if it's cold, that's cool (no pun intended). As long as the surface is dry-even then I could slap on my fender for the run-off. Today, there was a group ride at 0800. I looked at the WeatherUnderground website to see what the potential temperature might be and it was only going to be 20º F. Not F in Fahrenheit but F as in F that! My racer friends still showed up for that ride. Said there was, "no wind." No thanks. Too much of a temperature deviance from what I can tolerate.
Hope y'alls cycling campaign was free from accidents and that you allowed yourself to eat a modicum of comfort food (i.e. junk food like Oreos® or VooDoo quality type donuts). I'ma try to roll on the road bike tomorrow. If I do great; otherwise, I'm ite with day two of chilling out.