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.

27 June, 2016

The Fat Tire 40 experience

hardest and funnest XC marathon race yet!
'Twas a glorious campsite

June 25th was day of the Fat Tire 40. If you thought the mountainbike Colorado State Championships were hard (I accidentally/intentionally took the long course instead of the short), oooh buddy; you've never done The Fat Tire 40 in Crested Butte. The reasons for doing this event was two-fold: a) Crested Butte's the shiz-noid; and b) even though I hold The Firecracker 50 in very high esteem, I needed another quality race to break up the Firecracker 50 same-o, same-o years of back to back to back to back to back racing.

This range is behind our campsite!
Ain't it purty?
Thursday, we gather our camping stuff and headout past Crested Butte to a recreational trail/campsite called O Be Joyful with our bikes and our dog, Bianca. We were talking about the previous places we've camped near Crested Butte and Gothic. From the information we gathered and verified on the map, Karen's place seemed the closest and this was it! Albeit, back in the day she said it only consisted of three or four; now it spans the river and newer sites radiated outward. In fact, our site was so new, we broke in our fire ring for warmth and cooking our meals. Mosquitoes weren't too bad; they were as bad as the biting, metallic colored flies I suppose. We don't rough it as campers, we bring our arsenal of intoxicating, ethanolic beverages and our queen-sized air mattress that fits nicely into our giant tent. Unlike Karen, I am content to wear my clothes for several days (she'll recycle but for not as many days). That way, my odoriferousity discourages the aforementioned flies and mosquitoes from feasting from my complex, yet earthy infused O+ blood that has a floral bouquet and a bacon-like finish (odd because I'm a vegetarian) that pairs well with a tangy Havarti cheese courtesy of our Danish neighbors.
In the morn o' Friday, my bowels (and sometimes the letter "Y", aka Old Faithful) are telling me to shake a tail feather and before I walk the 200 or so meters to the Casa of Dueces, I grab my camera and Bianca. One of the more unique flora here is what the locals call Skunk Cabbage. Its scientific name is Veratrum californicum. It ain't so good for grazing but once it blooms it sure is aesthetically pleasing. I bring my parka because it's around 40-45°F in the morning. The Bonks and the parka-ed I, proceed to walk up to the entrance of our campsite.
The one and only...Bonks!
This is our dog, affectionately known as Bianca. Her various nicknames are (in no certain order): Poops, Pooper, Poopy, Poopsie, Punkin'-dookie (Karen came up with this moniker when she was suffering heat exhaustion somewhere in Nevada), Pooper-pot-pie, Squishy, Squish, Squishypants (from our eldest daughter), Lee Wobbly (auto correct from Siri when I voice texted, "Doggly-woggly"), der Bönks (like the ümlâüts?), Bonko, Poochie-woochie, Poochie-bear, Bootchie-bear, Bonk-bonk-BEE-bonks (Karen), Bonk-bonk-BEE-bongs (again, from Karen), Monkey Pants (courtesy of Karen) and Bing-bing (again from our eldest). We walk around main street Crested Butte and we pickup my packet for the Fat Tire 40 I preregistered for several weeks back. Swag was okay but the number plate sure was groovy. Our Friday plan is to have oatmeal on the ready Saturday morning for a pre-race meal then head out to the racer's meeting before our 0800H start time. Karen is my soigneur, director sportif, race director, and general race coordinator badass that if your significant other isn't this supportive, I feelz bad fo-ya.
Here's the damage inflicted from the 40!
Saturday's RACE DAY.  I don't take pictures during the race but it is BY FAR, the most intense, incredibly beautiful vistas, painful, rocky-rooty, tightest single track I've done mile-for-mile. Eagle County's single track is probably the most technical (due to the gnarly downhills) condensed into the least amount of surface area. The start had us rolling neutral-like up Mount Crested Butte then dropping into sum gnarly rock and root strewn single track. Climbing up road towards the mountain already broke up the peloton, why because the town's already sitting at eight thousand feet. If you're not a local you gotsta pace yourself. My fitness placed me climbing with a group of local pro women. We were climbing at tempo but not breathing like steam locomotive. Once we dropped down into the singletrack it was lights out. The flow had me respecting the trail because around blind corners there would be a bed of sharp, gnarly rocks ready to throw you off your line if you didn't unweight and bust out your anti-gravity skills. It seemed like I was already climbing when I ran into a racer I was climbing up the road on our neutral roll out. We commented on how gorgeous the scenery was when she broke my scenery hypnosis saying, "hope you have some legs left because the climbing begins now." Holee crap did it ever! I hit all the neutral support for nourishment. At mile thirty or so, my chain's squeaking to me, "Yo noob, I need earl!" due to all the creek crossings and dust as I roll like a novice in this otherworldly place called Crested Butte. Once we drop onto Gothic I trade pulls with a South African guy who calls Boulder home and we rip pass a grip of racers. One of them is a guy I dropped on the climbs whereas he drops me on the downs (I have a hard tail because I'm too purist and a scare-tee kat). On the last climb, I'm content to pull all the way back to the resort because he's no longer coming around nor do I expect him to because I can sustain this speed okay. Last single track on the ski resort and I'm expecting a full-on downhill. Hell no! We're climbing again. We're passing million dollar, ski in-ski-out mansions on the hill. They have the courses marked like ski runs. We're on Meander- a blue- and it's fairly feisty. I see an T-bone intersection with a Green diamond (turning left) and a Double-black diamond (going right) and I'm saying to myself, "We better be going left motha fu**a (I lose my internal filters when I'm hypoglycemic and in pain)!" The markers say 'right' and I swear there are more rocks than roots on the closing miles...

I interrupt the story for today's lesson: For you roadies, the difference between road racing (I started out as a road racer, in fact I'm a Cat III) and mountain biking is: burning matches vs rotating flywheel. There are so many attacks in road racing you burn metaphorical matches to stay with the attackers hoping to drop the group. The one with more matches to burn as the finish line approaches generally wins unless you have a sandbagger that made the final selection or your sprint can't be detected with current technology. With mtb racing, you hitch yourself with a group whose flywheel matches more or less the torque of the collective flywheel. Yeah you can attack but it's not very efficient in marathon XC events. The mtb bike winner has a combination of a very large (rotating) flywheel or is a savant on the downhills or weighs 135 lbs (61 kg) and climbs like a billy goat. Can I get an Amen (amen, brother!)? Now back to the story....

Ouch! Finally we drop back down to a service road where another racer grabs my wheel but I bury myself (turn you sumbitch flywheel, turn!) towards town and march the largest gear I have in my single chainring Intense in a breezy headwind and little by little a gap opens up in such a way I have time wave to my Karen as I cross the finish line. Did I finish respectably? Prolly not but finish I did, boi!!
Thank you Niky's!
Here's the nifty Garmin link to follow my lame arse on the racecourse. Before we take a nap back at our campsite, we replace our kilocalories with shakes (vanilla based ice cream with Strawberry syrup: Karen; vanilla based ice cream with Chocolate: me, both topped with whipping cream) and all-the-while sampling mini donuts like the Heisenberg, Mother of Dragons, Butterfinger, and Cinnamon Roll from Niky's Mini Donuts off Elk Ave. My Garmin said I burnt 2,585 Calories.
course profile and elevation gain/contour
Thankfully we have the wherewithal to book a hotel room after the race Saturday night so our weary bones can be supported by a nice King Sized bed with an unusually high Egyptian thread count after eating our weight in pizza provided by the Secret Stash and drinks from the Dr. of Pepper. We hit the hot tub and the pool that had random, light changes for ambience for some hydrotherapy and a general decompression of the day,  From our sun burnt, dehydrated, dull-aching joints, the water solicits a playful, nonsensical smile on our faces with full tummies and lifetime's worth of Vitamin D. Tomorrow we hit the Lupine Trail!
Karen trailblazing with our pooch faithfully following

The Lupine Trail: Bianca's a great trail dog. Karen's attempting to show Bianca how to drink out of a Camelbak spigot/bite; if she ever figures that out, Bianca'd be even greater. She'll follow whoever's up front faithfully but we go fairly slow in order to not wear out her pads or her.

We have to be careful when we cross cattle guards but Bianca's slowly figuring that out too. What's cool about this trail is when you're not bobbing and weaving through tight singletrack, it kind of reminds you that there are drop-offs that could really ruin your day. Here's Karen negotiating a lefty-loosey curvey-curve with a major drop-off should you fly off the single track.
flowing left with Crested Butte in the far, right distance.
Karen has skillz too and it shows as she climbs like Satan passing another couple. Sadly we're that couple that wears a matching race kit (but not all the time). As we hit the switchbacks, Karen's leaning and countersteering with her inside knee like a pro and I chase her back to car where our Bonko's completely cratered playing chase the humanoids on the church of rotational mass.
Our ride punctuated the end of a magical 4-day get away to dem dere hills with equally magical companions of the two and four legged variety.
To sum:
-Fat Tire 40=evil genius from the minds of Crested Butte.
-We ride/race so's we can eat.
-Karen's a unicorn.

PS: Karen just checked the results and I finished 4th out 14 in my division which is 50+ open men. Average, baby.

29 March, 2016

Adventures with Billy The Kid: Spring Break 2016 Days One and Two

obligatory pano shot!
Let me preface it with the week preempting our Spring Break we had two monstrous snow days and I took a personal day to watch my kids because their break didn't coincide with mine. Needless to say, I took my middle daughter skiing with me the Monday. Worked Tuesday. Snowed like the dickens including a wicked pissa of a blizzard on Wednesday (snow day). The remnants of blizzard were so awful; Thursday became another snow day, that leaves Friday as the remaining workday.

the effort and cold is about to take hold!
First day, (or the first day I did an official activity) Saturday. Met an old friend-a former teaching colleague-at Winter Park for some Spring skiing. Skied for six hours! Unheard of for a man of my advancing years.

Second day. Skinny Tire Ride up to Dead Horse Point State Park. Here's my Garmin info if you're interested...https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/1103021517
Kevin left; Billy right.
Kevin was pretty hardcore. He caravan'd with us out to Moab to ride DHPSP only to turn around and go back home after the ride; but first let me tell you how it started...
When we arrived in Moab around noon we parked at the Discover Moab sign (parking lot) and were bummed that it was slightly cold but then again we left Colorado where we were socked with a blizzard less than a week ago. We figured wearing one layer would be good because the first thirty miles were uphill (yes, thirty). That strategy worked for a while..
climbing up 313 via my sly selfie!
Little did we know the weather turned south quickly!

Here we are probably twelve miles into the ride. Weather's cooperative, our legs were feeling spunky, and the road wasn't too steep. As we kept climbing, the wind gusts and the sun's rays were quickly becoming inversely proportional (you guess what did what). GPS is great for data; GPS is awful for the ability to look at data if you're OCD about the destination.  I knew we were getting close because the thirty mile point was our turnaround. What did I do? Kept looking at my Garmin and slowly watching the pot NOT boiling. Ever so slowly we finally reach THE SIGN for Dead Horse Point State Park; but we needed another three miles of rolling roads to actually get into the park. By this point we were echeloning to share the brunt of these annoying side gusts while the mercury kept dropping (it's actually red dye in alcohol nowadays). The picture on the right is a road sign telling people to bust a left. Three miles and six burning legs later we make it to the actual sign. Here, I slyly suggested we should turn around to beat the weather and the winds but Kevin wanted to actually go the visitor center and Billy said he was down. So who was I to be a stick in the mud? So off we go to the oh so warm visitor center that had a public restroom. When we were tying our steeds to the post a mountain biker asked where we started from. We replied from Moab and she said she was impressed by our cycling feat. I wanted to say, "Are you also impressed by our lack of warm weather clothes?" Kevin, thankfully lets me bum his windproof vest for the downhill.

My lovely wife Karen, suggested we have an espresso drink because they have a coffee hut there; but we were so cold we just wanted to turn around. Actually it was me who wanted to turn around. Kevin saw the sign for the actual DHPSP view point was another mile (damn brah, another mile? My semimembranosus tendons flanking the back of the knee was feeling like it could cramp at any moment). Of course I left my knee warmers back in Moab because we were starting out warm. Dummy! The trade-off for my self-inflicted pain are these pictures of Dead Horse Point.
The erosive powers of water
Amazing views aren't they? Of course the mile to get to these vistas are downhill, so after we take these gorgeous photos, the winds are absolutely howling so we bust a 180 to high tail it out of there! The road there's one of the highest, exposed roads in the town of Monticello so we have no break from the winds until we pull out of the rollers and it's finally turning into a full tail wind. Yay! But until that point I'm pushing it fairly hard to get my exposed, one-layered, non-thinking self out of that stress test. The downhill back to town's a blast. We sprinted to a sign as we got closer to 191. I jumped waaay too early and Kevin diesels past me for the the win for bragging rights. The weather was fundamentally warmer near Moab and we could even tolerate the head wind (that changed on us) that taunted us on our way back to the car on the newly paved (relatively new) bike path. 62 road miles in Moab. Kind of blasphemous since Moab is the Mecca of mountain biking; but, that's how we-wait for it-roll.